History Teacher at Mott Hall V in Bronx
Ilona Nanay has taught history for over 11 years at a 6 - 12 school in the soundview neighborhood of the Bronx. She was elected to serve as her school’s chapter leader for two terms, during which time she worked hard to develop a culture of trust and collaboration between all members of the school community. She recently stepped down to serve as delegate to ensure that others had an opportunity to lead too. Over the course of her tenure as chapter leader, and recently as delegate, she mobilized her chapter to counter the corporatist agenda to public education, including organizing her chapter to support families in opting out of standardized exams, engaging in restorative and transformative practices, supporting abolitionist curriculum, and cultivating pathways for rank and file leadership in her chapter. Throughout the pandemic, Ilona has worked tirelessly to fight for safe working conditions for teachers and learning conditions for students, from helping over 55% of staff obtain medical accommodations to having over 70% of students choose remote learning to leading a public health campaign to encourage community members to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Outside of her school, Ilona continues to be a strong advocate on behalf of public education and social movement unionism. As a member of MORE-UFT’s Health Justice Group, Ilona worked tirelessly in coalition with families, students, and community organizations to advance a Health Justice Agenda that would transform schools into healing-centered spaces. As part of this effort, she participated in the Healing-Centered Schools Task Force which published community-driven demands over the summer to bring trauma-informed, culturally-responsive, and non-punitive practice to NYC’s schools. Ilona is also currently working on completing her doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University where she is focused on how the UFT can build strong coalitions with families as co-conspirators to advance equity and social justice in public education. Inspired by Chicago Teachers Union, Ilona seeks to serve on the HS Executive Board to push the UFT to move beyond a passive service model of unionism to embrace thoroughgoing rank and file engagement. Disasters like the current pandemic reveal and worsen the glaring disparities in students’ learning conditions and school staff’s working conditions, disparities that are undeniably distributed by race, class, and gender. The pandemic however also presents a critical opportunity to take firm steps toward reconstructing our union. Rank and file educators of the UFT United for Change!