Feature stories

‘Miracle on MacDonough’

UFT Teacher Center is core to Brooklyn school’s recent success

UFT Vice President for Education Evelyn DeJesus cuts the ribbon to open the new Pat ArnowUFT Vice President for Education Evelyn DeJesus cuts the ribbon to open the new Teacher Center.

Art teacher Jacqueline Du directs a collaborative art project for the staff and Pat ArnowArt teacher Jacqueline Du directs a collaborative art project for the staff and guests. “Once you’ve made a difference in a teacher’s life, it bubbles over,” said Kim Hinds-Price, the UFT Teacher Center site staff person at MS 35 in Brooklyn. “Staff has spent hours transforming this room into a warm, inviting place,” Hinds-Price said at a belated grand opening of the school’s Teacher Center on Oct. 15.

MS 35 is located on MacDonough Street in Bedford Stuyvesant and is known affectionately by the school community as the “Miracle on MacDonough.” Its Teacher Center opened in September 2017, and the school has thrived over the past year thanks in part to Teacher Center initiatives including “workshops on questioning and discussion techniques, grouping, self-assessment and using information to prepare lessons,” said Hinds-Price.

The UFT Teacher Center, founded in 1979, draws on current research and best practices to offer professional development for educators at 104 schools and other locations.

For MS 35 teachers, the UFT Teacher Center also offers informal mentorship. “When I walk into the Teacher Center, I get reassurance from other educators,” said Gayle Dixon, a second-year science teacher. “They tell me, ‘Don’t worry, just breathe.’ We all need that team-building and collaboration.”

School staff applaud the proceedings.Pat ArnowSchool staff applaud the proceedings. Marie Pelzer, the school’s chapter leader and a paraprofessional, shares Dixon’s sentiment. “We call ourselves lifelong learners, and we’re all about collaborating,” Pelzer said. “I’ve been here 21 years. It’s a beautiful place. We love working together.”

Love for the school and its students was evident in the packed slate of activities during the afternoon celebration attended by alumni, parents and current and former teachers. Speakers included Ayoola Omogbolahan, an 8th-grader who started school at MS 35 after emigrating from Nigeria, then went on to place second in the citywide spelling bee. The art teacher, Jacqueline Du, led the whole group in a drawing project before the dance ensemble performed in the hallway. Then, it was time to cut the ribbon and the cake.

Rahesha Amon-Harrison, the District 16 superintendent and a former MS 35 teacher, had a message for the group. “When I was a teacher, I lived in my UFT Teacher Center,” she said. “My colleagues helped me perfect my craft, and they helped me get in a secure place for my retirement. When I hear ‘develop people,’ I think of the strength of the union.”

User login
Enter the email address you used to sign up at UFT.org.
 
If you don't have a UFT.org profile, please sign up.
Forgot your password?