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All in the name of Education: Two Minnesota Women Presidents


                        By Bobbie Margo                                                                                            

This article is the conclusion in a series featuring strong Union women in public education.  Therefore, it is only fitting that this final segment focuses on two women from Minnesota!

AFT Vice President Denise Specht was elected President of Education Minnesota in 2013-defeating incumbent Tom Dooher.  Specht had served six years as ED MN’s Secretary-Treasurer.  She began her office of President on July 1,  2013 and was re-elected in 2016 and in 2019.  Presently Specht represents 80,000+ Education Minnesota members.  She is a fourth generation teacher; her parents were both teachers along with her great-grandparents and her grandparents.  Specht has been a longtime leader at the local level, which includes five years as President of the Centennial Education Association.  She has extensive leadership experience in her school district, in her community as well as in the Union.

Specht also has national experience; she serves as a Vice-President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and is especially interested in building relationships which provide support for innovative solutions to the challenges in public education.

Enter Julie Jagusch.  After working for 36 years as an elementary and middle school math teacher in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Jagusch still wanted to continue to be involved in the Union and to stay connected to public education.  She retired in 2008, joined Education Minnesota Retired and never looked back.  Jagusch began her position as President of ED MN R in April 2016 and has been re-elected for a second term.  She hopes to promote the Union and to increase involvement from ALL members-especially now that all active members can sign up for a Retired Membership.  If one has been a member of Education Minnesota for 10 years and has retired AFTER September 1, 2015 and is eligible to receive a pension, then one can be a member of Education Minnesota Retired for no additional cost.  Now because of her Union work and her office as ED MN Retired President, Jagusch is much more aware of what is going on politically and how it affects herself and her members in the realm of public education.

One of Jagusch’s goals has been to attend as many Minnesota Pension Commission Meetings as possible.  She also strives to keep members aware and involved in what is going on with their pension.  “Your pension is one of the most valuable things in your life,” states Jagusch.  “That pension allows you the freedom to make decisions for the good of your family, friends, community!”

Both Jagusch and Specht display the leadership qualities necessary to make a difference, to foster awareness, to eradicate social/racial injustice-all in the name of education!

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