New Arkansas Education Association President Cathy Koehler Begins First Term

Cathy Koehler officially begins her two year term as President of the Arkansas Education Association, July 17, after winning a statewide vote in May of this year. She succeeds Brenda Robinson, who will return to the Pulaski County Special School District to teach second grade following four years as AEA President.

"I am honored to be elected as the next President of AEA," Koehler says. "Public education in Arkansas faces many challenges, and I look forward to building relationships both inside and outside of the association to ensure every student in Arkansas gets the quality education they deserve."

Koehler's career began as a teacher in Central Arkansas parochial schools, and she spent 24 years as a library media specialist in Little Rock School District. She is a longtime AEA board member, and is a national board certified teacher in Library Media/Early Childhood through Young Adulthood.

"I love to see the absolute joy on childrens' faces when they connect with a story or a book that you share with them," Koehler says. "It's an essential part of a child's development where they have that moment where they think, 'Oh my gosh! I love this book so much I want to read another!'"

Koehler served as President of the Little Rock Education Association for the last ten years, and just completed her first term as Vice President of the AEA. Koehler led membership through the state takeover of the LRSD in 2015, and kept a professional negotiated agreement in place under 3 different superintendents.

"I want people to understand that every position that contributes to a student's learning environment is vital to student success," Koehler says. "AEA values each and every one of those individuals, from teachers to bus drivers to custodians, or the many other professionals our students interact with each day."

Koehler plans to engage with those professionals, and others in the community to help guide her actions as AEA President.

"l look forward to seeing and listening to people all across our state, whether they're currently employed in education, policy makers, parents, students or community members," she says. "I want to learn more about the state, and how the association can help meet the needs of our students and educators on the ground level."

Koehler has two children, Casey Hughes and Colton Koehler, both graduates of Little Rock School District, and a grandson Cohen.

"I truly believe neighborhood public schools are the best environment for all students to flourish," Koehler says. "We have a moral imperative to ensure every student in this state has access to equitable and excellent public schools in Arkansas."