Priscilla Castro elected Para Chapter chair
Priscilla Castro was elected on May 25 as chair of the Paraprofessionals Chapter for the term ending June 30, 2024. Castro had been serving as interim chapter chair since Shelvy Young-Abrams retired in October 2022. The Paraprofessionals Chapter, with more than 25,000 members, is the UFT’s largest functional chapter.
In the same special election, Renee Freeman was elected as 1st vice chair and Migda Rodriguez as 2nd vice chair. Sharon Anderson was elected as secretary and Suzette Robbins as treasurer. The independent American Arbitration Association counted the mail ballots.
Castro, a native of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, began her paraprofessional career in 2000 at the Grand Street campus LYFE program in Brooklyn. In the fall of 2002, she moved to a District 75 school, PS 226 in Harlem, where she remained for 11 years as a classroom para and a 1:1 crisis para working primarily with students on the autism spectrum. She said she was initially hesitant to take a District 75 job, but soon realized it was a place where she could be useful.
“That’s where the need was,” she said.
She said she found the work challenging but also fulfilling and important.
At PS 226, she served as the paraprofessionals representative and the chapter leader, and she was poised to make the leap to teaching when the UFT called. From 2013 to 2022, Castro served as a borough advocate for District 75 in Queens and then became interim chapter leader for the Paraprofessionals Chapter when the longtime chapter leader retired mid-term.
“I am very excited and humbled to be elected,” she said.
Castro said she is looking forward to advocating for paraprofessionals as the need for their services and support grows in New York City public schools.
“The work of the paraprofessional is changing,” she said. “Even in the community schools, there are lots of kids with learning disabilities and autism. Paraprofessionals need more opportunities for training and professional development.”