TEA is about so much more than liability insurance

By TEA President Tanya Coats


Being a TEA member has its benefits.


I have always believed that being a member is critical in our profession. TEA brings like- minded people together to have a collective voice in advocating for our students, our profession and public education.


My path to a career in public education and being an engaged TEA member was not always so clear cut. Before I found my true passion, I thought my path was leading me into medicine.


Yes, I was a medical student. I was on track to be a family medical doctor, but with only two semesters left to complete my degree, my path changed. Instead of completing a medical residency, I returned to school in search of a new path knowing that I needed to figure it out fast, or my father was going to kill me.


My advisor, the late Ms. Jo Milton, knew my heart. She asked me to volunteer at a local school in Knoxville: Maynard Elementary. Ms. Milton told me this, “Your path may not be the one you envisioned, but at least you are making a path.” Her words have stuck with me all of these years.


After academic shifts, I found my calling: education.


I can remember back then asking questions about why I needed to be a member of the Tennessee Education Association, what would the insurance certificate do for me, why do I need professional development, and what will I get for $10 as a member.


Someone must have given me good answers, because in no time I was president of the Student Tennessee Education Association at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I remember providing services with local area associations like Maryville City, Alcoa, Knox County and Jefferson County to students for Read Across America, book drives, after-school incentives and other activities to show our commitment to enhancing student learning.


It was my love for galvanizing learning that led me to want to do more. I figured the more I knew, the more I would be able to share with others. My commitment to share and provide the services offered to others has been my passion throughout my career.


I hope you will share in my passion for spreading the news about the many benefits of being a TEA member. It is our responsibility as members to move our fellow educators beyond thinking of TEA as an organization offering liability insurance.


TEA offers professional development, professional credit hours, academic and curricular updates, legislative advocacy on important issues like unencumbered planning time, salary and benefits, and teaching and learning conditions.


I am a proud member of the association where every member counts and every voice counts. I encourage you to get involved, learn a little more about your professional organization and bring a couple of folks with you.


Maya Angelou said it best, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We must do better for the students of Tennessee; they deserve it.