New London County Retired Teachers Association members give back to community, socialize and advocate for themselves

Members of Latest London County Retired Teachers Association’s board of directors meet at Jane Aarnio’s home in Uncasville. Seated within the back row from left, are president John Andriso, reservations/raffles co-chairpersons Freddie Gimbert and Chris Friese, and member Lin LaPierre. Front row from left, are secretary Jane Aarnio, treasurer Judy Dailey, vice-president Dennis Shea, scholarship chairperson Trenda Caron and newsletter chairperson Sue Chojnacki. Photo by Jan Tormay

A part of teachers’ genetic makeup is to present and help others, said John Andriso, president of the Latest London County Retired Teachers Association, which was founded within the early Eighties. Teachers are known for purchasing their very own school supplies and finding coats and other clothing for those in need. This philanthropic trait doesn’t stop after they retire, he said during a telephone interview.

A method teachers proceed to present back to the community is to affix NLCRTA, which is open to teachers who taught or live in Latest London County. Beautiful items they create are raffled off to other members to fund causes all year long. Through the 18 months they didn’t meet due to COVID, they only mailed of their donations.

Annually, NLCRTA donates to Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center, Protected Futures (a Latest London organization that helps women, men and kids who leave their homes, due to domestic abuse), “A Reason to Ride” (an Eastern Connecticut motorcycle club which supports veterans) and in addition gives gifts and toys for youngsters at Christmastime to Thames Valley Council for Community Motion in Lisbon. In past years, they’ve also donated gifts to Salvation Army in Norwich and Latest London.

Moreover, the association gives annual scholarships to Latest London County highschool students who plan to major in education in college. In June 2022, two $1,000 scholarships got, said scholarship chairperson Trenda Caron, an Uncasville resident, during a telephone interview.

Currently, about 2,300 retired educators live in Latest London County, yet only about 150 members belong to NLCRTA. Members are working on increasing their membership which might in turn increase their contributions, said membership chairperson Kathi Williams of East Lyme during a telephone interview. Also they are trying to herald younger people, since many members at the moment are of their 70s and 80s.

NLCRTA began meeting again in September 2022 and currently holds 4 luncheon meetings a 12 months at Prime 82 Restaurant in Norwich at 11:30 a.m.

Speakers talk during meetings about quite a lot of topics, including the opioid crisis, the healthiest strategy to walk, safety precautions they need to take as senior residents and guide dogs for the blind (with an indication). Periodically, singers and other performers, including magicians, comedians and Shoreline (Bell) Ringers, are brought in to entertain members.

“It’s an important place to be. It’s social, however it’s also educational” and members “get so much out of belonging,” said Andriso, a Norwich resident.

NLCRTA is affiliated with the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut (ARTC), which he said “acts like a union for all of the retired teachers, watches out for our pensions, medical health insurance, those varieties of things.”

“ARTC is the one retired teacher organization which focuses solely on retired teachers’ interests,” ARTC Executive Director Tammy Gowash said in an email. “Teachers, who had a voice in their very own welfare through their unions before retirement, must have a voice after retirement. The strength of ARTC is within the participation of its quite a few members.”

Through persistent lobbying, she said the ARTC finally obtained the 50% exemption of retired teachers’ pensions from the state income tax. Now it’s working to repeal the National Government Pension Off-set and the Windfall Elimination Provision.

WEP affects teachers in Connecticut and 14 other states, as well other public service people, including police, fire personnel, and possibly others, Gowash said. “It’s Social Security money that they paid into through their paychecks from one other job besides teaching,” but they only receive one-third of it back.

The GPO “affects spouses, widows, and widowers with pensions from a federal, state, or local government job,” who didn’t pay Social Security taxes,” in response to a government website. In such cases, their Social Security advantages can be reduced by two-thirds of the quantity of their government pension, the location states.

Gowash said many retired teachers are confused about medical health insurance. “They trust that ARTC will help to make clear information and once they encounter problems, ARTC will help direct them to the proper one who will help. Along with helping local affiliates, ARTC employs a lobbyist who advocates for its retired members and provides information during legislative sessions to maintain members up thus far on what is going on on the statehouse.”

NLCRTA Treasurer Judy Dailey emphasized during a telephone interview that it’s really vital to be sure that the data they receive is accurate and “you could get that information by going” to their meetings. “A part of the advocacy happens because we get people who work for teachers to make sure teachers get a good shake on the state level with our congressmen and representatives.”

Caron said she initially joined NLCRTA to socialize, but quickly realized it’s an important philanthropic group and the ARTC keeps her aware of pension and medical health insurance information.

The NLCRTA, a company that is simply for retired teachers, is “really vital because when you’re out of teaching” you not know what is going on on, said Uncasville resident Jane Aarnio, former president and current secretary, during a telephone interview.

Some NLCRTA members still work or volunteer part time in class systems.

Dailey, who retired as a Montville math coordinator, has coauthored many mathematic books and is currently revising a gifted math publication. Explaining another excuse she belongs to NLCRTA, the Quaker Hill resident said, “With the intention to offer the perfect publications, I actually have to remain informed about current practices.”

Andriso said he discovered about NLCRTA through retired teacher Annabelle Curran, whom he described as an “incredible teacher” and “a force at Griswold Elementary School” and the association, who has since passed away.

“I’ve met some wonderful people through the organization, people who I might never have known,” Andriso said. “The thing that you could have in common is that you just taught. You do not know what it’s prefer to teach until you’ve got taught, and which will sound silly, but stand in front of a classroom. And do not do it for a day. Don’t do it for every week or a month; do it for five years to totally understand what education is like.”

NLCRTA Vice President Dennis Shea is a member of the scholarship committee and has been outreach coordinator for about seven years. The Lisbon resident said during a telephone interview he enjoys every thing he’s doing, possibly because he and the “other people who find themselves doing it feel like we’re needed and that we’re accomplishing something by being involved with it as participants.”

Fascinated with the NLCRTA, Andriso said his longstanding goal is to get more people involved. “It’s totally much a social organization” and provides you the “probability to take a seat down and have lunch with people who you used to eat lunch with and also you do not have to fret about recess duty afterwards or getting stuff run off (printed) for the afternoon.”

Aarnio encouraged newly retired teachers to get in contact with NLCRTA and join their group. “Like to have them.”

NLCRTA members have the choice of paying an annual $20 membership fee or $100 for a lifetime membership. For more information concerning the Latest London County Retired Teachers Association, contact president John Andriso by email at

Jan Tormay, a longtime Norwich resident, now lives in Westerly.

Breakout box:

John Andriso taught students in kindergarten through highschool, regular and special education classes mostly in Griswold, before retiring 10 years ago after teaching for 34 years.

“The most effective time I had was in third grade,” Andriso, 67, said.

Describing an “aura” that surrounds these students around December, he said, “There’s the start of independence. An enormous amount of growing up happens” then. “Eight-year-olds are probably the most amazing people on the face of the earth. It is a magical age.”

As an instructor at a math workshop told him way back, a very powerful thing is for college students to lift their hands in the event that they think they know the reply – right or flawed, Andriso said.

“And in the event you give it some thought, that is what any individual’s boss wants.” Pointing to inventors, he said, “That is all people taking a probability.”

He said he was proud to count Griswold High School Principal Erin Palonen as one in all his third-graders, “because she’s doing such an important job” and is now a “dynamic” principal.


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