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Honoring commitment and public school pride

New York Teacher

A standing ovation at last year’s Teacher Union Day.
Miller Photography

A standing ovation at last year’s Teacher Union Day.

Teacher Union Day, which takes place this year on Sunday, Nov. 5, commemorates the 1960 strike that put the newly formed UFT on the path to being the activist organization it is today. It’s a day to honor the inspiring past leaders and celebrate the present leaders who continue in their footsteps.


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The Charles Cogen Award, the highest honor the union gives to a member, is being awarded to longtime UFT Welfare Fund Executive Director Arthur Pepper, who has held fast against any diminishment of members’ health care benefits in a challenging environment. Pepper has worked tirelessly to improve benefits, with the addition of innovative new programs including MSK Direct, which gives UFT members special access to the life-saving cancer specialists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Advantage Care Physicians, a team of physicians offering medical services at low cost in convenient locations throughout the city.

This year, the Teacher Union Day ceremony at the New York Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan will present special Public School Proud Awards to chapters, members or school districts that embraced the union’s #PublicSchoolProud campaign and made it their own by sharing photos and videos on social media, hosting events and engaging in activities that showcase the work of New York City public school students and educators.

In the face of the threat posed by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Public School Proud award winners took a stand for the value of strong public schools and their importance in the life of the city’s students, communities and future. The honorees are:

  • PS 36 in the Bronx, for the chapter’s active social media presence, including photos and video promoting the school’s excellence;
  • Mindy Rosier, a teacher at PS 811 Mickey Mantle in Manhattan, for her indefatigable activism on social media and at events;
  • District 20, Brooklyn, for a two-day-long #PublicSchoolProud Performing Arts Festival and a month-long celebration of the arts last spring;
  • PS 56 on Staten Island and Chapter Leader Susan Pulice for their #PublicSchoolProud campaign sharing student work and the school’s achievements;
  • PS 370 Jim Thorpe, a District 75 school in Brooklyn, for a creative video and events that brought the community closer together; and
  • PS 135, Queens, for the chapter’s powerful video.

“These UFT chapters and members are sharing the value of a vibrant and high-quality public school education with the broader public,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Special projects, inspiring educators, parent and community involvement — it’s what our public schools are all about.”
The event includes breakfast, the awards ceremony and a reception at a cost of $50 per person. Register at or clip out the coupon on page 10. The deadline to register is Oct. 27.

Each year, the union bestows Trachtenberg Awards on exemplary chapter leaders who have built strong and vibrant union chapters. This year, 57 chapter leaders will receive the honor.

Other awards include the David Wittes Award, which goes to a person who has shown outstanding courage, dedication and commitment to the ideals of the UFT; the Jules Kolodny Award, which is given to a member who has shown leadership and commitment to the trade union movement; the Sidney Harris Award, which honors an outstanding educator in the field of special education; and the Backer-Scheintaub Award, which honors new teacher union leaders. The Audrey Chasen Award is presented in honor of Audrey Chasen, a former teacher mentor who was killed on the job. The Marsh/Raimo Awards recognize members for their engagement in political action, and the Lee Smallheiser Awards recognize members who strive to improve the working conditions of their colleagues.

See the full list of honorees »