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As music teachers in the Port Washington elementary schools, we have the unique opportunity to assess our students' work in a public way. At each of our various elementary schools, our students present public concerts, which are the culmination of months of work.

At the end of many of these performances, parents never hesitate to commend their children on a job well done. In addition, many offer us, their children's teachers, a word of congratulations as well. The regular classroom teachers seldom have this public interaction and therefore miss out on this opportunity for positive feedback. Occasionally a thoughtful parent will drop a teacher a note to thank him or her for going that extra mile with the child, but the compliments are few and far between.

The amount of work that goes into the daily life of a teacher is more than the general public (or the board of education) could ever imagine. It is not the life of leisure that some apparently think we are leading. In the case of music teachers, the work load is at times overwhelming, but because we have chosen a career that includes the two things we love most in the world - children and music - we work hard and enjoy it.

Because we believe in the educational benefits of programs like the all-District Elementary Music Festival, and the all-Nassau County Elementary Music Festival, we often prepare students for these programs on our own time (lunch hours, before school, evenings, weekends). In addition to this, we also send students to the annual NYSSMA evaluation festivals - again necessitating time beyond the hours scheduled for sectionals and classes. In order to prepare for each of the 3-10 concerts, the 2-4 musical plays, interdisciplinary projects, etc. that we orchestrate each year, hundreds of hours of preparation, practice, and rehearsal time are consumed. Countless hours also go into lesson plans, goals, budget matters, report cards, preparing tests, and taking summer courses to stay current with our profession.

If this contract negotiation is "about teacher education, after-school programming, curriculum and instruction, teacher evaluation and accountability, hours per day, and days per year" as was recently stated by retiring school board member Joseph Mirzoeff, then what is the problem? We are all working very hard and deserve some applause, in the form of a fair and equitable contract.

Bonnie Utzig - Manorhaven

Dr. Ruth Addeo - Daly

Vicki Field - Gugg./Daly/Manor.

Helena Wresch - Guggenhem

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