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What’s a PSRP?

PSRP Day gets me thinking about all the wonderful folks I have worked with over my nearly 20-year teaching career—teachers, sure, but also resource clerks, teachers’ aides, schedulers, health aides, secretaries, bookkeepers, custodians and maintenance workers, security guards, the list goes on.  I want to tell you about one of them.

My friend Pam Nikitow is the English Department secretary at Niles North High School in Skokie, where I taught until I became IFT president.  Secretary, yes, but I think her title over the years has also been clerk, aide, resource personnel, parapro, assistant. Who knows, there are probably more.  She would be listed in the union’s membership rolls as “PSRP” (paraprofessional and school-related personnel—just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?).  Of course, none of those titles captures what she really does.  For nearly 20 years, Pam has held the department together, provided the teachers with every kind of support they need (running copies, making sure the field trip buses are there, getting whatever was needed to satisfy paperwork requirements for the district office—teachers somehow never seem able to do that on their own...).  I really cannot begin to list all Pam’s work, I just know that every day I taught I needed her for something.  This leaves out all the times she calmed an upset student who was sitting on a chair near Pam’s desk or guided a freshman student trying to learn her way around the school the opening week, or helped a frustrated parent on the phone.  And all this, all this, Pam has done day after day with remarkable good cheer and a smile.  If Pam was having a bad day on any one of those days I worked with her, I couldn’t tell.

I was lucky enough to teach two of Pam’s three wonderful kids—Brian and Greg.  So, Pam was clearly working hard to be a great mom as she worked hard to serve the teachers and students of Niles North.  Pam is quite humble and a bit shy and would not want me to write about her, I am sure.  But I guess this is my column, so sorry Pam if I have embarrassed you.  But if it helps, Pam, you can substitute another name for you in this column—Mary, Fred, Veronica, Stephanie….  There are thousands of IFT PSRP members around the state giving the same kind of dedicated service to their workplaces, the students and public they serve.  I am not sure anymore what the right term is to use to describe their jobs.  PSRP just doesn’t seem to do it well.  I think adding a few adjectives might be more accurate.  So here are a few adjectives to describe Pam Nikitow and all our PSRPs:  indispensable, essential, dedicated, giving, valued.

Please feel free to add your own words to the list.  In the meantime, deep thanks to you, Pam, and all our PSRP brothers and sisters!

Daniel J. Montgomery | IFT President




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