Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Adventures of a First Time NEA RA California Delegate

Welcome sign at the Hyatt Hotel
Here I am, at the Denver Convention Center in Colorado. Sitting in the California Caucus seats. It’s just over 8,500 fellow union brothers and sisters. In California alone, there are over 900 CTA members. In the spring, I was elected as a State Delegate to represent my state at the Annual National Educators Association (NEA) Regional Assembly. As we walked through the entrance, we could feel the energy vibrating the walls of the space. Educators from all over the nation mosey on down to their assigned seats, which are assigned by the state you represent. I feel magnetized by the stage and invigorated by the educators dancing, laughing, and moved by the numbers coming into the room. The flashing on the stage created by the teacher’s phones used to take selfies light up the stage like sparklers. It is the most excited I have seen teachers in a while. Positive vibes electrify the room. I walk around and try to take it all in. Yes. I am here for the first time. All my senses are stimulated by the sounds and the fantastic choice of music. This is my first RA and it is everything that I was told it was going to be and more. This is truly a learning event of the remarkable work our Union does.

About the Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly
The World's Largest Democratic Deliberative Assembly (Written by the
NEA's Annual Meeting takes place during the final week of June and/or the first week of July. Various committees, constituencies, caucuses, leadership groups, and delegates from state and local affiliates gather to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business. It is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the Association and derives its powers from, and is responsible to, the membership. The Representative Assembly adopts the strategic plan and budget, resolutions, the Legislative Program, and other policies of the Association. Delegates vote by secret ballot on proposed amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws. Those delegates with full voting rights elect the executive officers, Executive Committee members, and at-large members of the NEA Board of Directors, as appropriate.

The days were filled with a packed agenda with New Business Items (NBI) and Amendments. At first, I was so overwhelmed with the process of voting and giving input. Like a good student, I took the RA Today newsletter and my RA Handbook and went through all the items. I found myself completely immersed and invested in the process. There I sat, stood, yelled, cheered, and even cried (because some of the speakers were so moving) for 4 days of 7:00AM to 6:00PM (sometimes later). I even contributed to electing Lily Eskelsen Garcia, new NEA President. She by the way sang the national anthem at the RA. Here’s a video of her performance, what a voice!

On Sunday, when my long week was over, I felt very accomplished. I did what I came out to do. Learn, represent my State, and vote on what the members of my union value, and part take in an astounding democratic process with thousands of educators. It was an unforgettable event in my professional career as an educator. 

My pictures of the event: 

Advertisement in the NEA RA Handbook for the GPS Network
On my free time on the NEA RA, I worked the NEA GPS Network booth in the Expo. We asked teachers throughout the RA to come visit our booth and sign up in a group. The purpose is to learn, share, and collaborate in a content area group or groups.
These are the delegates from my local association, Montebello Teachers Association.
Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President, speaking to the assembly
Dean Vogel, helping raise money for the NEA Fund by wearing the cutest lobster hat (which belongs to Maryland)
Fellow teachers from the GPS Network taking a selfie at the stage

Tammy Waro, President of the Iowa State Education Association, and I at the GPS Booth. She signed up!
Montserrat Garibay, Teacher Panelist for the Empowered Educators event, and I
GPS Network Facilitators
My badge at the RA


  1. Thank you for representing us as a delegate! I'm so proud of you! Your colleague and fan, Barbara Hopkins

    1. Thank you Barbara! I just presented yesterday to a group of CTA Teacher leaders and encouraged all of them to sign up to groups in the GPS Network. The presentation was in leadership in our profession and collaborating with each other. The perfect setting!

  2. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing the memories.

  3. It's great to hear you had such a wonderful experience as a first time delegate to the NEA-RA. I wish I could have been there with you all, but I started my new position on July 1 and needed to be here for that. I head there were several Teacher Ambassadors who came to the Hawaii delegation looking for those of us who are TA's. My friends who were there assured me that those who came looking for me were given a treat from Hawaii to enjoy. I will be there next year in Orlando! I think we need to have a get-together of all Teacher Ambassadors. Wouldn't that be fun?

    1. Hi Becky,

      I can't believe I just saw this! I must have summer teacher brain! I would love to hang out in Orlando! A TA get-together would be a blast! Have a great school year!