Hale Ready For Retirement

For the past 22 years, she’s helmed the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers. But come March, Judy Hale is stepping down.

She was a language arts teacher in Putnam County back in 1990 with 22-years in the classroom. At the time, the WVAFT was just a small organization without a full-time president. The National AFT approached Hale about the new position in the West Virginia office. She ran for election and was chosen.

It was her job to create something entirely new.

“The teachers and the service personnel needed an organization just for them, so that their voice would be heard,” said Hale.

She started out with a staff of two and spent her time being pulled in a million different directions.

“I didn’t know how the legislature worked. I didn’t know how the insurance for the retirement or the state Department [of Education] worked.”

But she quickly found out, being thrown in the deep end. And over the past two decades she’s taken the WVAFT from a very small organization to a super union.

“Over the 20-years, we have now grown into the largest union in West Virginia. Not just the largest education union, but the largest union,” said Hale.

Hale says she’s so happy she took the job 22-years ago because it’s enabled her to make a difference in the lives of teachers and service personnel across the state and it’s kept her on her toes.

“There’s been huge growth! There’s been changes all through the process. It has never been boring!”

Hale will stay on through the end of the upcoming Legislative session which ends in March and then she plans to take a little time for herself.

“I’m going to rest for awhile. I have a pretty big yard. I like to dig in the dirt. In the summer, I will do a lot of work outside. I read a lot and I have a big family.”

As for the future of the AFT, Hale says it’s in good hands. The state membership elected Christine Campbell to take over for Hale. Campbell is an 18-year veteran of the classroom, a language arts teacher for Pocahontas County.

“She’s going to be a great president,” said Hale.

For the next five months, Campbell will be working along side Hale, learning the ropes and getting some advice from a pro.





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