President's Message

The Classroom Teacher, summer 2013

by Grace Mueller, 2013-14 TCTA state president

In October 1998, 21 inches of rain came barreling down within a two-day period below Canyon Dam. The result was 5 feet of water from the Guadalupe River in the bottom floor of my house. I was devastated but knew that my husband and I had insurance to cover our losses. … Or did we?

Come to find out, our policy covered the structural damage to the house, but we were not covered for the contents. No one had ever told us that there were two separate flood policies. And once the damage was done, it was too late to find an insurance provider to cover what we had lost.

This situation — not the flood, but the need for coverage after the fact — is one in which many Texas teachers find themselves. Every year our TCTA staff has to regretfully decline legal services to teachers who call headquarters hoping to receive help with issues that arose prior to their joining TCTA.

Our profession, our responsibility

Whose duty is it to inform these educators, many of whom may be just starting out, of the professional perils they may encounter and why it’s important to be protected?

I think that duty is ours — these teachers’ colleagues and mentors. Many of us have been around the proverbial block and understand the need for membership in a professional association. That’s why we’re TCTA members.

We know that we can’t go without the protection we enjoy as individual members (not to mention the protection of our profession provided by TCTA’s lobby team). TCTA membership provides us with professional liability insurance coverage and access to attorneys. Those benefits give us peace of mind so we can focus on what we do best — teach.

But sometimes that peace of mind can make us complacent to the point that we don’t reach out to our colleagues. Yes, our first task is to ensure the education of our students. But as professionals, we have a duty to “insure” our profession.

To do that, we have to ensure that our professional association stays strong — supported by a growing membership. The bottom line is that it takes all of our dues dollars combined to purchase that liability insurance policy that keeps us covered and to employ those attorneys who answer our calls for assistance. TCTA is our association, and it’s TCTA members who keep it going.

“Selling” security

Each of us can support our professional association by simply telling our colleagues, especially those new to the profession, about why we belong. Remember, TCTA membership is open to teachers, counselors, school librarians, diagnosticians, speech pathologists, social workers, school nurses, coaches — all those who work directly with students. Paraprofessionals, substitute teachers and educational secretaries may all join as Associate members.

We must reach out to these educators and become salespeople of a sort. Here’s how:

  1. Become more knowledgeable about your association. This means acquaint yourself with all the benefits and services that being part of TCTA provides you. Exploring this website is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with all the ways that you are protected. You may even learn about a new benefit that you’d like to take advantage of!
  2. Be passionate. I don’t think I’ve ever met a salesperson who wasn’t enthusiastic. When you talk with new teachers or other nonmembers, they should know that you truly care about them and want them to share the security and peace of mind that you have. Turn that passion for what you do in the classroom into passion for your colleagues’ professional well-being.
  3. Be persistent. The old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” is true. It also applies when you’re trying to convince teachers of the necessity of professional protection. Educators have many excuses for why they don’t join. Be ready with responses to those excuses. Tell them how membership has benefited you.

Take 2, Make $25!

Recruit two new Active-level members to TCTA by Dec. 31, 2013, and receive $25!
Details here.

Each of us is a piece of the foundation of our organization. It is not just the staff’s duty, the local president’s duty, or the faculty representative’s duty to ensure that TCTA stays strong so that all teachers have access to the vital resources provided by TCTA. If every member was also a salesperson, we could be sure that, at the very least, all Texas educators would know what is at stake if they do not join.

As for my husband and me, we are now more knowledgeable about all the types of insurance coverage we need for our house. We are ready for the next flood (I hope it never comes) with probably more insurance than we really need. So let’s be ready when school starts to ensure that all Texas classroom professionals are aware of the necessity of membership and why they need to be protected.