Reading is much more than fundamental the way the Galway Teachers' Association promotes it.
The second annual Read-In Camp Out is a reading adventure, where students and their families follow a map of activities throughout the Joseph Henry Elementary school. The two-hour event is for all elementary families in the Galway School community to promote the love of reading.
To make the experience more like a camp out, students can come dressed in their pajamas, read books in tents with their families and listen to stories around a campfire, said Jenn Suydam, Read-In coordinator.
"Our Association provides middle level students enrichment through STEM programs, and provides our high school students support for a safe post-prom party. We wanted to extend our help to our elementary students," Galway TA President, Carrie Herron said. "The Read-In Camp Out was a perfect way to do this!"
The activities took students and their families through the hallways, gymnasium, cafeteria and library where they created key chain crafts, decorated their own tote bags, made their own trail mix and listened to stories by guest speakers.
Parents were also introduced to the Galway TA's STAR Reading program, a service provided to all elementary families that allows students to borrow a bag of books to read at home. Students receive prizes and a free T-shirt after reading 250 books.
Saratoga Springs TA
Saratoga Springs Teachers Association is having "a rebirth." The local union is reviving itself with concrete actions that are getting noticed in the community, said President Karen Swift. This spring, the local was able to convince the school board to pass a resolution opposing high-stakes testing in the school district.
"We worked with a parents group and organized an open forum on testing using the NYSUT toolkit," Swift said. "We discussed the differences of authentic testing vs. high-stakes testing." Parents discussed what it was like for them at home with stressed-out children, and educators shared what it is like for them.
The TA is also doing more community outreach. The SSTA took over a local event called Ryan's Run to raise research funds for the bone disease Malignant Infantile Osteopetrosis. Teacher Rana Hughes led the way to support the 5K event.
In solidarity with teacher Kevin Wolpert, whose daughter, Gabby, has cancer, the local also became a co-sponsor for the 10K Wolpert Warrior walk, with leadership by teachers Christopher Delorenzo and Cate Stephen. The event raised money for the Wolpert fund and the American Cancer Society. Syosset TA
The Syosset TA participated in its first St. Baldrick's event this year, raising close to $16,000 for pediatric cancer research.
Members vowed to expand the exercise of shaving heads and moustaches on St. Patrick's Day next year.
"Many students and staff were involved and administration was so supportive that next year we will open the event to other schools," said Dale Iovine, one of the many Syosset TA members who helped with the event. More than 100 students and 22 teachers lost their hair to raise money and awareness. The effort was also in solidarity with a student who is currently battling leukemia, noted Kim Pritchard, Syosset TA president. Since the first event in 2000, a number of NYSUT locals as well as NYSUT staff have participated in St. Baldrick's events. Go to www.stbaldricks.org to find out more about the non-profit group that is the largest volunteer fundraiser for childhood cancer research.
The United University Professions chapter at SUNY Geneseo found a new way to connect with K-12 educators and build strong community ties among local unions. Through networking, the local helped nine school districts share the cost of having a well-known presenter visit the Livingston County region.
UUP member Tom Matthews, who is also a NYSUT Board member, organized a visit by Jamie Nabozny with students from five schools at the Geneseo campus. Nabozny is a nationally known anti-bullying activist and the subject of the documentary Bullied. Matthews was also able to assist four other K-12 schools from a more distant region that wanted to have Nabozny visit. The effort helped educators from kindergarten through college get to know each other and to share strategies. The UUP Geneseo chapter is led by Tabitha Buggie-Hunt.
Members of the Webster TA and the West Irondequoit TA suited up for the 12th annual Adam Milne charity basketball game.
The Webster TA, led by Steven Turiano, provided the jerseys for both teams, as well as extra T-shirts for sale to spectators, with the proceeds going to cancer research. This year, half the funds went to support the West Webster Fire Department.
The West Irondequoit TA is led by Scott Steinberg.
Adam Milne was a social studies teacher at Irondequoit High School who was married to a teacher from Webster for three months, until he passed away of leukemia. He made a profound impact on his students and colleagues, living his motto, "Go forth and spread joy."