Staying Positive Through Difficult Times

Friday, December 18, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers,

I hope everyone is doing well and looking forward to a long and healthy Winter Recess! To say the fall semester of 2020 was unusual would be a tremendous understatement. In the scope of less than a year, we have had to adjust to teaching via live stream, posting and collecting most, if not all, student work via Google class pages, and using countless new computer programs to educate children. I sincerely doubt there has been a time in education where our profession has undergone such rapid and profound change, yet through it all, the educators of the PFT remain dedicated to our craft and the children. The students of Plainedge haven't missed a beat this year, and there is certainly no doubt their success is due to our hard work and tireless effort. So, as we move towards a very well deserved holiday recess, it is a perfect time to look back on all of our union's remarkable accomplishments outside of the classroom throughout the fall semester.

Even before school began, the PFT leadership was hard at work speaking to our newest members about the importance of joining and being active in our union. After a couple of short presentations, every single teacher and teaching assistant very proudly signed his or her union card, keeping our membership at 100% District-wide. Despite a global pandemic and countless attacks on unions throughout the United States, the PFT remains a strong organization supporting the hardest working teachers and teaching assistants in NYS!

Unfortunately, due to COVID, the Making Strides Walk at Jones Beach became a drive through experience, making it difficult for our members to participate. However, that didn't stop our union from raising many thousands of dollars in the effort to find a cure for this devastating disease. We sold pins, had exciting raffle baskets in every building, established an online donation page, and accepted countless contributions to our fund raising efforts. In the end, we raised more money this year than throughout many of our previous years as participants in the Making Strides Event.

Leading us once again this year is our dedicated PFT Making Strides Coordinator, Lynn Mudryk. Lynn was incredibly busy this fall organizing our fundraising efforts for the walk, which took on a new and important meaning this year since NYSUT dedicated the money raised to the memory of our former PFT leader, Sheila Goldberg. In addition to being a former PFT leader, Sheila was the NYSUT Making Strides Co-Chair for Nassau County from 2001-2019 and was the main driving force behind our successful participation in this important event.  As a two-time breast cancer survivor and longtime supporter of Making Strides, I'm sure Sheila is looking down on us all, very proud of the job that we did in her honor!  
At the end of the fall sports season, we usually play host to the Wizards basketball spectacular where we raise money to support both the PFT and PTA scholarship funds.
Similarly to how we had to adjust for COVID in our efforts to raise money for Making Strides, we also had to shift gears on the Wizards event as well. Since we couldn't hold any fundraising events indoors, our PFT fundraising coordinators, Bess Degaray and Erin Lehane, developed the idea of an outdoor drive-in movie event. On December 12th, their idea became a reality as the PFT played host to a drive-in movie fundraiser at the Sunrise Mall, during which members of our Plainedge community were treated to a viewing of "Elf" on a 50-foot tall movie screen. The feedback from the Plainedge community has been incredibly positive, and we were also able to raise over 2,000 dollars towards the PFT and PTA College Scholarship Funds, which allows the PFT to give away thousands of dollars to well-deserving Plainedge HS students. In addition to supporting Plainedge students, we also use the money raised to provide college scholarships for the children of PFT members who are entering college for the first time. Those who participated as volunteers for the event all agreed it was a great night for the Plainedge community. As we move forward in the school year, it's never been more important to keep in mind that we need to make an effort to be part of the community beyond the classroom walls. Remember, we are not just educators, we are part of the Plainedge family!
There is no doubt it's been a very busy fall here in the PFT! I look forward to seeing my fellow sisters and brothers of the PFT at all of our upcoming events, both live and virtual. Always keep in mind that our strength as an organization stems from our membership's willingness to participate in union activities! On behalf of the entire PFT Executive Council, I wish all of our members and their families a very happy and healthy holiday season! In solidarity.