Teachers value maternity/paternity leave

Teachers value maternity/paternity leave as new parents

Having a child is time consuming and expensive, which is why paid maternity is so crucial to new parents who teach. The Lawrence School District recognizes this and therefore offers paid maternity leave, something which many jobs do not provide to their employees.

While taking a parental leave, some teachers run into problems with scheduling and financial needs. President of the Lawrence Education Association, Laurie Folsom, described the the monetary issues that might arise.

“We have ten days every year that teachers can take off for illness or personal leave,” Folsom said. “The federal government guarantees 90 days to take off [for maternity or paternity leave], but it is unpaid.”

Baya Burgess
Sitting down with her students, teacher Abbey Wiggins returns from her maternity leave working hard. “The worst part of maternity leave was when it ended and I could no longer wear sweatpants or shorts every day,” Wiggins sad.

In the Lawrence School District, teachers have an ability which many consider crucial to the success of their staff: they can donate days off into a pool for those who need extra vacation time. This can be extremely helpful to those who need to be absent in light of a newborn child.

This is certainly the case with agricultural education teacher Abbey Wiggins, whose leave started unexpectedly early, forcing her to take a few extra days of absence provided by her coworkers.

“The first week of my maternity leave experience was stressful because my daughter made her grand arrival almost three weeks before my due date,” Wiggins said. “I actually Facetimed with my parents as they set-up my classroom for the first day of school from my hospital.”

While on maternity leave, humanities and photography teacher Sarah Podrasky enjoyed her extended time with her baby Phil Podrasky.

Baya Burgess
Reading with his class, teacher Andrew Martin returns to school after his paternity leave. “Paternity leave allowed me to spend so much quality time with Arlo,” said Martin. “We built an extremely strong connection with each other that would have been really hard to build if I hadn’t take paternity leave.”

“It’s really important to have time that we can dedicate to caring for our babies,” Podrasky said. “I was very glad to have some much needed quality time with little Phil. It really made me feel relieved to know that I could be with him no matter where he needed to go.”

Andrew Martin—an english teacher who recently returned from paternity leave—also understands the importance of spending quality time with a new baby. As an educator, he recognizes the value of teaching his son, Arlo, at a very

young age. He feels that as babies observe the world, it helps to supplement their experiences with guided lessons, making the opportunity for paid leave crucial to his new family.

“Arlo, at this very moment, is learning at a faster rate than he will later in life,” Martin said. “I try and read to him everyday and teach him as many things as possible for his developmental stage.”

Baya Burgess
Working with a student, photography teacher Sarah Podrasky returns to teaching after her recent maternity leave. “It was very weird to be back,” said Podrasky. “I remember thinking how hard it was for me to focus, because I wasn’t used to so many people talking at the same time.”

As teachers bond with their babies during their time off, it can be hard for them to  leave their child and come back to school. For Podrasky, she found difficulty in leaving her son at home, but found solace in her qualified babysitter.

“It was hard to leave him at first, but I knew he was in good hands and that my students needed and missed me, too,” Podrasky said. “It helps that his babysitter sends me photos of him throughout the day.”  

Martin also found it challenging to leave his son at daycare, but soon realized that it was good for both his and his child’s development.

“In the beginning, I hated leaving him at daycare,” Martin said. “But, now I see how much he has grown socially and emotionally being around other children. Our provider is amazing, so my anxiety about it has pretty much evaporated.”

Looking at the reactions from teachers when it comes to parental leave, it is apparent how crucial it is to so many people. An indicator of how considerate the district is towards its staff, USD 497 recognizes how important it is for parents to devote themselves to those opening weeks of a child’s life.

Emily Zeller