November 30, 2007

Union celebrates SRP members

Source: New York Teacher
Caption: Participants listen to John Strom, right, of NYSUT's Education & Learning Trust during an appreciation luncheon for paraprofessionals in the Schenectady Federation of Teachers. The members heard about learning opportunities available through their statewide union.

From cafeteria brunches to after-school receptions, thousands of school bus drivers, teaching assistants, food service workers and other School-Related Professionals were honored in mid-November for the first official statewide "School-Related Professionals Day."

SRP members have had a recognition day each year since 2002 thanks to strong lobbying efforts by NYSUT. Earlier this year, to make sure support staff had a day of their own, Gov. Spitzer signed the union-backed law officially designating the third Tuesday of each November as School-Related Professionals Day.

NYSUT supplied more than 700 local unions with 182,000 stickers proclaiming "Proud to be an SRP" or "Proud to work with an SRP" and distributed ideas for unions to work with districts on ways to honor support staff.

"This day honors some of our state's most dedicated educators — School-Related Professionals," NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi said. "Our schools are open, safe and healthy because of their efforts. SRPs help our students achieve every day, playing a vital role in our ongoing campaign to end the achievement gap."

NYSUT's membership includes more than 90,000 SRPs working in a variety of roles — driving school buses; preparing nutritious meals for students; keeping kids healthy and school buildings clean and secure; maintaining the flow of communication between parents and educators; and working directly with students as teaching assistants and aides.

"These professionals are the hidden heroes of our schools. Whether their work is inside or outside the classroom, their efforts deserve praise and fair treatment in every school in this state," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue.

— Betsy Sandberg