The card is something of a tradition around the Association’s offices. On the anniversary of employment, the executive secretary sends one containing his congratulations on completing another year of service.
I received my tenth card in February and, as it seemed a bit of a milestone, it got me thinking about ten years with the ATA. I decided that a quick look back through my diaries would be worth the trouble to see where I had been, what I had done and whom I had seen.
It was fun to do. The only odd thing was that I remembered so many events as happening just yesterday.
Something else. Befire I checked those diaries, I probably would have said the assignments themselves were at the heart of what I have done.
Not now. The assignments only served to bring me in contact with a lot interesting people. As I read the abbreviated notes about meetings with committees, task forces, councils and others, it was the parade of faces that brought those events back to life.
Very early in my ATA experience, I was assigned as secretary to a task force investigating teachers’ conventions in northwest Alberta. The task force met, traveled, interviewed and decided that one convention in the Peace country would suffice. That was the event.
What made if memorable was the people. The task force had as its chairman Dean McMullen, then a vice-principal in Vermilion. Craig Kerr, a teacher in Edmonton, had been active on the board of the Greater Edmonton Teachers’ Convention. John Woloshyn had served the North Central Teachers’ Convention for many years. Our little band traveled north and listened.
In February 1982, I was summoned to what was to be the last Peace River Teachers’ Convention to answer for the recommendations of the task force. I found myself in a hot and hostile meeting of Peace River teachers. Adele Boucher, a fine advocate for her Peace River colleagues, summed up the prevailing attitude when she asked me when I would be leaving Peace River. I said I was booked on the 7:30 pm Canadian Pacific flight. “Time Air leaves at six,” she said.
My Association assignments have brought me in contact with many people who work outside education. As international officer, I came to know Ray Verge, director of the Alberta Agency for International Development. Ray has provided the ATA with a lot of financial support for our Project Overseas teachers. He is retiring this spring and will be missed by the many agencies in Alberta that he has encouraged and assisted.
Six years of Homework Hotline have resulted in lots of friendships. The gravelly voiced Paul Watson has been with us since day one. Elsa Robinson joined the teaching staff last fall. Pat Troutman, Herb Ashley, Michael Schreiner, Sue Borland and Michelle Boniface have all contributed to the production excellence provided by the ACCESS Network.
Specialist council and committee assignments figured prominently in my old books. I’ve enjoyed working with the Social Studies Council because of what it has accomplished and who has served it. Admitting that it’s not really fair to do so, I will mention only one of the peerage. His bearded visage pops into my mind as I recall some of the go-rounds we have had. Jim Latimer personifies the social studies professional.
Some of the best times for me occurred during some of the worst times for teachers. I’ve worked a lot of strikes and have had close-up views of teachers under pressure.
Room 222 (honest!) at the Renford Inn was headquarters for the County of Grande Prairie strike. While Ralph Klintberg, Brian Tyson, Katja Davidson and Oscar Patton tackled the board’s negotiating team, I worked with Barb Schiele, Maureen Moors and Peter Thompson to help keep the members and the public informed. Merrilee Gaudin and Joe Quinn volunteered to appear in newspaper advertisements. Despite the personal discomfort of being on strike, every member pitched in unreservedly to help get the thing resolved.
Being secretary of the CTF Committee allowed me to work with a highly motivated group of teachers. These are folk who gladly give up their summer vacation and head off to work with colleagues overseas. The pay in non-existent, and the conditions are often difficult. So what’s in it for them? Watch the face of Art Jorgensen or Gracia Brinkman or Kathleen Grose or any of our members as they talk about being part of Project Overseas. The rewards show in their eyes.
My diaries reminded me, as well, of happenings within Barnett House. There have been many leave-takings. Ken Bride and Tom McConaghy retired in 1983. Charles Connors, Nick Hrynyk, Walter Hughes, Bernie Keeler, Robin Stuart and Joe Berlando followed in succeeding years. The retirement dinners for these staff members were all highlighted by accolades from teachers from across the province, surely the most treasured gifts any of them received.
As incomplete as this retrospective is, it confirms, for me at least, that the past ten years have been very worthwhile. I have all those faces to thank for them.