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Cover Story: Belong

Voice: November 2017

Two of them are bookends of sorts – a young teacher starting her career, and the other beginning retirement. The other two are in between and recently came to new school districts.

But they all have this in common – a belief in PSEA and PSEA-Retired membership, as well as a passion to advocate on behalf of public education.

Here are some of those voices

Desiree Brown, Pocono Mountain EA

Elizabeth Brewer, PSEA-Retired

Brianne Carter, York City EA

Heather Williams, Allentown EA

As Desiree Brown was completing her first year of teaching in 2016-17, Elizabeth Brewer was in her first year of retirement. Brianne Carter was in her first year of teaching in Pennsylvania after teaching in Maryland public schools. Heather Williams also was in a new school district after teaching in Philadelphia.

Despite their career and personal adjustments, Brown, Carter, and Williams didn’t just join PSEA as new members, they got involved. Brewer’s first year of “retirement’’ saw her immerse herself into PSEA-Retired.

And after only one year of their memberships in PSEA and PSEA-Retired, respectively, they all were attendees at the Gettysburg Summer Leadership Conference.

Their individual stories are compelling. Together, they illuminate one of PSEA’s top priorities – organizing new members.

“One of our top priorities is letting new school employees know how valuable PSEA membership is and encouraging them to join,” said PSEA President Dolores McCracken. “When people join PSEA, they belong to a community of 181,000 professionals who are changing students’ lives every day. There’s just nothing more powerful than that.”

PSEA members’ collective voice advocates for issues such as less standardized testing, proper funding of public education, and the election of pro-public education candidates.

PSEA embarked on a major organizing effort at the start of the 2016-17 school year, and the results have been impressive. Some 9,000 new members were added – many like Brown, Carter, Williams, Brewer, and other educators who had been non-members.

A key part of the ongoing organizing effort involves existing PSEA members talking to prospective members and non-members one-on-one.

“There is no more effective tool than our members telling their colleagues about the value of PSEA,’’ McCracken said. “We all care about public education and students. And we all care about good salaries, benefits, pensions, and professional respect.’’