Congratulations to Texas Educator Selena Valdez–NEA’s 2017 Activist of the Year!
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Valdez, a San Antonio resident, was announced as the winner today, during the final day of the NEA Representative Assembly.
Valdez, an elementary school teacher with the North East ISD, was voted in as Activist of the Year by delegates attending the NEA RA, which began Sunday, July 2nd. In addition to being a member of the Texas State Teachers Association, she is also president of the North East Education Association (NEEA).
Being active in marches and advocating for others has been instilled in me from a young age. One of my first memories is getting to miss school to march alongside my mother to the Texas Capitol to support Governor Ann Richards in her election. For years, I watched my father give school board speeches on the Austin PBS channel. Hearing his passion to represent his fellow educators and demand action, helped to build that same passion in me.
Check out Selena’s responses to questions we asked about activism and community involvement to get a better picture of why she is the 2017 NEA Activist of the Year!
EV: Why do you deserve to be the NEA Activist of the Year?
SV: We are fighting against a tyrant superintendent, who has tried to intimidate and bully me and my educational colleagues. The attitude among our district’s executive staff is that if teachers don’t like what is happening…we have lines of people waiting to work with us. My attitude is: If you don’t like me going to the board to advocate for my members, then do the right thing. My persistence has paid off. Educators are now consulted on many issues that impact us.
EV: What drives you to be active in your union?
SV: I have been active in my duties and responsibilities as a leader in my local organization. I have led with the mission to empower our members, to encourage active membership, and to promote change within the North East Independent School District and public education in general.
EV: What’s the best way to get educators to be active in their union?
SV: The most effective way I have found to get educators active is through one-on-one conversations. Listening to their concerns and making connections with them on how the local (union) can help with a solution allows them to feel empowered and in charge of their profession and employment.
EV: Do you think it’s important for educators to be involved in their community?
SV: As an educator, our first objective is to reach our students and therefore we must connect with the parents. In order to build that relationship, we need to be involved in the community. As an educator, we should want the entire community to know our dedication to the success of all students, which in turn leaves a positive impression. Parents are then eager to stand with educators when it comes to standing up for students.
EV: How do you make time to be an activist?
SV: I have learned to be amazing at multitasking and making lists. My family and close friends are also extremely supportive and continue to be proud of the work that I am doing within my local. This allows me to miss certain events due to union work, knowing that it will not damage any personal relationship.