Newsletter April 2014

WTA in Transition


By: Dave Najduch, WTA President

The WTA is in transition. Not only will there be a new President and Vice-President in our office come September, there will also be a new Administrative Assistant and Business Agent. Two individuals who have provided long standing and exemplary service to the WTA announced they would be retiring recently.

Henry Shyka is an MTS Staff Officer who’s primary assignment for twenty years has been as the WTA Business Agent. He has been at the Bargaining Table with our Negotiations committee, supported countless individual members through difficult personnel issues, taken a lead role in shaping the Health and Dental programs provided by the WTA and has provide wise counsel through his work with the Executive and WTA Council. I would like to acknowledge and thank Henry on behalf of the membership for his commitment to our organization.

Glenda Shepherd, the WTA Administrative Assistant, announced her retirement effective May 30, 2014 after twenty-five years of exemplary service to the WTA. Glenda has been the voice you hear on the other end of the phone when you have called our office. Her knowledge, expertise and understanding of how our organization operates is second to none. Presidents have come and Presidents have gone, but Glenda has remained as the voice of experience throughout. Beyond the day-to-day operation of the WTA, Glenda has also taken on the complex role of Plan Administrator for Manulife Retirees in our Extended Health Plan and worked with the Group Benefits Committee to help ensure our programs are meeting member needs. As the office has expanded through numerous renovations, it has also been Glenda’s good taste and sense of colour that has shaped our work environment. On behalf of the membership, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you. Your service and commitment to the organization has been very much appreciated and you will be missed.

On a personal note, Henry, Glenda and I have been with the WTA through some challenging and difficult times. Whether it be the WSD threatening to fire an entire Executive for speaking out about an important educational issue or supporting each other through the untimely illness and death of a former President. We have also celebrated the birth of children and grandchildren together. We have helped each other mourn the passing of loved ones. To both Glenda and Henry I would like to say a special thank you for your support and encouragement throughout my various terms in the WTA Office.

Access to personal and compensatory days:

It has been brought to our attention that some members are being told they will not be granted personal days or compensatory days in the month of June. I have brought this issue to HR and they indicated that these days have been and will continue to be granted as long as the provisions in the collective agreement are being followed. If you have been denied access to these days in June, have been told they will not be granted, or have had the short leave form not returned in a timely manner, please contact me at the WTA office.

As always, if you have any comments concerns or questions about the content of this article or any other WTA related item, please call me at the Office at 204-831-7104 or email me at

MTS Awakening Possibilities Conference

By: Nathan Martindale, Vice-President

On Wednesday, April 16th I had the opportunity to attend Awakening Possibilities: The Manitoba Teachers’ Society Conference on Technology. MTS Vice-President Norm Gould and his team organized a wildly successful event that was attended by over 600 people from across Manitoba.

As soon as the keynote speaker, Steve Dembo, kicked off his address I knew it would be the highlight of the conference. His biography states that not only is Steve a former Kindergarten teacher and school Director of Technology but also that he was one of the first educators to use Blogging, Podcasting and Twitter to connect and inspire other educators.

The title of his presentation was Building Bolder Schools: It Doesn’t Hurt to be First. Steve spoke with passion and energy about the need for teachers to embrace the power of digital creation. He had a special talent that few public speakers possess: the ability to both captivate AND engage his audience for the entire time he spoke. Because his presentation incorporated slides, videos, websites and photos and a healthy dose of humour, the audience was listening to him speak, watching the videos on the big screen as well as looking up his examples online all – at the same time! The topic and engaging method of deliver generated a great deal of conversation amongst audience members. It was a refreshing change to feel connected to both the speaker and the other people at my table.

One of the resonating points in his address was that teachers and schools should not be afraid to lead the pack in terms of incorporating current technologies into everyday teaching and school operations. Steve acknowledged the perceived risks associated with serving as a trailblazer but argued that the many benefits are well worth it. He reminded the audience that by not taking the first step into the unknown roadblock to success are created.

Steve quoted Canadian Wayne Gretzky to illustrate the need to look to the future instead of focusing on the past:

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.

Whether a teacher working with students, an administrator leading a school or an Association serving its members, looking to where and what we want to be one, five or even ten years is not only crucial, but vital to our success. Go to where the “puck” will be, blaze a trail and know that the rewards will be worth the risks!

Retirement Reception Information

By: Terry Willerton, Reception Committee Chair

Winnipeg Teachers’ Association Retirement Reception
DATE:   June 11th, 2014

LOCATION:   Shaarey Zedek Synagogue

For more information, please contact Terry Willerton