Building Representative Basics or:
How I Became a Building Rep
By Sherry Belknap, Meridian Education Association
When I became a member of my local association, I was put in touch with Joslyn Bernhardt, the “Building Representative” at my school, almost immediately. Fortunately for me, she was able to answer my “newbee” questions about membership and help me to get my arms around the resources that were available. She also invited me to attend the monthly Meridian Education Association meetings with her, and became my friend and mentor.
By the next school year, I had been regularly attending the monthly EA meetings and wondering how I could begin to become more active, without overloading myself. Coincidentally, Joslyn was having a baby, so she asked me to be the representative for our building. I knew that it was a great step for me because I had seen that in addition to being the “go-to” person for getting questions answered about the dynamics of our building, she was also up to date on what was happening in education around the state and in our district. Through attending meetings and collaborating with other teachers and members within our district, she had developed quite a bit of expertise.
As our building representative, I became the liaison for communication with members through 10-minute meetings, face to face conversations and sharing information via email or flyers. I distributed and collected election ballots and helped find volunteers to chair events or coordinate our building’s fund raising for the IEA Children’s Fund. Eventually, I stepped out according to what fit my schedule and abilities as opportunities presented themselves, but being a building rep was an ideal first step. I have gone on to become a delegate at the IEA’s Delegate Assembly, served on the resolutions committee, and was recently elected as an Elementary Director for the Meridian Education Association—all at my own pace and discretion.
Building reps are an essential part of keeping our community of members on the same page and helping give a “face” to the association. As conduits between members and our state and local leaders, building reps are an integral part of what makes our association strong and vital. Veteran building reps can really help new and early-career teachers get their feet under them professionally. I would encourage members to follow my path of learning the ropes, and then taking on a more active role as a building representative.