From your chapter leader
On behalf of myself and the UFT, I want to wish everyone a belated happy National Nurses Day. We hosted our annual School Nurses Appreciation Dinner on May 17 to honor your hard work and dedication to the students in New York City. (See story below.) It was wonderful to see so many nurses come together and celebrate each other's accomplishments.
I also want to thank our chapter delegates and Executive Board members (whose names are listed at the end of this newsletter) for everything they do. They are the backbone of our chapter. They canvass members and bring forward a full range of professional and contractual issues and concerns that affect our daily working conditions. They also participate in chapter weekends and conferences and lobby our legislators. They enhance our lines of communication, and we are very grateful for the time and effort they contribute to support our goals. Thank you all for a job well done this school year.
On behalf of myself, the School Nurses Chapter and the entire UFT staff, I wish you a wonderful summer and lots of fun in the sun! If any questions or issues arise over the summer, please contact your UFT borough office. See you in September!
School Nurses Chapter Leader
NYSUT Professional Issues Forum
Six of our nurses attended the 15th annual NYSUT Professional Issues Forum on Health Care on April 21-22 at NYSUT headquarters in Latham, New York. Health care workers from around the state gathered to discuss important concerns in our profession.
Workshop topics included trauma-informed schools; poverty’s impact on community health; mental health first aid, eating disorders; allergies: facts, myths, best practices and treatment; supporting grieving students; assisting students in the transition to and from educational and behavioral settings; and the opioid crisis and public health issues.
Each discipline had time to attend a professional networking group. The major discussion point in the school nurses’ session was the need for a nurse in every school building. Pushing school districts towards this goal has been a longtime mission of NYSUT and our national union, the American Federation of Teachers.
Nurse Lobby Day
The NYSUT Lobby Day was held in Albany, NY, on May 9. Every year, Lobby Day brings together hospital nurses, home care nurses and school nurses from around the state to discuss health care issues with their state legislators.
This year, our chapter was represented by three of our school nurses: Sherry Lewis-Branch, Janet Carter and Jessy Warren.
Face-to-face meetings with our elected officials are an effective way to make our voices heard; our real-life work experiences help them to better understand our issues. By hearing from us, and understanding our concerns, they can, in turn, advocate for us and support bills that improve health care for our students. As nurses, we need to be politically engaged. Although we may not always be able to visit our legislator’s office, we can help push legislation by writing letters or postcards, sending emails and calling our local legislator’s office.
NYSUT Representative Assembly
More than 2,000 delegates from around the state met at the New York Hilton Midtown on April 7-8 for the 45th annual NYSUT convention. They discussed and voted on 44 resolutions. The issues included health care and workplace safety, pension and retirement, legislative and political action, civil and human rights and educational issues.
Cathy Connolly and BJ Darby, both UFT delegates, attended and were assigned to the Health Care and Workplace Safety Committee.
Resolutions in this committee were: how to address violence in schools; Medicare Part D and prescription drug costs; support for recovery from addiction; Zika virus awareness and education; and hazards of wireless radiation emission. All resolutions, except one, were adopted. The resolution on addressing violence in schools was referred to the NYSUT Board of Directors for further discussion.
School Nurses Appreciation Dinner
More than 75 nurses attended the School Nurses Appreciation Dinner on May 17 at UFT headquarters. Liz Truly, a UFT consultant on special education law and policy, was the keynote speaker. She referenced some of our chapter's history and spoke at length about the Nov. 7 referendum on a state constitutional convention and the reasons to vote “no.” Every 20 years, New York’s voters are asked if they want to hold a constitutional convention to amend or revise the state’s constitution. The UFT is urging you to tell your family and friends to vote “no” on the question. (Read more about this referendum in the New York Teacher Q&A on the subject.)
Chapter Liaison Joseph Colletti also spoke about his role as liaison and his early connection to the School Nurses Chapter. Back in the 1980s, Joe worked in the same school as Elizabeth “BJ” Darby. BJ organized the UFT School Nurses Chapter in 1980 and was the first elected chapter leader. She served as chapter leader until she became a supervisor of nurses in 2005. BJ also became the chapter leader for the nurse supervisors. Over the years, BJ and Joe worked together to address many issues concerning our chapter. BJ, who is retired, serves as an afternoon staffer for our chapter.
Parent Teacher Association recognizes school nurse
AFT 40th annual Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel Conference
Four of our nurses attended the PSRP conference on April 27-30 at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center in Michigan.
On April 28, the keynote workshop addressed the issue of workplace bullying. The AFT is working with many affiliates to demand policies that protect workers from workplace bullies. Other workshops included medication administration; and protecting our students from the threat of deportation.
The April 29 workshops focused on the health and safety of students. Some of the topics were working with children with autism; working with students with behavior disorders; and working with students with severe physical disabilities.
The final day’s workshops were devoted to resources to support student success. Topics included the dignity of diversity; supporting students with autism spectrum disorder; and ADHD strategies.
Consultations are scheduled throughout the year with Director of Nursing Gail Adman. At these meetings, we discuss issues of concern and bring up your questions. On May 17, the following topics were discussed:
Nurses' talking points: You will receive a hard copy of these talking points in the mail over the summer. (Also check your email for a digital copy.) Let your principal know now that you will be at your school site on Tuesday, Sept. 5, along with all other staff.
Nurses are required to present “talking points” on this day. Ask your principal to schedule an appointment with you for the first day of school so you can complete this task. On Wednesday, Sept. 6, nurses are required to attend a meeting in the borough where they work along with their supervisors. The Office of School Health will be sending more details about the meeting location.
Medication Administration Form packets: MAF packets are currently being printed and will be mailed to individual school sites. MAFs can also be uploaded on the DOE website. There were a few changes, so please review the information carefully.
Honoring our preceptors: The Office of School Health will reward nurses who served as preceptors with a full day of activities on June 12. Preceptors not only instruct newly-hired staff nurses, but also oversee student nurses from nursing schools within our city. Preceptors take on a tremendous amount of responsibility and deserve recognition. We all appreciate your hard work and dedication, and we hope more of our nurses will volunteer for this worthy program. Enjoy your luncheon and congratulations on receiving your certificate of acknowledgement.
School Nurse Recognition Award Ceremony
The Department of Education and the Office of School Health honored 11 of our school nurses at an awards ceremony on May 18 at DOE headquarters in Manhattan. Director of Nursing Gail Adman delivered the opening remarks and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña congratulated our nurses. Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose and Dr. George Askew, deputy commissioner of health, also spoke and congratulated the honorees.
The nurses listed below were selected by their principals for their hard work and dedication to their school sites.
Honorees: Mary Kehoe, Elyse Lai, Ifeakanwa Butler, Nicole Exantus, Judith Kamdem, Elissa Levine, Lena Lai, Gloria Jankowski, Evelyn Kelly, Mary O’Leary and Karan Browne.
Congratulations to all of you on a job well done!
Meet your Executive Board members and Delegate Assembly representatives
Executive Board members
Beverly Briggs, Bronx
Cynthia Bennett, Queens
BJ Darby, afternoon staffer
Jessy Warren, Queens
Ellen Sebastiano, Brooklyn
Delegate Assembly representatives
BJ Darby, afternoon staffer