Chapter Leader Patrick Coughlin has allayed the fears and met the escalating needs of his members at IS 27 on Staten Island by providing solid, up-to-date information to them on a regular basis during the COVID-19 crisis.
Coughlin attends UFT town halls, Delegate Assemblies and district rep meetings. And he gathers school-level information in consultation committee meetings with his principal each week — up from once a month before the pandemic — and in one-on-one conversations with administrators at least three times a week.
Then he reports back what he learns to his members in regular group text messages and emails as often as two or three times a day when school is in session. He also fields phone calls and text messages around the clock from anxious members.
“The challenge is to reassure everybody and to keep them informed,” Coughlin said. “Everyone is anxious now about what the new school year will bring.”
In only his second year as a chapter leader, Coughlin brings the prior experience he gained as a UFT delegate and the knowledge he attained from college courses in labor law and contract negotiations. A LEGO robotics and math teacher, Coughlin has spent his entire 17-year career at IS 27.
Coughlin says the city Department of Education’s frequent changes in policies and regulations during the pandemic have made his task more difficult. Fortunately, he said, he has been able to reassure his members that the IS 27 administration is supportive and flexible.
“I cannot imagine anyone else in these circumstances doing the kind of job Pat has done,” said speech teacher Tina Bolger. “He works seamlessly with administration and has been accessible and supportive in every way. He comes back to us with information from every source and has answers for all our questions.”