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October 12, 2004 > CRTA Local Division 91 Celebrates Retired Teacher's Week

CRTA Local Division 91 Celebrates Retired Teacher's Week

by Linda Stone

The local chapter of the Fremont, Union City and Newark Division 91 of the California Retired Teachers Association (CRTA) will be celebrating Retired Teacher's Week with a luncheon on October 19th at the Fremont Senior Center.

CRTA has a long history in California. In 1929 a group of retired teachers in Pasadena sought a voice on the teacher's salary committee. Although unsuccessful in that endeavor, the CRTA has worked to gain a voice in teacher policies and their agenda has widened to include a variety of issues pertinent to retired teachers.

Today, CRTA has chapters throughout California with over 50,000 members divided into 11 areas, each having several divisions.. The organization is independent and does not endorse candidates for political office nor do they maintain political action committee funds. Instead, they are an advocacy group dedicated to enhancing the lives of retired teachers in California by working both independently and with coalitions on health care reform, pension equity and serve as watchdogs of the California Teachers' Retirement Board. CRTA also provides support and resources to new teachers.

The Fremont, Union City and Newark (FUN) division was chartered in September 2000 and currently has over 325 members. Eugene Dias, president-elect of the FUN division, is enthusiastic about taking office and is looking forward to finding ways to enhance the division's ability to raise funds.

A California native, Dias taught for over 40 years, 37 in the Newark Unified School District until he retired in 1997. He met his wife Elaine when they were both teachers at Newark High School. His wife, also a retired teacher of 35 years, and Dias work together on the CRTA scholarship program. Since his retirement, Dias has been a substitute teacher and he and his wife actively volunteer at the Ohlone Humane Society's Santa Paws program.

Financial Secretary, Judy Molander is a charter member of the FUN division who taught for 26 years at Warm Springs Elementary, primarily as a 5th grade teacher. She became a computer specialist when the school began receiving Apple IIe computers.

Molander was nominated by a student for outstanding teacher and is listed in Who's Who Among American Teachers. She keeps very busy with her volunteer work at the school library and has been treasurer for her church for over 40 years. Her favorite activity is to volunteer in her granddaughter's classroom. With three granddaughters, she is planning to do this for a long time.

Molander had a reputation of being a fair and firm teacher, respected by many students. That attitude of fair and firm has helped her become effective as a member of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. She assists other members to ensure that health and safety standards are maintained in the school district and proudly reports that every penny goes into programs like retrofitting, security and attending to basic student needs. Molander is proud to promote CRTA's scholarship program and feels that helping beginning teachers is essential to maintaining the profession.

Nancy Couchot, a kindergarten teacher for 29 years, 26 of them at Warm Springs Elementary School, had an experience that changed her life and is using that experience as CRTA's legislative chairwoman.

In November 1996, Couchot wrote a letter to her assembly members because she was angry about her experience with the hospital where she had a modified radical mastectomy as an outpatient. She was not given a chance to stay overnight after her surgery and felt that she was being rushed out.

Then Assemblywoman Liz Figaroa, forwarded Couchot's letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, who incorporated it into a larger health care bill to put a stop to what came to be known as "drive-through mastectomies." Couchot's letter was read into the Congressional Record.

Although federal legislation is still pending on this issue, several states have enacted length-of-stay laws. As of January 1, 1999, women in California can determine, along with their doctors, the length of stay in a hospital without prior approval from insurance companies.

When Couchot heard that a legislative position was available with CRTA, she jumped right in. She has seen that a champion of one can make a difference.

Couchot has two children and four grandchildren. She substitute teaches on occasion and has served on the Newark Unified School District Retention Committee. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and a huge Bears fan.

The FUN division is pleased to sponsor of a scholarship program that is funded not only by book and craft sales, but also by memorial donations, annual Ducks for Bucks Kiwanis Race and donations from members. They are active in community services focusing on Veterans and send magazines and letters to Bay Area Veteran hospitals, make lap blankets for convalesce homes and collect World War II stories for their Library of Congress project.

Any active or retired teacher or those who support the purposes of CRTA can join. Annual membership is $36 and a lifetime membership is $720.

For more information on CRTA please call (510) 797-9704 or visit their website at

Retired Teacher's Week Luncheon
Fremont Senior Center
40086 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont
Tuesday, October 19th
11:30 a.m.
Tickets are $8.
For reservations, please call (510) 797-2462.

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