This is Who We Are.

Sometimes, in life’s hustle and bustle, certain tasks get overlooked.

I realized recently that we’ve not properly introduced our NSEA Executive Committee for 2020-21. Pandemic, elections, a middle-of-summer Legislative session – to say this has been a topsy-turvy year is an understatement. So, if not at the start of the school year, what better time than the first week of January to introduce your elected leadership?

The NSEA Executive Committee is comprised of the Association president and vice president and two Nebraska representatives on the National Education Association Board of Directors. Each is elected from the ranks of active members. Each serves a maximum of two, three-year terms. I was elected to a second term at our Delegate Assembly business meeting in April. Vice President Robert Miller was elected to a first term at that time. NEA Director Tracy Hartman-Bradley has two years on a second term. NEA Director Linda Freye was elected to a second term in April.

I believe we make a formidable team as we lead the Board of Directors and the Association. We are also proof that we are a member-led organization: each of us has plenty of teaching experience, and Tracy and Linda work in classrooms each day. Robert is the full-time-release president of the Omaha Education Association.

Questions? Contact us at the email addresses found in the green box on Page 2 of this magazine!

President Jenni Benson, Lincoln

Teaching expertise: I’ve taught special education PreK-Higher Ed during my entire 34-year career.
Favorite book: Thank You Mr. Falker, Patricia Polacco.
Reading now: Dear Madam President, Jennifer Palmieri.
Best part of leadership: I treasure relationships gained as I traveled 80,000-plus miles across Nebraska the last three years.
How I relax on weekends: Time with family and eight grandchildren.
Reason for NSEA membership: I first taught in south Texas and was asked to join the association my first year. The next spring, I was told I had been overpaid and would have to return $200 each month for six months – a great deal of money in 1987! I called my state association, and a representative called the superintendent and said I would be accompanied by a union representative at my next meeting. The superintendent immediately softened his stance with a better solution. The experience moved me to become a building representative with NSEA when we returned to Nebraska.
Favorite movie: Amistad.
My hope for NSEA in 2021: “Hope” is an action word. There is no hope without action. The pandemic has dampened hope, delayed action. My hope is that we build on what we have learned and move forward, stronger by collective action. We must continue to meet student needs by helping teachers: our children count on us to deliver hope via action.

Vice President Robert Miller, Omaha

Teaching expertise: 20 years, Omaha Public Schools.
Favorite book: Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Album.
Reading now: Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism, by Derrick Bell.
Best part of leadership: It’s an honor and privilege to serve as a leader for members and students. Working for positive change is rewarding as is knowing that each voice brings a different and deserving viewpoint.
How I relax on weekends: My wife and children have limited weekday time with Dad, and the oldest is college bound next year, so we make the most of weekends.
Reason for NSEA membership: I am thankful for the guidance of my college advisor, Dr. Lorrie Cook-Benjamin. She pushed me to get involved in an organization that makes change happen.
Favorite movie: Remember the Titans.
Favorite comfort food: Homemade biscuits, gravy. Nothing ever beat my grandmother’s recipe.
My hope for NSEA in 2021: That we continue to move forward, increase membership and bring in our Early Career Educators, who have much to offer. We must be forward thinking, as yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.

NEA Director Tracy Hartman-Bradley, Omaha

Teaching expertise: Three years as a grades 5-6 classroom teacher; 15 years as K-12 Native American specialist.
Favorite book: Waterlily, by Ella Cara Deloria.
Reading now: How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi.
Best part of leadership: Helping association leaders grow, fighting for student rights and education.
How I relax on weekends: I’m truly a home body. Crochet and bead and skin sewing.
If I could travel in time I would: Go back to the 1400’s or earlier, prior to the Russians coming to Alaska on my tribal lands. I would learn ceremonies that have been lost through assimilation, removal and genocide.
Reason for NSEA membership: Educators need a union fighting for educators and students. Knowing the union has your back in good times or bad makes our work easier.
Favorite movie: The Color Purple.
My hope for NSEA in 2021: My hope is that NSEA will grow stronger. We must continue to communicate to every educator about NSEA resources. We need to continue building membership by showing all educators what NSEA, locals and NEA offer to educators and students.

NEA Director Linda Freye, Lincoln

Teaching expertise: Kindergarten for 20-plus years, also Head Start, second and third grades, and early childhood instructor at UNL.
Favorite book: I have a special spot for The Velveteen Rabbit!
Reading now: What School Could Be, Ted Dintersmith.
Best part of leadership: Helping others find their strengths and develop their leadership styles. I love being part of a leadership team that works together for the good of the association.
How I relax on weekends: Comfy clothes, snacks, a drink, and a good movie or TV show as I relax in my recliner!
Reason for NSEA membership: I was asked the first day of new teacher meetings if I wanted to join. I said ‘yes.’ I still feel the same way. I’m proud to be a member.  
Favorite movie: The Sixth Sense.
Favorite time of teaching day: When I see a student “gets it” or feels proud of the answer or position they take.  “A-ha” moments make me smile. I love the start of the day when students arrive with energy and lots of things to tell me.
My hope for NSEA in 2021: My hope is that NSEA works to solve problems we continue to encounter during the pandemic. I hope for funding, professional development, and a return to face-to-face teaching when appropriate. I want members to be safe at work, with support from families, administration, the public and our union.