former PEC member
Despite their different backgrounds, Jerome (Jere) Geiger and Norman Yanitski have something in common: a love and appreciation for teaching in rural Alberta. They are also the latest recipients of Alberta Teachers’ Association honorary memberships, the ATA’s highest honour.
Geiger spent his 41 year career teaching in rural or remote locations across Alberta and Saskatchewan. Although most of that time was spent teaching grades 5 and 6, Geiger is proud to have taught courses in all elementary grades, including serving as a teaching principal.
Yanitski’s education career spans 38 years, and includes 13 years as the superintendent for Black Gold School Division, and received the Inspiring Success Award of Distinction from the Black Gold board of trustees. He was also named one of the top 50 Not-For-Profit CEOs in Alberta by Alberta Venture Magazine for his role as superintendent.
In addition to going over and beyond to ensure students’ success, both recipients are staunch supporters of public education. Geiger says he believes public education is the cornerstone of every society, and that “it has been, and must continue to be, the great equalizer of opportunity in this country.” A tireless advocate for teachers, Geiger spent 10 years as a local president, first with the Wetaskiwin County Local and then Wetaskiwin Local No. 18 and 22 years on the ATA’s Provincial Executive Council, serving as the district representative for the Central West geographic region (now Centre).
Yanitski is also no stranger to the Association, having served as a committee external observer and author for a number of articles for the ATA News. In “Why I Love the Teaching Profession” (ATA Magazine Summer 2019), he reflected on his career in education and credits his decision to become a teacher to his grandfather, who taught in rural Alberta. According to Yanitski, his grandfather showed him that, “as educators, more so than most professions, we have the ability to inspire hope and to ignite possibilities for the future.”
The ATA’s honorary membership is presented annually to individuals who have exhibited an exceptional commitment to public education in Alberta. Its list of recipients includes former lieutenant-governor Lois Hole, former premier Peter Lougheed and former University of Alberta president Myer Horowitz.