Absent students and staff. Disrupted schedules. Anxiety and frustration. These five members — along with their fellow educators throughout New York City — grappled with fresh challenges as the omicron variant surged.
'Going into a battlefield against an invisible enemy'
Angela Bitterhoff, school secretary
East Elmhurst, Queens
My life changed forever in March 2020, when I contracted COVID. The fear of dying was on my mind daily. As I fought for my life, my mother-in-law also contracted it and passed away five days later. Still today I suffer from the aftereffects. Every time a new case arose with this new variant, I would ask myself: “Was the person or child next to my desk? Did I touch something they touched?” I began to feel uneasy all over again. I asked myself, “A…
Each year since 1984, several graduates of the city’s Career and Technical Education programs are nominated by teachers for the Success Via Apprenticeship (SVA) program, which combines college courses with apprenticeships in classrooms and in each student’s chosen industry to prepare them, over five years, to teach in CTE programs.
“SVAs are the foundation of career and technical education in New York City,” said Leo Gordon, the UFT vice president for CTE. “The SVA program marries technical skills with expert pedagogical practice to ensure instructors give students industry-standard experiences every day.”
A collaborative effort of the city Department of Education, the UFT and the City University of New York, the program prepares prospective educators using mentored teaching, industry internships and college courses at CUNY’s New York City College of Technology.
Teachers' virtual travelogue allows students at the High School of Economics and Finance to travel and learn all around New York State during the pandemic without ever leaving the comfort of their lower Manhattan campus.
The gaming club has been a hit among students at William E. Grady Career and Technical Education HS in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, since math teacher Peter Cozeolino started it five years ago. The program got a big boost in November 2021 when the ribbon was cut on Grady’s esports gaming room, a $150,000 project.
Christopher Arroyo, the new chapter leader at the Brooklyn School for Math and Research in Bushwick, created the high school’s first-ever consultation committee in the fall, which immediately led to improvements in school safety and compensation for remote work.
Michael Buitrago, an ELA teacher at Flushing HS, helps organize events and activities for students to promote school spirit. "I truly believe that a large part of the high school experience is being able to look at your school like a second home," he says.
It was a night of food, festivity and recognition as members of the UFT African Heritage Committee gathered in Queens for the group’s 19th annual Awards Dinner Dance on Feb. 4, honoring the UFT’s Sterling Roberson with the Trailblazer Award, Queens Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman with the Frederick Douglass Award for Civil and Human Rights, and special education teacher Diamond Skinner with the Mary McLeod Bethune Award for Teacher Excellence.
Paraprofessionals perform vital work in schools. There are career ladder positions available for paras as well as opportunities for educational advancement for paras interested in becoming teachers, school counselors, psychologists or other titles.
Among the many meaningful rights and professional protections that your contract provides is time carved out each day for teachers to do professional work. Teachers are generally entitled to five prep periods per week. Prep periods are self-directed; teachers determine what to do during their prep periods.
A growing number of people have turned to alcohol and other substances to deal with the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are dealing with addiction or recovery, the UFT Member Assistance Program can help.
Eligible educators can deduct from their federal income taxes up to $250 of unreimbursed expenses from 2021 for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary materials they use in the classroom, according to the IRS.
The UFT’s fight with the DOE over compensation for members who worked over the 2020 spring break ended in January when an independent arbitrator ruled that UFT members will receive one vacation day for each day they worked during what should have been paid time off.
You possess a valuable financial asset from participating in a defined-benefit pension system and saving money in a tax-deferred annuity. That’s why it’s important to designate beneficiaries, keep your beneficiary designations current after life-changing events and make sure the latest contact information for your beneficiaries is on file with your pension system.
If ever there was a time when the need for schools to serve as community centers was self-evident, it is now. Our union’s United Community Schools initiative, now nearly 10 years old, serves as a lifeline for thousands of students and their families. We are asking Albany for more support because we need more community schools.
This is a challenging time for career and technical education, but it's also a time of exciting opportunities. The pandemic has illuminated the importance of skilled trades in our day-to-day lives. Now is the time to enhance and promote these career pathways.
The concept of mayoral control of the New York City public schools is a good one. The city’s highest elected official should be held accountable for policies that affect more than 850,000 schoolchildren. But that doesn’t mean the mayor should have the power to make unilateral decisions that shut out public school families from the policymaking process.
The UFT has joined with other unions and health care advocates in the Coalition for Affordable Hospitals. The coalition’s first action was to launch a petition calling on the heads of the five major hospital systems in New York City to agree to fair and transparent contracts with equitable and affordable prices for major employers, including the city.
When I was a high school student, nothing pleased me more than sitting down with a blank planner, color-coding my class assignments and creating a detailed to-do list of tasks I could check off as I completed them.
The Internet Archive is an encyclopedic clearinghouse of all things that can be digitized, including books and textbooks, video clips, audio files, images and newspapers. It’s a nonprofit, free from advertising, with free downloads. It makes an excellent source for classroom materials.
The UFT fought alongside our state affiliate, NYSUT, for amendments to some of the state regulations that govern certification so that educators are not penalized by the interruptions caused by the pandemic.
I can honestly say that when I shifted my goal from “How much can I get done in a day?” to “What are the best ways I can teach my students today?” I began to feel more comfortable and confident in my classroom, says a third-year special education teacher in the Bronx.
The Supplemental Health Insurance Program (SHIP), created by the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter more than 40 years ago to help retirees pay for out-of-pocket medical costs, continues to improve its benefits and increase its enrollment.
For an annual fee of $120, SHIP will supplement certain payments provided by RTC members’ New York City health coverage, up to a maximum lifetime benefit of $100,000. Spouses are eligible for the same benefits for the same fee.
Retirees must enroll in SHIP within the first year of retirement.
Supplemental benefits include ambulance transport, hearing aids, customized orthopedic shoes, surgical stockings and private-duty nursing. Benefits are improved or new benefits are added approximately every two years.
The dental benefit, SHIP’s most popular benefit, now has an annual reimbursement of …
So much information about this new New York City Medicare Advantage Plus Plan has by now been disseminated through meetings, webinars, town halls, email and regular mail that I hope members have evolved in their views.
Retiree Ann Mackey founded the Coastal New Jersey Chapter of the LPGA Amateurs, the recreational amateur arm of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, fostering fellowship on the fairway and empowering women, one golf swing at a time.