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Member & Activist Spotlight

Larry Carey: "I love what the union has shown me I can do"

Larry Carey  is a Preschool Teacher in Columbus, Ohio
Larry Carey Moses Mitchell
Published: September 9, 2022

I went from being a substitute teacher to instructional assistant to eventually earning my teacher’s license as a pre-K teacher.

A motivating factor in my profession is seeing the kids learn and grow. Some kids would come to class not knowing the alphabet. They didn’t know how to count or how to tie their shoes. They were nervous about being separated from their parents. By the end of the year, however, they knew how to say letters and sounds. They knew how to read and were more independent. As a pre-K teacher, I was able to contribute to that growth—and I love that!

I also love to connect with people and share the benefits of our association, the Ohio Education Association (OEA). And one of the benefits is forming partnerships with other organizations to help strengthen our profession.

Like many places across the country, Ohio also has a teacher shortage. To help address this, OEA collaborated with Central State University, a historical Black university, to develop a program that offers free tuition to instructional assistants and aspiring educators. OEA picks up the tab.

During the 2021 – 2022 school year, I was on leave from my teaching duties and was a part of the NEA Organizing Fellowship Academy. The program helps to support the labor movement and public education. As a fellow, I learned how to become a better organizer and advocate for members. I also gained hands-on experience working the 2022 Minneapolis strike and the 2021 strike in Geneva, Ohio. I also provided some professional development for teachers and have worked with members, in Columbus, to help with negotiations.

I recently accepted a position as the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports coordinator in Columbus City Schools. I’ll be on special assignment to help with professional development and work alongside the social emotional learning team in assisting with their restorative practices.

Education is a passion for me. Through the union, I’ve seen how coming together as one and working together for a common goal can create change in public education. I love what the union has shown me I can do.

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.