As a retired crisis intervention teacher, I know all too well how difficult it is to serve students with severe emotional disabilities. Quite frankly, it’s not a job just anyone can do. When students’ rage becomes directed at a teacher, it takes a lot to realize they are not attacking you, but rather the adults and/or lot in life that betrayed them.
From the article (What I Do, New York Teacher, Sept. 8, 2022), it is clear that Elizabeth Rivera is a very special person who deserves high accolades. The “rational detachment” Ms. Rivera talks about is no easy method in a daily hostile environment. She is not only dealing with emotionally disturbed children, but with their lack of effective parental/guardian support, as well as a minimal budget and ancillary personnel. We need more people like her.
John A. Yaeger, retired
Before I became a teacher in the New York City public school system, I taught at the nonpublic Lorge School and served as chapter leader for 10 years.
I was also one of the original four who helped negotiate the UFT-represented school’s first contract in 2000. I love that the spotlight is on Elizabeth Rivera. Elizabeth’s story is great for her and the students she serves. However, I feel it’s crucial to tell the story of how our union came to represent these employees due to the hard work of young dedicated professionals who were tired of being mistreated and whose hard work allowed the collective bargaining agreement to grow and flourish.
Christopher Piccigallo, PS 126, Manhattan