When Matthew Powell of Kentucky began his profession as instructional assistant and custodian, he was handed a big wad of keys and told to go upstairs. With no further direction, Powell figured out his professional path—for the most part—on his own.
Looking back now, “I wish I had a mentor,” he reflects, “someone to go along with me and explain the value of my role in that school and the different opportunities where I could be an educator for students.” Today, Powell is a custodial supervisor and bus driver for Graves County Schools in the Bluegrass State. He’s also night a night watchman and campus resident, meaning he lives on school grounds.
“Public education is my passion and my desire to live at school to look after students who are staying at school events or coming back from sporting events late at night is an example of my dedication to our children and their safety,” he says.
NEA members, like Powell, have always been passionate about their profession, appreciating the profound influence they have (in their many and varied roles as educators) on the health, safety, well-being, learning opportunities, and development of their students. So it’s fitting that NEA would become the vehicle for members to take the lead of their profession, express their voice, and make a difference for kids, schools, and the communities they serve.
Powell was one of several educators who were recently in Washington, D.C. to rollout two NEA developed reports, Great Teaching and Learning and the ESP Professional Growth Continuum. These reports offer teachers and education support professionals (ESP) recommendations to create a system of continual professional learning with an intense focus on student needs, and they were created with input from two expert panels and task forces focused on how educators, including ESP, can work even more effectively to help students, their families, and communities.
“Every student deserves to have a team of educators that cares for, engages and empowers learners, provides challenging instruction, and enlists the entire school community to ensure student success,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “The reports call for a new vision—a system of shared, mutual responsibility—that is founded on the premise that educators are ultimately responsible to students, to their colleagues, and to their professions.”
NEA began to chart a course to greater student learning through strong professional practice with its 2011 report, Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning, and its 2015 Accountability Task Force Report, which outlined a vision for shared responsibility and student success…
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