Marianne Hawryluk is a teaching assistant at Rondout Valley High School. She was interviewed by Kim McEvoy, a member of the NYSUT SRP Advisory Committee and treasurer of the Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers & School-Related Professionals.
Tell me about your job and why you love what you do.
I am a teaching assistant working in the Life Skills program with students of various abilities and disabilities. I run circles where we sit and share feelings about topics of interest or just about their day. We do physical activities such as cardio drumming, gardening, nature walks and lots of art projects. Our class cooks and goes on interesting field trips. We also go out into our community and shop or recycle.
What brings me joy is giving the gift of learning to my students. I love sharing with them something they were questioning or didn’t know at all. Their reactions and interest to the new information is affirmation that I am doing what I was meant to do in my life.
Why is union involvement important to you?
I became involved in my union to help members and to spread the benefits and the importance of being an active participant.
I am currently the corresponding secretary for the Rondout Valley Federation. I have had the honor of attending state and local union conferences for SRPs, including a recent conference that focused on negotiating. How timely and beneficial that was for me, as I was a member of the negotiating team for our para contract. I was empowered by the knowledge that I received from NYSUT to positively impact the new contract.
I have also been privileged to help with union activities such as our food drive, highway clean up, SRP Recognition Day and more.
Tell me how you make a difference.
I was taught to do what is right, give back, help out and be a good human. That makes all the difference!
Keeping our union strong helps empower others. I am currently working on a garden and mural restoration at one of our elementary schools to help impact our students with understanding kindness and respect for all.
What kinds of activities do you participate in outside of work? Any hobbies?
My children and I graduated from Rondout Valley. It is important for me to give back to the community that raised me to be the person that I am. In our school community, I serve as a coach for tennis, swimming and indoor track. I served as a class advisor and am frequently seen chaperoning sports events, dances and other school functions.
I am also an active member of the local Ukrainian community, where I have served as a teacher, as a translator for new families and as a youth counselor. Most recently, I have been a mentor and evaluator for the prestigious Seal of Biliteracy.
When I am not in school, I am doing any activity that allows me to be in the great outdoors!