The Columbus Education Association is also called the Capital District. It is one of 10 district associations that comprise the Ohio Education Association. Association members from these districts elect 2/3 of the OEA’s board of directors. The concept is similar to state government, with each association electing a different number of representatives based on its total membership enrollment. In addition, the Capital District, as well as each of the other nine districts, has a representative on each OEA committee.
Here are our Capital District officers:
Kriston Crombie Stotik, President
Kriston Crombie Stotik, Capital District President, brings to the position 17 years of teaching and association experience. Stotik has been working for CCS since 1998, teaching English at Centennial High School and working as a staff development specialist at Northgate Center. She now teaches English at Eastmoor Academy.
She began her CEA service as an alternative Faculty Representative in 2002.
“My former administration was very challenging and necessitated that we have strong union leadership,” she said. “Some of their actions ran counter to our contract and just basic human decency so I stepped up and made sure that (CEA President) Rhonda (Johnson) and (Vice President) Traci (Johnson) were a presence in my building as I worked through the administration-created minefield. It worked, and I developed a working relationship that allowed us all to get along. “
The experience inspired her. “I remember thinking that I wanted to fight for teachers, our working conditions, and the needs of the teachers and students,” she said. “I’ve always thought that we needed to emphasize the connection between our working conditions and student’s learning conditions. They are one and the same.”
Stotik then became a Senior FR, and in 2010 won election to the OEA Board of Directors. She has been Capital District President since 2014. Stotik also has served on the LPDC since 2007 and has lead the committee since 2014. She also is a member of the CEA Constitution-and-Bylaws and Social Justice Committees. “With my background in Professional Learning, I felt that I had much to offer. Capital functions as the professional development wing of our association,” she said.
The fight against SB 5 is for her an emblem of what it means to be in an association. “We need to remain vigilant and ready for action as an organization,” she said. “Teachers’ associations are the only thing standing between strong public schools for our nation’s children and their exploitation for profit.”
Gerry Curran is vice president of the Capital District – one in a series of positions he has won in service to the Association. “I was attracted to CEA right from the beginning of my teaching career,” he said. “I have always been a student of American history and clearly understand the importance that the labor movement has played in making our country great and prosperous.”
Curran is a special education teacher, now in his 22nd year in CCS. He has taught at Beechcroft and Independence high schools, Champion Middle School, and Burroughs Elementary School. He also serves as a PAR (Peer Assistance & Review) Consulting Teacher. He became Senior Faculty Representative at Champion and Burroughs and was a founding member of the CEA Social and Economic Justice Committee. Curran then served for three years on the OEA Legislative Committee and on the State Council of the OEA’s political action arm, the Fund for Children and Public Education. He has been a delegate to the OEA Representative Assembly 18 times, to the NEA Representative Assembly twice, and has attended every Capital District assembly.
It was after the defeat of Senate Bill 5 that he ran for a Capital District office. The mammoth effort by unions across the state to block the union-busting legislation left a deep impression.
“I was deeply involved in our campaign,” Curran said. “I collected hundreds of signatures during the petition drive and spent countless hours at the Statehouse arm-in-arm with my sisters and brothers letting our voices be heard.
“As we all enjoyed the thrill of that victory, I realized it would be just the first step as anti-union forces would stop at nothing to turn back the clock to the semi-feudal conditions teachers experienced in the past. With the coming and going of SB 5, I understood how vital our association is, not only to our livelihood, but also to our dignity.”
Dorothy Wilson, Business Advisor
Dorothy Wilson retired from CCS after serving the district for 35 years, as a first-grade teacher, middle school reading specialist and staff development specialist. Throughout her career, she has been a mentor and leader, especially when it comes to matters of diversity within association leadership.
Wilson has served as an OEA Board of Director, CEA Board of Governor, an NEA director and leader of the Capital District. She has chaired many committees, including, for more than two decades,, the Minority Involvement Program. Her work has included training minority members in the leadership training program, encouraging them to be vocal and involved and sharing their skills and talents with the organization. She has served at the national level encouraging associations to work toward collective-bargaining rights and to make their voices heard.
In 2007, Wilson received the Helen Jenkins Davis Award, bestowed at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Dinner. The award is given in honor of the work of the district’s first black teacher.
At that ceremony, then-CEA President Rhonda Johnson said, “Dorothy is known for balance, equality and professionalism.” Wilson makes it a point never to attend an event without bringing along a new potential leader. She said nurturing others is her priority. “I always bring someone along with me so they can see the operation and entice them to join and be part of it,” she said. “I just feel I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity. As an African American, I know how it is to break into what we call the mainstream. I’ve always had people to nourish me to grow, and I want to leave the legacy of helping others.”
Secretary Dominique Vacheresse is a new teacher, but she is already heavily involved in our work at CEA. Vacheresse spent the 2013-2014 school year at Medina Middle School, specializing in teaching youngsters with emotional disturbances. Now, following her first year on the job, she is the newly appointed Association Secretary.
“Often teaching is a thankless job, and I feel the union goes through great lengths to support teachers so they don’t feel unappreciated and neglected,” she said. “I found the union to be very helpful when dealing with issues with my principal.”
Vacheresse attended school in central Ohio, at Indianola Elementary, Mifflin Middle School, Eastmoor High School and Walnut Ridge High School, and graduated from Olentangy High School. She was completing her master’s degree in education while Senate Bill 5 raged at the Statehouse, and decided she had to get involved.
“I attended the Democratic Party state dinner and participated in the Pride parade,” she said. “I appreciate the work the union does with various organizations in efforts to protect and serve teachers. Education is vital to creating productive members of society. I want Columbus to have effective and efficient teachers. In order to recruit and retain the best teachers I believe we need a strong support system. I want to be a part of that system. I hope I am able to help strengthen CEA and Columbus City Schools which in the end strengthen our students.”
Learn more at www.ohea.org.