April 2013 Issue
March 28, 2013

Locals in Action

Source: NYSUT United
Caption: Fulton Teachers Association members at Fairgrieve Elementary wear T-shirts with a message: "Just let us teach!" Front row: Barb Senecal, Heidi Nagelschmidt, Sharon Lachut, Scott Earl, Nicole Garofalo, Kristine Kaufman. Middle row: Alaina Marowski, Chris Arnold, Lynne Field, Crysta Rouse, Colleen Warner, Katie Sutton, Phyllis White, Johannah Brown. Back row: Kevin Ahern, Anne Marie Dromgoole, Corry Zion, Diane Wavle, Mary Sheldon, Becky Crisafulli, Lucy Hawthorne, Drew White, Dan Sherman, Anne Donovan. To see more photos of Fulton TA members, visit the NYSUT United facebook page at www.facebook.com/NYSUTUnited. Members across the district participated in the showing of solidarity.

Fulton TA

Members of the Fulton Teachers Association found a fashionable way to inform parents and the community about the impact of the state's obsession with standardized testing. Educators wore red T-shirts on designated days this winter to send the message that teachers believe accountability is good and, in fact, embrace it.

"We have worked diligently for the past two years on creating and implementing a new teacher evaluation system with our district, implementing the new Common Core standards in our classroom and raising the bar for all students.

"By having the FTA work cooperatively with the district, we have secured more than a million dollars of state aid for our district in these difficult financial times," said Fulton TA President Dave Derouchie.

"But creating chaos and demanding excessive testing is NOT good for our students. It takes away from learning time and opportunities in the classroom for our students to become well-rounded students. We want to get back to investing our time into what we do best: TEACH!"

Schenectady FT

Recognizing that more of the students in Schenectady are struggling with poverty, the Schenectady Federation of Teachers has made a commitment to raise $7,500 ($2,500 a year for three years) to participate in the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York backpack program. Each weekend, students in need are supplied with backpacks filled with food.

"We have a really high-needs population," said Juliet Benaquisto, SFT president. Benaquisto said there are students whose families "house surf," who live in motels, in shelters or with friends. The situation "without a doubt" worsened as the economy faltered.

After consulting with the district, where 80 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, the SFT chose Van Corlear Elementary School for the backpack program. The local union is raising money through dress-down days. The district's Board of Education members even got in on the giving — paying to dress down for their meetings.

Other organizations sponsoring Schenectady schools' participation in the program are GE Global Research (Keane Elementary) and Concerned for the Hungry (Lincoln Elementary). Teachers refer students based on need. School nurses, teachers and social workers unpack items the district receives from the food bank and fill the backpacks.

"I am very proud to work among such a generous group of caring, committed educators, who are very quick to respond to the needs of children and their families, whether it be assisting the City Mission with their Christmas Toy Store, or helping a family after a tragic event such as a fire, or donating money to a worthyprogram such as the backpack program," said Betsey McKoy, an SFT executive board member who brought the backpack idea to her union. CSEA staff also made donations.

Corning TA

More than 40 Corning-Painted Post District employees participated in the 15th annual Bring Your Parent to Work Day last fall by inviting 45 parents and friends to spend the day celebrating their chosen professions.

Several staff members said their parents look forward to attending the event each year.

Bring Your Parent to Work Day started in 1998 by now-retired art teacher Sue St. Louis as a way to recognize and thank parents for the part they play in steering and supporting their children's career choices as educators. The CTA organizes the day each year and provides a gift item to the visiting guests.