fbpx

Nandi Riley: Looking forward to the new normal, and expecting change

Nandi Riley, FEA Secretary-Treasurer.
Nandi Riley
FEA Secretary-Treasurer

Prior to becoming secretary-treasurer of FEA in 2020, Riley taught English at Florida A&M University and high school in Gadsden County, where she first began her FEA journey in 1999. Riley has served in numerous union roles since.
So much has changed in the past year that it’s good to hang onto what hasn’t. As always, we remain committed to Florida’s students, our colleagues and public education. Our unions remain committed to us. Together, we mourn those we’ve lost and work toward better days. Adversity makes us stronger and ever more determined to tackle the many challenges ahead. At the start of 2020, I was doing what I had done for 16 years, teaching English at Florida A&M University (FAMU). Then in March, for all of us in public education, our worlds made a 360-degree turn. We left for spring break teaching face to face and returned with the requirement of teaching 100 percent online. Because I was using electronic resources for my courses, I was prepared to move to the online format without much stress. That was not true for most of the people around me. In the PreK-12 world, as well as in higher education, educators were struggling to turn around in a matter of days. At our local public schools and our colleges and universities, we always thought of online instruction as an option, not a requirement. Traditional classrooms allowed many Americans to be unaware of the day-to-day struggles that encompass public education. So many people now value the previous experience of being able to drop off their children at school and not think about the details of the day. Those days are gone. The past year reminded me of being a young single mother, juggling full-time employment, school and parenting. In 2020, many families had the experience of working from home and home-schooling their children at the same time. 2020 will always be remembered as the year of flexibility and change. Covid-19 brought with it so many unknown variables and created fear in many of our lives. We have seen an unprecedented number of extended leaves, early retirements, school closures, sickness and, unfortunately, death. I keep hearing people say that they are looking forward to things getting back to normal. Well, the normal we once knew is no longer. Our new normal will be much different than the world we once knew. If 2020 has taught me nothing else, it has taught me to expect to do things differently. For me personally, a new role is part of the past year’s momentous change. I began 2020 teaching English at FAMU. I had worked full-time clerical positions while attending the university, then after graduation started teaching professionally in the fall of 1999, at a Gadsden County high school. In 2001, I was recruited to return to FAMU as an advisor/counselor/instructor in the College of Education. In 2004, I moved to a full-time instructor position in the English Department and remained in that position until September 2020, when I was honored to become secretary-treasurer of this great union, the Florida Education Association. Just the first few days of 2021 showed me that we have so much more work to do! Education needs us to be the beacon of hope that continues to shine for our students. Thank you for all that you do each day on behalf of our students. Be sure to take care of yourself as you focus on taking care of others.

Cover Story: They love their students — will they stay?

As Florida’s school districts continue to experience difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers and education staff, FEA decided to talk to a handful of early career educators about why they…

Read more about Cover Story: They love their students — will they stay?

Andrew Spar: Building relationships is key to lifting up our students, schools and professions

Another school year is upon us, and I am sure we all have been hoping for the same thing — a normal school year. The past year and half have…

Read more about Andrew Spar: Building relationships is key to lifting up our students, schools and professions

Carole Gauronskas: May we face our challenges with renewed passion

As we go forward into a new school year, I would like to take a few moments to look back over the past 18 months. First, I want to recognize…

Read more about Carole Gauronskas: May we face our challenges with renewed passion

St. Petersburg College Faculty Vote to Unionize

Faculty at St. Peterburg College (SPC) have spoken and by a vote of 193-56 established the 34th chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF). With 295 eligible voters, 84…

Read more about St. Petersburg College Faculty Vote to Unionize

Poll shows Floridians united on strong public schools

The challenges facing Florida’s public schools this fall are acute — a pandemic that continues to create disruption and tragedy on campuses and in communities, a shortage of nearly 9,000…

Read more about Poll shows Floridians united on strong public schools

Reducing high-stakes testing is a win for students, schools

Today’s move to drop high-stakes Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) testing in the 2022-2023 school year is a big win for our students and public schools. It will free up time…

Read more about Reducing high-stakes testing is a win for students, schools