Teacher Union Day is back — and UFT members are invited to join the celebration remotely!
The annual event takes place each year on the first Sunday of November in recognition of the first UFT strike on Nov. 7, 1960. A hybrid version — with honorees and their family attending in person in Shanker Hall and other union members joining via Zoom — will take place on Nov. 7, starting at noon.
“It’s going to be great to be able to celebrate this special day again,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “The way UFT members have stuck together and helped each other confront the challenges throughout this pandemic is a testament to the strong foundation built by those members who put everything on the line in the early days of this great union.”
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Family — That’s Who We Are.”
The top honor of the day, the Charles Cogen Award, will go to Ellie Engler, a former UFT staff director, for her pivotal role protecting the health and safety of school communities during the pandemic. Named for the first president of the UFT, the Cogen Award goes to a veteran leader who has provided outstanding service to the union. When school buildings reopened in September 2020, Engler, an industrial hygienist by training, worked with the UFT Health and Safety Department to make sure schools had adequate personal protective equipment and that building ventilation issues were promptly addressed. In early 2021, she helped set up a program that enabled thousands of UFT members to get vaccinated when the vaccine was in short supply. Engler also helped the city set up its COVID-19 testing program in schools and steered the city's test-and-trace teams to schools that needed their services.
Tina Puccio, the director of the union’s Member Assistance Program (MAP), will receive the Jules Kolodny Award in recognition of her efforts to meet the mental health needs of UFT members during the pandemic. MAP ran an array of small support groups, launched a telephone careline and organized a special Let’s Talk About It series to foster members well being.
The David Wittes Award is being given to Jackie Bennett, who managed the Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE), a joint UFT-DOE program that allows schools to modify the contract in order to experiment and innovate at the school level. Bennett was also the union’s go-to person for figuring out how to incorporate student learning measures in teacher evaluation.
A number of other awards will be given to UFT members and representatives who have contributed to the union. Eight-nine school chapters and their chapter leaders are receiving the Ely Trachtenberg Award for their activism, communication and unity during the 2020-21 school year.
To celebrate the achievements of all these UFT members, make sure to register for Teacher Union Day today.