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Fanning the Flames

At the NEA-Retired annual meeting, members vow to keep fighting for public education.


The leaders who gathered at this year’s NEA-Retired Annual Meeting in Chicago were fired up: angry about recent attacks on the rights of educators and other public employees across the country; proud of the group’s accomplishments; and determined to use the coming year, a prelude to the 2012 elections, wisely.

“This year NEA-Retired has stepped up to the plate to fight against the vicious attacks on public education and public education employees,” said then NEA-Retired President Barbara Matteson, whose second term ended at the close of August. “We saw our members in rallies in Wisconsin, Utah, Ohio, Michigan, and state after state across the country.” (See the May 2011 This Active Life to read about how your Retired peers stood up for the rights of educators.)

“Now more than ever we need to stay politically active and involved,” said Matteson. “The upcoming elections could not be more important. Not just the presidential election but those at the local and state levels, which as we know is where so many education decisions are made and where educators’ rights are being attacked.”

Though political activism was a prominent topic of discussion, there were many other business items on the agenda. Read on for details on elected leaders, NEA-Retired award recipients, and Outreach to Teach, NEA’s annual school renovation project.

Barbara Matteson

In her farewell address to the NEA-Retired membership, former President Barbara Matteson encouraged her colleagues to keep fighting for public schools and educators, in spite of recent setbacks: “Remember that you are a trusted voice among friends, family, and colleagues. We cannot be silenced by legislators who would degrade workers’ rights and the public school system for the sake of their financial backers. Our voices and our votes cannot be taken away from us—let’s go out and use them!”

NEA-Retired Leaders Elected at the 2011 Annual Meeting


President: Tom Curran (Read Tom Curran's message to NEA-Retired members)

Vice President: John Jensen

NEA-Retired Executive Council: Martha Karlovetz, Al Beamish, Sara Borgman

NEA Board of Directors Retired Directors: Sid Johnson, Monica Beudoin

NEA Board of Directors Retired Alternate Director: Grady Yancey

NEA Resolutions Committee NEA-Retired Members: Roberto Margo, Mary Moran, Martha Livingston, Ulysses Floyd, Agnes Chavis, Janet Carrico

Resolutions Committee Alternates: Gloria Brown, Charlotte Green, Morris Fair, Charles Moskowitz, Christine Nowak, Ron Moss

Distinguished Service Award

Nearly half a century ago, Joe Higgins began his career in education teaching American government and history. During 45 of those years, he served as a leader in the Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA), NEA, NSEA-Retired, as well as in his local and state education community, including the Nebraska State Board of Education. For his dedication to public education, Higgins was honored with the 2011 Distinguished Service Award.

“Joe personifies the NEA-Retired motto: Now more than ever, the commitment continues,” wrote NSEA Retired President Roger Rea in his recommendation.

Congratulations, Joe!

NEA-Retired/Jack Kinnaman Scholarship Recipients


This year's NEA-Retired/Jack Kinnaman Scholarship recipients were Whitney Vanderspool-Snell of White Heath, Illinois, who attends Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and Nicole Cloutier of Bristol, Connecticut, who attends Central Connecticut State University, New Britain. Each will receive a $2,000 Scholarship from NEA-Retired. The Kinnaman Scholarship, named for the late Vice-President of NEA-Retired, awards needs based scholarships to NEA Student members who are studying to become educators.

2011 NEA-Retired Awards

Newsletter & Website Competition Winners

Membership Awards

  • Largest Numerical Membership Increase
    First place: New Jersey Retirees’ Education Association
    Runner up: Pennsylvania State Education Association-Retired
  • Largest Percentage Membership Increase
    First place: Vermont-NEA Retired
    Runner up: Hawaii-UHPA-Retired

Outreach to Teach

NEA Volunteers Help Deserving Elementary School


Retired and Student members enjoy
making a difference.

NEA-Retired and the NEA Student Program teamed up once again in June for Outreach to Teach, a project dedicated to improving a school in need in the area of the Representative Asembly host city each year. Roughly 400 NEA students and retired members, teachers, and education service professionals picked up hammers, shovels, paint brushes, brooms, and mops to repair, landscape, and spruce up Charles Dawes Elementary School in Evanston, Illinois.

Outreach to Teach celebrated its 15th anniversary this year. Chicago cake designer and recent Food Network Challenge contestant Mark Lie presented a specially designed cake to honor the program and the generous volunteers.

“Students need all of us working together to give them better opportunities. It starts with a clean and safe place for students to go to school,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

NEA’s Outreach to Teach volunteers focused their efforts on hundreds of improvements in the Dawes learning environment. They replaced 50 countertops and over 100 cabinet doors. Volunteers also assembled over 40 pieces of furniture and landscaped the school’s garden by installing six raised gardening beds and planting more than 75 flowers, trees, and shrubbery around the school.


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