Inspiration

Inspiring stories from the education profession

What makes a great educator? Dedication to kids and public education. Caring and generous. Active and involved. And experience. Below are snapshot interviews with inspiring Wisconsin educators with over 20 years of experience each who are strong advocates for their students not only in the classroom and community but through their union as well.

Gretchen Kubeny

Where have you taught/worked and the number of years?

  • CESA 5 for 3 years in Special Education in their alternative schools in Vesper and Baraboo.
  • Green Bay Area Public Schools for 22 years as a Special Education Teacher.

What has kept you in the education profession?

Although I have other interests, I can’t imagine doing anything else. After ACT 10, I seriously considered another career and looked at going back to school in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Luckily, at that time, I was at the height of my involvement in my union as an executive board member, so I could not leave. I was not going to let Scott Walker win, and that is when I decided to get more involved in my union at both the local and state level. Being around other like-minded individuals gave me the strength to keep fighting for what I believed in, public education. I have formed friendships with other union leaders around the state, which has also been awesome.

Why have you maintained your union membership?

As a teacher, I need a voice for both my profession and my students, because my working conditions are my students’ learning conditions. Unity is strength and together, with my union brothers and sisters, I plan to continue to use that strength to fight against all of the outside entities that want to destroy public education. By being a union member, I know I am always a part of something bigger, and I have the support of my union when I need it. When I am involved in union activities, it rejuvenates me and helps me remember why I became a teacher in the first place. Oftentimes, it is where I feel most appreciated and am treated like the professional that I am.

Any other thoughts?

Get involved in your union as soon as possible. It is the one place you can go for the support you need when you are struggling or need advice. Teaching is one of the hardest professions, and the amount of teachers that leave the profession early is at record numbers due to all of the outside attacks. The union is where you will find your strength to keep going, because teaching is a calling, and we need the best and the brightest for our students today and into the future.

Andy Waity

Where have you taught/worked and the number of years?

I’ve taught in Cambridge for 1 year and Madison for 23 years

What has kept you in the education profession?

What’s kept me in the profession is my belief that public education is the single most powerful force that can improve opportunities for individuals and better our entire society. Our public schools should unite us as a community around the hope for a better future for each child. I grew up in a family of educators, and this philosophy has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Why have you maintained your union membership?

Public education and Union membership are inseparable in my mind. Educators need to have a voice in decision-making and they need representation to ensure that their working conditions are the best they possibly can be. I walked the picket lines in 1976 with my dad as a 2nd grader, and he joined me in 2011. He told me that Unions are hope, and I share that vision for our present and our future.

Any other thoughts?

Whenever I find myself questioning things, I reflect on the reality that those who would eliminate Unions and public education recognize the power that the vision of Solidarity and hope provide. The challenging circumstances that we face currently are directly linked to the fact that what we do as educators and union members has the power to change the world for the better.


Find more inspirational stories:

https://weac.org/category/inspiration/