Retired teachers celebrate 60 years of promoting education


Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus knew something had to be done for retired teachers as one of her good friends, a respectable retired teacher, was forced to live in a chicken coop after her retirement. Thus, in 1947 she began the National Retired Teachers’ Association. In May 1954 Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus began the RI chapter of Retired Teachers’ Association (RIRTA) and inducted 47 members. Sixty years later the organization has approximately 1,200 members statewide with the mission to “promote the economic and social well being of retired teachers of Rhode Island.”

Last Thursday, RIRTA held their annual meeting and 60th anniversary celebration luncheon at the Airport Radisson Hotel in Warwick. Although there are different regional chapters within RIRTA, the meeting invited members throughout the state to discuss the various activities, successes and administrative aspects of the organization throughout the year. Mayor Scott Avedisian welcomed the group noticing a few of his former teachers in the crowd and presented a citation from the city.

To better the lives of retired schoolteachers, who have to live off small pensions, RIRTA offers affordable dental and health care while promoting community service for retired and active teachers.

Tia Scigulinsky, president of RIRTA, said, “We are very involved in the mentor program in the schools, we have a backpack drive where we give out backpacks to kids in need, we offer financial counseling for retired teachers; we try and do so much it’s hard to list it all. Our main goal, though, is to go into our communities to support and promote education. We want to serve but not be served.”

RIRTA promotes the future for education as well by offering a scholarship for graduating high school students who want to pursue a career in education. Every year the scholarship goes to a different county of Rhode Island, and this year Kent County was lucky enough to have one of their students presented the $1,000 RIRTA Scholarship. Victoria Bucci, a senior at Toll Gate High School, won the scholarship. Although she had to leave the luncheon early for school, her father, Joseph Bucci, explained that Victoria has been very involved in the education system outside of her own schooling. Every summer she assists Lisa Girardi, a teacher at Cedar Hill, in her classroom preparing for the next school year. She also did her senior project with Girardi as her mentor. Victoria created her own lesson plan and taught one of Girardi’s classes.

“She is a really well-rounded girl,” Pam Wamester who presented the scholarship, said. “She participates in a lot of extracurricular activities, she is active in her church community and is just such an honest girl. We figured if she can handle everything that was on her plate she deserved the scholarship.”

Victoria will be attending Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. this fall to study elementary education.

After the blessing, done by Revered Michael McMahon, the group enjoyed lunch and 60 successful years of promoting education and teachers.

For more information on RIRTA contact Tia Scigulinsky at or 683-1819. You can also contact Executive Director Ann Gardella at anngardella@ or membership chair Sally Connors at


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