Skip to main content
Full Menu

Supervisors of Nurses and Therapists Chapter Newsletter - Spring 2015

I’m excited to bring you our first newsletter for our supervisors’ chapter. This is one more way for me to keep in touch with you and to keep you informed on issues having to do with health care and related services in our schools as well as to let you know about chapter and union events.

As you know, no sooner had we finally gotten rid of Mayor Bloomberg than Gov. Cuomo launched his own destructive education agenda. Our fight is going to continue for fairness and support from Albany for public schools, students and educators.

There is reason for optimism. We now have a strong new contract after five years of working without one and a New York City schools chancellor and mayor who are working with us to enhance education at our schools. Thank you for all that you do to ensure New York City students receive quality nursing and therapy services.

If you have any ideas to share for our chapter or are interested in volunteering to assist with chapter functions, please reach out to me at

Thank you for the opportunity to support you by serving as your chapter leader.


Mary Jo Ginese
Chapter Leader, Supervisors of Nurses and Therapists

Hiring of new therapists and nurses

In the last year or so, therapy supervisors have hired 250 new therapists, which I am especially excited about, as this means that many more students with disabilities in both District 75 and community schools will now have access to occupational and physical therapy. Additionally, Department of Education (DOE) nurse supervisors are currently interviewing applicants for available D75 nurse positions. Please know that as staff nurse and therapist numbers increase, the union continues to push for more DOE nurse supervisors and OT and PT supervisors. 

Contract implementation: Paperwork reduction

The join UFT/DOE central paperwork committee established by our contract has established a new set of systemwide standards to reduce burdensome and unnecessary paperwork, including electronic paperwork. This is part of an ongoing process of reviewing how current procedures can be streamlined. This committee is important for functional chapters. We have already made gains in streamlining tuition reimbursement procedures and in the hiring process of staff therapists, which has resulted in less paperwork for OT and PT supervisors.

If additional paperwork concerns emerge for nurse supervisors please contact Patricia Ross at OT and PT supervisors may contact Vanessa Swanson at Please remember to use your non-DOE email when reaching out to us. Any new issues on paperwork will first be addressed at the school level. If they cannot be resolved there, they will be brought to the central paperwork committee.

Functional Chapter Weekend

The UFT held its annual functional chapter weekend in Rye, New York on March 27-28. This year, four chapter members accompanied me: OT supervisors Margaret Tumelty and Crystal Ogir; PT supervisor Caren Goldberg; and nurse supervisor Mayra Washington.

The weekend training was focused on how to keep building and strengthening our chapters and the union. One of the most memorable topics was about the importance of political action at this time when unions are under attack. We heard from both President Mulgrew and Paul Egan, the UFT's director of legislation and political action. It was an eye-opener!

There were also some interesting and informative sessions about pensions, grievances and other topics.

Save the dates! Upcoming events and meetings

Chapter meetings

We hold our chapter meetings on Thursdays at 50 Broadway on the 2nd floor, room G, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Below are our next two meeting dates. Please email me any ideas for topics or concerns to discuss at a chapter meeting. I hope to see you at our meetings:

  • When: Thursday, April 23 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
  • When: Thursday, June 4 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Supervisors’ chapter seminar

Our chapter will hold our first all-day seminar on Saturday, May 16 at UFT headquarters beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at approximately 2:30 p.m. The day will include a general plenary session and interactive workshops that will help participants develop positive leadership through effective communication skill-building and conflict resolution techniques. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided at no cost to you.

  • What: Supervisors’ chapter seminar with a general plenary session and interactive workshops on building positive leadership skills through communications and conflict resolution.
  • When: Saturday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m.
  • Where: UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway

NYSUT school-related professionals (SRP) conference

NYSUT’s SRP Leadership Conference is held each autumn in upstate New York to address statewide issues affecting school-related professionals. The UFT sends members from each functional chapter for this welcome opportunity to meet school-related professionals from all over the state. As a first-time supervisor member of the SRP Advisory Committee, I had the opportunity last fall to help facilitate the conference while meeting many new first-time attendees. Two new OT supervisors attended the conference for the first time and found it to be a positive experience. I look forward to inviting two new supervisors to the conference in 2015. I will contact you when registration is open to see who is interested in attending.

  • What: 37th Annual NYSUT SRP Leadership Conference
  • When: Oct. 2–4, 2015
  • Where: The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center, Albany

Keep an eye on the NYSUT website for details.

National conferences

You may file an application with your supervisor for a nonattendance day to go to a national conference. With approval, you may also utilize tuition reimbursement funds; however, please note that you are personally responsible for travel expenses.

  • April 16–18: The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. will hold its 2015 Annual Conference and Expo at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn. This event will boast over 900 educational sessions, an expo of new products for our profession and a great chance to network. For more information, see the website.
  • June 3–6: The Annual NEXT Conference and Exposition from the American Physical Therapy Association will be held this year in National Harbor, Md. Physical therapy professionals should look into attending this exciting event with speakers, education sessions and plenty of opportunities to meet with other therapists. For more information, see the website.
  • June 4–5: Nurses may be interested to know that the American Nurses Association's Ethics Symposium will be in Baltimore, MD this year. Find more information on the website. Also, National Nurses Week will be from May 6–12 this year and has the theme: Ethical Practice Quality Care.

Member spotlight: Mary Beth Fitzgerald and Vanessa Swanson

I want to start profiling one or two of our members in each newsletter. In this issue, I want to tell you a little more about Mary Beth Fitzgerald and Vanessa Swanson who both attended the NYSUT SRP conference with me in the fall.

Both Mary Beth and Vanessa enjoyed the conference and found a session on writing resolutions to be particularly interesting. Mary Beth is a licensed occupational therapist who also has nursing experience in critical care. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, Honor Society of Nursing. She became an OT supervisor in September. Vanessa is a licensed occupational therapist and is also certified as an assistive technology professional. Before she came to New York, she worked as a school-based occupational therapy supervisor in Washington, D.C. where occupational therapy was strongly integrated into the classroom. After she moved to New York, Vanessa held a position as the occupational therapy evaluation coordinator until last March, when she became an OT supervisor in Brooklyn.

Health and wellness news: Ebola training from nurse supervisors

In light of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the few cases of people in the U.S. with Ebola, nurse supervisors have been specially trained by the city Department of Health. Nurse supervisors have been in the process of turnkeying the training to school nursing staff throughout the five boroughs. The trainings are to cover how to safely don and doff protective personal equipment (PPE). For the most part, these trainings are to take place after work. Both nurses and supervisors will receive overtime pay. Most supervisors will be selecting their own sites and dates for these trainings. We would like to extend our gratitude to the nurse supervisors for going above and beyond their regular work duties to ensure the safety of our students and communities!

Pension consultations

For any of you nearing retirement, make sure that you schedule a final pension consultation with the UFT pension department. Your final consultation will cover these issues:

  • Estimate your retirement allowance;
  • Discuss removing contributions, where permissible, from the system at retirement;
  • Aid you in completing the retirement application;
  • Learn about health and welfare fund benefits;
  • Answer all of your other retirement questions.

Meetings are scheduled in the borough office most convenient to you. Our pension staff advises that if you are married, your spouse come with you to your final consultation, and that if you’re single, you come with a trusted confidant.

If you are still a few years or even further away from retirement, the pension department offers many services and sources of information to help you prepare for retirement security. These include pension clinics that are offered every year. You are also entitled to preliminary pension consultations.

To learn more about our pension services, see the pension page on the UFT website.

How to COPE?

In our current political climate, it is particularly important for us as a union to strengthen our efforts to do political work that can advance our interests. The Committee on Political Education (COPE), the UFT's political action arm, covers the expenses of meeting with and educating legislators and of helping to elect officeholders who respect our members, support education and work for union goals. If you have not done so already, please fill out a COPE card to make a donation. Our support for COPE is more important now than ever.

To learn more about COPE, visit the COPE page on the UFT website.

Where's the MAP?

All of us experience challenges in our personal and professional lives from time to time. Typically, we manage on our own or with the support of family and friends. But with some issues or at some points in our lives, we can all benefit from a helping hand.

The UFT’s Member Assistance Program (MAP) has trained professional counselors who can help to support and guide you through problems, including issues that may cause enough stress to put your health at risk or to affect your performance at your job. The services are confidential, professional and supportive.

For more information on MAP, visit the MAP page on the UFT website.

Related Topics: Chapter News