Popp steps in as acting IPEA president

Abigail McArthur-Self, News & Copy Editor

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In the wake of the union president Paul Gamboa’s death, the Indian Prairie Education Association has had to choose someone to fill his shoes — at least until the next election for the executive board. Katherine Popp, a Neuqua history teacher and vice president of high schools on the board, has been selected. 

Popp moved to the area in her seventh grade year and attended Hill Middle School and Waubonsie Valley High School. She then got her masters in teaching from National Louis University. She has taught social studies at Neuqua Valley for seventeen years and says she “started at the freshman campus when it opened.” 

Popp first served as a ‘senator’ for the IPEA. She explains that senators are representatives from a specific school or building. The freshman campus of Neuqua, for example has one, and the main building has three, so Neuqua has a total of four. Popp later became the vice president of high schools. (The board also has a vice president of middle schools and vice president of elementary schools.) That is the position she held going into this school year. When she decided to accept the role of president, the board chose a replacement vice president.

When something happens to prevent the president from continuing to serve the community, the executive board has the responsibility of determining which of its members has seniority and asking them to take the position. Popp explains that the first member offered the job declined. The offer was then passed to Popp as the next most senior board member, and she accepted. She has been serving as active president since Gamboa fell ill, and due to his death, will remain in the position until the next election in March of 2020. 

The president has a wide range of duties, including sitting in a number of meetings to “offer input” on what’s working, what isn’t, the needs of the teachers, etc; attending congratulatory/awards ceremonies to recognize teachers for their work such as the A+ Awards; and attending student events like Mary Beth Tinker’s presentation. 

Popp says she’s “been all over the place… trying to figure out what the job entails.” 

“Most presidents… have a whole summer to learn what the job is and attend leadership camps with IEA, which is the Illinois Education Association.” Popp, however, “didn’t have that luxury,” because she started partway through a term. Popp says she hasn’t decided if she’s going to run for president when the elections come around. Part of it depends on how these next few months go. She remarked that she liked being a vice president because she could still teach classes at the same time. Being president, however, is a larger time commitment and would mean stepping down as a teacher.