Tracey Johnson is CEA’s President.
Johnson’s formal service to CEA began when she became a PAR consultant. In 2000, she extended her participation to committee work.
“I met Dorothy Wilson at an event,” said Johnson. “Dorothy invited me to join the MIP committee. She stated it was important for me to become actively involved in the association. It is because of her personal invitation that I am where I am today.”
Johnson taught for 15 years, at Fair Elementary School and at Linmoor, Johnson Park and Yorktown middle schools. A native of Mobile, Ala., Johnson was raised in Cincinnati and graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts, a Cincinnati public school.
Johnson served on the Columbus Education Association’s bargaining committee and on the CEA Board of Governors as a Middle School Governor-at-Large. She has represented CEA at the NEA Assembly and received CEA’s Distinguished Service Award.
“My main goal is to build the capacity of the membership at every level. I want our members to feel empowered to use their voices,” she said. “This comes through knowledge and experience. I want the membership to engage in the work of the association, but I understand they need the tools to be able to do that.”
One of Johnson’s memorable moments was helping a colleague fight an unfair termination effort.
“The teacher had received awesome evaluations prior to working in her current building,” said Johnson. “The year started off fine, until the day she challenged her administrator. He went from naming her Teacher of the Month to wanting her fired. He attempted to do a special evaluation and created tons of false documentation about her teaching performance. Needless to say, he was not successful. I was able to get the district to give her another chance in another building. She was very successful and as a result is still employed and one of our most active CEA members.”
Johnson has a son, Gregory, who attends Columbia College in Chicago. In her spare time — when she has some — she enjoys reading and singing on the praise team at her church.
In 2001, Phil Hayes “put his name in the hat” for a faculty representative position at Brookhaven High School. It wasn’t long before a few meetings during the month turned into a full-time occupation. Hayes emerged from Room 18 — his social studies classroom for 14 years — to serve as a committee chair, a member of the bargaining team, and a delegate to the NEA and OEA assemblies. He also put his computer skills to work as CEA’s electronic outreach coordinator.
Today, the central Ohio native, Columbus’ Teacher of the Year for 2001-2002, is getting ready to serve his second term as CEA vice president, and he’s thrilled to be a leader of the state’s most progressive teachers’ association. Hayes was the first classroom teacher to testify against Senate Bill 5, and he has strong memories of those days not so long ago.Today, the central Ohio native, Columbus’ Teacher of the Year for 2001-2002, is getting ready to serve his second term as CEA vice president, and he’s thrilled to be a leader of the state’s most progressive teachers’ association. Hayes was the first classroom teacher to testify against Senate Bill 5, and he has strong memories of those days not so long ago.
“When it came time to go to the hearing room, all of the witnesses were put in an elevator from the first floor of the statehouse to the second floor,” he said. “We had to cross the rotunda, filled to the brim with SB 5 opponents on a skywalk. When we started to walk across, they knew we were there to testify against the bill. They began to cheer. It was the most humbling and exhilarating moment I’ve ever had — a firsthand example of the power of unions. We are not to be trifled with.”
Hayes says his most important task is a simple and important one: “To represent the members to the best of my ability and to support the president of the CEA.”
Angel Dyer-Sanchez knew she wanted to teach, but almost missed the chance. Her strong bent for leadership, nurtured by 11 years of corporate work experience, placed her unintentionally at odds with her building administrator. The administrator suddenly declared Angel, who had an education degree and a reputation as a skilled educator, unfit for the job. She turned to CEA for help.
“While the administrator was trying to get me fired, my union was working successfully on my behalf to show that the administrator’s opinion of me was unfounded,” she said.
That is why Angel has been deeply involved in the Association’s work. Teaching first at Avalon, then Windsor, and now, Salem ES, where she teaches today, Dyer-Sanchez became the Senior Faculty Representative. The more she learned about CEA’s effectiveness and its vital role in protecting teachers’ rights and working cooperatively toward district reform, the more she wanted to do. Her goal was to become a District Governor. As she begins service, she urges fellow educators to get involved in the Association. CEA supports classroom protections, professional development and teacher training. And, it advocates on behalf of the district’s children and families.
At the core, is the union’s support of individual teachers who make all of it possible. “If it weren’t for the union advocating for me, I might not be a teacher today,” she said
Carla Davis isn’t one to sit on the sidelines. When the staff and administrator in her building were increasingly at odds, she stepped in. She ran for CEA Faculty Representative and won. Then she got to work, drawing in the ABC and her colleagues and team building. Now, the staff and the principal at Forest Park ES work better together. Davis, a Math CCIT at Forest Park ES, continued her CEA service as FR for another year and as alternate for four subsequent years.
When she saw that teaching rights were threatened, Davis joined the fight that defeated Senate Bill 5, working the phone bank and canvassing. She helped register people to vote and promoted pro-education candidates, starting with Obama in 2008.
Last year, the 17-year teaching veteran, whose two children attend Columbus City Schools, ran for district governor and now represents District 2. Her husband, Randy-a union member himself for many years, through his job at AT&T-is behind her all the way.
Davis says she finds power in solidarity. “When we would go to the District LA, I would meet a lot of people. I like talking to people and seeing what’s working and what we could change in our building.”
It’s also about the contract. “I came from a non-union state, Mississippi. Everything the administrators told us to do, we did,” she said. She often talks with colleagues about the importance of knowing their rights.
“A lot of times you have the contract, but you don’t really look at it,” she said. Davis encourages fellow CEA members to look in the contract book and become familiar with the hard-won rights they must protect. “Know what’s grievable,” she said.
District 3 Governor Mike Smith
Mike Smith has been inching toward CEA service all his life. His father, a retired U.S. Postal Worker, was active with his association, including leading the APWU Springfield chapter. “Over the years we have had many rich discussions about the worker-corporation relationship,” Smith said. So when he saw changes in the level of respect for teachers and for unions — especially at the Statehouse — he had to make his move. He became an Alternative and then Senior Faculty Rep at Huy Elementary, now Huy A.G. Bell.
“We are under attack,” said Smith, a two-decade teaching veteran who formerly taught at Fair Alternative and Northtowne Elementary. “And with what our fellow teachers have been going through. It’s time for people to stop staying on the sidelines.”
Smith, who begins the school year in a Grade 4/5 classroom, said the most important aspect of union service is, for him, the ability to solve problems as a unit. Early in his CEA service he enjoyed attending meetings where he learned about the spectrum of issues facing CCS teachers and saw people working together to find solutions.
Smith also taught in Hamilton Township Schools for five years, and has seen the challenges faced by a small school district with fewer resources and the value union membership brings. His goal as District 3 Governor, he said, is to encourage other association members to get involved. “I am glad we still have unions,” he said. “We as workers need to pull our weight, but everyone does. And we need to keep administrations everywhere accountable. Across the country, it’s getting out of balance.”
Smith maintains a balance between teaching, CEA service and his time away from the district. When he isn’t working, Smith enjoys time with his two daughters, both in college, and outings kayaking and fishing. “On Saturdays I’m rooting for my (University of Akron) Zips and Bucks,” he said. “On Sunday, I’m yelling at my Browns!
District 4 Governor Faye Love
Faye Love knows the CEA Master Agreement from cover to cover. In fact, she has a copy in her car so she can be ready to answer questions.
“I call it the ‘Testament According to CEA,” she said, and she likes to emphasize its importance as often as possible.
Love, a teacher at Linden Pre-K Elementary School, said she has learned since she began her CCS service that “the main thing people knew about the union was that they could get help if they needed it, but they didn’t know it contained things they should be doing, or could do. I tell them, ‘If your classroom has 30 kids, or if you are asked to do something that isn’t in the contract, don’t just accept that. You have to say something, because if you don’t, it will keep happening.’ ”
Love became involved with CEA shortly after moving to Columbus in 2002. She was teaching at North Linden Elementary School then, and she got to know CEA President Tracey Johnson at their church. Johnson encouraged her to get involved in the work of the Association, and “find my niche.” Love took her energy to Lincoln Park Elementary, and then the pre-K school, where she became her school’s Senior Faculty Representative.
In 2011 she took a three-year break from classroom teaching to serve as a PAR Consultant, and spoke with many teachers about the challenges of their jobs, especially those they encountered working with children from varying backgrounds. She took course work in mentoring to improve her effectiveness in the classroom and with CEA. Upon returning to Linden Pre-K, Love decided her next step would be to run for District 4 Governor.
“As a governor, I’m able to support the FRs in all the buildings, who in turn support the teachers,” she said. “And now I see people I have taught with who are getting involved, too. They realize that this is the work we need to do.”
District 5 Governor Jeannette Johnson
Jeannette has used CEA as a resource since she began teaching at Koebel Elementary School in 1989. When teachers there did not get all the supplies they needed, she turned to her FR and District Governor volunteered to help resolve the problem. “It was one of our big concerns, because teachers have out-of-pocket supply costs,” she said. Soon, with CEA’s help, her building received additional computers and textbooks.
Colleagues also began urging her to get more involved in the Association.
Ultimately, Johnson became an alternate Faculty Representative, and then her school’s Senior FR. Through her service, she began to learn more about the art of diplomacy. “I’ve always worked with all the administrators,” she said. “We try to take care of a lot of things in-house. It works. We have come to complete agreement and made changes. It’s all about building that relationship.”
Johnson’s dedication continued during her years teaching a variety of grade levels at Koebel, Stewart Traditional and Berwick K-8 Alternative, where she now teaches third grade. She served on many committees, including Grade Card Development, Crisis Team, Formative Assessment, and Negotiations. She currently serves on the Joint Evaluation Panel.
During the fight to defeat Senate Bill 5, Johnson was on the front lines. She was amazed how involved teachers became, bringing along their families to Statehouse rallies and putting in lots of hours beyond the school day. “It was very powerful,” she said. “Especially seeing Governor Strickland come in. It was phenomenal. This is democracy at work, when you can have that voice.”
In 2014-2015, Johnson joined the NEA’s Teacher Leadership Initiative, and was also invited to sit on a panel with the state superintendent and OEA to represent members in a statewide discussion about testing. After that, she said, “Everything just came together, and I felt I had a lot more to offer.”
As a Governor, Johnson said she enjoys educating teachers about the Association. “I tell the first-year teachers that our unions do more than grievances. There are so many ways for you to grow as an educator. You have to get involved. You have to know what’s coming. We have to have a place at the table.”
District 6 Governor Kim Ogilbee
Kim Ogilbe’s son is about to become a teacher. There is little doubt his mom will remind him how important his labor association is — especially as unions face ever-increasing criticism. Ogilbe’s own involvement in CEA changed her professional life, particularly when she saw the power of large numbers of education convening at the Ohio Statehouse to prevent a bad law, Senate Bill 5, from getting onto the books.
“I saw the need for teachers to stand together in order to help themselves and their students in what has increasingly become a hostile political environment,” Ogilbe said.
Now a District 6 CEA Governor, Ogilbe stands strong at Starling PK-8 School, where she teaches sixth-grade science and social studies. Before that, she taught at Johnson Park, Wedgewood, Mifflin and Hilltonia middle schools.
Her involvement in CEA was gradual. “You hear about CEA when you begin with the district,” she said. “Then you start to notice what CEA does. And finally, CEA was there to support me when I needed advice and support.”
Following the defeat of SB 5, Kim decided to step it up, serving as a delegate to the OEA Legislative Assembly and a Faculty Representative. “I decided it was time for me to formally give back to the people who had been there for me and to pay it forward to my son and other new teachers like him,” she said. “I had organizational skills which could assist in educating members about current events and help in coordinating responses, so I threw my hat in the ring.”
Ogilbe’s goal as a governor is to “be transparent. And by that I mean be available personally and make available to teachers information that is pertinent to them. Too often, we hear about the ‘Office.’ I want to be the face of the CEA Office to District 6 and be the window to what goes on there.”
Ogilbe and her husband, Mark, have two grown children and “grandpuppies, Blaze and Roxy.” Kim loves Little League Baseball and College Basketball. She earned her master’s degree in education Ohio State University, “so yes, I bleed scarlet-and-gray,” she said. But while she’s cheering, she doesn’t forget the reason she is involved in CEA in the first place.
“One of my proudest moments as a member of CEA happened when marching with our group during the Pride Parade in 2014. As we worked our way through the streets of Downtown, people were happy to see us. They were shouting that they loved teachers. One of my students at the time ran out into the street to hug me and tell me he loved me. I still get goosebumps! The people of Columbus and their children are what matters. Not the legislators.”
“This is where the strength and protection comes from,” says Tai Hayden, CEA district governor. The Moler Pre-K teacher has served in one leadership position after another since 2000, including the State Teachers Retirement System board (since 2006).
She almost couldn’t refuse the opportunity. She had “jumped in head-first” in 1998 – her third year teaching in CCS – when tension began to brew at the school she was working. “ I attended all of my district meetings and talked to my governor (Christy Maser) a lot,” she said.
Two years later, John Grossman, then CEA president, walked into her classroom. “He handed me a declaration form to be an At-Large Governor.” She gladly accepted it.
“I won!” she said. From there, she served on the Central OEA/NEA Executive Board and was elected a governor once more. “A significant moment that will always stick with me will be being a part of the board when we separated from Central OEA/NEA and created the Capital District,” Hayden said.
She served its vice president from 2005-2007 and now is president.
Tai was born and raised in Columbus and graduated from Columbus Alternative High School. She has seen many changes in the school district and knows it takes a team to address them.
“One of the biggest and most important things that we do in my Southside CEA district is collaborate,” she said. “This is very necessary.”
C.J. Jamison loves to perform. She appears regularly on central Ohio theatrical stages. But the stage closest to her heart is the association platform. As district governor, Jamison enjoys helping members understand the contract and take an active role in making the profession better.
“I have always been proud of the times when I have helped my members, but, like many others,my ‘aha’ moment was the defeat of Senate Bill 5. I thought, ‘Wow, look at what folks can do when they join together!” It was an amazing outpouring of so many folks.”
Jamison teaches kindergarten at Leawood Elementary School, where she has taught for 18 years. She was raised in Galloway and in the Cleveland area. She attended Heidelberg College. She had been on the job in Columbus for one year when her senior building representative asked her to run for a position.
“I remember asking her, ‘Am I being conned or flattered?’” said Jamison. “She replied with a twinkle in her eye, ‘Both!’ Well, I appreciated her honesty and since I had been raised in a strong union family (both my grandfather and uncle were dedicated members of UAW 969), I decided to run.”
Her main goal these days is more effective communication across all levels, in the buildings, offices and at meetings.
C.J. lives on the South Side with her two furry children, Midnight & Moonlight. Both cats were rescues found at Leawood. She loves theater and enjoys reading and traveling.
Traci Arway is all about making sure no one gets left behind. As a district Special Education Coordinator, she has seen how easy it is to lose sight of the umbrella of Association protection.
“We are teachers on special assignment,” she said. “Sometimes we’re in that go between role between teachers and administrators.” When she was housed at Livingston Avenue ES, Arway saw professionals
moving between buildings and struggling to build cohesive strength and certainty of their protection as CEA members. Sometimes coordinators were asked to overstep contract boundaries, and they were not sure how to say, “No.”
“For instance, we cannot be put into positions to evaluate and report on teachers,” said Arway. That’s why Arway decided to get more involved. First, she served as a Faculty Representative
of the newly-formed Special Coordinator unit. Now, as she enters her 16th year with the Columbus City Schools, she is beginning her term as District 9 Governor. Her aim is to continue the work she started.
“Being in the role of coordinator and being in District 9 is unique,” she said. “Being governor helps me advocate for all the specialists involved in the IEP process. It helps me advocate for
those people I work with every day. My goal is to continue to push the special education needs forward and continue to advocate for our profession and make sure we have a strong voice
at the table.”
Arway has taught at Livingston ES and Clearbrook MS. She comes from a union background. Her mother is a retired teacher and former OEA member. Her father, employed by the Ohio Lottery Commission, belongs to OSEA.
“I’m also a political junkie,” she said. “Being involved in CEA keeps me in the forefront.”
Arway and her husband, Kevin, a retired Whetstone High School teacher, live in northwest Columbus with their three children.
District 10 Governor Becky Coyne
Becky Coyne has developed a unique perspective during her 22 years in public education. Now in her 11th year as an art teacher at Forest Park Elementary, Coyne has seen the value of nurturing creativity in children — and the risk in forgetting how good things are in CCS. Coyne, the District 10 Visual Art Coordinator ran for District Governor to ensure art specialists continue to have a strong voice in Columbus City Schools.
Coyne, who also has taught at Reeb Elementary, used to teach in the tiny Fairbanks Local School District, which has one art teacher and one music teacher. Recent Ohio legislation to lift prescriptive arts staffing requirements raised alarm bells in districts like Fairbanks. “I thought, ‘Thank goodness we have our contract with unified arts included,’” said Coyne of CEA’s solidly negotiated agreement. “But other districts that aren’t so lucky could lose everything. I see how people are constantly afraid for their jobs. And now the Feds are mandating the arts, but Ohio changed the rules? That really stuck with me and gave me the extra push to start advocating for us.”
Coyne says she had great CEA leadership mentors. “I was lucky to be around a lot of influential people,” she said. She has served on her school’s ABC, where she learned a lot of about the power of the contract. When Anne Aeschbury, previous District 10 Governor, decided to retire, she suggested that Coyne run to succeed her.
Coyne, who lives in Westerville with husband, Chuck; daughter, Maggie, 12; and their dog, Sunny, said her hope is to continue CEA’s good work. “The unified arts are a critical part of Columbus Schools,” she said. “The departments are shining stars in our districts. We have children who are talented, far beyond what many people understand. I want to keep the arts moving forward.”
Cindy Love’s career path started when she was in high school. Her Spanish teacher at Boardman High School encouraged her to cultivate her love of the language and to share it with others. She became a Spanish teacher and now teaches at Northland HS.
Love, a 22-year classroom veteran, taught adults at the former North Education Center. She also encouraged her younger students at Champion MS and at Northland to pursue their interests beyond high school. Her teacher also recognized that Love was a natural mentor to others. So did CEA President Rhonda Johnson, who then encouraged Cindy to represent teachers on the CEA Board of Governors.
“I have always been interested in the union,” Love said. “It’s all about giving teachers a voice.” She became a faculty representative, and she joined the PAR program as a consultant drawing upon her master’s degree in adult education and interest in strengthening the profession.
“PAR is a special program,” Love said. “It’s an opportunity to grow in the profession that most teachers don’t get. The most important thing is making sure that every person in front of the students is a quality teacher.”
Surrounded by working class families in Lorain, J. Sanchez grew up knowing the value of union membership. When he started teaching at Champion MS in 1997, he didn’t waste a second getting involved. On his first day, he signed up and asked what else he could do to help.
Sanchez, who now teaches social studies at Northland HS, later became a faculty representative and today serves as a high school governor-at-large.
His service has yielded many proud moments, underscoring the value of both service and membership. “I felt proud to serve on the bargaining team that negotiated the extension of health insurance benefits to domestic partners,” he said. “I am proud of my union and my district for being on the right side of history.”
Sanchez firmly believes in the union value of equity and fair treatment of all members. To that end, he attended a job fair for a CEA member serving in Afghanistan so her job would be secure. “As a veteran, I understand the challenge of staying connected to family and friends while serving thousands of miles away from home,” he said. He picked the job she wanted, assuring her that when she returned, she would be back at work in the district.
Middle School Governor-at-Large Kim A. Jones
Asked why she’s a CEA District Governor, Kim A. Jones responded: “My favorite saying is, ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’ This tells me I can’t just sit back and allow someone else to wave my flag. I have to stand up and make sure my voice is heard. CEA is the vehicle for our voice. CEA’s Voice is our voice. CEA sings my song, so it was only natural that I would be involved.”
Jones, a single mother of three nearly grown children, teaches at Mifflin MS. She was born and raised in Columbus, attended Deshler and Stewart ESs, Hilltonia MS, South HS and graduated from CAHS.
This is her third year in the classroom, but she has been involved with CEA since she got her membership card, hardly missing a beat before volunteering, running for Faculty Representative, winning a seat as Senior Faculty Representative, then moving on to run for governor.
“My most important goal as District Middle School Governor is to make sure that middle school teachers’ concerns are not overlooked,” she said. “Right now, so much is being put into elementary school, due to the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, and high school, due to graduation testing. We, too, in middle schools, comprise an important component of the educational process.”
Her most significant CEA experience has been hard to pin down. “It is not a single occurrence,” she said. “It has been the support and encouragement that I have received from the CEA executive team. With a team this awesome, who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?”
Kim sees CEA as a large family and wants to remind all members that they help make the Association the powerhouse that it is. “CEA is not just the staff on East Broad St.,” she said. “We are CEA!”
Tom Busher was a business teacher at Southeast Career Center where he instructed an accounting program for juniors and seniors. A retired member of the Association, Tom has served as Faculty Representative, ABC member and past member of the Ohio Business Teachers Association (OBTA). Tom oversees the revenue and expenditures of all CEA accounts, budgeting and is the CEA financial representative with Capital District, CEA Foundation and numerous financial organizations that conduct business with CEA.
Election Chair Neil Moore
Neil Moore takes great pride in tallying the votes after a CEA election. After years of painstakingly sorting ballots, CEA has gone paperless with this important part of the process. As a member of the committee for five years, Moore has been helping with the transition.
But it’s not just the paperwork reduction that fuels him. Moore, a Spanish teacher and an FR at Columbus Alternative High School, has been involved in CEA for four of his seven years with CCS, including serving as an FR and a Senior FR at Whetstone High School.
“It became apparent at that time that if I didn’t take on a leadership role, there would be no one to make sure the contract was being followed after the current Senior FR retired,” he said. “I have always had the kind of personality that doesn’t mind speaking truth to power and as a teacher I have always felt that it is my duty to stand up for my colleagues, for our students, and for our profession.
Moore taught for three years at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, spent two in St. Clairsville, Ohio, and three in Northern Virginia before coming to Columbus, where he also has taught at Marion-Franklin High School. Moore’s parents were Spanish teachers, too. In their day, teaching conditions were rough.
“My dad taught for 41 years, mostly in the Ohio river town of Bridgeport,” said Moore. “He became involved in his union because teachers were not being given a voice at the table. Even after the collective bargaining law was enacted, we lived paycheck to paycheck, but without the strength of union solidarity, things would have been much worse.”
As a CEA FR, Moore has stood with us at the Statehouse. He shook hands with Jesse Jackson, who came here to support our fight against SB 5, and he felt the power of education within democracy.
Within CEA, he said, “I hope to help educate association members not just about the importance of voting but also about the laws that govern the process.”
Meanwhile, he encourages younger members to get involved in all ways. “It is important to have informed and experienced association members who stay abreast of the latest legislation, who testify on our behalf, and who have our backs while we are busy in the classroom,” Moore said. “As the wave of retirees rises to tidal proportions, we desperately need younger teachers to step up and get involved.”
Moore lives in Clintonville with his wife, Kristen, their young daughter and their two dogs. The family loves to travel. Moore is an avid bird-watcher who also collects sharks’ teeth and other marine fossils from the Miocene era.