September 07, 2023

Watertown locals, administrators work side-by-side to give school year a delicious start

Author: Riley Ackley
Source:  NYSUT Communications
watertown union members
Caption: Watertown Teachers Association members gather for lunch ahead of the district’s open houses that evening. Photo by Andrew Watson.

What began as a union-led initiative to provide lunch to members during back-to-school meetings, turned into a district-wide celebration of local food and public educators and school staff.

Named “Food Truck Frenzy,” the first-of-its-kind event for the area provided lunch to NYSUT members – from custodians and secretaries to teachers and aides and more.

How did the initiative come to be? Well, the opportunity presented itself.

“It was a real team effort,” said Bridgit Millard, Watertown Teachers Association first vice president. “This is the first time we’ve had anything like this. It’s good comradery and a boost to our self-esteem, showing us how important we are to the district.

After initial planning was set into motion a year before, the new superintendent, Larry Schmiegel, reached out and joined in, with the district footing the bill for the meals. In total, five food trucks provided an array of meals to staff, including those in CSEA and others, at no cost to educators or the locals.

“I can tell you that among our membership, it is a sea change in terms of their attitude,” said Kevin Todd, president of the Watertown TA. “They feel valued, they feel included.”

Partnerships and collaboration between administrators and district educators and school staff is essential in fostering strong relations that create a healthy and productive workplace. When administrators and staff work well together, it sends a positive message to the local community.