Lisa Bass | Contributing writer
There is an old saying about teaching: “There are three good reasons to be a teacher – July, August and retirement.”
The 68 members of the Montgomery County Retired Teachers Association celebrate the third reason each month of the year with social gatherings and a bit of work to promote the field of education.
Barbara Piersol, a retired teacher after 29 years, said, “It is a bunch of old ladies who gather to talk about how much fun it was to teach and how much fun is to be retired.”
Joan Shorter taught at Kipps Elementary School for 10 years and 20 years at Prices Fork Elementary School.
“These monthly meetings continue the friendships made while teaching in the schools,” she said.
Betty Moore, a teacher of 22 years, and Cindy Shockley, retired after 29 years, explained that MCRTA members work together annually to make goody bags for the members of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and the assemble treat bags for Montgomery County Public School teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week.
Jan Marks, who retired after 38 years, held up a large baggie full of box tops from food products.
The box tops will be given to schools that participate in the General Mills Box Tops for Education, which are exchanged for cash to purchase needed educational items like books, computers and more.
MCRTA also raises money for scholarships for MCPS high school seniors. Pam King retired from MCPS after working 31 years in the central office and is now the MCRTA treasurer.
MCRTA held a silent auction in November and raised $1,420 for their scholarship fund. King hopes MCRTA can receive more applications in 2017 from graduating seniors who want to attend college to become teachers.
“In the past, we have awarded two $1,000 scholarships and we would like to extend this opportunity to more future teachers,” King said.
MCPS high school guidance personnel will have the information about a scholarship application beginning in early January 2017. A 2017 goal for MCRTA is to offer scholarship opportunities to current teachers who want to further their education.
“Each July, MCRTA works with MCPS human resources department to mail invitations to recently retired educators,” Meg Peterson, MCRTA president, said.
Peterson encourages anyone who has worked in education such as secretaries, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers to feel welcomed to join.
“While the majority of our members are former teachers, anyone who has been involved with education may join, even if the involvement was not in Montgomery County,” Peterson said.
Phyllis Radford taught special education for 34 years between West Virginia and Giles County schools. Radford joined MCRTA after the Giles County retired teachers group disbanded because of lack of membership.
MCRTA is one of 16 districts of the Virginia Retired Teachers Association. Ethel Percy Andrus was a long-time educator and the first woman high school principal in California who founded the National Retired Teachers Association in 1947.
Andrus realized that retired teachers were living on very small pensions, often without any health insurance. The organization expanded its membership to all retirees and became American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in 1958. NRTA is now a division of AARP and continues to serves as its educator community.
The MCRTA December meeting was held at the Inn at Virginia Tech to celebrate a productive year and a festive season.
MCRTA will be meeting on the 3rd Thursday of the month starting Jan. 19 at Amelia’s Pizzeria and Restaurant (1130 Cambria St. NE) in Christiansburg.