As we approach the end of the year, with winter break right around the corner, we want to take a moment to thank you for your tireless devotion to your students. Louisiana’s teachers and school employees, our members, are some of the most hard working and selfless people on the planet, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your well-being to be an effective educator. That is why we come together to fight for dignity and professionalism for teachers and support staff in schools. We want to make sure that your love for your students isn’t overshadowed by the day-to-day minutia of tiresome meetings, paperwork, and uninspiring curriculum. You are a creative and dynamic educator and you should be treated as such. Thank you for coming together with your colleagues so that together we can fight for this profession and our students.
Whether you are counting down the days until break, or you can’t believe how much you still need to do before the end of the year (or both), now is a time to look back at some of our collective highlights.
This November, LFT hosted our first in-person Convention since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 58th Annual Convention took place in Lafayette Parish and we were hosted by the St. Martin Federation of Teachers and School Personnel. Special thank you to Toni Ventroy, President of the St. Martin Federation and LFT Vice President, for her work to prepare for this special event.
Representative Buddy Mincey was named LFT’s 2022 Friend of Education
. Rep. Mincey authored the legislation that created the Recruitment, Retention and Recovery Task Force. This task force was designed to analyze the issues facing schools today and develop legislative strategies and solutions, based around the real-world needs of teachers and their students. As the husband of a teacher, Rep. Mincey recognizes our struggles and has consistently advocated for sensible solutions to enhance public education for all students.
Convention delegates had the opportunity to hear special presentations from Neva Butkus of the Institute for Tax and Economic Policy, Tyler Hester from Educator’s Thriving, and Katherine Whitney of TRSL. Thank you to all of our Convention speakers! Delegates also participated in a variety of workshops covering topics from educator wellbeing to workplace rights, critical thinking and managing student debt. Perhaps most importantly, convention delegates considered, modified and voted on resolutions that address critical areas of importance for Louisiana’s educators. These resolutions, as determined by the delegates, will become the framework for LFT’s legislative agenda in the coming year.
Our resolutions this year covered a range of topics important to our members. Some of the resolutions include commitments to ensure that all education-related legislation apply to charter schools, fighting to reign in increases to OGB premiums, rejecting attempts to privatize food services in schools and fostering teacher autonomy. As always, these resolutions are built around teachers' and school support staff’s shared commitment to the success of students and our public educational system as a whole.
One of the most special moments of the Convention was when we were able to take a moment to look back on our accomplishments and give special recognition to our Locals who have gone above and beyond to embody the spirit and values of our union. This year’s winners of the LFT Union Values in Action award include:
- Calcasieu Federation of Teachers & School Employees
- East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers
- Jefferson Federation of Teachers
- LFT’s Associate Membership Program
- Natchitoches Federation of Teachers & School Employees
- Red River United
- St. Tammany Federation of Teachers & School Employees
- United Teachers of New Orleans
In addition to our Union Values awards, the Convention celebrated Aston Williams, the 8th Grade Student whose artwork was chosen for this year’s LFT Holiday Card and his art teacher Mr. Benjamin Koch from Broussard Middle School. The Convention also awarded Red River United President and LFT Executive Vice President Jackie Lansdale with the Pioneer Award
for her decades of innovative service to the union. We also took a moment to honor long-time staff member Mona Icamina
, who will be retiring at the end of this year after nearly 50 years of service to Louisiana public education.
This was an election year, so the entire LFT Executive Board was up for election. The Election Committee, chaired by Karen Riggleman of JFT, oversaw the nominations and election procedure and winners were sworn in by LFT General Counsel Larry Samuel. The winners of the election are as follows:
President: Larry J. Carter, Jr.
Executive Vice President: Jackie Lansdale, Red River United
Secretary Treasurer: Teri Johnson, Calcasieu Federation
- Kesler Camese-Jones, Jefferson Federation
- Dave Cash, United Teachers of New Orleans
- Lamon Dubose, Jr., East Baton Rouge Federation
- Dina Esquinance, Tangipahoa Federation
- Bernard Friday, Red River United
- Sandra Hauer, Jefferson Federation
- Elizabeth Shaye Hope, United Fed. of College Teachers
- Sandie Lollie, Monroe Federation
- Damean McCoy, St. Tammany Federation
- Lisa Morgan, Calcasieu Federation
- Brant Osborn, St. Tammany Federation
- Angela Reams-Brown, East Baton Rouge Federation
- Brittany Smith, Tangipahoa Federation
- Jordan Thomas, Red River United
- Stephanie Underwood, St. Tammany Federation
- Leona Venson, Rapides Federation
- Toni Ventroy, St. Martin Federation
- Nathan Winesberry, Jefferson Federation
A special point of honor at the Convention was the Presentation of Merged Locals. Red River United was the first merged local in the State of Louisiana, when the Caddo Federation joined forces with Bossier. Today, RRU includes Red River Parish and, as of this year, DeSoto as well. This year, Caldwell, Concordia, Monroe and Richland combined to become the Northeast Federation of Teachers and School Employees. Additionally, Beauregard and Allen Parishes have joined the Calcasieu Federation of Teachers in Southwest Louisiana. Congratulations to all of our merged locals!
This Convention provided an opportunity for leaders from across the state to get together in person, reconnect, and work together on behalf of teachers and school employees across the state. Thank you to all of the guests and delegates who spent the weekend celebrating our accomplishments and working to make our union strong. As we move forward into the new year, we are excited to capitalize on this momentum and continue working to reclaim our future for students and teachers alike!