Meet the Press
No one was more surprised than editor Frank Bing when his newsletter, The Conduit, won first place in the 2009 NEA-Retired newsletter competition. Though The Conduit has received many accolades, Bing didn’t expect the publication to be named NEA’s best in the nation for a third time, earning The Conduit a place in the competition’s Hall of Fame.
Bing has always loved the written word. An English and journalism teacher in Phoenix, Arizona for 36 years, Bing didn’t stop writing when he retired from teaching at South Mountain High School. Within weeks of leaving the classroom, he entered The Conduit’s office at the Arizona Education Association with a new title: Editor.
In this capacity, he publishes the bimonthly Conduit to inform AEA-Retired members about Association news and state education policy. A firm believer that knowledge is power, Bing strives to give his readers the information they need to be successful advocates for public education. In addition to editing the articles written by regular contributors, Bing also composes his own articles. He estimates that he puts in about 20 to 24 hours into each newsletter.
Advocacy is another thing Bing believes in. He’s currently the Vice President of AEA-Retired, and he’s held numerous Association leadership positions since 1979 at the local, state, and national levels. Bing is also a precinct committeeperson for the Arizona Democratic Party.
For Bing, campaigning for public education is a compulsion, because he is just as passionate about the issue as he was when he was teaching five years ago.
“I think that public education is the great equalizer, and that every kid has the right to a great education,” he says. “I want to make sure the issue stays at the front burner for the country and the politicians.”
Helping Others Live the Active Life
Melva Lewis believes she’s found the key to a happy retirement: Exercise! Lewis does yoga, runs marathons, line dances, and plays golf, and she never tires of finding ways to contribute to her community through athletics. A sports fan with a passion for philanthropy, Lewis volunteers for the Special Olympics and runs the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Lewis, who taught seventh- and eighth-grade language arts at North Scott Junior High in Eldridge, Iowa for 38 years, remains committed to public service even though she’s no longer in the classroom. An education activist, Lewis drives people to the polls, canvasses neighborhoods, and writes letters to politicians. She even works part-time leading a federal grant for the professional development of American history teachers.
But her favorite activity by far is presenting ribbons to Special Olympians, whose determination inspires her.
“Special needs students have always hugged my heart, because my belief is that everyone has a place and a mission in life. Some people just need help to find it,” she says.
Lewis helped special needs students while she was a teacher, and she didn’t want to stop serving them simply because she retired. Now she calculates scores and keeps statistics for the Special Olympics.
She also fund-raises for cancer research, a cause she cares about deeply. “I could sew my back with the names of survivors and people that I’ve lost to cancer,” she says.
Lewis’ best friend died within months of her cancer diagnosis, and Lewis never got a chance to say goodbye to her. Lewis keeps her friend’s memory alive by running in the Race for the Cure.
Proud to be active, Lewis says she’s glad she retired while she still had an abundance of energy. “I was like Hank Aaron. I left when I was still hitting it out of the park,” she says.
I taught language arts for 32 years, most of them at Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Kansas. I served on the Kansas NEA and NEA Boards of Directors, and I’m currently the treasurer of Heartland Retired Educators, our local chapter.
What’s the best thing about retirement?
I would say sleeping late—but I still get up at 5 a.m.! I like having the ability to volunteer more. When I was teaching, my days were really full—I left home in the dark and got home in the dark! That’s why now I can enjoy saying “yes” to things when people ask me. I’m editing Apple Corps, the newsletter for our KNEA retired chapter, and I try to volunteer at our uniserv office that services 16 counties as often as I can.
Originally from Cleveland, I taught social studies for 34 years at Birmingham High School in Los Angeles. I’m active with the United Teachers of Los Angeles, serving as secretary of its Human Rights Committee for 30 years.
How do you stay involved with youth?
Teaching is like a 24-hour job. Retirement frees your time for other activities! I’m a member of the Sierra Club; I’m still able to hike and stay active with the program! The club takes kids on outdoor excursions to go hiking—the kids, they really love it. It’s fun for me. Nature, it’s always there and sometimes we don’t think about it. But it really opens children’s eyes to something so new.
A born-and-raised North Dakotan, I taught elementary school in Minot for 27 years before serving as President of the North Dakota Education Association (NDEA) for six years. Now, I am president of the NDEA-Retired.
What’s been keeping you busy in retirement?
Retirement’s given my husband and me more time to spend with family and friends, and we’ve loved having the opportunity to travel. We’ve been to all 50 states and most state capitals. Being a leader in NEA/ND-Retired helped with that, since we had meetings in different states. That allowed me to grow as an NEA member and as a citizen of our country.