Building stronger communities — be it the professional community in which members work, or the neighborhoods they call home — is a cornerstone of NYSUT's Local Action Project.
"The work our members do in their communities reinforces the lessons they teach in the classroom," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue.
Here are some examples of LAP locals in action:
The Newburgh Teaching Assistants continue to strengthen their presence in district schools and build bridges in their neighborhoods.
Like other SRP locals, the teaching assistants were proud and visible during the annual statewide School-Related Professionals Day celebration in November. The Newburgh Teachers Association, led by Pat Van Duser, held an SRP celebration and distributed tokens of appreciation at the union office.
The SRP local was recently honored for supporting Safe Homes, a network of shelters for families dealing with domestic violence issues.
The NTA has raised much-needed funds for the shelters, and contributed care items and toiletries, said chapter president Sheila Manning.
Educators in two Rochester neighborhoods are joining with parents to send a message to the district: Save our schools!
Citing low enrollment, the district proposes to close two elementary schools, No. 2 and No. 6, at the end of the 2011-12 school year.
"These schools are in very high-poverty, high-needs neighborhoods. Both schools have brought in huge amounts of technology resources, after-school and extended day programs," said Margaret Sergent, second vice president of Rochester TA.
Both schools are making gains. School No. 6 learned it was removed from the state's Schools in Need of Improvement list the day the closure proposal was announced.
"The rationale for closing these schools doesn't make a whole lot of sense to any of us," Sergent said.
School No. 2 parent Shalece Gibson can't imagine what she'll do if the school closes.
"I live directly across the street and I see what the teachers do for the school," she said. "Everybody there goes over and beyond to make sure the kids learn."
As NYSUT United went to press, the Rochester Board of Education was scheduled to vote on the school's fate.
Go to www.rochesterteachers.com. for further information.
Washington Academy TA
The 67-member Washington Academy TA, led by Mary Kruchinski, scored a touchdown for teamwork.
Representing members from rural Salem schools in Washington County, the local supported the school-wide Teams for Food project.
"SRPs, the teachers union and administrators all worked together, but the even bigger focus was kids working with kids," said Kruchinski.
Everyone in the school, from kindergarten students through seniors, from secretaries to health teachers, became a member of a football team, each donating a can of food they counted as a point scored for their team.
The TA kicked off the drive by donating 100 cans of food. Nearly 1,500 food items were gathered and delivered to a local food pantry.
Buffalo Educational Support Team
The Buffalo Educational Support Team honored union members, as well as the accomplishments of some prominent members of Buffalo's Hispanic community, at the local's third annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration.
A NYSUT LAP local, the union uses such gatherings to highlight how diversity strengthens the profession.
The celebration is one of BEST's signature events. "While the event celebrates Hispanic culture, it brings together many cultures and highlights our commonality," said Evelyn Hidalgo, BEST second vice president.