December 2020 NCAE News Bulletin

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NCAE North Carolina Association of Educators

News Bulletin Dec. 2020

Vol. 51, No. 5

NCAE News Bulletin


Let’s Look Forward to 2021 With Optimism

Tamika Walker Kelly President

Are you ready for 2020 to go on its merry way? Like many of you, I am waiting for 2020 to come to a close. These past 12 months have been a mix of unforgettable moments, to say the least, but there have also been some wonderful highlights; it has

truly been a range of experiences! Some of the positives that have occurred despite the world of education being flipped on its side include the election of many of our pro-public education candidates, the support educators have extended to each other, the support communities have shown each other, and people’s overall appreciation of their relationships and connections. We have also learned lessons in regard to how we teach, what we should teach, what school looks like, and what community looks like, all of which will provide us with better opportunities to dig deep and make transformations in 2021. Another very exciting change I have seen this year that gives me so much pride is more educators have found their advocacy voice. I have watched members who didn’t know if their voices mattered in the grand scheme of things

MLK DAY OF SERVICE 1.18.2021 “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

realize the power they have. Some have boldly stepped into leadership roles as local presidents and instructional leaders. This growth will serve us well as we transition into 2021. Also, we have gained the public’s attention to the true value of ALL educators. This was an especially high sentiment back in the spring when the pandemic first began, but as we move into the second year of this new decade, we must ensure the public not only values the work we do but that the much-needed public education policies and practices to effectively educate our children and do our jobs are put into place. Come January the General Assembly will reconvene, we now have new educational representatives on the State Board of Education, and a new state superintendent of Public Instruction – areas that we will have to watch closely and be active in advocating for meaningful change for our students and us as educators. As the year concludes, thoughts often turn to holiday wishes. I have a few that I hope come to fruition. I wish for each of you continued safety and health as we battle through this pandemic. I wish that everyone who is a member finds a place in the organization where they feel they can contribute to our success and growth. And I wish that through the expertise that each of us brings, we continue to obtain wins for NCAE and the profession on every level – local, state, and national. Happy holidays and best wishes for a new beginning in the new year. It will hopefully be one filled with different possibilities and new opportunities and successes. Thanks to each of you for being a member of NCAE and I look forward to the work we will accomplish, together, as we embark on 2021!

NCAE News Bulletin


Membership is About Building an Organization That Makes People Feel Connected Pandemic or no pandemic, NCAE is making steady strides in growing its membership base. In order for the Association to remain the voice of public school employees in the state, it must be a thriving organization that makes the lives of its members better. “At the most fundamental level, the way we must approach our organization is this…if it’s not growing and we’re not winning things that we can point to, we can’t really make a compelling case for educators to join,” said NCAE Vice President Bryan Proffitt, who is helping to rebuild the NCAE Membership and Organizing Committee. According to Proffitt, the Association must begin to think differently about the process of recruiting members, and it begins with a philosophical shift. Asking people to join is not somebody else’s job and membership should not only be delegated to a certain group of people within the organization. Membership belongs to all members. In addition, membership recruitment efforts should be based on coordinated campaigns throughout the year. “We should always do a membership drive in August and September when educators are returning to school. Then in the first semester, NCAE and our locals should be engaging educators and our communities around issues that matter in our lives. Following that heightened period of engagement, that hopefully includes some wins, we should make membership asks in November and December, asking the people who organized with us to join. From January through the spring, there are any number of ways to engage educators: the policies and budget of the General Assembly/ local school board/county commission, primary elections, etc. Again, towards the end of that period, we should dedicate time and resources in May and June for coordinated membership recruitment. With so many new and active leaders, we then spend July and August training people and building strong teams to start the process over again when school reconvenes.” What begins to occur is a rhythm sets in and a culture begins to form, and that culture can be responsive to a core set of principles and its team of believers. “Our job is to make NCAE irresistible and to make people feel connected,” Proffitt said. “Being a member is voluntary, just like being a member of any organization. Let’s use church as an example…You wouldn’t become a member of a church that has 50 members and every time you show up there’s one less person, would you? And you definitely wouldn’t tithe there. But if you were walking your dog on a Sunday morning and you started hearing the sound of an organ and drums, and you saw someone come out sweating and smiling and looking like they had a life-changing experience, you would want to see what that church is all about. The added bonus is

when you walk in, there is someone standing there to welcome you, and the person says, ‘I’m so glad you’re here!’ You may not join on the first visit, or even the second, but each time you attend you feel that Bryan Proffitt connection, and soon you Vice President say yes to becoming part of a community that makes you feel like you belong and represents your values.” Proffitt said building the “thing” that people want to be a part of and asking everyone to participate in is hard and takes a long time; there are no shortcuts. It’s a slow process and there are no magic tricks. “We have to do the hard work and we have to make people want to be part of the ‘thing’ enough to put in the hard work also and continue building. NCAE has been there before and we’ll get there again.” Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, the hard work of building has ramped up and the Association has gained several victories in the last eight months. They include making the Summer Leadership Conference available to everyone and training more than 400 members; adding to the NCAE organizing infrastructure by hiring a field director, member political organizers, member recruiter storytellers, and digital organizers during the election cycle; helping to slow the process of re-opening from statewide to local levels in ways that have kept our communities safer; helping to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; and helping to re-elect Governor Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein, and other statewide leaders. The 2020 Membership Campaign is well underway, kicking off last month and running through mid-December. More than 600 new members have been recruited since the beginning of the school year, and we know we’ll be adding to our ranks even more in the next few weeks. If you have potential members who want to know more about what we do, please check out these events and look for more coming in the new year:

• December 7 – NCAE Member Benefits video call – • December 9 – Building Professional and Instructional Leadership — • December 12 – Holiday Party and Membership Drive Celebration —

NCAE News Bulletin


Congratulations 2020 Champions for Children Recipients

Each year the N.C. Foundation for Public School Children honors individuals or organizations that have distinguished careers in philanthropy, government, business, religion, sports and entertainment, yet share a common passion for supporting public school children and ensuring that all students have a basic education.

To read more about this year’s recipients, click here. The award for Robert Jordan was given posthumously.

NCAE News Bulletin


Help Students Attend College by Donating to the MLK Jr. Scholarship Fund The NCAE Human and Civil

Teresa Gaither, a long-time member of the Easton Elementary School family (Forsyth County), recently passed away from complications of COVID-19. She is the third NCAE member the virus has claimed. During her tenure at Easton, she served in a variety of roles, most recently as a teacher assistant in a kindergarten class. She was described as funny, opinionated, and a loving presence for children. “She was a jack-of-all trades and would do anything you asked her to do. That school was her life,” a colleague said. In a statement released by the school’s principal, Ramona Warren, she said, “Gaither will always be a part of the fabric of Easton. She cared so much about the school, our children, and this community. She poured her heart and soul into working with our students and will be sorely missed!”

Rights Commission (HCRC) requests active and retired members, as well as local and regional executive boards, to donate financially to the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund. Any amount would be appreciated. Locals and regions are asked to donate $25 when possible. Last year, three awards in the amount of $1,200 each were sent to the students’ college choices. Depending on member contributions, the HCRC hopes to increase the number of scholarships and the amount. Application forms are shared with students through their high school counselors. HCRC members will judge the applications in early March. Applicants must be North Carolina residents enrolled in public high schools during their senior year. The selection criteria include character, community involvement, and scholarship achievement. The HCRC encourages members to consider donating by December 31, 2020, if you plan to use your donation as a 2020 tax deduction. Otherwise, donations would be appreciated anytime in January or February 2021. Checks should be made payable to the N.C. Foundation for Public School Children. In the memo section, write: For the MLK Scholarship and indicate your region. Donations should be mailed to the NCAE Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, c/o Derevana Leach, 700 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27601.

Have You Joined the NEA edCommunities Member Portal? NEA edCommunities is an open professional learning network created for educators. Members can use this virtual space to exchange ideas and share resources with thousands of education professionals across the state and the country. When members join NEA edCommunities, they can: CONNECT with your Association to expand your professional development opportunities COLLABORATE with other educators and education professionals SHARE classroom-ready instructional materials EXCHANGE ideas with those who share your commitment to student success Members can also update their personal information -- mailing address, phone numbers, e-mail, etc. -- within edCommunities. Members may join one of the many open groups or start their own! Get started by signing up at https:// Questions can be e-mailed to Click here to view the user’s guide.

NCAE News Bulletin

Three new staff members have joined the NCAE family. Ashley Jane McIntyre, Milo Norlin, and Anya Sippen, have been hired as field organizers to support membership growth and the local/leadership capacity of NCAE. Their tasks include searching for and identifying local leaders at every level, supporting locals to build leadership capacity and engagement, and working to support NCAE and the locals within their assigned areas to conduct targeted membership and organizing issue campaigns. Ashley Jane McIntyre is assigned to the western region of the state. She is currently completing her duties as a high school science teacher, which will conclude on December 11. As a member of NCAE, she has been serving as local vice president. Becoming involved in staff work she said seems like the perfect next step in her path. “I have always enjoyed volunteering my time to supporting fellow educators and advocating for our rights. When I learned of this opportunity, I thought, ‘Wow! I can’t believe I can get paid for something I love!’ I’m still in disbelief that I actually get to do this as a job and I’m thrilled to be here.” The oldest of four siblings (she has four younger brothers), McIntyre grew up in a military household and began life here in North Carolina as a high schooler. After graduating, she attended Coastal Carolina Community College and then UNC-Wilmington, earning a degree in biology and environmental science. She is married, has two dogs, and when not working she enjoys hiking, reading, and hosting gatherings through her CRAFT community company. She also is passionate about building and restoring vintage mopeds.

“Education is a human right — a recognition of dignity that each person should be afforded.” — Clint Smith


Milo Norlin is assigned to the central region of the state and will work with ESPs. A native of Asheville, Norlin worked with the Progressive Turnout Project doing campaign field work in the General Election and with the Pierce Freelon Senate campaign. He is currently completing an internship with the N.C. AFL-CIO. Norlin is a product of public education and says he is excited to work to build a union that members, students, and parents can be proud of. When not working, he enjoys playing the piano and discovering new music. He is a trained classical pianist and is now teaching himself how to play Blues and Jazz. A point of interest that he would like members to know is that he has a true love for animals. “My family has had animals since I was young. We had goats, chickens, and my twin brother is now raising rabbits.” Norlin also has an older sister. Anya Sippen is assigned to the eastern region of the state. Before joining the Association, she worked as a field organizer for the Carolina Federation and taught Spanish. She said her love for public schools is the reason she applied for the job at NCAE “where I am excited to learn more about organizing.” Though she always knew she would teach one day, Sippen said she never expected it to be her first job right out of college. “As soon as I graduated, I packed my bags for Greenville, MS, where I began as a high school Spanish teacher and fell in love with introducing leaners to a new language.” Born and raised in Durham, Sippen graduated from Hampton University with a degree in broadcast journalism. She has an older brother, who teaches, and an older sister. When not working, she enjoys cooking and baking and decorating cakes.

FREE Virtual Arts & Humanities Conference for Teachers, Students December 15-16 All N.C. teachers and their classes are invited to attend a free two-day immersive experience focused on arts and the humanities. The Cultural Arts LIVE (Live, Immersive Virtual Experiences) Conference will be led by North Carolina artists, musicians, dancers, actors, writers, journalists, historians, and educators. To attend, register at The conference is hosted by the North Carolina Business Committee on Education, housed in the Office of the Governor.

NCAE News Bulletin


EOC Academy Members Challenge Inequities Head-on in the Midst of the Pandemic Members of the NCAE Educators of Color Academy (EOC) have been hard at work despite the pandemic completing their Problem of Practice, which focuses on equity. The projects have led to issues and policies being challenged and changed within their individual schools or districts. During a recent meeting of Academy members, several participants had an opportunity to share their work. Dr. Willyetta Mitchell of South Garner High School in Wake County, and Steven Gupton of James Shepard Middle School in Durham, worked together on “Black Teachers Matter: Recruit, Retain, Empower.” They created a plan that offers teacher circles in order to address issues related to racial injustices in schools that affect Black teachers, and they also provided training. “Our mission is for Black educators to hold other Black educators accountable,” said Gupton. “We also realized that Black teachers are not okay and need support around retention, navigating the process of being a teacher of color, and effectiveness in the classroom,” added Mitchell, who shared that 60 percent of teachers at her school are African American. “We discuss how to best authentically serve black children, how to bridge the gap between student success and students’ perception of success, and how to advocate for students of color.” Amanda Camacho, a teacher at Randolph Middle School in Charlotte, identified the problem in her school of students of color feeling less prepared academically and less part of the school community. This exposed a lack of culturally responsive instruction, which created a barrier between students of color and their peers. To rectify the issues students were experiencing, Camacho created a school-wide book study program for staff using the book “Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain,” and provided professional development opportunities. For students, she worked with the media specialist to add several diverse books to the media center and created a diverse reading section. To verify if the actions improved student learning, she gathered data such as school report cards/test scores, suspension rates by race, and teacher feedback. “The intended outcomes are to foster stronger teacher/student relationships and aid teachers in appropriate differentiated instruction, as well as support their growth and development as culturally responsible educators,” Camacho said. The NCAE EOC Academy is a three-year program open to educators of color. Over the course of the program, members engage in book studies, conduct virtual town hall meeting and trainings in their locals, and experience instructional and leadership skill development. When asked how being a part

of the Academy has strengthened them as a leader, here is what a few of the members had to say: • Cleta Harrell, Williamston Primary School in Martin County -- “Being a member of the Academy has broadened my expectations, opened my eyes, increased my advocacy, and allowed me to be more vocal. It’s easy to turn a blind eye and be complacent, but I know that doesn’t work. I have been able to bring back ideas from others in the group to eastern North Carolina.” • Ayanna Thompson, West Lake Middle School in Wake County – “This Academy led me to become more involved in my local and take on new roles. It has also made me more marketable as an educator.” The Educators of Color Academy will begin taking applications for its next cohort in January 2021. For more information, contact

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NCAE News Bulletin


Holiday Gifts from Students… Members Share the Most Memorable Ones Received

From practical and personal to silly and sentimental, the gifts educators receive during the holidays can definitely leave a lasting impression. Members were asked to share their most memorable gifts, and in the spirit of the season, you delivered! “I received an old 4/5th’s empty bottle of cologne. I had a male student (from a very poor family) whose father died in September and he gave me this as a gift because it was all he could afford.” – Martin Efrid, Cabarrus County

“One of my students donated money to a project to bring clean water to people in Third World countries. Another student who was in my AP Chemistry class, bought me a highball glass with the structural formula for ethanol. On it was etched, ‘I like to look smart when I drink.’ He was the valedictorian for the class of 2020 and was named a Star Student, who selected me as his Star Teacher.” – Bobby Padgett, Gaston County

“This is my 41st holiday season and for three decades I have taught ESL students. A few years back, my Beginning ESL class created a holiday card topped with a huge candy cane stick, like the kind you see in drug stores. Each student took the initiative to write their message in English regardless of their proficiency level. There were messages of different cultural and religious beliefs. It was a true celebration of their joy, hope, and thanks from the hearts of my students. That’s what the holiday season, across all cultures, is all about, and I felt truly blessed to have these students in my life to enrich it in many ways.” – Marian Anderson, Buncombe County “A set of red-yarn coasters was given to me by a student whose younger sister died months before Christmas. Imagine my surprise when she approached me before the holiday break and handed me the four coasters with a simple smile and a gentle ‘thank you.’ I picture her precious heart dealing with the loss of her sister as she completed each stitch, and I am reminded that we are there for each other even when we don’t realize it.” – Athena Rogers, Cumberland County

“I received my most memorable holiday gift in 2009 while I was teaching at Al Ibdaa Montessori School in Aleppo, Syria. That year, we were going to school the day of Christmas Eve. Unbeknownst to me, this really concerned my middle school boys, who were worried that I would be terribly homesick because I couldn’t go back to the U.S. to see my family. After much discussion and without any suggestions or help from an adult, the boys decided to throw me a surprise Christmas party. I walked into my last class of the day, just a couple of hours before Christmas Eve, to find my boys holding big bags of candy, wearing party hats (most of which said Happy Birthday) and blowing noisemakers, and singing a very off-key rendition of ‘Jingle Bells.’” – Lori Brenneise-Jabakji, McDowell County

“I received a coffee mug with a cat on it that says ‘Cattitude,’ which I use every day when I make my morning latte. As the mother of five cats, it says a lot about what goes on at home daily. Thank you, Aliana!” – Celia Rowland, Wake County

“I received two very memorable gifts I want to mention. One of my students wrote me a beautiful note one year that said their family was donating canned goods to the food bank in my honor (I volunteer at shelters). Another note mentioned that I always made the student feel special and that she was donating a can of food to her church’s food drive. She wrote my name on the can. I have saved every note ever written by a student. The notes and random acts of kindness are very special.” – Betty Jo Moore, Forsyth County

NCAE News Bulletin


Advocating for Students and Their Families Ronda Mays, a social worker in Forsyth County and Region 2 director on the NCAE Board of Directors, was recently recognized by the School Psychologists of WinstonSalem/Forsyth County Schools for advocating for students and their families. She, along with two other winners, were recognized during National School Psychologist Week (November 8-14). It was said of Mays, “Ronda puts students and their families first and works long hours to help them meet their needs. She is very involved in all levels of the education system and works cooperatively with all support service staff members and teachers. “She is not afraid to stand up and advocate for students and families. She attends board meetings (local) and speaks on issues relating to social injustice and equity. She is heavily invested in the well-being of all individuals within the WSFCS district. She embodies the meaning of school social worker!” Mays was one of three educators recognized.


How “Zoom Fatigue” Impacts Communication With Students At the end of 2019, roughly 10 million people in the United States attended meetings on Zoom. By May 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic shut the country down, usage had exploded to 30 million. For educators and their students, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms, however imperfect, were indispensable in powering remote instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. The optimistic view was that video conferencing would for the most part be left behind as things returned to normal. But they haven’t. Ten months after the pandemic broke out, many educators continue to teach and interact with their students, parents, and colleagues via video conferencing software, either part of a hybrid model or full-time. It should be no surprise then that “Zoom fatigue” has and will continue to be a serious challenge for many of these educators. To read more click here.

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NCAE News Bulletin



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Dates to Remember December 7th 10th 20th 21st 23rd 31st

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Human Rights Day Link International Human Solidarity Day World Peace Day Winter Solstice NCAE Winter Holiday Begins (Closed Through January 1, 2021) New Year’s Eve

National Hand Washing Awareness Week: 6-12 Link Universal Human Rights Month Link National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

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New Year’s Day War on Poverty Day Civil Service Day Martin Luther King Jr. Day (NCAE Offices Closed) National Day of Service Link Fun at Work Day

Book Blitz Month National Poverty in America Awareness Month Celebration of Life Month

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Positions stated in this publication do not necessarily reflect the official position of NCAE unless so identified. The NCAE News Bulletin, a journal of the Association, is published by the North Carolina Association of Educators, 700 S.Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27601, 1-800-662-7924. Linda Powell-Jones, Editor/Designer

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