Meet your colleagues

We work in New York City charter schools and are active in our union. Read our stories and find out how we are working in our schools to make improvements for our students and ourselves.

Alicia Latman

Q: Why did you decide to become a charter school teacher?

A: My initial impression of charter schools was they were freed from being forced into a “cookie-cutter’ curriculum and provided teachers with greater control over what was taught, which seemed exciting to me. I thought of traditional district schools as more rigid and charters as having greater freedom over what was taught in the classroom. Read more…

Jennifer Nelson

Q: Why did you decide to become a charter school teacher?

A: I’ve always had a natural inclination to work in the classroom, I first thought about becoming a teacher at age five. When I looked into charter schools, I was attracted to the idea of teacher-input into the classroom and allowing teachers to be creative.

When I was in college I worked with an autistic child, which sparked my interest in education and working with children. Part of me was worried I wouldn���t be able to keep up since working with just one child was so challenging, but after a year sitting behind a desk I realized I needed something more challenging and fulfilling. I really wanted a job that focused on reading and writing, which are really my passions. Read more…

Ed Tan

Q: Why did you decide to become a charter school teacher?

A: I didn’t. I started as a paraprofessional in another school in Manhattan and then I became a teacher in the Renaissance School and they converted into a charter school. It is more flexible now; we can do more stuff. We can pace our curriculum the way we want; we can make decisions for our own department’s matters. There are a lot of opportunities for us to get involved in sports and other after-school activities. For instance, I was the high school teaching and learning coordinator; I coached the girls’ basketball and boys’ soccer teams; I also taught Chinese Mandarin after school; and I am currently the UFT chapter leader in my school. Read more…

Reagan Fletcher

Q: Why did you decide to become a charter school teacher?

A: I had an opportunity to start a music program in a brand new school and that afforded me some freedom that I didn’t have working in an established district school. For example, as my students get older, I don’t have to have a traditional band setting. I can have different ensembles that cater to my students’ interests. So essentially I can build the program around the size of the school and the community we’re in and it is very exciting. Read more…

Eric Benzel

Q: Why did you decide to become a charter school teacher?

A: When looking for schools, I wasn’t specifically looking for a charter or district school. More importantly, I wanted to find a school where teachers felt supported by their principals, staff worked together closely and students were held to high expectations. Now that I’m working at a charter, I’ve had the opportunity to appreciate how much flexibility and support teachers are given at our school. Read more…

Christine Hernandez

Q: Why did you decide to become a charter school teacher?

A: I didn�������������t seek out a job at a charter school per se, but I’ve just always known I wanted to be a teacher; I used to teach my dolls. When I was younger and I was struggling in school, my 4th- grade teacher, Ms. Ford, helped me to believe in myself. She showed me that even though it was a struggle I could do well, and she taught me to really enjoy school. She really inspired me to become a teacher myself so I could give students that sense of pride and excitement about learning. Read more…