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Be The Change

MEA only exists because public education exists. MEA is a member-driven, democratic organization that works with and for you, because we are you, and you are us.

We have been around for 156 years but what we know for sure—schools are changing, students are changing, and our membership is changing.

Our local and state Associations need to change also, if we are to remain relevant. One change we are already working toward is building strong community support for our schools, our colleges and universities, and our educators.

This is not a quick fix. This is only one step in a series that will put MEA in the position of being the “go-to gang” when people want leaders for education issues. We know to be successful we have to first have the support of our communities, and now is the time to reinforce and strengthen these bridges.

That’s why we need to start planning for 5-years, 20-years, and 50-years down the road to protect our system of publicly funded public schools and we need to be deliberate in developing a step-by-step plan.

Many of our newest colleagues already are ready for change and are ready to lead the change. We want to engage in action with our youngest members who already outpace our veterans in community service rates. We want to join in changing the paradigm for education. For us it becomes less about how we have done things, and much more about how we will meet the needs of the future, and engage our potential members, Millennial members, veteran members and communities.

As part of this we need to change the way our state and local Associations engage with our potential members and with our Millennial members to understand the impact of seeing the whole picture. Where could we begin?

First we need to ask others’ opinions. It is easy to ask and then forget—we need to ask, listen and then give others the reins to make a difference. I am the first to admit that I am hesitant to do this, but in order to open up our Association to this generation of “do-ers,” we have to be willing.

A large group of members were at the Pirates Festival in Eastport last September where we carried an MEA banner in the parade. We had a great time, made an impact on the community (we got the loudest clapping and hooting of anyone) and built new bridges.

MEA has been providing take-home books to Maine's students for two years and some locals have taken this on for their own students and are funding the books from Association funds. This is a great way to let parents know we care even more than they already know.

MEA Board members volunteered at the inaugural Maine Science Festival in Bangor. MEA was one of the sponsors and it gave us the chance to pitch in and help make the Festival a huge success.

Luckily in Maine, there are hundreds of opportunities to “advertise” our Association. On the Sunday of the Representative Assembly 3,000 people walked in the Heart Walk in Portland. Think if we had a presence there. This summer will be the Folk Festival in Bangor. We could be there. There are Apple Festivals and winter celebrations. These are places we could use your activism and volunteerism to address our good work and help us become even more visible.

How can your local Association start the change? Have your Association get involved in the Komen Walk for the Cure. Show up on the capital steps in Augusta for Climate Change speeches. Host a Candidates’ Night for local candidates. Have a Friday gathering that has an entrance “fee” of canned goods. Your imagination is unending. If you give me a heads-up I will do all I can to come to support you. I am MEA, you are MEA and MEA is all of us supporting one another.

Let’s make sure we are moving forward together. The MEA is here to help you activate in building bridges to our communities. Let’s start now paving a road to our future.

Since this is the last issue of the Maine Educator for this year, I would be remiss if I didn't say thank you for everything you are already doing. I know your time is precious, and I know you already give 24/7. Thank you for another great year, and thank you for being an MEA member.

MEA Benefits Trust

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