As we take the time to acknowledge and thank all teachers during this National Teacher Appreciation Week, we also recognize that this is an especially crucial time for continuing education and keeping connections from the classroom strong even from a distance. This week we are featuring teacher, Director of Library Media Services at Essex High School, and Emerge Vermont alum Martine Gulick. Martine’s contributions to her community have been plentiful and the work of all educators in educating the next generation of leaders is definitely deserving of a week of celebration and recognition.
Martine earned her Master’s degree in French and Education from the University of Vermont after completing her undergraduate degree in French. As part of her graduate degree, she was a teaching assistant to one class each semester, and it was through that experience and with the influence of some great mentors that she first considered teaching as a career. Her first teaching job out of graduate school was as a high school French teacher. But when the opportunity to live abroad and teach at international schools arose, Martine jumped at it. During her time overseas, she lived and taught at the International School of Prague and the International School of Frankfurt. The programs were designed for expats and Americans who were working overseas, so the curriculum was fairly standard but with a more global lens.
After hearing about Emerge from her neighbor and State Representative Carole Ode, Martine completed a weekend-long candidate boot camp and then opted to apply for the signature program. She said that everything from learning how to avoid passive language while public speaking to gaining insight about power poses helped her get the full picture about what it meant to be a strong candidate. When her class’s training concluded in February of 2018, she was on the campaign trail the next month. Any campaign takes the work of a small army, and Martine says she was lucky to have a great support system that helped her knock on doors and prepare for interviews to promote her candidacy. In March of 2018 Martine ran for Burlington School Board and won after the incumbent and a male opponent dropped out. In March of this year, she won her campaign for re-election. She serves as the Chair of the Community Engagement Committee, was the Head of Early Education task force, and was the Co-Chair of the Superintendent search committee.
In addition to her duties in Burlington, her job at Essex High School—although it may look a little different—is still in full swing. As the Director of Library Media Services, Martine oversees a team of six staff members and on any normal day would be managing a library space that would see up to 1,300 people per day. Now with remote learning, Martine and her team are still committed to helping students conduct research by providing them with an extensive online database. For so many children, school is a safe and healthy environment where the pressures from home are put aside for a few hours of the day. Now, with the stay at home order and transition to remote learning, Martine thinks that it’s more important than ever to keep kids focused on their education. “Students have so many distractions in their lives—from phones to video games to social media. Keeping them focused on higher level skills and thinking is crucial during a time like this, especially since the physical aspect of the classroom is no longer part of the equation.” Martine has made an abundance of relationships with her students, and she is doing everything in her power to keep those connections strong. Zoom calls and check-ins via email are the main methods of communication these days, and Martine says that the student-teacher relationship is of utmost importance because it gives kids a valuable connection to adults other than their parents.
Even though a career in the education system was not always in her sights, Martine admits that she’s always been a coach for others. Being a teacher means having an impact in the life and future of America’s children. This week we can take a moment to show our support for the lasting contributions that teachers make everyday in and out of the classroom. People like Martine who commit their careers to being advocates for our nation’s schools and students are truly everyday heroes. The quote by Forest E. Witcraft, I think, is a nice reminder of how the work of people like teachers has a lasting impact on our world. It reads, “One hundred years from now it will not matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove, but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child”—Forest E. Witcraft.
Thank you to all of our nation’s educators!
Emerge has one goal: To increase the number of Democratic women in office who are reflective of the incredible diversity of the Democratic party by recruiting, training and providing a powerful network.