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Guidance Counselors Newsletter - Fall 2014

I hope you are having a good start to the new school year!

We have much to look forward to this year. The Department of Education has established the new Office of Guidance and School Counseling to support us in our work. We have more than 250 new guidance counselors in the schools and our chapter this year. Best of all, we are implementing our new contract, which gives us a greater voice in our schools and in our profession.

As part of our contract, we now have a say in what kinds of professional development we receive. Our citywide professional development committee for guidance counselors has already started to plan professional development offerings.

This includes our first citywide professional development day for this school year which will be held on Election Day, Nov. 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. This session will be geared toward elementary and middle school counselors and social workers, and the focus will be on promoting pro-social behavior and positive, equitable discipline.

Space is limited, so pre-registration is required.

Get more information or register for the citywide professional development day »

I look forward to working with all of you this school year. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, contact me at

Thank you for all the work you do for your students, our schools and our union.


Rosemarie Thompson
Guidance Counselors Chapter Leader


Welcome-back events with the chancellor were a big success
Bruce Cotler

Chancellor Carmen Farina challenges a gathering of guidance counselors and social workers to keep students fully engaged throughout the new school year.

It was wonderful to see so many of you at our welcome-back events this year!

Guidance counselors honored at annual awards ceremony
Miller Photography

“It's one thing to say thank you and another to show it in a tangible way,” said Chancellor Carmen Fariña (center), as she outlined changes she has made, including lifting the hiring freeze on new guidance counselors and creating a new Office of Guidance and School Counseling.

Awardees pose with UFT President Mulgrew (second from left), Chancellor Farina (center) and Bob Astrowsky (second from right)

We had a wonderful Guidance Counselor Recognition Day Awards Ceremony in June. UFT President Michael Mulgrew stopped by to speak to us. Chancellor Fariña also joined us for the event at which we honored Bob Astrowsky, a longtime union advocate and guidance counselor, and other guidance counselors from across the city.

See more photos from the ceremony »

Read the New York Teacher article about the ceremony »

Our honorees were:
  • Bronx: Madeline Velez, PS 58; Marissa Bailey, Soundview Academy for Culture and Scholarship; Ronald Bath, Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science; Nancy Crespo, Global Enterprise Academy.
  • Brooklyn: Ann Hendricks, PS 251; Shari Tabb, MS 821; Linda Ponciano, International HS at Prospect Heights; Kenneth Kastenbaum, Brooklyn International HS.
  • Manhattan: Arlene Yiadom, PS/MS 57; Elizabeth Johnson, MS 322; Deborah Maynard Kaalund, A. Philip Randolph Campus HS; Mayela Gaytan Valdez, MS 247.
  • Queens: Roxana Rivas-Carvalho, PS 12; Matthew DePalo, Louis Armstrong MS; Regine Dejean, Hillcrest HS; Christine Stamberg, Flushing HS.
  • Staten Island: Elaine Gregorio, PS 57; Meri Atlas-Ruggirello, PS 78; Eusebio Martinez, Susan E. Wagner HS; Steven Rubinson,Tottenville HS.
  • District 64 (nonpublic schools): Kristina Swanson, Our Lady of Trust Catholic Academy.
  • District 75 (special education): Sandy Park, P233 in Queens; Harriett WeisblattP771 in Brooklyn.
  • District 88 (Alternate Learning Center): Brenda Rodriguez, Manhattan ALC, East Harlem.
  • Guidance counselors assigned: Gael Kavet, Manhattan South Truancy Intake Center; Shenna Buie, Office of Student Enrollment.
  • YABC: Marlene Madera, George Washington YABC.
  • Retiree: Sheila Brown.

New DOE Office of Guidance and School Counseling

The senior executive director of this new DOE division is Lois Herrera. Other key staff in this new office include: Cheryl Hall, citywide coordinator for child abuse and neglect prevention and intervention; Marion Thomas, senior program manager on substance abuse prevention & intervention; and senior administrators Michael Battista, Zuri Jackson-Woods, Jaye Murray and Margarita Suero-Duran.

I will be in touch with this office. As always, please bring any concerns or issues you have to me and the UFT.


As you know, Chancellor Fariña last year used many guidance counselors in the ATR pool to support schools that needed assistance. Those guidance counselors were placed for most of the spring term. Many of those temporary assignments became permanent.

As part of the effort to facilitate guidance counselors in finding positions in schools, as per our new collective bargaining agreement, starting Oct. 15, the DOE is obligated to send an ATR to any school in the district that has a vacancy in that person’s license area. If there is no vacancy in the person’s license area in the home district, then the DOE can send the member to a school outside of the home district but in the same borough. The principal retains the discretion to keep the counselor or other member or return him or her to the ATR pool.

We are hopeful more counselors in excess will receive permanent school assignments this school year.

Repurposed time

I know there have been many questions in the schools about the repurposed workday. I just want to review a few key points here:

  • The repurposing of time for professional development, parent engagement and Other Professional Work does not apply to guidance counselors.
  • Our work hours have not changed. We continue to work our contractual time of 6 hours, 30 minutes, exclusive of lunch, five days a week.
  • Teachers are working longer on Mondays and Tuesdays. But our workday on Monday and Tuesday ends at the usual time for us.
  • When the teachers’ day is shorter, we do not leave early. We work our contractual time and leave at the end of our work day.
  • Guidance counselors in single-session schools where everyone reports at the same time no longer have to attend faculty conference and departmental meetings. In lieu of them, there are two additional parent-teacher conferences that we are required to attend. This applies only to single-session schools. Guidance counselors in multi-session schools and Districts 79 and 75 are not affected by this change, unless the school has adopted a school-based option to reconfigure its time.
  • The parent-teacher conferences are:
    • September: Guidance counselors attend the full three hours
    • November:  Guidance counselors attend the first two hours and 10 minutes
    • March: Guidance counselors attend the full three hours
    • May: Guidance counselors attend the first two hours and 10 minutes

Save the dates!

Please mark your calendars for these important events and meetings this year:

Oct. 22, 2014: Guidance Expo 2014

Oct. 31, 2014: NYSSCA annual conference

Nov. 4, 2014: Citywide professional development day

Dec. 3, 2014: Chapter meeting for middle school guidance counselors

Feb. 2-4, 2015: National School Counselor Week will be celebrated

March 14, 2015: 11th Annual Guidance Counselors Conference

Find more information on the events and register »

In case you are injured while on duty

If you are injured or made sick on the job, you are covered by the Injury-in-the-Line-of-Duty provision of the UFT contract with the Department of Education.

Read about the injury-in-the-line of duty provision and how to apply for coverage »

Remember to secure your property in the schools

I want to make sure you all saw the New York Teacher story about a 15 percent increase in larceny in the schools last school year compared to the prior year. Smartphones, laptops, wallets and pocketbooks are prime targets, so please be sure to secure your property.

Read the New York Teacher story for tips on protecting your property »

Related Topics: Chapter News