Melissa Weeks is a youth assistant at Rush-Henrietta Senior High School. She was interviewed by NYSUT Board member Karen Lee Arthmann, a member of the NYSUT SRP Advisory Committee and president of the Rush-Henrietta Employees Association Paraprofessionals Chapter.
Tell me about your job and why you love what you do.
I have strong ties to the Rush-Henrietta community. I graduated from the high school; my husband is also an RHCSD graduate. It is the same school district that my children now attend.
One of the big things I love about my job as a youth assistant is the flexibility. I can freely roam the building to maintain safety and security, and this allows me to interact with many students. I make a difference with the students because they know and trust me. They seek me out to talk to me. They see me as a happy presence in their day and know that I’m there to help them.
Why did you join the union?
In my previous position as a BOCES II student behavior assistant, I also was a union member. It gives me peace of mind knowing we have a union that supports us and negotiates for good benefits and wages for us. There’s always someone there to talk to, if you need help or just to vent. That was the first thing I asked when I came to R-H. “How do I sign up for the union?” I look forward to becoming more involved.
How are you involved in your community?
I attend school functions at different grade levels, but I am also an assistant cheerleading coach for my daughter’s club cheerleading team, and have been for the past four to five years. We participate in competitions, as well as cheer for our club football team, the Renegades. I’m always at my son’s high school games, currently basketball. I’m my kids’ biggest cheerleader — my own and my school kids. I love going to all the concerts and sporting events and knowing I make an impact on them every day.