1. What do you feel most passionate about concerning the role and importance of public education and why it needs to be protected?
I feel passionate about several things as it relates to public education. One that stands out most in my mind: In public schools all students are equal no matter their background. Public schools provide a wealth of opportunities/choices for all students.
We live in a world where public education is changing. I want it to be protected because I do not want it to become a place where it is for the haves and have nots.
2. NYSUT strongly supports a maximum ratio of 250 students to one school counselor, as currently proposed in amendments to the State Education Department regulations. How do you feel about that ratio, and how does it compare to the ratio you and your colleagues work with?
School counselors are needed in schools and all students need to have access to a school counselor. While 250:1 is the recommended ratio, if that ratio was lower, a school counselor could provide more support to students to help improve their academic performance and continue to offer more support to students to address their social/emotional concerns.
Additionally, with a lesser number, school counselors could be even more involved in providing college and career awareness.
3. How has the downward shift in economics for the working class and subsequent shift in family dynamics affected your students? Do these situations make the quest for college or continuing education even more important?
The downward shift has impacted the living conditions of my students and their families. We have many working families that are living below the poverty line and cannot afford housing. Subsequently, more of my students are working to help support or supplement the income of their family. Thankfully, I have met even more students who are more resilient than ever; working to not fall victim of their circumstances and instead use this as an opportunity to focus on going to college to make their life and the lives of their parents better.
4. You have a busy professional life with your job, as well as commitments as president of the NYS School Counselor Association. Why is your NYSSCA work important to your work with the United Federation of Teachers, where you are chapter leader for all New York City school counselors?
NYSSCA provides professional development opportunities for school counselors, including an annual conference, to best address the needs and challenges of teens and children. It is so important to stay current and share approaches and strategies. The labor movement shares some of those practices. I have always had a vested interest in the labor movement and what it represents. I come from a working class family where having a union job was important. I wanted to become an activist where I could help effect change. Unions bring positive changes to worker rights and employee/ management relationships. Unions are the backbone of our country.
5. You serve on the NYSUT Health Care Professionals Council. What does that involve?
As a member of the NYSUT HCPC, I am able to learn and work with other health care professionals outside of New York City, where I work. They are all advocates and stalwarts for labor and for best practice. They are as vested as I am in ensuring that workers' rights in the workplace are maintained in the varying professions they represent across the state, and that students and patients are advocated for. These include hospital nurses, visiting nurses, dental practitioners and faculty, respiratory therapists, speech pathologists, social workers, school nurses, and school counselors.