Saturday, March 28, 2015

VEA Members Wrap Up 2015 Delegate Assembly

VEA members wrapped up 2015’s three-day convention Saturday in Hampton by passing new business items calling for better accommodations for special education students and those who work with them, policies that protect educators from the misuse of electronic devices in the classroom, and ongoing information and training on changing systems of teacher evaluation.

Delegates also left the Hampton Roads Convention Center with a clear destination: the State Capitol on April 18 for the Put Kids First Rally. “We’re tired of hearing the empty talk of politicians when it comes to public education,” Philip Forgit told the crowd. “So we’re going to do some talking of our own on April 18. When they see all of us there, it’s really going to change the conversation.”

 Educators and education advocates who took home awards at Friday night’s awards banquet were also announced. Winners were:
·         Renee Serrao of Chesterfield, who received the Award for Teaching Excellence;
·         Tonya Hutchinson of Hampton, the 2015 ESP of the Year;
·         Kerry and Glenda Eans of Wythe County, who received the Fitz Turner Award;
·         The Loudoun, Prince William, and Amherst Education Associations, which received VEA Community Advocacy Awards, as did the Radford SVEA chapter, which will receive their award at the SVEA convention in April;
·         The Floyd County, Greensville, and Loudoun EAs, which earned A+ Awards for Membership Growth; and
·         The Chesterfield and Loudoun Education Associations, which earned VEA Activism Awards.

Below, SVEA President Sabrina Hayes, a student at Old Dominion University, spoke from the floor in support of the Put Kids First campaign.

Debate Winds Down

With input from some 500 educators from across Virginia, delegates to the 130th annual VEA Delegate Assembly debated more than 30 items of new business.

Gruber Calls Out Public Officials

"Politicians are very good at making school visits and then declaring themselves to be 'friends of education,'" VEA President Meg Gruber told delegates Friday, "but then they don't follow through on doing what's best for kids. It's time we say 'Enough!'"

Pointing to the fact that Virginia ranks 39th in the nation in state per-pupil spending and that state funding for schools, after inflation, has dropped 16 percent in the last five years, Gruber demanded of elected officials, "Show us how you put kids first!"

Through the Put Kids First campaign, including its April 18 rally, "We're going to change the conversation about public education in Virginia," Gruber said. "We're going to make some serious noise and we're not going to stop until our schools get the support they deserve."

Association Honors Educators, Advocates

Among the awards presented at last night's awards banquet were the Fitz Turner Award, which went to Kerry and Glenda Eans of Wythe County (top); the Award for Teaching Excellence, won by Renee Serrao of Chesterfield County (middle); and the Education Support Professional of the Year, won by Tonya Hutchinson of Hampton.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friends in High Places

Several members of Virginia's General Assembly were given VEA Legislative Champion Awards for their work on behalf of public education during the 2015 legislative session. Among the recipients in attendance to receive theirs were Delegates Ken Plum (top) and Jackson Miller.

The Democratic Process

Members from around Virginia, like Louisa County's Rebecca Jasman, made their voices heard during the New Business section of Friday morning's convention session.

Day One Wrap-Up

When an unfriendly legislature in North Carolina made things difficult for that state’s students and educators, members of the North Carolina Association of Educators fought back, led by their president, Rodney Ellis. They got involved in elections, took to social media, held rallies, filed a lawsuit, and took part in “Moral Monday” protests at the State Capitol. One of those protests led to Ellis’ arrest.

                “Anything it takes, I’m willing to do it,” Ellis told delegates to the 2015 VEA Delegate Assembly in his keynote address Thursday night in Hampton. “If you’re going to lead, you’ve got to lead by example.”

                NCAE’s battles serve as both an object lesson and inspiration, Ellis said, urging VEA members to get off the sidelines to defend public education: “We can’t be about ‘Go get ‘em’ anymore—it’s got to be ‘Let’s go get ‘em.’”

                The convention’s opening session also featured the introduction of Joey Mathews, president of the Loudoun Education Association, as the newest VEA representative on the NEA Board of Directors (shown here), and a stirring invitation by Bristol VEA Co-President Tracey Mercier to delegates to join her at the Put Kids First Rally in Richmond next month.

                To see convention photos, visit

Thursday, March 26, 2015

NCAE President Shares Struggles

Keynote speaker Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, described just how devastating an unfriendly legislature and governor can be to public education. In his state, due process for teachers was attacked, voucher programs were promoted, schools faced public A-F grading, and NCAE itself was targeted by the elimination of dues deduction for members. Members fought back through demonstrations, media campaigns, lawsuits and other tactics, making slow but steady progress.

Gloucester County Students Rock Opening Convention Session

The 2015 Delegate Assembly was ushered in with a rousing rendition of our national anthem by a choral group from Gloucester County High School.

Convention Pre-Sessions Kick Off Events in Hampton

VEA Vice President Jeff Pennington chaired the Resolutions Committee meeting in Hampton today as the 2015 Delegate Assembly got underway.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Recognizing the Wonderful Gloucester HS Chorus

Due to a production error, the 2015 VEA Delegate Assembly program has an incorrect listing for Thursday night’s musical performers. The correct performers are the Gloucester High School Chorus, directed by Mrs. Britinie Jordan. VEA regrets the error.

Friday, March 6, 2015


There will be no onsite elections this year. The sole petitioned candidate for the open position on the NEA Board of Directors, Joey Mathews (Loudoun), was declared elected by the VEA Board in January.

Caucus Meetings

The following special interest caucuses will meet on Friday. All meetings are in the Richmond Marriott.

8 a.m.

ESP Caucus
Salons 6-7, Marriott

12:30-2 p.m.

Educators for Exception Children
Jefferson Room, Marriott

Republican Caucus
Dominion Room, Marriott

LGBTQ Caucus of the VEA
Madison Room, Marriott

Virginia Minority Caucus
Salon 3, Marriott

Women's Caucus
Shenandoah, Marriott

VEA Fund Fantasy Auction

The VEA Board of Directors is sponsoring a Fantasy Auction at the conclusion of the Awards Dinner, to be held at the Convention Center. Each District has been asked to submit one item.

Your $40 prepaid Awards Dinner ticket allows you to participate in the Fantasy Auction. those who choose to eat dinner on their own can join the Auction for an entrance charge of $10.

WiFi Access

Unfortunately, providing wireless access to all participants in the Delegate Assembly is prohibitively expensive. However, the Convention Center provides a complimentary WiFi network in the common areas of the building.

Look for the "HRCC Guest Network." Please note that it is not password protected.

VMC Dance

The Virginia Minority Caucus Dance will be held Thursday evening in Salons 1-3 of the Richmond Marriott from 10 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. Proceeds from the dance will be donated to the Mary Hatwood Futrell Scholarship Fund at Virginia State University.

Please support students majoring in education by purchasing a ticket for $10.