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Local Leaders Learn the Ropes

The Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the not-so-dearly-departed No Child Left Behind, offers lots of opportunity for Virginia’s students and educators, Steven Staples, the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, told VEA leaders in Richmond yesterday afternoon.

“It’s been a great opportunity to network with other local leaders, we learned about statewide policy, and we strengthened our leadership skills,” said Amy Lamb, president of the Northumberland Education Association. “It was absolutely time well spent.”

During his visit, Staples told the assembled educators, “Last time, education reform was done to us, not by us. ESSA offers states the chance for more say in school improvement decisions, and more flexibility in designing assessments and determining how to evaluate teachers.”

He also pointed to ESSA’s more realistic approach. “Student growth is the fairest measure of the work you do,” he said. “If a student comes to you three years behind and is only one year behind when he leaves you, we ought to take that into account. ESSA looks at both the starting line and the finish line. No Child Left Behind only looked at the finish line.”

About 100 local Association presidents, vice presidents and treasurers attended the retreat. Newly-elected officers learned about their roles and responsibilities, got a VEA overview, and networked with colleagues from locals of about the same size. More experienced officers spent time honing their communications skills.

In addition, attendees were able to choose from breakout sessions, facilitated by colleagues, focusing on topics ranging from working with local governments to reaching out to rookie educators.

“As a new local president, I found this information, and the camaraderie, of great value,” said Sid Neighbours, president of the Education Association of Suffolk.

Check out meeting photos at



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