Amber Brewer: I thoroughly enjoyed representing JEA members at the 2015 NEA-Alaska Delegate Assembly. This was my second time attending Delegate Assembly, and what a difference it made to have one under my belt. The first time was a bit nerve-wracking, and I spent a lot of time just observing how the process worked. This time I felt more comfortable and confident being a more active participant. Together with several other JEA members, I was able to get a concern from membership brought to the floor as a New Business Item. Because of that, NEA-Alaska will now be working with Department of Education to seek legislation to allow Parent/Teacher Conference days to count as a “Day in Session.” While it may take some time to see our work reach that level, it was a good feeling to know that the message and feelings of members were at least heard.
In addition, Delegate Assembly is a wonderful opportunity to interact with NEA members from across the state. It is easy to become isolated in our part of the state, and it is helpful to hear what issues are affecting educators all over Alaska.
While it is a lot of work and long hours, I encourage all of our members to take the opportunity to attend Delegate Assembly at least once. I certainly hope to attend many more in the future.
Kelly Chavez Glacier Valley: Attending the 2015 Delegate Assembly was an awesome and rewarding experience. It is always such an opportunity to meet with your region and to meet other delegates from around the state who share your same concerns and celebrations. Learning the process of the assembly is very intense but very insightful. It always amazes me the work that is done over these three days and always is a refreshing time to reflect and prioritize what is important to me and to others in education. Getting to know the others from JEA also helps build relationships within our district. Learning, listening and watching our membership “dues” at work supports my belief of how powerful and meaningful our state, region, and local association’s voice is. Thank you JEA for the opportunity to attend delegate assembly!
Mara Early, TMHS: The NEA Alaska Delegate Assembly is a 3 day whirlwind of twelve hour days that involve lots of information, diverse debates about local, state, and national education issues, collaboration of people and ideas, mentoring between teachers and elected union officials, networking opportunities, an awareness of past and current statewide education legislation, the democratic process (parliamentary procedure) in which the organization priorities its agenda; and is an eye opening weekend to better understand what our union is doing for its membership. As a “big picture” learner, going to DA has helped me understand the trickle down effect of our union (the power of the DA and how it helps structure the focus and work of NEA Alaska and its executives) and how our local union work with the Juneau Education Association is bigger than negotiations and contract disputes. Although I have attended many Alaska Association of Student Government Conferences (which are very similar in structure, organization, and democratic process), as a first year delegate to DA, I feel like a scaffolding process has begun that could result in my ability to represent and take a more active role in both our local and state associations. I am thankful for this opportunity to associate with teachers in our district and hope to use this new experience to be a better building representative for TMHS.
Leah Heiman: I appreciated the opportunity to attend DA this year. I enjoyed the camaraderie of Region 1 and talking to teachers from other places in the state. The debates during general session were interesting. I was excited to be involved with a couple of the business items brought up in the Government Relations committee. Being at the mic in committee and the general session room is nerve-racking place to be, but I’m glad I did a couple times.
Holly Ireno: The 2015 Delegate Assembly refreshed my insights and understanding concerning current educational topics within our great state. While at this assembly, I created and earned support for my first New Business Item (NBI) while attending the Communications Committee meeting. During a general session, I was able to speak about my NBI and there was even some discussion both supportive and against the motion from other regions around the state! It is an incredible experience being involved in changing our state position towards state and national topics. Thank you JEA members for this wonderful experience!
Amy Lloyd: This was my first Delegate Assembly and I learned a great deal. I particularly enjoyed sitting with my colleagues from Hoonah, Ketchikan, Petersburg and Juneau (Region I). There were many resolutions that were made to strengthen and support children and the teaching profession. Action items were varied and gave me hope for improvements in the future.
However, as we heard during discussions and speeches with Lt. Governor Mallot, Lisa Murkowski and Mike Hanley (who all came to the Captain Cook to speak and meet with teachers) the low price of oil and the challenges that we face will all affect education in our state.
Regardless of the issues that are facing our state financially, the DA left me feeling hopeful and positive about my job, my state and my union.
Patrick Roach: The 2015 NEA-Alaska Delegate Assembly reminded me of how important our union and the right to collective bargaining are. When the state wants to evaluate you with tests that haven’t been properly vetted, place all teachers on a single salary scale without input from local authorities, use public money to fund private schools, alter your retirement scheme, flat-fund or defund the BSA, or reduce your health benefits, who will speak for you if you don’t have a union? Do you have time to make an impression alone, with a single letter? Do you have time to mount a campaign with your colleagues while you lesson plan? Hearing three hundred teachers debate such topics with all of Alaska’s teachers well-being in mind was a profound experience. It made me very grateful for my union’s representation. Patrick Roach
Sunshine Winn, MRCS: By attending the 2015 Delegate Assembly I gained so much insight into how our union is working for us! It was so uplifting to witness and participate in debates about what is best for our Alaska schools. As soon as I returned to my building I was sharing with my fellow union members some of the New Business Items (NBIs) that were passed over the long three days. Being my first time at Delegate Assembly I was nervous about the process, but as soon as we got started I felt confident that I could follow what was going on around me. I am so grateful to be a part of that process, in having the ability to make changes that can make a huge impact on our schools within the state of Alaska.