VBEA at the NEA Convention

VBEA members were in Washington, D.C. at the National Education Association Convention from July 1-8 representing the interests of Virginia Beach educators as well as those statewide during the 2016 representative assembly.

President Kelly Walker, vice president Barbara Powell and secretary Dawn Euman, along with board members Cameron Baker and Jessica Baker, as well as immediate past president Trenace Riggs and College Park association representative Brittany Jones have been in DC representing the interests of VBEA members and educators in Virginia Beach.

Among the highlights of the convention, it is taking a stand on the school-to-prison pipeline and heard from teacher of the year Jahana Hayes, who urged educators to “never underestimate their potential to transform their students’ lives.”

“As a teacher I am so emotionally invested in the success of my students that I sometimes forget that I deserve the respect and dignity of being a professional,” Hayes told the delegates.  “[My union] ensures that I am treated like the professional that I am and my creativity is not stifled by mandates. My union advocates on my behalf and creates a structure that protects me from myself.”

Delegates also heard from NEA-endorsed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who told the more-than-7,000 in attendance that “I have this old-fashioned idea that we should listen to the teachers and the support professionals who are with our kids every day.”

NEA executive director John Stocks also called on delegates to give a voice to a new generation of educators.

It’s time to stop talking and start listening, Stocks said. NEA shouldn’t tell new educators what they want or need to succeed, it should ask them what they need. Don’t tell them what the union can do for them, ask them how the union can help them.

The NEA and its affiliates are already immersed in this urgent work, creating pathways in every district to hold one-on-one conversations with potentially every single one of the 173,000 new hires entering our schools in the fall.

It’s near and dear to the heart of the VBEA, as our own Brittany Jones helped push for a NewEd initiative to be implemented statewide and here in Virginia Beach (Here’s what NewEd is all about).

This was the final NEA convention for outgoing Virginia Education Association president Meg Gruber and for VEA director of government relations Robley Jones, who VBEA immediate past president Trenace Riggs called “a wonderful person and a great government relations expert for the VEA for the past 17 years. And before that 18 years as a classroom teacher, 5 years as a VBEA and VEA President. WOW !!!!! An awesome man who served public education with dedication.”

For a behind-the-scenes look from the VBEA perspective, check out the short videos below, taken by board member Cameron Baker.

For more news from the convention, visit the NEA’s representative assembly page. Also, see how the NEA acted on approved new business items from its 2015 convention, and see what it has adopted during the 2016 gathering.

To learn more about the Virginia Beach Education Association and stay up to date on news and other membership issues, visit vbea.org. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates and Instagram for photos from our members and events.