Alicia M. Lopez: Pay and respect in Amherst schools

Published: 03-31-2023 8:26 PM

I am a resident of Amherst and have been a teacher in the district for 18 years. My three kids all went through Amherst schools, and we are beyond grateful for the education they received. The wonderful teachers they had along the way influenced their confidence, their well-being, and even their career paths. One of my daughters developed a passion for biology thanks to her grade 10 teacher, and now she is majoring in neuroscience.

My children’s teachers — my colleagues — are dedicated and hardworking. We put the students first, spending many hours of our own time to help them with things such as college recommendations, clubs, applications to vocational schools, and much more. We do this happily and with love, because the students are why we became and remain teachers. And we could not do our jobs well without the paraprofessionals in our schools. Their dedication to and support of students is absolutely essential. The School Committee purports to support Amherst and regional educators. They talk about the wonderful education their own children have received. They applaud the extra work we do. So why, then, are they not willing to go to bat for us now?

We are simply asking them to keep up with inflation and the cost of living, and to give paraprofessionals a decent living wage so we can keep them in our schools. If Amherst cannot compete with similar districts when it comes to pay and respect from the School Committee and central office, we will lose teachers to other schools that can offer them those things. It is time to show us that you appreciate us with actions, and not just words.

Alicia M. Lopez

Amherst

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