• About the Digital Academy
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The NYSUT New Local President Digital Academy is a self-paced series of online webinars, activities, downloadable materials and opportunities for engagement with other presidents.

Designed to help you enrich your leadership skills and support your commitment to a strong local union, the digital academy is offered at no cost to you or your local.

Not only will participants gain skills and connections with other local presidents across the state to better do important work, they will also earn NYSUT Local President polos and jackets by completing activities and attending webinars. See complete details listed below.

About the New Leader Digital Academy

Led by experienced NYSUT staff, the New Local President Digital Academy is an evolving series of essential and elective coursework that will teach you about the many resources available to you through the statewide union:

  • Know your contract

  • Union finances for local leaders

  • Recruiting new members

  • Implicit bias training

  • Communication and media training

  • Building and leading a team

  • Conducting an effective meeting

  • Dealing with difficult members

  • Stress management for the local president

  • Virtual tours of NYSUT headquarters and your regional office

Not only will participants gain skills and connections with other local presidents across the state to better do important work, they will also earn NYSUT Local President polos and jackets by completing activities and attending webinars. 

Digital Academy Courses

Course details and interactive components are hosted on AFT's eLearning platform. We will be adding links to the eLearning platform when each course's materials become available.

If you have questions about the course selection or about the program in general, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Course Info

  • All coursework must be completed by April 18, 2021.
  • Live webinars for all courses will be offered multiple times throughout the year.
  • Online self-guided instruction activities will be available online throughout the year.
  • Explore the full course selection below. Coursework is divided into three categories, each with a different focus and awards for completion.

1. Foundations

These courses present the basics of what you need to know about NYSUT, your local union, and labor unions generally. We recommend all of our new leaders start with these courses whenever possible.

Participants who complete all Foundations courses will receive a framed certificate of completion and NYSUT Local President polo.

Course: Local President 101 

ClassDescriptionPresenters & Activities

Start off the year talking with NYSUT’s Officers! This is our opening session where our officers will discuss the challenges we are facing as a labor movement, the resources available to you to support your work and time to connect and learn from one another in this new environment. Even if you cannot participate in other sessions, we hope ALL NEW PRESIDENTS will register to join us for this time with other local leaders from around the state.

Andy Pallotta, NYSUT President; Jolene DiBrango, NYSUT Executive Vice President; Ron Gross, NYSUT Second Vice President; Philippe Abraham, NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer This is a 90-minute live webinar that will include small group discussion will be accompanied by some worksheets and handouts.
Elements of a Powerful Local

Your local is the most important vehicle that you build and exercise power through. A strong local will enable you to carry out your mission as a local president—to advocate for and protect your members’ interests and to fight for what your students and clients deserve. This is no easy task. That’s why it's important to know where you’re starting and continue to assess how you build capacity in each of these areas. This assessment will help you more clearly articulate what your local’s strengths are, what areas you may want to improve and what your priorities should be to strengthen your ability to win.

Participants will:

  • Understand what elements are essential to have for an effective local
  • Have a deep and meaningful understanding of your local’s capacity
  • Begin an honest conversation with local leadership about your local’s current effectiveness
  • Take action to strengthen your local’s capacity to fight for your members
This class features a downloadable worksheet with questions to discuss about your local with your local leadership and LRS. There is no webinar component. To complete the project, once you have discussed the worksheet, you will answer a few questions about your experience having this kind of conversation.
Know Your Contract

As a leader in your union, the issues you will deal with most frequently concern your terms and conditions of employment. Your members (and sometimes even administrators) will come to you with questions about the contract – often before opening the contract themselves. Consequently, your familiarity with the contract will help you quickly respond to questions and concerns about the terms and conditions of employment for all your members.

Participants will:

  • Know terms and conditions of employment
  • Be able to answer basic questions about the contract
Participants will use their contract to answer a series of questions about their contract on our online platform.

Course: NYSUT 101

ClassDescriptionPresenters & Activities
NYSUT Resources and Support

Did you know that NYSUT has a department that can help you design a logo for your local? Did you know that there are conferences you can attend focused just on health and safety issues? Would you believe NYSUT has a social worker that can help you and your members in a crisis? Participants in this class will be able to identify and access all of the resources and support you and your members enjoy as locals of NYSUT.

Participants will receive a NYSUT Resources Directory. Using our New Local Presidents online conference center, participants will be presented with multiple scenarios and given an opportunity to create their own online NYSUT dream team. This class is all self-guided instruction that participants can do at their own pace.
Go To Course

Course: Union Administration

ClassDescriptionPresenters & ActivitiesCourse Link
Union Administration Basics

Being a local union president means you are responsible for the administration of what amounts to a small business. Your training as a teacher, SRP, professor or nurse probably didn’t include how to manage a local union. In this class, participants will review and develop the essential skills for effective local union administration including facilitating productive membership and leadership meetings, interpreting the local’s constitution and bylaws, and conducting local leadership and delegate elections with integrity. Learn to avoid the most common pitfalls encountered by local union leaders so you can focus on membership engagement and meeting your union’s most critical needs.

Jonathan Rubin, NYSUT Field Services, Director of Field and Affiliate Services; Greg McCrea, NYSUT Research and Educational Services, Assistant to Executive Vice President

The format for this class will be a combination of online course work and a live webinar. You must attend the webinar to complete this course. This webinar is being offered two different times so that participants have flexibility. Please go to the online course to register for one of these sessions:

- October 7; 4 pm-5:30 pm
- November 3: 4 pm-5:30 pm
Go To Course
Local Union Finances 101

This course focuses on understanding the role of the local president’s fiduciary duties as stewards of the membership dues. Participants will learn about their financial and legal responsibilities as a president, tools and documents they will need in order to carry out this duty and an understanding of how to make sure your local is reporting accurate information and ensuring transparency with your members.

This class includes some pre-workshop online activities that will assist with deeper understanding during a live webinar with NYSUT accountants.

A.J. Nunziato, Accountant; Helen Vickery, Accountant

The format for this class will be a combination of online course work and a live webinar. You must attend both Finance 1 and Finance 2 webinars to complete this course. These webinars are being offered two different times so that participants have flexibility. Please go to the online course to register for one of these sessions:

Finance 1 Webinars:
- September 23; 4 pm-5 pm
- October 21; 4 pm - 5 pm
- November 18; 4 pm - 5 pm

Finance 2 Webinars:
- September 30; 4 pm-5 pm
- October 28; 4 pm -5 pm
- December 2; 4 pm - 5 pm
Go To Course
Membership and Member Data Management Systems

Keeping up with membership data has never been more important! Knowing who is in your bargaining unit and who is a member is essential in order to properly represent our members in grievances and at the bargaining table.

NYSUT has an easy to use tool for all locals to manage their own member data through nysut.members.org.  This session will provide information on the importance of maintaining membership data, how to use the system and best practices for protecting and maintaining your membership data.  Finally, participants will learn about election certification reports and how to process new membership applications and membership drop requests.

Kate Sweet, NYSUT IT Department, Assistant Director; Nicki Richardson, NYSUT Deputy Political Director and Manager of Polling and Data

The format for this class will be a combination of online course work and a live webinar. You must attend the webinar to complete this course. This webinar is being offered two different times so that participants have flexibility. Please go to the online course to registerfor one of these sessions:

- September 15; 4 pm - 5 pm
- December 8: 4 pm- 5 pm

2. Essentials

Essentials courses dive deeper into the governance structure of NYSUT, our departments, services and operations. We also review how these elements can and should be useful to you on the local level. 

Participants who complete the Foundations courses AND 4 of the 8 Essentials courses will receive a NYSUT Local President jacket.

Complete list of Essentials Courses coming in October 2020.

Course: Communications

Communications 101

This course covers what NYSUT’s Communications Department does and how we are available to help local leaders. We will discuss how to craft pro-union messaging to help engage and retain your membership and how to counter anti-union pushback. We will also provide an overview of digital communications channels and best practices to help you reach your members during the pandemic and after.

Course: Organizing

Membership Recruitment

Membership One of most important yet challenging jobs for local leaders is talking to our new members about the importance of the union in a way that is authentic and engaging. This course will help you connect with new hires, effectively educate new hires about the importance of union membership, and address misconceptions and concerns about joining the union.

Member Engagement Basics

Few things are more frustrating than putting the planning and work into a union event or meeting only to have a lackluster response from your members. In this course we will learn best practices for identifying the issues and needs most relevant to your members and utilizing NYSUT’s wide range of services and programs to engage your membership and demonstrate the value of the union.

Leadership 101

You (and your exec board) can’t do this work alone. An important part of union leadership is identifying and cultivating engaged union members who will work with you to keep the union strong and will have the knowledge and skill set to continue the work into the future. This course will cover best practices around involving members in local and state issue campaigns, local union committees and leadership roles.

Course: Political

Legislative Advocacy: 2021 Legislative Agenda

The NY State Legislature plays an important role in the funding of our institutions and the mandating of how we do our job. Every year, NYSUT Locals lobby our legislators around hundreds of issues that our members and the people we serve care about. Participants will learn about the 2021 Legislative Agenda and opportunities all locals will have to make a difference lobbying their elected officials.

Building a War Chest: The Do’s and Don'ts of VOTE COPE

Potholes. The Supreme Court. Your taxes. Your school board and budget. Foundation Aid. All of these issues are the result of political decisions made by politicians. Vote COPE helps you connect those dots. We discuss how you can build political power using Vote COPE. Additionally, we address questions like, how do you run successful vote cope drives? What is that money spent on? How does that help you build a strong local and help your membership engagement strategy? The second half of this session covers best practices, idea sharing and troubleshooting. 

Elect Your Boss’ Boss

How many people get to elect their boss? Not many. What can a powerful school board do for your members? Learn to spot a good school board member, recruit new candidates for the role, win landslide elections with the latest technology and nurture a productive relationship with elected school board members on behalf of your members and students.

Course: Social Justice

Sticks and Stones: Understanding and Challenging Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, and Stereotypes

Implicit Bias refers to the attitudes, beliefs or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases often manifest themselves in the forms of micro-aggressions and stereotypes. Everyone has Implicit Bias, but few of us are aware of it and how it impacts our daily experiences. For educators, Implicit Bias may have a negative effect on our students’ behavior and academic outcomes. This session will share real-life examples of different Implicit Bias, Micro-aggressions and Stereotypes, how they impact our schools and provide practical strategies to address and confront them in ourselves and others.

Participants will be able to:

  • Define implicit bias and identify key characteristics.
  • Define microaggressions and identify key characteristics.
  • Define stereotypes and identify key characteristics.
  • Identify specific steps and strategies to challenge implicit bias, microaggressions and stereotypes.

3. Elective

Electives are more advanced courses meant to hone your skills and increase you knowledge of all things related to labor relations. 

Elective courses are not mandatory to the completion of the academy but are available to new local presidents throughout the year.

Full course listing coming soon.