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teacher of the year 2019
Sep 18

Bronx teacher of immigrant students named New York’s 2019 Teacher of the Year

ALBANY, N.Y. Sept. 18, 2018 — A visually impaired Bronx high school teacher who immigrated to this country from West Africa and entered teaching because he wanted to transform the lives of young people — all while commuting four hours round-trip each day from the Hudson Valley to do so — today was named the state’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.

Alhassan Susso, a member of United Federation of Teachers, teaches government, economics and personal development at the International Community High School in the South Bronx, where nearly every student is poor and a new arrival to this country. He rises well before dawn each school day, usually at 4 a.m., for the two-hour trip from his home in Poughkeepsie to the South Bronx, where he has taught since 2012.

In addition to his regular teaching duties, Susso leads a course during what he calls “zero period” — which begins one hour before the official school day but is nonetheless jammed with eager students. His self-designed special course helps his South Bronx students — mainly from Latin American countries, Yemen, Bangladesh and nations in West Africa — plan for their future. Susso helps his students develop the leadership, communication and financial management skills necessary to achieve their dreams. Last year, every student who completed Susso’s course graduated high school and 97 percent are enrolled in college.

“Alhassan Susso’s incredible life story and his unwavering commitment to his students at the International Community High School are an inspiration, and a reminder of the dedication, excellence and professionalism found in classrooms all across the state,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “Our profession is lifted by innovative educators like Mr. Susso, who, like his colleagues, are changing lives through their passion for teaching and learning.”

NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said, “Alhassan Susso is a champion for children. His impact on his students — and his community — is immeasurable. Even in a state like New York, which is nationally renowned for the very high caliber of its teaching force, Alhassan’s life story, his passion for teaching, and his dedication to students and public education stand out. He is a shining example of what it means to be an educator.”

Susso immigrated to the United States from Gambia as a junior at Poughkeepsie High School, where school became his refuge. At one time, he planned to be a lawyer, but switched to teaching because he wanted to help young people. He graduated from the University of Vermont and earned his masters from Bard College. He is the author of The Light of Darkness: The Story of the Griots’ Son, which traces his journey to America as a nearly blind teenager and the challenges of becoming an American while maintaining his deep African roots. Susso also was a 2017 Top 50 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize awarded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

In his statement for the Teacher of Year application, Sussso wrote: “Teaching should bring joy and happiness each day because teaching is all about cultivating and nurturing relationships. It does not matter how outstanding our lessons are, how skilled we are in delivering those lessons, or how knowledgeable we are in our subject matter … if our students do not know how much we care about them.”

teacher of the year 2019

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.


Sep 18

Educators and nurses vote to unionize and affiliate with NYSUT

ALBANY, N.Y. Sept. 18, 2018 — Educators at three institutions, including two in Buffalo, have voted to unionize and affiliate with the more than 600,000-member New York State United Teachers.

NYSUT’s Board of Directors voted Saturday to approve the affiliation request of teachers at the Health Sciences Charter School in Buffalo and the staff at the Stanley G. Falk School in Buffalo. In addition, the board voted to recognize school nurses in the Uniondale School District on Long Island as a local union within NYSUT. The three new NYSUT local unions will represent more than 300 educators and health care professionals.

“Educators in charter schools and the teachers, counselors and other professionals serving children with special learning, behavioral or social needs — like those at the Falk School — deserve a meaningful voice in the decisions that impact their lives as professionals and the students they care so much about,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “Like so many workers, these educators and nurses see the value in joining together in a union to collectively seek higher wages, better health insurance and improved working conditions. We welcome them to the union family.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

Puerto Rico Fundraiser
Sep 17

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration and Fundraiser for Puerto Rico

SAVE THE DATE

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration and Fundraiser for Puerto Rico

When: September 27, 2018 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Where: Campus Center Ballroom, SUNY Albany Uptown Campus

It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and unfortunately, many residents are still in need.

Join the Capital District Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (CD LCLAA) in collaboration with the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund to hear from individuals who participated in relief efforts, while raising money for needed school supplies for students in Puerto Rico.

While the event is free to the public, we are asking attendees to make a monetary donation to support the purchase of supplies.

  • Check-In 5PM- 6PM
  • Panel: Puerto Rico Relief Efforts and Experience 6:00PM-7:30PM
  • Networking and Social Hour 7:30PM- 9:00PM

Registration: Email CDLCLAA@gmail.com to register for the event.

Sep 14

Fresh off primary victories, NYSUT backs candidates who speak for working people

ALBANY, N.Y. Sept. 14, 2018 — New York State United Teachers today endorsed six candidates for state Senate who will be champions for public education and labor, while giving new voice to the hopes and dreams of working people.

NYSUT’s Board of Directors, meeting in Albany this weekend, voted to endorse former New York City Comptroller John Liu in the 11th Senate District; former union organizer Jessica Ramos in the 13th Senate District; activist Julia Salazar in the 18th Senate District; former New York City Councilman and education activist Robert Jackson in the 31st Senate District; former Hillary Clinton staffer Alessandra Biaggi in the 34th Senate District, and educator and environmentalist Rachel May in the 53rd Senate District.

“Ordinary working people came out in force to vote in the primaries. They delivered a loud and clear message to Albany: It’s time for the people who teach in our schools; keep our streets safe; and who care deeply about runaway college debt, affordable housing, decent health care for all and the environment to have a real voice in New York State,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “These progressive candidates are the real deal. They represent the coming wave of fighters for public education and organized labor. Today, we are proud to endorse the candidates of working people and will work hard to ensure they are victorious in November.”

NYSUT had previously endorsed a host of successful candidates in Thursday’s Senate primary voting, including Zellnor Myrie in the 20th Senate District, Andrew Gounardes in the 22nd Senate District and Jennifer Metzger in the 42nd Senate District.

NYSUT also endorsed Taylor Raynor for the 18th Assembly District, Catalina Cruz in the 39th Assembly District and Jonathan Jacobson in the 104th Assembly District.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

nysed
Sep 14

NYSUT commends Regents for improving harmful regulations on test participation

ALBANY, N.Y. Sept. 14, 2018 — New York State United Teachers today commended the Board of Regents for reversing harmful draft regulations on test participation in order to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. NYSUT said:

“Parents and educators spoke passionately and the Regents listened. We commend Chancellor Rosa and the Regents for that. As a result of today’s actions, schools with high opt-out rates will be treated more fairly — a victory for the hundreds of NYSUT members who opposed the draft regulations and defended parents’ right to opt their children out without penalty or pressure. While this is an important step forward, our fight is not over. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is clearly misinterpreting federal law by requiring the state to identify schools with high opt-out rates. No school should face any sanction — or the stigma of being placed on a state list of academically deficient schools — because parents refuse to have their children take flawed and misused state standardized tests.”

BACKGROUND

  • The Regents rejected regulations that would have wrongly diverted federal Title I funds from students attending schools with a less than 95 percent participation rate.
  • In addition, the Regents significantly improved upon the draft regulations and will now allow schools with high opt-out numbers to ‘leave’ state accountability lists if they are otherwise high-performing.
  • U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is clearly misinterpreting the intent of ESSA. The U.S. Education Dept. has wrongly concluded that states must identify schools with participation rates below 95 percent, ignoring federal law that explicitly grants parents the right to opt their children out of state tests. We believe the USDOE letter ties the hands of state policymakers.

RELATED ARTICLE

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

hempstead disaster relief
Sep 12

NYSUT and local unions help Long Island educators who lost school supplies in fire

When a bolt of lightning hit the roof of Prospect Elementary in Hempstead last month, the three-story brick building caught fire, damaging classrooms and everything inside them that teachers and teaching assistants had collected for many years.

The fire, smoke and water damage destroyed thousands of dollars worth of supplies that teachers and teaching assistants had purchased out of their own pockets — games, artwork, books, baskets, colored paper and learning centers.

“They lost a lot of materials. They were heartbroken,” said Anita Reynolds, president of the Hempstead Teaching Assistants Association.

They also lost many irreplaceable personal items. “We had some teachers crying,” said Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association President Nicole Brown. “They lost all the notes from students they’d saved over the years.”

Nothing was salvageable.

But Brown knew where to turn for help. “Who would you call first when your members are in trouble?” Brown asked. “You call NYSUT.”

She called the statewide union last week and community relations liaison Paul Webster immediately shipped out seven cases of school supply kits that will be shared with the 25 Hempstead teachers to help them kick-start this interrupted school life. Each kit contains markers, colored pencils, tissues, a ruler, glue, scissors, erasers, a pencil sharpener, crayons, lined paper, glue sticks, folders, a classic book, and a highlighter.

NYSUT also sent a case of spiral notebooks, backpacks, posters, rulers and pencils.

hempstead
Anita Reynolds, president of the Hempstead Teaching Assistants Association and Nicole Brown, president of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association.

“What’s a better way of demonstrating union value than if you can do something for someone?” asked Brown, who attended NYSUT’s New Local Presidents Conference this past summer.

NYSUT President Andrew Pallotta said he always tells new local presidents: “Don’t be shy. Ask for help. See what we have.”

NYSUT has also agreed to approve a donation to the HCTA and HTAA through the statewise union's Disaster Relief Fund that helps members hit by floods, fires, hurricanes and other disasters.

“This is what we do,” said NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Philippe Abraham, who oversees the fund. “Because of our work in the field, more members – from rank-and-file to presidents – realize this is the right approach.”

The local unions are also responding. Brown said the local HCTA is voting to provide the teachers with gift cards to Staples for office products. Reynolds said the HTAA plans to provide money to the educators to replenish supplies.

Some teaching assistants from other schools have been collecting materials and helping the Prospect School TAs, said Reynolds.

The pre-K and kindergarten students who studied at Prospect School will be attending school at a former Catholic school that had closed. Desks and tables are still arriving, Brown said. Once school begins there, the Prospect Elementary teachers and teaching assistants – who are now temporarily assigned elsewhere in the district while waiting for their own classes to begin – can use the kits to set up classrooms.

The Prospect School is being rebuilt, and is scheduled to reopen sometime next year.

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