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chapter leader shoutout

Kudos to Deborah Navarro PS 226, Brooklyn

For building ‘true collaboration’ at her school
New York Teacher

Deborah Navarro
Miller Photography

Chapter Leader Deborah Navarro has built a “union proud, union strong” chapter at PS 226 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, based on what she calls “true collaboration” with her principal.

She began building that collaboration by meeting with the new principal, Evan Klein, before the school year began in 2016. Klein, in turn, invited each teacher at the K–8 school to meet with him one-on-one.

“And so the transition was not intimidating for any of us,” Navarro said. “We understood he had an open, honest ear to our needs.”

Navarro’s strong and active seven-member Consultation Committee secured Klein’s consent to change the schedule of the monthly UFT chapter meetings from one lunch period on Monday and one on Tuesday to back-to-back Friday lunch periods so guest speakers could talk to the entire chapter. And she worked with him on the school calendar to ensure consultations meetings were scheduled for the year.

The school faculty’s instructional cabinet, which handles educational issues, is a “strong voice for teachers,” Navarro said. “It’s the place where we make decisions about what is beneficial to us in professional development.”

Navarro and Klein also worked hand in hand to fortify the union spirit at PS 226 in the months leading up to the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in June 2018. They developed Union Strong school T-shirts that both UFT members and members of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators wore, and they had a joint Union Strong bulletin board in the main office.

After Navarro made the case for the benefits of union membership at the first faculty meeting of the school year, all 14 new teachers signed up, she said. Even COPE is only one member shy of 100 percent.

On Teacher Union Day in November 2018, when Navarro won Kolodny and Trachtenberg awards for her leadership, Klein was there. He then held a ceremony back at school so all her fellow members could join in honoring Navarro’s accomplishments as chapter leader.

And staff, in turn, showed their respect and appreciation for Klein by turning out en masse when he was honored in May 2018 by the United Progressive Democratic Club in Brooklyn.

“She does a great job of communicating with members and maintaining good relations all around,” teacher Justin Greene said of Navarro. “No one here feels intimidated.”

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