If you want to know how a union works, how a workplace becomes safer or what type of professionals go above and beyond the call of duty, then look no further. NYSUT honors both hard work and achievements of members from different constituencies and leaders during the 2017 Representative Assembly, April 7-8 in New York City. Learn more at www.nysut.org/ra.
The complete awards book is also available to download.
On this page:
Albert Shanker Award for Distinguished Service
Alan B. Lubin
NYSUT Executive Vice President Emeritus
Alan B. Lubin has spent nearly a half-century fighting for public education, civil rights, students and working people.
He served for decades in leadership roles in both the United Federation of Teachers and NYSUT, including 17 years as NYSUT’s executive vice president where he forged strong bipartisan relations and helped win tremendous victories in Albany for NYSUT members across the state.
As leader of NYSUT’s legislative and political action operation, Lubin led the fight to protect public employees’ pensions from inflation through enactment of a Cost-of-Living Adjustment; won record school aid increases and gained passage of legislation that requires schools to be equipped with Automated External Defibrillators. School defibrillators have been credited with saving dozens of lives in schools and on athletic fields across the state. Lubin, who is also a co-founder of the Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY), remains active in union issues and is on the board of the New York Rural and Migrant Ministry and other social justice groups. Lubin was named NYSUT executive vice president emeritus in 2015.
The Shanker Award is especially meaningful to Lubin. When Lubin was a young teacher and unionist in New York City, Shanker invited him to meetings with Bayard Rustin, A. Phillip Randolph, Norman Hill and other leading labor figures of the day. There, Lubin said, he learned to listen, hone arguments and strategize — and, with Shanker, began to emphasize the importance of building strong coalitions with others who share the union’s goals.
“Albert Shanker was my mentor and my teacher,” Lubin said. “I am forever grateful to him. I am deeply honored to receive the Albert Shanker Award for Distinguished Service.”
The Albert Shanker Award for Distinguished Service — the highest honor bestowed by NYSUT — recognizes special contributions to public education in the United States. Pioneering a militant brand of teacher unionism, Albert Shanker led educators across New York State in a crusade for workplace dignity, and then led teachers nationwide into an era of educational reform and higher standards. The late, legendary UFT and AFT president has been described as “one of the greatest educators of the 20th century.”
New York State Teacher of the Year
North Syracuse Educators Association
Amy Hysick, a science teacher at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero, represents the best of what the state’s knowledgeable, highly skilled and dedicated teachers bring to their classrooms every day.
Hysick has been teaching Regents Living Environment in North Syracuse — her alma mater — for the past 12 years and has taught community chemistry in the district. Hysick, whose parents are career educators and retired NYSUT members, is known for challenging her students to meet learning targets, while fostering a mindset in students that mistakes are opportunities to further their own learning and personal growth.
A lifelong resident of the Syracuse area, Hysick was educated in the North Syracuse school district. She is a graduate of Binghamton University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Arts in Secondary Education with a specialization in Biology. She holds permanent New York State Certifications in Biology (7-12) and Chemistry (7-12).
Hysick believes that building relationships with students is the key to unlocking their motivation and engaging them. One way she fosters relationships with her own students is by housing the school’s reptile collection in her classroom. She uses her sewing skills to create “over-the-top” costumes to support school Spirit Week and other school events, to further connect with students and help to build a positive school culture.
Hysick is committed to the success of all students and participates in a variety of professional learning communities designed to increase student achievement. Among these is an online forum of science educators from the United States and Canada where Hysick discusses topics pertinent to her own classroom experience, and shares resources and teaching materials. Locally, Hysick has worked with colleagues to lead the creation and implementation of instructional strategies to more effectively reach students with a variety of learning styles and the development of strategies targeted at success for at-risk students.
NYSUT also salutes this year’s finalists: Carolyn Dorritie, a high school math teacher at Port Jervis High School and a member of the Port Jervis TA; Nicole Malone, an English teacher at William T. Rogers Middle School and member of the Kings Park Classroom TA; Natasha Murray, a math educator at Copiague Middle School in Copiague; and Lauren Bakian Aaker, a fourth-grade teacher at P.S. 110 The Florence Nightingale School in Manhattan and member of the UFT.
Retiree Members of the Year
United Federation of Teachers
Stewart Cohen is, in the words of United Federation of Teachers Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy, “the UFT/NYSUT’s most valued political activist on the west coast of Florida.”
Since retiring to Sarasota in 2003, Cohen serves as a UFT delegate to the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, representing FLARA on the West Central Florida Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and chairing its board of trustees.
Cohen is also a regular participant in Sarasota and Manatee Democratic Party actions as a labor advocate. In the last election cycle alone, his network of 57 activists held seven home phone banks, making 3,000 calls and sending 1,500 emails. He has a waiting list of eager volunteers.
“I look forward to increasing our impact on the west coast of Florida for the next election cycle,” Cohen says.
White Plains Teachers Association/ Westchester Putnam Retirees
Westchester/Putnam retiree member Alma Cormican epitomizes the qualities that make NYSUT a strong union. A past president and chief negotiator for the White Plains Teachers Association, Cormican remained a union activist after retiring in 1999. She joined her retiree local’s executive committee in 2004, becoming its president in 2008.
Cormican has edited her retiree local’s award-winning newsletter since 2006; organized and run pre-retirement seminars for in-service teachers since 2009; and raised more than $15,000 for local scholarships and the Westchester/Putnam Retiree’s REACT committee that helps schools and children in need.
Cormican has attended the NYSUT Representative Assembly since 1972. She is an active member of the statewide union’s Retiree Advisory Committee, where she contributed to the publication Your Blueprint for a Successful Retirement: An Online Planning Guide.
Higher Education Members of the Year
United University Professions-Old Westbury
Eileen Landy, an associate professor of sociology at SUNY Old Westbury, is completing her 16th year as secretary-treasurer of NYSUT’s largest higher ed affiliate, United University Professions, the statewide union representing academic and professional staff on State University of New York campuses.
She was previously president of UUP’s Old Westbury chapter and presiding officer of the Old Westbury Faculty Senate for six years, and has served as a delegate to and a member of numerous conventions and committees of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. Landry also has been an instrumental voice in the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education.
Landy is a frequent and vocal presence on picket lines and at rallies and is a recognized champion for women’s issues.
Faculty Federation of Erie Community College
Andrew Sako is a professor of building management at Erie Community College.
Sako has been president of the Faculty Federation of Erie Community College since 2004. He is also a member of NYSUT’s Board of Directors and of the NEA Board of Directors, representing New York State.
In his academic work, he is known for establishing creative partnerships with the building trades in Erie County that benefit his students. In 2000, Sako won the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor accorded a faculty member or administrator by the State University of New York.
The awards recognize the professional excellence, accomplishments and outstanding contributions of SUNY’s dedicated professionals.
Sako is also a recognized political force in the Buffalo area, respected by policymakers of all party affiliations.
Health Care Professionals Member of the Year
Sayville Teachers Association
Social worker Dawn Lloyd-Matthews, an 18-year member of the Sayville Teachers Association, works with at-risk middle school students referred for social, emotional and/or behavioral reasons. She provides individual, group and family crisis intervention; coordinates community outreach programs; and assists children and families on matters dealing with abuse, neglect and homelessness.
Lloyd-Matthews has served in several key leadership roles with the STA, including executive vice president, grievance coordinator and member of the union’s negotiating team. She is also a convention delegate to NYSUT and the American Federation of Teachers.
A member of the National Association of School Social Workers and the New York State School Social Workers Association, Lloyd-Matthews also has worked in the classroom, lecturing on social networking behavior, the Dignity for All Students Act, relationships and suicide prevention.
School-Related Professionals Member of the Year
West Hempstead Educational Association
Nancy Sullivan, a teaching assistant and member of the West Hempstead Educational Association, works with K-12 students with special needs. She also serves as union building representative for members in the West Hempstead Middle School.
When Nancy began working in the West Hempstead district 18 years ago, teaching assistants did not have union representation. She initiated efforts to bring teaching assistants under the union umbrella, collaborated with her colleagues to educate the district and pushed for union affiliation.
Sullivan also has a reputation for going above and beyond for her students. She is known to help students with any assignment or test whether it is in her content area or not, and empowers students with her positive outlook and motivating spirit.
“Not for Ourselves Alone:” The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award
NYSUT Special Projects Coordinator and former president of the Penfield Education Association
No method can accurately count and multiply the number of lives positively impacted by teacher and union activist Sonia Basko, who is being honored posthumously.
She changed thousands of students’ lives as a high school English teacher for 18 years; an adjunct professor at Niagara University and at Finger Lakes and Monroe community colleges; and as a literacy consultant. As a unionist, she was active in the Penfield Education Association, where she became local president. She was a NYSUT Board member, then became special projects coordinator for NYSUT as a self-described “warrior for public education and civil rights.”
Basko was staff liaison for NYSUT’s flagship sponsorship of the statewide American Cancer Society Making Strides campaign, working at the Rochester walk even as she was in treatment for cancer.
A graduate of the NYSUT and AFL-CIO leadership institutes, Basko organized Picket in the Pines, NYSUT’s first statewide rally in the North Country, and the union’s Fair Trade outreach programs.
She worked with the NYSUT Civil and Human Rights Committee, helping to create the campaigns on “Start the Conversation,” addressing racial equality; and “Why in Five,” showing union action on educational justice, immigration reform, child labor protections, women’s rights, fair trade, and the fight to combat hunger and poverty.
As a child, Basko had cancer and attended Camp Good Days and Special Times in western New York. She remained a volunteer with the camp throughout her life. She died at age 43 on Dec. 29, 2016.
Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant
North Babylon Teachers Organization
Kathryn Dein, an AIS math teacher and new local president of the North Babylon Teachers Organization, has received the Sandy Feldman Leadership Grant. Each year, NYSUT awards a grant of $2,000 to help up-and-coming women activists develop leadership skills, network with other union leaders and build union and community involvement. Dein has been working with a union action committee creating community events, the Parent Youth Activity Center and local civic organizations. She wants to attend leadership programs and take part in coalition building training.