Schalmont Teachers Association
It was a little bit like a school reunion at Schalmont High School last month as Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, participated in a Take Your Legislator to School Day with the local teachers association.
"It was awesome, just really good," said Michele Freeman, veteran biology teacher. "Believe it or not, Angelo was a former student of mine, way back when."
Freeman had her former student participate in a biology experiment with the class, and showed him the labs in the new wing constructed since Santabarbara graduated.
"He has been so proactive with helping us get as much as we can in state aid, and fighting for what we need," Freeman said.
"It's important for him to see what he is fighting for."
She said it also was important that he had a chance to see the other things teachers do, in addition to classwork.
"I had a student come in who wanted to show me her prom dress," she said, and while Freeman prepared a lab for the upcoming class, she also gave the student a few minutes to show off her dress.
"He turned to me and said, 'How do you do it all?'" Freeman said.
The lawmaker also spoke to an English class and attended lunch with students before visiting the middle school, said Schalmont Teachers Association political action coordinator Michael Libertucci.
"We've faced an uphill budget crisis this year," Libertucci said. "It's good to be able to go to our legislators when they have firsthand knowledge of what goes on in our buildings ... The assemblyman has been awesome for us."
The Schalmont TA is led by President Mary Beth Flatley.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (standing, center) and Schalmont High School students get ready to work together on a biology project with Schalmont TA science teacher Michele Freeman. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.
Shenendehowa Teachers Association
The Shenendehowa Teachers Association has been trying on new ideas, ranging from movies to milestone recognitions in order to reach the larger community and strengthen relationships among members.
Last month, these energized union members held a first-ever STA barbeque on school budget vote day to encourage the community to come out and vote. They also hosted the third annual STA Bowl-a-thon to raise money for scholarships.
Many of the new initiatives are a result of the local's participation in NYSUT's Local Action Project, a community outreach/coalition building program.
In January, the union held its first family movie event. The union's LAP team rented out a local movie theater, and 150 staff and family attended the movie "Norm of the North" for a discounted price.
"We sent a follow-up survey and we had so many positive comments ... they want to do it again next year!" said Jody Orlando, STA member and LAP coordinator. "We all see the value that the LAP initiative has brought to our Shenendehowa teachers and community members."
The STA has worked on creating strong alliances with PTAs at all school levels to create and distribute information to parents regarding topics such as state standards and assessments, and the effects of the state budget proposals on schools.
At the TA's general membership celebration, union leaders publicly recognized this year's new members and retirees. Retirees received corsages and new members received "wordles" created from comments and input from their colleagues.
From left, Shenendehowa TA LAP team member Susan Kirby-LeMon, LAP coordinator Jody Orlando and STA president, Megan DeLaRosa.