I’d like you to meet Jim Frenette. He’s more than my dad. He’s also a retired teacher.
In Tupper Lake, where I grew up, teachers were — and still are — a respected profession. It wasn’t just me and my family who looked up to him, whether he was wearing his school shoes or his hiking boots. He is a longtime community volunteer and leader in my hometown.
Working in NYSUT’s communications department, it’s common to have stories about teaching families. It’s not surprising to hear that some of the most inspiring teachers came from teaching families. Or read that teachers are married to teachers. Teaching is a calling and it does run in families. Here’s a link from 2003 where a granddaughter gets teaching tips from her grandmother. This teaching family even wrote a book.
If you’ve seen the “Generations” video, you can imagine how proud I am that it celebrates teaching families and that’s my father willing to stand up against a bad pension proposal.
He agreed to do the ad because he believes in fairness. He believes in justice — especially as a former town judge.
My dad taught at the elementary school in Tupper Lake, where my sisters Sarah and Margaret now teach. Margaret’s daughter, Gretchen O’Leary, is the beautiful high school girl in the video — she’s the next generation.
My brother Peter teaches at Petrova Middle School in Saranac Lake, where his wife Jennie also teaches.
My father’s mother Anne Frenette was a teacher.
But I wonder what it will be like for my nieces who consider teaching as one career possibility. What will it be like for them?
Teachers aren’t asking for a handout or golden parachute. My Dad gets a small pension – it was part of the agreement he accepted because he loved teaching, and because he knew while his salary was not large, he would be helped along by a small pension when he retired.
If you want to keep public service pensions secure for the next generation, please call 877-255-9417 now or go to mac.nysut.org to take action. The phone number will patch you through to your lawmaker. Ask them to say no to a sixth tier that diminishes pensions to an even lower level, and one that is not as safe for future workers.