NJEA honors equality leadership

Published on Monday, June 16, 2014

Members of the NJEA Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee 
Members of the NJEA Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee congratulated East Windsor art teacher Robt Seda-Schreiber for receiving the 2014 NJEA Equality Champion Award.

East Orange Education Association President Jacqui Greadington and East Windsor art teacher Robt Seda- Schreiber were recognized as leaders for equal opportunity and justice at the NJEA Minority Leadership and Recruitment (MLR) Conference on April 25.

The NJEA Ethnic Minority Affairs and Leadership Image Award was established by the MLR Committee to honor members who have made a significant difference in education and the achievement of equal opportunity for those facing discrimination due to their ethnicity.

The NJEA Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Committee created the NJEA Equality Champion Award to honor members and others who have made a significant difference in education and the achievement of equal opportunity for those facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Members of the SOGI Committee joined with the MLR Committee to present the awards at the MLR Conference. NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer presented the awards.

“We need many different voices, and we need many different perspectives,” Steinhauer said. “When everyone contributes we reach our true potential as a union.”

Ethnic Minority Affairs and Leadership Image Award

 Greadington, Steinhauer, Parker
East Orange Education Association President and NEA Black Caucus Chair Jacqui Greadington received the 2014 NJEA Ethnic Minority Affairs and Leadership Image Award. From left: Greadington, NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer, and MLR Committee Chair Charisse Parker.

Greadington is a vocal music teacher in the East Orange school district. She has been a longtime champion for the rights of all students and for NEA and NJEA members. Greadington is the chair of the NEA Black Caucus. As chair she has brought national attention to issues that disproportionately affect children of color: the school-to-prison pipeline and the long-term effects of institutional racism.

Greadington has worked hard through the NEA Black Caucus and in her leadership roles in NJEA to recruit and retain minority teachers, increase community involvement in the schools, and create a safe school environment for all students.

Greadington’s advocacy within NJEA has found many paths. She is chair of the NJEA Human Rights Committee, and has served on the association’s Executive Committee, Property and Personnel Committee, Delegate Assembly, Congressional Contact Committee, and Government Relations Committee.

In 1992, Greadington was the first black female to be hired as an NJEA UniServ consultant.

Greadington has testified numerous times before the New Jersey General Assembly and Senate on school funding, pensions, health benefits, and vouchers. She has debated vouchers at several universities and community forums.

As chair of NJEA’s School/Class- room Climate Committee she and her committee members met with the N.J. Department of Education to provide input into the state’s Violence and Vandalism Reporting form—insisting that the focus be on providing districts with assistance rather than penalizing them. The East Orange Education Association was the first local in the state to negotiate contract language that established a district Health, Safety, and Security Committee.

“Jacqui is an advocate for members, for children and for public education,” Steinhauer said. “We are stronger because of her contributions and her leadership.”

Equality Champion Award

 2014 MLR Conference
The annual NJEA MLR Conference provides workshops to enhance teaching, learning, and leadership. Here conference participants draft a vision statement for an inclusive association during the NEA Minority Leadership Training workshop.

Robt Seda-Schreiber is an art teacher at Kreps Middle School in the East Windsor school district.

Throughout his career he has championed the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. He has produced numerous school events to enlighten and encourage students including a staged reading of “It Gets Better” and a play he wrote titled “Break My Bones,” which chronicles a middle-schooler’s coming- out process to his friends and family.

Seda-Schreiber has invited LGBT alumni to speak at Kreps to help break down stereotypes.

Last year, Seda-Schreiber helped students found the Kreps Middle School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), which was recognized as an official extra-curricular club at the school this year. There is only one other middle school GSA in the state.

Seda-Schreiber has led the GSA in outreach programs, video presentations, and other activities including a “Rainbow Dance.” First dismissed by students as a “gay thing,” the dance was attended by over 100 students and faculty members.

Under Seda-Schreiber’s leader- ship, the GSA has enriched the school climate, encouraging the student council to sponsor a “Rainbow Day for Awareness” and donated “safe space” stickers to faculty that adorn classroom doorways. The GSA in in the process of creating a permanent hallway mural that promotes diversity, acceptance, and a safe environment for all students.

“Robt has set an example for educators everywhere about how to create a safe, welcoming school environment for all students,” Steinhauer said. “Because of his advocacy, students at Kreps Middle School go to school in a place where diversity is honored and acceptance is expected for every child.”

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