Long-time Rochester Teachers Association president, Adam Urbanski is facing a challenger in the upcoming RTA election.
Audrey Sowell, a teacher and RCSD graduate, is running against Urbanski, who has held RTA’s top spot for the past 42 years.
Sowell has a 21-year record as a teacher and currently serves at School #17.
"As a champion for the teachers union, I firmly believe that transparency, inclusion, relevance, and communication are the cornerstones of a thriving and effective education system. By prioritizing these values, we can empower and support our classroom teachers, ensuring that they have the resources and support they need to provide the best possible education for our children,” she said.
Sowell is part of a slate of candidates—all teachers. They call themselves Roc Teachers in Action and say they want union officers to better represent teacher leaders who are close to the classroom and experience firsthand the challenges and obstacles faced each day in schools.
The group includes teachers running for over a dozen department leadership positions including the top five RTA spots. Kellene Paul, a 3rd grade teacher is running for RTA Secretary; Kristen French, a Speech and Language Pathologist, is running for First Vice President; Amy Labrosa, a Special Education Teacher, is running for Second Vice President; Bill Best a Math teacher, is running for RTA Treasurer.
They represent the most significant opposition RTA’s leadership has faced in years. “All of the current RTA officers are retired or have been out of the classroom for years,” they said in a statement.
“Teachers and support staff feel they need more support from both the district and the union. ROC Teachers in Action supports initiatives to increase staffing in schools, provide more mental health staff and resources, increase safety measures for staff and students and create a more transparent and democratic union that better reflects, represents, and includes more RTA members."
Urbanski last faced a challenger five years ago. He says he is confident he will be re-elected.
Elections will take place April 21 to May 8.