OEA-Retired Fall Conference

Activists, Activists, Activists, Oh, My!

The OEA-Retired 2023 Fall Conference is sponsoring three virtual webinars in October 2023. This year will feature five OEA active and retired members sharing their stories of courage and determination against adversity.

Join us virtually on Zoom on Wednesdays, October 11th, 18th, and 25th at 5pm-6:30pm for an hour and half of inspiration and commitment to advocacy for public education.

Thank you to everyone who attended the OEA-R 2023 virtual Fall Conference events!


OEA-Retired 2023 Fall Conference Virtual Webinar Lineup:

Jeanne Melvin is a veteran educator who spent 27 years as an elementary classroom teacher, as well as 12 more years as a gifted intervention specialist, while raising three daughters. Before her retirement in 2014, she provided a weekly pullout program for gifted students in grades K-5 in Hilliard City Schools, and after retirement, she was employed by Columbus Public Schools to test children for the gifted program.

As her teaching career in Hilliard was coming to a close, Melvin began researching and writing letters-to-the-editor about the destructive privatization policies that were being put into place by Ohio’s governor and his (ALEC-controlled) legislature. She developed a pseudonym and learned to blog and use social media to inform others and communicate with legislators concerning the laws that were being passed at the expense of our children and their public schools.

When not spending time with her five grandchildren, Jeanne uses social media to connect with other public ed advocates throughout Ohio and the nation to educate people and facilitate action plans to support our public schools. She spends much of her free time on public education activism through written commentary, Statehouse testimonies, conferences, rallies, and other opportunities for informing people about the assault on public education being waged by state leaders.

Jeanne is a lifetime member of OEA and NEA, and she is an elected representative on Franklin County Democratic Party’s Central Committee and a former co-chair of the Worthington Area Democratic Club. She is a founding member and president of Public Education Partners (PEP), a statewide coalition of parents, grassroots citizen groups, school board members, educators, and school administrators that advocate for high quality public education in the Buckeye State.

Please follow PEP’s efforts for public education on social media:

Anita Beck was a full-time active classroom teacher for 37 years before retiring in 2011. I taught fourth grade, second grade, first grade, and kindergarten over the course of my career.
During my first three years of teaching, I taught in a rural Ohio district with no union. Then transitioned to a suburban local district for the remainder of my career and became very involved with union representation of OEA.

For several cycles I was the building representative for our local WEA. I saw the benefits of standing together for collective bargaining and the improved working conditions of a union supported district.

Once retired in 2011, I went straight to work volunteering full time to support the defeat of Senate Bill 5 in November 2011. I continued to become involved in Central Retired OEA. In 2015, a few of us retired educators met regularly and did not like the direction of the political landscape for Public Education. We decided to form a statewide non-profit in support of and to advocate politically for Public Education. This was the start of Public Education Partners, a diverse grassroots group of concerned Ohio citizens who sit on the Board and advocate for and in support of Public Education through action and activism. We continue to work through volunteer actions of lobbying, testifying at the Statehouse, writing letters to the editor, and maintaining an active presence on social media.

Ida Gorman headshotIda Gorman, an 8th grade teacher at East Canton Middle School in Stark County has been full-time in the teaching profession for eight years. Early in her career she taught in the private sector and learned that once she returned to her roots of public school how important the union truly is. Since 2018, she has been a district representative through East Central Ohio Education Association (ECOEA) and is working on her second year as a Member Ambassador through Ohio’s New Educators (ONE) program. Within her six years of union involvement, she has grasped onto opportunities, such as Educator Voice Academy focusing on Teacher Recruitment and Retention, and serves as a lead in positions such as Network and Social as well as Aspiring Educators within the ONE program. Ida truly believes that union work never sleeps!


Tonya Horn headshotTonya Horn has been a 7th and 8th grade MH paraeducator for 16 years at Green Middle School in Summit County. In the early stages of her career, Tonya joined Green Local Association School Support (GLASS) her local union, knowing the importance of being a union member. In 2015, Tonya became an active member of her union as a building representative, then in 2020 she joined the negotiating committee, in 2022 she became a Member Ambassador through Ohio New Educators (ONE).

As a professional that was within the first class of Education Support Professional Member Ambassadors, this has led to great opportunities such as being a part of the ESP Voice Academy, NEA Critical Friends, where Tonya is also a first NEA YRO Lead Member Organizer Cadre. She is now part of the Board of Directors as ESP- At- Large for the state of Ohio. It is crucial to Tonya that she spreads awareness for others to know the importance of advocating for Educational Support Professionals to have respect, as well as a living wage!

McKenna Reitz is a sought-after TEDx speaker, an award-winning high school AP Psychology teacher, and an alopecia warrior who empowers others to reframe life’s challenges into gifts and opportunities so they can lead with confidence and purpose. After losing all her hair due to Alopecia, McKenna uses her journey of having this autoimmune disease to help others overcome the loss by resetting the mindset of their “loss” into growth and opportunities. She is an inspirational force, helping world-class teams succeed, time and again, in the face of great challenges and change. McKenna has been featured in Forbes, Woman’s Day,  USA Today,  Yahoo! News, U.S. News & World Report, Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, VeryWell, MindBodyGreen and featured on Good Morning America, The Jennifer Hudson Show, Good Day DC, Good Morning Washington, theList, and Cheddar News.