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St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association ®  , Covington, LA 
The St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association (STRSEA) meets regularly throughout the year to provide opportunities for retirees from the school system to hear about the latest local and state retirement issues and to enjoy fun and fellowship with new and former friends.  
Officers Elected, Presentation Given 
On Junior Achievement Program
      The St. Tammany Retired School Employees’ Association (STRSEA) met on Thursday, March 12, 2015, at the Treen Technology Center in Mandeville. William Brugmann and Rhonda Chambers were elected co-presidents, Roxanne Lagarde was elected President-Elect; Lyn Monteleone was chosen First Vice President; and Carolyn Brugmann was elected Second Vice President. 
        Patricia Arsenault was elected Secretary, and Ron Caruso was re-elected Treasurer. 
       Valerie Hulse of Junior Achievement gave a detailed presentation on the programs and impact of the group's many instructional efforts in teaching young people the principles of sound financial management. Committee reports were also given on Legislative Issues by Jack Loup, LRTA updates by Graig Luscomb, and Social agenda by Tassie Wahl. 
       The group meets again on May 14 for its annual Spring Luncheon 
New Officers, pictured from left,  - Roxanne Lagarde, President-elect; Lyn Monteleone, First Vice President; William Brugmann, Co-President; Rhonda Chambers, Co-President, Renee Arsenault, Secretary; Carolyn Brugmann, Second Vice President; and Ron Caruso, Treasurer. 
Guest speaker welcomed: 
From left, Marian Arrowsmith, Valerie Hulse (with Junior Achievement); Ellen Lamarque, and Jean Krieger
Spring Luncheon Held,
 New Officers Installed

  The St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association (STRSEA) held its annual Pot Luck Spring Luncheon on May 14, 2015, in the David Treen Technology Center at 2024 Livingston St., in Mandeville.

STRSEA co-president Marian Arrowsmith presented a number of awards to the board for their service, and she was honored for her work with the organization in building membership and achieving many accomplishments.

  Bill Brady gave the new officers their oath of office, with Bill Brugmann and Rhonda Chambers as co-presidents; Roxanne Lagarde, President-elect; Lyn Monteleone, First Vice President; Renee Arsenault, Secretary; Carolyn Brugmann, Second Vice President; and Ron Caruso, Treasurer.

  This year's Educational Scholarship was won by Sara Pohlman of Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville. She was accompanied to the awards ceremony by her mother Eileen. Tom Lusignan introduced her to the group and told about her plans to attend Louisiana State University and major in Elementary Education. She thanked the group for the generous scholarship and honor.
  Jack Loup gave a legislative report, updating members on pending state legislation of importance to retired teachers, and Roxanne Lagarde gave a publicity report, noting that the members themselves are the best source of publicity for the group. 
  Bill and Carolyn Brugmann gave a report on the Spring LRTA Meeting they attended in Alexandria, announcing that the St. Tammany group had won honors at the event. They won a Membership Award in recognition of signing up the largest number of new members in 2014, as well as another membership award for signing up the largest number of associate members last year.
  Brugmann visited with Hank Ferrer, who he recalled was his 10th grade biology teacher, and Bucky McKee, who was his 11th grade American History teacher. Lee Barrios also spoke briefly to the group about the upcoming BESE Election.

​Dates for Meetings 2015-2016

Thursday, Dec. 10 - LUNCHEON 10:30 Social - 11:00 Meeting Gym
  Bring a covered dish/ May bring a door prize
January/February - Legislators Meeting To Be Announced
Thursday, March 10 - General Meeting 9:30 Social - 10:00 Meeting Gym
Thursday, May 12 - LUNCHEON 10:30 Social - 11:00 Meeting Gym
  Bring a covered dish / May bring a door prize
Contact Us
Spotlight on...
Bryan Gowland

    In 2002 Bryan Gowland retired 
from our school system as a 
Louisiana history teacher at Fontainebleau Jr. High. He taught for 33 years. The first twenty seven of those were at Abita Springs Junior High where he taught Social Studies and coached football and basketball.  
    He was honored as Middle School Humanities State Teacher of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2002. Twelve of those years he also served the town of Abita Springs as its Mayor. He was also a former Abita Town Talk columnist for the Times-Picayune.

Supt. Folse Speaks To Members At Sept. 10 Meeting
  The St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association (STRSEA) held it first meeting of the school year on Thursday, September 10, with dozens of St. Tammany public school retirees gathering at the Treen Technology Center, located at 2024 Livingston Street in Mandeville.  

  The meeting agenda included an update on the status of the school system by St. Tammany Public Schools Superintendent Trey Folse, as well as an overview of various topics shared by Co-Presidents, Bill Brugmann and Rhonda Chambers. 

“We are motivated by you all, the people who were here before us that did the work to make sure this School System is one that we can all be proud of. That is what motivates us each and every day,“ said Superintendent Folse.

Superintendent Folse spoke to the group of over 50 retirees about where the School System is today, recent achievements and what is being done to ensure future success. He also shared details about a few events from the beginning of the school year.

  The STRSEA meets throughout the year, usually on the second Thursday of September, November, December, March and May, including an annual Christmas party and spring luncheon.  

From left to right, STRSEA Co-president Bill Brugmann, TRSL Director Maureen Westgard, Dana Vicknair with TRSL, and STRSEA Co-president Rhonda Chambers at the Nov. 10, 2015 meeting.
Our goal is to promote the social, professional, and economic status of retired and active school employees and work in cooperation with the Louisiana Retired Teachers' Association (LRTA) and other organized groups in matters of interest to retired school employees, active school personnel, and parish and state public schools.
About Us - Officers, Board of Directors, Message from the President, Grant Information, School Board Resolution 

Membership - Reasons for Joining, How To Join, Cost of Membership

News - Short news items about Association activities, events, photographs
     For a once-only fee of $45, the STRSEA offers a life-time membership that entitles members to vote on association matters, furnishes an identification card that allows St. Tammany members free admission to all home games at school system athletic events and provides a St. Tammany Advantage Rewards (STAR) card for discounts at participating local businesses and restaurants.
     For more information, call Bill Brugmann at 985-249-1570. If present members have a new email address, please send the update to stpretirees@gmail.com. Retirees may join the STRSEA at any regularly scheduled meeting or may send a check for $45 payable to STRSEA in care of STRSEA at Post Office Box 2992; Covington, Louisiana 70434.
    The St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association (STRSEA)  heard guest speaker, Maureen Westgard, Executive Director of Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana, at its November 10, 2015, meeting give an update on the current financial status of TRSL, the fund's impact of the retirement system to the state economy, and an overview of Cost of Living increases. 
    Some 87 members attended at the Treen Technology Center in Mandeville.  Co-president Bill Brugmann opened the meeting and introduced the guest speaker. 
     Humana provided flu shots to those who are covered under the Group Plan of Humana through the St. Tammany Parish School Board, and, in honor of Veterans Day, there was a patriotic theme of red, white and blue. 
     Many members also brought toys for St. Tammany Project Christmas this year, their community outreach project. 
    Jack Loup, legislative committee, reported on the recent La. Retired Teachers Association meeting in Lake Charles, as did Publicity Chairperson Roxanne Lagarde and Co-president Rhonda Chambers. 
   The STRSEA meets throughout the year on the second Thursday of September, November, December, March and May, including an annual Christmas party and spring luncheon.  
TRSL Director Shares Updates

Louisiana Retired Teachers Association (LRTA) Executive Director Rodney Watson, center, with President Bill Brugmann at left, and School Board President Stephen J. "Jack" Loup, III, at right, Legislative Chairman for the STRSEA.

Watson presented an informational slide show detailing his key points. A PDF File of the slide show is available by clicking here.

La. Retired Teacher Association (LRTA) Executive
Director Explains Retirement System Funding
     A special meeting for all St. Tammany public school retirees and active employees was held Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, to hear guest speaker Rodney Watson, LRTA's Executive Director, talk on "Legislative Updates: A Call to Activism". More than 112 people gathered for the event held at the David Treen Instructional Technology Center in Mandeville.
     After a detailed analysis of how retirement systems are funded, he explained several proposals on making changes to the system that could adversely affect current and future retiree benefits, as well as state-related expenditures. 
     Watson met with the STRSEA in December for an overview of possible system changes, and his February presentation gave significant details of what may be considered by the legislature and how it could affect monthly benefits and long-term viability of the system. 
     To view photos from the event, click here. 

     In the You Tube video below, Mr. Watson's talk begins at four minutes, 15 seconds into the video. 
Mary Madison of Slidell
Eileen Wall of Covington
Patricia Floyd of Covington
Joseph Cyprian of Folsom
Evelyn Pittman of Folsom
Louise Sharp of Bush
Carrie Rayford of Mandeville
Victor Doucette of Slidell 
Anita Gillespie of Covington
In Memoriam
Members may want to get on the LRTA Email Club membership list that offers members timely information important to retirees, by contacting LRTA at info@lrta.net

Junior Achievement needs volunteers for School Programs 
     Junior Achievement is seeking volunteers to spend one day in the classroom mentoring and sharing their knowledge with students in several St. Tammany Parish schools during March through May. Commitment calls for one day from 8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. or 8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
     JA’s school programs teach the basic concepts of business and economics. Students learn about their roles as individuals, consumers, and workers. Through volunteers leading the class, the students discover role models in both their families and community. 
     Call Valerie C. Hulse, Senior Education Program Manager, at 504.569.8672 to schedule a volunteer time. "We could not do what we do without awesome volunteer partners," she said. "We have reached 11,279 students so far this school year."    
Officers For 2016-2017 Elected and Inducted
     The St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association met Thursday, March 31, and elected officers for the next year. The meeting was held at the School Board Central Office in Covington with about 25 persons attending. They were inducted into office at the Abita Springs Town Hall on May 12. From left to right are President Roxanne Lagarde, Secretary Renee Arsenault, Second Vice President Carolyn Brugmann, First Vice President Lyn Monteleone and Treasurer Ronald Caruso. Jack Loup, not pictured, was elected President Elect.
    He has chosen to lead a fulfilling second half of his life through various positions that he holds in the town of Abita Springs.  
    Bryan is the Music Producer and MC of the Abita Springs Opry. He lines up the music presented at the Opry and outside events in Abita. He sponsors a music series at the French Market in the month of August named “Opry at the Market.” 
    He also created what is becoming a very important music event named the Abita Springs “Busker” Festival. That event, held during the month of April features “buskers,” a name for street musicians from New Orleans. That festival is co-sponsored by the Abita Springs Opry and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation. It is also videoed and streamed live by WWOZ Radio.  
    He is a member of the Museum Committee for the town of Abita and was instrumental in the placement and resurrection of the building that houses it. Bryan is also on the Abita Historic Committee that oversees the design of homes to be built in the town to make sure they comply with the traditional architectural style. 
    Jazz Fest is an annual gig for Bryan where he demonstrates how to cook a traditional chicken & andouille sausage gumbo! He is a self-taught musician that enjoys playing guitar informally with his friends. Bryan built his first guitar and proudly plays it in the above photograph.
    A typical day for Bryan starts with him enjoying a cup of coffee on his front porch watching the sunrise. Then he drives to the Abita Café to visit with friends over breakfast. He exercises 3 days a week, mostly through therapeutic swimming. 
    He enjoys visiting with the Mayor of Abita, playing music with friends, communicating with musicians to book shows, writing press releases/advertising for the Abita Opry (3 performances in the spring and 3 in the fall), and visiting with family members. All of his days give him purpose and fulfillment in life. 
    When asked if there was a talent he wished he had Bryan responded with “I wish I had the artistic vision and ability to see something and reproduce it on paper.” I got to view some of his artwork, and I was impressed. 
    A favorite item in his wardrobe would have to be his khaki shorts and a T-shirt! 
    His favorite song is “In My Life” by the Beatles. This was his wife’s favorite song and whenever it was played, as Bryan says it, “she looked at me lovingly with her expressive hazel green eyes and sang it to me while we danced.” Bryan’s wife, Pat, passed away three years ago, but he is very grateful for the forty five years they had together. 
    Bryan feels his greatest accomplishment in life is having been a successful husband and father. He is very proud of his children who have chosen to follow in his footsteps as educators. Michael is a Science teacher and Head Basketball Coach at Fontainebleau High and his daughter Jennifer serves as an English teacher at Bonnabel High in Kenner. He also enjoys seeing his grandchildren Bryan Hannah and Faith.  
Nancy Reed, a St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association member recently helped a Covington area flood victim clean up her house.
Spring Luncheon Held May 12 At Abita Springs Town Hall

  The St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association (STRSEA) held its final meeting of the year on Thursday, May 12, at the Abita Springs Town Hall. Certificates were presented and officers were sworn into office by Abita Mayor Greg Lemons.
   Louisiana Teacher of the Year Kelly Stomps spoke to our group. Later she posted an account of her visit on her blog. Here is what she said. 
   "I had the distinct pleasure of speaking at a luncheon for the St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association (STRSEA) on Thursday, May 12, 2016. This luncheon took place at the Abita Springs Town Hall. As I entered the building, I was excited to see several retired employees from Woodlake Elementary School. Throughout the festivities, I also enjoyed getting to meet the other attendees and learn about each person’s background in the field of education.
     After being welcomed by the President of the Association, a special memorial program took place to honor STRSEA members that passed during the last school year. I was truly touched by this program as it included honoring a person that had subbed frequently at my school the last few years. 

   A student from Pearl River High School, Rebekah Arriaza, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship. She will be attending Southeastern and majoring in education with the help of this scholarship. Pictured above from left to right are Scholarship Committee Chairman Tom Lusignan, Rebekah and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Arriaza.

   Then, I was asked to speak. For my speech, I reflected on the things that I have learned this year as the Louisiana Teacher of the Year. One thing that I have learned this year is to have a “teacher voice” through social media. I shared how this has made an impact on others while encouraging each attendee to share their positive stories about education on social media.
     After the program, I was invited to join the STRSEA for lunch. During the meal, several members spoke to me about their concerns over possible changes in Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. They also shared how the members of the association were working to advocate on behalf of all educators. Although my purpose for the meeting was to inspire and empower, I left the meeting feeling inspired and grateful for the advocacy efforts of STRSEA. As in “Be True to Your School” by the Beach Boys, the members of STRSEA are staying true to the schools and teachers in St. Tammany Parish. Thank you for your continued service and devotion to education! "