This year, the National Education Association Student Program (NEA-SP) was held in Boston. SEAM members were excited to be the host state and assist NEA-SP Chair, Ashley Muscarella, with the planning process. The conference spanned from June 27th-30th. On the first day, NEA-SP members from across the country gathered at the hotel for their first breakout sessions. Topics included “Back to School Organizing Campaigns”, “Organizing Around Social Justice Issues Using a Teach-In Model”, “Power to the People”, and “Social Geography: Understanding ‘Your’ Story”.
SEAM had members and chapter advisors representing Bridgewater State University, Holyoke Community College, Salem State University, and Westfield State University in attendance.
Breakout sessions during the second day of the conference were focused around the topics of “Advocacy”, “Leading Our Profession”, “Communication”, and “Governance and Leadership”. Some of the workshops offered include “Association 101″, ” First Year Advocacy”, “Know Your Contract”, “Social Justice Through Culturally Responsive Pedagogy”, “Introduction to Restorative Justice”, “How YOU Can Support LGBTQ+ Students”, “Family Engagement in and Beyond the Classroom”, and “Classroom Management Technology Innovation Strategies”.
To make the best welcome possible to fellow NEA-SP members, a “Welcome Reception” with DJ Drew Panico was hosted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association on the first night of the conference so that attendees could trade their state pins with each other. It was a wonderful networking event for attendees, and many insightful conversations surrounding improving chapters and state programs came out of this event.
On the final day of the conference, NEA-SP members participated in “The LEGACY Project” at Everett High School (see article on this for more information!).
On the final night of the conference, Massachusetts State Student Organizer, Robert Whalen, won the 2017 “Outstanding State Student Organizer” award for all of his hard work and dedication to making SEAM the best it can be for our Aspiring Educators. Over the past year, he has written and received several PR&O Grants to help SEAM get more funding for promotional materials for prospective members, materials for our strongest student leaders to recruit, and more professional development opportunities for our members. Bob also collaborated with other State Student Organizers in the Northeast Region to plan the first Northeast Regional Conference for NEA-SP members.
The awards ceremony was followed by a non-partisan PAC fundraiser where members from across the country came together to raise money for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Each state brought a basket of items unique to their state. In addition to the silent auction for the baskets, there was also trivia, a dance party, and professional headshot photo-shoots available for NEA-SP members to participate in to raise money.
The conference concluded at 10:30AM on the 30th. After breakfast, NEA-SP members came together one last time to have round-table discussions about transitioning into a career, how each state is unique, advocating for yourself/your students in your first year, and various social justice topics.
SEAM also sent a Student Delegate, Allison Ford, to the National Education Association Representative Assembly (NEA-RA) at the conclusion of the SLC…see the article on that for more information.