Jere Geiger accepts his honorary membership award during ARA on May 22.
A passion for public education and teaching was the source and inspiration of the hard work, determination and success achieved by the two most recent recipients of honorary membership in the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
Jerome (Jere) Geiger and Norman Yanitski each received the ATA’s highest honour during the Annual Representative Assembly that took place over the May long weekend.
“Public education is the great equalizer in an unequal world,” said Geiger in his acceptance speech. “This is why it must be protected.”
Yanitski agreed, saying that even in his role as an administrator he kept his purpose front of mind: put students first.
“Educators have the ability to inspire hope,” he said.
Both recipients took a moment to honour their families and ATA colleagues for their support, as well as to acknowledge their fellow teachers.
“Teachers give kids the tools to enter the world and solve its problems,” said Geiger. “That’s why the public teaching profession must be protected.”
Yanitski applauded teachers for their work during the pandemic.
“What a year we have had,” he said. “Teachers have shown such dedication to students this year. As educators, you can be proud.”
Geiger is a 41-year teaching veteran who spent most of his career in elementary school classrooms in rural or remote locations across Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Yanitski’s education career spans 38 years, and includes 13 years as the superintendent for Black Gold School Division. Both also served teachers through the ATA: Geiger as a local president and district representative and Yanitski as an external committee observer.
When presenting the award to Geiger, Association president Jason Schilling shared how much he admired Geiger’s tenacity when it came to standing up for public education and teachers.
“He is not afraid of asking the tough questions and he is not afraid of doing the work needed to advance public education in Alberta and Canada,” Schilling said. “Quite simply, he is fearless.”
In his introduction of Yanitski, past-president Greg Jeffrey spoke about Yanitski’s dedication to his colleagues everywhere he worked.
“I have known Norm for 30 years and was always impressed by the care he took of others — his staff and his students,” Jeffrey said. “He was involved in every aspect of the life of the school in which he was working.” ❚
The ATA’s honorary membership is presented annually to members of the Association or other persons who have given meritorious service to the teaching profession or to the advancement of public education. Its list of recipients includes former lieutenant-governor Lois Hole, former premier Peter Lougheed and former University of Alberta president Myer Horowitz.
Norman Yanitski expresses his gratitude after receiving an honorary membership in the Alberta Teachers’ Association.