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Friday, June 24, 2011

Warm and Fuzzy Story of The Week: Bronx UFT Office Gives Awards For Collaborating With School Administrators

Bronx UFT leader Jose Vargas

I felt all warm and fuzzy when I read about the Collaboration Awards celebration given by the Bronx UFT office. Now I dont have to try to answer all the questions I get every day from teachers in Bronx schools asking me why Jose Vargas, Jeff Huart and the rest of the team in the Bronx wont help them when a "principal from hell" goes on a rampage.

Take Principal Richard Bost of Fordham Leadership Academy, for instance, who was found guilty by SCI of sexually abusing his payroll secretary. I wrote an article about him in June 2010. Blogger jd2718 wrote a story about him and about the theft of the $7000 which was to go to the robotics club but was deposited in the personal bank account of Assistant Principal Francine Palmer-Mullings. Meredith Kolodner, Staff writer at the NY Daily News, wrote about him. Blogger friend Chaz wrote about Bost, highlighting the latest NY Teacher (May 26, 2011) article "Bully!" published while one of his teacher victims, Michael Mullen, attended his 3020-a arbitration hearing on charges brought by Bost. Mullen's girlfriend was the secretary that was sexually abused by Bost, so of course he - Mullen - had to go.
Principal Richard Bost has been the subject of several sexual harassment charges and is alleged to have a record of retaliating against critics. Also, DOE officials have pointed to “serious failures in leadership” as a root cause of the Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology’s placement on the state’s list of Persistently Lowest Achieving schools.

I was asked to do the suspension hearing of a boy in the same building but at another school and his sister told me that when she came to the school with her mom for the parent-teacher conference Bost followed her
everywhere. She thought he was "creepy".

So, I guess the reason that Guidance Counselor Diane Gallagher, Math Teacher Mike Mullen, and all the other teachers are no longer working in FLA's classrooms is that the UFT awards Collaboration, not dissention.

Wait. Just ocurred to me that Gallagher, Mullen and the teachers terrorized by Bost are UFT members, deserving of help by their reps at the Bronx UFT office....what say you, Jose?

Betsy Combier

Second annual UFT Bronx borough office Collaboration Awards

District 8 Representative Carmen Quinones (left) with PS 69 Principal Sheila Durant and Chapter Leader Helen Efstathiou (right).
Recognizing teamwork
by Micah Landau, published June 23, 2011

As UFT members well know, teamwork between teachers and administrators is key to a school’s success. When principals refuse to work with teachers, schools — and students — suffer. That’s why the union’s Bronx borough office held its second annual Collaboration Awards on June 9 to recognize Bronx chapter leaders and principals who have forged successful partnerships to support their students.

“If there is not collaboration in a school between the principal, chapter leader, teachers and parents, then we would be working in isolation,” said Jose Vargas, the union’s Bronx borough representative and host for the evening. “And if there is not a good leader steering the ship, that ship is not going anywhere.”

Karen Alford, the union’s vice president for elementary schools, echoed Vargas’ comments.

“We know that when adults work well together, it’s good for children,” she said. “It’s that simple.”

Veteran physical education teacher Manny Lopez, from the South Bronx’s IS 190, was among the many chapter leaders honored at the event.
UFT Bronx Special Representative Jeff Huart with PS 33 Chapter Leader Paulette Patterson (left) and Principal Lynette Santos.

“We collaborate so we can give something more to the students,” Lopez said of his partnership with Principal Dianajade Santiago, herself a former special education teacher who continues to substitute for absent faculty members.

Among their achievements, the pair, which meets every morning before classes begin and remains in communication throughout the day, has worked to introduce French into the school’s curriculum and to implement a school-based option to use the 37.5 minutes of extended time for lesson planning and professional development.

“You rarely hear of principals who protect teachers’ rights. This is one,” Lopez praised Santiago.

Another chapter leader-principal pair, Vicky Figueroa-Vidal and Kenneth Thomas, said they are working together to increase parent involvement at CS 134 in the Morrisania section of the Bronx.

“We want to make the community part of our school,” said Figueroa-Vidal, a 5th-grade teacher. “We want parent involvement, but it’s hard.”

She had only praise for Thomas, a former teacher and chapter leader at CS 61.

“He’s always willing to listen to the concerns of the teachers,” Figueroa-Vidal said. “When it’s possible, we find a solution that works for everyone.”

And the winners are ...

Chapter leaders and principals from the following Bronx schools received awards:

PS 18, PS 30, PS 65, MS 223, MS 203, PS 335, PS 69, PS 55, MS 327, PS 90, CES 126, PS/MS 218, PS 7, PS 33, PS 45, PS 118, PS 159, PS 306, PS 360, IS 390, PS 396, The Globe School for Environmental Studies, PS 169, MS 462, PS 153, PS 112, New Day Academy, CS 92, CS 134, IS 190, CS 196.