Ernie Arienti looks back over 28 year career with Quincy Fire Department.

Recently retired Quincy firefighter and former local union president discusses job and some of the health problems inherent with this line of work.

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How one teacher is transforming the world for students with autism
Liz Gomes of Boston and Mason, her son, who attends the Lee School
Liz Gomes of Boston and Mason, her son, who attends the Lee School

Working Mass Hero: Chris Hall, Teacher, Boston

A teacher at a school in Dorchester is making impressive art with students with autism—and his students are making impressive strides, thanks to his unique teaching gifts.

“Chris brought something out of my child and out of our kids at the Lee School. He made the impossible possible,” said Liz Gomes. Her son, nine-year-old Mason, is one of Hall’s students. Non-verbal until the age of five, Mason deals with autism and ADHD. Gomes said he’s a different child since taking class with “Mr. Chris,” as the students call him.

“Once he’s with Mr. Chris, he sits down and analyzes everything first, and takes his time,” said Gomes, who used to watch Mason struggle with projects. “Since he’s with Mr. Chris, his toys aren’t all scattered all over the house, he’s getting them in order.”

 

 

Springfield educator is named Massachusetts teacher of the year.

Her dedication to students is a great example of the hard work that public professionals give to their community, especially in an urban school district, where you rarely hear positive stories.

Teacher Receives Mass Audubon Award

Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical school biology teacher Ken Pearson was named High School Conservation Teacher of the Year.

Snowplow Driver Protects Driver of Car on Fire

A snowplow driver from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation wound up being part of the rescue when he came across a car fire in Andover during one of the recent snowfalls.

Alex Niles had just finished a long night of plowing when he pulled over at the site of a car fire on Interstate 93 South in Andover, at Exit 42. He pulled over, he said, just to make sure the driver of the car was safe. He had the car's driver, who had already exited the vehicle, stay behind the plow truck for safety. Then the car's gas tank exploded, sending fuel and flames towards the plow. Niles and the driver escaped injury and no one else was hurt.

“That’s what we do. Everybody’s there. I was the first one there and just make sure everybody’s safe. That’s part of our job, just making sure everybody is safe on the highways and that’s what I did,” Niles told Boston's Channel 7 (you can see their story, and the dramatic photos, here). 

Mass Students Rank Near Top of International Math/Science Test

Investing in good public education has its rewards--Massachusetts eighth graders have scored near the top of an international math and science exam

Massachusetts students were second only to students from Singapore in the science portion of the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMMS) exam. On the math portion, Bay State eighth graders ranked sixth out of the 63 countries taking the test. (Massachusetts students participated as an entity separate from the US as a whole, and outscored not only the entire US but the other eight states that participated individually.)

"Having students with strong math and science skills is critical to our future as a state with a vibrant economy based in the sciences," said Joe Dorant, president of the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists and co-chair of Working Massachusetts. "Investing in professional teachers and education as a whole makes a profound difference in educational outcomes. If we want to have an educated, professional workforce to strengthen our economy and our communities tomorrow, we have to give them the best teachers we can today."

You can read more about Massachusetts students and the TIMSS exam here

Police to Honor MBTA Driver for Rescuing Unattended Toddler

Police in Medford will present an MBTA bus driver with a commendation for her role in returning an unattended toddler to her family.

Sixteen-year MBTA veteran Donna D'Amelio was driving her bus near a busy intersection in Medford in the wee hours of an August Sunday morning when she spotted the two-year-old wandering unattended. D'Amelio immediately stopped her bus and cared for the girl until police arrived. Officers soon discovered an open door in a dwelling nearby and woke the child's mother, who was understandably upset to learn that her child had slipped out of the house unattended. Mother and daughter were safely reunited a short tine later. 

"Public workers come across all kinds of situations that aren't technically their responsibility, but they step up to the plate all the same," said Joe Dorant, cochairperson of Working Massachusetts. "We're happy that she's on our team and pleased that the Medford police are recognizing her for her service."

MOSES member Greg Skomal. (Photo: Boston Globe)
MOSES member Greg Skomal. (Photo: Boston Globe)

Massachusetts Marine Biologist “Shark Week” Star

 

Towards the end of summer, you may have seen “Shark Week” series on cable television’s Discovery Channel—the week devoted to programs following one of nature’s scariest creatures. But did you know that one of the stars of Shark Week is a Massachusetts public employee?

Greg Skomal is a marine biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries....

Court Officers Subdue Defendant in Alleged Attack on Attorney

 

Court officers at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston saved the day when they quickly subdued a murder defendant who allegedly punched his attorney.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Karp was in court on August 21 working on pretrial motions in the murder trial of Cornell Smith, who is accused of murdering Northeastern University student Rebecca Payne in 2008. As the defense and prosecution were arguing the motion, Smith allegedly punched Karp, who was seated next to him. Court officers quickly moved in and removed Smith from the courtroom.

“The court officers did an excellent job,” Karp told reporters. “They got a hold of the situation very quickly. I could have been very hurt if he’d continued.” 

 

“A generation ago, defendants didn’t do this kind of thing, but now court officers see this kind of violence more and more,” said David Abbott, president of NAGE Local 458, which represents court security personnel across the Commonwealth. “We have to be ready to respond decisively in a heartbeat. The COs at Suffolk Superior Court did their jobs very well and saved Mr. Karp and others from further harm.”

 

 

Union Membershiop Decline = Economic Decline for All

The next time someone tells you how "bad" unions have been for America, you might want to tell them that lower union membership rates mean LESS wealth for working people!

Thanks to our friends at the Boston Teachers Union, we have this piece from the Economic Policy Institute:

 

"One hallmark of the first 30 years after World War II was the 'countervailing power' of labor unions (not just at the bargaining table but in local, state, and national politics) and their ability to raise wages and working standards for members and non-members alike. There were stark limits to union power -- which was concentrated in some sectors of the economy and in some regions of the country -- but the basic logic of the postwar accord was clear: Into the early 1970s, both median compensation and labor productivity roughly doubled. Labor unions both sustained prosperity, and ensured that it was shared..."

You can see the entire piece from EPI here

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