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By Ed Sibby

On a sunny Saturday morning in San Bernardino, members of Fontana Teachers Association (FTA) held a reception honoring 2022 retirees for their lifetime of commitment to Fontana students. 

Eva Hernandez receives her certificate honoring her retirement.

The event is both celebration and passing of the torch as new executive board members are sworn in for their terms of service. On hand was one of labor history’s living legends, Dolores Huerta, whose life-long contributions to the labor movement span nearly sixty years. Her advocacy has helped ensure the dignity of millions of laborers in the U.S. and beyond. 

FTA retirees and their families also enjoyed the opportunity to say farewell to each other as they begin to turn the page to a more unfettered life. 

The celebration was heightened by the ability to meet for the first time since the pandemic-and members took full advantage of it-catching up with their colleagues from other campuses. Among them, in fitting tribute to the keynote speaker, in attendance were six teachers from Fontana’s Dolores Huerta International Academy.

“Hosting Dolores Huerta here in Fontana, as teachers from the Academy that bears her name celebrate, is emblematic of her abiding impact on public schools in California.” 

FTA President Connie Verhulst

During her speech, Huerta thanked educators who are battling what she described as “fascist” forces attacking messengers of truth. She recounted memories of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats in the 1940s, describing his opposition to cuts in education during WWII, stating “education is the soul of the nation.” Huerta explained, “if’s that’s true, then educators are the administrators of the soul of the nation.” She encouraged educators to stay active and engaged during election season and “…vote for candidates that share your values.” 

After the address, CTA Region 4 Assistant Executive Director Nicole Love led the swearing-in ceremony for the incoming FTA Executive Board. President Verhulst introduced the new board to the audience and thanked members for their voluntary service to FTA in what has been “…another difficult year where our members showed their commitment to the students of Fontana in challenging times.”  


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