California Educator

April/May 2023

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Allison Medlin F O U R TH G R ADE TE ACH ER San José Teachers Association Allison Medlin was a stay-at-home mom when she decided to start substitute teaching. Fol- lowing a previous successful career in high-tech sales and management, Medlin had always planned on returning to work 10 years after leaving in 2000. "I really enjoyed working with kids and I didn't know that about myself, so I decided to get my cre- dential," Medlin says. "It's so rewarding to work with kids every day. It just felt purposeful." Shifting from a sub- stitute to a classroom teacher in 2008 was a bigger adjustment than Medlin had anticipated — working in someone else's classroom and being handed a lesson plan is a lot different than creating one yourself in your own classroom every day, she says. But Medlin persevered and excelled in the classroom, powering her day with how happy teaching made her. " The perks of working in tech just don't size up to the way teaching makes me feel," she says. "I was lucky because I was in a place financially to make that choice." Medlin says it's a dream come true to help children learn what they are capable of and see what's possible. "It means everything. You live for the magic moment when your kid suddenly gets that 'I get it!' look," she says. "It means the little things you do every day make a difference somewhere in their life." Medlin serves her local as an elementary director on San José Teachers Association's executive board. A first-time union member, she's proud to speak out on behalf of other teachers and be a part of some- thing bigger than herself. "We are stronger together and we are here for each other," Medlin says. " The job is really hard with many demands. Having a union — that group who you walk in step with — is everything." Deidre Robinson TH I R D G R ADE TE ACH ER Oakland Education Association Deidre Robinson took a big pay cut when she left account- ing 20 years ago to teach in her hometown of Oakland, forcing her to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. "It was hard, but I was determined to give back to my city," Robinson says. "I only wanted to come into the teaching profession for 10 years so that I could be an advocate for teachers and students." While Robinson was an accountant and auditor at Kaiser, she took courses toward a teaching credential here and there, finding that she enjoyed it more than her actual job. When she told some of her family members who are educators that she was going to become a teacher, they asked her why. Robinson's answer was to focus on helping kids in her commu- nity to have a voice. "At the end of the day, children need consistency, and they need to know a person cares about them and wants them to succeed in school," she says. Before she became an educator, Robinson says she had a lack of understanding about what teachers encounter on a daily basis. "Everyone has a thought about what we do, and it's not unless you've been in the trenches that you can truly understand it," Robinson says. Robinson says her first year teaching was difficult, and she almost left after seven years due to what she calls "post-traumatic stress disorder from teaching in a neighborhood with economic and crime issues." The pandemic has added additional daunting challenges, she says. When she first became a member of Oakland Education Association, Robinson says she didn't get involved, just "paying my dues and keeping it moving." But after attending NEA Representative Assembly as a delegate, she wanted to learn more and began get- ting involved. Today, she serves as a member of the bargaining team and on the executive board. "Once I got involved, that was it," Robinson says. " You have to know your contract because people will try to make you do things that are not OK." "It was hard, but I was determined to give back to my city." " You live for the magic moment when your kid suddenly gets that 'I get it!' look." 23 A P R I L / M AY 2 0 2 3

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