Guidance Counselors Chapter Newsletter - June 2015

It has been an interesting school year with many exciting events for our chapter! We had a great conference on March 14 with our keynote speaker, Dr. Carolyn Stone. We learned many new techniques and discussed everything from college and career readiness for teenagers to social and emotional learning for young children.

We also had the opportunity to honor deserving guidance counselors from across the city at our Recognition Day Awards Ceremony in May. I am excited to see what’s in store for us in the 2015-16 school year.

As you know, we recently held our chapter elections, and I am very happy to have the honor of continuing as your chapter leader for the next three years. I will keep working to strengthen our chapter and to ensure that your concerns are addressed.

Now as the school year ends, we are making plans to add to and improve our chapter website. Please keep an eye on it. Let me know of any items or information you would like to see posted.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, contact me at

In the meantime I wish you all a restful summer.


Rosemarie Thompson
Guidance Counselors Chapter Leader

Our 11th annual Guidance Counselors Conference

Jonathan Fickies
UFT President Michael Mulgrew speaks to conference participants about how he struggled as a young teacher — and how, if not for the support of his school’s guidance counselor, he might have left the profession.

Our 11th annual Guidance Counselors Conference on Saturday, March 14 was a big success. More than 230 counselors gathered to hone our professional skills, network and celebrate our camaraderie as a chapter. President Michael Mulgrew stopped by to speak to us, and we enjoyed a great day of workshops led by our colleagues. We’ll be sure to send out another call for workshop proposals before next year’s conference on Saturday, March 19, 2016, so that we can continue to learn from each other.

See photos from the conference »

Read the New York Teacher article about the conference »

Guidance counselors honored at annual awards ceremony

Miller Photography
Honorees gather for a group portrait on the grand staircase of the landmark DOE headquarters building at the 29th annual Guidance Counselor Recognition Day awards ceremony on May 27 with UFT President Michael Mulgrew (front, third from left), Chancellor Carmen Fariña (front, seventh from right), guidance counselor UFT liaison Bob Astrowsky (front, third from right) and UFT Guidance Counselors Chapter Leader Rosemarie Thompson (front, far right).

We also had a wonderful Guidance Counselor Recognition Day Awards Ceremony on May 27. President  Mulgrew joined us as did Chancellor Carmen Fariña. We honored at the event 28 counselors, including Robert McHale, a guidance counselor assigned who has offered extraordinary support to the counselors in his network.

The chancellor acknowledged the important work that counselors do and thanked the honorees for, as she put it, all the times that counselors “saved her life.” It was a fantastic way to celebrate the vital work we counselors do every day for New York City’s children.

See more photos from the ceremony »

Our honorees were:
  • Bronx: Linda Egelfeld, PS 57; Suzanne Mauro, MS 142; Gloria Carrasquillo, IS 151; Sandra Haydak, Health Opportunities HS.
  • Brooklyn: Yolanda Holland, PS 146; D. Zahara Duncan, PS 627; Sergio Zamora, MS 26; Fredeswinda Valentin, Williamsburg HS for Architecture and Design.
  • Manhattan: Jamie Goldstein, PS 63; Julie McCullough, PS/IS 187; Rachel Goodman, Battery Park City School; Bonnie Phillips, Baruch College Campus HS.
  • Queens: Alberys Walsh, PS 253; Christina Rodriguez, PS 220; Steven Adinolfi, Queens College School for Math, Science and Technology; Gail Schor, Benjamin N. Cardozo HS.
  • Staten Island: Nancy Ludwig, PS 58; Laura Hayes, IS 27; Lisa Barnett, Staten Island
    Technical HS; Kimberly Russell, Concord HS.
  • District 64 (nonpublic schools): Kim Bosco.
  • District 75 (special education): Kim Verboys, PS 721, the Bronx; Mary Ellen Barnes, PS 255, Queens.
  • District 79 (alternative education): Sharon Shimonov, ReStart Academy.
  • District 88 (alternate learning center): Jordhanys Pereyra, Royal Academy.
  • Guidance counselors assigned: Maria Lamaza, Queens Truancy Intake Center; Mesmin Charles, Brooklyn Borough Welcome Center.
  • Special honoree: Robert McHale.
  • Special award: Cheryl Hall, senior administrator, Office of Guidance and School Counseling.

College fairs

Thanks to those of you who have let me know about upcoming college fairs at your schools. School counselors who serve high school students should use these fairs as a resource to gather important information from admissions representatives and staff from various colleges and universities who will aid students in the college admissions process. Please let me know if your high school will be hosting a college fair this fall, and I will continue to showcase these fairs on our chapter page.

See upcoming high school college fairs »

Professional development committee

Our new joint PD committee, in collaboration with the Department of Education, is collectively working to offer professional development that is related to the work that we do as guidance counselors. To help us craft professional development that is based on your needs, we need your input. If you have any suggestions for future PD topics, please email me at This feedback will help guide our professional development and improve future PD workshops.

From our Meet the President, top issues for the chancellor

In April, 200 members of functional chapters met with President Mulgrew to discuss some of our most pressing issues. He was very interested and responsive to our concerns and asked us to report back to him the issues that should be raised with Chancellor Fariña. Based on discussions among our chapter representatives and volunteer liaisons, we brought the following issues to Mulgrew’s attention:

  • the need for more guidance counselors in elementary schools;
  • the overall need to hire more guidance counselors for all grade levels;
  • the enormous paperwork and caseloads for guidance counselors; and
  • the need for appropriate spaces in schools to provide counseling.

Mulgrew asked to know more about our needs because a few of our chapter’s participants complained about not having enough assistance and resources to do our job properly. Now that we have asked him to present these issues to Chancellor Fariña, we will keep you posted on what our chapter may expect.

Restructuring of the DOE

The DOE is continuing to reorganize under Chancellor Fariña’s new, streamlined school-support structure announced earlier this year. The new system will have seven borough field support centers. Each support center will provide additional support for counselors beginning this summer. Please note that there will be a staff person appointed for pre-K and high school. The Office of Guidance and School Counseling has not yet appointed a person to oversee the office. I will keep you updated on any developments and as soon as an announcement is made, I will let you know.

We are hopeful that this new structure will give counselors better support and guidance.

New paperwork reduction standards

new paperwork reduction agreement with the DOE has been formulated. The agreement states that we as related service providers shall not be required, whether on paper or electronically, to perform redundant, duplicative, unnecessary or unreasonable amounts of record keeping concerning the performance of, plans for or evaluation of students, unless necessary in order to comply with federal or state statutory or other legal requirements imposed on the DOE. We are very pleased that the new agreement will provide relief for many of you who have expressed concerns regarding paperwork issues.

I will continue to advocate for you to ensure that paperwork demands are reasonable and fair. Please notify me if you encounter any excessive requests for paperwork, or if you encounter any difficulties.

Repurposed time

As a reminder, there will be no changes to the repurposed workday under our current contract for the 2015–16 school year. I just want to review a few key points here:

  • The repurposing of time for professional development, parent engagement and Other Professional Work does not apply to guidance counselors.
  • Our work hours have not changed. We continue to work our contractual time of 6 hours, 30 minutes, exclusive of lunch, five days a week.
  • Teachers are working longer on Mondays and Tuesdays. But our workday on Monday and Tuesday ends at the usual time for us.
  • When the teachers’ day is shorter, we do not leave early. We work our contractual time and leave at the end of our work day.
  • Guidance counselors in single-session schools where everyone reports at the same time no longer have to attend faculty conference and departmental meetings. In lieu of them, there are two additional parent-teacher conferences that we are required to attend. This applies only to single-session schools. Guidance counselors in multi-session schools and Districts 79 and 75 are not affected by this change, unless the school has adopted a school-based option to reconfigure its time.
  • The parent-teacher conferences are:
    • September: Guidance counselors attend the full three hours.
    • November: Guidance counselors attend the first two hours and 10 minutes.
    • March: Guidance counselors attend the full three hours.
    • May: Guidance counselors attend the first two hours and 10 minutes.

Save the dates!

Please mark your calendars for these important events and meetings this year:

Guidance Expo 2015 
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 21 
Location: Westchester County Center, White Plains, N.Y.
(Registration will open midsummer) 

New York State School Counselors Association Conference
 Nov. 20-21 
Location: Bolton Landing, N.Y.
See more details or register online »

12th Annual Guidance Counselors Conference
Date: Saturday, March 19, 2016
Location: UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway

Future staff development seminars

We will be hosting a series of weekend staff development workshops this year. All workshops will take place on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. I hope that you will join us.

Topic: How to write basic IEPs and goals
When: Saturday, Sept. 19
Where: UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, rooms H/A/F
Register online now »

Topic: Review of changes for ELL students
When: Saturday, Nov. 7
Where: UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway, rooms H/A/F
Register online now »

Chapter election report

Congratulations to all those elected to serve our chapter, and thanks to all of you for participating in our elections. 

Chapter leader: Rosemarie Thompson
Assistant chapter leader:  Regine Dejean

Recording secretary: Varinia Rodriguez
Corresponding secretary: Lia Galeano
Treasurer: Kerron Kitchen
Vice chairperson, elementary level: Giovanni Oramas
Vice chairperson, middle school, junior high level: Brenda Rodriguez
Vice chairperson, high school level: Diana Murillo

Executive Board Members-At-Large:
Emelina Camacho-Mendez
Karen Konstan
Ingrid Paulino

Delegate Assembly delegates:
Linda Akucewice-Pinzon, Jerard Armstrong, Stephen Burd; Emelina Camacho-Mendez; Sonia Christie; Catalina Cruz; Regine Dejean; Felix DeLaCruz; Elizabeth Duberstein; Thomas Erickson; Claude Ertel; Pamela Foreman; Kerry Fowler; Lia Galeano; Jan Halsbond; Reverly Holder; June James Kaviar; Kerron Kitchen; Karen Konstan; Marissa Kropp; Marjorie M Miller; Helen Morales; Diana Murillo; Lisa Nieves; Giovanni Oramas; Margie Pardo; Ingrid Paulino; Maria Prieto; April Quinones; Tiffany Rios; Betty Robles; Brenda Rodriguez; Varinia Rodriguez; Lucia Rojas; Sharon Small;  Nancy Vargas; Madeline Velez; Diane Washington; Mark Wellansky.

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