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inspiring stories

Here we recognize our members who are #IFTSTRONG – people who are using creativity, compassion, and (socially-distanced) collaboration to get through this crisis and who are there for their students, colleagues, and communities while maintaining a sense of humor and humanity. 

Share your story with us: how are your locals, councils, and chapters stepping up in your schools and community? Tag @iftaft on social media to let us know, or email Tell us how you're #IFTSTRONG.

Harlem Federation of Teachers (Local 540)

Harlem Federation of Teachers (Local 540) has been busy keeping up with their HFT Cares initiative to help feed families in their communities. They've even ramped up their efforts by partnering with a local restaurant to offer free meals.

Argo Council (Local 571)

Argo Council members joined together to sing the school fight song and spread cheer to their students.

Winthrop Harbor Council (Local 504)

Winthrop Harbor members took to Instagram to reach out to their students in this creative way.

District 88 Council of West Suburban Teachers Union (Local 571)

Brett Blair doesn't let distance stop him from teaching poetry to his class.

Peoria Federation of Support Staff, Local 6099

Jackie Monckton, a Physical Therapy Assistant, posted this lesson for her special needs students - true dedication!

Chicago Teachers Union (Local 1)

CTU member and IFT Vice President Christel Williams Hayes is using her considerable skills for something much different – and critically important – during this sad new "normal."

Waukegan Teachers Council (Local 504)

Two Waukegan members, Margot Gillin and retiree Mary Colver, have been busy sewing masks to donate to Waukegan Public Schools.

Harlem Federation of Teachers (Local 540)

In a show of support for students during this pandemic, bus drivers showed local kids some love with a parade through their neighborhood.

West Suburban Teachers Union (Local 571)

Since mid-March, Kyle Stern, a 19-year math teacher, council president, and member of the West Suburban Teachers Union (Local 571), has written at least one letter, card, or postcard to every student. He’s also written to former students he taught or coached. He’s sent birthday cards, notes of recognition for excellent work during this online learning period, and words of encouragement to students who are having a difficult time during the pandemic.

Grant-Illini/Dist #110 Federation of Teachers Council of the Southwestern Illinois Federation of Teachers (Local 6600)

Members came together to make a donation to their local food bank to help families in need in their community. In addition to a cash donation, the union donated 67 pounds of food! Teamwork makes the dream work!

O'Fallon Federation of Teachers (Local 3939)

As our teachers and school employees are continuing their hard work to serve students, they are also spreading encouragement and positive thoughts. These members put together a video to reach out to their students even though they are apart right now.

Waukegan Paraprofessional Council (Local 504)

Waukegan Paraprofessionals helped pack tables full of boxed lunches to deliver to their students.

Northwest Suburban Teachers Union (Local 1211)

Teachers are making masks & face shields with 3-D printers to donate to local hospitals. Bonus: they're "engaging students in concept designs & instruction of assembly as part of their e-learning experience."

Winthrop Harbor & Zion-Benton Councils (Local 504)

IFT members, including Band Directors Dierdre Cook Winthrop Harbor Council and Shan Kazmi from the Zion-Benton Council. Beautiful!

Oak Lawn - Hometown Council (Local 943)

Members in Oak Lawn miss their students but reached out digitally with this touching video.

Illinois Federation of Public Employees (Local 4408)

Mechanic Craig Wilkinson working hard on IDOT vehicles to keep them running during the coronavirus shutdown.

Champaign Federation of Teachers (Local 1925)

Music teachers from CFT partnered with teachers from the neighboring Urbana school district and other community groups to hold a sing-along!

Shiloh Federation of Support Personnel (Local 6425)

Members are following the governor’s Executive Order by wearing their masks while working to serve students lunch.

Peoria Federation of Teachers (Local 780)

These teachers from are bringing humor to their weekly physical education videos for students.

Belleville Area Spec. Services Cooperative Employees Union (Local 6143)

Joel Gherardini is doing his part making masks.

Belleville H.S. Federation of Teachers and Support Staff (Local 434)

Belleville members and District 201 have installed mobile hot spots in school buses deployed to various locations throughout the district for students to access their e-learning work. Buses have a Wi-Fi radius of 350 feet, so students can maintain social distancing while using the hot spot. This smart solution was even mentioned on national news!

Winthrop Harbor Council of Local 504

One thing is for sure in this uncertain time - our members miss their students! Winthrop Harbor Teachers made this video to connect with their kids.

Vernon Hills Council of Lake County Federation of Teachers (Local 504)

Our teachers are truly dedicated to their students! Jennifer Tye made a home visit to explain a math problem to this student.

Illinois Federation of Public Employees (Local 4408)

Carlton Merritt, a vehicle emissions compliance inspector is working remotely to help keep Illinoisans and our roads safe during this crisis.

Lake County Federation of Teachers (Local 504)

Prairie Crossing Charter School teachers sent a message of positivity to their students.

Chicago Teachers Union (Local 1)

Seniors in high school are coming to grips with the fact that the end of the year (and their high school experience) will not be the same as it was for others before them. Watch the heartfelt video below from Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey sharing advice about this with his own son.

Woodland Federation of Teachers (Lake County Federation of Teachers, Local 504)

A husband and wife teaching duo made local news talking about what it's like teaching from home.

Prairie Hill Federation of Teachers (Local 4423)

Members have been busy reaching out to their students. They collaborated with administrators to send postcards to their school families that contained a QR code linking to a video. The teachers also coordinated a parade with bus drivers, parents, administrators, and local police to say hello to their students.



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