Head of the Class: Toledo Teacher Federation President shares his story

Kevin Dalton has been the President of the Toledo Federation of Teachers since 2012, being reelected four times. A native of Jerusalem Township, just outside of Toledo, Kevin has a clear and obvious passion for the people. Since rising to the leadership position, he has worked for Toledo’s educational system, knowing that it is only as strong as the people who lead it. 

Describe yourself in one sentence.
Father of three, committed husband and lover of education and teaching. 

What was your go-to cartoon growing up? 
Probably Calvin and Hobbes. I appreciate the humor, along with the sarcasm, and also it usually had a good message. The (cartoon strip) wasn’t overtly hurtful towards people but it still had a good humor to it. 

Describe your ideal vacation.
Somewhere outdoors with my wife and three daughters, with limited cell phone coverage. 

What’s your favorite food?
Pizza. I prefer a thin crust with chicken, red sauce, different cheeses, fresh vegetables, green peppers and onions. 

What’s your favorite song?
Kind of weird, but I like “World on A String” by Frank Sinatra. 

Who was your childhood idol, and are they still an idol today? 
Probably my father, and yes. This is someone who graduated high school early per se, worked sixteen hours a day on the railroad — rain, heat, snow, didn’t matter — and provided for his family, and always said, “Don’t really care what you do when you’re getting old as far as profession, but I’m going to make sure you get through high school and college so you don’t have to work this hard.” You know, a giant of a man with the heart of a teddy bear, you could not ask for a more rounded individual. 

Talk a little about your job. What does it entail? 
My primary role is serving as the President of Toledo Federation of Teachers. Day to day, I find myself visiting buildings, interacting with teachers and students and looking for ways to advocate for the students and teachers, as well as innovate, while looking for better ways to engage students and the community through conversations with the experts and the community. In addition to meetings, we’re always looking to advocate for the students for resources in Toledo. We can’t have successful schools without having a successful community and the best way to make sure a community is successful is by engaging with it however we can. The better the community has it, the better our students have it. Everything I’m out there fighting for is to make the classroom conditions better, which creates a better long term investment. The more students that we are able to graduate, the better the life is in Toledo. 

Tell us about your goals in life. What do you hope to achieve? 
First and foremost, my legacy is my family and I hope that what they grow up to be is everything I have taught them and modeled for them. Work wise, my goal is to advocate and to provide a voice for the voiceless. My goal is to use our contracts, our collective bargaining ability and the professionalism and integrity of our [Toledo Federation of Teachers’] members to deliver that service for them. 

What did you dream of growing up to do when you were a kid?
Interestingly enough, when I was very young as a kid, I always thought I wanted to be a truck driver. And then as I got older, and watched how my dad gave back to a lot of different people and helped them out, I found myself wanting to do the same thing, and then ended up in education and went from there. 

What do people know you best for? 
Some people may know me best for sarcasm, some people may know me best for, when they ask me how it’s going, I tell them ‘best day ever,’ and I’m sure many people know me for the determination to fight for what I believe is right for our members and the students and community they serve. 

If you could change one thing in history, what would it be? 
I guess given all the experiences and everything I’ve been through, I would probably change how the education system is funded in Ohio to make it more fair. So many lives are dictated by the zip code they live in, [I would] rather [have life paths determined] by the opportunities they (people) could be given. 

What do you feel you still need to work on about yourself? 
You know, I think I can always do better when it comes to being an engaged, active listener. I always have a lot of ideas and I’m excited to share them. I’m working on not sharing so many ideas and digesting and consuming more, so maybe, ‘listen more and talk less.’ 

What is your perfect Saturday? 
Waking up, making pancakes for my family, going for a walk or doing something outdoors and then just really hanging out with my family uninterrupted. That’s a perfect Saturday. 

Your favorite place to visit? 
A good place to visit, especially since I had such a good time there with a lot of good memories, would be traveling out west, visiting Mt. Rushmore. I think that was a great place to visit because you’re disconnected from everything that was going on here, while experiencing a lot of history. 

What’s the best restaurant in Toledo? 
I’m a fan of Inky’s Pizza. 

The reason you do what you do. . . 
I love everything about what I do. It is stressful at times, but I love the opportunity to represent some of the best people in the world; our members, our teachers, the people in our community, I get to do that everyday. I’m representing teachers and the youth and classrooms and a public education that’s for everybody, so I’m very excited about that and that’s what drives me. 

Your favorite author?
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the author Lee Strobel, and it’s not so much about the topics as much as it is about his journalistic approach and researching things and diving into things. He has a critical thinking skill that he includes in his writing, so I enjoy reading his stuff. 

Hot dogs or hamburgers? 
Hamburgers, with mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, fresh pickles and onions, and lettuce.