|Jenna Fitzgerald Presented the Albert Shanker Pioneer Award
Jenna Fitzgerald, of South Boston was presented the Albert Shanker PSRP Pioneer Award, by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in Washington, D.C, this past April.
Jenna Fitzgerald as she is named Loretta Johnson, President
the recipient of the Albert Shaker of Baltimore Teachers Union
Pioneer Award. presenting the Albert Shanker
Award to Jenna at the PSRP
Conference in April in Washington, D.C.
This award, is presented each year to an outstanding AFT PSRP (Paraprofessional School Related Personnel) leader, who has demonstrated leadership skills in the union, on the job and in the community.
What started as a part-time job working in her child’s school, turned into a career as an outstanding union leader and advocate for paraprofessionals in her school district and across her state. Starting as a building representative and then an executive board member, she is well known as a tenacious fighter for paraprofessionals. She fought hard in those early days to overcome the perception that paraprofessionals were somehow less worthy than other school staff.
It was while serving her fist term on the union’s negotiating committee that Jenna recognized the power of the union contract and its effectiveness as a tool to gain respect for her members. She became an expert negotiator and gained a reputation for the creative use of the contract to win additional gains for her members. She is also known as a tough but fair taskmaster, who is always ready and able to bring the hammer down on any administrator who made the mistake of violating one of the hard won rights she earned for her members in negotiations.
A tough negotiator and contract enforcer, she is equally effective in politics and at the state legislature. She worked tirelessly to convince her members of the importance of being involved in politics. With their support she built a very effective political operation in her local union. Politicians across the city and in the state have come to know that her support means that they will have access to an effective corps of paraprofessional campaign volunteers.
She is a well-known figure in the State House and has been a force in passing pro-education legislation and bills that support and recognize the important work of her members. She has also worked hard to make sure that paraprofessional issues are included in union’s legislative agenda.
She was the first to establish a professional issues conference for paraprofessionals in her school district. She then soon followed that accomplishment by establishing a similar conference for her state.
Jenna is a pioneer who has been making positive circumstances for her members since the 1970’s. She started as a negotiating team member, serving on the local executive board and then was elected as her local’s first Paraprofessional Field Representative.
In addition to holding elected office in her local she is a long serving vice president of Massachusetts Federation of Teachers in Boston and a member of the PSRP Board in Washington, D.C.
She has not only been a success in the union but has been a successful wife and mother. She has six wonderful children three of whom are members of her union.