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Our Voices

Our Voices, August 2023

“When you see people engaged in their passion, you no longer see how they are different. You see a way to connect.”

Our Voices - Close-Up

Diversity on Display in Wisconsin

Racine Educators United (REU), in Wisconsin, collaborated with nationally recognized photographer and art activist Heidi Wagner to capture portraits of 10 students at Jerome I. Case High School. Called “The Passions Project: Racial and Social Justice,” the effort was funded through an NEA Community Advocacy and Partnership Engagement (CAPE) grant.

The goal? Uplift the voices of students from historically marginalized groups, celebrate them, and help increase community awareness, connection, inclusion, and the visibility of the city’s People of Color, Indigenous people, and LGBTQ+ residents.

The students, recruited from the school’s affinity groups, were the principal organizers of the project, too. They formed a committee, which was supported by REU educators, to seek student participation, promote their work, and help organize a community event.

In May, the students held a photo exhibit that included a community conversation about racial and social justice and safe and inclusive schools.

The project is intended to flip the script on politicians who ban books and restrict classroom instruction around gender and race.

“Our students are the ones impacted by the nonsense that some adults can get wrapped up in when it comes to what schools can teach about race, racism, and gender,” says Angelina Cruz, president of REU “We wanted to humanize our kids and show their full, vibrant, intersectional, and diverse selves.”

Says Wagner: “When you see people engaged in their passion, you no longer see how they are different from you. You see a way to connect.”

Our Voices - Member Spotlight

Roscoe McCormick

A Little Help Along the Way

Roscoe McCormick
Middle School math Teacher
Austin, Texas

When I was a child in Fayetteville, N.C., there was a man named Ed Newton who owned a small grocery store near my house. He would have me do math problems by giving me combinations of grocery purchases and asking what they’d cost or what the change should be. When I was right, he’d give me a small prize—and I was right a lot.

Mr. Newton’s generosity gave me two lessons early on that stuck with me. First, I learned to love math. But I also learned that you never know who you might meet along the way who will influence or help you. … I hope in my role in education I can be one of those people, perhaps providing guidance or assistance to a student or a member of my union that will help them on their journey.

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Our Voices - Quick Takes

What's Your Best Advice for New Educators?

Quote byJames Fedderman, Virginia

Join your union!”
—James Fedderman, Virginia
James Fedderman, Virginia

Quote byAlysia R.

Best advice I received from my mentor, … keep a folder in your desk for any nice notes from students, parents, etc., so that on days you’re struggling, you can pull them out and remember why you’re doing this.”
—Alysia R.

Quote byMandy M.

Focus on relationships first. Learning will follow.”
—Mandy M.

Quote byKatelyn D.

Make your mental health a priority; you can't pour from an empty cup.”
—Katelyn D.

Quote byFarrell V.

Find a good mentor!”
—Farrell V.

Quote byShyya Combs, Delaware

You will have ups and downs, but that moment will come!”
—Shyya Combs, Delaware
Shyya Combs, Delaware

Quote byHeather M.

Always remember that the most difficult student has the most difficult things going on behind closed doors, so show them kindness and caring.”
—Heather M.

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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.