Wyoming Education Association

Spring 22

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Page 3 of 31

As I write this, I am looking forward to WEA's first in- person Delegate Assembly since 2019! It seems surreal that this will be the first face-to-face DA in my entire tenure as WEA President. To me, it is a hopeful sign that we are moving into the next phase of our new normal. As I look to the future, I am struck by the magnitude of what students, educators, and communities have endured over the past fe w years. It has been a long, challenging road. Our members endlessly inspire me with their tireless dedication to Wyoming's students. As education employees, you have risen to the challenges before you, and for that, I say thank you. As we are on our way toward putting the acute phase of this pandemic behind us, I am realizing just how much each and every one of you have been asked to give. The pandemic h as magnified the issues facing public education in our country. Education employees are being forced out. We are being forced out by intolerable stress, overwhelming working conditions, and a political and societal climate that is not showing us the value and respect we deserve. Wyoming is no refuge against these issues facing our nation's education employees. On page 21, you will read more about the mass exodus looming in public education across the nation and crippling shortages in education personnel beginning to take hold right here in Wyoming. Still in the midst of the 2022 Budget Session as I write this, we are again seeing first-hand the gaps in understanding from our lawmakers and the general public about the true magnitude of demands on education professionals. Maintenance of Effort and Maintenan ce of Equity clauses in federal funding allocated to Wyoming school districts through the American Rescue Plan have shielded us from the full- fledged assault on public education funding we typically weather through legislative sessions. However, bills like Senate File 62, which would ask educators to list all learning materials they use in their classrooms, show a lack of understanding about the lengt hs to which educators are already going to serve students. If you are among the educators overwhelmed by stress and burnout, please know that your Association is here for you. We are actively working to improve public education for educators and for the students we serve. Transformational, unprecedented investments in education at the federal level are providing support for students and educators (read mo re on page 8). Districts and locals are expanding access to mental health resources and implementing innovative wellness plans for employees. Your statewide Association is advocating for funding and respect and working to quell legislation that would negatively impact public education. We are also working to make all Wyoming schools welcoming, equitable havens for students and educators through the Safe a nd Just Schools Cadre (learn more on pages 16 and 19). I know it's been challenging to work in Wyoming's public schools during these past few unconventional years. Realistically, our professions shouldered unique challenges well before 2019—and will continue to do so. But educators just have so much heart. Our professions are more than paychecks— they are our callings. I do not doubt that we will continue in our heart-led work serving students, no matter the challenges we face. I am humbled and honored to be leading our Association in work that is improving the lives of students and educators across our great state. If you are not already, I encourage you to get involved in your Association. Help us push forward in our work to manage the burdens on the backs of education employees so we can confidently se rve students with our heads high and our hearts open. Thank you for all that you do, F R O M T H E D E S K O F P R E S I D E N T H U T C H E R S O N Grady Hutcherson President, WEA ghutcherson@wyoea.org (307) 532-1731 4

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