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May 17, 2011

Dorothy Lehman

Author: NYSUT Communications

When I was hired at Lewiston-Porter in 1985, I was thrilled. Not only had I graduated from Lew-Port, my sons also had, and now my granddaughter would be starting kindergarten soon. I had no experience working in education or belonging to a union. I was hired as a senior typist in the district media department, overseeing two other employees who operated a printing press and copy machine. This department provided all the printing needs of the district, and it was a very interesting, fast-paced job. I designed the district newsletter and all brochures, etc. I also attended special functions, taking pictures, interviewing alumni, and writing press releases. I interacted a lot with the teachers and administrators, but had no contact with the students. After a few years, I was transferred to the office of a 3-5 elementary building, and was I terrified! I have found out over the years that working with elementary children is one of the most fulfilling jobs there could be. Although I still operate a computer, there is so much more. I greet approximately 475 students each day with a "good morning" during morning announcements, tell riddles to them, and have started an early-morning student dance club for those early arrivals. Over the last 17 years, I have gained a lot of weight because of all the birthday treats given to me! A day in an elementary school can bring laughter, tears and anger — all in eight hours! I see on a daily basis the needy children and the dysfunctional families that this modern world has created. I also see on a first-hand basis teachers and principals going the extra mile — staying late at school and coming in early to work with students. I see them spending their own money so that a child can go on a field trip, paying for a lunch and buying school supplies. Whenever I read or hear on the news about the salaries teachers make, how big their pensions are, etc., I wish some of our lawmakers would spend a week in my building. They would realize that if our children are not making the marks they should, or drop out early, it is not teachers' or schools' fault. I spend every day with warm caring people and for that I am blessed.