Christopher Arroyo, the new chapter leader at the Brooklyn School for Math and Research in Bushwick, created the high school’s first-ever consultation committee in the fall, which immediately led to improvements for members.
“We’re in the early stages, but it’s significant because we’re opening up a formal conversation with the principal that didn’t exist before,” Arroyo said. “Now, members can take even small questions to me.”
Arroyo, an English language arts teacher who has only been a chapter leader since September, held his first consultation committee meeting in November. The topic was school safety.
“Many teachers felt the evacuation drills didn’t go well,” he said.
The school shares a campus with three other schools, and staff were confused about which stairways to use. Now, he says, every classroom has explicit instructions posted about which stairways to use in an evacuation and other safety protocols.
The consultation committee also took up the issue of compensation for remote work. “For election days, we’re supposed to come up with remote instruction and get paid for it,” he said. “But the principal never updated the school policy.”
After the principal met with the committee, Arroyo said, “he is onboard and gave us explicit instructions on how to get paid. Teachers are also compensated for providing instruction for students who are quarantining at home, and we got clarification on how to apply for compensation in that situation.”
Arroyo said the consultation committee is a neutral and comfortable way of bringing up issues with the principal, so no staff member has to walk into the principal’s office alone to seek answers.
Vinnessa Coles, a math teacher and member of the consultation committee, said she’s pleased with what the committee has been able to accomplish under Arroyo’s initiative.
“We meet once a month with the principal at 3 p.m. and discuss the ideas that are presented,” Coles said. “The minutes from the meeting are written up and shared with the staff so they get an idea of what’s being discussed, what’s resolved and what we are waiting on.”