NYSUT United January/February 2023

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Our Community
Our Schools

From the cities to the countryside, community schools are delivering for students, educators and families

"Our Community Schools" graphic with icons for Educators and Administrators, Community Partners, Community School Coordinates, Food Security, Family and Student Supports, Health Services, and Continuing Education

January/February 2023

NYSUT UNITED [January/February 2023, Vol. 13, No. 3 ]
Director of Communications: James Morrison
Lead Editor/Copy Desk Chief: Clarisse Butler Banks
Assistant Editors/Writers: Ben Amey, Molly Belmont, Matthew Hamilton, Sylvia Saunders, Kara E. Smith
Photo Editor: J. El-Wise Noisette
Lead Designer: Nicole Clayton
Art and Production: Dana Fournier
Advertising: Andrew Watson
Online Communications Coordinator: Bryan Thomas
Editorial Support: Julie Malec

NYSUT United is a member publication of the International Labor Communications Association, Metro New York Labor Communications Council, State Education Association Communicators.
Editorial and Production Department:
518-213-6000 and 800-342-9810 (toll-free)
Annual subscription: $15. NYSUT members receive a copy of NYSUT United as part of their dues benefit. Households with multiple members will receive only one copy. If you do wish to receive more than one copy, please call 518-213-6000.
Address changes: POSTMASTER:
Member Records Department, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110

UFT member address changes:
New York Teacher, 52 Broadway,
12th floor, New York, NY 10004
NYSUT United (ISSN 21587914) and nysut.org are official publications of New York State United Teachers. NYSUT United publishes six issues from September to June.
Advertising: Email Andrew Watson at andrew.watson@nysut.org or call 518-213-6000 or 800-448-4ADS.
NYSUT Affiliated with AFT square space NEA square space AFL-CIO
800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110
518-213-6000 800-342-9810
President: Andy Pallotta
Executive Vice President: Jolene T. DiBrango
Second Vice President: Ron Gross
Secretary-Treasurer: J. Philippe Abraham
ELECTION DISTRICT DIRECTORS: Peter Stuhlmiller, Michelle Licht, Joseph J. Najuch, Jennifer Austin, Adam Urbanski, Andrew Jordan, John Kuryla, David Chizzonite, Jeanette Stapley, Laura Franz, Joseph Herringshaw, Juliet Benaquisto, Melissa Servant, Sparrow Tobin, Sean Kennedy, Jeffrey Yonkers, Tomia Smith, Frederic Stark, Gregory Perles, John Mansfield, Kevin Coyne, Kevin Toolan, Laura Spencer, Karen Blackwell Alford, Mary Vaccaro, Amy Arundell, MaryJo Ginese, Mary Atkinson, Anthony M. Harmon, Michael Mulgrew, Elizabeth Perez, Cassie Prugh, Richard Mantell, LeRoy Barr, Felicia Wharton (City & Private Higher Ed), Penelope Lewis (City & Private Higher Ed), Roberta Elins (Community Colleges), Jamie Dangler (State Higher Ed, UUP), Thomas Tucker (State Higher Ed, UUP), Philip Rumore, Adam Piasecki, Dora Leland, Loretta Donlon (Retiree), Joan Perrini (Retiree), Thomas Murphy (Retiree)
AT-LARGE DIRECTORS: Cheryl Hughes, Andrew Bogey, Brian Ebertz, Nicole Capsello, Michele Bushey, Maria Pacheco, Matthew Haynes, Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, Cordelia Anthony, Ronald Verderber, Nancy Sanders, Debra Penny, Michael Sill, Sean Rotkowitz, Thomas Brown, Janella Hinds, Leo Gordon, James Davis, Frederick Kowal, Florence McCue, Shelvy Y. Abrams (SRPs), Sandra Carner-Shafran (SRPs), Karen Lee Arthmann (SRPs), Deborah Paulin (SRPs), Angie Rivera (SRPs), Anne Goldman (Health Care), Stephen Rechner (Private Sector Higher Ed), Andrew Sako (Community Colleges), Pamela Malone (Higher Education) and Andrea Vasquez (Higher Education)
Melinda Person, Executive Director/NYSUT Political Director
HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS: Antonia Cortese (Emerita), Thomas Y. Hobart Jr. (President Emeritus), Alan B. Lubin (Executive Vice President Emeritus)
AFT VICE PRESIDENTS: J. Philippe Abraham, Shelvy Y. Abrams, James Davis, Evelyn DeJesus, Jolene T. DiBrango, Ron Gross, Anthony M. Harmon, Frederick Kowal, Kara McCormick-Lyons, Michael Mulgrew, Andy Pallotta, Adam Urbanski
NEA DIRECTORS: Serena Kotch, Dora Leland (Interim)
Alternate Director: Sue Raichilson
Executive Committee members are underlined.

[ Fighting for you ]

Union lays out ambitious legislative agenda

By Ben Amey


Brain icon next to the quote "Stressed brains can't learn"

ooking ahead to the 2023 legislative session, NYSUT is focused with optimism and purpose. The union is hoping to expand on victories from the 2022 legislative session and continue the fight to improve working and learning environments for students and educators, said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta.

One of the union’s major pushes this year is fixing Tier 6.

“We scored our first victories toward achieving tier equity last year, when vesting for Tier 6 was cut from 10 years to five,” Pallotta said. “Now we have to continue our fight to stem the ongoing teacher shortage and get more young people to enter the profession.”

Union members in Tiers 5 and 6 have significantly diminished benefits and must work longer before they can retire. “As unionists, we know that something that affects one of our members affects all of our members,” Pallotta said.

The union’s legislative agenda also includes recommendations from the NYSUT Safe Schools for All Task Force. In addition to expanding the community schools model, (see Pages 17–20,) the union will seek:

Top ring spirals


seal of new york
Jan. 1

Inauguration of Gov. Kathy Hochul

Jan. 4

2023 NYS legislative session convenes

Jan. 10

Governor’s State of the State address

Jan. 9-10

NYS Board of Regents meets

mlk illustration
Jan. 16

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan. 20-21

NYSUT Board of Directors meets, Latham

Feb. 1

Final day to submit executive budget

Feb. 13–14

NYS Board of Regents meets

Feb. 17-19

52nd annual legislative conference of the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislators, Albany

Please note, some or all of these events may be conducted as virtual meetings.

On the Cover

Community schools provide valuable supports for students and families beyond the classroom.

Design by Mark Sharer

[ Fighting for you ]

NYSUT Student Membership provides exciting opportunities for future teachers

By Ben Amey



s the nation continues to grapple with the ongoing educator shortage, NYSUT is looking to engage future teachers before they even step into the classroom — and partnering with student groups on SUNY campuses to do it.

The Teacher Education Student Association, or TESA, at SUNY Potsdam is something of an incubator for the NYSUT Student Membership program. The group and its president, Nicole Pelliccia, have utilized NYSUT resources and connections to provide a richer experience for college students studying to become future educators.

Pelliccia, the daughter of two NYSUT members, has been going to protests and rallies in Albany since she was in elementary school. Getting college students involved with the union prior to graduation is crucial, she said.

[ Fighting for you ]

Lobby days are returning this session!


peaking one-on-one with lawmakers on pro-education, pro-union issues is a crucial part of advocating for our members. NYSUT is optimistic about the return to in-person lobbying this year. As we prepare for the legislative session, below are a few frequently asked questions:

Why should we lobby?

Lobbying allows members to speak directly to those in the halls of power about what our students, colleagues and workplaces need. And it works. We have protected tenure rights, guaranteed automatic cost-of-living pension increases for public sector retirees and secured more state funding for schools and public colleges. We need members from different jobs representing all corners of the state to come together to fight for the resources that will support our schools as the center of our communities.

[ Fighting for you ]

Unions press lawmakers for more higher ed mental health supports

By Matthew Hamilton



t a recent United University Professions visit to Brockport, student Daniel Dale outlined a pretty simple math problem. Some 600 students are registered to utilize the Brockport Student Accessibility Services Center, which helps students with anxiety, depression and ADHD by offering, among other programs, accommodation for extra test time for students working through mental health struggles. But how do you fit them into just 11 seats and eight desks with computers available on site?

“Most disturbing, (Dale) was talking about students who want to succeed,” UUP President Fred Kowal said. “And yet the resources aren’t there. Not even close.”

That story is just one of many that bring into focus the breadth of the ongoing mental health crisis in higher education, a crisis exacerbated by poverty, food and housing insecurity, and other social issues students and staff alike grapple with. It was the subject of a late-November state Assembly hearing at which representatives from UUP, Professional Staff Congress and NYSUT detailed proposals for how to tackle the needs that pre-date, but have only grown since, the pandemic.

[ Fighting for you ]

Yonkers FT notches big PERB win in union interference case

By Matthew Hamilton



recent Public Employment Relations Board victory out of Yonkers is a major win for local unions, sending a clear message that school district administration must not interfere with a union’s right to represent its members.

The victory for the Yonkers Federation of Teachers stems from actions by district administrators to interfere with YFT members’ attempts to seek the union’s assistance on various issues happening at William Boyce Thompson School in the northwest section of the city. The nine-part order from Administrative Law Judge Kafui Aku Bediako is a stinging rebuke of the district, in essence ordering administrators to respect the legally protected rights of the YFT to represent the district’s teachers.

[ Fighting for you ]

Solidarity translates to contract win

By Kara Smith



olidarity, perseverance and patience paid off for the Nanuet Teachers Association this fall. After declaring a bargaining impasse shortly before their contract expired on June 30, the nearly 300 Rockland County teachers and teaching assistants banded together and got support from neighboring locals to fight for and win significant pay raises and benefits improvements.

When talks broke down, members began daily actions, wearing red garb, buttons emblazoned with “Fair Contract Now” and engaging in scheduled walk-ins. “We met at the flagpole outside the school building” and walked in as a group, said Lange. “Historically we haven’t had strong unity, but it was different this time, everyone was motivated to participate.”

A turning point came when local television station News 12 showed up unexpectedly during a walk-in and interviewed Lange. “The story played on a loop all day long,” she said. “It put pressure on the board, and made the community aware.”

The Nanuet community values its teachers and many residents were surprised by the educators’ pay in comparison to surrounding districts, Lange said. Nanuet teachers are the second lowest paid in the county, yet have the longest school year and day. “The community knows that retaining and attracting staff means we need to be competitive.”

[ Fighting for you ]

Union YES for transportation staff

By Matthew Hamilton



ransportation staff in the Queensbury Central School District recently completed a different kind of drive — a union membership drive. The Queensbury School Transportation Employees Association is the latest local to join the NYSUT family, voting overwhelmingly in late October to affiliate with the statewide union. Nearly all eligible staff — 44 out of 46 — have signed their union cards.

“One of the main reasons we organized was to have union backing for job security and a more prosperous future,” new local President Maureen Doran said, listing off other benefits that new members are looking to access, including insurance through NYSUT Member Benefits-endorsed programs. Members want the backing of a statewide union “to protect our rights.”

QSTEA represents bus drivers, bus aides, mechanics, dispatchers and auto mechanic helpers in the district.

“Our transportation staff are essential. They’re the first ones many children see each morning and the last they see each afternoon,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “They deserve respect and support from their districts and their communities.”

[ Fighting for you ]

Ithaca unions work together to deal with staff shortage

By Molly Belmont



n Ithaca, three locals are working together to make sure the teacher shortage doesn’t short teachers.

Over the summer, presidents of the Ithaca Teachers Association, Ithaca Substitutes Association and the Education Support Professionals/Ithaca joined forces to negotiate pay increases and new benefits for substitute teachers and School-Related Professionals who are serving in long-term teaching positions in Ithaca City School District.

The plan includes a base salary that is less than the salary of a certified teacher, “but with the concept that they are doing teachers’ work,” said Adam Piasecki, president of the Ithaca TA and lead on the initiative. “They’re doing the hours, and they needed to be compensated respectfully and fairly.”

According to the memorandum of agreement between the union and the district, educators hired under these terms would be paid based more squarely on the teaching work they were now doing and, in the case of substitutes, they would also be eligible for health insurance while in long-term teaching positions.

[ Fighting for you ]

NYSUT Women to examine impact of Alzheimer’s

mobilize around health issues
By Molly Belmont


Members of the NYSUT Women’s Committee
James Morrison

The NYSUT Women’s Committee met in Albany in November. Above, members wear purple to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease.


ince its founding, the NYSUT Women’s Committee has prioritized women’s health as a vital issue, and this November’s annual meeting turned the spotlight on key health areas for women, including Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Representation matters. We know this because we have seen it,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, who chairs the committee.

“We know that women must be their own best advocate when it comes to access to health care and the actual care they receive,” DiBrango added. “That’s just one example of why it is so important for women to hold positions of leadership and power in all sectors, so that the challenges that are unique to them are understood by those they go to for guidance and support.”

NYSUT Legacy Fund seal

Karen Krogslund,
Five decades of educational excellence

Karen Krogslund wearing a celebratory sash and glasses in the shape of "50"
Throughout her 51 years in the classroom, Karen Krogslund was much more than an educator. She was a mentor, an activist and a leader who always supported the well-being of her Minisink Valley Central School District colleagues. In honor of her retirement at the end of the 2021-22 school year, the Minisink Valley Teachers Association honored Krogslund with a NYSUT Legacy Award.

Krogslund began her career in 1971 as a kindergarten teacher with the Otisville School District, prior to its merger with Minisink Valley. That first classroom held only enough chairs and desks for Krogslund and her students; but she lovingly created a learning environment that would carry on for 51 years. She has since taught nearly 1,000 kindergarten, first and second grade students, and multiple generations of community families.

As trends and technology evolved, Krogslund stayed current, incorporating innovative and creative strategies into her classroom to best meet the needs of her students. “Her gentle presence in the lives of so many students and colleagues has left an indelible mark on the Minisink Valley community,” wrote MVTA President Theresa Uhelsky.

To honor an in-service or retiree activist from your area, visit nysut.org/LegacyFund.
[ social justice ]

NYSUT LGBTQ Committee charts year ahead

By Kara Smith



embers of NYSUT’s LGBTQ Committee are charting their path for the year ahead. Part of that work includes developing resolutions for the statewide union’s annual Representative Assembly that center on topics including transgender rights and improving the school climate for LGBTQ educators and students.

“I encourage members to develop LGBTQ committees in their home districts,” said J. Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary-treasurer and LGBTQ Committee chair. “Having local committees across the state will help us share best practices and get like-minded people working together.”

NYSUT Executive Director/Political Director Melinda Person detailed the statewide union’s efforts to defend the freedom of LGBTQ students and educators. It’s important to push back against efforts that target educators simply for teaching the truth, she explained.

[ OUR SRPs ]

Getting to know … Brendan McGovern

A portrait headshot photograph of Brendan McGovern grinning in a white suit and dark burgundy tie

Brendan McGovern, United University Professions–Binghamton Chapter, is the program coordinator for the Department of Geography at SUNY Binghamton. He was interviewed by Andre L. Mathis, a member of UUP–Binghamton and NYSUT’s SRP Advisory Committee.

Tell me about your job and why you love what you do.

My responsibilities range from recruiting graduate students and managing our online summer and winter intersession programs to addressing the various unforeseen situations that arise on any given day. My favorite part of my job is helping and interacting with students. I have an open-door policy in my office, and students know that they can come to me at any time for help, for guidance and to just say “hi” after a long day.

How did you get involved with your union?

My grandfather was a union organizer for the Erne River Hydroelectric Scheme back in Ireland, and my father, an Irish immigrant, is also a proud union member so I fully understand the benefits to a good quality of life that a union can provide. It was instilled in me at a very young age that joining together in unions enables workers to negotiate for higher wages and benefits and improve conditions.

I have been involved with UUP for as long as I have been working at Binghamton University. I became a delegate, was elected to the executive board, and appointed membership development officer and political coordinator. I now serve as the vice president for professionals.

[ Teaching & Learning ]

Remembering your ‘Why’

A portrait photograph of Laura Rosner in a black jacket (who is a member of the East Hampton Teachers Association and a co-teacher in an integrated first grade classroom) smiling and sitting with her two students (one wearing a green jacket and the other a red sweatshirt) discussing classwork
christie nelson
Laura Rosner, a member of the East Hampton Teachers Association, is a co-teacher in an integrated first grade classroom. After a rare eye disease left her legally blind as a youngster, Rosner became a special education teacher.
My two sisters and I grew up on the East End of Long Island in a small, close-knit community. We went to school with our friends and neighbors and knew most of our teachers both inside and outside the classroom. When I was diagnosed with a rare, blinding eye disease in fifth grade, it was not a secret.

After numerous appointments with eye doctors across Long Island and a visit with a New York City specialist, my parents learned that I had Stargardt’s Disease, a juvenile form of macular degeneration. The diagnosis was difficult to understand as the doctors explained that little was known about the incurable condition.

Ultimately, my blinding eye condition inspired my “why” for teaching.

As a student, I faced many obstacles that I needed to overcome. These challenges changed in nature as I progressed from middle school to high school and then undergraduate to graduate programs — but they all, in conjunction with the support of my family, helped me grow into the independent, educated, empathetic teacher I am today. As a student with a disability, I saw firsthand how imperative it is for teachers to understand learners with diverse needs.

[ teaching & learning ]

Buffalo teacher residency expands to meet growing demand

By Sylvia Saunders



hen Cristina Mata was working as a special education teacher aide in Williamsville, she knew she wanted to become a teacher — but wasn’t sure how to make it happen.

A bilingual Mexican-American who grew up in a small border town in Texas, Mata had moved to Western New York with her husband, who grew up in Buffalo. While working as a teacher aide and taking undergraduate Spanish courses at the University at Buffalo, one of Mata’s professors, Erin Kearney, told her there was a huge shortage of world language teachers and suggested she look into UB’s teacher residency program.

“It was a perfect fit for me,” said Mata, who noted the program’s fast-paced schedule, hands-on learning and support system set her up for success — and an immediate job offer to be a Spanish teacher in Buffalo City Schools.

NYSUT salutes newest NBCTs

NYSUT congratulates the 72 teachers from across the state who earned National Board Certification, the profession’s highest credential, in 2022. Candidates received the good news in early December when scores were posted.

New York is now home to 2,375 National Board Certified Teachers, with hundreds more educators still in the process, according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. In addition, 137 New York teachers completed the process to renew their National Board Certification in 2022.

Candidates typically spend 200 to 400 hours completing the extensive application, including a portfolio, student work samples, videos and an analysis of their teaching and student learning.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango said the union strongly supports national board candidates by offering awareness programs, supportive writing retreats, online discussion forums and professional learning through the union’s Education & Learning Trust and the state network of teacher centers. The union has also successfully advocated for local incentives, stipends and the state’s Albert Shanker Grant, which covers the costs for National Board Certification. The deadline to apply for a Shanker grant is Feb. 28. For more info, visit nysut.org/nbpts.

Oceanside students learn how
teaching can be an uplifting career

By Sylvia Saunders



lose your eyes and think back to a memorable early learning experience. Who was that special person who taught you something?

That was the simple — but powerful — warm-up at a recent Take a Look at Teaching Club kickoff at Oceanside High School.

One student talked about how her grandmother taught her how to make meatballs, sharing a deep family secret. Another recalled how he learned how to throw a baseball from his dad.

“Miss Eckers!’’ said another — and the room went abuzz at the mere mention of beloved kindergarten teacher Elaine Eckers. “She taught me ‘left’ and ‘right.’”

“I thought about Miss Eckers, too!” another student shouted out. “She taught me how to make an ‘M.’”

[ Teaching & Learning ]

NY schools a refuge for migrant students

By Matthew Hamilton



hen major events make waves in other parts of the world, Trisha Rosokoff feels the ripples in her first-grade classroom.

The Buffalo teacher has spent 22 years in the city’s International School #45. This year, 12 languages are spoken among her 24 students, ranging from East Africa’s Mai-Mai to Bengali to Spanish. Some have had access to pre-K and kindergarten; others have not. Some have come with families looking for new opportunities in America; others are refugees forced from war-torn areas.

Rosokoff, a Buffalo Teachers Federation member, is one of thousands of educators in any given year who find themselves part of the frontline care team for migrant students. It’s a job she relishes.

“It’s hard, I’m not going to lie,” Rosokoff said of teaching students who speak languages that in some cases even Google Translate can’t help with. “But it’s very rewarding.”

[ A Closer Look ]

What you need to know about community schools

By Kara Smith



YSUT is committed to expanding the state’s network of community schools; both because community schools work and because advocating for positive economic and social change is union work. The statewide union hosted a community school summit last fall to bring together teams of educators, administrators, school board members and parents who want to start or expand community schools in their districts.

“It’s time we demand a public education system that truly supports every child,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, noting that in the upcoming legislative session, NYSUT will continue to advocate for $100 million in state budget funds allocated specifically for community schools.

“When children face poverty, when their families face food insecurity, when they don’t have access to health care or social services, they don’t come to school ready to learn in the first place,” he continued. “That’s where community schools change the game, helping students and families thrive.”

[ A Closer Look ]

How community schools work


ommunity schools work through the coordination of educators, families and community groups to bring much-needed services into school settings. There is no one singular model for community schools: Each school’s offerings will differ, depending on location and the needs of the community they serve. Below are some examples of community school service offerings. For more information, including real-world examples, visit PublicSchoolsUniteUs.org/CommunitySchools.

Key services provided by community schools

school services icons: food security, family & student supports, health services, and continuing education
Community School Infographic
[ A Closer Look ]

Interested in having a community school in your district?

Resources are available to help you get started.

Apply for federal grants

With strong bipartisan support, community schools have received steady funding increases over the past few years at the federal level. From the Full-Service Community Schools Grant program, to the Promise Neighborhoods federal grant program and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the U.S. Department of Education offers a variety of resources. Visit PublicSchoolsUniteUs.org/CommunitySchools for information.

NYSUT advocacy continues at the state level

In the upcoming legislative session, NYSUT will continue to advocate for allocating $100 million in state budget funds specifically for community schools.

Thanks to NYSUT advocacy last session, the 2022 state budget included COVID-19 recovery grants, which provide $100 million for the 2022–23 and 2023–24 school years to address student well-being and learning loss due to the pandemic. Districts can use the funds to hire mental health professionals; expand school-based mental health services or evidence-based mental health supports for students; and to create or expand summer, after-school or extended day or year programs for students.


Wayne County teacher stunned by award


he look on her face said it all. A Clyde-Savannah special education teacher received the surprise of her life when a November school assembly suddenly turned into a presentation for a $25,000 national award.

“I was flooded with emotion,” said Caitlin Garvey, who is just the 11th New York teacher to receive the award from the national Milken Family Foundation. Part of the fun and magic of the award is the way it’s presented — sort of like how the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol suddenly shows up at your door with balloons and roses.


Safety seminars available from ELT

By Molly Belmont


Blue and orange NYSUT ELT (Education & Learning Trust) logo with motto tagline underneath that reads: Advance your career. Refresh your mind.

o ensure that all schools are secure and welcoming environments for teaching and learning, NYSUT’s Safe Schools for All Task Force is calling for districts to provide regular and ongoing safety training for staff, and more social-emotional supports to address student behaviors.

As we push districts to take action, the union’s Education & Learning Trust offers three seminars that cover effective behavior intervention strategies. Seminars are offered virtually or in person; each is worth 3–7 Continuing Teacher and Leader Education hours. All ELT seminars are discounted for NYSUT members.

[ Health & Safety ]

SRPs forced to take the heat

By Molly Belmont


What’s wrong with this picture?” Keith Wrightson asked his audience during a kitchen safety workshop at the NYSUT School-Related Professionals Leadership Conference in November. Wrightson is a health and safety expert with the American Federation of Teachers who travels the country delivering workshops on workplace safety. His audience, mostly cafeteria workers from Syracuse and the Southern Tier, quickly rattled off the safety issues they spotted in the photograph of a school kitchen.

“The oven door is open,” said one person.

“There’re cleaning chemicals by those carrots,” offered another.

The SRPs noted violation after violation: There are potholders on the grill. Cardboard boxes on the griddle. The outlet should have a ground fault circuit interrupter. The produce is being improperly stored. But one important health hazard escaped their notice — and that’s only because it’s invisible. Heat.


Retirees sound the alarm on tier inequities, pledge to help fix Tier 6

By Kara Smith


Rod Sherman, RC 9, detailed the pension inequities between Tiers 1–4 and Tiers 5 and 6 in a presentation at the Retiree Contiguous Meeting in September. Sherman is pictured with NYSUT Board member Sandie Carner-Shafran.
Rod Sherman, RC 9, detailed the pension inequities between Tiers 1–4 and Tiers 5 and 6 in a presentation at the Retiree Contiguous Meeting in September. Sherman is pictured with NYSUT Board member Sandie Carner-Shafran.

id you know that under the current provisions of Tier 6, a 55-year-old member with 30 years of service would take home a pension less than half of what members in Tiers 1–4 receive?

After attending a retirement workshop at the Plattsburgh Regional Office, Rod Sherman, RC 9, found that hard to believe. “The numbers didn’t make sense to me,” said Sherman, a retired Plattsburgh High School math teacher and former Plattsburgh Teachers Association president for 39 years. He questioned whether the discrepancy could be that great and decided to run the numbers.

Using a fictitious 55-year-old retiree with 30 years of service and a Final Average Salary of $88,687 at the end of the 2021–2022 school year, Sherman calculated the pension benefit for each tier. As a Tier 1–5 member they qualified for 60 percent of their FAS; 55 percent as a Tier 6 member. As a Tier 1–4 member, Sherman’s retiree received an annual unreduced pension of $53,212.

[ RA 2023 notice of nomination and election and CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS PROCEDURES ]



Quotes - Right
Quotes - Right


Casey Moore

Buffalo is a UNION TOWN! Thank you @KatosQuest @nysut and every other WNY union who joined us in Niagara Square for standing in solidarity with us and helping us win a contract! BUFFALO IS A UNION TOWN #SBWU1YearStrong (@UnionCasey)

Kara McCormick-Lyons

Educators should NOT have to scrape together days for paid family leave. Thanks @nysut for sharing strategies AND for making paid family leave a priority on our statewide agenda. @AndyPallotta @MelindaJPerson @DCarlisto @DoraLelan(@kmclyons)

Matt Haynes 

27 years ago my parents went on strike and said: “We always stand behind our union.” These words stuck with me forever. That’s why I drove “home” today to picket with my mom and her union brothers and sisters at IAM Local Lodge 1529. They deserve a fair contract! @nysut (@Matt_L_Haynes)

Robert Reich

The fact that the federal minimum wage has stagnated at $7.25/hour since 2009 is atrocious. But in reality, it’s actually far worse than that. The federal minimum wage is worth 28% less today than it was worth in 2009. It’s worth 41% less than in 1968. An absolute disgrace. (@RBReich)

[ voices ]

5 Questions for Laurie D’Amico

5 questions for typography
Laurie D’Amico
United Federation of Teachers

What inspired you to become a music teacher?

I was in the Salute to Music program as a kid, and that made me realize I wanted to become a music teacher. The program is open to public school students from all five boroughs in New York City. The teachers in that program and the experiences that I had as a student were really important to me. Now every Saturday from 9 am–12 pm, I teach a group of students from fourth through eighth grade. We put on one to two concerts a year.


What do you find most rewarding about teaching?

Besides the organized chaos of teaching 12 different lessons at once, the biggest joy for me as a teacher is seeing how students can grow through music and watching them progress.

At Tottenville High School, we teach all levels of band, from beginners to the top musicians in the state. Beginning band is 75 students who are so excited to pick up instruments for the first time and learn to play. Intermediate band is made up of kids who come from 10 different middle schools throughout the city. They don’t know each other, but they come together and they make music. In symphonic band, there are about 100 students, and to see them play music and express emotion without saying a single word is unbelievable.

[ classifieds ]

Real Estate Sales

Specializing in country club, active adult communities and beach areas from Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach and surrounding areas. Serving NYSUT members for more than 18 years. Call Elly and Ed Lepselter. RE/MAX Advantage Plus, Boca Raton, FL. 561-302-9374.

YOUR SOUTH FLORIDA real estate connection. EXIT Realty Premier Elite Sheryl Volk realtor. Contact 561-389-8670 or sherylvolk@gmail.com.


ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH — Three-bedroom, two-bath condominium. NYSUT discount. rj@jobers.com 716-830-4635.


ARE CLASSROOM DISCIPLINE problems ruining your teaching career? Make classroom misbehavior a thing of the past. FREE book for NYSUT-UFT members. Act now! Why wait? Email: teacherservices044
. (Please include your name and address) or write: Free discipline book, 1941 Edward Lane, Merrick, NY 11566.


WANTED DEAD OR alive — Old watches and clocks. Watchmaker pays top dollar for wrist, pocket or travel watches, clock movements, cases and watch material in any condition. I will look at anything — watches, cases, vests chains, bands or parts. Running or not — I want them dead or alive! Email: timeharvest@aol.com or call Mel 646-242-4720.


1st Year
for teachers by a teacher. 20% off for NYSUT members. Stuart Baum, Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP). Email sbaum51953@yahoo.com.
Help Wanted
ALL NYCDOE/NYSED EDUCATORS. Tutor near home/work. All subjects/grades: facultytutoring@aol.com. 718-886-2424.

[ resources for you ]

Black History Month Poster

Free NYSUT poster honors Serena Williams

NYSUT celebrates Black History Month with a new poster recognizing Serena Williams, widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Ranked number one in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association for 319 weeks, Williams won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, four Olympic gold medals, the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award four times, 14 major women’s doubles titles with her sister Venus Williams and, in December 2015, was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. In 2016, Williams earned almost $29 million, becoming the world’s highest paid female athlete.

The Williams sisters are credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women’s professional tennis tour and with increasing diversity within the sport.

Williams is also a successful businesswoman, with more than a dozen corporate partners and investments in startups through her firm Serena Ventures. One of her latest investments, in Karat’s Brilliant Black Minds initiative, aims to help more Black software engineers enter the tech industry by providing free interview practice, feedback and coaching.

The free poster is available for download at nysut.org/publications.

NYSUT journal to focus on civics education

The latest volume of Educator’s Voice, NYSUT’s journal of best practices in education, will take on a timely topic. “Sustaining Democracy through Civics Education” is focused on practices designed to help students become more informed, engaged citizens. “The practices described in this volume are aimed at sustaining democracy through educational activities that put history into action and create opportunities for students to gain firsthand experience with active citizenry,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango. The journal is scheduled to be published in January.

For more on Educator’s Voice, including previous volumes, visit nysut.org/edvoice. NYSUT is currently seeking submissions for its next volume, “Post-Pandemic Shifts: Learning and Growing through Change.”

[ passings ]

Rowena Blackman-Stroud
Dec. 3, 2022
United University Professions – Downstate Medical Center

Gail Boltz | Jan. 23, 2022
Southwestern Teachers Association

Richard Colucci | June 17, 2022
Yonkers Federation of Teachers

Robert Dickey | Sept. 11, 2021
Retiree Council 46

James “Jim” Joyce
June 4, 2022
Yonkers Federation of Teachers

Esther Kosakoff | July 1, 2022
Westbury Teachers Association

Mike Levine | Jan. 27, 2022
United Federation of Teachers

Arthur Masucci | Oct. 9, 2022
BOCES Educators of Eastern Suffolk

Helen Ross | July 12, 2022
United Federation of Teachers

Obituary submissions must include decedent’s full name, union affiliation, date of death, and contact info for the person submitting the notice. Send notices to Julie Malec, NYSUT United, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, NY 12110-2455; or email julie.malec@nysut.org.

It’s What We Do

It's What We Do

Anastasia Difino, United Federation of Teachers

Anastasia Difino portrait
Anastasia Difino still remembers her first day of school. “My parents are Greek immigrants. The only English word I knew was ‘hello.’ My mother was so worried when she put me on the bus,” she said. Difino reassured her mother in Greek. “I said, ‘Don’t worry, mom. I’m going to go to school and learn how to speak English.’”

Today, Difino teaches fifth-grade English and social studies at PS 120 in Queens, the same district where she grew up. She is helping another generation of immigrants find their footing in a new country through the “Civics for All” curriculum she recently helped pilot for the NYC Department of Education.

Civics for All is based on the idea that students at every grade level can make connections between history, current events and democracy.

PS 120 has always been diverse, but Difino says that there’s been a shift in demographics since she was a child. Today, Asian and Pacific Islander students make up 80 percent of the student body, with Latinos making up the largest part of the remainder.

“Since I’m teaching English language learners, I want to make it real and accessible for them,” she said, just as her teachers once did for her.

“I want them to learn about civics by thinking about it in terms of how they can help their communities. I want them to see that, ‘Hey, I may just be one little person, but I can have an impact,’” Difino explained.

Read more about Difino’s work at nysut.org/itswhatwedo.

On the job and in the community, NYSUT members make a difference

[ Member Benefits ]

Plan the upcoming year and beyond with help from MB

NYSUT Member Benefits

new year is upon us and with it comes the opportunity to take inventory of your life, including your financial, physical and mental well-being. Your NYSUT membership offers you exclusive access to dozens of endorsed programs and services that can help with creating a solid plan for you and your loved ones.

Get started by visiting (and bookmarking) the NYSUT Member Benefits website at memberbenefits.nysut.org. There you will find numerous resources and offerings available to you as a NYSUT member, including substantial savings available with our Member Benefits Discounts & Deals program.

[ Your ERS Pension ]

How to request additional service credit


f you worked for a public employer or served in the U.S. armed forces before you were a member of the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System, you may be eligible to request additional credit for that past service. It’s likely that you will have to pay for past service credit. However, because service credit is a major factor in calculating an ERS pension, in most cases, buying service credit will increase your pension.

To request additional service credit, sign in to your Retirement Online account (web.osc.state.ny.us/retire/sign-in.php), scroll down to the “My Account Summary” area of your account homepage and click the “Manage My Service Credit Purchases” button. You can also apply by mail by submitting a Request to Purchase Service Credit form (including any military service) (RS5042), available on our website at osc.state.ny.us/files/retirement/forms/pdf/rs5042.pdf. If you are applying for military service credit, upload your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214) in Retirement Online, or enclose a copy with your paper application.

[ Your TRS Pension ]

New Year a great time to review your retirement portfolio

man smiling over the shoulder of a woman on a laptop
Q :

Since it’s the start of the New Year, I’m reviewing my retirement portfolio. What information should I check?

A :

To start, make sure your beneficiary information is correct. Check names for misspellings or changes, update any new addresses and ensure your beneficiaries are listed in the proper order. And check your own name and address as well. Incorrect listings can cause unnecessary benefit delays.

If you haven’t already, the new year is also a good time to set up a MyNYSTRS account at nystrs.org, so you can quickly and easily access your retirement information. Lastly, if you have any prior service credit, the start of the new year is a good time to claim it. Call 800-348-7298, ext. 6030 for information.

[ Local Unions in Action ]

Clarkstown Teachers Association

Giving back can also be pretty fashionable. The Clarkstown TA, led by President Jon Wedvik, created CTA “Solidarity for Peace” T-shirts as a giveaway for donations to the union fundraiser to support Ukraine. “We were able to raise $9,356.16 for the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund for Ukraine,” Wedvik said. The CTA is an umbrella local that represents teachers, teaching assistants and clerical staff.
CTA school group smiling together in their t-shirts with logo

Lynbrook Teachers Association

woman and teenage boy smiling in their football jerseys
teenage boy and man smiling holding jersey in hands
teenage boy and man smiling in football jerseys
woman in jersey and lab coat smiling next to football player
facebook/lynbrook TA
English teacher and high school football coach Dave Yaker, a member of the Lynbrook TA, helped bring smiles to his colleagues’ faces to start the school year. Yaker asked the football team to share their white game jerseys with a staff member in the building who has made a positive impact on them. “Positive relationships with teachers and staff is vital to a program’s success,” Yaker said. The Lynbrook TA is led by President Craig Kirchenburg.

Hudson Falls Teachers Association

The Hudson Falls TA sponsored two 5k fun runs in partnership with the Hudson Falls Rotary Club. Proceeds benefitted Operation Santa Claus and a Rotary Club scholarship fund. Founded 40 years ago by Hudson Falls teachers Gerald Eichin and Frank Munoff, Operation Santa Claus provides clothes for needy students throughout Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga counties.

Putnam Valley Federation of Teachers

Though in the middle of a rough contract struggle, members of the Putnam Valley FT had a great turnout in December for one of the local’s most popular events: the annual student scholarship bowling outing. “Our members are caring and deeply committed to helping Putnam Valley families and students,” said President Ryan Odell. The bowling event helps raise thousands of dollars for senior scholarships awarded at the end of the year.
Putnam Valley FT teachers in matching shirts
facebook/putnam valley ft
Share news about your local’s union or community events at united@nysut.org; include LIA in the subject line.


Kudos typography

It’s an honor

Colleen Belanger, Saratoga Springs Teachers Association, was recognized by the Capital District Region Special Olympics as the Unified Coach of the Year.

Felicia Bruce, Brentwood TA retiree, has received the Florida Education Association Service Award in recognition of her work to advance the cause of human and civil rights.

David Chizzonite, Chittenango TA and a member of the NYSUT Board, received the High School Educator of the Year award from the Technology Alliance of Central New York.

Caitlin Goodwin, McGraw Faculty Association, has been named state History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Linda Romano, Newburgh TA, has received the 2023 National Association for Career and Technical Education Carl Perkins Community Service Award.

Valerie Savage, Wheatland-Chili Federation of Teachers, has been named 2022 state Art Educator of the Year by the New York State Art Teachers Association.

In print

Cheryl J. Fish, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, has written Off the Yoga Mat, published by Livingston Press/UWA. Told in alternating chapters by Nate, Lulu and Nora, the novel takes the reader on three risky coming-of-middle age journeys through sensuality, emotional evolution and breathing deep. For more info, visit cheryljfish.com.

Fran Legum, Nassau BOCES Central Council of Teachers retiree, has written Constructive Response Question Sourcebook for the state Global History and Geography Regents Exam and Short Essay Sourcebook for the US History and Government Regents Exam.

Kudos recognizes the accomplishments of NYSUT members. Have good news you’d like to share? Email united@nysut.org; include Kudos in the subject line.

NYSUT United | January/February 2023

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NYSUT represents teachers, school-related professionals, higher education faculty, professionals in education, human services and health care, and retirees.
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Thanks for reading our January/February 2023 issue!