NYSUT's Local Action Project (LAP) encourages locals to increase membership participation and visibility, and presents an opportunity for locals to share ideas and discuss strategies.
The annual summer conference brings together first-, second- and third-year locals for workshops and informational gatherings. Each year, the class of graduating locals describe the myriad projects they engaged in during their three-year commitment to LAP.
All reflected a growing trend of working collaboratively with or through groups of people with shared geography, interests or situations to address common issues.
"Locals are taking the skills honed at LAP to ramp up their community engagement activities," says Thomas Anapolis, NYSUT's executive director/chief of operations. "Access to a quality public education is a pillar of every community. The partnerships forged utilizing the principles of LAP help make education a priority and an investment locally."
Participation in LAP, members say, encourages them to try innovative ideas. Not everything always works. A few graduating locals recounted ideas that sounded good at the outset but fizzled in the execution. Yet, just knowing it's OK to try is helpful, says Michael Pray, treasurer of the Penfield Education Association and a graduating LAP participant.
"The LAP program provided us a window to what could be, and allowed us to take chances that we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise," he says.
This year's presentations included:
Kenmore Teachers Association
The local rebranded itself with a new logo, new website and an enhanced Facebook page. The local also developed a member survey that yielded responses from 500 of its 700 members. "Every year we're getting more people involved," says member Cherylyn Hughes.
Brockport Teachers Association
The Brockport TA worked with members, their families and the community on a number of projects, from excursions to the local zoo and sporting events for families to socials, luncheons and social media as a way of keeping members connected. Community projects included a back-to-school supply drive, a carnival to raise scholarship money, a Thanksgiving food drive and participation in community clean-up days, breast cancer awareness walks and a community road race. The local also endorsed and helped elect four school board candidates in the last two years.
East Syracuse Minoa United Teachers and East Syracuse Minoa SRPs
The locals worked together to organize and host "Colleagues Caring for Kids & Community Solidarity Golf Tournament." Proceeds from the tournament benefited multiple charities, organizations, students and their families from across central New York, as well as NYSUT's Disaster Relief Fund.
Malone Federation of Teachers
The Malone FT hosts a community dinner several times a year that has grown from just dozens of participants to hundreds. The dinner brings together students and their families, educators and a range of people involved in social justice and community efforts. The local also gives away free books and other items as well as helpful information for parents.
Penfield Education Association
The Penfield EA put a banner on the local Little League field, sponsored a T-ball team, bought books for incoming kindergarten students and raised money for the local's scholarship fund, which provides $1,000 for each year of undergraduate study, up to $4,000, for a local student.
Sachem Central Teachers Association
The SCTA conducted a survey to gauge members' interests and needs, revamped its website and local political action efforts and created a new logo that "we started putting on everything," says Matthew Rivera, a building representative.
"One of the things we realized with LAP is that our teachers are everywhere," Rivera said.