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Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Maria Ponciano, PS 280, Queens

For using social media and technology to engage members
New York Teacher
Maria Ponciano
Jonathan Fickies

Maria Ponciano was looking for a better way to keep UFT members informed at PS 280 in Jackson Heights, Queens. She was beginning her first full school year as the chapter leader in September, having been elected in April 2022.

“Social media is pretty much running the world,” Ponciano said, “and I thought it might be a good way to engage the staff.”

So, several weeks into the school year, she created a chapter Instagram account to highlight useful information and activities with fliers, photos and videos — “a combination of school-based, district-based and UFT-wide events,” she explained.

She added an Instagram Linktree, a link in the Instagram bio that leads to a landing page containing multiple links to relevant online content.

“ is a universe unto itself, but you don’t need all that information at once,” she said. “So I choose depending on what’s going on in the building or on questions that might be asked or about events that are coming up. I’m constantly updating the Linktree.”

Ponciano also uses the social media platform to highlight chapter events such as Fair Contract Mondays.

“Every Monday, I highlight a particular group of members. I’ll take a picture of the group and get a quote to give a different insight into what they’re hoping will be in the new contract.”

Ponciano, a special education teacher in a 5th-grade ICT class, has found other ways to use technology — like using Google Slides for chapter meetings, email for regular communication and a WhatsApp group list for emergencies.

English as a new language teacher Amanda Cheung said Ponciano’s communication strategy has “been effective because it’s easily accessible and shareable.”

Ponciano also began posting the consultation committee agenda and minutes on her principal’s smart board during monthly consultation meetings.

“I used her idea of typing consultation minutes and displaying them on a smart board for the district committee to see,” District 30 Representative Ashley Rzonca said.

Special education teacher Mary Rose Penner said Ponciano has “done a fantastic job keeping us informed. She’s a wonderful chapter leader and we are so thankful for the extra steps she takes to support all members.”

Related Topics: Chapter Leaders