Spotlight on Locals: Tomah Education Association

WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen presents Sharon Seeley of the Tomah Education Association with a WEAC Strong Local Affiliate Recognition certificate. Tomah Education Association leaders who gather for the photo (L to R) are Kelly Tourdot, Manuela Coffey, Jenna Olson, Laura Ames, Nathan Jungmeyer, Erica Champlain, Kay Soper, Elizabeth Howe, Kay Picha, and Elizabeth Edevold.

By Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, WEAC Vice President

Nathan Jungmeyer, high school history teacher and President of the Tomah Education Association, credits the strength of the Tomah Education Association with the past leadership saying, “The people who came before us built a strong foundation for our local. In general, our tradition of organizing is strong, and our members value us. We are continuing to build upon that tradition to grow.”

And growth is what the Tomah Education Association is working to do.  As a participant in the WEAC Association Welcome program this past fall, Tomah EA committed to having conversations with new hires, and so far, has recruited three more members through these conversations.  The Tomah EA is welcoming colleagues into the profession and into the local. By committing to join this program, the Tomah EA is showing dedication to growing the local association.

WEAC Region 4 President John Havlicek said this about the Tomah Education Association as why he nominated them for this recognition: “The Tomah Education Association has really rebuilt and re-energized. They have become very active at the regional and state levels; they are active this week for American Education Week; they are showing what a motivated group of leaders can do!”

Nathan also cited the very strong relationship with administration and the local school board when he shared, “Our administration and our school board value teachers, our organization, and we work hard to maintain a strong relationship with them.”

Manuela Coffey, eighth-grade science teacher at the middle school, echoed that sentiment by saying, “One of our greatest strengths is that we have a good relationship with the school board and administration. I know that our voice is heard, and we are respected by administration.”

Manuela also pointed out the community outreach that members of the TEA engage in. “We show support in the community for our students and families with food drives, TEA-sponsored community dinners most recently with their wellness walk, and local scholarships to students,” she said.

She also spoke about the association’s American Education Week celebration events: “We built our own schedule of events including working with our local grocery store to hang a banner celebrating our schools and to have our middle school students decorate grocery bags in honor of public education. We kicked the week off on Monday by having teachers greet students on the playground and in the parking lot and welcoming them into their buildings. We are ending the week with a Community Day including guest readers in school buildings like the mayor visiting all third-grade classrooms. Our high school students are working with a local radio station to share their stories of appreciation for the Tomah School District.”

Bonnie Roscovius, high school building representative for the Tomah EA, said, “The solidarity of our members is what makes us a strong local. Our members know who their building representatives are, who their leaders are. We work on visibility in the community as well. The Tomah Education Association is a part of the Homecoming Parade giving pencils out during the event.” Bonnie went on to say, “Our members know that we are there to help all who need it. Our communication lines are open.”

Manuela’s advice to other local leaders is find ways to connect with our colleagues. “We can continue to build community by building relationships with one another. Although sometimes it feels like it, we are not alone.”

Read all of Peggy’s ‘Spotlight On Locals’ columns at weac.org/Spotlight.