November 13 2013 FEA Europe Update

1. Thanksgiving Wishes
2. Area Directors' Travels
3. American Education Week
4. OPM Open Season
5. DoDDS Reunion
6. Article 10
7. Teacher of the Year
8. Poodwaddle Clock
9. FEA Board of Director's Meeting
10. Mark Your Calendars
11. Area JCC
12. Retiring or Resigning Mid-Year?
13. Update
14. Fall Unity
15. Advent Calendar

1. Thanksgiving Wishes -- This will be my last Update before the Thanksgiving Holiday. At this point in time I would like to take a moment to say thank you for all that you do during the course of a school year. Whether you are helping students or colleagues, whether your job is involved directly with teaching students or helping those who do, you deserve thanks. I am proud of the work that we all do and as I sit down to eat my turkey on the 28th I will reflect on that in my own way. (And I will give thanks as well that I am here this year to pass these wishes on to you!)

2. Area Directors' Travels -- This coming week (Nov. 18-22) Lisa and I will be in Washington for the FEA Board of Directors meeting. The following week I will take 3 days leave (although I still anticipate being on-line as much as possible) and travel to New Jersey to visit my family for Thanksgiving before returning to Germany. It is very important for me to do this since I was unable to travel home this past summer. Upon my return to Germany I will begin a series of school visits leading up to Christmas.

3. American Education Week--November 18-22, 2013--presents all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. The weeklong celebration features a special observance each day of the week.Learn more here.

4. Office of Personnel Management Open Season - Each year, Open Season runs from the Monday of the second full workweek in November through the Monday of the second full workweek in December. This year, Open Season runs from November 11, 2013 through December 9, 2013.This is an opportunity to change insurance plans and to elect other Federal benefits, such as the flexible savings accounts. While it is still a while away it doesn't hurt to start thinking about this now since the Open Season coincides with one of the busiest times of the year. More info here.

5.. DoDDS Reunion -- This year it will be held from July 17 until 20 in Richmond, Virginia. For registration information: visit this site. Members who have attended past events always comment on how nice it was to catch up with former colleagues. Registration prices will be going up shortly.

6. Article 10 -- As schools begin to look forward towards second semester, often changes in enrollment numbers force some involuntary reassignments. This can take various forms as outlined in Article 10 of the Negotiated Agreement as seen below. If this is occurring at your location please follow the guidelines in the Article.

The need to effect a reassignment is a right retained by the Employer. While involuntary reassignments shall be kept to a minimum, pursuant to the Employer's education mission, it may become necessary to involuntarily reassign a unit employee either from one school location to another school location or from one assignment in one grade/subject area to another grade/subject area with different qualifications standards from the grade/subject area currently being taught. Whenever possible, and if time permits, the Employer shall accomplish such reassignments through the use of qualified volunteers. Whenever qualified volunteers are not available, an individual may be selected for involuntary reassignment with as much advance notice as circumstances warrant. The written notice of involuntary reassignment will contain the following as a minimum:
A. reason(s) for the reassignment:
B. why the unit employee was selected:
C. an opportunity for the individual to give reasons why he/she should not be reassigned. In this statement, the individual should include any extenuating circumstances of a personal nature which she/he feels should be taken into consideration

7. Teacher of the Year - Please find attached the information regarding the Teacher of the Year Program. Please take time to read the requirements and deadlines. Note that this is actually for the 2015 ToY but that deadlines come much earlier than that.

8 . Poodwaddle Clock - You've never seen a clock like this!. This clock shows a variety of statistics, and they are updated in real time. The statistics are spread across a wide range of different categories of human activity, In one way or another there are statistics that are relevant to almost any subject area that is taught in the school. You can select the category and sub category in the list on the left (or you can just let it cycle through them), and you can select the time range for the sample in the links just above the statistics. Across the top there are another set of links. The "Life" link will give you a statistical estimate of how long you have to live based on your current age and an number of other relevant factors. (Thanks to Bob Mungas of Ansbach HS for sharing this!)

9. FEA Board of Directors' Meeting -- Lisa and I will be attending the FEA BOD meeting the week of November 18 - 22. (There will be no Update that week.) This twice a year meeting is a chance for FEA leadership from all four of our regions to get together and discuss issues which impact our schools and our members. Lisa and I will be taking concerns that we have heard from our school visits, our recent EAC meeting, and items which members and local leaders have brought to our attention. This is also an opportunity for us to meet DoDEA leadership as well as members of the NEA governance and staff. Please bear with us as our normal pace of communication may be a little slower at this time.

10. Mark Your Calendars --
November 18 -- 22 American Education Week
November 18 -- 22 FEA BoD Meeting, Washington
November 28 Thanksgiving
November 28 Hanukkah
December 9 Open Season closes

11. Area JCC -- The next Area JCC will be held in Wiesbaden on December 10 (this is a change from the original date). This will be a combined November/December JCC. We will send out the minutes of this meeting as soon as they are available.

12. Retiring or Resigning Mid-Year? - If you are planning to retire or resign during this school year, remember to file and elevate a "goodbye grievance" before your last duty day. After the principal's written response to the grievance or on the 8th day, hand the principal the Step 3 elevation. After you have elevated it, be sure to send a copy to Bill Freeman at the address in your calendar and keep copies of everything. Bill has been contacted by numerous retirees who receive debt letters like this -- make sure you invoke your rights before your last day of employment. If you have questions, see your FRS or contact your District Rep. I already have received information that there are a number of teachers anticipating a January retirement.

13. Update -- With both the BoD meeting and Thanksgiving on the horizon I anticipate that my next Update will be on December 4. If anything comes up in the meantime, we will keep you informed. Also, remember to check for the latest news.

14. Fall Unity -- The Fall Unity is now in the mail. Please keep an eye out for it as it will include information and forms for the upcoming elections. If your school does not receive them, contact your District Rep or Area Director.

15. Advent Calendar - An Advent Calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. The days often overlap with the Christian season of Advent. Despite the name, most commercially available Advent Calendars begin on December 1, regardless of when Advent begins, which can be as early as November 27 and as late as December 3. Many take the form of a large rectangular card with "windows" of which there are usually 24: one for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. One is opened every day leading up to Christmas. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, poem, a portion of a story (such as the story of the Nativity of Jesus) or a small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item. Those of us in Europe can't possibly have missed seeing these piled in store windows. Some calendars are strictly religious, whereas others are secular in content. Click here for a fun calendar that you can use with your class.. Don't cheat -- you open the first door on December 1 this year. In the meantime, clicking on the pictures at the top will get you to some very usable activities. I am sending this out now since my next Update will be in December.

Again, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving break. You all deserve it !!


Alex Veto
FEA Europe Area Director
Tel: 0160 2388051