From about the age of three, I was a voracious reader. I really loved reading Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. As I grew older, my favorite authors were Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl. Dahl’s The Witches is, perhaps, my favorite young adult chapter book. I always found his wry, and somewhat naughty and wicked, humor to be absolutely irresistible.

Transferring that love of reading was always one of the most exciting things for me as a fourth, fifth, and special education teacher for nearly 10 years in the Red Clay School District. Finding some of my favorite chapter books as a child in used book stores or getting a classroom set of Dahl’s The BFG on sale through the Scholastic Book Club and then sharing with my students were perhaps my happiest times in the classroom. Stepping back from curriculum and pacing guides and all the crazy mandates our educators have on their plates these days allowed me to be the teacher I knew my students deserved.

Being an active member of my union allowed me the ability to amplify my voice not just on my own behalf, but on behalf of the members who sometimes needed help finding their own. But I also learned that my union isn’t just the place to air concerns with administration; it’s also the place to be advocates for educators and students. It’s the place to receive top-notch professional development designed by and for educators. It’s the place to engage with policymakers and elected officials so they understand the work we do in schools every day.

As president of the Delaware State Education Association, it’s my goal to meet as many of our members as possible and share their stories with the people who need to hear them. Because only through sharing our stories will our profession engender the respect it demands and deserves.

It’s my honor to serve our 13,000 members in 19 school districts in three counties. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at mike.matthews@dsea.org with any questions or concerns!