This article originally appeared on the Idaho Education Association Blog on April 5, 2019
In a time-honored tradition throughout the state, each region hosts a Mini DA in the month leading up to the IEA’s Delegate Assembly and Annual Meeting, this year being held in Coeur d’Alene. These sessions enable the regions to get on the same page prior to Delegate Assembly and are especially beneficial for first-time delegates.
“The whole thing is a bit of a mystery for our new delegates,” says Joel Williams, Fruitland Education Association President and a representative from Region 3 to the IEA Board of Directors. “It’s a two-pronged informational approach in that we go over logistics and what to expect at Delegate Assembly, as well as bringing them up to speed on the relationship dynamics between what we do in the region and what the IEA does on a statewide level.
Nearly half of the attendees at the Region 3 Mini DA on March 9 were first-time delegates. The same held true in Region 6, where 10-15 members were preparing to head to Delegate Assembly for the first time. “It was very helpful to be able to go over logistics and forms, and also to show how we can support each other,” says Region 6 President Melanie Hammond. “We talked about the importance of the region caucuses prior to going on the floor at DA. And it was extremely helpful to have Kari Overall join us via video conference.”
As IEA President, Overall feels a responsibility to connect with members across the state, and Mini DAs are a great vehicle for doing just that. She attended all the Mini DAs this year, either in person or by video conference (we haven’t figured out a way to clone her just yet). “It is one of my favorite things to do and it allows me to get back to my roots,” she says. “That is the work that grounds me and reminds me why what I do day-in and day-out at IEA headquarters is important.”
Each region holds meetings throughout the year to discuss current issues and activities, but the Mini DAs are different in the respect that they are primarily focused on one objective-getting delegates ready for what to expect when they arrive at Delegate Assembly, which can be a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated. With nearly 400 delegates expected this week in Coeur d’Alene, it truly is a demonstration of democracy in action. Mini DAs give members a taste of what is to come.
“It was very exciting to see that we had more locals represented and our highest turnout ever,” says Williams in speaking about the Region 3 Mini DA. “It was an important planning session so we can hit the ground running at Delegate Assembly.”