In the nearly 100-degree heat of a Saturday last July, you could find Lee Dorman on the grassy lawn of the White House Ellipse with 5,000 other teachers, gathered to “shout and holler” for public education at the Save Our ...
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In the nearly 100-degree heat of a Saturday last July, you could find Lee Dorman on the grassy lawn of the White House Ellipse with 5,000 other teachers, gathered to “shout and holler” for public education at the Save Our Schools march. Dorman, a seventh-grade science teacher from Arlington, Virginia, brought water (nine bottles), granola bars, apples, and balloons emblazoned with ‘VEA’ to help attendees from the Virginia Education Association find each other outside crowded metro stops.
It’s not surprising that Dorman was well-prepared—she’s no stranger to political expression in the nation’s capital. As a high school junior in 1963, Dorman attended a march on the National Mall that culminated in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
“We went down to the Mall that day for the music—I didn’t even know who Dr. King was, at the time,” she said. “But once we got there, it transformed most of us.”
Although she missed the famous speech itself, the event inspired her to march for civil rights and protest against the Vietnam War in the years to come. As a dedicated educator—she has taught in Virginia schools for more than 40 years—Dorman has focused much of her political activism on public education.
Her work isn’t contained to marches, however; Dorman is a member of the Virginia Education Association and has served in every position in her local education association. She has been a delegate to the state convention, served on executive committee of the VEA Board of Directors, helped negotiate contracts for Arlington County teachers in the 1970s, and has been a building representative for 40 years.
“I’ve been an activist since I first became a teacher. I’m glad that I’m able to give my time to do that,” she said. “We forget that the NEA is built on volunteers, and not many are paid. If you think about it, it’s really awesome that we have so many people who will volunteer their time. It gives you hope and the strength to go on.”
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I did not miss Dr.King’s speech – am not sure where that comment came from. My friends and I were about to start our Junior year in high school – we went to the Mall for the music and stayed to listen and be transformed into activists who are still involved in speaking out for civil and human rights and for the students we see everyday in our classrooms!