Her enthusiasm is contagious, her energy is boundless and her call for increasing involvment in the union is constant.
NYSUT's Sandra Carner-Shafran received the Albert Shanker Pioneer Award — the highest individual award given by the American Federation of Teachers to a School-Related Professional.
Praising Carner-Shafran's energy and motivation, AFT Executive Vice President Lorretta Johnson presented the award to the 27-year veteran teaching assistant at the national union's recent conference.
"She has spearheaded changes in the structure of her state federation ... which have led to a greater voice and increased opportunities" for SRP members in NYSUT, Johnson said.
Not only does Carner-Shafran encourage members and locals to get involved, she does it herself. She knocks on doors, works phone banks and stuffs envelopes to get pro-education and pro-labor candidates elected. If there's a rally for a social justice issue within driving distance, she's there. When the union lobbies at the state Capitol, she's there.
"SRPs throughout the state are more involved because of pioneers like Sandie who is a constant advocate for getting and staying active," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue, whose office oversees SRP issues for the union. "We're excited to see AFT recognize her valuable contributions."
"I am so honored to even be considered for this award," Carner-Shafran said, admitting that even a week after being honored she scarcely believes it. "I meet so many talented, dedicated unionists everywhere I go who work hard on the job and in their union. Their work and actions are what keep me going."
Johnson also noted how Carner-Shafran turned a difficult personal experience into a program to help others.
"After spending time in a shelter for battered women, she became an advocate," Johnson said, noting how Carner-Shafran started a program to collect toiletries during union conventions and conferences to donate to shelters.
A member of the Saratoga-Adirondack BOCES Employees Association, Carner-Shafran serves on NYSUT's Board of Directors and is a member of the union's BOCES Statewide Planning Committee.
She has chaired the NYSUT SRP state advisory committee, co-chaired NYSUT's Task Force on School-Related Professionals and is a past member of the AFT's Program and Policy Council.
She was appointed to the Advisory Board for The National Skills Standards Instruction for Paraprofessionals, conducts workshops in the Professional Development Program through NYSUT's Education & Learning Trust and serves as a coordinator for SRP programs for the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center.