Brief History of SERA

By John Hedl – 02/16/2009

Editor’s Note. John Hedl was one of the Founders of SERA, was the third President of SERA, until 2014 had attended all previous annual meetings, and served as SERA Historian. John passed in the summer of 2014 (see In Memorium below).

The first meeting related to SERA was held in Spring, 1977, at the Faculty Club on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The basic question was “Did we want or need a state or regional research association?” and “Should it be along the lines of AERA?” After considerable discussion the answer to the first question was “Yes,” but a resounding “No” to the second. We wanted a kinder, gentler AERA. The first SERA meeting followed in 1978 in Austin.

Our original goals were to:

    1. Conduct a meeting for researchers to present and discuss current research;
    2. Provide an opportunity to actually learn new things;
    3. Provide an opportunity for professional networking;
    4. Provide a forum for mentoring future educational researchers and SERA leaders (graduate students);
    5. And, provide a place to have some fun.

Have we met these goals?

I would say “yes” to all 5. Next year we celebrate well past our third decade of meeting, and we are still going strong. SERA is a terrific place to meet and talk with researchers of all ilks. The social events are a great way to network and have fun. Of our 30+ presidents, I believe at least 11 started as graduate students. In fact, 6 of the last 7 started that way with SERA.

And I believe strongly that we have created a sense of family. As such we rejoice in the professional and personal successes of our members. And we grieve when we lose our long-standing friends. In recent years there have been several that have left us for a better place.

We continue to strive to improve things for our membership. Recent changes include:
–Website updates;
–Improved ways to submit papers and receive notification;
–We have added a graduate student representative to the executive council;
–We have restructured the executive council and added an executive director;
–The treasurer is now appointed as well.

What does it take to become involved? (Remember no one is paid.) Just volunteer your time. It now takes a small army to conduct our annual meeting. Attend the social functions, meet and greet. Talk with our council members and let them know your interests. That’s how easy it is to become involved.

On a personal note, I have never missed a SERA meeting in its history. I receive too much from my association on both a professional and personal level. SERA is full of terrific colleagues and friends. I hope to see everyone next year at our annual meeting. Mark your calendars now.

In Memorium
John J. Hedl, Jr.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of John J. Hedl, Jr. during June, 2014. John attended every meeting of SERA until the 2014 meeting, which he was unable to attend due to health issues.
John was a founding member of SERA. He was the third President in our roughly 40 years of existence. For many years John served as SERA Historian. In 1998, SERA created a new award–the John J. Hedl, Jr. Lifetime Service Award–named in John’s honor at the same time he was named the first recipient of the award.
Many of us have many fond memories of John at SERA. He truly loved the organization. We can remember various ice storms that overtook the annual conference in certain years (e.g., San Antonio, Dallas, Austin). Among these was the 1985 ice storm in Austin. One day into the conference a massive ice storm deposited 6 to 7″ of ice on Austin. People who had not yet arrived, never made it. And those who did arrive, couldn’t leave. It was almost impossible even just to walk around the parking lot to get to the meeting rooms. The hotel restaurant ran out of most food items.
That was the year I was President. John and I and a couple of other members stayed up all night playing a then popular game called Trivial Pursuit. We made do, and had fun. SERA has always been about both scholarship and fun. John helped create that model from the beginning. He was a very gentle, caring, warm person, beloved by many of us, and we will dearly miss him!

Bruce Thompson
SERA Executive Director Emeritus
and (sadly, now) Historian