The IEA has marked a “changing of the guard” in its Region 6 (Eastern Idaho) office. On September 8, we gathered in Idaho Falls to bid a fond farewell to Peggy Park. Peggy’s friends and colleagues shared many anecdotes about her gentle wit, calm demeanor, and dedication to the cause of public education.
After teaching in Eastern Idaho, Peggy joined the IEA in 1990 and worked as director in Regions 1 (North Idaho) and 4 (the Magic Valley) before returning to Idaho Falls and the Region 6 job in 2003. As she said when announcing her retirement, “I especially cherish the relationships I have been able to foster with staff and members, and the trust they have placed in me. I appreciate the chances for growth and for participation in exciting, challenging, and sometimes frustrating organizing opportunities.”
Peggy has been succeeded by John Whetzel, who started work as Region 6 Director on September 1. John comes to Idaho from Arizona, where he had 14 years of experience in classroom teaching, member advocacy, and association leadership. In addition, John has served for the past three years as a member of the Arizona Education Association Advocacy Team. In introducing himself to his colleagues, John reported that his favorite novel is The Brothers Karamazov; he makes “a mean chili”; and his main inspirational figures are basketball coach John Wooden, military strategist Sun Tzu, and Battle of Tours hero Charles Martel. He also says, “I'd rather read a mediocre book than see a good movie,” and he’s a fan of the Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club, a soccer team from London.
The IEA will soon be saying goodbye to another staff member. Ellen Currie (pictured here at right with John and Peggy) spent 14 years as a classroom teacher in her native Ohio and 21 years in association work in Ohio and Kentucky before moving to Idaho in 2005. She joined the IEA as Director of Bargaining and Research, later becoming Director of Organizational Development. Always a passionate advocate for public schools, Ellen retires with the enduring belief that “a good education is still the most essential thing for us to really give our children what they need to be successful in the world.”
Ellen also filled in as a director in several IEA regional offices during recent vacancies, and she says she’ll most miss visiting with educators in the field and “hearing about their triumphs as well as their trials.” She and her husband Tim have built a retirement home south of Bend, Oregon, where Ellen hopes to pursue her interests of photography and geology, as well as visiting with their children and grandkids around the West and doing volunteer work in her new community.
October 1 will be Ellen’s last day at the IEA. Her staff colleagues will celebrate with her at a retirement party shortly before that. If you’d like to send Ellen a message of congratulations before she leaves, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We all wish Ellen and Peggy long, happy retirements, and we are pleased to welcome John to the IEA.