After serving for 10 years as the Oakdale Teachers Association president, Sierra View Elementary School teacher Linda Kraus recently stepped down. Noting that “it’s time” to make room for new blood and to focus more on her other California Teachers Association project commitments and as council chairperson for the Stanislaus Service Center, which serves more than 25 locals, Kraus has passed the reins to fellow Sierra View teacher Stacy Graham.
Graham has taught in the Oakdale school district for 15 years. She began her career at Magnolia Elementary School and transferred to Sierra View after it opened where she teaches fifth grade. She has also taught at the second and third grade levels. Her OTA involvement has included serving as Sierra View’s School Site Representative and previously served in the same capacity for two years at Magnolia. She was also formerly the Human Rights contact person for OTA, which focused on advocacy for minorities in the membership.
When asked about her reason for wanting to take on the responsibilities of the top role on the executive board for the OTA, Graham noted the chance for growth.
“I’ve been a site rep and I saw the opportunity for leadership training through CTA,” she said, adding that she wanted to get more involved in the local and knew the president position was opening.
While Graham wanted to get more involved and serve on the executive board, she wasn’t so sure initially about the presidential role. She wanted to get her feet wet, but the only opening was the position Kraus was vacating. She said she talked extensively to Kraus to see what the job entailed and see if she wanted to take on the challenge.
“I thought, well, now’s the time. If I’m going to step into the leadership role, now’s the perfect opportunity,” Graham said.
Kraus and Graham worked on a plan together and Kraus will help Graham transition, introducing her to people and showing her the ropes. Kraus said that she will continue to be a resource for Graham and the association, helping Graham handle different things that come up and their protocols. She added that she also expects to continue to answer questions from Graham for a while. Working together at Sierra View also gives Graham some peace of mind because Kraus is a readily available source for information.
As OTA president, Graham said she’s looking forward to actually getting to see and talk to every teacher in the district. As for the challenges she’ll face, she said she knows they’re out there but they can’t be predicted.
“Until I encounter it, I’m not going to know,” she said. “You don’t know until you finally encounter it.”
“She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know,” Kraus said. “She’s definitely up for the challenge.”
Kraus added that there are many things Graham will be learning and she’ll have to do much of it “in the saddle.” For one, she’ll have to study and learn the contract.
“She’s the guardian of the contract,” Kraus said, adding that Graham will also have to learn the bylaws and how the association works.
Some of the things Graham learns she may not expect, Kraus noted.
“Sometimes her decision won’t be popular but it will be best for the good of the whole,” she said.
Kraus also noted that years ago she had been a co-president in the district before it became unified, so she had some idea of what the job was like. After completing her Masters degree, Kraus took on the union president’s role and took it one year at a time. She said that there is a lot of learning in the first year and after she did it, she felt she could do a better job the next year and so on.
“A year isn’t enough because of the timelines,” Kraus said, adding that there are many legal issues, the education code, and more that takes time to absorb.