NYSUT Communications
Saturday April 02 2022 12:03 PM

Cilento: Educators were heroes long before the pandemic

“It’s still hard for me to believe what’s gone on and what you’ve had to do,” Mario Cilento, president of the AFL-CIO, told a packed house of NYSUT members at the RA.

“Everything you’ve done the past two years — everything — is nothing short of remarkable,” he said.

Cilento remarked how educators had to find ways to engage students in remote classes on Zoom — despite the fact that a 5-year-old can get distracted by a butterfly out the window for five minutes, and teens can get distracted by things he doesn’t even want to think about.

Then, the professionals had to head back to school and teach with numerous, changing protocols.

“On behalf of the two and a half million family members of AFL-CIO — thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said.

Cilento said he began noticing that the incredible work of teachers during the pandemic inspired many people to start calling them “heroes.”

“You didn’t become a hero because of the pandemic,” he said. “It’s inside you.”

Cilento spoke about his sister, a 25-year veteran teacher, who goes to class early, teaches all day, has team meetings, and calls and emails parents after school. On weekends she plans classes. She gives her heart and soul to students, he said. This is ongoing heroism.

The labor leader also pledged to fix Tier 6 as the crowd erupted in cheering and clapping. “We will do that,” he said.