Around the UFT

Volunteers walk the walk

Around the UFT

Learning Leaders opening-of-school ceremony

Violinists from PS 200 in Brooklyn entertain guests at the event.

Violinists from PS 200 in Brooklyn entertain guests at the event.

 Mulgrew and City Council Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson add to the ap Mulgrew and City Council Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson add to the applause at the well-attended ceremony.

Commending the work of Learning Leaders — the organization of more than 12,000 volunteers who work in city schools — at their opening-of-school ceremony at Columbia University on Sept. 22, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “Many people talk the talk about service and education reform, but at Learning Leaders you are walking the walk.” Noting the union’s strong commitment to home-school-community partnership, he thanked the volunteers on behalf of teachers for their work with students and parents in advancing instruction and learning.

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Backpacks for homeless kids

Around the UFT

Project Back to School

Channel 11 weatherman “Mr. G.” and UFT President Michael Mulgrew Miller Photography With Channel 11 weatherman Irv Gikofsky (left), UFT President Michael Mulgrew speaks with kids at the Project Back to School event at the Coalition for the Homeless.
UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford Miller Photography UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford helps a youngster put on her new backpack.

“I’m gonna do a lot of school things with this stuff!” said little Victor at the Coalition for the Homeless, practically diving into his big new Spiderman backpack filled with supplies.

The 1st-grader at Manhattan’s PS 18 was one of a group of kids largely from Life Shelter on the Lower East Side who received needed materials and a lot of encouragement at a Sept. 23 “Project Back to School” special event.

All are in the coalition’s after-school program and are among 3,000 children living in family shelters who are benefiting from the backpack drive.

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Solidarity in the struggle

Around the UFT

German trade unionists visit UFT

Bruce Cotler

In a Russian language class at Staten Island Technical HS, teacher Elena Sokolovski speaks with Stephanie Fochs, Kesting, GEW coordinator for international relations Manfred Brinkmann and Isensee.

Bruce Cotler

The German delegation, along with Staten Island UFTers visiting the Richard H. Hungerford School — a District 75 school that serves students with special needs, including those who are medically fragile, autistic and with a range of physical, emotional and learning disabilities.

Bruce Cotler

Aboard the Staten Island Ferry, after a day viewing schools on the island with UFT leaders, are (from left) teacher trainer Annette Lenz, Thone, kindergarten teacher Christiane Weishoff and Brinkmann.

A nine-person delegation of teacher unionists from the German Teachers’ Union (GEW) visited the UFT from Oct. 4 to 8 to learn more about the similarities and differences in what the two unions face and work toward common goals. They visited a wide variety of public schools throughout the five boroughs and met with educators and union leaders at each location. It was a reciprocal visit — UFT leaders traveled to Berlin last November and toured their public schools at that time.

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Mulgrew: We didn’t start the fire

Around the UFT

CUNY Journalism Graduate School panel

Miller Photography

With Mulgrew are (from left) panel moderator Greg David, a former Crain’s New York Business editor who is now the school’s business and economics reporting director, along with Ward and McMahon.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew spoke about the difficult condition of local and state finances at an Oct. 1 panel sponsored by the CUNY Journalism Graduate School. Joining him were the Rockefeller Institute’s Robert Ward and conservative commentator and frequent New York Post op-ed contributor E.J. McMahon. Mulgrew argued that, contrary to press reports, public-sector employee salaries and benefits were not the cause of the economy’s stagnation, and that public-sector salaries are on par with those in the private sector when education and job requirements are factored in.

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Related topics: benefits

Overcoming the language barrier

Around the UFT

Sixth annual UFT Queens conference for Chinese-speaking parents

Bruce Cotler

Teacher Hai Y. Liang of PS 36 in Brooklyn leads a workshop on mathematics in Grades K-5, including the Everyday Math curriculum, the format and content of state math tests and how to help your child at home with math.

Bruce Cotler

Among those who helped make the conference a success were Yen Chou (center), president of the Chinese American Parent-Student Council, Walker-Yates, District 25 Representative Joe Kessler and Pat Lo of the State Education Department.

Parents want what’s best for their children — but sometimes a language barrier can get in the way. To eliminate that obstacle, the UFT Queens borough office — in collaboration with the Chinese American Parent-Student Council of New York City and the New York State Education Department’s Asian-Languages Bilingual/ESL Technical Assistance Center — hosted its sixth annual Education Conference for Chinese-speaking parents at Flushing HS on Oct. 3.

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UFT participation welcome

Around the UFT

West Indian Day Parade

Members, with UFT President Michael Mulgrew, get ready to roll. Members, with UFT President Michael Mulgrew (first row, left, on float), get ready to roll at the West Indian American Day Parade.
UFT Vice President Karen Alford hands out school supplies and gifts. UFT Vice President Karen Alford hands out school supplies and gifts.

One of the most cheered and applauded of the many floats traveling down Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway in the colorful West Indian American Day Parade on Sept. 6 was decked in UFT blue and white and displayed the powerful message “A Million Minds Matter.” Throughout the nonstop extravaganza of the world-famous carnival, where big name bands from across the island nations compete for big prizes, the people representing the community’s teachers and children “got tremendous surges of support from spectators,” said UFT Parent Outreach Coordinator Anthony Harmon.

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Related topics: parents and community

Hailed for accomplishments

Around the UFT

District 28 representative retires

Liaison Diane Ganz (left) has a hug for her fellow retiree, Reiff. Ganz (left) has a hug for her fellow retiree, Reiff.

Cafe 8 (the eighth floor of the UFT’s Queens borough office) was decorated on June 24 with beach themes that invoked a summer mood and perhaps a suggestion of retirement mode for five staffers who each had dedicated many years of devoted service to children and union members. Emceed by Queens High School District Representative James Vasquez, around 150 attendees celebrated the career of District 28 Representative Janice Reiff, as well as Education Liaison Diane Ganz; UFT Courses Program Coordinator Iris Cabral; and Teacher Center staffers Maureen Ciano and Mary Ann Jordan.

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Related topics: member spotlight

On the run again

Around the UFT

Corporate Challenge

Miller Photography

The UFT team members are all smiles after the race.

Miller Photography

O’Connell on her way to her fifth-place finish.

The UFT Runners Club had 25 members compete in the 34th annual 3.5-mile JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge in Central Park on June 17. And while its success from last year — when the UFT women placed first, the coed team third and the men fourth — was not repeated, it was still a great success for both veteran and novice participants. “The camaraderie of running alongside fellow teachers celebrating Central Park made for a truly satisfying end-of-year event,” said UFT Runners Club Co-Chair Kevin Miller, a teacher at PS 140 in Manhattan. Not that UFTers didn’t excel.

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Foster parenting discussed

Around the UFT

Brooklyn parent workshop

Bruce Cotler

Julia Boyd (left), who has been a foster parent for 25 years, with Zohar and Patricia Heron-Lawrence, a foster parent for five years.

Bruce Cotler

Zohar answers questions from parents and would-be foster parents after the workshop ends.

Foster parents and would-be foster parents had a chance to talk and share information at a parent workshop held at the UFT’s Brooklyn borough office on July 15. Sixty people attended and heard from panelists including foster parents and representatives from foster care agencies, including Graham Windham and the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. A role-play exercise highlighted some of the challenges that foster parents may face.

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Ready for the rollout

Around the UFT

UFT Teacher Center conference on the Common Core State Standards

Cara Metz

Teachers pair up for an exercise.

Cara Metz

Teacher Mary Doyle of PS 58 in the Bronx confers with Arjune Ramdas, the assistant principal of her school.

Cara Metz

Arah Lewis (right) of MS 337 in the Bronx shares her ideas with colleague Noel Luciano.

More than 400 educators brought a high level of enthusiasm and focus to a day of professional development about the new Common Core State Standards on Sept. 1 at UFT headquarters.
“We will be working with all the schools you see represented here from now throughout the year, supporting the school teams and networks as they roll out the Common Core State Standards,” said Catalina Fortino, assistant director of the UFT Teacher Center.

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