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New York TeacherJune 16, 2022

Volume LXIII, Number 6

Whether they are fighting for lower class sizes or literally saving their students' lives, UFT members are doing whatever it takes for their students. Read all about it in the New York Teacher's final issue of the 2021-22 school year.

Cover Story

Schoolhouse Heroes

Schoolhouse heroes

Educators make an indelible imprint on their students’ lives, but they are also on the spot to save their lives when the need arises. These three New York City public school educators jumped into action this spring when they saw their students in distress. Their help made the difference in each life-threatening situation.

Maria Piasio Paraprofessional PS 247 Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Maria Piasio, a paraprofessional, covers 1st-grade lunch at PS 247 in Brooklyn. On May 5, she was handing out chicken nuggets to the students.

Suddenly, one student jumped up and put his hands to his throat.

“This little boy must’ve put the whole entire nugget in his mouth,” Piasio said.

It was a fortunate coincidence she had just been trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver the night before.

“I said to myself, ‘You gotta try,’ ” said Piasio.

She performed chest compressions on the child.

“On the third hit, the nugget went flying out,” she said. “I was never so happy to see a soggy chicken nugget…

Latest News

Classroom circle
News Stories

State bill would lower class sizes

Capping a yearlong push by educators and parents to lower class sizes, state lawmakers passed a bill on June 2 to cap the number of students per classroom in New York City public schools at 20 to 25, depending on the grade, by 2027.

Ex-Bronx chapter_ leader gets justice
News Stories

Ex-Bronx chapter leader gets justice

An administrative law judge has ruled that Bronx teacher Brenda Cartagena had been the victim of retaliation by her school’s principal for standing up for her members’ rights as school chapter leader.

Feature Stories

Clothes closet 'fills a need'

Clothes closet ‘fills a need’

One day, for a performance at PS 52 in Springfield Gardens, Queens, Elena Ellis’ 1st-grade students were instructed to wear white T-shirts and jeans. One student showed up in a shirt that was far too small.

“It looked like she was wearing her little sister’s top,” said Ellis. Luckily, PS 52 had a solution: a little room called the community closet, fully stocked with children’s clothes in all sizes.

“We found something that was a better fit for her, and she was able to perform without standing out,” said Ellis.

PS 52 has a large population of students living in shelters or doubled up with relatives and often “in need of some of the basics,” explained Sarah Fay, the magnet director at the school.

Ellis recalled a student who arrived on her first day without a warm-enough jacket. If not for the closet, she said, the student “would have had to stay inside and not interact…

art of collaboration

The art of collaboration

Collaboration among three arts teachers and their classes at PS 295 in Brooklyn led to a 90-second commercial. They came up with the idea and designed a product in art class, composed a jingle in music class and wrote a script and acted out the commercial in drama class. 

Amy Turchiaro won a grant to fund a fencing club at PS 340 in the Bronx

En garde!

Every Friday after school at PS 340 in the Kingsbridge Heights section of the Bronx, 20 students march into the school cafeteria and prepare to attack each other with swords. They are participants in the school’s first-ever fencing club, launched in February 2022 by school psychologist Amy Turchiaro.

Member Spotlight

Emma Gomez
Chapter Leader Shoutout

Kudos to Emma Gomez, PS 206, Queens

Emma Gomez, a new chapter leader job at PS 206 in Rego Park, Queens, organized an action every single weekday in March 2020 as part of the Queens borough office’s March Madness initiative in schools to help boost morale and build strong chapters. 

Lucio Medina
What I Do

Lucio Medina, Vision Education Services paraprofessional

As a paraprofessional in the Vision Education Services Chapter, which serves about 900 blind and visually impaired students citywide, Lucio Medina acts as a guide and advocate for the students he supports.

Around the UFT

Teacher & Student
Awards & Honors

Albert Shanker College Scholarship Awards

The UFT gave out $5,000 college scholarships to 189 high school seniors at the 53rd annual Albert Shanker Scholarship Awards Ceremony & Reception on June 7 at UFT headquarters in Manhattan.

“We’ve got to lower the damn class size,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the audience at the union’s Spring Education Conference on May 21

‘Meeting students’ needs’ is what it’s all about

UFT President Michael Mulgrew says reducing class size and paperwork are the keys to moving the public schools forward.

Group takes selfie
Awards & Honors

Academic High Schools Awards Celebration

Heroes, change agents, fierce organizers, advocates, motivators, troubleshooters, trusted advisers and leaders. These are some of the words used to describe the educators, unionists and unified school communities honored at the UFT’s 2022 Academic High Schools Awards Celebration. 

Listen Up!

UFT Educator Panel

Eight New York City public school educators, selected from hundreds of applicants, met with education and political leaders at the “Listen Up: The reality is…” UFT Educator Panel on April 14 and detailed what they need to best help students succeed.

A woman on the left embraces the woman on the right with a kiss to the top of her head
Awards & Honors

Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremony

More than 230 people gathered in Shanker Hall at UFT headquarters on May 13 for the 9th annual Family Child Care Providers Chapter's Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremony. The event honored outstanding members of the chapter and offered the chance for their families and colleagues to celebrate their extraordinary work.

Your Rights and Benefits

Know Your Benefits
Dental office - generic

Dental care

The UFT Welfare Fund provides dental benefits through two programs: the Scheduled Benefit Plan, which provides services through the Welfare Fund panel of dentists or a dentist of your choice; and Dentcare, a no-cost dental HMO.

Know Your Rights
Excuses absences

Excused absences

There are other occasions — aside from personal illness — when you are entitled to be absent from work but still get paid without using your Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) or sick bank.

Your Well-being
Enthusiasm - Sunset - Generic

Celebrating you!

After coming through another very challenging year, it is important to celebrate yourself and recognize your successes, whether large or small. 

You Should Know

Grants, Awards & Freebies
A teacher with young students

Grants, Awards & Freebies

See our list of current opportunities for educators to receive funds and recognition for their hard work and dedication. 

Secure Your Future
Generic Two women talking over coffee

Planning for difficult decisions

Many of us who retire at age 62 can expect to live longer than our forefathers. But to be safe, it's important to prepare by having family discussions about what to do in the event of a debilitating illness or death. Here is a list of topics to discuss and the legal documents to have.


President's Perspective
Our kids need smaller class sizes

One step closer to smaller classes

Smaller class sizes make parents feel better about their child’s education, makes children feel more seen in class and allows teachers’ hard work to become more effective. The bill passed by the state Legislature on June 2 takes us one step closer.

Educators at the Longwood Academy of Discovery meet in the new Teacher Center.

We’re your home for professional learning

UFT Vice President for Education Mary Vaccaro writes that the UFT Teacher Center has been a leader in providing New York City public school educators with high-quality professional learning for more than 40 years. The program recently has begun working with new partners to ensure that educators across the city get the training they need. 

A group marches across the Brooklyn bridge in support of gun control

Gun violence

Over and over, we bear witness to these horrors and raise an outraged cry for our elected leaders to keep those weapons out of our schools and off our streets. Each time, those cries fall on ears deafened by the National Rifle Association lobby and a glut of cash from gun manufacturers.

A graphic showing Dyslexia

Confronting dyslexia

This spring Mayor Eric Adams launched an ambitious $7.4 million literacy initiative targeting children with dyslexia. While it’s an admirable idea, there are still many more questions than answers.

Editorial Cartoons
A cartoon of a woman in a doctor's office

End of the school year

"Your EKG is great, blood pressure is down, pulse is strong — either you've quit your teaching job or the school year is almost over."

Teaching Resources

Learning Curve
ENL integrated co-teaching

ENL integrated co-teaching

When I began my teaching career in 2007, more than a quarter of the students at my Queens elementary school were English language learners. Each year, our school seemed to shift its strategy for English as a New Language instruction in a fresh attempt to best serve those students.

Linking to Learning
Girl sitting at computer

Google Chrome extensions for educators

There are many reasons for using Google’s Chrome browser — it’s generally fast and integrates seamlessly with Google programs you may use such as Google Classroom. But there is another good reason: the ability to add Chrome extensions. 

Teacher to Teacher
Text book with bird photo

Developing academic vocabulary

Knowledge of advanced academic vocabulary makes it possible for students to engage with, produce and talk about texts valued in the classroom. But how do we develop our students’ academic language in meaningful ways?

Building Your Career

Inside My Classroom
Inside My Classroom

Developing phonemic awareness

Hana Nudelman, a universal literacy coach at PS 34 in Manhattan, uses this chart in her literacy centers to help develop phonemic awareness in early learners. Students say the picture word out loud and then use the different colored Post-its to represent each sound in the word. 

New Teacher Articles
Preparing for tenure

Preparing for tenure

Gaining tenure is an important milestone for new teachers. If you’ll be eligible for tenure in the 2022-23 school year, there are steps you can take to prepare for your tenure decision as you approach the end of this school year.

New Teacher Diaries
Learning the essence of grit

Learning the ‘essence of grit’

The past two years have been filled with unique and challenging experiences that taught me the essence of grit. I have come to realize that slow progress is still progress.

Retired Teachers News

Tom Murphy
RTC Chapter Leader Column

Gauging your trust in us

Elections can be valuable measurements of the trust that rank-and-file union members have in the leaders they choose. In this year’s UFT election, retirees voted overwhelmingly to support the current leadership. It was a hard-fought campaign run in the midst of an intensely controversial proposed health coverage plan.

Many points raised on social media about the implementation of the new health plan and other union issues were quite legitimate, but the faceless nature of internet exchanges also unleashed unprecedented vitriol. Ringing in my ears were the cautions of the poet William Butler Yeats, often quoted by me: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

In the political club I chaired in my youth, we argued strenuously for hours and then voted 28 to 3 in favor of the proposition. Such raucous turmoil used to keep…

Generic man working on a laptop
RTC Service

Rules for working after retirement

If you are thinking of returning to work after retirement, you must adhere to some important rules to avoid jeopardizing your pension or Social Security benefits.

Scam Artists
RTC Service

Beware of scam artists

In a world that is increasingly dependent on technology, everyone is a potential victim of fraud. Tens of thousands of Americans fall prey to swindlers each year. But people over the age of 60 are targeted by scammers, often because they are trusting, polite, enjoy good credit, own a home and have financial savings.