274 Michigan school employees attend NEA Representative Assembly

Stephanie Sepko, a student delegate from Wayne State University, at the NEA Representative Assembly in Atlanta.

Nearly 9,000 school employees from across the nation — including 274 from Michigan — came together to share ideas and set policy at the 2013 NEA Representative Assembly, held July 1-6 in Atlanta.

During his keynote address, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel urged delegates to take on leadership roles, fight for social justice and work together to create positive change for students in their schools and classrooms — ensuring great public schools for every student.

“This is a defining a moment,” Van Roekel told the delegates.

Van Roekel recounted slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s warning to his followers: “There is no time, ‘to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the drug of gradualism,’” stressing that the delegates must “act in the urgency of now” to empower NEA members to create change that really helps improve student success.

 “We educate America,” Van Roekel said  “It’s what we do every day as individuals, but also what we do together as an organization … working to lead our professions and taking responsibility for our professional practices.”

Michigan delegates said the RA provided them with an excellent opportunity to connect with colleagues from other parts of the country.

“The connections I make at the RA, both in Michigan and nationally, give me friends to call on and brains to pick when I have issues to deal with,” said Robert Gaines III, an ESP delegate who works in Farmington Public Schools. “Most important, it gives me people to go to for support in our fight for our schools and our students.”

“I’m really pleased to be around so many like-minded professionals who I can network with,” Stephanie Sepko, a student delegate from Wayne State University, said at the RA. “I’ve met a lot of great people already.”           

For complete coverage of the 2013 NEA Representative Assembly, go to http://www.nea.org/grants/1357.htm