Years ago, when I attended the NEA Annual Meeting as a local delegate, I began sending “Notes from Camp.” These were reports back to friends and colleagues who had expressed an interest in keeping up-to-date with events occurring there. I attend now as a staff member and not a local delegate, but the reaction from various associates continues to be positive. So here’s a report on this year’s NEA Annual Meeting in Chicago. Delegates should feel free to add their own comments: there’s a link to allow you to do that.–Bill Lavezzi, executive director
Thursday, June 30, 2011
It isn’t like annual meeting events actually began today: NEA has been holding various conferences since Monday, and some leaders have been in town since the weekend. By the evening tonight, virtually all Ohio’s delegates had arrived, and most of those had registered in the Ohio delegation headquarters in the Mansion Room on the fourteenth floor.
Our hotel is just across Orleans Street from the Merchandise Mart and overlooks the intersection of the north, main, and south branches of the Chicago River. Some of us are lucky enough to have rooms with spectacular views. The hotel itself sits atop thirteen floors of office space associated with the Merchandise Mart: hotel property begins with banquet facilities and offices on the fourteenth floor, a lobby on the fifteenth, and guest rooms going up from there.
Registration and exhibits opened at McCormick Place this morning, so many delegates headed there to register and to pick up literature and assorted freebies from the various exhibitors. Leaders of state delegations were interviewing candidates for NEA positions that will be elected on Saturday.
For many delegates, this is a good day to see the host city. They don’t have a lot of responsibilities yet: the RA itself won’t start until Saturday, and states won’t hold their first caucuses here until tomorrow. The weather held off until the evening, when we were treated to a spectacular thunderstorm with heavy hail.
The big event of this evening is always Ohio Night, which is OEA’s reception for delegates at the host city. This year’s Ohio Night offered dinner along with desserts, cash bars, and dancing. It went on until midnight, but it had to do so without me: tomorrow’s first caucus starts at 7:30.