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A Letter from the New AE Chair!

Sabreena Shaller outlines her vision for her term as chair of the NEA Aspiring Educator Program.
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When I began thinking about running to be the next chair, I thought deeply on what it means to be a leader and how I would best represent you all at the national level. I found myself reminiscing back to the day when I first became a union member.

When I first joined the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), I understood the importance of a union and the history of leadership and societal changes that unions have had on our workplaces, but I could never have predicted the personal and professional growth I would experience because of my union membership.

As the first educator in my family, I was often questioned about my future profession. Thus, when I started my educational journey at Millersville University, I knew I needed to find a group of people who shared my dreams and understood what it was like to be an educator. I sought out education clubs on campus, and I joined them all. Although I attended every club’s meetings, one organization stood out to me—Student PSEA. When I walked into the first chapter meeting, we discussed the importance of unionism, what it means to stand in solidarity with others, and the events we would engage in during the year. From the start, I welcomed the idea of being part of something larger than myself and my future classroom. I knew that by joining Student PSEA and subsequently NEA, I wasn’t just joining an association, I was joining a movement.

As a member of the largest labor union in the United States—and the one with the most talented educators—I have gained the knowledge and skillset to be a vocal advocate for students inside and outside of the classroom.

Our Work Together

Today, as a recent graduate with a degree in early childhood and special education, I know our work as aspiring educators reaches far beyond the curriculum we will one day teach. As advocates for public education, we must continue to fight for a racially and socially just education system. I am grounded in my values and purpose as an educator to continue seeking progress.

These same ideals will propel our work together during my first year as your chair.

Currently, our nation is experiencing one of the largest teacher shortages in history. And that’s not all. We are being impacted by politicians privatizing public education and undermining our mission to provide a quality education to  all students, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status. We also see lawmakers banning books and lessons that teach the truth of our nation’s history. Our purpose as educators is to ensure all students are provided an education that allows them to reflect on past mistakes, and with the tools that will enable them to lead. Our students must see themselves represented in our ever-evolving communities. As aspiring educators, it is our responsibility to stand in unity with active and retired educators to ensure the profession we all love is one that is protected and respected.

During the next two years, I am committed to making sure aspiring educators across the country can find their role in the national movement for educator respect and the protection of a truthful education system. In doing so, together we will develop as leaders.

We all have a place in the movement for societal change. It is up to each of us to use our voice for progress.

Together, we will lean on one another and push each other to be better advocates for public education.

Young woman figuring out finances

Affordable Higher Education for All

By working together, we can make sure students don’t have to choose between basic living expenses or their education, and that families who do attend college are not forever weighed down by a lifetime of crushing student debt. Join us: ask Secretary Cardona to cancel the student debt of longtime public service workers, and $50,000 in student debt for all other federal loans.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.