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A message from the NEA-Retired President

The Power of a Story


Have you ever stopped to reflect on what a monumental role reading and writing have played in your life? We hit the books and crafted papers to become educators, we spent decades teaching students to become better readers and writers, and many of us also helped our own children master those skills.

But I’m really talking about what reading and writing have brought to your personal life. I, for one, love spending hours at a time in the company of a good book. I’m partial to fiction (when I’m not buried in education news, of course), but one of my recent favorites is nonfiction: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortensen’s inspiring story of his quest to build schools in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Like all great books, this one reminded me that sharing stories is fundamental to connecting as human beings. You need never have stepped foot in Pakistan to suddenly care deeply that Mortensen’s campaign to build schools there is successful. That’s the power of a story.

An impressive number of NEA-Retired members are published authors. Memoirs, biographies, cookbooks, fiction, poetry, how to’s, mysteries, children’s books—our authors run the gamut. Only a handful could be featured in this issue, but more are featured online.

While we’re on the topic, remember that sharing your personal stories—in the form of a short letter or e-mail message—is an incredibly effective way to advocate for public schools. Your elected officials are people, too! When you tell how a piece of legislation or funding decision would affect your lives, communities, and schools, you’re giving them a chance to see the issue from another perspective.

The November election results will be in by the time you read this. I hope we are successful in getting candidates elected who will do right for public education. But no matter the outcome, I want to sincerely thank everyone who contributed their time, energy, and money, and those who shared their stories, to make the issues real.

Barbara Matteson

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