Under the theme “Celebrating 50 Years of Service,” nearly 60 retired educators and special guests gathered at East Georgia State College on May 18 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Emanuel Retired Educators Association.
For 50 years, the organization has worked to improve benefits for educators, promote education and its importance, and award annual scholarships to students planning to become teachers.
In 1972, a group of 15 retired teachers founded the local chapter, 14 years after formation of the Georgia Retired Teachers Association in 1958. Alene Shaw, Georgia Retired Teachers District 1 Director, met with the group. Once the charter had been created, the group held its first regular meeting January 8, 1973 in the library of Swainsboro High School, which was then located on West Church Street. Gene Sanders served as the first president. Originally named the “Emanuel Retired Teachers Association,” the organization changed its name in 1998 to “Emanuel Retired Educators Association” (EREA) after the state organization changed its name to “Georgia Retired Educators Association.” The change was made in an effort to embrace everyone who is involved in educating children and youth, not just teachers.
During the May 18 anniversary celebration, charter members as well as past-presidents of EREA were recognized and acknowledged for their guidance in building a strong foundation within the organization.
Twenty-nine retired educators have served as president, 15 of whom are still living. Area 6 GREA Director Dr. Connie Cooper installed the 30th president, Jean Schwabe, along with President-Elect Judy Hendrix, Secretary Cherie Hooks, Treasurer Lena Nwakudu, and Past-President Bobbie Daughtry.
The group was honored with state and local officials in attendance, including Representative Butch Parrish, Twin City Mayor Matt Donaldson, Emanuel County Schools Superintendent Scotty Hattaway, Emanuel County Institute Principal Anetria Edenfield, and Swainsboro Elementary School Principal Valerie Watkins. Former Emanuel County Schools Superintendents Butch Frye and Erma Jenkins were also present.
In addition, several officials from the state organization were present for the event, including GREA Executive Director Dr. Bill Sloan, GREA Director of Communications Johnny Smith, GREA President Dr. Henrietta Gray, GREA President-elect Joe Boland, and GREA Area 6 Director Dr. Connie Cooper. Both Dr. Gray and Dr. Cooper presented certificates to EREA President Bobbie Daughtry commemorating the special occasion.
Mark Sweat, minister and retired middle school instructor, provided a humorous and inspirational program encouraging attendees to keep being fruitful.
Kade Youmans, son of Randy and Karen Youmans, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship by the organization. Dr. John Derden and Syvetta Young made the presentation. He is currently attending East Georgia State College majoring in education. In his scholarship application, he wrote, “For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a teacher. I feel like it is my calling.” He has been named to both the dean’s merit list and the dean’s honor list while at East Georgia. When he finishes at East Georgia, Youmans plans to transfer to the University of Georgia to pursue a bachelor’s degree in special education.
The Emanuel Retired Educators Association would like to thank the Mill Creek Foundation for its generous donation for the year-long celebration. In addition to the anniversary luncheon event, bookmarks and pencils were provided to students and employees of the local school district. EREA history moments were also shared through the local media.