State Education Commissioner David Steiner recently appointed two new teacher-members to the New York State Teachers Retirement System Board.
Both are longtime union activists who were recommended by NYSUT.
Tim Southerton, a Long Island special education teacher and president of the Sayville Teachers Association, fills the vacancy created after the death of Michael Corn, a veteran board teacher-member from New Hartford.
A delegate to the New York State TRS Annual Convention, Southerton is a member of the NYSUT Board of Directors and serves as a delegate for the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association conventions.
He is one of the longest serving members of NYSUT's Pension and Retirement Committeen.
Southerton, a teacher for more than 30 years, is a trustee of two labor-management trust funds, the Suffolk School Employees Health Plan and the Sayville Employees Trust Fund. He started a new member program for his local union and is well known at NYSUT political action events.
Karen Magee, president of the Harrison Association of Teachers, was appointed by the commissioner to fill the seat being vacated by Sheila Salenger, who retired at the end of the school year after more than 20 years on the TRS Board.
Magee, a remedial math teacher at Purchase Elementary School, is a longtime political activist, member of the NYSUT Board of Directors and delegate to the TRS Annual Convention.
She serves on NYSUT's Pension and Retirement Committee and NYSUT's Policy Council. She has served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body.
Magee is also a board member on the Statewide Schools Cooperative Health Plan, a regional consortium of district benefit plans.
In their new roles as teacher-members on the board, Southerton and Magee will conduct informational workshops, answer retirement questions and advocate on behalf of members.
The other active teacher on the TRS Board is Paul Farfaglia, a teacher from Jordan-Elbridge School District in central New York. David Keefe, a retired member of the Hempstead Classroom TA, is the retiree representative on the board.
With teachers representing 40 percent of the 10-member TRS Board, Salenger said it is crucial for members to be represented on the board by active teachers.
In her years on the board, she has worked to resolve individuals' problems, keep members informed and improve benefits. Since announcing her retirement, Salenger has received many notes of thanks for her work on behalf of members.
"I'm one of many people you've helped with retirement questions (2008 for me) and when I saw in the most recent NYSUT magazine that you're retiring from the TRS Board in June, I had to take a moment to wish you well and thank you for the help you gave me when I was weighing my retirement options.
"Where district representatives gave me simplistic (and incomplete) information, you ended up being right on target with your advice.
"I believe, as a psychologist, that the little good things we do for others comes back to us in kind and I'm sure that will happen for you as well.
"Thanks again for your help, wisdom and knowledge and enjoy the next chapters in your life's story."