STA - Schalmont Teachers Association
Schalmont Teachers’ Association Union Newsletter
The STATIC is the official publication of
the Schalmont Teachers’ Association and is
published during the school year. The STA
is affiliated with the New York State
United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers.
1st Vice President
2nd Vice President
Mary Beth Flatley
Be sure to visit the STA website for helpful information and updates:
Mary Beth Flatley
NEXT STATIC SUBMISSION
JANUARY 11, 2012
Send news, ideas, comments, questions or suggestions to:
Sarah Mattice, STATIC Editor-in-Chief
1 Sabre Drive, Schenectady, NY 12306
(518) 355-6110 X3546
Mary Beth’s Message
Our district’s teachers and staff began a unique school year with many changes and obstacles:
Hurricane Irene’s aftermath destroyed homes in Rotterdam Junction and Pattersonville; two
elementary schools closed, requiring teachers to move to different buildings; the entire fifth
grade transitioned to the middle school; the new APPR process is under negotiation; and, we
are entering our third year with an expired contract. Our profession is continuously under attack and adding all of the other elements make it very stressful and overwhelming. Despite
this, our students are still receiving strong academic programs and support. This is only possible because of STA members’ continual professionalism, dedication, and unwavering commitment.
I would personally like to thank the STA members who have so generously given time and money and/or donations to the victims of the Rotterdam Junction/Pattersonville flood. Many of
you were there from the beginning: organizing, directing, cleaning, sorting, cooking, distributing items to families—all in the spirit of volunteering and caring. STA coordinated a gift
card drive and raised over $5000 for the victims of the flood. The cards were presented to
the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department on September 28. Many thanks for those who contributed to this cause.
I have heard many stories about the generosity of our members who worked along with community members to help out families in our district—many who lost everything. We have four
STA members who were directly affected by the flooding and have begun the process of
healing and re-building—not only their homes, but their lives as well. It is difficult for us to
understand the enormous feeling of helplessness and devastation our friends and colleagues
are experiencing right now and will continue to feel even as months have since passed. Although there were not any lives lost, an emotional stress surrounds them.
It is during such heartbreaking times like this that the word ‘solidarity’ and its meaning become more poignant. It is imperative that STA members continue to “band together” and stay
“united” as we continue to endure hardship and obstacles. Maintaining friendships among our
membership and providing support to those in need will make us stronger.
We must not let adversity contaminate our spirit. We will persevere. Together, we can
resolve many of the issues that face our near future.
The water is wide; they could not cross o’er —
Tropical Storm Floods Rotterdam Junction
and Pattersonville Residents
Photos taken on August 30th in Rotterdam Junction by Erin Jankowski, daughter of STA Member, Marie Jankowski.
During times of devastation and hardship, we must “PULL TOGETHER.” In solidarity, we will persevere. The
following few pages of this issue tell our story of how, as a community and union, we picked up the pieces after a
horribly devastating storm.
Only in the Movies
Movies like Armageddon, War of the Worlds,
The Day After Tomorrow and Deep Impact capture
the cinematic destruction of towns, cities and the
world from outside alien forces or from some ecological disaster of our own making. Directors and
production agents spend millions of dollars creating
sets that purposely look like the aftermath of an
eco-disaster in order to make us feel as if we are
experiencing the devastation too. But, it’s only a
movie. Something like this would never happen to
us, right? Wrong.
Like a Set in a Movie
In August, Tropical Storm Irene’s aftermath caused the Mohawk River to rage through Rotterdam Junction
and Pattersonville. Cars floated down the river. Sheds flipped upside down. Homes’ foundations cracked. Basements flooded. Animals became displaced. Swing sets with children once playing on them sat in the middle of the
street, covered in thick mud; their original locations unknown. Thick water lines reached the second floors of
homes. Seven-foot piles of soaked family furniture, mattresses, and toys lined the streets for removal. The scent
of gasoline, mud, and must permeated the air. Mud and dust surround everything like frosting on a cake. The impact from this storm painted a horrific picture of what looked like a warzone created for the set of a movie. Over
100 district families were impacted by this storm. There aren’t any Hollywood funds to perfectly fix this mess;
instead, a small, shattered community must work together to clean up and to rebuild. (continued on the next page)
“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.”
A River Runs Through Us;
STA Organizes Tropical Storm Relief Efforts
NYSUT United newsletter showcases STA’s efforts in their ability to pull together after the
storm destruction. Schalmont TA President Mary Beth Flatley, far right, stands with teaching, retired and support staff members of her local, from left, Dee Ann Coniglio, Ben Gerardo, Donna
Wolbert, Bev Haringa, Debbie Massaroni, Cori Kinns. The local was instrumental in helping respond to flooding victims' needs. Photo from NYSUT United October newsletter; taken by El-Wise
Coming Out of the Dark
“We Pull Together” is not only STA’s tee shirt logo, but a statement of what can happen when individuals
come together to support not only our fellow members, but the Rotterdam community in general. Nowhere was
that more evident than in the first two weeks after Tropical Storms Irene and Lee devastated our community.
But, out of that destruction emerged goodness from strangers and families—those who worked together to help
the victims begin the re-building of their homes, their communities, and their lives. Schalmont teachers were
there as an organization and as community members to aid in the cleaning efforts.
Within days of the devastation, Jefferson Elementary School was the site of a huge clothing drive. School
supplies were donated by businesses and STA members aided in the distribution of backpacks and other materials for children so they could be ready for their first day of school. STA coordinated a gift card drive and together, with the community, we raised over $10,000 for the victims. The massive attempt at cleanup was evident
in the community, where volunteers delivered lunches to workers and pitched in to help each other.
STA members did what we are trained to do: We gave of ourselves for the benefit of others—something
teachers do every day. We “pulled” together. (See pictures of our union’s efforts on the next page)
Coming Out From the Dark
to Finally See the Light:
STA Relief Efforts
Students, STA members, and Schalmont community rally
together in order to sort and organize donations for the
STA Members donated brand new school supplies and backpacks for victims. They set up an entire office like a store
and students came in and freely shopped for what they needed.
(final article to “We Pull Together” Story on next page)
We are Schalmont: STA and Community Raise
Over $10,000 for flood victims
Many STA Members and community
members banded together in order to
help the victims in Rotterdam Junction
and Pattersonville who suffered severe
damage to their homes after Tropical
Storm Irene’s aftermath flooded the
towns with over ten feet of water. In a
collection, we all raised over $10, 000!
Thank you to all who donated gift cards
or cash to our community in order to
help them rebuild. The cards were presented to Reggie Wydronkowski, Commissioner Chairman on September 29.
From Left to Right: Carol Carelli, STA Secretary;
The Rotterdam Junction Volunteer Fire Reggie Wydronkowski, Commissioner Chairman;
Department will disperse the cards to Mary Beth Flatley, STA President
the victims. May we all continue to volunteer and help in any small way we can
in order to help our community memCOMMUNITY OUTREACH
bers to feel some hope and support
during this difficult time.
Local union supports Schalmont residents
The power of teachers’ unions across the area and
our ability to reach out to others in the time of need
was certainly felt and appreciated. Members of the
Guilderland Teachers' Association sponsored a food
drive and collected over $1,000 in donations for our
students and families in the Rotterdam Junction/
Pattersonville area. The donations, which were taken
to the Rotterdam Junction Volunteer Fire Department were warmly accepted by the volunteers assisting our families.
STA receives Lou Cammarosano award from NYSUT
The STA received the Lou Cammarosano
Award from NYSUT and was featured in the
July/August 2011 issue of NYSUT United.
Lou Cammarosano served as the regional coordinator for over twenty-two years for VOTECOPE. Beginning in the late 1970s, Cammarosano pushed and worked tirelessly to increase the union’s nonpartisan political action
fund by over 2,000 percent! VOTE-COPE relies
heavily on voluntary donations to support candidates and to fight for public education, higher
education, and heath care.
STA was also recognized in the August issue
as having more than 100 percent participation
rate overall in the VOTE-COPE campaign—the
best in the Capital District.
As our profession continues to maintain
fierce attacks on our benefits, it is imperative that we continue to support those who will work
to maintain our fair and equitable wages. Thank you to all of our members for your support and
STA welcomes our new teachers
Ben Beliveau joins our staff as the 7th and 8th grade Technology teacher as well as the 5th
grade art teacher. Ben attended Hudson Valley Community College, SUNY Oswego and is currently completing his Master’s Degree at The College of Saint Rose. Ben completed his student
teaching at Cobleskill High School and Middle School and at Berne Knox Westerlo High School
and Middle School—both placements were in technology education. He has taught for a little
over three years now. In his spare time, Ben enjoys riding and racing motorcycles and building
old cars and trucks. Ben said, “I look forward to meeting all of the new students, and creating
a safe and positive learning environment for them.”
Kelly Benkoski joins our staff at Jefferson teaching 4th grade. She completed her undergraduate work at SUNY Cortland earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education (PreK-6).
Kelly also holds a Master’s Degree as a Literacy Specialist (Birth-Grade 6) from SUNY Albany.
Before starting at Schalmont, Kelly taught kindergarten for the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District for four years, and she also taught in the Albany City School District for
several years, mostly in Pre K-first grade. Currently, Kelly resides in Rotterdam, with her husband, Ben. She enjoys reading, watching movies, traveling, taking pictures, and spending time
with family and friends.
Michelle Adalian joins our staff at Jefferson as a 4 th grade teacher. Michelle attended SUNY
Cortland where she received her undergraduate degree and she also attended The College of
Saint Rose where she earned her Master’s Degree in Reading. Michelle feels fortunate that
she has been exposed to a variety of teaching experiences in her last eight years as an educator. She has taught Kindergarten and grades 2 through 5 and she also taught in Virginia as
well as in New York. Before coming to Schalmont, Michelle most taught in the Bethlehem
School District. Michelle has been married for five years and loves spending time with her
family, especially her three adorable little girls. Lexi is four; Addison is two and a half; and
Evelyn is 17 months old. I love spending time with my family. “I am looking forward to familiarizing myself with the school and community,” says Michelle. “I feel so at home already” and
“everyone has been so welcoming and kind.”
STA UNITES FOR HOPE
Many of our own members have battled breast cancer—several even losing their battle after long, courageous fighting. It is both powerful and uplifting when a group of teachers gather together to show support and strength in numbers. Such is the case each year when the
crisp fall air calls our names to gather our pink shirts, raise money, and celebrate life, hope,
This year many STA members joined together again to walk for a cure. Some walk in honor
of those currently battling cancer; others walk in memory of family and friends who lost their
battle. And then, there are those who walk to support and honor the cause in general. Over
thirty STA members participated in the 2011 "Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk" in October, an event very close to many members’ hearts. STA collected over $2500 for the cause,
which is organized and coordinated each year by Lorinda Gandrow and Melissa West.
“Hope is that thing with feathers that
perches in the soul and sings the tune without the
words and never stops... at all.”
Let there be light!
STA joins forces with community for holiday event
STA has joined forces with the Rotterdam and Pattersonville
Community for a special Christmas tree lighting and caroling ceremony.
On Sunday, December 11 at 6:00 PM, the Rotterdam and Pattersonville communities will gather together to celebrate the closeness and
caring that has been evident since the flooding in late August. Music
students, under the direction of Eileen Scheffer and Justin Godlewski,
will welcome the Christmas season with caroling and lighting of a Christmas tree. STA will be providing cookies and hot chocolate for everyone.
The event will take place at the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department
on Main Street.
We are asking for STA members to contribute an unwrapped toy or gift card to be given
to the children of the victims of the flooding. Notices are in your mailboxes. If you would rather make a monetary contribution for the event, send it to Carol Carelli in the MS by December 9. If you can bake, we could use 2-3 dozen cookies from members for after the caroling.
Christmas is the time for giving...won't you please help us help our families who have lost
WE ARE SCHALMONT…
WE ARE FAMILY
‘’We are Schalmont’’
Designed by STA Member, Jamie Pink
to showcase at Jefferson
Got common-sense? Matt Damon delivers speech at
Save Our Schools Rally
The Save Our Schools Rally was held in Washington, D.C. in July. Speakers included Diane Ravitch, Linda DarlingHammond, Deb Meier and Jonathan Kozol. Actor Matt Damon closed the rally with a straight-to-the-point speech
to teachers. Valerie Strauss reprinted Damon’s speech in The Washington Post on July 30th. Here is what Damon
I flew overnight from Vancouver to be with you today. I landed in New York a few hours ago and caught a flight
down here because I needed to tell you all in person that I think you’re awesome.
I was raised by a teacher. My mother is a professor of early childhood education. And from the time I went to
kindergarten through my senior year in high school, I went to public schools. I wouldn’t trade that education and
experience for anything.
I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself — my imagination, my
love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity — all come from how I was parented and
And none of these qualities that I’ve just mentioned — none of these qualities that I prize so deeply, that have
brought me so much joy, that have brought me so much professional success — none of these qualities that make
me who I am ... can be tested.
I said before that I had incredible teachers. And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were EMPOWERED to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of test prep — this silly drill and kill nonsense that any
serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning. No, my teachers were free to approach me and every other
kid in that classroom like an individual puzzle. They took so much care in figuring out who we were and how to best
make the lessons resonate with each of us. They were empowered to unlock our potential. They were allowed to be
Now don’t get me wrong. I did have a brush with standardized tests at one point. I remember because my mom
went to the principal’s office and said, ‘My kid ain’t taking that. It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just
make him nervous.’ That was in the ’70s when you could talk like that.
I shudder to think that these tests are being used today to control where funding goes.
I don’t know where I would be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized test. If their very survival as teachers was based on whether I actually fell in love with the process of
learning but rather if I could fill in the right bubble on a test. If they had to spend most of their time desperately drilling us and less time encouraging creativity and original ideas; less time knowing who we were, seeing our
strengths and helping us realize our talents.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if that was the type of education I had. I sure as hell wouldn’t be here. I
do know that.
This has been a horrible decade for teachers. I can’t imagine how demoralized you must feel. But I came here today to deliver an important message to you: As I get older, I appreciate more and more the teachers that I had
growing up. And I’m not alone. There are millions of people just like me.
So the next time you’re feeling down, or exhausted, or unappreciated, or at the end of your rope; the next time
you turn on the TV and see yourself called “overpaid;” the next time you encounter some simple-minded, punitive
policy that’s been driven into your life by some corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything.
... Please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind
you, and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you and we will always have your
Spotlight on Dedicated Teachers
Teachers’ efforts improve district’s placement
Each year the Better Business Bureau releases a report that
Mary effner retirement
Need a little blurb or
write up about her….
ranks school districts in the area based on certain criteria. Some of
the areas that the review explores include student test scores, graduation rates, and other New York State Education Department data.
Schalmont Central School District jumped 16 spots according to Busi-
Number years teaching??
ness Review and is now ranked as number 11 out of 85 schools in the
Capital Region. Last year, our district was ranked at number 27.
Succeeding on such a list requires hard work and effort from
all administrators and staff; however, a large component of what district’s are rated on directly correspond to students’ success. It is
obvious that our students’ success is a result of hard working teachers—those who work tirelessly on a daily basis to help students to
grow and to flourish in their academic lives. This ranking further
proves just how strong we are as educators and how much we do in
our classrooms to make Schalmont a successful place for our students.
Congratulations, teachers! You work hard and we must continue to encourage and support one another and to give credit to those
who deserve it when credit is due.
Isiah Joseph Ketzer
Congratulations to Heather Cohen (High School) and her husband
Bill Ketzer on the birth of their son, Isaiah Joseph Ketzer. Their
little boy was born on June 14th at 11:11 am. He weighed 7 lbs. 10
ounces and was 21 inches long.
Megan Avery Mattice
Congratulations to Sarah Mattice (High School) and her husband, Al on the
birth of their daughter, Megan Avery who was born on June 7 at 10:05 pm.
Megan weighed 7lbs. 2 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.
Congratulations to Holly Stadel (High School)….. Need to get this info.
She sent me an email with only a pic. Will add it on Monday.
Congratulations to Stacey Connor (Middle School) to her husband, John
on their wedding that occurred on March 19th at the First Reformed
Church in the Schenectady Stockade. Their reception took place with a
full Irish fare at the State Room in Albany.
Congratulations to Sarah Dinan (Jefferson) and her husband, Al
Saverino on their marriage over the summer on August 12th at St.
Clement’s Church in Saratoga.
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