It all began in the fall of 1971 at a lunch attended by five longtime teachers and recent APS retirees. These women decided to create a new organization that would connect and benefit APS retirees. Alexandria already had a model they could build on.
In March 1972, ten retirees held an informal meeting at St. George’s Episcopal Church and elected officers. Since there was no money to mail out notices for the first official meeting, each attendee donated two dollars!
ARTA is born
ARTA’s first official meeting was held at Key School on April 12, 1972. ARTA immediately worked with the Arlington Education Association to secure an important benefit for pre-June 1969 retirees: inclusion in the Arlington Supplementary Retirement Plan. This benefit had recently been given to active employees/teachers. In March 1974, we saw success.
In May 1972 we established Legislative, Program, and Constitution Committees. By September 1972, barely a year after ARTA was conceived, we had 77 members.
In March 1973, a Constitution and By-Laws were approved, and that June, Arlington and Alexandria groups met to form District H in order to have a voice in the Virginia Retired Teachers Association. Former Arlington Superintendent Ray Reid had just been elected President of VRTA.
By September 1973 ARTA had 100 members. During our first 25 years, membership plateaued just under 200, but we’ve grown tremendously in the 21st century. We continue to hover around 500 members.
For many years, ARTA met at the Church of the Covenant in Arlington, and marking our 25th anniversary there in October 1997. ARTA’s 40th was celebrated at the 2012 annual spring luncheon at the Ft. Myer Officers’ Club.
ARTA looks forward while continuing our core mission
ARTA has separated from Alexandria and District H to form our own District U, we adapted to the pandemic with Zoom meetings, and we’ve moved to more electronic communications while retaining a paper quarterly newsletter and annual directory.
For many years, ARTA belonged to the Arlington County Scholarship Fund for Teachers and gave dozens of one-year scholarships to college-bound seniors planning to teach. ARTA now has two funds for five-year renewable scholarships given through the Arlington Community Foundation. Membership donations and endowments give us a strong financial position to continue our contributions to future educators, as well as financially supporting other organizations that benefit Arlington Public Schools students.