Upon retirement, local NEA president Nancy Fritz says Shawnee Mission is on positive path

Nancy Fritz gave an emotional farewell to the Shawnee Mission administration and Board of Education Monday.
Nancy Fritz gave an emotional farewell to the Shawnee Mission administration and Board of Education Monday.

Nancy Fritz bid farewell to Shawnee Mission administrators and Board of Education members Monday as she wraps up five years as president and lead negotiator for the local chapter of the Kansas National Education Association, saying that the lines of communication between teachers and the district have greatly improved over the previous couple of years.

Calling her retirement bittersweet because she hated to leave as the district was making great progress, Fritz credited Superintendent Jim Hinson with bringing an understanding of the “relationship between the needs of the teachers and the needs of the students” to negotiations over teacher contracts.

“Dr. Hinson, I have so enjoyed working with you these past two years,” Fritz said. “Your willingness and similar understanding of the importance of a collaborative relationship where a dialogue of concerns and solutions can be exchanged harmoniously have been very much appreciated. I thank Dr. [Kenny] Southwick and you for making decisions based on professional judgment and not always because of past practice.”

Fritz’s tenure as the Shawnee Mission KNEA president came during a tumultuous period for the district and public schools across the state, where budget pressures forced cuts to the classroom that caused stress for many educators. But Fritz said she leaves her position believing that the district is on a sharp upward trajectory.

“I really feel good about the district,” she said after Monday’s Board of Education meeting. ‘”It’s been a tough two years, especially for the teachers, with everything that’s gone on. And I know that [teachers] have concerns about what’s happening, and they haven’t had the opportunity to have the relationship that I’ve been able to build with Dr. Hinson, and I know there are plenty of them out there that are wondering what’s going to happen. I hope they can trust not only myself but also the incoming president as far as there is a vision, and it’s a positive vision for students, but teachers as well and the whole community.”

Hinson echoed Fritz’s sentiments about the strength of their working relationship.

“It’s really been a special relationship for me,” Hinson said. “It’s been very very important to have you to bounce things off of and to talk very openly and honestly.”

Fritz will officially end her role with the NEA at the end of the month. She will be replaced by SM East Spanish teacher Linda Sieck, a 26-year public education veteran.

As for her retirement plans, Fritz said she has nothing special

“I’ll just see what happens,” she said. “I’ve kind of always been that way. I don’t worry too much about things.”