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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Our Teachers’ Voices

NCAE President Mark Jewell presents Book Harvest Community Partnerships Manager Daniele Berman with books donated to Operation Cooperation by Governor and Mrs. Cooper


By Daniele Berman, Community Partnerships Manager

The North Carolina Association of Educators‘ (NCAE) mission is to be the voice of educators in North Carolina that unites, organizes and empowers members to be advocates for education professionals, public education and children. Last Saturday, when I was invited to be a guest at NCAE’s annual convention in Raleigh, I heard that voice loud and clear.


One component of NCAE’s convention each year is

Operation Cooperation, an opportunity for the educators who are gathered to support one of their local communities by collecting donations. This year, as they are keenly aware of some of the challenges being faced by educators and families in Durham, NCAE chose Book Harvest as their Operation Cooperation beneficiary, and I had the opportunity to thank the members in attendance at the conference last Saturday. But what the teachers had to say was so much more powerful than any thanks I could have offered.

I arrived in time to hear a few candidates for office in NCAE giving their campaign speeches. The voices I heard were fiercely passionate, deeply committed, and wildly enthusiastic about their support for their fellow teachers and their work together in our public schools — and their supporters in the crowd were equally passionate in their support! After I thanked the group for their donations to Book Harvest, two teachers stood to lend their voices of thanks: Ms. Parker, a teacher at Eastway Elementary, and Ms. Burton, a teacher at Spring Valley Elementary, both Durham Public Schools, shared how important it has been for their students to receive books from Book Harvest and how grateful they were to their fellow teachers who had donated books at the convention. In a followup conversation, NCAE President Mark Jewell added his passionate voice to all I had heard at the convention, sharing a brief history of public education in North Carolina and his pride in the “teachers who are leaders” that make up our public education system. “We are part of a movement trying to get the community engaged in saying that public education is a hallmark of North Carolina,” explained Jewell, “and we have to get it back to where it was.”

And the teachers spoke loudly and clearly with their donations: over 3,000 books — and still counting! No one knows better than our teachers how important it is for their students to have home libraries filled with books of their own, and they voiced their commitment to helping build those home libraries by overflowing the Operation Cooperation donation bins and boxes with the books they know their students will love. As Jewell explained, the teachers themselves know exactly how it feels to want and need new books and not have them, as most have not had new textbooks in their classrooms since 2008. We couldn’t be more grateful to the teachers who shared books from their own personal libraries to ensure that our students here in the Triangle have plenty of books to fill their own!

Photos courtesy of NCAE Staff Photographer, Linda Powell.

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