Myers, Brookshier, Keenan join MEA-MFT Hall of Fame

April 2016

Each year, MEA-MFT celebrates our trailblazers and pioneers -- the people who made our union the champion of working families it is today -- by inducting them into the MEA-MFT Hall of Fame. 

Three new members were inducted into the Hall of Fame at a celebration in Helena March 31: Patty Myers, Joe Brookshier, and Nancy Keenan.

 Patty Myers and Joe Brookshier
Patty Myers of Great Falls said her union activism began when the Great Falls school district tried to close the neighborhood school in Black Eagle.

“I didn’t know that a second-year, non-tenured teacher wasn’t supposed to get involved in school affairs,” she recalled. So she spoke up at a town meeting, and the next day her local union president sent her a flower. “I was hooked,” she said.

Myers went on to leadership roles at the local, state, and national levels. Along the way, she was named Montana Teacher of the Year and served as chair of the Montana Board of Public Education.

She helped lead the charge when the Montana Education Association became MEA-MFT, “the largest public employee group in Montana, working for Montana’s people, working families, public schools and services, and the middle class,” she said. “I am proud to say I was part of the changes.”

Joe Brookshier of Billings has been an MEA-MFT member for 55 years. “I started as a junior in college,” as a student member, he recalled. He has been a quietly effective leader in the union all of those years.

“Joe has a passion for the union and for the profession,” said Garth Cox, introducing Brookshier at the celebration. “He served eight years on the board as an active member. He was the driving force that got MEA-MFT Retired going and strong. We’re now at 1,187 members. Joe always has membership forms with him.”

“It’s humbling to find yourself the third best teacher in the family,” Brookshier told the celebration crowd, referring to his wife and daughter, both teachers.

Looking back on the union's early years, he said, “The best thing we did was when we got classified members into the union.”

Nancy Keenan was born and raised in Anaconda. She taught special education as a proud member of the Anaconda Teachers Union. She was elected to three terms as Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, where she became a fierce advocate for better school funding, higher standards, and technology in Montana’s schools.

Keenan had to be out of state for the Hall of Fame celebration, but she spoke through this video message.

Congratulations to all three new Hall of Fame members!

 

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