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A Message From the President

Two Ways to Do Good and Feel Good

Barbara Matteson


I had a wonderful experience last spring, and although I know many of you have had similar moments, I still want to share mine.

It happened at the Arizona Education Association delegate assembly, when one of my fourth grade students from 20 years ago stood up to speak.

I hadn’t seen him since he left my class, and now I didn’t even come up to his chin. Sam Mendivil got up and asked the delegates to support my candidacy for NEA-Retired president.

Then he turned to me and said, “I never got to tell you how much you meant to me. You’re the reason I’m a teacher today.”

Well, as you can imagine, suddenly I couldn’t see through my tears.

And I realize I’m not unusual. Most teachers have radically changed the lives of more than one student. And the lucky ones, like me, get to hear about it. That’s the nature of our work, touching children’s lives.

My excuse for telling this story is that I want to urge us all to keep working for children after we retire from the classroom. They still need us, and helping them is still the most satisfying way to live.

Which doesn’t mean don’t travel, don’t garden, don’t relax. But do keep your hand in the effort to give our next generation a strong start.

Two ways to do that:

One. Public schools depend on public support, which means a government willing to invest in education, and the only way to get that kind of government is political action. Your NEA-Retired chapter can help you connect with candidates who deserve and need your support. The time and money you give may turn some child’s life around.

Two. Think back to your first year in front of a class and how much you wanted an experienced and safe shoulder to lean on. Now you’re the one with the shoulder. NEA-Retired sponsors a growing number of mentoring programs for student members and beginning teachers who need you.

You’ll never regret it.

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