The Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year Award acknowledges those special ATPE volunteers who are fundamental to the continued growth and development of our grassroots organization. This year’s winners were honored during the virtual 2020 ATPE Summit.
ATPE member Karen Glenn of Lumberton ISD was named Campus Rep of the Year Award for Local Units with 1–200 Members and wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed membership recruitment, what moved her to become an educator, and the importance of preparing students for the real world:
My name is Karen Glenn, and I teach robotics and 3D printing at Lumberton Middle School in Lumberton, Texas. This is my 17th year to teach in Lumberton. I taught eighth grade math for 10 years, and this is my seventh year teaching in my current capacity. Last year (2019-20) was my first year as an ATPE campus representative; however, in prior years I helped our ATPE president in an unofficial capacity as needed on our campus.
This past year, I was honored to receive the Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year Award for units with fewer than 200 members. Our new president did a great job leading us last year, increasing our membership by almost 20%, and we won the Floyd Trimble Local Unit of the Year Award for small chapters. One of our members also won the Charles Pickitt Associate Educator of the Year Award for the whole state.
I chose to join ATPE during my first full year of teaching because a co-worker encouraged me, but I have stayed with the organization for my whole career because of all of the benefits at such a great price. The legal protection is priceless, as I found out one year when I needed legal advice.* The discounts, professional development, advocacy, and networking opportunities are all benefits I have enjoyed, as well as goodie bags and other gifts throughout the year from the local unit and/or state organization.
The coronavirus pandemic has not changed my role as an ATPE representative significantly. The only thing that I have changed is the manner in which I encourage others to join and make them aware of the importance and benefits of belonging to ATPE. I spoke from a distance at our district’s new-teacher breakfast, at a distance from the gym floor during a staff meeting prior to the start of school, and by utilizing email and videos produced by the state organization. It is easy to recruit members when I share my personal experience with the legal team* at ATPE and all of the other benefits I use regularly. I also inform potential members and returning members of new benefits, such as the new credit card capability to spread out dues payments over 12 months. I think that is awesome!
I became a math teacher after 18 years as a certified public accountant. I felt a calling from God sitting in church one Sunday to do something more with my life. After much prayer and waiting, I finally realized that His plan for my life was to become a teacher. It was not an entirely smooth transition (a story for another day), but as one door closed on where I thought God was leading me, another door opened and showed me where He wanted me to go. I have never regretted my decision, as He is constantly putting co-workers, students, and others in my path to show them His will for their lives. God has blessed me tremendously as He works through my life and continues to help me grow as a Christian.
As a teacher, I feel a strong desire to prepare students for the real world, since I worked there for so many years. I feel like sometimes we do not hold students accountable for things such as deadlines and other personal responsibilities as much as we should as educators. Our job is not only to teach content, but also to help prepare our students for life, which isn’t centered around their schedule, their needs, or their desires. We need to prepare them to deal with other people who don’t share their opinions and ideas, and to realize that God created us all as members of one body, but as different parts to serve different functions that all work together for the good of the whole. We need to be respectful of others even when we have to agree to disagree. We don’t always get to choose who we work with on projects, so we have to learn to deal with our differences effectively and work through conflicts to solve problems.
The single most important thing that I have learned about teaching is that if you don’t absolutely love it, you need to find another profession. It is challenging dealing with students from so many different family backgrounds, educational settings, cultures, etc. If you don’t truly care about the students, they will not learn from you, because they don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
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*Eligibility, terms, conditions, and limitations apply. Visit atpe.org/protection to view important disclosures and complete details of the insurance policy. Staff attorney services are provided separate from the Educators Professional Liability Insurance Program.