By Alana Rigby, President, Student Florida Education Association
The past two years have uprooted us from all that we know and planted us in a new place where we can rebuild and make our dreams into reality. As the newly elected president of the Student Florida Education Association (SFEA), I am excited to build but apprehensive of our future. I am excited to continue the race FEA and SFEA have been running as fierce advocates for public education. We are faced with the question, where do we go from here? Those we aspire to be, PreK-12 teachers, were praised and thanked for their resilience during the pandemic, but in the end still not respected or valued. How do we continue to strive to be the next generation of educators?
It’s simple but complicated: We must have hope. We must have hope if we really want to make an impact and push America to live up to the values this country was founded upon.
This past year was challenging, but it also created new opportunities for us to connect as aspiring educators. We were able to organize statewide meetings via Zoom that allowed us to share information and hear from fellow students. Our SFEA chapters also held meetings to keep each campus in the loop.
I was really proud of the work that aspiring educators from across the state did to engage their communities. From tutoring students to advocating for climate justice and protecting our most vulnerable students, SFEA made their community service and activism felt statewide. We didn’t have our LEGACY project this year, but several chapters created Little Free Libraries and held First Book events to support literacy. We also did virtual tutoring in Miami-Dade and Leon counties.
We are the young ones, the dreamers, and we will not stop dreaming.
As teachers, we have to become more creative, more aggressive and not grow weary as we fight to improve public education and demand equitable treatment. This year we have navigated synchronous teaching, asynchronous teaching, Zoom, Teams and a multitude of other obstacles and technology platforms to create the best education outcomes for students. I want to send a special thanks to Kali Jaye and Rebecca Schempp from the Florida Young Remarkable Educators (FYRE) cadre for making sure we were prepared to teach during a pandemic. They had an awesome presentation during our virtual SFEA conference in February.
This is truly a profession of great impact and a humbling experience that not everyone was called to do, but if you’re still in it, this is where you need to be. If not us, then who? If not now, then when? To conclude, we must keep going like Dori says. Just keep swimming and don’t give up. We will get where we need to be.
Alana Rigby is studying elementary education at Florida State University.
Go here to learn more about Student FEA.