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Member & Activist Spotlight

'Throughout my teaching journey, I’ve felt the union’s support'

Jassmin Smith is an Elementary School Teacher in Nash County, North Carolina
Jassmin Smith Moses Mitchell
Published: August 18, 2023

When I entered college, I was expecting to go to medical school. Pediatrics was my calling. I loved working with children. But I decided teaching was what I was meant to do. I’ve never looked back and never had any regrets.

I’ve been a teacher for eight years at Fairview Elementary School in North Carolina and have been named a teacher of the year for my district. I’ve been also asked this year to coach teachers at my school, including the large number of new teachers.

Throughout my teaching journey, I’ve felt the union’s support – that support was most clear to me … when my father passed away a few years ago. After his passing, I needed time for myself and to get some things for my family but couldn’t afford time off. I got an unexpected outpouring of support and sympathy from my local, the Nash County Education Association, and members of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE). They also raised money for me so that I could take time off from my job to handle my family affairs during that difficult period.

I’ve seen my local support teachers individually and educators as a group on key issues. I’ve also witnessed NCAE gain power in the state and influence policy. But it was nice to see this side of the union, providing me with such needed personal support. I know it’s valuable to have this connection with my colleagues.

I hadn’t gotten involved in the union right away, either. For a while, like many other teachers, I sat back and appreciated the work the union did for me and other educators. But then I realized that I could contribute – and I should – and there was this network ready to support me.

As a more active member, I was specifically involved in a local issue where the district unilaterally took away our health coverage in the summer months – with no notice to the educators it affected. I helped draft a letter and organized members to get the board to reverse its decision, which it eventually did.

This helped me recognize our collective power.

As an educator and active union member, I want to continue to help other teachers, build my local by recruiting more members, and help lead efforts that benefit my school community – supporting the great work of NCAE and NEA along the way.

I’m so happy I found my life’s calling when I became an educator. I know it was meant to be.

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.