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Virginia Journal of Education

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If you had the chance to attend a conference Virginia educators described as “a great opportunity to learn new things and share with others,” and that offered “lots of relevant information about issues of importance to education professionals,” would you be interested?

What if those educators also mentioned that it was “not only what I needed, I wish I’d done this my first year” and “great to be with so many people who share my values,” and praised the high level of “engagement and collegiality”?

Such an opportunity awaits this summer. These comments were made on evaluation forms for last year’s Reggie Smith Organizing School (RSOS), which this year will be joined by the first-ever Southwest Organizing Institute (SOI). RSOS will be held in Richmond July 22-24 and SOI is set for Bristol June 22-24.

Both gatherings are designed to equip local leaders with the skills they’ll need to help their Associations become stronger, more effective participants in their community’s public education decision-making process. RSOS and SOI will offer members tracks focusing on topics such as organizing, compensation, political action, teacher evaluation and other issues.

Check the VEA website ( for registration details.


Tweeting and Posting With VEA

Here’s how to keep up with your Association and connect with your colleagues on social media:

• Follow VEA on Twitter. Our handle is @VEA4Kids, and we provide a steady stream of updates about Association activities and media coverage of education issues.

• Like VEA on Facebook. We’re at, and we welcome your photos, posts and comments there.


Convention Delegates Chart VEA’s Course

In addition to finalizing preparations for the launch of the Put Kids First campaign, delegates to the VEA’s annual convention tackled a range of issues, passing new business items that included calls for better accommodations for special education students and special educators, policies to protect school staff members from student misuse of electronic devices in the classroom, and more information and training on changing systems of teacher evaluation.
In addition, keynote speaker Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, described for the approximately 700 delegates some of the challenges faced by NCAE during the last several years, as an increasingly difficult legislature attempts to weaken public education in the Tarheel State.

Educators and education advocates were also honored at VEA’s annual awards banquet. Among those recognized at the Hampton Roads Convention Center were:

•         Renee Serrao of the Chesterfield Education Association, a government teacher at Cosby High School, who received the Award for Teaching Excellence;

•         Tonya Hutchinson of the Hampton Education Association, a teaching assistant at Cooper Elementary Magnet School for Technology, who was named the 2015 Education Support Professional of the Year;

•         Kerry and Glenda Eans of Wythe County, who received the Fitz Turner Award for their community activities in support of equality and public education;

•         The Loudoun, Prince William, Amherst Education Associations, and the Radford chapter of the Student VEA, all of whom earned VEA Community Advocacy Awards for their outreach activities;

•         The Floyd County, Greensville, and Loudoun Education Associations, who claimed A+ Awards for Membership Growth; and

•         The Chesterfield and Loudoun Education Associations, which took home VEA Activism Awards.




The Road Ahead
As you can see from the cover story of this issue, we made quite a splash with the Put Kids First rally. People and media around the state sat up and took notice. A single splash, no matter how large, doesn’t put out the fire, though. As we move ahead with PKF, it’s very important that we keep the water stirred up and not allow education issues to be pushed aside again.

There’s some excellent information on how to do that in the ‘Going Forward’ box on page 13. Here are some other areas in which we, joining together, really need to make significant splashes during the next several months, all under the banner of ‘Put Kids First.’

Sharpening our skills. This summer, VEA is adding the Southwest Organizing Institute to go along with the Reggie Smith Organizing School, giving more members throughout Virginia the chance to gain important organizing skills. At both events, we’re offering workshops in areas like improving the effectiveness of local Associations and political action. These sessions equip educators to make a critical difference when decisions that affect the everyday lives of our students and our colleagues are made. And we need to be involved in those decisions—they’re too often made by people who lack the expertise our members possess. There’s more information on summer training on page 22. Check it out and sign up!

Making our votes count. Every member of the General Assembly is up for re-election this fall. They set a lot of education policy—let’s elect more legislators with a sound understanding of our schools. Find out who’s running for what in your area, and who the VEA Fund for Children and Public Education is recommending. Support candidates who will support public education, even at crunch time.

Building alliances. Our schools face complex issues, many beyond the power of educators to solve alone. Developing relationships with other organizations can help make sure our young people have the support and resources they deserve. Our statewide alliance with the PTA has been crucial to the Put Kids First campaign and some of our local Associations have forged bonds with like-minded community groups in their areas. Together, we make better things happen.

As we head into the end of the school year, many thanks for all you’ve done and will continue to do for our children and our schools. We need all of us, and all of it matters—a lot.



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