TREND Spring 2020 | Page 5

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR Our Members Are Our Greatest Strength We were on track in 2019-2020 to have one of the greatest years in our organization’s history. Membership was up. Our on-demand learning portal that provides online professional learning and development, which is available FREE for our members, has exploded. Most classes on the portal are TASL accredited for administrators. We also made a great impact in the legal arena for our members. Our advocacy efforts were unrivaled; we were in the background successfully advocating for a $117 million raise in instructional wages. We were addressing classroom behavior issues with several legislative items. We were in the middle of a groundbreaking literacy initiative. We were moving forward on certification issues. We were even working on some federal education issues. As we held our breath, the world suddenly stood still. COVID-19 has brought an unprecedented global health crisis to our state and nation. More than that, our communities will also likely see a tidal wave of unemployment claims and face economic issues that may bring challenges for many years. In Tennessee, we also had to deal with a tornado that impacted numerous counties, including Putnam, Union, Wilson, Davidson, and Smith. We are reminded to look beyond our pain, to see the pain of others. Our strength lies not in who we are, but rather in who you are. I have now heard many people say this has been the worst year of their lives. That may well be accurate. America has certainly had some difficult years in our history. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. That year has also been called one of the most turbulent in American history. The tempestuousness of the 1960s had reached a boiling point, and it exploded in 1968. Robert Kennedy suggested, “it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.” Kennedy himself was shot and killed in June 1968. What kind of nation are we? What direction do we want to move in? Perhaps every generation of Americans has to answer that for themselves. Kennedy offered this advice: “what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country.” I agree with Kennedy. Expressing compassion defines what is best in each of us. If we lose our compassion, we lose part of what makes us uniquely human. As an organization, our strength lies not in who we are, but rather in who you are. Our members are our greatest strength. As an organization, Professional Educators of Tennessee has to be there for our members at their time of greatest need. For the immediate future, we have to put a spotlight on real problems faced by real people in a real crisis. Let us know how you are doing, and let us go to work for you in this crisis and the next. Executive Director