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  • Sonia Smith

    Sonia Smith

    Sonia Smith comes from a long line of family educators (her grandmother integrated classrooms in Richmond, VA long before the national movement for desegregation) as well as exceptional English teachers throughout her junior high and high school years. Their passion for teaching made it a “natural” choice for her to become an English teacher as well, and Sonia now extends Read More »

What Teachers Are Saying

We have had the opportunity to join together, share ideas and offer ideals which will change the focus of education to be teacher driven. Three years from now VIVA will continue to be a respected voice in education reform nationwide. — Kathy Sullivan, Teacher, MTA: Gateway Communities

Teacher Blog Posts

When did you know you were a Teacher Leader?

By Lesley Hagelgans As I was sitting in the beautiful Grand Ball Room on the tenth floor atop the historic Seelbach Hotel, Annice Brave, the keynote speaker asked, “When did you know that you were a teacher leader?” For me, it was this summer. I was on the phone with a representative from the NEA. […]

Jim Szewc

How Loud will Your Voice Be?

By Jim Szewc The late, great Stephen Covey once said, “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”  The following success story shows how lending your voice to issues that are important within our school walls and communities, such as teacher evaluations, can lead to equity and positive change.  If you take away anything […]


That Which Gets Measured Matters…

By Ann Neary This fall, in my large, comprehensive NYC public high school, teacher evaluations were recalculated (from official Spring evaluations) to include a standardized test component. The result?  Only one teacher out of 140 has a Highly Effective rating. Teachers were shocked and puzzled. They were not part of the policy making or decision […]

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Current Events & Policy

VIVA Teacher Speaks Out on Chicago Teachers Union’s Common Core Vote

Freeda Pirillis, a first grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools, was a member of the very first VIVA Idea Exchange, Voices from the Classroom. For the last three years, she has been working with the Chicago Teachers Union to develop Common Core curricula. As she describes in this story on Chicago Public Radio, she was […]

Idea Exchange Updates


Engaging the experts in education

by Paul Toner As an educator and union leader, the past eight years have been challenging on many fronts, and I look forward to bringing my experiences as a middle school social studies teacher and former local and state teacher’s union leader to NVS to help elevate the voice of frontline practitioners in the ongoing […]

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