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VEA Members Ready to Roll as RSOS Wraps Up

VEA Executive Director Philip Forgit urged participants in this week's Reggie Smith Organizing School (RSOS) to further strengthen the Put Kids First campaign by using their newly-acquired skills in schools and communities across Virginia.

"Change is a reality if we make it so," Forgit said, encouraging Association members to move from an organization with a service-based model to one built more around an organizing culture. "Now go and do."

The 100+ educators in attendance had a variety of take-aways from RSOS sessions.

In the teacher evaluation strand, participants each got a copy of their school division’s evaluation policy. “We were able to compare our policy with the state’s,” said Ora Briggs of the Sussex County Education Association, “and we talked about how we might organize our members around this particular issue. We want to be able to develop plans and make positive changes in the way teachers are evaluated.”

Members who went through the Political Action Leaders workshop came away ready to make headway in the legislative arena, where so much of an educator's daily life is determined. “We have a better understanding of the political process,” said Malia Huddle of the Chesapeake Education Association, “and our need for a solid system of checks and balances in Virginia. Also, we know we have political power, and that’s something we should not only use but celebrate, and not back down.”

For the first time at RSOS, a content strand on inclusive classrooms was on the program, and participants found it very helpful. “It was great to have presenters who were actually collaborative teachers working in an inclusion setting," said Cheryl Sprouse of the Bedford Education Association. "They were able to give us lots of pointers about what works and what doesn't. Also, the presenters from the state department were very frank and weren't afraid to challenge some of our thinking."

In the Developing Organizing Skills workshop, members learned to change their mindsets. "We worked on how to focus on issues, not problems," said Joy Kirk of the Frederick County Education Association, "and on how to get members focused on creating a plan for real progress."

To see photos, go to, and be sure to check in on Facebook ( or on Twitter at @VEA4Kids. On both social media sites, check out #RSOS2015. 


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