Meet the Candidates: MSTA President-Elect and Vice President

MSTA President-Elect

Nickie Jones
This summer has been a whirlwind of conferences, meetings, trainings, and other school-related events that have taken a big chunk of those precious months of June, July, and August. And I know I am not alone. Teachers often spend the summer reflecting on the previous school year, planning for the next, improving their instructional craft, or supplementing their income so that they can afford to teach another year. And we also try to spend some quality time with our loved ones!
While I have had many responsibilities this summer, I can say that they have all been valuable to me as an educator. I have found something helpful or inspirational that I could take away from each one. In particular, I remember a young man who spoke at a meeting for Missouri Business Educators Association. He challenged us to find our “why” in everything we do. This question has stuck with me ever since. Why did I become a teacher? Why did I join MSTA? Why did I get involved in leadership?
The answers are simple, but at the same time, very complex. I want to make a difference. I want to help kids prepare for the future and its unforeseen challenges. I want to help kids learn to think and problem-solve. I want to help them see the potential in themselves and the leaders that they can become. I want to help them realize that conflicts can be resolved with a little communication and compromise. I want to help them develop the skills they will use to shape the world into a positive, productive place for future generations.
MSTA gives teachers a foundation to help kids. My involvement in MSTA provides me with the professional, legislative, and even emotional support I need so that I can continue to teach my kids. The professional development, advocacy, and networking connections are priceless to me, and I choose to be a leader in our association so that I can make a difference for other educators in Missouri.
As you go through this school year, I challenge you to ask yourself, “What’s Your Why?” I imagine you can look at your students and find many answers to that question. After all, that’s why we teach…we want to make a difference for our kids. And I hope you’ll let me make a difference for you as your next MSTA President-Elect! Download their campaign flier.

Listen to the podcast interview with Nickie:

MSTA Vice President

Allen Winningham
As I write this I’m caught up in all the beginning of the year stuff that we go through as educators. You know that mode: meetings, getting classrooms ready, meet the parents, the student, and more meetings. It seems like such a whirlwind after a much deserved break. One of the things I try to do during this busy time is stop to reflect and focus on what is important. I try to focus on my “why”. Why do we do this? Why am I here each day? The administration and staff at my school has even made it a building goal to stay focused on our “why,” take care of ourselves, and persevere. It makes me feel like together we can accomplish anything.
For me there is not even a question as to the two “why’s” that keep me going. The first is my family and then professionally it’s my firm belief that what we do as educators matters.
My two amazing kids are the light of my life. Bailey is going into 7th Grade this year. She is growing into her own person. She is beginning to find herself through her improving academics and activities like cross country and Taekwondo. Austin is going into 4th grade and he’s definitely a free thinker. He likes Boy Scouts, his friends, and recently took up golfing.
The strongest person in my life is Tiffany. She is the hardest working, most supportive person I know. She inspires me. And as of August 25th she is now my beautiful wife.
The other thing that keeps me going is knowing that what we do matters. Sometimes, there are obstacles and doubt. But I know that every moment matters. When you get that note, or call, or facebook message years later about something that you may not even remember, but it inspired someone else, then you have proof it matters.
Lastly, MSTA and all of our work here matters. MSTA empowers us and connects us together to help make us the best versions of ourselves so we can keep going, inspired by whatever your “why” is. I have personally seen what MSTA can do, from every level and every angle. I would be honored to continue my leadership as MSTA Vice President. I will serve this organization proudly and contribute in any way I can. Hope we can meet and connect in November. Download their campaign flier. 

Listen to the podcast with Allen:

Halley Russell
Before I started this campaign for MSTA Vice President, I never dreamed that I would be referring to myself as “The Girl on Fire.” I had read the Hunger Games, watched the movies, and listened to the song by Alicia Keys, but I had never picked up on how much it related to me and where I want to see the future of MSTA.
Katniss Everdeen is a popular Young Adult character. She didn’t realize it at the time, but she was going to end up changing the world around her. When I signed up for MSTA as a first year teacher, I had no idea that one day I would have the ability or desire to serve as your MSTA Vice President. That first year, I think we can all agree, was more about not drowning in everything that had to be accomplished. However, the more I saw what my local CTA could do and what MSTA was doing statewide the more I wanted to be involved at every level.
MSTA is an organization that I care deeply about and as I tell people when we talk in person, “Once you drink the Kool-Aid you’re hooked.” MSTA is an organization that I’ve come to realize cares about me as a person. I have never felt like just a number, even though we number more than 47,000 this past year. If you remember, Katniss never wanted to forget about the people from District 12, but she also realized that she could have a greater impact within all of the Districts representing them. I want you to  know that I will not back down when fighting for you.
I desire to be “The Girl on Fire” in the end, not for me, but for you. I want to be your tribute by representing, advocating, and defending you. I want you to know that we can do this together. But finally, I want you to know that I will be devoted, driven, and determined. I want the “Odds to be EVER in OUR Favor.” When you vote in November for MSTA Vice President, choose Halley Russell. Download their campaign flier.


Listen to the podcast with Halley: