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Virginia Journal of Education


Your Association


Association Holding
Statewide Elections

VEA members will elect a new president, vice president, member of the NEA Board of Directors and two, perhaps three, members of the VEA Board of Directors in elections to be held this spring. In the VEA Board election, there is one candidate for the Retired-at-Large seat and two candidates for a second Retired-at-Large seat, if the creation of that seat is approved at the VEA Delegate Assembly. In addition, there is one candidate for the Education Support Professionals At-Large seat on the VEA Board.

Voting will take place in local associations April 12-30. Below are statements from each candidate, listed in alphabetical order.


Candidates for VEA President

Kitty J. Boitnott
Those of us who work in our nation's public schools as teachers and extra-support personnel provide a fundamental service that is critical to the well-being of our society. The future of our democracy depends upon our collective ability to provide an educated citizenry.

Because public education is so often under siege, we need the benefits of a professional organization-one that provides collective support for improved practice and leadership opportunities-and one that advocates for our members and the students that we teach.

As a current member of NCATE, a National Board Certified teacher/librarian, a local, district and state leader for over three decades, and the holder of a doctorate in educational leadership, I believe that I am uniquely qualified to lead the VEA into a new era of association growth and expansion. Changing times require changing strategies. Please join me as together we tackle the challenges that lie before our organization.

Jeff Cobb
If elected VEA President I hope to empower more individual members with the knowledge of our association's methods and positions, pride in its achievements, and inspiration to speak and act with our association. An engaged membership will strengthen our organization by providing more visible activity. More education employees will join and serve a vital VEA.

I want all members to share my belief in the VEA and our work, which has only been reinforced by the last four years of service as your VEA Vice-President, including chairmanship of Budget, Resolutions, NEA Issues and other committees. VEA is a dynamic organization responding positively to changing times while maintaining core principles such as promotion of children and public schools, support for member compensation and professional rights, and issue advocacy.

I will use the experience from state and national travel and meetings with association and community leaders to energize members and further VEA advances in technology application, internal communication, recruiting and organizing, training, and bipartisan lobbying to move a positive agenda.


Candidates for VEA Vice President
Meg Gruber

The great challenges facing us today in education are more than any leader can handle alone! VEA needs strong, experienced leadership to assist you with these challenges. VEA is unique in its role as an advocate for public education and for public school employees. The vice president stands with the president as the public face of all educators in Virginia.

VEA deserves a vice president who has extensive experience in all aspects of the Association. For the past 17 years I have worked diligently to serve our membership as an active association representative, as a local and district president, on six VEA committees and as your NEA director for two terms. I have been elected by the VEA Board to the Executive and Budget committees and chaired the membership committee under two VEA Presidents. Now I am ready to serve you as your Vice President! In this position, I will continue to fight for you and all Virginia's students.

Joseph Marler
I am Joseph Marler. I am a volunteer. I volunteered for service in the United States Armed Services from 1969-1975. I was glad to serve my country.

I am a public servant. I worked to get involved in public service as a teacher in Bristol Virginia Public Schools. For 30 years, I have worked to lead students to learning. I serve my community.

I am a candidate for VEA Vice President. For 30 years, I have been nurtured in public service by VEA programs and training.

I wish to give back to VEA. I wish to serve as VEA Vice-President.

I wish to help VEA members realize the power of their potential as educators through engagement with VEA. We have power to meet the challenges of public education. We have hope to leave things better than we found them. Together we can make it happen.

I am Joseph Marler, candidate for VEA Vice President.


Candidates for NEA Board of Directors
Afreen Y. Gootee
"Leadership is Action." We need an NEA Director who has proven leadership skills and important relationships with federal and state government officials. These relationships will allow for effective collaboration and influence on important educational issues.

I have achieved such trust and support between legislators and educators that it has enabled me to gain payroll deduction, pay raises for educators, and even the approval of religious holiday exemptions for students.

As an NEA Director, I plan to work on getting the NEA to help Virginia, a non-bargaining state, with our legislative agendas, which may be different from those of union states. Along with that goal, I plan to see us focus more on educational issues and less on world affairs, which have little or no impact in the classroom or school environment.

I hope you will support me as I lead you in the next three years as your NEA Director. Remember, Leadership is Action!

Sarah Patton
Education should be at the top of respected professions. To achieve this goal we must unite our voices to change the current trend of educational decisions being made by legislators. We can no longer sit back and say we are not interested in being involved in politics, because the politicians have become involved in education.

We need to be doing more in our schools than just pushing up test scores. Students need to become life-long learners, to develop creative thinking skills and capacities for tolerance, and respect for all persons. We need classrooms where teachers are in charge, not the bureaucrats.

For 32 years, I have been an advocate for public education. The VEA has given me many opportunities to increase my leadership skills as a local and state leader. I am ready to use my skills to lead the fight for Great Public Schools in Virginia. I pledge to you, if elected as an NEA Director, to work tirelessly to represent the views of all VEA members.

Steve Whitten
As I look into the eyes of students and my colleagues in Virginia, I wonder what the future of public education holds for them. How will a pay-for-performance bill affect us? How will the reauthorization of NCLB change what we do in our classrooms? Who is discussing a living wage campaign, vouchers, health care reform, and other issues that impact public education?

As your current NEA Director for Virginia, I see, hear and participate in these debates. In the three years that I have been on the NEA Board of Directors, I have formed a working relationship with NEA's Leadership Team and members of the NEA Board of Directors. These relationships have allowed VEA's agenda to be moved beyond the state to the national level.

I offer my experience as a proven leader having served at all levels in the VEA organization and as your current NEA Director. I ask for your vote to re-elect me for a second term to the NEA Board of Directors. Together we can make Great Public Schools for Every Child.


Candidate for VEA Board of Directors, Retired-at-Large member
Ernest M. Holley
I have been an advocate for public education all my active and retired years. Having served on the VEA Board of Directors in previous years, I am aware of the many challenges and unpopular decisions this board faces. I am constantly reminding myself that my purpose in any position I hold is to serve and not be served.

The VEA is a long-standing organization that stands up for the rights of educators and the children of Virginia. They are continually working to identify strengths and potential partners, and ways to support our educators to ensure that every child in Virginia is provided with a quality public education from kindergarten through college.

Thank you for your past support, I enthusiastically look forward to serving you.


Candidates for potential second Retired-at-Large member, VEA Board
Ralph Booher, Jr.
Retirement does not end one's association adventure. Since 2005, I have attended the VEA Delegate Assembly, a VEA-R conference, the VEA-R Lobby Day, and a regional Legislative Dinner. VEA-R members need to be vigilant on issues like the health of the VRS, increasing the VRS formula multiplier, and maintaining a defined benefit plan. If elected to the VEA Board I promise to speak up on issues of importance to retired members.

During my 38 years as a career teacher I have served on the Board of Directors of the NEA, VEA and the Appalachian Educational Laboratory. I have served as president, secretary, and PAC chairperson of my local association and I have attended both the VEA and the NEA Representative Assemblies. I am presently a member of the VEA-R Council and the VEA PR&R Commission.

I have the experience, ability and leadership skills to serve you. I would be honored to represent you on the VEA Board as a VEA-R member-at-large.

Vashti Mallory-Minor
I am the immediate past president on the Richmond Education Association Board of Directors, REA-R treasurer, and I represent the third congressional district on the VEA-R Council. I am a member of VEA and NEA Minority Leadership Training Cadres. Additionally, I tutor first grade reading at Miles Jones Elementary School.

During my career I was actively involved in the association, serving our membership on the local, state and national levels. It is my desire to continue my passion for service to our members. I want to be a voice for the retired members across this state.

Teachers and support staff are not respected. The cost of health care has skyrocketed and the fight to maintain a defined benefit retirement plan continues. These and other educational issues must be addressed.

I am dedicated, knowledgeable, sincere and hard working. I have the qualifications and experience to represent you effectively.

I thank you for your support, confidence and VOTE.


Candidate for VEA Board of Directors, ESP-at-Large member
Jerry B. Parham
I am employed as an inclusion paraprofessional and a bus driver at Sussex Central High School and serve as the Youth Pastor at the First Baptist Church in Wakefield. I'm also a motor coach operator for Worrell Tours and Pearl Tours in Waverly.

I've served 10 years as an Association Representative for the Sussex Education Association and am the chairman for the "Living Wage" campaign.

I was selected in 2006 as VEA's ESP of the Year. I've traveled throughout the state supporting colleagues in their plight for "Living Wage" increases, and visited several states across the country acquiring knowledge in order to be a more effective "Living Wage" advocate.

I hold an Associate in Applied Science Degree from John Tyler Community College in Early Childhood Education and in October 2008, will complete bachelor's degree requirements at Saint Paul's College in Lawrenceville.

I am seeking this position because of my commitment to public education and employee rights.


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