Keith Burns isn’t new to the education system.
Now entering his 30th year as an educator, the recently elected Oakdale Teachers Association President is ready for this next task at hand. Well, as prepared as one can be when taking on such a role.
As a past OTA Site Representative, as well as member of the negotiating team, Burns was familiar with the comings and goings of OTA, as well as the importance of teacher volunteers.
“Unions are important because there’s administration and teachers,” he said. “The unions can help facilitate problems between them. Also supporting teachers in other ways.”
Now in his 12th year as a teacher with Oakdale Joint Unified, Burns shared he first became involved with OTA shortly after achieving tenure with the district nine years ago. He’s been an active member ever since.
He was officially elected into the 2017-2018 role in late May, after serving several months assisting past President Lance Campbell, who was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year.
During the summer Burns attended a four-day leadership conference hosted by California Teachers Association. It was an experience he described as both informative as well as overwhelming.
“There’s a lot of meetings,” Burns acknowledged of his new role. “I knew it would be busy, but I wasn’t quite aware of how busy. There’s almost something to do every day.”
The veteran teacher recognizes the importance of proper communication among members, as well as district administrators. It’s a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly. He also recognizes the importance of offering focus to the members as they look forward to making a positive impact in their respective roles as educators.
For the 2017-2018 school year Burns has set the focus to two things: students being the focus of all they do and professionalism and emulating this in all areas of what they do.
Personally the OTA President also intends to aid teachers in understanding many of the benefits offered them by the union.
“Helping people to understand the benefits the union brings to them,” he said of his mission. “There are many people that are unaware of those benefits.
“One of the biggest misconceptions, I think is that people think a union will always be there,” he continued. “A union is only there because someone stands up to be a President or a site rep. So people think if I ignore it, it will still be there. That’s not really true. Also a union is only as strong as its members level of participation.”
Fortunately for Burns, OTA members are both active and involved. Something Burns sees as a true benefit to the strength of the union as well as the district overall.
As for his 12 years as an Oakdale educator and the dozen years he’s spent at Fair Oaks Elementary, Burns credits that to the people he is surrounded by.
“What I enjoy most is the wonderful people I get to work with,” he stated. “I know that sounds cliché, but it’s absolutely true.”