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Annual Meeting

Wisdom, Expertise, Insight, and Experience’

NEA Retired Members Urged to Mentor Active Counterparts

By Lisa Kelly Leigh

More than 400 NEA-Retired members gathered in Orlando, Fla., in July for the organization’s 32nd Annual Meeting. For two days, members addressed new business items that will guide the organization for the coming year. The meeting precedes the annual NEA Representative Assembly, which draws thousands of educators from across the nation.

Members heard from NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, Vice President Becky Pringle, and Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss. “This year’s meeting is the first time ever that we have had all three NEA officers present at the same time at our annual meeting,” said NEA-Retired President Tom Curran as he introduced the trio.
Each of the leaders thanked NEA-Retired members for their work as activists and urged them to focus their support on NEA’s efforts to build a movement of empowered educators who are equipped to create union-led, student-centered change.

Retirees: ‘The Most Important Voice’

The meeting took place as the U.S. Senate prepared to address re-authorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act—commonly known as No Child Left Behind, and derided by NEA as “no child left untested.”
Eskelsen Garcia told the gathering, “The most important voice they [Congress] may hear [during the reauthorization process] is an educator who says, ‘You can change that’ … Your voice will be amazingly important,” she said, referring to the importance of teachers—not tests—having the authority to determine what students learn.

In July, the Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), a move that represents a shift away from one-size-fits-all assessments.

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle encouraged retirees to support the efforts of their active counterparts. “You must be part of this new journey—learning what our new members and emerging leaders need,” she said, “then mentoring and coaching them to advocate and lobby for greater authority for the education professions.”

‘No Telling What We Can Do’

NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss described how long-ago mentoring she received as a local leader from Martha Wood, who is today a member of the NEA-Retired Executive Council, helped to fuel Moss’ ascent within NEA.

“There is no telling the lives you can touch and inspire. ... No telling what we can do if we work together. … My story is just one example of how your expertise, your wisdom, and caring can help a leader who started out just like me—who wanted to be the best that I could be,” she said.

Highest Honor Presented


Gene Craig (pictured left), a member of the Illinois Education Association Retired received the NEA-Retired Distinguished Service Award, the group’s highest award. Craig’s efforts helped to start the chapter, which continues to flourish today.

NEA Student Program members James MacGregor and Hannah Pawlak accepted the coveted Jack Kinnaman Memorial Scholarship, which remembers the contributions of Jack Kinnaman, former NEA-Retired vice president and NEA-Retired Advisory Council member.

Attendees also used their energy (and their dollars) to boost NEA’s political strength. By the end of the Representative Assembly, retirees had contributed more than $61,000, bringing the group’s total 2014–2015 PAC fundraising amount to more than $93,000.


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