As part of Education Week every year, Support Staff Appreciation Day lends special recognition to support staff working in Ontario’s education system. This year, Support Staff Appreciation Day falls on May 9.
Education Week’s slogan in 2018 is “Public Education: It’s for Everyone.” It’s an appropriate slogan, because sometimes even other workers in the education system do not realize who the support staff actually are. I am writing from the viewpoint of a custodian, and I know that custodians are often forgotten on this appreciation day, as I am sure, other workers are as well. Plant Support Staff are often seen strictly as the tradespeople who repair and maintain our buildings. However, plant support staff are also the day and evening custodians.
Three Districts within OSSTF/FEESO have Plant Support Staff Bargaining Units. In most Districts, plant support staff are members of other unions, such as CUPE. And of course, these workers should also be acknowledged. We are a crucial cog within the school system’s machine. We clean and disinfect classrooms, repair and maintain equipment, setup and tear down events, oversee community use of schools, and keep the school safe and secure. Unionized or not, every worker within the school system is worthy of recognition.
Other support staff members include, but are not limited to, lunchroom supervisors or monitors, administration assistants, educational assistants, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers and university support staff. Just like the teaching staff, they are also crucial to public education. Without them, the school would cease to function.
During Education Week let us all remember: “Public Education: It’s for everyone.” Everyone is responsible and accountable for their role within the school system, and all are deserving