Student Program Handbook for Local Leaders


You have chosen to take charge of your profession by becoming an active leader in your local NEA Student Program chapter.

The NEA Student Program (NEA-SP) is the largest and most influential student group for future educators. It was formed in 1982 by the NEA Board of Directors when Student NEA (SNEA) merged with the National Education Association (NEA). The Student Program aims at developing quality teachers prepared to deal with today’s diverse student population and also to prepare informed leaders who will move themselves, the profession, and the Association forward.

The local chapter is the most important and critical level of all. It is here that you get to reap the benefits of being a Student Program member by receiving publications and attending meetings and workshops aimed at developing a professional educator. If the local chapter members do not see the benefits they are receiving at this level, it is almost impossible to motivate them to pursue other levels or positions.

Motivating, stimulating, and involving students who have 1001 other things going on is a tremendous task. This handbook is designed to help you as a local leader make your chapter and its members the best they can be. Take time to read this information and you will be able to operate with greater confidence and ease. Your local success will lead to state success, and state success will ensure national success! Enjoy what you do, and Good Luck!


From the NEAIS-NEA merger agreement


NEA Mission Statement



What Makes a Leader?


IN ORDER to provide opportunities for professional development and leadership training, the NEA will:

  • provide information to develop skills necessary to promote active participation in strengthening teacher education programs
  • onduct NEA-sponsored leadership training to provide knowledge of the Association, its activities and operations at the local, state, and national levels
  • provide opportunities for the interaction of student and active members in cooperative activities
  • increase student visibility and participation at local, state, and national levels
  • develop multicultural awareness

IN ORDER to advocate effectively at all levels for its members, the NEA will:

  • foster implementation of the Student Program goals and objectives at the local, state, and nationtional levels
  • promote the interaction of Student members with professional and retired members in cooperative activities at all levels
  • voice student concerns

IN ORDER to monitor national issues that impact students, the NEA will:

  • encourage Student members to be politically active
  • accumulate and disseminate information that serves as a resource for its members
  • monitor education reform

IN ORDER to educate the preprofessional to the value of NEA membership, the NEA will:

  • provide a holistic view of NEA as a national organization, including its history and accomplishment
  • encourage NEA membership as teachers
  • develop the attitudes and promote the value of collective action
  • develop awareness of member benefits and affiliate services


Ten Steps to a Working Local

Step 1-Form Steering Committee

Find a group of students who share your ideas about the need to start a professional organization for education majors. Contacts may be friends, classmates, or other club members. This team needs to have enthusiasm, drive, and a commitment to make things happen. It is important that you know as much as possible about the NEA Student Program (NEA-SP) in advance so you may answer questions and deal with facts. Contact your state student organizer for help.

Step 2-Enlist the Support of Key People

Once you have a steering committee, enlist the support of some key people. Campus bureaucracy and protocol sometimes necessitates the involvement of certain people or groups in order to get a new organization off the ground. The college president, the dean of the college of education, dean of students, the student Government Association, and other student leaders are some people to contact to get things rolling.

Talk to college faculty, read the campus paper, and even attend other campus meetings to find out who can really help you. When you find out who you need to contact, make an appointment and go see them. Take a friend along. Find out about funding, facilities, campus recognition, and any other suggestions they may have. After the meeting, drop a thank you note to them and maybe try a follow-up later in the year.

Step 3-Select an Advisor

The most important step to ensure that the program you are starting will continue to exist is to find an advisor. An advisor provides an essential link between the organization and the college/university, offers guidance and expertise, uses his/her contacts to enable program growth, and ensures continuity.

You need an advisor with energy, enthusiasm, good student rapport, one who is willing to spend some time with the organization, who has a commitment to teacher education, and who is a member of the NEA. If a local advisor isn’t a member of NEA, encourage him/her to apply for a subscriber’s membership. Contact your state association for the information.

Step 4-Steering Committee Meeting

Now you are ready for the steering committee to meet. The group of students you contacted, your advisor, some of the key people you talked with, and, if possible, a State Association representative can now come together and discuss the opportunities available by having a NEA-SP chapter. An Association representative would be especially valuable at this stage to answer questions and give ideas and pointers from an association perspective.

At this meeting, you need to decide on your organizational plan and prepare for your first chapter meeting. You will need to provide a program, a publicity campaign, and refreshments for the chapter meeting. Brainstorm and discuss the nature and expected outcomes of having a Student Program chapter on campus.

Step 5-Chapter Meeting

Before this meeting takes place, there needs to be plenty of advance publicity. Remember, this is something new and will take some getting used to. Select a time and date that allows most to attend. Have an interesting, relevant, exciting topic and don’t meet too long. Be sure to have NEA and your state Student Program brochures on hand along with membership forms.

Set the date for the next meeting. Then, pass around a sign-up sheet for the names and addresses of those present. Be sure to leave those in attendance with the thought that being a part of their NEA Student Program chapter will be a rewarding experience for them.

Step 6- Membership Collection Spot

After you have passed out the membership forms at the first chapter meeting, you will need to have a designated collection spot for the payment and forms. This spot should be well publicized, centrally located, open most of the time, and in a place where someone can keep an eye on it.

If someone has a form but no place to take it, they won’t turn in the form. The sooner someone joins, the sooner they will begin to receive the publications and reap the benefits of membership.

Step 7-Personal Contact Follow-up

It is important at this early stage to contact those who attended the first chapter meeting and thank them for their interest and attendance. Make everyone feel important and needed. Use a personal note or a short phone call rather than a form letter.

Use the list you passed around at the first meeting to contact everyone, and while you’re talking to the potential members, remind them of the next meeting. Ask them what they thought about the program and what can be improved. Involve members at an early stage. This early follow-up is a good way to do that.

Step 8-Continue Membership Promotion

Although fall and spring are the “peak seasons” for membership recruitment, MEMBERSHIP RECRUITMENT SHOULD OCCUR THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. Membership should be mentioned at each meeting, and efforts to attract new members should be constant. Go to education classrooms, send letters to education majors, put an ad in the campus paper. Any type of visibility is good. Your state and national programs can help you with ideas and materials. Use them!

Step 9-Continue Membership Promotion

After the initial meeting, your steering committee, advisor, and an Association representative need to get together to evaluate the first meeting.

Decide what worked, what didn’t,and why. Set up a committee structure. Decide what officers are needed and prepare for an election. Propose local dues and prepare a constitution for adoption. Assistance with Constitution development is also available from your state office. (See Appendix F for addresses and phone numbers and Appendix A for a sample Constitution.)

Step 10-Plan Year’s Activities

Your elected leaders, committee chairs, and your advisor then should plan your program for the remainder of the year. Set membership goals, plan a membership drive, identify possible programs, set meeting dates, plan for state activities, plan for national activities, and develop a budget.

Remember to always work within your potential and set realistic goals. Be willing to ask for help and use your state officers and advisors because they are there to help you.


National Student Representation – Elections and Appointments

On the national level, student members are represented through:

  • an Advisory Committee of Student members composed of ten members appointed by the NEA president. This Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the NEA Board of Directors, deals with changes affecting the Student Program, and monitors the program’s services and delivery system.
  • nationally elected Student Chairperson working full time out of the NEA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. coordinates the activities of the Advisory Committee and works with members to provide NEA visibility on campuses and organize the future NEA active members.
  • three students elected to the NEA Board of Directors, one of the governing bodies of the NEA. This board created the Student Program and presently deals with modifications of the program. The board is an all-inclusive decision-making body that deals with educational and Association issues.
  • three students elected to the NEA Resolutions Committee. The Resolutions Committee is the body which develops position guidelines to direct NEA policy. From childcare to world peace, one will find a resolution stating NEA’s position.
  • membership on seven NEA standing committees and the Women’s Caucus. These standing committees deal with special areas of vital concern to the NEA membership. The Committee on Professional Standards and Practice, Legislative, Women’s Concerns, and Human and Civil Rights Committees are just some of the standing committees which deal with areas of specific concern and make recommendations to the NEA Board. These positions are also filled by presidential appointments.
  • elected delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly. The NEA Representative Assembly is the largest democratic body in the world. It has the greatest power and can direct the NEA’s resources in several areas, elect national officers and change the Association’s constitution, resolutions, policies, and legislative agenda.

All of these positions are elected or appointed annually. You may wish to consider one of these positions yourself! Contact your state student organizer or your state student Chairperson/President for more information. (See Appendix F for addresses and phone numbers.)



Member Benefits

There are many benefits of being a part of the NEA Student Program, some more tangible than others, but all are true assets to your professional development.

Leadership training

Although it differs from state to state, many states will conduct leadership training for its student leaders. This training would include such things as communication skills, time management, group management skills, organizing ideas, newsletter publication, and many other things. Check with your state student organizer or consultant to find out how to get in on the action!

Professional workshops

Within your state, there are many people who are trained to do workshops. From stress management to interviewing skills and everything in between, one will find highly energetic, informed, and concerned individuals who would be happy to do a workshop on your campus. Call your state Education Association Policy and Professional Practice division, your UniServ director, or your state student organizer to find out what workshops are available.


The NEA Today, Tomorrow’s Teachers, plus your state newsletter will all be available to you and your members. You may also want to consider starting your own local newsletter! People like to see their names in print!

Legal Services

Of course, the NEA provides $1 million in professional liability coverage and offers other legal services as well (such as will writing, consulting, etc.). You can find out more about the legal programs by requesting brochures from your state headquarters. (See Appendix F. p.36)

Technical Support and Assistance

If you’ve got a great idea but need some help to pull it off–maybe a great membership drive or local workshop–you’ve got a lot of resources available. First, work with the teacher local in your area. They are always glad to help out. Contact the regional UniServ director. They work on special projects all the time. Call your state president and ask for support. Open up and maintain communications with your state student organizer. Remember, if you don’t ask, you never know what they might say!

Organizing Projects

Each year, NEA works with targeted states or institutions in organizing projects. Whether it is a rebate or specific action plan, resources are, in most cases, available to help you organize. (Please refer to the section of this book called “NEA-SP Activities” for specific activities.) States are always looking for new members. The Student Program truly is an investment in the future. Call the state headquarters to talk to your state student organizer to help in membership recruitment and program planning.


Fliers, calendars, handbooks, bookmarks, notebooks–so many things are available for member use. If you need materials, or a listing of what sort of things are available in your state, check with your state headquarters!


Ways to Increase Membership

You can receive various consumer guides, credit cards, access to Hertz programs, life insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, various financial programs, magazine subscriptions, and many other things through the Members Benefits office. Consult the Members Benefits brochure for more information. Or call their office at (301) 251-9600.

First Year Teacher-Student Dues Rebate

The first year you teach and join NEA you can apply for a rebate of $1 0, for each year you were a student member.

Legislation and Lobbying

Nationally and within your state, NEA is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations. Every day during the legislative session, you can be sure that Association representatives are suppporting pro-education legislation and working to defeat anti-education legislation. Your state association is very active in all matters concerning education reform and teacher certification. You can and should be a part of this process, and you need to involve others on your campus as well. Call your state government relations director or UniServ Director and ask how you can help!

Membership growth does not just happen. Members themselves must work to increase the number in their organization.

The membership year is September 1 through August 31. Plan a substantial year long membership drive that continues your campaign through the second semester. Your total state membership as of March 15 determines the number of student delegates your state is entitled to elect to represent you at the annual NEA Representative Assembly.

As you speak to fellow students about joining the NEA Student Program, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind.

A few selling points specifically for the freshman, or sophomore student:

  • You will get all your dues returned to you the first year you begin teaching. . Network with others in education.
  • Learn more about your future profession.
  • The NEA Student Program is made up of thousands of college students who are preparing to become teachers.
  • Become a member of a professional organization.
  • Your local is affiliated with the State Association and the NEA
  • Your rights can be defended.
  • If you are observing or tutoring in a class, NEA liability insurance protects you against legal charges. You are covered by this $1,000,000 liability insurance policy every time you work with students in any capacity as part of your preparation program.
  • By joining the NEA Student Program, you are eligible for a number of members benefits/ discounts.
  • You can have fun.
  • The local chapter, made up of many friendly students, sponsors social activities throughout the year.
  • You have the opportunity to attend workshops and gain professional experiences.
  • The NEA Student Program offers its members many opportunities to get involved and earn local, state, or national recognition.


Ideas! Ideas! Ideas!

Freshman Orientation-Attend all freshman and transfer orientation sessions and speak briefly about the NEA-SP. Make arrangements to allow the NEA State Student local members to serve as campus guides. Members recruited as freshman can give four years of continued support to your local chapter.

Obtain a computer list of education majors and:

write a letter to each education major from the president and advisor of the chapter welcoming them to the campus and inviting them to join. (See sample letter in Appendix C.) telephone each one telling them you hope he/she will join. use the ‘one-on-one” approach.

use a buddy system-each member is assigned a freshman to contact and encourage to join.

Contact each education faculty member and encourage help in recruiting membership. Ask if someone can speak to their classes about the NEA-SP Put meeting announcements on the blackboard.

It is important to let students know about the NEA Student Program as soon as possible. Some chapters have successfully tried the following:

During registration, set up information booths, show a slide presentation, distribute a frosh orientation help guide.

Big Brother/Big Sister for freshman.

Special parties for newcomers-ice cream socials, pizza, and the like.

Bulletin board displays or flyers. This may spark interest among members and non-members. Campus programs on hot topics-include membership promotion at closure.

Membership events, such as meetings featuring guest speakers. Have each member bring one potential member. A few days later contact each potential member about joining.

Invite all education students to the state convention; sell memberships to those who wish to attend.

Arrange for a local, state, or national association leader to visit education classes. During the visit, set up a membership table in the education building. Have a “bring a friend” meeting.

Set up displays in the student center, cafeteria or education department. Let everyone know what the NEA is about!

Take advantage of intra-campus mail. Put an eye-catching notice of the meeting in boxes. Send E-mail to education majors on campus, or post information on an electronic bulletin board.

Have student leaders stand at the doors of the education building during the first week of classes asking the question, ‘Have you joined the NEA Student Program?”

Make a large banner that can be attached to the front of the education building that says, “Join the NEA Student Program Today!” This sign can be used each quarter or semester.

At any function for education majors, give out information and enrollment forms. Be sure to tell them about discounts and special services to members.

Stuff membership packets with “freebies.” Contact local pizza parlors and fast food restaurants for discount coupons; collect pencils, key chains, and tablets from local banks, insurance agencies, and other businesses and then give them to members as they join.

  • Target secondary and special education students. NEA State Student Programs are not just for elementary educators.
  • Plan a public relations program to tell students about NEA Student Program educational issues.
  • Invite prospective members to the first meeting and talk informally about the organization. Display the chapter scrapbook and serve refreshments at the close of the meeting.
  • Saturate the campus with information-put notes in mailboxes, have officers visit classes to make announcements, target dorms, and have an exciting first meeting.
  • Use both campus and department newsletters for NEA State Student information.

Send the prospective education major a letter before school begins in the name of the association.

Show the prospective member practical campus information they need to know, and work almost solely through personal contact. Some suggestions:

  • List of area bookstores.
  • Transportation information.
  • Reminders of services available to members.
  • Football and/or basketball schedules and dates of other athletic events. List of social events your association is planning. Information about your intramural sports teams.

Teach Me

There is a child There is a man
And he says, ‘Teach me.” And he says ‘Teach me.”
The wondering, curious, discovering child. The seeking, searching, uncertain man.
Awed at the beauty, the rhythm, the process. Teach me to question, to probe, and to find. Teach me to know Teach me so that
How and where is my world, and why am I me, When a child comes forth
Where do I end and others begin? I will know what to do when he says, Teach me. ‘Teach me.”
There is a youth
And he says, ‘Teach me.”
The reaching, unfolding, surging youth. Teach me to understand.
What and why is the universe,
what is my part of the joy and the toil, How do I join with all others?
Teach me.

—Carol B. Epstein


Conduct an Effective Meeting!

  • Always start on time. Call the meeting to order officially at the scheduled starting time, and get right to the agenda.
  • Keep oral reports brief. Ask that the treasurer, committee chairperson, etc., to prepare written reports which can be duplicated and distributed either by mail or as members arrive. Limit oral reports to any recommendations for action, the main reason(s) for the action, and questions and answers for clarification.
  • Stick to the agenda, and keep the meeting on target. Speakers who wander from the current topic should be called to order by the Chair and reminded to limit their remarks to the subject under consideration.
  • Make use of Unanimous Consent. Instead of calling for a vote on a routine or non-controversial motion, the Chair can frequently save time by declaring that unless there is objection, the action will be considered taken.


    A. Chair: “If there is no objection, the Treasurer’s report will be received and filed for the auditor (pause). Hearing no objection, the Chair rules that the Treasurer’s report has been received and will be filed.”

    B. Chair: “Unless there is objection, the motion to thank the hospitality committee for today’s refreshments will be deemed carried … (pause). Since there is no objection, the Chair rules that the motion of thanks to the Hospitality Committee has been carried by Unanimous Consent.”

    (Of course, if anyone does raise an objection, the question must be put to a vote.)

  • Be fair and impartial. When a controversial issue is under debate, try to can upon proponents and opponents of the motion alternately. (If you don’t know which side people are on, ask. “Our last speaker spoke in favor of the motion. Would anyone like to speak against it?”) Give first opportunity to those who have not yet spoken on the issue.
  • Never allow a debate to degenerate into a free-for-all. Insist that all speakers wait to be recognized by the Chair before speaking (unless someone is raising a privileged motion that may interrupt discussion) and require that they direct their remarks to the Chair, not to each other.
  • Help members handle meeting business efficiency. If you must rule something out of order, tactfully explain why and, if possible, also explain how he/she can accomplish his purpose.
  • Encourage brevity. If members insist on making long-winded speeches, appoint a timekeeper and announce that unless the group objects, the Chair will require that all speakers limit their remarks to three minutes. The group will usually accept the limits gratefully, and you’ll be amazed at how succinct speakers will become.
  • Remain impartial. As president, you are entitled to present recommendations during your report and on important issues. You may not make or second motions while you are presiding. If you feel that you must speak on a particular motion, hand the gavel to your vice-president, and don’t resume the chair until the issue has been decided. In the interest of maintaining an image of impartiality you should vote only on those important questions (a) where your vote will either make a tie (thus defeating the motion) or break a tie (thus passing the motion) or (b) when you feel you must let your constituents know your position.
  • Adjourn on time. If an adjournment time has been printed on the agenda, you should adjourn by the stated hour. No onelikes a meeting that seems to) drag on forever. As adjournment time draws near, it’s perfectly legitimate for you to point out which items must be handled before adjournment, and ask if the group will vote to extend the meeting. Usually, if the remaining items really are important, the group will grant the extension. Finally, make it a lively meeting, one which those who attend get a ‘tingle” at least twice.


Appendix B: Sample Guide for Planning a Business Meeting Agenda

Name of Organization Date



1. Call to Order

H. Approval of minutes in. Adoption of agenda

IV. Reports of officers

V. Reports of committees

VI. Old business

VII. New business

VIII. Announcements

IX. Adjournment

(subheadings may be added where necessary)

NOTE: An agenda listing committee reports, pending and special-ordered business should be compiled before the meeting and publicized widely if possible.

Refer to parliamentary procedures for local association presidents for details of a business meeting.


Appendix C: Sample Letter of Welcome to Education Majors- Especially Freshmen or Sophomores

Dear (Education Major),

Welcome to the University In just a few days you will join other students who are preparing to become teachers in the College of Education. As a student in Education, you are invited to join the preprofessional association-the National Education Association-Student Program. Students constantly work through the Student Program to improve the teacher education program on campus.

We are a busy association with big plans for the coming year. One of our most important responsibilities this year will be to keep you informed about how our plans are being carried out. During registration, Student [State] NEA will have a booth in the building. Be sure to stop and let the representative know about your special interests so they can keep informed of your ideas and your concerns. Education courses are not a prerequisite to becoming a member. You can take a part, even if it is a small part, in working with us toward the improvement of education.

We encourage you to ask questions of us as you go through your education courses. We will do everything we can to see that your college years are as rewarding for you as we can make them. Enclosed you will find a membership form. We welcome your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Your Name, President

Your Local Association


P. S. Be sure to ask us about the fun we have-at socials, workshops, conferences, and the like.


Simple Parliamentary Procedure for Local Leaders

The basic reason for having any standard procedure is to dispose of the business before the assembly quickly, efficiently, and justly. The basic theses of parliamentary procedure are:

1. Only one subject may be discussed at one time. 2. Every member of the assembly has equal rights. 3. Each issue presented is entitled to free debate.


Order of Business Meeting

Meeting called to order

1. The President calls the meeting to order and makes the opening remarks, “The meeting will come to order.” (opening remarks)

Reading and approval of minutes

1. Secretary, seated by the President, stands to read/or pass out copies of the minutes.

2. Corrections to minutes are requested.

3. No motion is needed for approval of the minutes.

Report of officers

1.No motion is needed for the adoption of the Treasurer’s report unless it is audited.

Report of committees

1. Committee chairpersons who are to report should be in the front.

2. No motion is needed for adoption of committee reports unless recommendations for association action are made.

Committee recommendations for action

1. Motion is usually made by the Chairperson, seconded by the committee.


1. Any old business must be dealt with.

2. Any new business is attended to.


1. Anyone wishing to make an announcement should be moved to the front.


1. Chairperson automatically adjourns a meeting, except when there is unfinished business, in which case a motion is needed.


Motion: A formal proposal that the assembly take a certain action; the method whereby the business is presented to the entire assembly. FORM: Mr./Ms. Chairperson, I move that.

Personal Privilege:

A point relating to some obstacle to the proper conduct of the meeting or some

matter of immediate and universal interest to the delegates is a matter of precedence. For example, the air conditioning may have stopped and a delegate wants this problem rectified immediately. Also, a delegate may wish to recognize a visitor or accomplishment. FORM: Mr. /Ms. Chairperson, point of personal Privilege.

Point of information: An inquiry as to the content or intent of the question before the assembly is not a speech on the substance of the question and is in order as a matter of precedence. Delegates do not have to vote on something they don’t understand. However, it is an abuse to ask a rhetorical question, or a hostile question, which is designed only to damage the issue rather than clarify it before the vote is taken. FORM: Mr. /Ms. Chairperson, point of information.

Point of order: A delegate may always require adherence to the rules. But a point of order is not an opportunity to speak on the substance of the question. A delegate who honestly believes that a speaker, or a ruling of the chairperson, is out of order should obtain recognition, as a matter of precedence, and state specifically which rule is being violated. The chairperson will immediately respond and will have the advice of the parliamentarian in doing so. All questions are directed to the Chair; only he/she may request the assistance of the parliamentarian. The parliamentarian shall advise the chairperson or address the assembly at the request of the chairperson. of a delegate is unhappy with the ruling of the Chair, he/she may appeal only to the assembly. FORM: Mr./Ms. Chairperson, point of order.

Previous Question: At any time after progress in debate, two thirds of the delegates may close debate. Debate may be closed only after a motion and vote of the delegates. FORM: Mr./Ms. Chairperson, I move the previous question.

Reconsider. When a question has been once adopted, rejected or suppressed, it cannot be again considered during that session except by a motion to “reconsider the vote” on the question. This motion can only be made by one who voted on the prevailing side, and on the day the vote was taken which it is proposed, or on the next succeeding day. A motion to reconsider a vote on the debatable question, opens to debate the entire merits of the original motion. If the question to be considered is un debatable, then reconsideration is undebatable. FORM: Mr./Ms. Chairperson, I move to reconsider the vote by which the motion to was passed earlier in the meeting. (Needs a second)