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.

New MEA Officers Take Reins at MEA; Embark on Listening Tour

EAST LANSING – This September, a new team of MEA officers have taken the helm of the state’s largest school employee union. President Paula Herbart, Vice President Chandra Madafferi and Secretary-Treasurer Brett Smith are kicking off their time in office with a statewide listening tour to hear from the experts on the front lines of public education – the dedicated teachers and school support staff working every day with Michigan’s students.

“In this fast-paced, information overloaded society, individuals are longing to be heard.  Educators are especially eager to share their thoughts, their hopes and their frustrations,” Herbart said. “That’s why we’re going around the state to listen to the passions and concerns of our members and learn what we can do to help. We need to listen to the experts on the front lines – and we’re going to take those stories with us to policymakers in Lansing and Washington in our role as statewide education leaders.”

New ad campaign highlights support staff as ‘unsung heroes’

MEA has launched a new video highlighting the important role education support professionals play in schools across Michigan. The video features MEA education support professional members, like paraprofessionals, bus drivers, secretaries, food service workers, custodians, maintenance workers and others who help kids in our schools achieve and learn. “Education support professionals are a critical part of our…