Videos. Message boards. T-shirts. Cookies. The list of ways NYSUT locals honored School-Related Professionals was inspiring, making the job of the NYSUT 2014 School-Related Professionals Recognition Day Contest selection committee ever more difficult.
“Our members really stepped up to the plate this year in celebrating SRP Recognition Day,” said NYSUT Vice President Paul Pecorale. “From creating wonderful events to continuing the celebration though union activism, the winning entries exemplify what is truly worth celebrating: your professionalism and creativity.”
First place went to the Long Beach School Employees Association. After attending a disheartening board of education meeting, LBSEA President Joanne Rea cancelled the local’s holiday party and used the money to buy LBSEA logo sweatshirts for her more than 400 members. They wore the shirts in solidarity, unity and strength on SRP Recognition Day.
The local didn’t stop there.
When LBSEA food service professionals members were threatened with privatization, members donned their sweatshirts and canvassed the community with fliers in a door-to-door campaign to stop the district’s privatization plan. LBSEA won a two-for-one for the October 2015 NYSUT SRP Conference.
Second place was awarded to the Penfield Education Association, led by Russ Byer. This teacher local started the school day by showing a one-minute video during morning announcements in all six buildings. The video illustrated all of the SRP job titles and how they impact the student day.
Sue Mietus, editor of the Penfield EA newsletter, The Broadside, dedicated a special edition to honor the district’s SRPs. It included thank you messages from the local’s officers, principals of each building and 13 pages of photographs of SRPs, with names, buildings, job titles and testimonials from staff members. Coffee and cookie celebrations in each building completed the day.
“Our SRPs are the glue that holds everything together. They really are super and I’m proud to be spearheading this project,” Mietus said. NYSUT will send the Penfield EA a basket of Fair Trade items to share at the next local meeting.
Third place went to the Grand Island SRP local in western New York. President Linda Lichtenthal had a tough time scheduling the celebration on the designated date. In November, many areas in her region were buried in snow and schools were closed. Despite the delay, Lichtenthal asked students in the Grand Island Tech Club to engrave pub glasses with the school’s Viking mascot for her membership of more than 250. The students learned to use an Epilog Laser Engraver in the process.
“We chose this gift because, as SRPs, we work so closely with the students and we wanted to give something back to show our support in their education,” Lichtenthal said. “It was a learning experience and they were able to raise money for future projects.”
The local ordered an “SRPs Make a Difference” T-shirt for each member and they finally held their celebration on Dec. 10. For the third place win, each member will receive an SRP pen.
The Middle Country Secretarial Association and the Port Washington Para Association each won a special recognition award.
Middle Country embraced the spirit of recognition day with a photo and message board including photos of SRP members and notes of appreciation from students and staff.
Members of the Port Washington Paras spoke at a school board meeting. Co-presidents Pat Baglio and Brian Broderick said members Linda Cicchette and Lori Leeds addressed the board members to enlighten them about what SRPs really do.
Other contest submissions included Wayland-Cohocton ESPs for their project of having students design business cards for each job title and the Baldwinsville ESPA for giving back to the community by making and sponsoring a mitten tree and making donations to the food bank. The Monroe Woodbury TA created a “Thank you SRPs for helping us bloom” flower bulletin board; the Glens Falls SRPs used the district website to highlight their members; the United Teaching Assistants of Harborfields shared a student video; the Devereux Staff Association included all workers in their celebrations; the Galway TA gave handwritten, personalized notes to all SRPs; the Whitesville TA gave out treats and created gratitude signs; and the Saratoga Adirondack BOCES EA held a brunch celebration.
The West Seneca School District received special mention. Administrators and school board members visited each school, bringing treats to all the support staffers. They also had fliers in all buildings and made morning announcements thanking SRPs for a great job.