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Voices of First-Time Delegates: Members Share Their ‘Why’

April 18, 2024

Idaho Education Association’s annual Delegate Assembly is rewarding and fun, but also can be a big ask of those who attend: travel time, a weekend away from home, and two days of undivided attention as IEA members set the year’s priorities for their union. During DA 2024, we asked delegates why they decided to make their first trip to Boise for this most important gathering of IEA members.

Candi Kriebel, Region 2, Moscow Education Association: It’s great networking. I’m an ESP, and I’m really trying to be a louder voice for us. So it’s great to be here, and I get to learn.

Amanda Martinez

Amanda Martinez, Region 3, Parma Education Association, GEM:
I’m looking for fresh ideas and new inspiration for IEA and our union. You know, you always come to meetings like this and leave energized and refreshed and ready to start again.

Jenni Van Wasshenova, Region 5, Pocatello Education Association: I’ve
always been passionate about learning more about educational politics. I think when COVID hit, something just sparked within me to want to know a little bit more and be more informed and be more involved. And then, finally getting up enough courage to say, “My voice matters, too, right?”

Heidi Robbins

Heidi Robbins, Region 6, Jefferson County Education Association: I’m a high school librarian. … There’s not a lot of certified teacher librarians on my side of the state — in my district, I’m the only one. So they’re all paraprofessionals, and they do such a great job with no training, and it’s so hard for them. I just feel like I need to be an advocate for my people.

Katie Ostberg

Katie Ostberg, Region 6, Fremont Education Association: I am looking forward to connecting names to faces of all the amazing people who support, encourage and influence the decision-making process of our education system. There are so many knowledgeable, incredible people who spend countless hours focusing on all the well-being of teachers, staff and students.

Jerry Hendershot, Region 7, Boise Education Association: This was the hardest year of my career this year. And I thought, you know, teachers are not just people in the classroom handling the really important work with kids there. We have to kind of step up and speak as leaders, and I want to see what this process looks like.

Heidi Robbins: Layne (McInelly) was like, “Are you going to do a new business item, like a library committee or something?” I wasn’t planning to my first year, I was just going to wait and see. And he told me to just jump in. Now I’m going to do a library bill new business item and we’ll see if it passes. I hope I get some support. I think librarians need support right now. (Note: Robbins’ new business item passed.)

Amanda Martinez: It’s just nice to be able to put everything full circle with the faces that I see at GEM and everything else I’m interested in and knowing it’s not just me. I’m in a super small district, so to know that it’s not just our tiny little local, that there’s progress.

Jenni Van Wasshenova

Jenni Van Wasshenova: It gives you a feeling of more power and control, when you feel like you’re part of this group and membership — that your voice does matter. You can make a difference, even if it’s small. And art teachers can do it, too!

Jerry Hendershot

Jerry Hendershot: It’s just really cool to hear that teachers are more powerful than we realize. I’m in that part of my career now where I have experience to draw from, and there’s a responsibility to use that experience. This seems like a natural outlet for that.

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