Pizza party elevates David Douglas teachers’ spirits

With the start of school right around the corner, here’s why the DDSD teachers’ association hosts what has now become an annual get-together …

Getting salads at their association’s annual pre-school luncheon at Pizza Baron are Jessica Somers, Ann Domholt, and Amanda Akers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The parking lot was filled with vehicles on August 27, as teachers from all of the 15 David Douglas School District worksites gathered for a luncheon at outer East Portland’s Pizza Baron Restaurant.

“We’ve found that this luncheon gives our members the chance to reconnect with people they don’t often get to see,” explained Phill Hurley, Treasurer of the David Douglas Education Association, and an elementary music teacher at the outer East Portland Gilbert Heights School.

David Douglas Education Association Treasurer Phill Hurley gets pizza, as he meets and greets members.

“We’ve had a lot of transfers over the last couple of years,” Hurley added. “And, because teachers don’t get paid until the end of September, this luncheon is a bit of a morale booster – plus, being a fun way to kick off the school year.”

While other teacher associations threatened walkouts about this time last year, Hurley said the thought these members had a “very good” working relationship with their district.

“Since the arrival [Superintendent] Don Grotting a couple of years ago, we’ve seen quite a positive change in the working relationship between the administration and the teachers union. For example, we’ve started holding labor-management meetings, where the building representatives meet with the school principals once a mont, and that has helped stop problems before they got started.”

Pizza Baron proprietors Jeff and Bill Dayton bring out more pizzas for hungry diners.

With every batch of pizza brought in the dining room, up come teachers, eager for more slices of pizza.

“We have 600 active members,” revealed Bob Gray, President of the David Douglas Education Association, and half-time French teacher at David Douglas High School.

“This is our third year hosting this luncheon,” Gray added, “which gives our teachers the opportunity to mingle. With this many active members, teaching kindergarten through senior high school classes, there aren’t many other occasions for them to get together in a social atmosphere.”

Eric Wadsworth, DDHS Activities Director, spends a moment with David Douglas Education Association President Bob Gray, and their host, Bill Dayton of Pizza Baron.

Where to hold their event was an easy choice, Gray said. “First, I came here as a kid and had pizza when my dad was a baseball coach.  I’ve known this place for 30-something years. Bill, the owner, is a great man, and constantly does great things for the community.”

Beyond that, Gray remarked, “We believe in supporting local businesses. When the community, teachers, and local businesses all support local education, it’s a good thing. Together, we help our kids.”

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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