Ben Rust Award 2006: Sandra Mack, United Educators of San Francisco

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas during the Second World War, baby Sandra Mack traveled to California when her soldier father accepted the wisdom of his sister, a shipyard worker and living example of Rosie the Riveter, and decided to settle in the Bay Area.

Sandra started immediately to cast her lot with the San Francisco Unified School District. She attended preschool classes before going to Guadalupe Elementary. From there she touched San Francisco history and hinted at her future career when she went to James Denman Junior High School, a school named for one of the first seven teachers in the first seven schools in San Francisco. Denman led to its big next-door neighbor, Balboa High School. From there it was a short hike up Ocean Avenue to City College of San Francisco and then further to the west and matriculation at San Francisco State College.

Once Sandra received her teaching credential, she was hired by the district that had prepared her. Her first (and only) assignment was as a Spanish teacher at Lowell High School. Sandra taught and served as a faculty leader from then on. At the time of her first evaluation, Sandra learned that she and another Spanish teacher were brought in to shake up the department with their youth and new ways of teaching. Sandra has been shaking things up ever since.

She likes to say that she went from stuffing envelopes in the union office to staying there all day. And it should be added, that she frequently stays almost all night. Sandra Mack has served her brothers and sisters tirelessly as a Building Representative, Area Representative, elected Executive Board officer, Vice President of the San Francisco Federation of Teachers up until merger in 1989, Vice President of the California Federation of Teachers when the number expanded to the grand total of 12, and now as Vice President for Substitutes of the United Educators of San Francisco.

Sandra Mack has also served as a delegate to more conventions and meetings than she would like to remember, is a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, and a member of the UESF bargaining team.

Starting in 1989 when the terms of the UESF merger gave the vice presidency to the California Teachers Association, Sandra involved herself in professional organizations and activities. She served on WASC accrediting teams and was a member of the initial group establishing standards for National Board certification in foreign languages.

Sandra retired after June of 2002 and intended to sit around scarfing bon-bons, walking her dog, Pepper, and reading. Instead, she was lured back into the fray and convinced that since she has spent a few retirement days subbing, she should run for the office of Vice President for Substitutes. She undertook the challenge and won her office handily.

As an active member of the bargaining team, Sandra clearly articulates the needs and conditions of substitutes while bringing her years of varied services to the table. She was a member of an earlier bargaining team that staged the great sit-in, sleep-in, stay-in of the 1970s in a successful effort to force the district to the table. Sandra Mack started her career in the union under the guidance of a previous Ben Rust Award winner, Jim Ballard. She served on the same faculty with two more, Maury Englander and Joan-Marie Shelley

Her interests are varied, her intelligence is keen, her words are clear and her heart is true. Sandra Mack is a woman who is both loved and honored by all who know her.