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Advancing years can't stop them Richard Peña | Sat, Jan 18 2014 12:00 PM

The local chapter of the California Retired Teachers Association meets five times during the school year starting in the fall and culminating with the springtime meeting. For the past several years this is a luncheon meeting served up in the large dining hall of the Clarion Hotel in National City. The Clarion staff prepares a better than average meal and serves it up with the class of a Ritz on the Riviera, or something close to that.

We attended the January meeting of the group the other day and, as usual, it was well run, not only serving up a sumptuous meal, but giving attendees some information on the organization and what we can expect with some of the oncoming legislative movements in Sacramento.

This division of the organization has an innovative method of governing. They have elected co-presidents – in this case Carol Owen and Marty Kolb – and with the help of a well-planned agenda the meeting runs along like the proverbial well-oiled machine.

I have been a member of this group for some 34  years. It seems that I joined the association on my retirement from San Diego City Schools decades ago and have been attending those luncheon meetings those many years. I would suspect that on the first meeting that I attended I was introduced as a new member with hardly a thought that I would be honored at a later date simply because I lived a long time.

On the agenda for this January meeting the division honors those members of the unit who have reached the age of 90.  There were eight members of this group but only four in attendance at the luncheon.  The latter group included long time members Seth Torres, Virginia Noble, Betty Austin and me.

Virginia Noble was a career teacher in the Chula Vista district for nearly 30. On her retirement from teaching she almost immediately went into the work of the retired association.  She has held nearly all the offices of the local unit and has also been active at the state level.  Davis Walrath, the legislative advocate for the CRTA was present as the principal speaker. He was called upon to confer a special certificate to Virginia for the many years of her service to the many students that she had and also for the work she had done in aiding other teachers.

I have probably known Betty Austin longer than any other teacher in the area. Our acquaintance goes back a good 60 years. She was a teacher at Rosebank School when I was first enrolling my own children in the public schools. From there she went on to a career that included nearly every post one can have in the system culminated, with many years as a school principal.

Seth Torres was in secondary, a teacher at Montgomery Junior and high school.  His career was capped with the principalship of both schools. He had a distinction, he told me, of being the first Latino principal in the district.
Walrath had many things to say regarding new and possibly unfavorable legislation. One item in particular that was stressed was to be on the lookout for some of the proposed amendments that are currently being circulated for inclusion in coming elections. There are some that seriously affect retired pay for school personnel and should not be considered.

Like most organizations of this type the concern, it seems, is always in recruiting new membership. An aging membership age has seriously eroded the CRTA ranks.  Walrath emphasized the importance of continued recruitment among retiring teachers and the encouragement among retirees to be active in the organization. It is the lifeblood of the unit.

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