Despite the frigid temperature, my older daughter, my 8-month old granddaughter and I were at the Women’s March in Portland in January. The sight of so many was energizing—all ages, genders, races, gathering together to keep the momentum going to work for a just society for all. And whenever I get to see my precious grandbaby, my heart swells with love. Of course, I also love my daughters and son-in-law and husband and other family and friends! But there is nothing like the wonder of watching my granddaughter grow and learn and develop her own personality. It got me to thinking, in this month of February—which is American Heart Month! —this month of love, with Valentine’s Day right in the middle (which is also my daughter’s birthday), about all the things in my life that I love.

I love teaching, I love Spanish and Hispanic cultures, and though I miss the classroom, even after six months, I love this (still) new job. Whether in meetings with members, the MEA Board, MEA staff, legislators, our friends in coalitions, other unions and leaders in other states, and whether discussing professional development possibilities, proposed laws or changes to rules, positions to take on issues, strategies to move forward, ways to better public education for students and for members—a wide array of topics—no matter the setting, the participants, the subjects, I have to say I love this work, too.

After her first Board meeting, our new Administrative Assistant made a comment I want to share: she remarked how evident it was that we are passionate about our work and our students. Naturally, she knew we cared about kids and schools, but the passion in our voices as we thoroughly discussed the agenda items really made an impression and she wished everyone had the chance to witness this. When she told me this, it surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. I know how much not just our Board, but all my colleagues care about our students and the various roles we play in those students’ lives. Yes, maybe there are times when it is “a job”, and of course we want to earn a living, but we chose this profession, and stayed in it, despite the challenges, because we love it.
In closing her inaugural address, our new Governor talked about having “hope in our hearts and love in our souls.” Hearing her gave me great hope for the work that I love as I head into the coming months of meetings and hearings.

I don’t know if my words are expressing very well all that I am feeling about our professions and the students with whom and for whom we work hard, but I do know that I feel passionate about all we do and about our Association.

Anne Sullivan, the remarkable woman who taught Helen Keller to communicate with the world, stated: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.”

As my daughter and granddaughter and I stood at the rally for as long as her baby pink cheeks could stand the cold, I said to my granddaughter (though I realize she doesn’t understand my words yet!), “We are here doing this for you, so some day you won’t have to.”

Here’s hoping that together in the coming months we will accomplish forward movement for the professions and the students we love, so that others do not face the challenges we have seen.

Let’s show how much we love working to educate Maine’s students! And let’s keep those hearts healthy, too!