Advice for educator activists from our Social Justice Award nominees


by Kate Snyder

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Over the last month the NEA team has had the chance to catch up with our Social Justice Activist of the Year Award Nominees. The conversations were wide-ranging and allowed us to dig deeper into their views on a variety of issues. What stayed with us, and what we are sharing with you, is the advice they have for future educator activists.

It is easy to get discouraged by the challenges we face as educators and activists. All of the SJA nominees talked to us about the challenges they faced in today’s ever changing landscape and how they stay inspired. Here’s the advice they have for all of us:


viray-angeles-bobadillaIvan Viray Santos; Union City, CA:

Fight the fight. Don’t be afraid to share your truth. The satisfactory teacher teaches, the good teacher motivates, but the truly great teacher is the one who inspires.

Tina Bobadilla; Union City, CA:

Surround yourself with positive energy – colleagues, students and community members who share your vision.

Joe Ku’e Angeles; Union City, CA:

Be knowledgeable and be aware. Have a mentor who challenges, encourages and educates you.

bryan-proffittBryan Proffitt; Durham, NC:

Get yourself a team. It is impossible to stay in the profession of teaching on your own. It is even more impossible to be an educator and an organizer without people to hold you while you cry, cheer with you when you celebrate and strategize with you as you tackle obstacles.

hugo-arreolaHugo Arreola; Phoenix, AZ:

The desire to change the system and the drive to do it is activism. To create change, there must be understanding. Learn about your students and their stories will open your eyes to a completely new perception of the system.

blanca-zacharyBianca Zachary; Columbia, MO:

Your beliefs are important and you have to step up when you see injustice because you have a duty to your students. They need a voice and you need to be that voice.

amanda-kailAmanda Kail; Nashville, TN:

Never ever be afraid or ashamed to be a professional educator. Let it be your foundation. Some people will try to minimize your work. Don’t let them. If you can find ways to teach all the kids in your classroom, then you can change the world.

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