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Warning about the challenges facing educators, NEA President headlines UEA's 2017 Summer Leadership Academy

6/15/2017

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García joined about 130 teachers and leaders representing school districts from across the state at the 2017 UEA Summer Leadership Academy. The event was held Monday and Tuesday, June 12-13, at the University Guest House and Conference Center on the University of Utah Campus.

Leadership Academy is the primary leadership development course for elected leaders in the Utah Education Association. This conference is designed for state and local leaders to receive training on leadership skills, capacity building, important issues facing UEA members and other relevant topics.

Time to Learn, Dare, Act, Lead – UEA President Heidi Matthews

“The first step in anything meaningful is simply showing up, and here you are,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews as she opened the Academy. She introduced the event’s theme, ‘Time to learn, dare, act, LEAD.’

“The essence of leadership is in listening to people and confronting the aspects of life that are causing the most anxiety and stress,” Matthews said. “As we hone our leadership skills over the next days, let’s remember to listen to what is causing our people anxiety – what is hurting our students, what is causing the teacher shortage and what is damaging our profession – and begin to find our own individual paths to become leaders of hope – because it’s time to lead.”

“As you LEARN at this Summer Leadership Academy, look for opportunities to question what you are learning, push the envelope, stir things up – to dare. We can learn about something that is causing anxiety for our people, but it takes courage to dare to confront it. And confront it we must,” she said.

Matthews then dared participants to get out of their comfort zone and learn ‘The Hustle,’ teaching the dance steps and leading by example. “It’s our Time to Lead and we must hustle to confront the anxieties of our people,” she concluded. “Thanks for showing up. It’s going to be a great couple of days!”

The Challenges We Face – NEA President Lily Eskelsen García

“Let me explain what we are up against,” began NEA President Lily Eskelsen García in her remarks to those attending UEA Summer Leadership Academy. She then outlined some of the proposals coming from the Betsy DeVos-led U.S. Department of Education and concerns about President Donald Trump’s proposed budget and its impact on children.

Eskelsen García provided an extensive list of programs to be cut under the Trump/DeVos budget proposal. A few of the programs for which budgets would be cut include: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, Career and Technical Education State Grants, Adult Education, after-school programs, professional development and class size reduction, public loan forgiveness programs (meant to encourage students to go into teaching and public service), Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, 21st Century Community Learning Centers State Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Federal Work-Study programs, among others.

In all, the NEA estimates the Trump-DeVos budget would slash the federal investment in public education programs by 13.6 percent for the upcoming fiscal year, eliminate at least 22 programs and cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives overall.

Eskelsen García then shared items that will receive additional funding under the proposed budget. “Increased school vouchers…paid for by cuts to Title I programs for the disabled.”

“This is not a partisan issue,” she said, noting that those students who are most vulnerable will be the ones most harmed by the president’s proposals. “We will need both Democrats and Republicans to defeat the Trump/DeVos budget,” she said.

As she concluded, referring to teachers, Eskelsen García noted, “We will give you the future. That is what we do. We don’t even know how amazing we are.”

Our Schools Now, Bob Marquardt

During the opening general session on Tuesday, the group was addressed by Bob Marquardt, president of Management and Training Corporation. Marquardt, along with UEA President Heidi Matthews and UEA Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom, is a member of the steering committee for the Our Schools Now initiative. The initiative seeks to secure significant additional tax funding for public education in Utah.

“It’s a labor of love” for many who participate and volunteer to work on the Our Schools Now initiative without any compensation. The people involved truly care about public education and the schoolchildren of Utah, he said. “So far we have raised over $2 million for education and this campaign, but we will need much more.”

Marquardt shared details about the initiative’s goals to raise $700 million in ongoing education funding by increasing sales and income taxes. The effort will require the signatures of nearly 150,000 registered Utah voters in order to be placed on the ballot for a public vote, he said. He encouraged teachers to assist in this effort.

Marquardt concluded by assuring teachers that “the business community is behind you. We are advocates, especially for teachers and their salaries.” He added that Our Schools Now is “building the biggest advocacy group for education that this state has ever seen.”

Educational Tracks

Leadership Academy participants could select from six separate educational tracks, based on their association position and interest. Each of the following tracks were taught in four separate sessions throughout the two days:

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Session One: ESSA 101 – Amy Simpson, NEA, explained that ESSA ends the era of No Child Left Behind. Participants learned about the goals and purpose of ESSA, the expectations facing states and districts, and how the NEA helped to shape the many opportunities available to states and districts through ESSA.

Session Two: ESSA and Social Justice – Amy Simpson, NEA, shared information about ESSA’s emphasis on equity and social justice. Participants learned how to work with the district to conduct an “equity resource audit” to determine whether the district has the right resources in place to support academic as well as social and emotional learning needs of all students.

Session Three: ESSA and Assessment – Kim Irvine, Weber ABL, provided new opportunities for evaluating, and even reducing, student assessment. Participants learned how to work with the district to bring together stakeholders to conduct an “assessment audit” to identify the purpose of testing, consider the impact of time spent on testing and implement more authentic assessment. 

Session Four: ESSA and District Accountability Plans – Lezlie Harper, Canyons ABL and Karen Pedersen, Canyons VP Elect explained how, under ESSA, districts are required to create a district accountability plan. Participants discussed how to engage locally with the district in the decision-making process through an “opportunity audit” to develop a district accountability plan that best supports students, parents and educators.

Governance (for Elected Leaders)

Session One: Defining our Association’s Purpose (because WHY you do something is more important that WHAT you do) – Heidi Matthews, UEA President and Amy Barton, CLP and Washington President, shared how the Association serves a critical role in fulfilling the nation’s promise of public education. “Knowing this purpose and leading with this vision provides the hope and courage needed to be successful and fulfilled as a new local leader,” said Barton.

Session Two: How to be an Effective and Efficient Local Leader (and still have a life!) Roger Donohoe, UEA VP and Amy Barton, CLP and Washington President, shared resources leaders can lean on as they embark on this journey as a local leader – from the UEA, the Uniserv and in relationships and communications structures. A panel of seasoned and passionate leaders and staff will shares the secrets to success - and sanity.

Session Three: Getting the Support You Need (to be a Fabulous Local Leader) Amy Barton, CLP and Washington President and Lisa Nentl-Bloom, UEA Executive Director, discussed how establishing a system of support and balance is essential for local leaders. Participants learned strategies to build and unite teams, including the most direct line of support, the UniServ Director.

Session Four: UEA Class of 2017: Building Your Network Heidi Matthews, UEA President and Amy Barton, CLP and Washington President, encouraged new local leaders to share recommendations with the Council of Local Presidents (CLP) ideas for future training needs or supports. The discussed how leaders can learn from the wisdom of experienced colleagues who will answer questions and reflect on what they wished they had known before being a local leader.

Membership and Organizing

Session One: Membership Mindset Part 1 – Susen Zobel, Granite President and Star Orullian, Granite UniServ Executive Director, provided insight into how Granite’s membership has grown by more than 380 members or 19.9 percent the last six years and their salary schedule has grown 19.25 percent for all teachers, with bonuses in many years. "Everything we do, every decision we make, every dollar we spend is viewed through the lens of how it will affect membership," Orullian said

Session Two: Membership Mindset Part 2 – Susen Zobel, Granite President and Star Orullian, Granite Executive Director, continued their discussions about how to grow membership.

Session Three: Membership: The Value of a Lifetime – Erika Bradshaw, Canyons VP; Edward Kimber, Davis Executive Board; Elinda Nedreberg, Woodland Peaks UEA OMC Rep and Connie Ugaki, Alpine UniServ Board, discussed career phases, benefits of membership, events and activities and how to “recruit, retain, reclaim.”

Session Four: Data-Driven Leadership – Jessica Fiveash, Ogden-Weber UEA OMC Rep and Linda Okabe, Salt Lake Executive Board, shared ideas about how to organize membership data to help inform decisions and contacts. Kurt Krieger-James, Nebo Secondary VP; Cheryl Cofie, Nebo Elementary VP; Marty Davis, Woodland Peaks Director on UEA BOD and Ron Firmage, Woodland Peaks UniServ Director wrapped up by sharing ideas on how to use what was learned in each local.

Political Action

Session One: Back Home Relationships – Ryan Anderson, UEA-Retired VP; Letitia Teneau-Sword, Ogden-Weber UniServ VP and Rosalind Van Vleet, Davis Secondary VP, talked about why contact with elected officials during the Legislative Session or School Board Meeting is important, but that contact during the other days of the year is also critical. These political experts discussed how to develop relationships with elected officials outside of the meeting rooms.

Session Two: Inspiring the Next Generation of Teacher Candidates – Kathleen Riebe, Granite VP & Utah State Board of Education Member and Jenny Graviet, Weber Secondary VP & Utah State Board of Education Member shared their journey from the classroom to deciding to run for the State Board of Education to campaigning to winning their respective races. They discussed candidate recruitment techniques.

Session Three: Lobbying 101: How to Tell Your Story – Beth Niederman, Granite Executive Board and Frank Pignanelli, Partner in Foxley & Pignanelli Government Relations, discussed how lobbying is a craft, is an art, can be awkward and can be exciting. Lobbying makes a difference, they said. They shared strategies on how to effectively tell your story and influence policymakers.

Session Four: Our Schools Now: Direct Action – Austin Cox, Our Schools Now and Chase Clyde, UEA Director of Government Relations & Political Action, told participants that the Our Schools Now campaign is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the way we fund education in Utah. “The initiative process is not easy,” said Clyde. “Roll up your sleeves and get to work mapping out our plans to organize around Our Schools Now.”

Social Justice

Session One: Educational Equity in the Davis School District – Dr. Jackie Thompson, Educational Equity Director at Davis School District talked about programs used in the Davis School District and activities such as Parent Night, Martin Luther King Essay Contest, etc.

Session Two: Misbehaving or Misdemeanor? Utah's School to Prison Pipeline – Vanessa Walsh, J.D., advisor in Salt Lake County Mayor’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council talked with participants about the school-to-prison pipeline and the trend of pushing out vulnerable students from school. She shared her new publication, "Misbehaving or Misdemeanor? A Report on Utah's School to Prison Pipeline."

Session Three: Equity 101: Authentically Serving Every Student – Curtis Linton, Chief Officer of Education for the School Improvement Network discussed educational equity and why it matters in the classroom. “An equitable classroom is one in which the teacher’s actions match their beliefs,” he said. “Race, gender, socio-economics and background is honored by the teacher and reflected in the learning and classroom environment.” Participants learned how to incorporate equity personally, professionally and institutionally so that every student can succeed.

Session Four: Walking the Walk: Recognizing and Owning Privilege – Eddie Berrest, Granite VP Elect took participants on a “Privilege Walk.” This activity had participants stepping forward or back as scenarios were presented. The group then discussed privilege and how it can be used to promote equity.

Young Professionals Take Charge (for educators under age 35)

Session One: UEA Background – William Spiegel, UEA UniServ Specialist and Karen Peterson, Education Policy Specialist for Governor Herbert reviewed the history of the UEA, its structure, and role within education community. They also discussed the changing the narrative around public schools.

Session Two: Development in Your Profession and Leadership – Bailey Danielson, Provo Elementary VP, gave participants the opportunity to engage in developing support ranging from social justice to tech in the classroom. The session covered ways to engage and elevate the profession in personal development.

Session Three: Development in Your Profession and Leadership Self Exploration – Aubri Elder, Uintah Executive Board, provided participants with an opportunity to engage in development support based on their own interest and engage peers in peer-facilitated group discussion.

Session Four: Wrap Up – John Arthur, Salt Lake reviewed and continued peer-facilitated group discussions and explored how to move forward in organizing and building young professional leadership.

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