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Starting off by the book

UFT helps new teachers stock classroom libraries

The day gets off to a busy beginning as the new teachers pour over all the booksErica BergerThe day gets off to a busy beginning as the new teachers pour over all the books.

Hundreds of new teachers will start their school year with dozens of free books apiece for their classroom, courtesy of the UFT’s book giveaway on Aug. 11. The event, held at the UFT’s Bronx borough office, featured stacks of children’s books for all grade levels.

“I managed to grab two bags filled to the brim of chapter books for my soon-to-be 5th-graders at PS 211,” said Jessica Budway, a new hire and new UFT member. “I was able to get some current titles, and I am eager to share them with my class!”

Proma Hassan, a teacher at MS 217 in Queens, stocks up on free books with her faErica BergerProma Hassan, a teacher at MS 217 in Queens, stocks up on free books with her family.

Budway, who has taught outside the city but is starting her first year teaching in a New York school this fall, was one of some 400 brand-new and second-year teachers who came to peruse the day’s offerings. Only UFT members were able to participate. The union had enrollment forms on hand to make signing up simple for the new hires.

“Everything ran smoothly,” said Budway. “Filling out paperwork was quick and easy, and the staff was very personable.”

The UFT organized the book giveaway in partnership with FirstBook, a nonprofit devoted to providing books and other educational resources to children. UFT members and staff from every borough volunteered their time both the day before to set up and during the event itself.

“The union is committed to the success of new teachers,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Helping them stock their classroom libraries was the perfect way to demonstrate our support.”

Toni Frank, a secretary at PS 208 in the Bronx, has her arms full of books.Erica BergerToni Frank, a secretary at PS 208 in the Bronx, has her arms full of books. Sandra Sun, a first-year teacher at PS 811 in Queens, loads up her car with her Erica BergerSandra Sun, a first-year teacher at PS 811 in Queens, loads up her car with her new treasures.

For Camesha Jones, a new special education teacher at PS 333 in the Bronx, the book giveaway was also an opportunity to get a professional question answered by the union.

“I wanted to ensure that once you become a certified teacher, if you have a master’s degree or the 30 credits, you could get a salary increase as soon as you start,” she said. Bronx UFT Special Representative Bonnie Sepulveda took Jones inside her office, where she helped Jones apply online.

Ariyelle Twiggs from PS 35 in the Bronx gets some help taking books to her car fErica BergerAriyelle Twiggs from PS 35 in the Bronx gets some help taking books to her car from organizer Nick Cruz.

“The experience was really gratifying,” said Jones. “The UFT is a great resource for new teachers to really utilize for their success.”

Jones said she came away from the event with positive feelings about her career as well.

“Everybody helped me a lot to pick out the books that I needed for my classroom,” she said. “Older teachers gave me great advice, and they helped me get myself more organized and prepared. They made us feel like this was definitely a great career to start.”

Special education teacher John Kim, starting this year at PS 12 in the Bronx, said he was happy with the diverse selection of books.

Thanks to the UFT, Kim said, “I have a good starting library to work with.”

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