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New York TeacherApril 14, 2022

Volume LXIII, Number 5
As life in city public schools edges closer to “normal,” educators around the city are getting support from UFT Teacher Centers as they help students recover academically from two years of pandemic restrictions. And they are renewing relationships with colleagues around the city at UFT events, such as the Career and Technical Education Awards ceremony, and around the state, at the 50th anniversary NYSUT Representative Assembly.
New York Teacher April 2022 Cover

(From left) Site coordinator Samantha Hall, Nicole Jonas, Robin Tierney, Karine Stephenson, Nancy Troche, Corrine Barry and Delissa Belfon in the PS/IS 295 Teacher Center in Queens.

Cover Story

Doing the honors at the Longwood Academy of Discovery in the Bronx are (from left) state Assemblyman Kenny Burgos, Chapter Leader Stephanie Sangosse, Principal Victoria Najera, Teacher Center site coach Veronica Vadi and UFT District 8 Representative Karen Aldorando.

Centers of Attention

When Cara Jacofsky began her teaching career 23 years ago, she was determined to become the best teacher she could be for her students, so she connected with the UFT Teacher Center.

“The first few years of my teaching career, they would plan lessons with me and give me materials,” Jacofsky said. “It helped build the foundation of my teaching.”

So when her school, PS 107 in Queens, was getting its own Teacher Center site this school year, Jacofsky applied for — and was selected to be — the site coach. “Helping someone the way I was helped is my goal,” she said.

Citywide, 134 Teacher Center sites in 118 school buildings are providing vital support for public school educators as they help their students recover academically from two years of COVID-…

Latest News

Hearing Aid
News Stories

UFT raises optical, hearing aid benefits

The UFT enhanced its Welfare Fund optical benefit and hearing aid benefit for in-service members and retirees on March 1.

ZOOM Screen
News Stories

A week of virtual advocacy

The UFT connected its members with their state representatives in online meetings from March 7-11 to champion the union’s proven programs — including the United Community Schools initiative, the UFT Teacher Center and the Positive Learning Collaborative — during a week of advocacy for city public schools. UFT members sounded the alarm about students, educators and school communities still recovering from the pandemic.

Feature Stories

Female teacher standing in room with others who are sitting.

Dream team

On a chilly March morning in the basement of IS 145 in Jackson Heights, Queens, a team of eight teacher leaders was grappling with the challenge of how to discuss iReady assessment data with teachers and students.

“When my students look at the data and see themselves so far below grade level, they’re devastated,” said Carla Carballo, the school’s special education liaison.

“Maybe — I’m just brainstorming here — we use the Habits of Mind as a way into the conversation about data,” replied ELA teacher Samantha Chung, a master teacher, referring to an identified set of 16 problem-solving, life-related skills. “The first Habit of Mind is persistence. We can ask students, ‘Where does the data show you persisting?’”

As they talked, restorative justice teacher Taniqua Scott took notes on a shared Google document, while special education teacher Lindsay Roscus, a peer collaborative teacher, interjected to keep the group foc…

Female teachers demonstrates for male student

Plumb perfect

Natalie Kavral is a 2011 graduate of the plumbing program at Queens Technical High School. Now, more than a decade later, Kavral, one of only two female plumbing teachers in New York City public schools, teaches plumbing and runs the plumbing program at her alma mater. 

Teacher Michelle Patrovani talks to the student authors about the program, which fosters literacy and creativity.

‘We all have a story to tell’

Ten students from P396 K, a District 75 school in Brownsville, Brooklyn, read books they wrote during a Zoom presentation on Feb. 11, as part of an evening with the Sid Miller Academy Authors, a program begun during the pandemic to foster literacy and creativity at the school.

More in Feature Stories

Member Spotlight

Jason Bentsen, IS 72, Staten Island
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Jason Bentsen, IS 72, Staten Island

A shoutout to Jason Bentsen, the first-year chapter leader at IS 72 on Staten Island, for solving the safety issue of doors at the school that had no locks and sometimes even no doorknobs.

Lindsey Desmond
What I Do

Lindsey Desmond, early childhood instructional coordinator

A member of the UFT's Teachers Assigned Chapter, Lindsey “Desi” Desmond provides targeted support to teachers and administrators who work with the city’s youngest students.

Around the UFT

Women at table applause
Awards & Honors

Paraprofessionals Festival and Awards Luncheon

“We make a difference” was the theme at the UFT’s Paraprofessionals Festival and Awards Luncheon on March 5, celebrating paraprofessionals for rising to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last held in person in 2019, the luncheon was held at UFT headquarters and streamed online.

Two teachers at the podium
Awards & Honors

Career and Technical Education Awards Ceremony

A high school where students do maintenance work on airplanes. A student-created clothing brand that sells out of a student-run, brick-and-mortar store. These were just a few of the innovative Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs represented by the honorees at the UFT’s CTE Awards Ceremony on March 15 at UFT headquarters in Manhattan.

Playing in a workshop on gross motor skills are (from left) Halley Gerstel from the Ezra Jack Keats Pre-K Center in Queens, Tien Francisco from the Mosaic Pre-K Center in Queens, paraprofessional Lisbeth Heras from PS 88 in Queens, teacher Linda Cowans from PS 88 in the Bronx and Jazmin Wright from the Mosaic Pre-K Center.

Early Childhood Conference

Spring was in the air on March 19 at the UFT’s 14th annual Early Childhood Conference, where laughter, play and learning emerged after a difficult winter for nearly 400 educators — a blend of in-person participants at UFT headquarters and remote attendees.

A screenshot of a group of people on a Zoom call

School Counselors Conference

As students returned this year to full-time, in-person learning, school counselors have helped them deal with the toll of two years of trauma. Counselors discussed their work and learned new strategies on March 12 at their 18th annual conference.

A bunch of books on a table

Family Literacy and Book Fair

Hundreds of children, families and educators were able to expand their home and school libraries thanks to more than 11,000 free books given away by the AFT and the UFT on March 19 during the “Reading Opens the World” Family Literacy and Book Fair at PS 1 in Manhattan.

More in Around the UFT

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits
Workers Comp

Workers’ compensation

Workers’ compensation can provide valuable benefits to full- or part-time paraprofessionals, school nurses, occupational or physical therapists, administrative employees and substance abuse prevention/intervention specialists who have a work-related injury or occupational illness.

Know Your Rights
Man with back turned and cartoon bubbles asking whether we should reconfigure PD blocks and if we need comp-time positions.

School-based options

Spring is the time for school chapter leaders to discuss with their chapter members and then with their principal the school-based options they want in place for the 2022–23 school year. SBOs allow UFT members the opportunity to collaboratively modify contractual articles and/or create positions that the contract does not automatically allow. 

Your Well-being
Shadow of a man with words of sadness around him

Suicide prevention

Suicide can often be prevented with appropriate awareness and intervention. As educators, our awareness is particularly important. Stay vigilant for early warning signs and risk factors in students and colleagues so you can help. 

You Should Know

Q&A on the Issues
Open Market Transfer Plan

Open Market Transfer Plan

If you want a new opportunity, wish to work closer to home or have been placed in excess, the Open Market Transfer Plan gives you the chance to apply for a position at another school. You can view vacancies citywide and apply during the open market transfer period, from April 13 to Aug. 8. This Q&A addresses the most commonly asked questions about the transfer process.

Secure Your Future
Mature African American Couple sitting on a couch smiling

Your retirement timeline

Whether you are a new member, in mid-career or close to retirement, there are steps you can take to learn about your pension benefits and stay on track as you progress down the road to a financially secure retirement. 

Opinions

VPerspective
Room with pillows and carpeting

Bringing change and finding joy

UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds writes that high school educators routinely face challenges, and during the pandemic, we found little joy. Connecting with our quest for joy in our craft remains an undeniable part of our work. But how? The answer: school-based, collective solutions.

President's Perspective
Listen Up

Educators deserve seat at policy table

The past two years have proven that New York City is home to some of the most skilled and hard-working educators in the country. The highest form of respect comes when education policy makers really listen to what these classroom educators have to say. 

Editorials
Exterior façade of NYC City Hall

Think big on budget

With a bounty of federal stimulus funds for education, we have a once-in-a-generation chance to permanently strengthen New York City public schools. But with his proposed preliminary budget, the mayor is squandering that opportunity.

Editorials
Florida Map Dark Silhouette

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has conscripted public school educators to push his anti-LGBTQ agenda. The Parental Rights in Education Law he signed in March prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

Editorial Cartoons

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve
Dr Math

Making learning fun

With spring in bloom, teachers are exploring creative ways to bring joy into their classrooms during a stressful time. They share some ideas that have worked in their classrooms to help make learning fun.

Linking to Learning
Video: A Powerful Teaching Tool

Video: a powerful teaching tool

Creating video projects with students is a way to bring the impact and allure of video into the classroom while modeling for them how the medium can be used for teaching and learning.

Teacher to Teacher
Man Writing Laptop - Generic

How to improve writing in any subject

Here are some best practices that secondary school teachers can use to improve writing in any subject.

Building Your Career

Inside My Classroom
Inside my Classroom

Inside my classroom

The students in teacher Donna Griebel’s pre-K class celebrated their identities by mixing paints to create a color that matched each child’s unique skin tone.

New Teacher Articles
Become politically active

Become politically active

All teachers, even brand-new ones, have a stake in political matters. Consider the ways in which you might deepen your engagement with issues outside the classroom that matter to public school educators.

New Teacher Profiles
A white man with a beard wearing a flower-patterned shirt holds a leafy plant

Queens teacher works hard to keep learning fun

Some of Fred Salamone’s most memorable early learning experiences were in hands-on activities. Now, curiosity, experiential learning and fun are the key ingredients in Salamone’s science classes at PS 171 in Astoria, Queens. 

Retired Teachers News

Tom Murphy

Edging back to ‘normal’

Ordinary times, posed as a longed-for ideal, beg the question: When will we ever get back to normal, or at least a new normal?

Extraordinary times can force us to rise, with the excitement of opportunity, out of a familiar comfort zone. Take our careers in public education as participants in the Great School Wars, when our comfortable ways were often turned topsy-turvy. Some change was welcomed, while some was disruptive.

In 1940, Eleanor Roosevelt was asked to speak to a raucous Democratic Party convention, where her husband was being nominated for an unprecedented third term as president, just as war was about to engulf a reluctant United States of America. In a calm, understated speech, she tapped into the democratic faith of the delegates by simply saying, “This is no ordinary time.” Her quiet words transformed their anxiety with a challenge to join together in common purpose at an extraordinary mome…

Man sitting at desk writing

Dial UFT for free, confidential support

From offering support through friendly phone calls to advocating for retirees as they navigate the health care system, the geriatric social workers of the UFT's Retiree Social Services give free and confidential assistance to thousands of members each year. 

A woman leading a group through the park

A steward of flora and fauna

Deborah Dolan, a retired literacy instructor, is a member of the Vital Volunteers of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, helping to create an awareness of the Bronx park among its users and to plant the seeds for nurturing the park well into the future.