December 2013/January 2014 Issue
December 16, 2013

Locals in Action

Source: NYSUT United
Oceanside Federation of Teachers greets new members

Oceanside Federation of Teachers greets new members

The Oceanside Federation of Teachers welcomed new educators at a breakfast and meet-and-greet with union officers and building reps. New members were able to ask questions on several topics of interest, including social media, how to handle being asked to do something against the contract, hugging students and back-to-school night.

Greeting members, from left, are Frank Nappi, high school vice president; Mike Demarco, middle school vice president; OFT President Riche Roschelle; Rob Pittman, executive president; Sue Frank, treasurer; and Amy Rand, secretary.

Elizabethtown-Lewis Teachers Association

One of the many items cut from the budget this year at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School in Lewis County was the fall kindergarten field trip to a nearby pumpkin patch. Unsettled by the loss of a decades-long tradition, teachers, teaching assistants and student groups stepped up to bring the pumpkin patch to the school.

Teacher Sally Wachowski, who is co-president of the 38-member Elizabethtown-Lewis Teachers Association along with Robyn Jones, said the idea was the brainchild of teaching assistant and TA member Sue Plumadore. The TA and several staff members purchased 40 pumpkins; the student council and National Honor Society members helped the youngsters carve them. Older students also painted the children's faces.

Math teacher Ralph Holzhauer, whose Newfoundland, Rowdy, is the school's reading dog, hooked Rowdy up to a wagon so the kindergarteners could have hay wagon rides.

The pumpkin patch is one of many ways the small local reaches out to the community. The TA also makes a breast cancer awareness quilt each year, using the skills of two members who are avid quilters. Between $600-$800 is raised by selling raffle tickets for the quilt, Wachowski said, and the money is sent to NYSUT to support the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Members also organize a canned food drive for the Elizabethtown Community Food Bank. The union's Bridge the Gap program helps students pay for college-credit courses in high school.

Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College

In less than a decade, the Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College has raised more than $36,000 for the Suffolk County AHRC's Flowerfield Gardens program.

The program is a 2.1-acre nursery and retail garden shop near one of the community college's campuses that doubles as a unique work setting where people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities learn valuable skills under the guidance of professional horticulturists.

The FASCC, led by President Kevin Peterman, holds annual plant sales on at least two of the college's campuses every fall and spring semester. The local initiated its fundraising plant sales as a result of its participation in NYSUT's Local Action Project (LAP), an initiative that builds community outreach/coalition building.

"It's one of the successes we feel very proud of," said FA Secretary Marie Hanna.

"The work of the FA is ultimately all about education," said FA Executive Vice President Sean Tvelia, noting that the union's plant sales directly benefit Flowerfield's work to provide hands-on education to individuals with disabilities.

Half Hollow Hills Teachers Association

The Half Hollow Hills TA, led by President Richard Haase, has found innovative ways to celebrate the community's support for its football team while also recognizing members.

Two years ago, the 1,200-member local began honoring teachers at the homecoming football game each fall. Varsity and junior varsity players were asked to identify their favorite K-12 teachers and then each teacher was invited to the game as a guest of honor. They were presented with "Honored Teacher" T-shirts and recognized at halftime.

The local also supported a fire department fundraiser by purchasing tickets for the Dix Hills Comedy Night. Later, "Thank a Teacher" slips were distributed at football games — a student or parent could fill one out and enter a teacher's name in a raffle to attend the comedy event. This year at homecoming, the TA honored teachers who either live or grew up in the community.

Haase, who is a middle school English teacher, said the local's involvement in the community is paying dividends. The HHHTA participates in LAP.

Jefferson-Lewis Council of NYSUT Retirees

For the fourth year, members of the Jefferson-Lewis Council of NYSUT Retirees offered a $250 scholarship award to a new teacher from one of the Jefferson-Lewis public schools.

This year's winner of the JLCNR New Teacher Scholarship is Tasha Plante of General Brown TA. She teaches first grade at the Brownville-Glen Park Building and is originally from Watertown. JLCNR members Joan Carlo, Lynn Hunneyman, and Dick Edwards presented her with the scholarship.

The council chooses a recipient at random from names submitted by local presidents in the area. The scholarship award may be utilized for school or classroom supplies, workshops, tuition, field trips or in another way to enhance education in the classroom.