Area Today

Welcome to Area Today

About Us

2017-2018 Officers

  • AREA President: Jocelyn Merz
  • AREA Vice President: Sandra Rivera
  • AREA Recording Secretary: Emily McChristian
  • AREA Corresponding Secretary: 
  • AREA Treasurer: Seyem Estep
  • AREA Director K-2: OPEN
  • AREA Director 3-5: Danielle Letts
  • AREA Director 6-8: Maimona Afzal  Berta 
  • AREA Special Ed Director: Tony Colonna
  • State Council: Nate Dawson

2017-18 Committee Chairpersons


Negotiations: Seyem Estep

Grievance: Anthony Colonna

Elections: Loretta Tanner

Member Engagement:   Danielle Letts

Santa Clara SCC Rep: Sherry Duarte

Mt.. Hamilton Rep: Ryan Jaeger 

PAC/PIC: Nate Dawson

Benefits: Tony Colonna

Human Rights: 

Website/Comm: Debra Locke

CTA PCS-Staff: Kris Clarke

President's Message

During my last eight years as president, I have had the opportunity to meet many of you personally, and I feel great pride to work with such remarkable, dedicated, and hard-working people. It’s quite obvious that the teachers of Alum Rock put student learning and student wellbeing as a priority. It’s apparent in the conversations I have had with many of you that you truly care about teaching to, and caring about, “the whole child”. You advocate for the best learning environment and educational plan for every student in our district.

This year, I look forward to meeting our new teachers and revisit our returning teachers. I will be scheduling site visits and hope to have visited every site within the next few weeks. Not only do the site visits give me an opportunity to meet individual teachers, but it also gives me the chance to get a “climate reading” of each school. I hear individual concerns, as well as site concerns. This provides me with the information I need to try to make your job easier. I can be the liaison to the principal and/or district to share the concerns and recruit the support necessary to meet the needs of the teachers and, ultimately, the needs of our deserving students.

A bit about me for those of you who wonder “who is that person that keeps sending me emails???”…I have been teaching in Alum Rock for 29 years, most of that time at my home school of Lyndale Elementary. I have taught grades K-4, and combinations within those grades. Although, I have not taught in middle school, over the past 8 years I have gained an understanding of how they are different from elementary. I have experienced first hand the effects of a temporary contract and the layoff process. I have survived through at least 14 superintendents (some multiple times), and about 9 principals. When I began teaching in Alum Rock, there was no curriculum department…we were expected to develop our own curriculum. Twelve years later, we were faced with a scripted curriculum…a complete opposite end of the spectrum. Now the shift is to using the Common Core State Standards to drive our instruction and we are transitioning to new math and language arts curriculum.

I have two adult children, both girls, Jaime (36) and Jen (33). My older daughter is a self-employed graphic designer. My younger daughter, Jen, after seven years as a first-grade literacy teacher at Rocketship Si Se Puede and a Teach for America alumni, has moved on to teach preschoolers in East Palo Alto at The Primary School, a private school integrating health, education and family support services. In the last 8 months, each of my daughters has brought in a new addition to our family. So, I am now  very proud and grateful to have 3 beautiful grandchildren.

My greatest priority includes the fair, just, and equitable treatment of all people…, which probably has resulted in my union involvement over the years in Alum Rock. Many years back, when what I was seeing was against my convictions, I felt it necessary “to get involved”. I believe that when there are inequities and/or the unfair or unjust treatment of people, it is my responsibility to do what I can to change that. I never considered it would lead to being president of our Association. However, since it has, after 8 years I am still up for the challenge and hope that, together, we can work toward making Alum Rock the best place to teach our great students.

Your participation in our Association creates the strength and resources necessary for us to be the perpetual advocates for our students, community, and our teachers. Education is continually searching for the ultimate “silver bullet” to destroy the achievement gap and guarantee that each student is college and/or career ready. In doing so, we are constantly engaging in trainings and professional development. Without a strong Association to define our working conditions, we would be expected to devote 24/7 to our profession, leaving nothing left for ourselves or our family .

This year we have challenges facing us, some from outside of our district and others caused from within our district. It is important to continue to speak out and stand strong together to maintain fairness, justice, and equity for each of our members. I encourage you to become involved in our Association, whether it’s in the way of attending board meetings, representing your school site, informing AREA leadership of contract violations, or maintaining a willingness to step up when asked to participate in collective action…

In solidarity,

Jocelyn Merz,

Your AREA Preside