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#IFTSTRONG: Coronavirus edition

by Jennifer Visk | Mar 20, 2020
Here we recognize our members who are staying #IFTstrong during this health crisis.
coronavirus member Stories graphic

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.

New posts:

Our teachers are truly dedicated to their students! Jennifer Tye, an IFT member in the Vernon Hills Council of Lake County Federation of Teachers (Local 504), made a home visit to explain a math problem to this student. 

504vernon hills teacher visits home math

You'll be able to find some IFT members in this video, including Band Directors Dierdre Cook from the Winthrop Harbor Council of Local 504 and Shan Kazmi from the Zion-Benton Council. Beautiful!

Brett Blair from the District 88 Council of West Suburban Teachers Union, Local 571, doesn't let distance stop him from teaching poetry to his class.

571 member brett blair teaching a poem

One thing is for sure in this uncertain time - our members miss their students! Teachers in Winthrop Harbor Council of Local 504 made this video to connect with their kids.


Our members in Thornton Fractional High School Local 683 are keeping themselves informed of the guidelines from ISBE. Thanks and keep up the great work!


Older posts:

Teachers in the Northwest Suburban Teachers Union (Local 1211) 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." Read more here!


Members like mechanic Craig Wilkinson in IFT Local 4408 - the Illinois Federation of Public Employees - are working hard on IDOT vehicles to keep them running during the coronavirus shutdown.

4408 craig wilkinson cms mechanic working on idot vehicle during covid

Members of Local 504's Winthrop Harbor council took to Instagram to reach out to their students in this creative way. 


Members in the Belleville H.S. Federation of Teachers and Support Staff (Local 434) 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 - scroll for video. 

434 belleville wifi via bus

Members of the Waukegan Paraprofessional council of Local 504 helped pack tables full of boxed lunches to deliver to their students. 

waukegan paraprofessionals council of 504 packing students lunches

Argo Council members of IFT Local 571 opted to sing the school fight song to spread some cheer to their students. Watch the video here.

argo fight song

Belleville Area Spec. Services Cooperative Employees Union (Local 6143) member Joel Gherardini is doing his part making masks. Thank you Joel!

6143 member joel gherardini sewing surgical masks for doctors in need compilation

As our teachers and school employees are continuing their hard work to serve students, they are also spreading encouragement and positive thoughts. Our members in O'Fallon Federation of Teachers (Local 3939) put together a video to reach out to their students even though they are apart right now. The students even replied!

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. Read more about their great work in the Rockford Register-Star. 

hft cares compilation harlem 540

harlem fed noris collab

Teachers in Granite City had a district-wide parade through neighborhoods to uplift the spirits of the students. Over 100 cars participated! See more via the Belleville News-Democrat.



Shiloh Federation of Support Personnel (Local 6425) have been busy making sure their students are fed at lunch time. Thanks for your hard work!

shiloh fed support personnel 6425 lunches to students compilation

Galena Federation of Teachers (Local 4640) stayed in touch with their students with their own version of "We'll Be There For You."

The Zion-Benton Council of Local 504 got creative and a member made this beautiful graphic for their social media sites to make sure students know they can reach out for help. 

504 zion benton messgae for students

Support Staff in East St. Louis (Local 1220) are now available via hotline for students who need to reach them. Even through these isolating times, our members are finding new ways to be there for their students. 

estl support staff hotline

DeKalb Classroom Teachers Association, Local 4328, wished students well before their Spring Break last week and reminded us all - this takes a village. 

dekalb spring break message

Belle Valley Education Association (Local 4465) members had a busy week making meals and deliveries, but were rewarded with a lot of student smiles!

belle valley prepping meals

belle valley delivering meals

belle valley happy students

IFT Secretary Jane Russell on the hard work our members are doing and how we at IFT are working on your behalf through this crisis. We are stronger together. We are the IFT. 

East St. Louis Support Staff (Local 1220) established a helpline that students can text at any time. What a great support system! 

Our teachers in Lebanon Federation of Teachers (Local 4122) can be found reading their favorite books to keep in contact with students on Flipgrid. And on the right, Local 4122 President Donna Wood is gathering materials to deliver to her students stuck at home. Thank you! 


Our own Executive Vice President Stacy Davis Gates can verify - our teachers are hard at work! We appreciate you. 

32020 rt of sdg

You can tell that our members in Illini Bluffs (Locals 3810 & 4554) are taking social distancing seriously, but that doesn't stop them from preparing bags of food for their students!

4554 and 3810 meal prep

Our food service members in Peoria are serving about 4,000 meals a day in 19 locations, and have been doing so since March 17. Kudos! The Peoria Journal-Star did a story on their work.

This member is a librarian in Harlem Federation of Teachers (Local 540). Her library is now on wheels as she delivers books to kids. 

harlem librarian delivers books

Our members in Wolf Branch Association of Teachers (Local 6117) had a parade for their students at a safe distance. 

wolf branch social distancing parade2

Our higher ed members are keeping up their great work serving their students and collaborating with each other as they work remotely.Thank you!

4100 higher ed members working remotely

Gillespie Councils of the Macoupin County Federation of Teachers (Local 528) have developed their very own "meals on wheels" program to serve their students.



Members in Belleville and East St. Louis are teaming up to feed their students. They were ready to go with a plan the day after Governor Pritzker announced schools would close. Thank you for your quick work! Their story was covered by the Belleville News-Democrat.

On St Patrick's Day, our members of Dupo Teachers Union (Local 1732) were busy delivering lunches to their students, dressed up for the day of course. Thank you! 
dupo delivering lunches beth lenz

200 meals - wow! Keep up the great work, Harlem Federation of Teachers (Local 540)!



Peoria Heights Education Association (Local 3823) may be a small team, but their bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and monitors are making a huge impact as they work together to deliver meals and work packets to all of their students. 

Peoria Heights 3823 compilation 1

Peoria Heights Education Association 3823 2

One silver lining through this health crisis: we see the words "thank you" as much as we see "coronavirus." 

thornton 683 tweet

Michelle Smith, an IFT member from the Gillespie Teachers Council of the Macoupin County Federation of Teachers, Local 528, teaches biology and coaches softball. She made headlines after inspiring her student athletes to do something special for the elderly in their community. Read more here. Great work, Michelle!


Our teachers in Shiloh Education Association, Local 4755, are working hard to make sure their students keep learning and continue working on their reading skills. 


This CTU Local 1 member started a vlog on the power of routines to reduce anxiety during the Stay-at-Home order and social distancing. You can find her great tips here! Thanks, Samantha!


We reiterate. Awesome!

argo tweet 2

Woodland Teachers and Staff of Local 504 have been hard at work, too. Look at all those meals ready to go!


Thank you Warren Council, Local 504! It's inspiring to see our members pull together for their schools and communities. Even though everything seems "shut down" due to the coronavirus health crisis, our members continue their work. 



Our members at Grant District #110 Federation of Teachers, SWIFT 6600, are working hard to make sure their students get lunch, delivering meals along the usual bus route. 

grant teachers

Kankakee Federation of Teachers President Beth Anderson made the local paper talking about the work their teachers, staff, and district are doing to prepare for e-learning.

Harlem Federation of Teachers Executive Board has been busy stocking up so they can distribute to families in need. 

harlem fed food distr

Madison Federation of Teachers and Support Personnel (Local 763) packed up and delivered lunches to students this week. Great teamwork!

743 madison fed tchr and ss prep and deliver lunches

Schools may be closed but that doesn't stop our members from making sure their students have the resources they need.

harlem libriarian

It's great to see smiling faces as our members continue their work in this new reality. Keep up the great work!

dekalb classroom teachers day 1

Positivity is important right now. Thank you Argo Council of Local 571!

 argo tweet 1



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