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NEA leader goes back to school

Pringle back in the classroom to kick off year two of NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign in Evansville

EVANSVILLE, Ind.— - September 12, 2011 -

The secretary-treasurer of the National Education Association congratulated local education leaders for their work in turning academically-challenged schools in Evansville into positive learning environments.  NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle kicked off the Association’s Standing Strong for Students Back-to-School Tour here today, with visits to Evans School and McGary Middle School.

NEA is a strong proponent of union-led transformation through collaborative efforts between teachers and administrators. The Association believes there is a direct correlation between collaboration and student achievement.  “I talk about Evansville all the time when I speak about school transformation, but I don’t hold up Evansville as a cookie-cutter model everyone should follow,” said Pringle. “That doesn’t work. What administrators did was to empower these teachers to make the best decisions for their school.”

The national education leader witnessed examples of   extraordinary collaboration between the school administration and the union in Evansville. The contract bargained by the two groups put extra focus on three schools that have had trouble raising test scores.  The bargained contract empowers educators to make the changes that they, as professionals, believe will work.

Pringle was joined by Evansville Teachers Association President Keith Gambill, Indiana State Teachers Association President Nate Schnellenberger and Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Superintendent David Smith, who stopped by Evans School a quick chat with Pringle.

Early this morning before students arrived at Evans School, Pringle joined a planning session of third grade teachers. The planning sessions were designed by the teachers themselves and created to help transform Evans School, a PSC site.  The planning session is a detailed element of the Evansville Teachers Association contract. The group of third grade teachers met this morning to fine tune their work and ensure each of their students had a learning experience that fits their individual academic skills and personalities.

While visiting Evans, Pringle talked a little football with first graders.  The football talk was over cereal and milk at Evans’ Breakfast-In-The-Classroom program. Large, wheeled coolers, paid for by Jeep® through a special arrangement facilitated by NEA, are used to bring fresh food into each class at Evans as students arrive in the morning. All students share in the free breakfast.

Pringle also watched fifth graders do math on a smart board. Speech teacher, Claire Reinitz, told Pringle that the technology helps to level the playing field for Evans students, who come mostly from low-income families; Evans students will attend middle school with more affluent students.

In the afternoon, the educators moved to McGary Middle School, where Pringle was interviewed by a middle school video production class. Students from the production class interviewed her on camera, asking about her responsibilities as an NEA officer, and what she liked best in her job.  Pringle answered, “This! I miss having students and watching you grow. But I love meeting teachers and students all across the country that are doing exciting things in their classrooms to help students learn,” such as incorporating up-to-date technology into the classroom.

NEA’s 2011 Back-to-School Tour marks the official start of year two of the Association’s Priority Schools Campaign (PSC), a multi-year effort in 16 states to help transform 34 low-performing schools.   

Pringle and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel are crisscrossing the nation, visiting schools in seven cities, September 12-15th. The veteran educators are getting first-hand views of school improvements and strategies that can be replicated across the country. In addition to Evansville, the NEA leaders will visit Orlando and Miami, Fla., Evansville, Ind., Las Vegas, Nev., and Seattle, Wash. 

Photos from NEA’s Back-to-School Tour in Evansville will be available here
To learn more about NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign,
 including our work in Evansville, Indiana, visit here
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Steve Grant  (202) 822-7823,