MCAAP, Local 146 Awards Past Year, Looks to Future

“Because We Lead, We Rise Together,” was the focus of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Association of Administrators and Principals, AFSA Local 146 during its annual summer leadership conference held at the end of June in Cambridge, Maryland.

“MCAAP’s Summer Leadership Conference is always a great opportunity for our members to learn, connect and achieve more through new ideas, trends and best practices to keep administrators informed and ahead of the curve,” said Local 146 President Christine Handy. “The conference featured great speakers, presentations and breakout sessions where administrators engaged in discussions that helped improved education delivery to students and had great opportunities to network with colleagues for peer-learning."

In her opening remarks, Dr. Handy emphasized the importance of unity and action, declaring, "We are a union, and we must be prepared, when called upon, to ACT Like It! Our voice matters, and I need you.”

Baruti Kafele, a highly regarded urban educator from New Jersey, delivered the keynote address, challenging attendees to ask, "Is your school, team, department or division better because you lead it?" His speech was filled with insightful advice and professional learning.

Over his career, Kafele has distinguished himself as a master teacher and transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, New Jersey, he was honored as District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for New Jersey Teacher of the Year. As a principal, Kafele led significant turnarounds, including at Newark Tech, which went from being a low-performing school to achieving national recognition. The school was recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America's best high schools, and Kafele received the prestigious Milken Educator Award.

During the retiree luncheon and union awards program, AFSA Secretary-Treasurer Mark Cannizzaro lauded the efforts of Local 146, highlighting members' standout advocacy activities. Cannizzaro noted the active presence of MCAAP members on Capitol Hill and their local's advocacy with the County Council and Board of Education. He commended their aggressive fight and outreach for budgetary needs and administrative positions.

"I know this has been a tough budget year for your school system," Cannizzaro said. "Your local has worked with your teachers' union and supporting services union to form a united front in advocating for the funding needed for your district. Together, you are stronger!"

Cannizzaro emphasized that while Local 146 has been a strong independent union for years, joining the AFSA family integrates them into a much larger labor movement. This membership means having the support of school administrators across the country and the entire AFL-CIO. He assured them that AFSA works daily on behalf of its members, fighting on Capitol Hill and within the executive branch, and collaborating with partners to shape the future.

"It is clear to me spending time with you that the strength of MCAAP lies in its unwavering sense of community and solidarity,” said Cannizzaro. “It is abundantly clear that MCAAP is a close-knit, unified group where members not only support each other but also wholeheartedly celebrate each other's achievements."

"We are happy to have you as part of the AFSA family," Cannizzaro stated. "Since you joined, we now have a half-dozen new locals, including your neighbors in Fairfax County [Virginia]." 

Cannizzaro invited the members of Local 146 to attend the AFSA national convention next year, where policy positions will be adopted and an agenda defined for the next three years. He reminded them of the ongoing battle for appropriate working conditions and compensation for education leaders nationwide, underscoring that this is the essence of union work.

The remainder of the conference was filled with engaging learning sessions on varied topics, including inclusivity, monitoring protocols, self-care, public relations, accountability, understanding your 403(b) and 457 plans, investing for your future and using artificial intelligence (AI) in your schools. The conference also offered exhibitor, sponsorship and other groups opportunities to share their programs and services with administrators. 

“The conference concluded with a lively mix of food, fun and fellowship, leaving attendees energized and united,” said Dr. Handy.