(Courtesy of AFT)
Judy Hale comes from a family of educators. Of five children in the family, she and three others went into education — following in the footsteps of their father, a superintendent first in Lincoln County and then in Roane County. She brings her father’s passion for learning to the West Virginia PEIA Task Force.
“He started teaching in a one-room school,” she said. “He was the one who taught me that public education was the great equalizer.”
She completed her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree at Marshall University, then started her teaching career at Spencer High School in Roane County. After a year there, she went on to spend 21 years in Putnam County, teaching at Hurricane High School, Winfield High School, Poca High School, Poca Middle School, and Hurricane Junior High (which later became Hurricane Middle School).
After that, she spent 23 years as the president of AFT-West Virginia (the American Federation of Teachers). Now, she represents retirees on the PEIA Task Force, which Gov. Jim Justice established on Feb. 28 to find a solution to the issues facing the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
At 72 years old, Hale has dedicated much of her life to education and to the wellbeing of West Virginia educators, but she’s ready to put in even more work.
“It’s so important,” she said. “There are so many people that depend on this health care and have seen their out-of-pocket and their deductibles continue to increase.”
Hale’s main focus in serving on the task force is looking at possible funding streams that could go toward PEIA. When the task force split into three subcommittees at its first meeting on March 13, she volunteered to be on the one examining costs and revenue.
“I do believe that in order to solve the issue, there has to be a dedicated funding stream, because health care costs are not going to go down,” she said.
Hale praised her fellow task force members as having expertise in a wide variety of areas relevant to improving PEIA, and said she thinks the governor wants the task force to work quickly.
“I think he does not want this to drag out, and I’m certainly glad about that,” she said.
In her free time, Hale is an avid sports fan. She loves watching football, and she has been following the basketball teams at Marshall and West Virginia University closely for March Madness.
“I always root for WVU, except when they’re playing Marshall,” she said with a chuckle.