NYSUT United September/October 2022

NYSUT United A Union of Professionals Logo
Safety first

As a community, we have a responsibility to keep students safe
A new NYSUT task force explores how

Safe Schools for All badge
September/October 2022
NYSUT UNITED [September/October 2022, Vol. 13, No. 1 ]
Director of Communications: James Morrison
Lead Editor/Copy Desk Chief: Clarisse Butler Banks
Assistant Editors/Writers: Ben Amey, Molly Belmont, Liza Frenette, 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), Rowena Blackman-Stroud (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 ]

Fight for public schools at the ballot box this November

By Kara Smith



hen NYSUT fights, we win. Nowhere was this more apparent than the Aug. 23 round of primary elections. Several NYSUT-endorsed candidates won pivotal, hard-fought races.

From the nail-biter between Marc Molinaro and Pat Ryan in the 19th Congressional District special election, to the re-election win by State Sen. Robert Jackson in the 31st Senate District, NYSUT members helped put the muscle behind the statewide union’s message. Members volunteered countless hours to support union-endorsed candidates through phone banking and other election activities, and showed up making their voices heard at the polls.

“From Albany to Washington, we need representatives who will help us support public schools as the center of every community,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “These candidates are partners who will put public school students, families and educators first.

“We stand with them in fighting to secure the resources necessary to provide a high-quality, 21st century education and to enact the policies that help our students thrive academically, socially and emotionally.”

Top ring spirals


Sept. 23–24

NYSUT Board of Directors meets

Oct. 1–23

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks take place at locations around the state. See page 23 for details.

A pink ribbon crossed to form a loop, with sneakers on as if it had feet and was walking.
Oct. 14

Deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 general elections

Oct. 14–15

NYSUT Community Schools Summit

Oct. 29–Nov. 6

General election early voting

Nov. 4–6

SRP Leadership Conference, Albany

Red and white logo for NYSUT Community Colleges.
Nov. 4–6

Community College Leadership Conference, Saratoga

Nov. 8

Election Day

Pink and black logo for NYSUT Women; the 'O' in woman is replaced with the sign for female with a fist in the circle.
Nov. 18–19

NYSUT Women’s Committee meets, Albany

Please note, some or all of these events may be conducted as virtual meetings in compliance with COVID-19 and social-distancing guidance.

On the Cover

Cover by Nicole Clayton

[ Fighting for you ]

Special schools need support and stability

By Sylvia Saunders



or Mary Ann Calzada, there’s no better way to demonstrate the value of New York’s network of special education programs than an image of her two daughters in college T-shirts.

“When you have special needs children, the assumption is that these kids aren’t going to go anywhere in life,” said Calzada, a middle school Spanish teacher and North Syracuse Education Association member. “Well, my girls are living proof that with the right kind of support, the results can be amazing.”

Calzada and her daughters were among the first to answer NYSUT’s call for videos showing how important it is for the state to support Special Act, 853 and 4201 Schools as well as 4410 programs.

The girls, both of whom attended a state-funded special education preschool in North Syracuse, are proudly decked out in their college apparel and say “Thanks Main Street School!”

Calzada has a hard time imagining what her daughters’ lives would be like if the special education preschool hadn’t been there. “In addition to providing highly specialized academic help, occupational therapy and adaptive physical education, the staff was a huge support system for my husband and me, too,” Calzada said. “They were our advocates and showed us the way to advocate for our girls for the bumpy road ahead.”

[ Fighting for you ]

Educators finally getting Public Service Loan Forgiveness

By Sylvia Saunders



hen the Fed Loan email came in the middle of the night this summer, social studies teacher Jeff Krautheimer was afraid to open it.

After so many years of frustration and disappointment, he waited until morning to open the email. But this time, the news was incredible: His student loan balance totaling tens of thousands of dollars was gone. Zero.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Krautheimer, a Long Island teacher for more than 20 years. “It was surreal. I showed it to my wife and double-checked my online account.”

For Krautheimer, whose son is starting college at SUNY Binghamton this fall, the timing couldn’t be better. He’s hoping his wife, a New York City teacher, will be getting the same relief soon.

Krautheimer is one of thousands who have successfully applied for Public Service Loan Forgiveness under a temporary waiver available through Oct. 31. The limited waiver enables educators to count old payments, late payments and payments made through a range of federal loan repayment plans.

NYSUT Legacy Fund seal

Phil Cleary, an inspiring, motivating leader

Phil Cleary
Every local needs a leader like Phil Cleary — someone who’s dedicated, hard working and a staunch unionist. Prior to retiring from teaching preschool special education a few years ago, Cleary was the North Syracuse Education Association’s longest serving vice president. While there, he advocated tirelessly on behalf of fellow members and spearheaded get-out-the-vote efforts as a NYSUT political action coordinator and a Committee of 100 activist.

Cleary is also an active community member, serving on the CORE Federal Credit Union’s board of directors and as an executive board member for the Central New York Area Labor Federation. To keep educators informed about important news in public education, and promote social justice and unionism, Cleary launched NYTN, an online news service, on Facebook and Twitter several years ago.

His years of service inspired the NSEA to nominate him for the NYSUT Legacy Fund. “Phil has dedicated so much of his life to supporting the welfare of others,” said John Kuryla, NSEA president. “He’s a good unionist and a good man. I credit him with shaping Onondaga County’s political landscape for teachers.”

To honor an in-service or retiree activist from your area, visit nysut.org/legacyfund.
[ Fighting for you ]

SRP contract wins focus on salaries, stipends

By Ben Amey



ith districts across the state facing historic staffing shortfalls, local unions recently scored substantial wins for School-Related Professionals, resulting in raises, longevity bonuses and increased stipends. The new contracts are the result of intense negotiations, or renegotiations, between local unions — with support from their NYSUT labor relations specialists — and the districts.

“These contract wins for our locals prove that we will continue to fight for our SRP siblings to get them better working conditions and more respect from districts,” said NYSUT Second Vice President Ron Gross, whose office oversees SRP issues. “These agreements represent a significant step forward in appreciating the hard work and dedication of these education professionals.”

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo Teacher Support Staff, led by co-presidents Brenda Dibble and Diane Chrysler, negotiated a contract extension a year before their contract was up. The contract includes raises of 4.5 percent each year from 2023–24 to 2026–27, with one dollar per hour raises in 2024–25 and 2026–27 as well. By the end of the contract, minimum salaries for aides will be $19.13 an hour and will be $21.26 per hour for teaching assistants. The negotiated contract also includes increased longevity payments.

[ Fighting for you ]

NYSUT Legal: Working hard for all members


YSUT’s Office of General Counsel employs more than two dozen attorneys who vigorously defend the rights of union members and also advance the causes of labor and public education through state and federal litigation.

To learn more about this important and valuable union benefit, NYSUT United sat down with Deborah Milham, senior counsel at the OGC at the union’s Latham headquarters, and Ariana Donnellan, senior counsel at the New York City OGC.

Q: What brought you to NYSUT?

DM: I was looking for a summer job after completing my first year of law school. I didn’t know much about unions or the labor movement at the time. After clerking in the OGC for two years I was hooked. I became a strong unionist, enamored with NYSUT — its mission, its members and its staff.

AD: I always had an interest in advocating for educators since I grew up in a household of teachers who often raised workplace issues around the dinner table. Labor-side school law was the perfect harmonization of both my personal interests and my educational background.

[ Fighting for you ]

Labor Summer

Labor Summer title typography
NYSUT members and leaders spent a busy summer on professional learning, networking with colleagues and catching up on the latest in labor and education. To see more pictures of members in action, visit flickr.com/nysut.
a large group celebrates in a conference room

NYSUT Leadership Institute

New Local Presidents Conference

two women talk at a busy even table
close up of a member of the NYSUT Leadership Institute

NYSUT Local Action Project

a group of people wearing matching green shirts stand together for a photo
women at the AFT Convention take a group photo holding a "Public Schools Unite Us" graphic frame
attendees at the AFT Convention stand together for a group photo

AFT Convention

two women attendees at the AFT Convention stand together for a photo
[ Fighting for you ]

Labor Summer

Labor Summer title typography
NYSUT members and leaders spent a busy summer on professional learning, networking with colleagues and catching up on the latest in labor and education. To see more pictures of members in action, visit flickr.com/nysut.

NYSUT Leadership Institute

a large group celebrates in a conference room
close up of a member of the NYSUT Leadership Institute

New Local Presidents Conference

two women talk at a busy even table

NYSUT Local Action Project

a group of people wearing matching green shirts stand together for a photo

AFT Convention

women at the AFT Convention take a group photo holding a "Public Schools Unite Us" graphic frame
attendees at the AFT Convention stand together for a group photo
two women attendees at the AFT Convention stand together for a photo

Scholarship fund aims to help
Buffalo victims, families

By Kara Smith



scholarship fund created in the aftermath of a horrific, racially motivated attack at a Buffalo-area supermarket has raised more than $42,000 — but more support is needed.

The attack left local residents feeling unsafe and insecure within their own community. Ten people were killed and three were wounded. Among those killed were union members Margus Morrison, Pearl Young and Aaron Salter Jr.

photographs of three slain union members: Margus Morrison, Pearl Young and Aaron Salter Jr.
In May, a racially motivated attack at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo claimed the lives of union members, from left, Margus Morrison, Pearl Young and Aaron Salter Jr.

NYSUT implicit bias workshops available


earn about the impact implicit bias can have on classroom dynamics by taking “Sticks & Stones: Understanding Implicit Bias, Microaggressions & Stereotypes,” a series of workshops presented by NYSUT as part of its Many Threads, One Fabric series.

The free, four-hour workshop teaches participants to look at the world from a different perspective — one that takes in consideration how someone’s socio-economic background, ethnicity, ability and race can impact how they experience our society.

“The goal is to bridge cultural divides and make our schools and communities more welcoming and inclusive places for people of all abilities and backgrounds by promoting social unity and increasing cultural awareness,” explained J. Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary-treasurer, whose office oversees the statewide union’s social justice initiatives.

[ OUR SRPs ]

Getting to know … Marianne Hawryluk

A portrait photographic headshot of Marianne Hawryluk smiling

Marianne Hawryluk is a teaching assistant at Rondout Valley High School. She was interviewed by Kim McEvoy, a member of the NYSUT SRP Advisory Committee and treasurer of the Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers & School-Related Professionals.

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

I am a teaching assistant working in the Life Skills program with students of various abilities and disabilities. I run circles where we sit and share feelings about topics of interest or just about their day. We do physical activities such as cardio drumming, gardening, nature walks and lots of art projects. Our class cooks and goes on interesting field trips. We also go out into our community and shop or recycle.

What brings me joy is giving the gift of learning to my students. I love sharing with them something they were questioning or didn’t know at all. Their reactions and interest to the new information is affirmation that I am doing what I was meant to do in my life.

Why is union involvement important to you?

I became involved in my union to help members and to spread the benefits and the importance of being an active participant.

I am currently the corresponding secretary for the Rondout Valley Federation. I have had the honor of attending state and local union conferences for SRPs, including a recent conference that focused on negotiating. How timely and beneficial that was for me, as I was a member of the negotiating team for our para contract.  I was empowered by the knowledge that I received from NYSUT to positively impact the new contract.

I have also been privileged to help with union activities such as our food drive, highway clean up, SRP Recognition Day and more.

[ OUR SRPs ]

Save the Date: SRP Leadership Conference

A digital representation of a Proud To Work With An SRP sticker

on’t miss NYSUT’s largest leadership, professional development and networking opportunity for School-Related Professionals!

The 44th annual SRP Leadership Conference, under the theme “SRPs Rising: Investing in our Future,” will be held Nov. 4–6 at the Albany Hilton.

This year’s conference features workshops especially for food service, custodial and maintenance, and clerical professionals. The event will also include several new health and safety offerings.

NYSUT Second Vice President Ron Gross, whose office coordinates SRP concerns, encouraged local leaders to send a full team to the conference.

[ teaching & learning ]

Herricks educators celebrate first graduates of K-12 Spanish-language immersion program

By Kara Smith



group of educators at the Herricks Public School District in Nassau County on Long Island are breaking new ground — they’re teaching in New York state’s only fully immersive K-12 Spanish language program. The program graduated its first class of K-12 immersion students in June.

It’s the equivalent of “dropping students off in a Spanish-speaking country,” explained Llilian Vera, Herricks Teachers Association. She teaches third-grade Spanish-language math and science classes at the Denton Avenue Elementary School, which houses Herricks’ K-5 immersion program.

Launched as a voluntary option for first-grade students at the start of the 2010 school year, Herricks’ immersion program now starts in kindergarten and offers 48 student slots. Currently 524 of the district’s roughly 4,000 students participate.

The New York State School Boards Association
The New York State School Boards Association recognized Herricks’ Spanish Immersion Program in April with its Champions of Change distinction and banner. Above, the inaugural graduating class, along with program teachers, administrators and members of the school board, celebrate the recognition.
[ teaching & learning ]

Staff shortages plague many districts

By Sylvia Saunders



rom bus drivers to school nurses to teachers, districts statewide were scrambling to fill a variety of staff vacancies before the opening of the school year.

A number of districts were offering signing bonuses, incentives for hard-to-fill subject areas and even negotiating jobsharing for retirees.

Local union leaders reported the shortages seem to be most acute in big city, rural and high-need districts. In addition to a lack of certified teachers, districts reported difficulty hiring teaching assistants, teacher aides, maintenance workers and bus drivers.

With hundreds of positions still unfilled in mid-August, Rochester TA President Adam Urbanski warned there is a good chance students will be in combined classes at least a portion of the school year.

Next Generation NYSUT

Next Generation NYSUT

Many NYSUT members have been on the job for five years or fewer and have questions about employment requirements, the union and other professional issues.

Q: I am a first-grade teacher, and I have received my initial certification. What steps do I need to take to earn my professional certificate?

A: There are three steps to professional certification: earn a graduate degree, teach for three years and teach with a mentor. Your college and employer must submit documentation of each of these steps through the New York State Education Department’s TEACH portal. Once all documentation has been submitted and you have applied and paid, SED will review your application. The process can take 16–20 weeks to complete, so do not wait until the last minute! If you cannot complete the required steps within five years of receiving your initial certification, you can apply for a time extension or re-issuance of your initial certificate through the TEACH portal.

Q: I have my initial certification and I’ve already started to collect Continuing Teacher and Leader Education hours. Will those hours count toward my CTLE requirements once I receive my professional certification?

A: Unfortunately, no. SED only starts counting CTLE hours once you have received your professional certificate. At that point, you have five years to complete your 100 hours. But just think – you are already learning new skills that will make you an asset in the classroom!

Q: How do you get recommendations from colleges for your professional certificate?

A: The good news is that NYS colleges should do this as a matter of course for most relevant master’s programs leading to teaching certificates. Log into your TEACH account and make sure the recommendation is posted and that it is for professional, not initial certification.

Next Generation NYSUT offers a wealth of info and resources to our new members. Check out nextgen.nysut.org. Have a question of your own? Email united@nysut.org; subject line “Union mentor.”

[ Teaching & Learning ]

A lesson on hope amid Ukrainian war

By Matthew Hamilton


Yonkers Federation of Teachers member Shai Stephenson and her students smile for the camera with their New York-themed props at a summer camp for Ukrainian and Polish students in Cieszanów, Poland.
Yonkers Federation of Teachers member Shai Stephenson and her students smile for the camera with their New York-themed props at a summer camp for Ukrainian and Polish students in Cieszanów, Poland.

hey traveled to Poland to teach English. They brought back a lesson on hope.

Four NYSUT members joined a delegation of 15 educators from across the nation in July for a two-week summer camp to work with students from Poland and war-torn Ukraine. The trip — organized by the American Federation of Teachers and partner organizations — was designed for English language immersion for 12-to-15-year-olds affected by the disruptions of war.

Beyond language lessons, the aim for Yonkers Federation of Teachers members Colette Hebert and Shai Stephenson; Syracuse Teachers Association member Jean-Pierre Rosas; and Alexandra Hernandez of the United Federation of Teachers was to provide some semblance of normalcy for the students.

Safe Schools for All logo
parent holding hands with their child
NYSUT task force members share their insight on school safety.
[ teaching & learning ]

NYSUT task force highlights school safety

Our public schools have always been places where parents, educators and community members come together to ensure that every child has the right to learn in a safe, secure and welcoming environment.

And as children head back to school this fall, the safety of students and our schools is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. We must stand up together — educators, parents and community members — to support a public education system that meets the needs of every student. That includes offering a helping hand to students still reeling from the impact of academic disruption due to the pandemic.

While educators, parents, students and administrators long for a return to normal, in many instances, our public schools simply aren’t the safe places they should be. Violent classroom episodes and the threat of mass violence in schools are an all-too-common reality. And, after years of underfunding, many schools lack the staff to help students emotionally cope with the challenges they face. However, there is hope.

“The goal of NYSUT’s Safe Schools for All Task Force, made up of educators from across our state, is to put together a list of recommendations for national, state and local leaders to best support safe public schools at the heart of every community,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta.

[ Teaching & Learning ]

I choose to rebuild

After an unconventional path to teaching, Amy Sarah LaMena of the Schenectady Federation of Teachers lays out why she’s staying and striving forward.
Ben Amey
I was recently confronted with the very real possibility of leaving teaching after over two decades in the classroom. Days before the start of the 2020–21 school year, I was one of many educators who were suddenly laid off from an urban district struggling under the weight of budget cuts. Education funding had once again become a political football on the national level and, for the first time in 20 years, I wasn’t a teacher.

Curiously, I had never set out to be one.

I began teaching entirely by accident in 1999. The Jesuits offered me the opportunity to travel overseas, see a bit of the world, and generally bide my time until I could figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. In return, I was to teach science and math on a small island in the Pacific. During that year I experienced an entirely different world. I was immersed in cultures unlike my own and languages I’d never heard. I was called “Teacher” as an honorific that felt alien, and struggled to earn the title. While I knew that experience would shape me, I never expected it to define me.

[ Teaching & Learning ]

SRPs embrace a farm-fresh take on school lunch

By Molly Belmont



chool-Related Professionals in the Southern Tier are heading back to cafeterias this fall with a fresh take on cooking. Over the summer, they attended “Farm-to-School Culinary Experience,” a four-day training for food service staff focused on using farm-fresh ingredients.

“We are incorporating more New York state products throughout our district menus,” said Annie Hudock, Broome BOCES Support Services Association. She serves as senior food services director for Broome-Tioga BOCES.

Broome-Tioga BOCES partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Food and Health Network to host the event. Food service managers, cooks and helpers rotated through multiple units that covered knife skills, cooking techniques and how to use industrial-grade equipment to make short work of shredding, slicing and dicing.

The Farm-to-School program originated with a desire to serve healthier meals at schools. Initially, just five districts statewide participated. Those districts committed to using only local ingredients on “NY Thursdays.” Today, 15 districts are on board.

[ Teaching & Learning ]

Teachers head back to school with new tools from ELT

By Molly Belmont



he best educators are also lifelong learners. Many educators hit the books this summer with help from NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust, the union’s professional development and learning arm.

“ELT’s courses combine top-shelf knowledge with maximum flexibility so that all educators can get the training they need to succeed in today’s demanding school environment,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango.

These courses give educators new ideas and tools so they can continue to make a real difference for their students. By incorporating the latest teaching and learning standards, the courses also prepare educators for Continuing Teacher and Leader Education and certification requirements.

This summer, the ELT calendar was packed with courses designed to address some of educators’ biggest concerns, like how to effectively manage classrooms and how to integrate technology. The most popular courses also provided answers to some of teachers’ most pressing questions about equity, parent engagement and discipline.

[ health & safety ]

NYSUT Women to examine impact of Alzheimer’s

to examine impact of Alzheimer’s
By Molly Belmont



ore than 410,000 New Yorkers are living with Alzheimer’s Disease — and almost two-thirds are women.

The disease affects women disproportionately in other ways, too. The responsibilities of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s most often falls on women, and that takes a toll mentally, physically — and financially.

The NYSUT Women’s Committee will address Alzheimer’s and its disastrous impact on women at its annual meeting, Nov. 18–19.

“Since the inception of the Women’s Committee, the women of our union have always prioritized women’s health as a key issue they wanted to explore and be informed about, so they can advocate for themselves and other women in their lives,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango. “We know Alzheimer’s is hitting women hard, both as patients and as caregivers. We want to empower women and give them better tools for dealing with this devastating diagnosis.”

Save the Date: NYSUT Community College Conference Nov. 4–6

NYSUT Community Colleges logo

egistration is now open for the 43rd annual NYSUT Community College Conference. This year’s event, “Overcoming Challenges through Solidarity,” will be held Nov. 4-6 at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs.

Irene Mulvey, president of the American Association of University Professors, will deliver the keynote address. Delegates to the association’s June 2022 meeting voted overwhelmingly to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers.

The NYSUT conference features a host of informative and timely sessions. Workshop topics include:

  • Health and safety: The union seat at the table
  • Challenges facing community colleges in New York
[ retirees in action ]

Meet your NYSUT retiree consultants

Lower Hudson Valley, Long Island and Florida
By Kara Smith



YSUT has a network of 11 retiree services consultants to serve as liaisons between retired members, retiree councils and NYSUT headquarters. In honor of the 30th anniversary of NYSUT retiree councils, we’re highlighting each regional consultant so retiree members know who to reach out to for assistance. Meet Ellen Pincus, Claire Zatorski, James Kinnier and Miriam Hanan, the retiree consultants representing the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island and Florida.

Quotes - Right
Quotes - Right


Sara Nelson

The struggle is real and we should be thankful every day for it because it makes us stronger. But don’t forget the joy! Solidarity is joyful. Justice is joyful. Waking to our power is joyful. Discovering our creativity and diversity is joyful! Want some joy? Join a union. (@FlyingWithSara)


Glad to add my voice against an $85 million aquarium! Our community needs affordable housing, high-quality childcare, fully-funded public schools, and workforce development first!
@NYBATs @nysut (@clearypm)

Sari Beth Rosenberg

Imagine being surprised that there’s a teacher shortage after watching the news headlines all year? I’ve been a teacher for 20 years & in the past year alone I’ve been told I’m lazy, “a groomer,” “racist” for “teaching CRT,” & I’ve endured every antisemitic attack/trope possible. (@saribethrose)


When people minimize teachers pleas for smaller class sizes and healthy work conditions they are saying that our kids don’t deserve the benefits of smaller class sizes and a healthy learning environment #MyKidsAreNotPawns #FordFailedKids #TeachersMatter #KidsMatter #SafeSchools (@basicM0M)

Marc Perrone

Every worker deserves the rights and protections that come with a union. #1u #canlab #UnionStrong (@Marc_Perrone)

[ voices ]

5 Questions for Megan Wright

5 questions for typography
Megan Wright
Alexander United Teachers

You were recognized by the NYS Board of Regents for your teaching on the Holocaust. What peaked your interest in this topic?

My interest was sparked as a young child … with both of my late grandfathers being World War II veterans, as well as having ancestors from Prussia and Germany. When I saw “Literature of the Holocaust” as an undergrad English elective at SUNY Brockport, I just had to take it. During that course, I met six Holocaust survivors and essentially made the vow to continue to learn as much about this topic as I can.


How were you able to translate your interests into popular courses at your school?

When I started teaching at Alexander, I created an elective based on the course I took at Brockport. I now teach two high school English electives that center on the Holocaust and other human rights violations: “WWII/Holocaust Literature” and “Post WWII Literature” (which starts at the Nuremberg Trials and continues to current events). We cover the history to ensure that students have a solid foundation, with readings and examination of artifacts. Students dive deeper into topics of interest with project-based learning. The most popular activities tend to be student presentations, activities generated by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and survivor testimonies.

[ 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.

Help Wanted

TEACHERS, TUTOR NEAR home/work. All subjects/grades/ licenses. Long-term: facultytutoring@aol.com. 718-886-2424.

[ resources for you ]

Poster of Jorge Ramos with a banner that read Celebrate Hispanic Heritage September 15 to October 15

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

NYSUT celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with a new poster honoring Jorge Ramos, a Mexican-American journalist and author. Known as “The Walter Cronkite of Latin America,” he is the best-known Spanish-language news anchor in the United States.

Based in Miami, Florida, Ramos anchors the Univision news television program Noticiero Univision; the Univision Sunday-morning political news program Al Punto; and the Fusion TV English-language program America with Jorge Ramos. He has covered five wars and events ranging from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the war in Afghanistan.

Over the course of his career, Ramos interviewed several world leaders including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chávez.

The recipient of 10 Emmy Awards and the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for excellence in journalism, in 2015 Ramos was named one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People.” Ramos is also the author of 13 books including, Dying to Cross and his autobiography, No Borders: A Journalist’s Search for Home.

The poster is available for download in English-language and Spanish-language versions; limited quantities are free for NYSUT members and leaders at the statewide union’s online publications ordering catalog, nysut.org/publications.

IRS mileage increase

Illustration of a speedometer with a green dollar sign in the middle
The IRS has increased the mileage rate for the second half of 2022. For the final six months of 2022 (July 1–Dec. 31), the standard mileage rate for business travel will be 62.5 cents per mile, up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of the year.

[ passings ]

Vilma Boero | Nov. 4, 2021
Yonkers Federation of Teachers

Ronald D. Bray | April 11, 2022
Hastings Teachers Association

Holly Brown | July 30, 2022
Marcus Whitman Teachers Association

Adrienne Ginsberg
March 31, 2022
Westbury Teachers Association

Judith Greenwood
March 31, 2022
Albany Public School Teachers Association

Richard “Dick” Hoult
March 24, 2022
East Greenbush Teachers Association

Jo Ann Lane | Dec. 24, 2021
Red Jacket Faculty Association

Lucile McKay | Dec. 20, 2021
Red Jacket Faculty Association

Connie McMichael | Nov. 6, 2021
Red Jacket Faculty Association

Gerald Meyer | Nov. 10, 2021
Professional Staff Congress/CUNY

Michael Salerno | May 24, 2021
Three Village Teachers Association

Marceline Shillingford
Dec. 21, 2021
Yonkers Federation of Teachers

Robert Thompson | May 7, 2022
Hudson Falls Teachers Association

Catherine Townsend
April 2, 2022
Oriskany Teachers Association

Thomas Winn | March 24, 2022
Retiree Council 10

Harold Zaroff | Dec. 6, 2021
Yonkers 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.

[ Member Benefits ]

Benefits & services available to NYSUT members


YSUT Member Benefits provides an update in this publication each September about its role within the NYSUT organization, its endorsement process and the many endorsed benefits available to NYSUT members.

NYSUT created a separately funded trust in 1983 (Member Benefits Trust) to leverage the unified buying power of its members and offer competitive benefit programs to members. Subsequently, the Member Benefits Corporation and Catastrophe Major Medical Insurance Trust were created in 2008 and 2015, respectively, to add to the breadth of offerings.

Each of these entities is overseen by a board of appointed trustees/directors who help to ensure these endorsed benefit plans continue to meet the needs of NYSUT members. The Member Benefits department is under the leadership of NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer J. Philippe Abraham, chairperson of the NYSUT Member Benefits Trust, and is directed by Ginger LaChapelle.

[ Your ERS Pension ]

Retirement planning for Tier 3 and 4 members


f you are a Tier 3 or 4 New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) member, now is the time to plan for retirement. Understanding your service credit milestones and retirement benefit calculation will help you make important retirement-related decisions.

You are a Tier 3 or 4 member if you joined ERS from July 27, 1976, through Dec. 31, 2009. For most Tier 3 and 4 members, your retirement benefits are based on Article 15 of the Retirement and Social Security Law.

For these members:

  • You can retire with full benefits at age 62.
  • You are eligible to retire once you are age 55 and have at least five years of service credit, but your benefits may be reduced.
  • If you have 30 or more years of service credit, you can retire as early as age 55 and before age 62 with no benefit reduction.
  • If you retire with fewer than 20 years of service credit, your benefit equals 1.66 percent of your final average earnings (FAE) for each year of service.

[ Your TRS Pension ]

Who’s eligible for TRS membership?

Q :

If I teach full time, do I have to join the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System?

A :

Yes. If you’re employed full-time as a teacher, teaching assistant, guidance counselor, or any other title covered by NYSTRS, in a New York state public school district, BOCES or a NYSTRS-participating charter school, you must join NYSTRS. The only exception is individuals employed in New York City public schools. Those members belong to the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York.

If you’re employed by a New York state community college or a SUNY, you have the option of joining the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System, the Optional Retirement Plan, or NYSTRS.

[ Local Unions in Action ]

Guilderland Teachers Association

Guilderland Teacher's Association
The Guilderland TA, led by Emily Mineau, hosted a make-a-bookmark station and handed out free summer activity books and pencils for National Night Out. The annual event, held the first Tuesday in August, promotes police-community partnerships. Above, special education teacher and GTA building rep Kirsten Ippito volunteers at the event with her union colleagues.

Pembroke Teachers Federation

Women standing with a lot of groceries
Members of the Pembroke TF, led by Arron Brown, raised more than $8,500 throughout the 2021–22 school year. The funds, collected via Dress Down Days, went to various local charities. At right, PTF members deliver donations to the Ronald McDonald House of Western New York.

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

Darcie Fregoe, Massena Federation of Teachers, received the 2022 Sylvia Shugrue award by the National Science Teaching Association. The award honors one elementary science teacher in the nation for their inquiry and/or interdisciplinary approach to science teaching.

Charles Rizzuto,Oyster Bay-East Norwich Teachers Association , was selected the Shape America 2022 National High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year.

In print

Meghan Abruzzo, Nassau BOCES Central Council of Teachers, helped author Dear Freedom along with two of her students. The book contains 50 student letters from around the world asking for advice with various issues.

Alan Baczkiewicz, Sweet Home Education Association, has published The Backyard Bird Sanctuary: A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Wild Bird Habitat at Home. The book focuses on identifying beautiful birds right in the comfort of your backyard through this illustrated, easy-to-use introductory guide to birding.

Herm Card, Marcellus Faculty Association retiree, published Looking Back: A Life with Baseball, a collection of stories, essays and poems offering observations and lessons on life through the lens of the American game.

Carl Goodwill, Camden TA retiree, has published The Dad School. Visit covenantbooks.com for more info.

Mala Hoffman, Newburgh TA retiree, published A History of Place, a poetry book that is an exploration of personal history and an examination of where to place those reflections in present day life. For more info, visit finishinglinepress.com.

Serena Nanda, Professional Staff Congress Retirees Chapter, with co-author J. Michael Ryan, has published COVID-19: Social Inequalities and Human Possibilities, which examines the impact of COVID-19 on global, national and local inequalities involving gender, ethnicity, social class and other factors. The book is published by Rutledge.

Nancy Robison, Nassau BOCES Central Council of Teachers retiree, has written Stubby: A Cat’s Story and Stubby: Her Continuing Adventures. The books help children develop a love of cats while also teaching concepts such as compassion, sharing, friendship, patience and kindness.

Irene Willis, Retiree Council 15, has published Allow Me, a collection of new and selected poems. Visit ipbooks.net for more info.

Steven Sternberg, United Federation of Teachers retiree, has published Enter My Mind, a book of poetry about life for teens and adults of all ages. The poems cover situations we all face during our lives. For more info, email sterro3@aol.com.

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.

It’s What We Do

It's What We Do typography
Peter White, United Teachers of Northport

A retired member of United Teachers of Northport, Peter White has led students and educators on more than 60 humanitarian trips to Nicaragua.

headshot of Peter White


He worked first as a teacher overseeing Students for 60,000, a club at Northport High School dedicated to supporting the needy near and far. When he retired from teaching in 2005, he started a sister group — Friends of Students for 60,000. 

In Nicaragua, current and former students work alongside in-service and retired teachers. They help build homes, visit schools and teach prepared lessons, or handle supplies and visit families. On trips with Friends of Students for 60,000, participants usually build two 20-by-20 houses, digging foundations, mixing cement and carting materials. Local supervisors are hired to oversee the project, White said.

The groups also fund latrines.

“If we fund 30 latrines, and the families can pay half of the cost, then we can get 15 more,” he said.

The groups’ efforts also meet needs closer to home. The Friends of Students for 60,000 recently raised money and purchased $6,000 worth of food to donate to food centers on Long Island.

“You can’t solve the problems of the world, but you can pick one part of the world and really make some progress,” White said.

Read more about White’s efforts on Long Island and abroad at nysut.org/itswhatwedo.

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

NYSUT United | September/October 2022

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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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