District 204 teachers union president dies
Members of the Indian Prairie Unit District 204 teachers union are mourning the death Friday of their president for the past five years, Paul Gamboa, at Edward Hospital in Naperville.
In a Facebook post, the Indian Prairie Education Association has asked all members to wear their union T-shirts on Monday as a demonstration of support. The death of Gamboa, who graduated from Illinois State University in 2000, was unexpected. Information on the cause wasn't available.
"Paul's leadership embraced the mission of IPEA in that he advocated for students, education professionals and worked towards fulfilling the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world," the union's post states.
Retired union president Val Dranias said her successor had been the product of a District 204 education and well suited to his career roles as both classroom teacher and union leader.
"Paul was a huge, huge advocate of public education and our students and our teachers," Dranias said. "He was a voice of reason, but always advocating for students and teachers."
The local union's parent organization, the Illinois Education Association, also released a statement by its president, Kathi Griffin.
"Paul Gamboa was large in stature, which only made sense, because he had to have a body big enough to hold his heart, his spirit and his incredibly caring nature," Griffin said. "He could have been a comedian. Instead, we were all so lucky that he decided to become a teacher and came to Indian Prairie, where he rose to union leadership."
She added that the IEA benefitted as much from Gamboa's talents as his students and colleagues did.
"And, we are forever grateful," Griffin said. "He loved his students, his work and, more than anything, his wife Rebecca, who is a director with the National Education Association and a teacher, as well. Our hearts are with all of them at this very difficult time."
The local union's Facebook post -- which had received 81 comments and 274 likes expressing both love and sadness by Saturday afternoon -- urged members in need of support to reach out to their individual schools' crisis teams and promised more information about Gamboa's funeral services as soon as it received details.