“This event and this room is for everybody,” said a beaming Silverio Pacifico, the instructional coach at the new UFT Teacher Center at PS 211 in the Bronx, as he raised an apple-cider toast to colleagues for their hard work preparing for the Nov. 14 grand opening. The celebration, he said, reflects how the staff uses the center to “communicate, work together and collaborate.”
CS 300 in the Bronx celebrated the grand opening of its own UFT Teacher Center on Oct. 24, and its instructional coach, Olga Fotinis, shares the same sense of pride. She fondly remembers the time she stepped out of the center soon after it opened and “almost teared up” when she returned to find at least 10 people helping each other in her absence.
Fotinis said this kind of collaboration “happens regularly throughout the day, even after school.”
The UFT Teacher Center, founded in 1979, draws on current research and best practices to offer professional development for educators at 104 schools and other locations.
Maria Elena Guzman, a UFT Teacher Center staffer and Bronx field liaison, said the centers are “not about space — they’re about support.”
That support in a “safe space” is important for teachers, especially when they face challenges, said UFT Teacher Center Executive Director Evelyn DeJesus, who attended both celebrations.
Teachers at both CS 300 and PS 211 are happy to have a space that allows them to plan lessons, collaborate and compare notes in a comfortable setting. It’s a place for them to “learn and grow as teachers and educators, no matter who you are in the building,” said Keriann Martin, the CS 300 chapter leader and a 1st-grade teacher.
PS 211 Chapter Leader Andrew Villafane, who teaches physical education, believes “collaboration is key.” The center allows colleagues to “piggyback, get to know each other in-depth and share ideas,” he says.
“We’re all resources” with different skills to offer, says Pacifico, the instructional coach. He believes “teachers need to work together” because their “best work is together, not in isolation.”