Retirees celebrate Gladys Durant’s life and share election energy
By Scott McLennan
T he 15th annual Retired Members Gathering honored longtime MTA activist Gladys Durant, who died in June. And the gathering
itself reflected her can-do spirit, as numerous retired
members committed to participating in the campaign
to defeat Question 2.
The event, held Sept. 28 at the Sheraton
Framingham Hotel and Conference Center, also
offered workshops and social opportunities, along
with updates from MTA leadership.
Retired Members Committee Co-Chairs Kathleen
Roberts and Richard Liston welcomed the hundreds of
attendees, who in turn gave Roberts a standing ovation
in recognition of her recent 102nd birthday.
Liston addressed the attendees, saying, “While
we may have left our classrooms, we never left this
profession — and I know you are all committed to
our active members and our public school students
He highlighted a new mentoring initiative
between retirees and the Student Educators
Association of Massachusetts, or SEAM, and he
commended the success that retirees achieved in
gathering signatures last year to move the Fair
Share Amendment toward the ballot in 2018. The
amendment would raise revenue for public education
and transportation through an additional 4 percent
tax on annual income over $1 million.
L iston urged his fellow retirees to be involved in the Save Our Public Schools campaign to defeat ballot Question 2, which seeks to lift
the cap on charter schools. Many heeded the call by
signing up for various actions and picking up “No on
2” yard signs to display in their neighborhoods.
“There is a lot of rhetoric being presented
by charter school proponents,” Liston said. “But
Massachusetts public schools are the best in the
country. That’s because we did a good job. We made
a difference in the lives of so many students, as our
active teachers currently do, and our future teachers,
with our support, will continue to do.”
MTA Vice President Erik J. Champy applauded
the retirees, telling them, “We stand on your
shoulders. You fought the fights that have been
so important to educators and students.” Further,
Champy acknowledged many individuals at the
gathering for nurturing his path to leadership.
MTA President Barbara Madeloni praised the
professionalism of the retirees, calling them and
active educators “experts in our field.”
In opposing Question 2, she said, “we have
an amazing opportunity to be leaders in protecting
Executive Director-Treasurer Ann Clarke wore
two hats — literally — as she addressed the crowd.
First she donned a “Save Our Public Schools”
cap to emphasize the MTA’s commitment to the No
on 2 campaign. Then, as the audience applauded,
she took off that hat and put on a cap bearing the
trademark “H” of the Hillary Clinton presidential
campaign. Clarke noted the importance of both
defeating the ballot question and making sure that
Clinton prevails over Donald Trump in the election.
Presentation of the Honor Our Own award is a
highlight of the gathering each year. Typically, the
Retired Members Committee solicits nominations.
But this year the committee itself decided to
recognize Durant, who died June 4 at the age of 75.
Durant taught for more than 30 years in the
Attleboro Public Schools and remained active in
both her local association and the MTA throughout
“She was one of a kind, a force of nature,”
Durant’s son, Michael, accepted the award and
described his mother as someone who was passionate
about social justice and education.
“Whenever there was an election, she made sure
we knew how important it was to vote,” he said,
adding with a laugh: “And my mother always made
sure we knew whom or what to vote for.”
Durant was an active member of the Retired
Members Committee at the time of her death. She
held other leadership positions in the MTA and had
received the Honor Our Own award in 2010.
A couple of annual attractions were in full
swing again this year. Mary Gilmore, a former
MTA president, was stationed once again at a table
featuring a fund-raising raffle for the Voice of
Teachers for Education.
Another staple of the event is the donation of
school supplies to a district with a high level of need.
This year, attendees donated numerous items to the
Southbridge Public Schools.
Durant’s son, Michael, accepted the
award and described his mother
as someone who was passionate
about social justice and education.
The annual Retired Members
Gathering, held on Sept. 28
in Framingham, provided
MTA retirees with a chance
to network, share a meal
and hear speeches from
MTA leaders. The event
reflected the activist spirit
of Gladys Durant, who died
in June. The committee
recognized her contributions
with this year’s Honor Our
Own award. In the photo
at left, Durant’s son,
Michael, got a kiss from
Retired Members Committee
Co-Chair Kathleen Roberts
after accepting the award on
his mother’s behalf. Roberts,
for her part, received a
standing ovation to mark
her recent 102nd birthday.
Photos by Scott McLennan