AFT President Randi Weingarten visited Newark’s East Side High School on Feb. 14 to deliver news that the union will be issuing spring and summer stipends of $1,200 and $2,500, respectively, to each student in the school district’s AFT-supported dual-enrollment teacher academy program.

“We want to make sure that you can dream your dreams and achieve them,” Weingarten said.

Launched in 2019, the Red Hawks Rising teacher academy for East Side High and University High students is a grow-your-own partnership involving the AFT, the Newark Teachers Union, the Newark Board of Education and Montclair State University. Dr. Jonathan Koppell, Montclair State’s president, spoke Feb. 14 about the university’s history as a school for training teachers.

“What a great story that some of your teachers [who] were students not so long ago [were] taught in the very same classrooms that you’re in,” Dr. Koppell said to the assembled East Side students. “I’m excited for you because this opportunity that is created by this program and by the support that helps the tremendous group from Montclair to do this work, it puts you in a position to, I think, have an incredibly rich life yourself.”

The stipends will be funded by “the dues dollars of our members,” Weingarten said.

“Just like when we bought PPE for our nurses in New Jersey at the beginning of this pandemic when people didn’t have it, just like we’ve done other types of things, we are doing this because this program is really important,” she said.

“This was a great day for Newark — highlighting the teacher academy, the AFT stipends for the students and the promise of a job from Newark superintendent Roger León,” AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera said Feb. 15. “These efforts address some of the most pressing issues in education: recruiting teachers, the teacher shortage and creating a diverse workforce that reflects the population in the community. AFT is excited to be part of this groundbreaking pilot program.”

The event at East Side High also marked Chiera’s first interaction with Dr. Koppell since he assumed the role of MSU president last August.

“Meeting Dr. Koppell assured me that Montclair will continue to be a partner in this endeavor, and not only that the union at Montclair is committed to see this through, but under his leadership, the university will also do all it can to see this through,” Chiera said.

Prior to visiting East Side High, Weingarten, Chiera and Newark Teachers Union President John M. Abeigon stopped by Hawkins Street School and visited a handful of classrooms with principal Alejandro Lopez.

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