Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dennis Van Roekel to Take the NEA Helm

Dennis Van Roekel
Vice-President, National Education Association

Dennis Van Roekel, a 25-year teaching veteran and longtime activist and advocate for children and public education, was reelected vice president of the National Education Association in July 2005. An unopposed candidate for NEA President, Van Roekel will be named president by acclamation at this year's RA in Washington D.C.

The high school math teacher from Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix, Ariz., has served in numerous key Association offices, including NEA Secretary-Treasurer, Arizona Education Association President, and Paradise Valley Education Association President.

A popular and successful teacher, Van Roekel always works to make sure students are engaged and makes sure he listens to them as well. He brings that same style to his leadership in the organization. He is committed to helping Association members feel good about themselves, the work they do and their efforts to share their vision for quality public education with the community.

His accomplishments include dramatic increases in membership and voluntary political action committee contributions while president of the Arizona Education Association. He chairs the NEA Advisory Committee on Membership and serves on the NEA Strategic Planning and Budget Committee as well as the Board of Directors of NEA Member Benefits.

“To me, teaching and being an Association activist are part of the same thing,” Van Roekel says. “As one of my mentors said early on, ‘I can’t do half a job.’”

“We need to make sure our members understand the connection between what happens in the classroom and what influences decision making,” Van Roekel says. “It means listening to educators and parents talk about what they want and then working through political action, lobbying, bargaining and instructional advocacy to get members and students what they need.”

Van Roekel was born in LeMars, Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City and a master’s degree in math education from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

He and his wife, Julie, have two married adult sons, and are now proud grandparents.

May 2007