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Schools in Action awards debut on Teacher Union Day

NYSUT VP Catalina Fortino to receive Charles Cogen Award at Nov. 1 event
New York Teacher

UFT members from PS 161 in the Bronx wore red last March 12, demanding respect from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

It’s time to reserve your seat for the UFT’s annual Teacher Union Day on Sunday, Nov. 1, at the New York Hilton Hotel.

This year’s event honors the UFT chapters of seven schools across the city that galvanized their communities to fight back with a range of creative actions against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s harmful attacks on public education last spring.

Former UFT Vice President for Education Catalina Fortino, who was also the director of the UFT Teacher Center, will receive the Charles Cogen Award, the union’s highest honor for one of its members.

Register now »

The deadline to register is Oct. 16.

The seven schools being honored at Teacher Union Day formed human chains around their schools, had color days at school to show unity, produced stirring videos and held spirited rallies with signs, coordinated shirts and speakers in a grassroots campaign that effectively engaged parents and fellow educators in protecting public schools and the teaching profession from serious harm.

The winners of this year’s newly created Schools in Action awards are PS 161 in the Bronx, PS 88 in Queens, IS 2 in Staten Island, PS 51 in Manhattan, PS 204 in Brooklyn, Murrow HS in Brooklyn and P168, a District 75 school in the Bronx. Their solidarity and activism will be on display at the event in videos of their actions.

Fortino, who is now a vice president for the union’s state affiliate, NYSUT, is a nationally recognized expert in professional development, curriculum, assessments and program development in the teaching profession and has distinguished herself among educators who specialize in supporting high-needs schools.

As a school-based coach, a mentor liaison and director of the Teacher Center, Fortino has focused her career on understanding what is required for excellent teacher preparation. No one, she said, should be put in the “sink or swim” position that is all too common throughout the New York City public school system.

Before turning her focus to professional development, Fortino was an early childhood special education teacher at Brooklyn’s PS 13, a teacher of bilingual early childhood special education at PS 321 in the same borough and a bilingual educational evaluator in District 15.

In other honors, Laura Tamburo, the recently retired UFT special representative and liaison to the School Secretaries Chapter, will receive the Jules Kolodney Award. The indefatigable UFT Retired Teachers Chapter will receive the David Wittes Award. Shelvy Young-Abrams, the chairperson for the Paraprofessionals Chapter, will receive the Sidney Harris Award. The family of Patrick Wanninkhof, who died this summer when a car crashed into his bicycle while he was on a cross-country bike trip to raise money for affordable housing, will accept the Audrey Chasen Award in his honor.

The Marsh/Raimo awards will go to: Corrine J. Barros, the UFT chapter leader at PS 62 in the Bronx; Patricia Atia, the District 15 representative in Brooklyn; Servia Silva, the District 4 representative in Manhattan; Kathleen Bayer, the chapter leader at PS 16 and an I/U-rating advocate in Staten Island; and Victoria Primiano, the chapter leader at PS 62 in Queens.

Other honors will go to chapter leaders with 30, 20 and 10 years of service, and to 50-, 60- and 70-year members.

The festivities will begin with breakfast at 8 a.m., and the awards ceremony will start promptly at 9 a.m.

For more information, email Denise Whitehead at

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