California Educator

April / May 2018

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Gail Jones holds a photo of herself during her marathon-running days. I M A G I N E Q U A L I F Y I N G for the Boston Marathon but being told by your princi- pal you could not go. Not only that, the school board voted 3-2 that you could not take personal days to run. That wa s th e situation Gai l Jon e s, Trinity Alps Unified Teachers Associa- tion, found herself in. The only way she could participate in the marathon was to accept docked pay. is was back in 1988, when Jones was teaching fifth grade in the morning and physical education in the afternoon in Weaverville, Trinity County. But while her principal and school board said no, CTA and Shasta Cascade Service Center said yes. Ultimately, CTA sponsored her in the marathon, with the help of a story in NEA Today magazine, and her colleagues raised money to replace her docked pay. She ran wearing her CTA/NEA shirt. "'Go CTA! Go NEA!' was the cheer I heard for 26.2 miles," says Jones. E v e n t u a l l y s h e w o u l d r u n s e v e n m a ra t h o n s . He r f i r st t i m e w a s 3 : 2 4 , the best was 3:18, and she placed sixth among the California women who ran. N o t b a d f o r s o m e o n e w h o g r e w u p w ith "p o o r c o o rdi n a ti o n a n d a lw ay s the last one to be picked." CTA has had Jones' back several times over the years. In the fall of 2009, her district asked her to teach without pay an extra period on Fridays for a difficult seventh-grade PE class of 25 boys and o n ly f o u r g i rl s . S h e w e n t r o u n d a n d round with her principal before finally talking to a CTA lawyer. "It just took a letter from him quoting Education Code to get my district to comply and resolve this issue," Jones says. She also received a lot of CTA advice in 2012-13, when she returned to teach after a work injury — a concussion caused by a hard-kicked ball to the forehead. "My dis- trict was using many unfair practices to try to pressure me to resign," Jones recalls. "CTA colleagues have been there for me through thick and thin." She uses her marathon-running stories to inspire her students. "Students who seem the least athletic I encourage the most," she says. She fondly tells of a boy who transitioned from a thin wallflower to a student volleyball coach and leader. And of the girl who didn't want to "do PE" but after a recess conversation with Jones, showed up some time later at the track " looking like Rocky Balboa" for a fitness unit. "She finished third in the one-mile race." To this day, Jones wants to help stu- dents and others "discover we can all be healthy, regardless of our age and our shape. Read your body. Do safe exercise. It will help you have a more fulfilling life." She's grateful that CTA has contrib- uted to her own fulfilled life. Support through thick and thin Gail Jones knows CTA has her back By Cynthia Menzel 70 CTA & You M E M B E R E N G A G E M E N T Many Choices, One Trust It's good to have options in life. It's even better when it comes to providing healthcare benefits for your Association. California's Valued Trust puts you in control and provides the flexibility to choose from a broad range of healthcare options. And, with CVT's value added services, you have a benefit package second to none. See how CVT can offer your Association more options. Contact us today. For more information, visit or call 800-288-9870

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