Inspiring Former Aide, Secretary Helped in Illness

Rennee Alderman has worn different job titles in Cadillac Area Public Schools – recess aide, paraprofessional, secretary – but for MEA member Heidi Stange the most important role Alderman played over the years is “friend.”

Stange is now an instructional literacy coach for the district, but for many years she was a Title I reading specialist with Alderman tutoring kids alongside her. Children loved Alderman, Stange said, but so did adults—she brightened the lives of everyone with her cheery attitude and habit of calling everyone “Sunshine.”

“We’re providing her some sunshine now,” Stange said.

Alderman was forced to retire after 25 years in the district when a mystery illness zapped her energy and mobility – leaving her in constant pain. She has since been diagnosed with Lyme Disease, but treatments are not covered by insurance – so Stange has organized community fundraisers to rally some help.

Their story is yet another example of union members taking care of each other. Associations across the state routinely come together to take care of their own, as in Algonac, where members raised money and volunteered labor in a Habitat for Humanity home build for a member; and in Adrian where members donated to a union-administered sick day bank to help a new mom whose baby needed open heart surgery.

It wasn’t easy to convince Alderman to accept assistance, because she’s used to being the one caring for others, Stange said. Over the years, Alderman organized countless potlucks and supply drives to help families in need in the community.

Truth or Satire: A Look at Michigan’s M-STEP

By Brenda Ortega

OK, class. It’s time now for a very important… Question, Jimmy?… No, it’s not time for lunch yet… Yes, I know it’s chicken nugget day! You won’t be late if we start now, alright?

Today we’re going to practice for the big, long test that will be used to label you and your school and even our community and the whole of public education in Michigan and across the U.S. – above every truly wonderful thing we do and accomplish in our work together.

Curtis Kelenske

Curtis Kelenske: 5th/6th-grade Multi-age Teacher, Leland Public Schools Years in Education: 13 Type of non-union experience: 1 year in private Catholic school, 6 in a charter school What was it like working in a school without a union? The working conditions and work load in the charter school were very difficult. You had to do whatever…

Brett Hudson

Brett Hudson: Health and P/E Teacher, East Jackson Community Schools Years in Education: 2 Type of non-union experience: Charter School What was it like working in a school without a union? As a new teacher (only having experience without a union) I am not too familiar with the collective bargaining process. However, it was pretty…

Rob Atwood

Rob Atwood: P/E and Health Teacher, Baldwin Community Schools Years in education: 8 Type of non-union experience: charter school – 5 years; virtual charter school – 2.5 years What was it like working in a school without a union? In my traditional and virtual school teaching experience, the employees did not have a say on…

Katie Condon

Katie Condon: 5th-grade Teacher, Saginaw Public School District Years in education: 5 Type of non-union experience: Three years at a charter school What was it like working in a school without a union? When I first started working at the charter school, it wasn’t that bad. I had the assumption that I was going to…

Michael Adams

Michael Adams: 3rd-grade Teacher, Holt Public Schools Years in education: 6 Type of non-union experience: Michigan charter school What was it like working in a school without a union? It was the worst! Working without a union left me feeling like I had no voice to advocate for students or myself. Teachers were in constant…

Bill Boerman

Bill Boerman: STEM Teacher/K-7, Holland Public Schools Years in education:  22 Type of non-union experience: 7½ years at charter schools in Michigan; 10 years in public schools in Colorado that had no collective bargaining rights What was it like working in a school without a union? There were many added pressures working in a non-union environment that…

Amy Lawrence

Amy Lawrence: 7th-grade Math Teacher, Schoolcraft Community Schools     Years in education: 9 Type of non-union experience: charter school What was it like working in a school without a union? At the school I worked at, we were often required to go to a week of additional PD/training in the summer, as well as attend 5-7…