The Bakersfield Federation of Teachers #1866 has a proud history. We were originally chartered as the Kern County Federation of Teachers #643 on May 31, 1939. One prominent member was the father of our recently deceased State Senator Walter Stiern (whose distinguished career in the State Senate lasted 28 years).
We were rechartered as the Bakersfield Federation of Teachers on April 18, 1968. Some of our prominent early leaders were John Day, Brenda Boggs, Matt Michael, Takvor Takvorian, Robert Ramey, and Dennis Blackburn.
During the early 1970s Jack Brigham was elected president of our local. In addition to serving our local, Jack was elected president of the Kern, Inyo, and Mono Counties Central Labor Council for two terms and also served as a CFT vice president for three terms.
Our “most valuable member” for the past two decades has been James Schmitz who has served us as treasurer and vice president. Our local leaders since the mid-1970s have included Linda Randolph, Linda Carbajal, Phyllis Schmitz, Hugh McGowan, Fred Gonzales, Woody Bagwell, Jessie Ireland, Peggy Couch, and Annis Cassells.
We have sponsored softball tournaments, our country history day competition, and participated in local labor and political campaigns.
Our proudest moment takes place each year when we host our Teacher Honoree Dinner and present perpetual awards named for prominent AFT leaders.
We have listed the names of the BCSD educators who have received our perpetual awards and membership in our BFT Hall of Fame since 1982. Each has made a gift of their life, bringing excellence to our profession.
Since May of 1982, the BFT has recognized over 100 teachers, counselors, principals, and support personnel for their excellence and service to our students, community and profession.
The Albert Einstein Award for dedication to learning and excellence in academic achievement has been presented to Sharon Dormire, Shirley Bozina, Annis Cassells, Bob Fullenwider, Judith O'Brien, and Phyllis Schmitz. This year's honoree is Madeline Nichols of Emerson Jr. High.
The John Dewey Award for trailblazing in modern education while stressing student involvement has been presented to Peggy Couch, Richard Meeks, Oliver Brennan, Betty Saunders, Elaine Joke, and Ramona Gia. This year's honoree is Dwane Johnson of Longfellow School.
The Raoul Teilhet Award for leadership, dedication, and service to professional educators has been presented to James Schmitz, Donna Lathrop, Frederick Gonzales, Jack Brigham, and Linda Randolph. This year's honoree is Jessie Ireland of Williams School.
The Assemblywoman Dorothy Donahoe and Senator Walter Stiern Award for political leadership in support of public schools was initiated in 1985. (This will be the first time the award will have been presented since the passing of former State Senator Walter Stiern.) The three recipients have been Linda Carbajal, Annis Cassells, and Bill McLean. This year's honoree is Louie Vega of East Bakersfield High.
(Jack Brigham, contributor)