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Service & Awards

A Legacy Built To Last

Students, Retired Members roll up their sleeves and get to work

In a sea of hot pink and blue T-shirts, NEA Student Program and NEA-Retired members worked shoulder to shoulder last summer hammering, gluing, writing, packing, and creating. They were all attending the Leaders Empowering Grassroots Advocacy for Communities and Youth (LEGACY) project. The event was part of the Student Leadership Conference, held just before the NEA Representative Assembly kicked off in Washington, D.C., last July.

As dance music pumped through the cavernous conference room at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the volunteers moved from table to table every 15 minutes working on community service projects. They assembled boxes that will each become a Little Free Library. They put together care packages for homeless shelters, and created beautifully decorated hand-puppets containing notes of inspiration for cancer patients.

“As future educators we know that we must see to the needs of students and the community beyond the walls of our classrooms,” said Tadean Page, an NEA Student member of The South Carolina Education Association and junior at Winthrop University. In his message to a person battling cancer, he wrote, “You are strong. I believe in you.” He followed that with what he says is a personal motto he shares with young people all the time: “You are enough and you do matter.”

Hand-Written Messages to Students and Teachers

At the “Pencils of Hope” station, where the volunteers stuffed backpacks with school supplies, they also wrote notes to students wishing them well on their first days of school.

“The themes in my note are that education is important, to always do your homework, and that the good habits you develop in school now will pay off down the road when you get to college,” said Ciara Montgomery, a junior at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga.

Larry Koenck, a retired elementary physical education teacher from Minnesota, and Roger Sharp, a retired math teacher from Indiana, were at a letter-writing station to encourage educators to become mentors to student teachers.

“In our state there are new teachers who’ve never seen a raise, who’ve been flatlined, and who need to feel supported or even more will leave the profession,” said Sharp. “In our letters we’re sharing our experiences as mentors and how gratifying it is to take these young people, who are so idealistic and enthusiastic, and help mold them into someone with the skills and professional commitment to be a great educator.”


Jack Kinnaman Scholarship Puts Student Program Members’ Goals Within Reach

Program helps to ease financial burden of future educators

Two aspiring educators were honored with the NEA-Retired Jack Kinnaman Memorial Scholarship during the 2016 NEA-Retired Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. In life, Kinnaman was vice president and former advisory council member of NEA-Retired. His work and dedication to education continue to live through the scholarship award, which goes to NEA Student Program members who demonstrate financial hardships.

Sydney Knight, a senior at Grand Canyon University who is studying elementary education with an emphasis in math, and Jaffa Williams, a junior and secondary education math major at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), received scholarships in the amount of $2,500.

Knight was nominated for the award by her former English teacher, who described her as “a wonderful young lady with tremendous talent, amazing leadership prowess, and an extremely kind heart.”

Raised by a single mother, an elementary school teacher, Knight brings years of activism to the profession.

“As a young girl, I joined my mom in attending rallies for pro-education candidates and went door to door informing voters of the importance of passing bonds and overrides for funding schools,” Knight said in a personal essay.

The scholarship will help Knight reach her “life-long dream” of becoming an educator.

Williams accepted her award through tears.

“When I first thought to be an educator,” she said during her acceptance speech, “I didn’t think I would have the love and support. Having you guys’ support and love me has shown me that I’m choosing the right field.”

The math major is known for her deep understanding and love of math, a talent that helps Williams persuade students that math is a worthwhile subject.

An active member of the Student Florida Education Association (SFEA), Williams is a “true leader. Her commitment, follow-through, and enthusiasm are an asset,” wrote Mary Thomas Proud, an organizer for student Association who recommended Williams for the award.

Williams is the vice president of the FAMU chapter of the SFEA, and has been involved with FEA’s delegate assembly, national listening tours, professional development, and Read Across America events.

With a twin sister and a brother both in college, Williams says paying for college has been hard. Her parents have helped, but have had to sacrifice to pay college tuition for her and her siblings.

With student loans, she says, “I fear I will owe more money than I make when I graduate. As an aspiring educator I would like to get the most education that I can get so I can inspire and teach youth….” 

How To Apply

Complete the NEA-Retired Jack Kinnaman Scholarship Application at

Applicant must be an NEA Student member who meets all of the application criteria. All items for the scholarship application must be submitted as one package including application, recommendation letters, and an official university or college transcript. Submission must include all the required materials by the deadline date in one inclusive package. Submissions that are incomplete or not received by the deadline will be disqualified.

Applications submitted by first class mail must be postmarked by April 15, 2017. If submitted by overnight courier, the submission package must be received by April 15, 2017. Electronic application submissions are not permitted.

NEA, Governance and Policy, 1201 16th St. N.W., 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20036
Attn: The NEA-Retired Jack Kinnaman Memorial Scholarship

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