Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June 29th, 2009

June 29th was our last day of the NEA Student Leadership Conference. I will speak for all of the students from Minnesota and say we all had a great experience and learned a great deal about the student program and the NEA. I had the luxury of coming back to the national conference for a second year in a row, because I went to last year's conference in Washington, D.C. Though this was my second time coming, I feel like I have taken in lots of new information that will be useful in my many years to come.

During our ending sessions the students were given the opportunity to attend a few more breakout sessions. The sessions were aimed at one of the NEA student program’s core values of community outreach. We had the choice of going to how to create your own Outreach to Teach, Read Across America, apply for a CLASS grant, and how to utilize the media in relation to reaching out to the community. Personally, I attended the session about the Outreach to Teach. I chose this session because that meant the most to me. I really enjoyed myself at the Outreach to Teach at Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA, last year, and this year at Balboa Elementary in San Diego, CA. I think that it is so important to give back to the community and what better way than to spruce up a place where students go to school? After experiencing this kind of outreach I would love to organize something like that at the local or the Minnesota level. This session gave me some great insights of things to do and how to plan something like this.

Once all of the sessions were done, all of the students who were going to attend the Representative Assembly stayed to have an NEA RA delegate orientation lunch. This was mainly to provide a way for the students to make connections with each other and see who would be joining us at the RA. After the lunch was over they surprised us and took all of the remaining students back to Balboa Elementary, where we did the Outreach to Teach, to meet the students and see their reaction. They go to school all year long and Monday they came back to a vast surprise. This was the greatest reward to all the effort that was put into the project. The elementary students had huge smiles on their faces and delivered thank you notes and pictures to every NEA student. From that reaction alone, I could see the impact that we made upon these children. That absolutely made this trip and conference worth while. I am still looking forward to learning and participating in what is left to come.

Ben Wallerus
Student Delegate
Minnesota State University Moorhead

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