Time to turn the page

sandbergTwo decades of working for NYSUT members ended today. Actually, there will still be one more blog post from me. I’m finishing up the story of Adam Osterweil, a Springs TA member, that should be ready to publish as many of our members head back to school next week.

Working for NYSUT has meant telling the stories of caring, creative people dedicated to enriching the lives of others. They may be students in pre-K; or adults in rehab centers, like The Resource Center Inc., which provides a wide variety of services in western New York; or in hospitals, caring for the sick.

I have been inspired by the work of teaching assistantsbus drivers and transportation workerssecretaries, cafeteria workersnursescustodians, even sign language interpreters. And, of course, teachers — from pre-K through college.

Favored stories were often about NYSUT members traveling to Albany to fight for improved learning in their schools or workplace. Other favorite stories were about survivors in the fight against breast cancer, like this one about BOCES physical therapist Julet Dinan. Here’s a link to another article about the great programs BOCES provides and the fight to keep those schools thriving.

I will miss that part, as much as I will miss working with the best damn union communications department in the country. It’s not just me who thinks so.

As much as I’ll miss my colleagues, I’m looking forward to a new chapter. My immediate concern is that this summer’s weather and critters conspired so that a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are ripening at the same time. I plan my plantings carefully so as to not be overwhelmed with the beans and cucumbers when the tomatoes are ready for salsa, barbecue sauce and ketchup that I can.  Karen Ciancetta and Chris Mason,  my canning colleagues, coined the phrase “Betsy’s Best” a few years back.

Mother Nature, the chipmunks and the rabbits must all know I have September “off” this year. Everything is coming in, from apples to zucchini, and we have a lot of chutneys, salsas and jams to do.

Of course, I plan to keep advocating for public education and public workers and intend to use NYSUT’s Member Action Center to do that. Here’s an easy link for you to join me in that advocacy.

Steve Nissen, my companion for 28 years and husband for 17, has done a great job of taking care of things when I’ve worked nights or weekends. Often, he’s been my chauffeur and heavy lifter for Strides walks in October, like this one.

Now I get a chance to take more care of him. You’ll probably see me at Strides walks too; now as a participant, not as a reporter or photographer.

Until then, all the best,


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  1. Tom McMahon August 29, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Betsy, you have been one of the strongest and hardest working union advocates I have ever known. I consider it an honor to have had the chance to know you. NYSUT will most definitely miss you, as will all 600,000 members. Please know that your efforts have had an impact throughout the state and certainly in Mahopac.

  2. Martin Messner August 29, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    It is a sad day for NYSUT and the labor movement. Betsy you are one of the best at what you do. Your service will be remembered down here in Schoharie when you were one or the first to come down for the early clean up. Covered in mud and who knows what else you weren’t there as a reporter but as a volunteer helping other people get back on their feet. You are a hero and have more than earned your retirement. I’m not completely sure how we are going to make it without you. Best wishes and thank you for everything you have done and hopefully will continue to do.

  3. Bob Lowry August 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    Betsy — I enjoyed working with you and am sorry to learn that you are moving on. Sounds like you have interesting plans. Best wishes.

  4. Greg McCrea August 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Betsy, you’ve inspired countless local leaders to fight for better schools across New York. Whether at Strides walks, leadership conferences, the RA, or numerous rallies across the state, I’ve seen you instantly connect with rank and file members, demonstrating what is at the core of organizing, great communication. And your photography, stories, and willingness to embrace new media are matched by none, you are a consummate professional. I don’t know what NYSUT will do without you, but I sure am glad I had a chance to meet you, learn from your experience, and share a vision for the future of our union. Thank you!

  5. Don Carlisto August 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Betsy’s recurring blog feature,”Fight Back Fridays”, was an inspiration at a time when so many of us felt demoralized, frustrated, and yes, “ineffective.” Betsy helped remind us that fighting back, standing up for kids, our communities and ourselves was the only way to counter the blame and shame policies of the “reformers”. Thank you, Betsy, for your tireless advocacy and your unfailing commitment to spreading the truth about the outstanding work that NYSUT members do everyday. You will be missed.

  6. russ byer August 30, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    It has been an honor to know you. I cannot thank you enough for all you have done. You personalized your professionalism; all of us and our organizations have benefited. I wish you the best, you deserve it. Congratulations.

  7. Joi Chimera August 30, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Betsy, I’m going to keep it short & sweet-You will be missed! I am so glad I have had a chance to get to know you!! Best of luck to you!!

  8. Phil Cleary August 30, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    I could not fully describe what a good friend and good worker Betsy has been. Her devotion to the ideals of caring and advocacy inspire me and all those who have had the good fortune to work with her.
    To Betsy I wish new challenges, interesting trails, and bountiful gardens.
    Good health and happines to you and Steve,

  9. Elizabeth Vignaux August 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Oh Betsy. I will miss you most of all. Best of luck in all you do. I hope you and Steve enjoy this next phase of your life together.

  10. Paul Conklin August 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    Betsy I have thoroughly enjoyed the time that I have had the opportunity of working with you but more importantly getting to know you. I wish you all the best in your journey.

  11. Diane Cornell September 1, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Only met you a couple of times but did enjoy those. Was it thankful for the coverage. You can us when we were fighting for funds to Be reinstated. To the resource. Center. From. Ny state. Enjoy life and have fun with betsys best!

  12. Diane Cornell September 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Only met you a couple of times but did enjoy those. Was thankful for the coverage you gave us when we were fighting for funds to Be reinstated. To the resource. Center. From. NY.states . Enjoy life and have fun with Betsy’s best!

  13. Chris Leavor September 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Betsy, I thank you for the assistance when I needed just the right words to address my Board of Education. You stayed late (you were still on the phone with me after 9:00) and helped draft a great presentation. I appreciated it so much, and although we never met in person, I feel like I have known you forever. Best of luck in the next chapter of your life. You will be missed.

    Chris Leavor, Salamanca Teachers’ Association

  14. Shelly Clements September 3, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    There absolutely should be more people like you! Congratulations on a job well done and best wishes on your new adventures! Take good care!

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