DENVER (CBS4) — Denver teachers rallied in City Park Friday following historic contract negotiations. This time it was to celebrate instead of strike. After a long night of negotiating, a tentative contract deal was struck early Thursday morning. Friday afternoon, union leaders and educators addressed a crowd from the bed of a pickup truck in City Park Friday.
“We have great schools when we have great teachers!” shouted Dr. Joyce Brooks, State Education Chair for the NAACP.
As Brooks spoke, her granddaughter, 10-year-old Kenya Brooks filmed her with an iPhone.
“I have my grandkids here. They have been celebrating because their teachers are back,” said Dr. Brooks from the pickup truck.
Kenya’s ears perked up at the mention. While grandmother asked her to come to the rally, it wasn’t a hard decision for Kenya.
“I wanted to come because I think it’s important that teachers are back so they can teach us and we can learn what we need to know,” said Kenya.
Kenya and her sister 7-year-old sister Kaya, both students at Dora Moore, hadn’t seen their teachers in nearly a week.
“I was excited to see my teacher because it was boring having a substitute,” said Kaya.
Kenya was excited to have some structure back in the classroom.
“Everything was out of hand and we didn’t really do any work because the kids in my class behave weirdly when substitutes are here.”
For students Lizzie Clok and Trinity McClure, seeing their teacher at the rally was cause for a group hug.
Helen Funk is their instructor at the DPS 18-21 Transition Program. She said it was incredibly difficult telling them she wouldn’t be back until the strike was over.
“I love my students. They’re my heart and soul they teach me everyday. It’s a reciprocal relationship,” said Funk.
While Clok and McClure rely on the special education Funk provides, they understood and supported her absence.
“They’re really nice and supportive and so I want to help support them to!” said Clok.
The day wasn’t only about celebrating the tentative deal. It was also about thanking everyone, on both sides, who worked to get to this point.
“The greatest thing of this day, I could cry now, is our coming together, all kinds of people in this district, to help our children. We want better schools and we can’t have it without everybody being involved,” said Dr. Brooks.
The contract still has to go through a ratification process. Teachers will have the chance to ask questions about the contract at a union meeting at Riverside Baptist Church Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.