Millennials making their mark

The Temecula Valley Educators Association is in the midst of a youth movement. Young teachers are taking leadership roles and making their voices heard in this chapter of almost 1,400 educators- and veteran leaders couldn’t be more pleased.

Chaparral High music teacher Alan Underwood and Alt.Learning Center teacher Courtney Evans attend January TVEA Rep Council meeting

As part of the first wave of millennial educators, Courtney Evans is a now a teaching veteran herself, and has always been a supporter of her local. When a Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA) member approached her to run for the position of  treasurer, she thought about it before doing so, and was surprised when she received the news. She explained, “…I knew I would be working with a large number of my co-workers. For some reason, our Alternative Education Center is loaded with highly involved members of the local union chapter. I suppose it was serendipitous that I become involved as well.”

Since winning the special election she has reconnected with her former teachers who are also active in TVEA. “I took over the position formerly held by my freshman Geometry teacher, our chapter president was my freshman Social Science teacher, and I see some of my former teachers at our Leadership Council meeting– which makes me happy to be able to reflect positively on my years of high school.”

For Alan Underwood, brought up in a household with a teacher leader made unions a part of his life from an early age. He recalled, “My mom was and is still active in the teachers union and had been when I was in school, so it’s almost a family tradition at this point.”

His commitment deepened after his first  NEA RA. ” It was such a moving experience! Words cannot describe what it is like to be on the NEA RA floor while voting is happening. It is inspiring. I was so motivated to get involved and be a member that I called the newly-elected  president and said I was in for whatever he needed me to do.”  That discussion led to his appointment to the Elections Committee.  “Within a month I was made the chair of the Elections Committee.  That was the hook and now I am looking for further opportunities to get involved not only in TVEA but also CTA as well.”

Millennials who want to step forward to make a difference in their chapter shared advice about the opportunity for professional learning with their peers and the chance to make a difference for her fellow teachers.  They have flourished in their new leadership roles and would like to see others on the front side of their careers make the commitment to engage in their locals.

“If you’re encouraged to be an active part of your chapter and/or beyond, then by all means: do it!”, says Evans. “However, if you’re finding yourself a bit reticent about involvement I would still encourage other “young” teachers to take on the opportunity as one for learning. This opportunity has allowed me to learn about budgets and has given me insight into how other members throughout the chapter feel, which provides for a unique perspective from which others are likely to benefit in the long term.”

“Don’t wait!”, exclaims Underwood. “There are so many ways to get involved, and levels of involvement for that matter, that there is something for every personality type.  The most important thing to remember is that no one will speak up for you, you have to speak up for yourself.”

Less experienced educators also represent an important voice in their local that needs to be heard, according to Underwood. “The union needs the younger voice to give direction to the profession, because in time it will be ours alone.  We need to own our profession and stand up for what we believe is right for the future of that profession.  We have the passion to make changes for the positive.  Don’t wait until you feel you are ready, take a chance and make a change- now!”