5444 Thornwood Drive, San José, CA 95123
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Our Mission & Vision
SJTA empowers teachers to educate, inspire, and change lives through public education.
SJTA represents professional educators who lead the way through their commitment to public education. All members of the association are valued, respected, and compensated for their educational expertise and their efforts on behalf of students. SJTA is active at the local, state, and national levels, with its participation in all phases of the decision-making process positively influencing every aspect of public education. SJTA’s members are the vanguard in providing all students with an unrivaled, twenty-first century education.
Who We Are
We are 1,500 dedicated educators who work at the more than 40 schools in SJUSD, from the San José International Airport to the Almaden Valley. We are powerful and passionate advocates for our students, for our district, and for public education.
We are teachers, school nurses, counselors, speech and language pathologists, specialists, and librarians. We are parents of children in SJUSD schools. We are veteran teachers who graduated from SJUSD, as well as educators who are new to our profession or new to Silicon Valley. Some of us have been practicing this vocation since we taught our stuffed animals how to count, while others among us felt called to the classroom only after laboring in another career.
Our differences are many—ages, backgrounds, genders, professional experiences, ethnic groups, sexual orientations, and political philosophies—but we are united in our mission to educate, inspire, and change lives through public education.
Renata Sanchez was elected SJTA president in 2023. Prior to her election, she served as vice president since 2017, a member of the bargaining team since 2014, and a State Council delegate since 2015. She was a faculty representative at Empire Gardens Elementary and Gardner Academy from 2010 to 2015. She joined SJUSD in 2008 as a 4th grade teacher. She taught in upper elementary classrooms until making a transition to site instructional coaching in 2013. She is currently the site instructional coach at Allen at Steinbeck Elementary School.
In addition, Sanchez supports CTA legislative priorities as part of the Grassroots Lobbying program and currently sits on the planning committee for the CTA Region 1 Leadership Conference. She chairs the Professional Rights and Responsibilities committee for CTA’s State Council of Education.
Sanchez holds an undergraduate degree from Stanford, graduate degrees from Alliant International and Concordia University, and a National Board Certification in Middle Childhood Teaching. She lives in San José with her partner and their pets.
Dr. Melissa Urbain was elected SJTA vice president in 2023. Prior to her election, she served as a member of the executive board, as political action committee chair, and a CTA State Council representative. She was a faculty representative at John Muir Middle School from 2013 to 2017. She joined SJUSD in 2010 as an English Language Arts Intervention teacher. She has also taught domestically and abroad as a Pre-K-Post graduate English instructor. She is currently an English Language Development teacher at John Muir Middle School and SJTA’s Lead Member Organizer.
In addition, Urbain also represents SJTA on the California Alliance for Community Schools and the South Bay Labor Council.
Urbain holds an associates degree from Scott Community College, undergraduate degree from Central College, graduate degree and doctoral degree from San José State. She is an Americorps alum and lives in downtown San José with her family.
Allison Medlin was elected SJTA secretary-treasurer in 2023, after having served five years on the executive board as Elementary Director – South. Previously, she served as the faculty representative at Graystone Elementary for several years. She joined SJUSD in 2008 and currently teaches fourth grade at Graystone.
Prior to entering education, Medlin worked in marketing and sales for a major Silicon Valley electronics company. She holds an undergraduate degree in computer science/mathematics from Pepperdine University and a teaching credential from National University. She lives in San José with her husband and enjoys walking her dog, reading, and traveling in her spare time.
Michael Hickey has been Executive Director of SJTA since January 2022. Michael previously served for over 6 years as the president of the United Teachers of Santa Clara, which represents the certificated employees of Santa Clara Unified School District. Before taking on this role, Michael worked as a bilingual (Spanish) elementary school teacher for over a decade at various grade levels.
The Executive Board is SJTA’s fiduciary and business agent. The Board coordinates SJTA’s operations, directs collective bargaining activities, manages SJTA’s assets, and hires all SJTA employees. The Board is made up of SJTA’s three officers, seven directors elected to represent specific member constituencies, and up to seven ex officio members who hold other SJTA leadership roles. The current members of the Board are:
President & CTA State Council
Renata Sanchez / Allen Elem / Instructional Coach
Vice President & PAC Chair
Melissa Urbain / John Muir MS / ELD
Allison Medlin / Graystone Elem / Fourth Grade
Erin McGauley-Hebard / Bachrodt Elem / Bilingual Third Grade
Equity & Inclusion Director
Veena Naveen / San José HS / Mathematics
High School Director
Yolanda Guerra / San José HS / Visual Arts
Middle School Director
Christopher Eikenberry / Castillero MS / English
Special Education Director
Joanne Ayar / Grant Elem / SDC
Specialized Personnel Director
Wendy Savinar / Secondary C & I / Instructional Coach
CTA State Council
Karen Sauer / Elementary C & I / TK Instructional Coach
CTA State Council
Bargaining Chair (non-voting)
Teacher Quality Panel Co-Chair (non-voting)
Paul Nyhof / District Office / TQP
The Representative Council is SJTA’s policy-making body. With more than 100 elected faculty representatives from all schools in SJUSD, the Council meets monthly during the school year to consider issues, set policy, approve budgets, endorse candidates, and coordinate SJTA’s work across school sites.
Faculty representatives also serve as union leaders at their school sites, supporting their colleagues and working with school administrators to solve site problems and apply the collective bargaining agreements. If you need to know who the faculty representatives are at a particular site, please contact the SJTA office.
Committees & Caucuses
Each SJTA committee plays a formal role in determining policy, making decisions, and coordinating programs. Committee members are appointed by the president and approved by the executive board. SJTA members can find a complete list of SJTA committees and current committee chairs at the Member Resources link at the top of this page.
Caucuses provide forums for SJTA members from different school sites to engage with colleagues who have similar roles or interests. Many of our caucuses serve educators who have few or no job-alike peers at their school sites, such as nurses or speech pathologists. SJTA members can find a complete list of SJTA caucuses and current caucus chairs at the Member Resources link at the top of this page. SJTA members interested in starting a new caucus should contact the SJTA office.
Delegates & Liaisons
Some SJTA members represent their colleagues as elected delegates or appointed liaisons to a variety of organizations, including the CTA State Council of Education, the CTA Board of Directors, the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, and the SJUSD Health & Welfare Benefits Board.
SJTA members also serve on a variety of committees, boards, panels, and task forces for the State of California, the County of Santa Clara, and the City of San José, as well as for local colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, and discipline-specific professional organizations, such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
National Education Association
SJTA is an affiliated local association of the National Education Association. NEA, the nation’s largest labor union, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States. Its 3 million members bring their expertise, drive, and dedication to advancing justice and excellence in public education. Visit www.nea.org to learn more.
California Teachers Association
SJTA is a chartered chapter of the California Teachers Association. The unified voice of educators in California’s public schools and colleges, CTA has been a powerful and passionate advocate for students and public education since 1863. Its 310,000 members support and nurture all students in classrooms every day, preparing them to be the leaders of tomorrow. Visit www.cta.org to learn more.
South Bay Labor Council
SJTA members collaborate with workers in other economic sectors through the South Bay Labor Council. The Labor Council represents 101 unions and more than 100,000 union members in Santa Clara and San Benito counties. For over 50 years the Labor Council has championed the cause of working families in the South Bay. The Labor Council’s primary goal is to advance candidates, causes, and policies that benefit working families. Visit www.southbaylabor.org to learn more.