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NEA president stops in Orlando during back-to-school tour

ORLANDO - September 14, 2011 -

The president of the National Education Association is urging parents and local education, community and business leaders to forge effective partnerships to support students and neighborhood schools. Dennis Van Roekel made a stop in Orlando today as part of NEA’s “Standing Strong for Students” Back-to-School Tour.

“In these changing times, providing every child with a world-class education requires more from all of us,” said Van Roekel, a high-school math teacher from Phoenix, Ariz. “Teaching and learning can’t just occur in the classroom. We must work together help more students, more ways, more effectively. We all—teachers, students, parents, elected officials and community leaders—are accountable for our children’s success.”

Van Roekel took part in a roundtable discussion with those important stakeholders while visiting Orlando, Wednesday. The group shared opportunities and obstacles, along with .ideas and insights to help ensure the success of all students. NEA is a strong proponent of community engagement and recognizes its positive impact on student achievement.  Research shows a direct correlation between parent, family, and community involvement and higher academic performance and school improvement.

Van Roekel and NEA Secretary Treasurer Becky Pringle are crisscrossing the nation, visiting schools in seven cities, September 12-15th. They are getting first-hand views of school improvements and strategies that can be replicated across the country. In addition to Orlando, the NEA leaders visited Evansville, Ind., Romulus, Mich., Las Vegas, Nev., Dayton, OH and Seattle, Wash. Van Roekel heads to Miami tomorrow.
While in Orlando, Van Roekel also toured Lee Middle School, which has an International Baccalaureate program. Lee also features rich, diverse courses and offers access to modern technology and training, including opportunities to learn web design and video production. Students are gaining skills they will need to compete in a global society.  Van Roekel also visited school bus drivers and monitors at the Eric Olson Bus Compound on Bear Bryant Drive.

Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall, Orange County Classroom Teachers Association President Mike Cahill and Orange Education Support Professionals Association President Bill Humphreys joined Van Roekel for the Orlando visits.

“From larger classes to shrinking programs, students and teachers face unprecedented challenges,” said McCall. “This fall’s landscape is radically different because of the disastrous legislative session that cut critical resources. But what hasn’t changed is educators’ steadfast commitment to children.”

“We appreciate the fact that President Van Roekel is on the ground, seeing opportunities and challenges first- hand,” said Cahill. “As we work to transform schools, it is important to listen to those on the frontlines.”

Humphreys added, “Education support professionals have valuable insight as well. Each day they provide essential services for students, like making sure they get to and from school. They know what children need beyond the classroom.”

Check throughout the day for tour photos 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: Ramona Parks-Kirby (202) 368-0575,