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 President on “Off the Record”: Listen to Educators’ Voices

MEA President Paula Herbart is this week’s guest on “Off the Record” with senior Capitol correspondent Tim Skubick.  The weekly PBS public affairs show served as Herbart’s first major public appearance since taking the reins at MEA on Sept. 1. During her 12-minute interview, she reinforced something she’s heard across the state: that policymakers need to listen more to the front-line experts – Michigan’s teachers and support staff – about what schools and students need.