April 2012 Issue
March 21, 2012

Locals in action

Source: NYSUT United
Caption: East Syracuse Minoa United Teachers member Linda Oja's fourth-grade students celebrate after receiving their anti-bullying bracelets.

North Rockland TA

Step over, celebrities. Dancing with the Stars has some new competition, and it's on prime time in public schools. It's called Dancing with the Teachers, and North Rockland is where it's happening.

The NRTA, led by Robin Brennan, donated to this well-heeled fundraiser, which raised $20,000 for Stand Up to Cancer, a charity that focuses on doctors, scientists and researchers working collaboratively to find a cure for cancer. Educators here also coordinate about 15 other fundraisers a year for different causes, Brennan said.

This year's event was coordinated by North Rockland teacher Jennifer Harrington and Amy Leibel, a longtime substitute teacher in North Rockland and now a member of the Nyack TA. They put out a call to faculty and staff, and signed up the first 10 to respond. Students and educators sold holiday hats and pizza to raise money to hire professional dancers from a local studio to train the teacher-dancers for six weeks. Custodians dressed up as Santa or Frosty for photos to raise funds.

The competitors chose individual costumes and music, and student supporters bought T-shirts in coordinating colors of the teacher they were rooting for. On the gala evening, audience members chose the winner through ballots.

Who had the winning moves? Italian teacher Laura Green and her professional dance partner Nolan Josephs, of NY DanceSport in New City.

"It was pretty powerful," said Harrington.

East Syracuse Minoa United Teachers

Members of the East Syracuse Minoa United Teachers are empowering students across the district to wipe out bullying. With the help of the American Federation of Teachers' anti-bullying campaign, every student will receive information about how to stop bullying along with a bracelet with the "See a Bully, Stop a Bully" motto. All students in the district's five elementary schools, middle school and high school will receive the info and bracelets through the district's Positive Behavior Intervention System.

"When I met with the PBIS committee, my biggest concern was that we not waste the opportunities we have," said ESMUT President John Nichols. "AFT's ‘See a Bully Stop a Bully' gets right to the heart of the matter. Bullying continues because we let it."

Retiree Council 22

Retiree Council 22 awarded four mini-grants to in-service teachers at its January Executive Board meeting. Reading specialists Angela D'Amico and Christine McElwee-Buchala, Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers, received grants for literacy projects.

JoAnne Vitiello, a special education teacher and member of the Tuckahoe TA, received grant money for a project titled Increase Fluency — Increase Comprehension. And librarian Catherine Lynch, Miller Place TA, received funds for a project promoting computer literacy.

The council began the mini-grant program two years ago to support in-service colleagues, said Kal Raustiala, RC 22 president. Grants range up to $500. RC 22 encompasses parts of eastern Suffolk County.

Half Hollow Hills Library Association

Members of the Half Hollow Hills Library Association prepare floral arrangements for community members. From left, Teresa LaMorte, Darla Gutierrez, Ellen Druda, Catherine Given, and local president Lisa Kropp.

Members of the Half Hollow Hills Library Association made a special Valentine's delivery to senior housing residences and home bound library patrons.

Members of the local union, led by Lisa Kropp, had the leader of the local garden club teach them how to make floral arrangements.

Then the local bought the supplies and assembled the arrangements during lunch hours, said Ellen Druda, internet services librarian and HHHLA member.

Members used flowers from a local florist for the project.

The union made the arrangements as part of an outreach program, Druda said. "This was the first time we tried something like this, and it was a lot of fun!" she said.

The Half Hollow Hills LA has 86 members, including retirees.