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Ready to launch

Open houses welcome new hires

New UFT members learned about their union benefits at the Brooklyn borough officNew UFT members learned about their union benefits at the Brooklyn borough office’s open house on Aug. 30.

With more than 4,000 new hires entering schools in September, the UFT hosted “Get Ready to Launch” open houses in the five borough offices, plus one at union headquarters for new UFT members who work with special-needs students, during the last week of August.

The purpose of the open houses was to acquaint the new Department of Education-employed members with all the benefits and assistance the union has to offer while sharing strategies they can employ immediately to start the new school year off on solid footing.

“We wanted them to feel welcome,” said UFT Brooklyn Borough Representative Elizabeth Perez. “There was a building of trust and comfort, knowing that the union is there for them.” 
The open houses were the first of the many workshops and initiatives planned for the coming school year to help new UFT members succeed in their new careers as New York City public school educators and professionals.

Jessica Marra, a teacher at P811 at PS 136 in St. Albans, Queens, participates iCara MetzJessica Marra, a teacher at P811 at PS 136 in St. Albans, Queens, participates in a workshop at the union’s Aug. 28 open house for District 75 new hires and new functional chapter members who work with special-needs students. UFT District 6 Representative Mayra Cruz (second from right) with some of the neUFT District 6 Representative Mayra Cruz (second from right) with some of the new hires from her district at the Manhattan borough office’s Aug. 30 open house, which had fun with a cruise boat theme.

The new employees at each open house networked with their peers, learned about instructional techniques and classroom management strategies, and got practical information about their union rights and benefits. The UFT distributed free supplies, such as maps and copy paper. 

“I learned about a lot of tools of the trade and strategies in the classroom, especially ways to boost student participation,” said Janelle Fraser, a 2nd-grade teacher at PS 135 in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Fraser said the materials the union distributed about health benefits were “very informative.”

UFT pension trustee Debra Penny (standing) speaks to new hires about their unionJamie PolzinUFT pension trustee Debra Penny (standing) speaks to new hires about their union-negotiated pension benefits at the Staten Island borough office’s open house. UFT Vice President for Career and Technical Education High Schools Sterling RobeUFT Vice President for Career and Technical Education High Schools Sterling Roberson with two new hires at the Queens borough office’s open house on Aug. 30.

Caroline Shea, a teacher at the Manhattan School for Career Development in the East Village, attended the open house for District 75 members at union headquarters in Manhattan. Shea was impressed with the presentation by the Positive Learning Collaborative, a joint project of the UFT and the DOE that provides schoolwide training in dealing with challenging behavior in the classroom.

“I learned about different behaviors, and it was clear the presenter understood what we do,” she said. “It was good to have that information at the beginning of the year.”

Shea said she was surprised by all the discounts available through the union and appreciated knowing “we have access to the union whenever we need help.”

“It was a lot of fun meeting people and seeing who’s representing us,” Shea said. “It was a good way to start the year.”

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