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Taina Kataja-Urrey

During my 23 years of continuous service for the Music Department, I have been a strong even if a silent supporter of the Union and its activities. As a PTL who is teaching one-on-one applied lessons to individual students rather than courses, the contract stipulations never really seemed to apply to me beyond the negotiated raises. I also feel overlooked in my department. In the current climate where the school’s focus seems to be increasingly on polishing the public façade, my evidence-based teaching is centered on my students. My commitment to teaching them effectively as individuals, my continued pedagogical training over the years which includes my training in vocology and vocal health, and my decades long overall experience in teaching a specific skillset of a highly individual and personal craft are not valued. Even though my strong recruitment efforts have brought significant tuition moneys to the department over many years and while those efforts have at times been acknowledged – but only when I have pointed them out- my compensation continues to lag significantly behind that of my more recently hired colleagues.

As the result of the new ratified contract, I am very much looking forward to finally seeing some fair compensation for my dedicated work over all my many years. As a member of the Board, I would like to affect change in the current hiring practices of PTLs. The department should be held accountable for the hiring process which should be more unified and more transparent. There should be a formal job interview for each potential PTL and any hiring should be based on a proven skill set and pedagogical experience rather than a list of impressive artistic merits and therefore presumed pedagogical excellence. Once hired, all PTLs should be expected to fulfill the requirements of the contracts they signed without anyone getting preferential treatment for any reason. We should be paid for the extra time contractually required: end of semester juries (two days per semester) and auditions (four long days once a year). I strongly believe that regardless of the subject matter we teach, the Union will be stronger and more successful in future negotiations if we work as a unified large group. We need to work together and present a united front while including, respecting, and representing multiple viewpoints, including those of us who teach applied lessons. I want to add my efforts to the continuing fight to obtain group health benefits for all PTLs who need them. I hope that I will be able to join the Board to work on these goals.

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