Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Race is Run

Although my race was unsuccessful, there is much to celebrate! The following is an email sent to some of my supporters:

Hello, Everyone!

The race is run and those of you who were at
know that I was not successful in my bid to become
Region III VP. I do feel good that I was able to run the
kind of campaign that I wanted to run and that so
of you were supporting me through this past year
campaigning. With a final vote of 102-72 I feel
about coming so close as a relatively unknown vs.

an incumbent. 30 votes is not a mandate!

I am convinced that I need to take a larger role
OEA and will take steps to do just that in the
I believe a good starting point will be
running for
state NEA-RA delegate and, when the seat
running for the OEA Board of Directors.

Thank you to all of you who sent positive thoughts
and support during my campaign! The "roller coaster"
is, indeed, filled with ups and downs. Thank you to
all who gave advice and spent time helping with
calls, letters, and all of the other things needed
a successful campaign. And thank you to those who
helped me financially. I covered more than 3,000 miles
and Vern and I financed most of it; your contributions
allowed me to have first class materials and meet my
goal of putting "boots on the ground" in nearly every
UniServ in Region III.

I'll rest now (heaven knows the past month has taken
a toll on my body!) but I'm not going away soon.
are the OEA!


The Speech

On Friday night of the OEA Representative Assembly I made this speech:

Good evening! I am Judy Trohkimoinen and it is a privilege to be here with you tonight. This weekend we will set OEA’s course for the coming year and make important decisions about how we work together as an Association, our quest for adequate and stable funding, and other important issues that impact public education. I know I am preaching to the choir. We all understand these issues because we face them daily. As an Association we have always worked together to find solutions and we will continue our efforts for years to come.

I’ve spoken with many of you during my year long campaign as I’ve traveled from Baker City across Region III. I can identify with you and want you to know me. My qualifications and experiences speak for themselves so tonight I will share a snapshot that might give you some insight as to my character and values.

The first time I visited the Principal’s office I wasn’t breaking the rules. No, I went of my own accord. There was a change to the playground rules that I thought was unfair. After complaining about it to no avail I decided to take action. I wrote a list of reasons why the rule was unfair and spent most of a Saturday afternoon working on the project. On Monday morning, I marched into the Principal’s office and asked the principal to organize an assembly so I could speak to the student body and rally them to my cause. There would be no assembly; there would be no change in the rule; but he did listen respectfully. I’ve often wondered what he might have said to the school secretary after I’d left his office. You see, I was a second grader.

As an 8-year-old I saw what I thought was an injustice and I set out to correct it, not by throwing a fit but by making a plan and sticking to it. In that moment I became an advocate, a title I wear proudly to this day. It is no wonder that I became an Association leader! Some things just don’t change!

Now is a time when we need strong advocates because many of us are fighting for our professional lives. We nurture and support students every day whether we are in the classroom, the lunch room or the bus barn but we are bogged down by senseless regulations from No Child Left Behind, rising health care costs and salaries that aren’t keeping up with inflation. We work in a crumbling infrastructure with sick buildings that are a danger to both students and staff and we struggle to make ends meet. Still we survive and thrive against the odds.

If you make me your Region III Vice President I will give you my best and most focused effort. I will listen to you, our members and leaders. I will be your advocate to the OEA Board and Executive Committee. I will be your advocate in Salem as we work to find solutions for adequate and stable funding, for affordable health care and finding state responses to the federal NCLB. I will work with President Wolf and the rest of the Executive Committee to find the best solutions to meet the needs of members from Portland to Paisley; from Eugene to Umatilla and from Brookings Harbor to Baker City. I will support and respect the OEA President, Vice President and Executive Committee but most of all; I will support and respect the will of the members as represented by you sitting here tonight.

I am asking for your vote. Vote Judy T. for Region III: Judy Trohkimoinen, for OEA Region III Vice President. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Day, Another Mock RA

This is 2008 but sometimes I feel like one of the emigrants who traveled the Oregon Trail. This past year I have logged thousands of campaign miles and have traveled much of Oregon (my last trip was more than 1,000 miles). Certainly my journeys have been safer and more comfortable than those of the pioneers jumping off from St. Louis or Independence, MO, but they have been both memorable and interesting.

On Saturday, April 12, I attended the Cascade UniServ Council Mock RA. There were 24 delegates present, all of them interested in the process. Many asked good questions about the budget and about some of the action items we will address at the RA. One delegate, a 5th Grade TAG teacher, had just had 3 students suspended. Ah, the joys of post spring break hormones!

Monday, April 14, I attended the Southern Oregon's Mock RA at Medford. This was a room full of delegates! Southern Oregon does a tremendous job of engaging members to keep them active. I had the opportunity to visit with Rogue River's president about life post-strike. The community has done a better job of supporting its educators and the ESP members were able to resolve their contract without striking because of what teachers had done the year before. Still there is work to be done and there are challenges in working in a small district.

Tonight I attended my own Eastern Oregon Mock RA in Baker City. We were a small but energetic group as we listened to each of the candidates and then discussed the particulars of the coming RA.

This was the last Mock/Mini RA and we are all headed west to Portland for the weekend where we will make decisions both about who will lead us and about what our priorities will be in the coming year. I look forward to seeing democracy in action once again and am hopeful about my chances in the upcoming election. Serving Region III would be a privilege!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

1,063 Miles

The campaign trail is a long and winding road! My last trip logged in at 1,063 miles and made a large loop through Oregon, from Baker City to Klamath Falls , to Roseburg and home to Baker City.
The April showers this time were snow showers! It snowed hard on U.S. 97 between Bend and Klamath Falls on Sunday and the flurries continued Tuesday over the pass into Ashland but the worst was yet to come! It was snowing and blowing at midnight as we drove over the Blue Mountains from Pendleton to LaGrande. Naturally, there were four snow plows on the road; all were traveling from east to west instead of west to east!

The good news was that I was able to visit with OEA members from the Lake-Klamath UniServ and Douglas County. I heard from a retired archaeologist turned alternative education instructor who lamented the lack of funding, consistency and solidarity in alt ed programs. He noted that many staff in alt ed programs are not Association members when they are at high risk for incidents by virtue of the students whom they serve. I heard from a cook concerned that elementary students and high school students are eating the same portion sizes with only 2 oz. of protein per lunch while older students pay more for their meals than elementary students. Cooks are stuck with menus that fail to allow for differences in school culture or allow them to prepare favorite meals from the past. And I heard from a first-year teacher who is a former construction contractor now working in a sixth grade classroom in Camas Valley where contract mediation will start soon and school board members are saying "My way or the highway." Each of these members are facing different challenges but turn to OEA for help and support. We offer strength for all members.

I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to members from across Region III and to speak with them about education issues. I hope to serve them as Region III Vice President.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

On the Campaign Trail

I've been out on the campaign trail this week. So far I've logged 740 miles attending just two Mock RAs with much more to come this week. The photo at left is the Oregon Trail as it crosses the Blue Mountains. I often think of those travelers as I drive I-84 over the Blues and down the Columbia Gorge. Certainly my ride is more comfortable than their ever was!

It was a beautiful afternoon/evening to travel on Wednesday to the Mt. Hood UniServ Micro (clever; it was at a local microbrewery!) RA. Coming home the sky was clear and the stars were bright through Henry's moon roof.

The room was cold for beer storage but the people were warm.
After I had spoken to the group, I was asked whether I've made arrangements to do the duties of Region III Vice President and how I could manage being from a place as small and "far flung" as Baker City.

An excellent question! My Principal, Superintendent and School Board support my quest and know that if elected it will mean 20-25 days out of my classroom per year. Naturally OEA will pay for the substitute expenses so it really costs the district nothing. And I am blessed with two good friends who happen to be retired elementary music teachers. They are familiar with my classroom and materials and each is willing to substitute for me when the need arises. It is good to know that my students will learn music from certified music teachers when I am out of the classroom! I have the added advantage of a retired husband who is willing to chauffeur from time to time.

Thursday evening was the Columbia River UniServ Council Mock RA in Umatilla (actually, it was in the tiny town of McNary, next to the McNary Dam). Barb Gornick drove us to to Hermiston where we picked up Sharon Shannon. It was a lively drive home!

This is an active UniServ for its size and is sending 21 delegates to OEA RA. The dinner was wonderful and the conversation interesting. For this event each candidate was given 2 minutes to speak and no one asked any questions.

I felt good about both events and was comfortable with speaking to the groups. The most important part of campaigning is having the opportunity to visit with members and listen to their stories. There will be more listening this week!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Have wheels, will travel!

This is "Henry" my trusty HHR (short for "heritage high roof"). A few years ago Chevy got into the retro look and came up with this design based on the 1949 Chevy Suburban.

In May of 2006 because of all of my statewide involvement I'd driven my trusty Cavalier into the ground (more than 100,000 miles in just over 4 years!) and was looking for a new vehicle. The HHR was a standout because it not only has lots of room for gear of all sorts (if you're interested, ask what my husband and I do for fun in the summer!) but has a highway mileage rating of 30 mpg. It has the added benefit of a 6 CD changer, XM satellite radio and Onstar, giving me entertainment and safe communication for those long trips across the state. SOLD!

One of the unwritten requirements of the OEA Region III Vice President is having reliable transportation. The Regional VP is expected to attend meetings not only at OEA Headquarters in Portland but UniServ meetings in Coos Bay, Klamath Falls, Medford, Redmond, Roseburg, Pendleton, Hood River and yes, Baker City with side trips to Salem, Eugene and other points west. As a Wyoming native and 19 year resident of Eastern Oregon travel is second nature (when Baker City's only theater was closed a few years ago I thought nothing of a 90 mile round trip for a movie, sometimes on a school night!). I have several maps, studded tires and a healthy respect for the road.

Henry is covered in snow and a layer of winter road film at the moment, but with a good brushing and a fill-up he's ready to be called to action. Have wheels, will travel!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trying to get my ducks in a row.

So far I'm enjoying spring break. For those of us in education it is a welcome relief from "March Madness." This month we are not only helping our students with their latest round of government-ordered tests/assessments but witnessing an awesome display of hormones in full-bloom. Our fifth-graders just aren't the same kids they were back in December! Of course as spring progresses things only intensify. Which is why spring break is so important to our mental and physical health!

When April arrives I will be spending a good deal of time traveling to UniServ Mock/Mini Ra's across Region III so this year spring break will be spent at home, getting my ducks in a row. I've already had some time in the garden to make room for spring growth. Here in eastern Oregon it is still quite early to put out flowers I find myself fighting the urge to at least look at pansies and consider fertilizing my roses. I've taken care of routine maintenance; there was a trip to my family doctor and one to the local salon. I spent just an hour at school tying up odds and ends so I could relax at home guilt-free and have run some household errands around town. I will likely break out the household cleaning supplies and vacuum up the latest layer of hair my three lovely kitties have deposited throughout the house (According to Barb Gornick no outfit is complete without cat hair and I'm inclined to agree). All in all it has been relaxing so far.

I'm also taking this time to make campaign plans and get my ducks in a row with regard to people and places. It will be fun to travel again and meet members across the state. One thing I can say for certain: OEA members are not dull!

So until April comes you know where to find me. Quack!