Ray Frankel and Josephine Sano, two longtime NYSUT activists, received "Not for Ourselves Alone:" The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Awards during Friday's general session. Renamed this year to commemorate the late AFT president, the awards recognize the contributions of outstanding NYSUT female activists.
"Between them, these two ladies have more than 100 years of education and union involvement," said Maria Neira, NYSUT vice president.
Ray Frankel, a former NYSUT Board member, began her career in Manhattan in the mid-50s, joining the Teachers Guild, which later became the UFT. Frankel is pragmatic about the importance of activism. "Political action is a fact of life; without it it's not easy to achieve any gains, economically, socially or politically," she said.
Serving as the first female president of the New York State Central Labor Council is a point of pride for Josephine Sano, past president of the Albany Public School Teachers Association. Also important is reminding those new to teaching that the benefits they enjoy were hard-won. "Things like maternity leave and tenure are not birthrights, but hard-fought gains," said Sano.
Both Frankel and Sano told delegates the award means even more now that it's been renamed in honor of Feldman.
The awards commemorate Feldman who died in 2005 after a long and valiant fight against breast cancer. The union paid tribute to Feldman with a video that recalled her civil rights advocacy and lifelong fight to improve public schools for all children.
Delegates unanimously passed a special order of business to honor Feldman's years of service as UFT president, AFT president and NYSUT Board member.
Delegates also recognized Feldman's niece, Marcy Abramowitz, who is now teaching in a Brooklyn public school.
Wearing the original medal bequeathed to her by her aunt, Abramowitz made the long trek from New York City to honor her aunt's memory.