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About Us

Who is HCEA?

HCEA is over 6,000 of your colleagues: teachers, counselors, psychologists, pupil personnel workers, interpreters, therapists (speech, occupational, physical and school mental health therapists), school social workers, secretaries, clerks, registrars, assistants (instructional, media, special education, health, food service, security and student assistants), and central office technical, management and technical employees at the HCPSS Central Office.

HCEA is the professional association and also the exclusive representative in collective bargaining for all teachers and most education support professionals in Howard County.

HCEA Vision:

The vision of HCEA is to foster an environment within HCPSS that ensures all employees, students, families and community members are valued and vested stakeholders both within and beyond the classroom.

HCEA Mission:

Our mission is to engage, represent, encourage, empower, and support all educators in  becoming advocates for a promoting the preeminent learning and working environment for all professionals, students, families and communities within HCPSS.

HCEA Believes:

It is our belief that all HCEA members will be valued, represented, engaged, encouraged, empowered and supported when we:

  • Participate in ongoing and highly relevant professional learning that strengthens expertise of content, pedagogy, and reflective practices.
  • Develop strong and collegial relationships with every student and community partner.
  • Embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion for all students, educators, families and community groups.
  • Strengthen our profession through our collective advocacy to define the needs of our school system.
  • Bring thought leadership by identifying and implementing thoughtful, well-reasoned initiatives to improve our school system and student outcomes.
  • Ensure that our members are adequately compensated, enabling every member the opportunity to reside and fully participate in the community.
  • Celebrate the individual contributions of our members and the students they inspire.
  • Unite our collective voice to campaign for powerful, meaningful, and positive change among our members, students and school community.
  • Safeguard the working environment for our members and students, ensuring every individual is safe and the classroom is conducive to teaching and learning.

How are my HCEA dues spent?

HCEA dues pays for member representation; contract negotiation and enforcement; advocacy with administrators, the Board of Education and elected officials; training and professional development and other HCEA programs. The greatest portion of HCEA local dues pays for local staff and maintenance of the HCEA office, which support these activities.

What does HCEA do for its members?

HCEA is a way for Howard County educators to work together to improve their professional life, their working conditions, their standard of living and the public schools. HCEA’s negotiated agreements guarantee certain rights for all teachers and education support professionals.

HCEA has improved educator pensions, enhanced salary for beginning teachers, supported National Board Certification candidates, provided more professional development for Instructional Assistants (including preparation for the ParaPro Assessment) and helped HCPSS teaching and support staff speak out through HCEA’s Job Satisfaction Survey.

Many of these achievements benefit both members and non-members. (That’s why we urge EVERYONE to join HCEA!) HCEA members also receive HCEA support and representation on non-contractual job problems, discipline, discharge, child abuse accusations, job injuries and many other issues. Only HCEA members get regular information from HCEA, have a voice and a vote in their organization and are protected by educators liability and DUES-TAB insurance.

What is the HCEA Sick Leave Bank and how can I enroll?

The purpose of the Sick Banks is to provide sick leave to contributors in cases of incapacitating personal illness after the member’s accumulated sick leave has been exhausted.   HCEA Sick Bank is set-up in two banks – Teachers and Education Support Professionals.  Requirements of enrollment and detailed guidelines for each bank are available from HCEA or download below.  The annual donation is recommended by the respective Sick Leave Bank Committee and approved by the HCEA Board of Directors and then announced to the Rep Council Meeting.  Sick Leave Bank is continuous unless cancelled in writing by the member.  The cancellation period is July 1 to October 31.

Contact Heather Coughlan at the HCEA office or download the HCEA Sick Leave Bank enrollment form to enroll after September 1. Deadline for teacher and ESPs’ enrollment is October 31.

Teacher Sick Leave Bank guidelines and the ESP Sick Leave Bank guidelines explain Sick Leave Bank details, application procedures and restrictions. As a Sick Leave Bank member, it is important to familiarize yourself with this information.

What is the HCEA Family Crisis Leave Exchange?

The Family Crisis Leave Exchange (FCLE) is a program, piloted for one (1) year, to provide leave to HCEA certified unit members (teachers) who have exhausted all of their available leave in order to care for a family member (spouse, child or parent) experiencing a catastrophic, life threatening illness or injury.  For more information read the FCLE Memorandum of Understanding.

How can I find out who is my building rep?

Your HCEA Rep is your hands-on connection to HCEA. HCEA attempts to have each school elect an HCEA Representative for every 25 members at each work site and would like to have both teacher and ESP reps at each school.

If your HCEA Rep has not yet introduced him/herself, ask a colleague who your representative is. If your colleague doesn’t know, just pick up the phone and contact HCEA (410-997-3440).

If your school could use more volunteers on its “rep team,” … “How about you?”

How can I get more involved in HCEA?

HCEA invites you to be part of the HCEA team in your building and to take part in HCEA. HCEA committees and county-wide activities like the negotiation team, political action, and instructional and professional development.

We get a lot done – and we also enjoy having a good time with friends after hours. Getting involved with HCEA is easy! Talk to your building rep, call the HCEA office (410) 977-3440, or e-mail us at [email protected].

How does HCEA communicate with its members?

HCEA’s first line of communication is our building reps, who meet monthly and hold school meetings to keep members informed. Our President, Benjamin Schmitt emails members regularly about upcoming events, contract negotiations, and other important information.

HCEA posters and bulletins are sent to reps for posting on HCEA bulletin boards.

What are the HCEA committees?

Active standing HCEA committees are

  • Article 13: Works as part of the reviewing process for applications for professional development.
  • Bylaws: Review and recommend updates to HCEA’s governing procedures.
  • ESP Committee: To work on issues and matters pertaining to and directly affecting ESP’s.
  • Family Crisis Leave Exchange: Approves applications for FCLE usage. Only meets as necessary when paperwork is submitted.
    (not open per policy-one person from HCEA and HCPSS)
  • Government Relations: Review and Influence public policy and candidates at the state and local levels.
  • Human & Civil Rights: Organizing, empowering, and supporting ethnically diverse and underrepresented educators and students.
  • Membership: Supporting, attracting, and current and new members.
  • Minority Affairs: Unites individuals, organizations, and committees concerned about the lack of racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity in education.
  • Nominations, Elections & Credentials: Ensure elections of all local and affiliate positions are properly conducted.
  • Organizing: Lead campaigns that organize members around urgent issues facing educators.
  • Professional Standards and Practice: Although many professional practices emanate from MSDE or HCPSS, there are opportunities to improve, expand and include building level voices and best practices. This committee engages when such opportunities arise.
  • Restorative Justice: This committee works to bring awareness about restorative justice to educators, suggest and develop professional learning, and engage families and community members.
  • Sick Leave Bank: Reviews and approves/denies applications for SLB grant requests. (not open per policy-has to be equal numbers from both HCEA and HCPSS)

Are there other ways I can participate in HCEA?

HCEA members are welcome to participate in all HCEA trainings and workshops. Serving as a building “rep” or as a part of an Association rep team at your worksite is another way to get involved. HCEA committees would welcome your participation. HCEA also asks members to serve on joint committees with and advisory committees to the school system. Watch the website – or contact your building rep – to find out more.

Who is on the HCEA Board of Directors?

The HCEA Board of Directors is made up of the officers of HCEA:

  • President Benjamin Schmitt – Clemens Crossing ES (Benjamin is currently on release and serving full-time as HCEA President.)
  • Vice-President Teri Dennison – Central Office
  • Treasurer Sarai Gray – Laurel Woods ES
  • Secretary Danielle King-Beard – Mayfield Woods MS

and nine elected directors:

  • Alison Daniels – Long Reach MS
  • Leirdre Galloway – Patuxent Valley MS
  • Anna Gannon – Bonnie Branch MS
  • Katie MacLaughlin- Homewood
  • Rebecca Otte – Fulton ES
  • Casey Retterer – Oakland Mills HS
  • Q Smith-Green – Homewood
  • Sam Walters – Wilde Lake HS
  • Jennifer Wilson- Wilde Lake HS

Who are MSEA and NEA?

NEA, MSEA, and HCEA are all part of the United Education Profession (UEP).

The MSEA (Maryland State Education Association) is the state affiliate providing such services as UniServ Staff, political lobbying on the state level, and free legal services for on-the-job issues. It was MSEA that led our successful fight to improve educator pensions in 2006.

The NEA (National Education Association) advocates for all members nation-wide and on the national level. NEA is currently working with Congress to fix (and fund) the so-called “No Child Left Behind” Act.

You can learn more about our state and national organizations on their web sites, www.marylandeducators.org and www.nea.org.

Why do I also pay MSEA & NEA dues?

Almost half of your MSEA dues help HCEA represent you more effectively.

One dollar in five supports efforts to improve your working conditions.

Ten percent each provide legal and political relations, school quality efforts and public/media relations.

The largest single portion of your NEA dues provides UniServ staffing for HCEA.

What are “UniServ” staff? (sometimes called UniServ Directors or Representatives)

Your MSEA and NEA dues pay the salaries of professional staff who are trained and experienced in bargaining and enforcing contracts; processing grievances and representing members; and providing communication, training, public relations and government relations support to HCEA and its committees.

This staffing arrangement was established when the local, state and national Associations were unified into one organization to better serve members. Therefore the name “UniServ.”

What are “NEA Member Benefits”?

NEA Member Benefits implements and administers programs and services that benefit NEA members.

With the group buying power of 3 million members, NEA Member Benefits can provide quality programs, products and services to increase NEA members’ financial security, save them money and make sure they are receiving good value for their hard-earned dollars.

You can learn more about NEA Member Benefits or by calling (800) 637-4636.

What is NEA Complimentary Life Insurance?

NEA DUES-TAB is automatic life insurance provided FREE to all NEA members. Coverage provides up to $1,000 of life insurance, up to $5,000 of accidental death and dismemberment coverage, up to $50,000 of AD&D insurance for any covered accident that occurs while on the job or serving as an Association leader and up to $150,000 of life insurance for unlawful homicide while on the job. (Coverage depends on length of continuous membership.)

You can register your beneficiary and find a complete summary of benefits on-line here. Or call the NEA Member Benefits Member Services Center at 1-800-637-4636, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (or Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) ET.

What is “Frontline” and why should I sign up?

“Actionline” is MSEA’s magazine, published five times a year. Click here to view the digital edition and sign up for emails.

Frontline keeps you up-to-date on breaking issues that affect your job, pay and retirement. It provided professional support and ideas to use in the classroom. It also lets you know about new ways to save with your MSEA Access Card discounts.

Signing up for Frontline means that you are on the frontline and can respond when issues affect educators.



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