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Sandra Irons led Gary teachers union for 37 years

SandrIrons served as president Gary Teachers Unifrom 1971 until her retirement 2008.  |  Sun-Times Medifile photo

Sandra Irons served as president of the Gary Teachers Union from 1971 until her retirement in 2008. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: September 15, 2012 6:14AM



GARY — Remembering her spirit and her fight, speakers at Monday’s back-to-school convocation paid tribute to former Gary Teachers Union President Sandra C. Irons who died Saturday.

Irons led the union for 37 years, leading State Sen. Earline Rogers, a former colleague, to suggest they rename the local after Irons.

Rogers, a retired teacher, said she won election as union treasurer in 1971 when Irons won the presidency. “All you enjoy today is a result of her ... .” Rogers told the audience of teachers at West Side High School.

Irons led the teachers union through its most recent strike in 2006 and was a constant fixture and speaker at School Board meetings.

School Board President Darren Washington said too many youngsters want the “prize without the process.” He said Irons taught them the difference. “Sandra Irons had no problem telling you where she came from and what she was doing.”

After a moment of silence, newly elected union President Joseph Zimmerman recalled Irons as a community leader and advocate for children.

Zimmerman read a speech Irons gave to the group of teachers in 2000 in which she encouraged teachers to leave “pebbles” of knowledge with students that will inspire them “when we are no longer here.”

Zimmerman said Irons was one of his mentors. “She brought me up and raised me in the union,” he said. “It was a tireless effort on her part.”

Irons began her teaching career in 1961 as a math teacher in Gary.

Earlier this year, she was honored by the Gary Frontier Club at its Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Zimmerman said funeral arrangements are pending.



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