News stories

Dial-A-Teacher weathers storm

Miller Photography

Teachers handle the phones while (from left) Dial-A-Teacher Project Coordinator Pierre Michele Kalil, Director Anthony Harmon, TV weatherman “Mr. G” and Coordinator Karen Butler-Brock plan the day’s programming. 

Miller Photography

Rosanne Caputo (left) of PS 20 in Manhattan and retired teacher Denise Wright answer students’ questions.

Miller Photography UFT President Michael Mulgrew delivers the weather report for WPIX on May 7.

Neither rain nor snow nor a nearly month-long shutdown due to Hurricane Sandy can keep the UFT’s Dial-A-Teacher staff from another successful year of guiding New York City’s students in all five boroughs.

While the storm shut down the phone lines for nearly a month, Dial-A-Teacher rebounded, increasing its volume of calls since the lines reopened in late November.

“We have had more than 75,000 calls so far this year, which is more than we normally see at this point,” said Anthony Harmon, the program director.

On May 7, WPIX-TV weatherman Mr. G dropped by to celebrate the banner year and the return to normalcy by shooting the news show’s weather forecast from Dial-A-Teacher’s bustling headquarters.

“Our volume was so high, we had nearly 800 calls that day,” said Karen Butler-Brock, the project coordinator.

Mr. G, a former teacher, took some calls from students — many of whom were watching him on TV while they dialed in at 1-212-777-3380. His commitment to Dial-A-Teacher, which he plugs during the news just about every day, is his way of showing appreciation for the role that a good public school education played in his own life, he said.

While Mr. G provided homework help, UFT President Michael Mulgrew traded places and took on the weather forecasting duties.

Dial-A-Teacher has 49 certified, licensed teachers who speak a total of eight languages in order to help struggling students in any school subject, every Monday to Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m.

“We did have a few teachers who lost their homes to Hurricane Sandy, but once they put their affairs in order, they came right back to us and didn’t miss a beat,” Butler-Brock said.

Some students regularly use Dial-A-Teacher’s online capability so that they can view the same screen as the teacher while on the phone.

“If you want help with tough questions, Dial-A-Teacher is the place to call,” weathercaster Mulgrew told the TV audience.

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