February 2011 Issue
February 08, 2011

Locals in Action

Source: NYSUT United
Caption: Students at one of 25 New York City schools slated to close take part in a candelight vigil organized by the United Federation of Teachers. Photo by David Sanders.

United Federation of Teachers

The United Federation of Teachers, led by Michael Mulgrew, held school demonstrations and informational meetings, attended public hearings and rallies, lobbied elected officials and held a mass demonstration at the Panel for Educational Policy to make the case that closing schools is bad for students. The panel voted to close 22 schools in New York City. The UFT vows to keep up the fight.

Association of Greece Central Educational Professionals

After a year of planning, leaders from the Association of Greece Central Educational Professionals pulled off another successful training conference for more than 400 members.

The annual fall professional development day is organized and planned by the union. The local represents School-Related Professionals in the Greece district near Rochester, including teaching assistants, teacher aides, child care associates, security workers, monitors and clerical staff.

The most recent training featured sessions on CPR, sign language, security for front office staff and a host of other topics relevant to the union's varied membership.
"This is a whole day of training so our members can keep up and stay fresh on whatever their position is," said Eileen Alley, AGCEP president and chair of the professional development committee.

Alley said the union takes seriously the task of providing the training opportunities for so many members.

"It takes a whole year for us to put it together and it's sometimes hard to find the presenters," she said, "but it's a lot of fun."

Saranac Lake CSTA

Members of the Saranac Lake Central School Teachers Association were able to reach out to needy members of their community and boost the local economy as well.

Responding to the needs of a regional center where low-income families can secure toiletries and other needed goods, educators helped to stock the Family Champions store with personal care items following a supply drive in the first few days of school.

The local, led by Melissa Devit, also launched a "PJ Drive," collecting 100 pairs of pajamas and gifts for the holidays. Each member was challenged to purchase at least one holiday gift at a local store.

The local encouraged storeowners to give a raffle ticket to each member who purchased an item in their shop. Winners received gift certificates and NYSUT gear. "We, as an association, have decided to give back to our town," Devit said.

To further support the local economy, the union is holding Eat Local nights at local restaurants — a night out during each month at a different local restaurant.

Deposit TA

Needy Southern Tier families received the gift of literacy, thanks to a successful book drive sponsored by area educators.

The Deposit Teachers Association's five-week Holiday Book Drive netted more than 650 books for the Deposit Foundation's Toys for Tots campaign.

Members of the TA, school staff and administrators, the local library and a local business collected the books — enough for about 200 needy children to receive a minimum of three books each.

To complete the circle of giving, Deposit TA retirees were on hand to help distribute the books and help parents select appropriate books for their children.