NEA Kicks Off ‘Stand Strong for Students’ Tour

dennis_van_roekelNational Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel and Secretary Treasurer Becky Pringle will crisscross the nation in a five-day, seven city back-to-school tour under theme, “Standing Strong for Students.”

Van Roekel, a high-school math teacher from Phoenix, Ariz., and Pringle, a physical science teacher from Harrisburg, Penn., will travel to school districts that—despite the negative effects of the budget cuts and harmful education policies—are full of teachers and support professional working to help students succeed.  NEA members continue to collaborate with their colleagues, school district educators, and community leaders to improve student learning.

Starting Monday, Sept. 12 through Thursday, Sept. 15, the veteran educators will be on the road for first-hand views in public works of the work of members. Van Roekel and Pringle  will visit schools to view union-led innovation, transformation and partnership in Dayton, Ohio, Romulus, Mich., Orlando and Miami, Fla., Evansville, Ind.,  Seattle, Wash., and Las Vegas, Nev.

The back-to-school tour coincides with the start of year two of NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign (PSC), the Association’s multi-year effort to help transform low-performing schools. The PSC campaign is in 36 schools across 16 states.

Joined by state and local leaders, Dennis Van Roekel will visit the following schools:

Monday, September 12 (Dayton, Ohio) – Three years ago, Belmont High School was known as “Hellmont.” Fights and other crime was a near daily occurrence. The school was a revolving door for teachers.  A focus on creating a safe environment has led to an 87 percent decrease in behavioral incidents and record numbers of students taking the ACT.  A visit to the PSC site follows a meet and greets and tour of Westwood PreK-8 School.

Tuesday, September 13 (Romulus, Mich.) – Romulus Community Schools faced a tough local election to renew funding, an endeavor that previously failed twice. School leaders and community members joined forces with NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign and on the third try, voters passed the millage.  The win kept the doors of Romulus Middle School, a PSC site, open.

Wednesday, September 14 (Orlando, Fla.) – NEA members know that community collaboration works. They also know that effective partnerships and critical resources must be in place to support students. School leaders will gather to discuss best practices of collaborative efforts that give teachers the tools and resources to help every student succeed.

Thursday, September 15 (Miami, Fla.) – Students are being deprived of essential learning opportunities and families already experiencing financial stress are having to choose between spending on necessities or investing in their children’s future. The National Education Association, in conjunction with the Florida Education Association and the Miami Education Association, continue to sound the alarm about the wide-spread and far-reaching effects of budget cuts.

Joined by state and local leaders, Becky Pringle will visit the following schools:

Monday, September 12 (Evansville, Ind.) –Collaboration is the focus of Pringle’s visit to the home of the groundbreaking Equity Schools. Developed in 2009, Equity Schools aim to transform schools through professional development for teachers and extended learning time for students.  She will visit Evans School, a PSC site and she also will be on hand for “Breakfast in the Classroom,” a partnership between local leaders, educators, parents and PSC that makes sure students get their school days started right with a nutritious meal, right at their desk! As a result of the Breakfast in the Classroom program, Evans School attendance has escalated, tardiness decreased and morning behavior referrals are almost non-existent.

Tuesday, September 13 (Seattle, Wash.) –West Seattle Elementary School, a PSC site, used its first year of School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding to increase wraparound services, especially necessary for its high-needs student population. Health care, counselors—even embedding a local chapter of the YMCA inside the school—have helped educators attend to the needs of the whole child. Pringle will also learn about the school’s High Point Scholars program which targets students at- risk of academic failure or in need of social and emotional development, or a safe and nurturing space for the summer. Students can participate in project-based learning, service-learning projects, community development work, outdoor education, peer mentoring, small group instruction, and weekly field trips.

Wednesday, September 14 (Clark County, Nev.) – Educating the whole child involves everyone in the school building, including bus drivers, nurses and cafeteria workers. When teachers work side-by-side with school support staff, students don’t fall through the cracks. This visit will focus on the important role education support staff plays in helping to ensure the success of every student.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at www.matthewktabor.com , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.