November 28 2012 FEA Europe Update

1. TSP Contributions
2. Retirement Information
4. FEA Election Materials
5. FEHB Open Season
6. Vacancy Announcements
7. 10 Year Rule
8. Online Degree Programs/PD
9. Busy Time of the Year
10. Mark Your Calendars

1. TSP Contribution Limits for 2013: TSP contributions limits for 2013 go up by $500 to $23,000 in total. That is $17,500 in Regular Contributions (up by $500) and $5,500 in Catch-up Contributions (this stays the same). Attached are two PDF files announcing the annual deferral limit and the dates for catch-up contributions to appear on your LES. (Thanks for Stefan Nowak for reminding me to publish this information.) ☺

2. Retirement Information: I have attached several articles from the website, on a number of topics, including: the need for life insurance in retirement, the rise in Medicare fees for 2013, long-term care costs in retirement, and TSP returns for October.

3. UNITY: All issues of the UNITY magazine have now been in the mail for several days. We did have a few envelopes come back to us for various reasons, but all have been re-mailed. If you do not have them by Friday, please notify Alex Veto and more will be mailed ASAP. The UNITY is also available online at

4. FEA Election Materials: FEA elections materials should be in each school by now. Please check with your FRS if you need the information, and are interested in running for any of the following positions: FEA President, FEA Vice-President, FEA Secretary/Treasurer, FEA Human and Civil Rights Coordinator, and NEA Director for FEA. Applications must be postmarked by December 19th. This information is also published in the most recent edition of the FEA Journal.

5. FEHB Open Season Drawing to a Close: The 2012 Federal Benefits Open Season for the 2013 plan enrollments in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB), Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) will run from November 12 through December 10, 2012.

During the open season, eligible employees may make any of the following four benefit choices:

Enroll in or change an existing enrollment in a health insurance plan under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. FEHB open season elections are effective January 13, 2013.
2. Sign up for a flexible spending account for health or dependent care under the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSA) at or by contacting a FSAFEDS Benefits Counselor. FSA enrollments are effective January 1, 2013. Enrollments in FSAFEDS cannot be cancelled or changed after their effective date, unless the employee experiences a qualified status change (QSC). FSA enrollments also do not carry over from year to year; employees must make a positive enrollment each calendar year.
3. Enroll in or change an existing enrollment in a dental plan under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) at
4. Enroll in or change an existing enrollment in a vision plan under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) at FEDVIP enrollments are effective January 13, 2013.

If you have questions, please contact your Human Resources Representative at the DoDDS Europe Area Office.

6. Vacancy Announcements: We continue to receive frequent notifications of vacancy announcements. FEA has advocated for these to be publicized to our teachers, so if you are not receiving them, please let me know. Also, please note that at FEA request, DoDDS-E vacancy announcements are now included in the DoDDS-E weekly packet so be sure to check that resource as well.

7. From the November 15th President's Report: Please read the information regarding the 10-year rule. You can read both by visiting this page:

8. Online Degree Programs/Professional Development: Our members are often in need of information regarding online degree or graduate credit programs. I have recently received some information from various institutions offering these options. I am passing these on to you, but please realize that FEA is not endorsing or approving any of these. For questions regarding whether or not DoDEA will accept credit granted from these institutions, please contact the DoDEA Certification Contact for your area. I hope you find this information helpful.

California University of Pennsylvania Global Online: If you would like more information on the 100% online degree programs offered, visit the website California University of Pennsylvania Global Online.

The Professional Development Institute ( has been offering online courses for K-12 educators for over 15 years. For every PDI course, teachers have the option of earning post-baccalaureate (graduate) credit from the University of California San Diego Extension.

9. Busy Time of the Year: December is an extremely busy month for all of us and Alex and I would like to let you know in advance that we will be in and out of the office for much of the month. We will be in Washington attending the FEA Board of Directors' Meeting from 15-21 December. We will answer e-mails as often as we can, but please forgive any delays.

10. Mark your Calendars: Education events for December 2012. (Courtesy of

December 1-31---Books Across America Month: Books Across America is an NEA effort to help replenish public school libraries (see School Tube video). You can donate books by reading a book online - see the We Give Books website - and your reading efforts will be converted to book donations to a range of groups.
December 3-7---Inclusive Schools Week: This annual event, sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network (ISN), celebrates the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive, quality education to students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socioeconomic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors. It provides an important opportunity for educators, students, and parents to discuss what else needs to be done to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children.
December12-15---Computer Science Education Week: In fall 2009, Congress designated the first full week of December as Computer Science Education Week to recognize the transformative role of computing and the need to bolster computer science at all educational levels. See the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) materials at the CSedweek website and more educator resources at the Computer Science Teachers Association website.
December 7 ---Pearl Harbor Day: On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese navy attacked the United States' naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which resulted in the United States becoming militarily involved in World War II. See Remembering Pearl Harbor on the National Geographic website.
December 10---Human Rights Day: The anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights--a document establishing a common standard for human achievement for all peoples and nations, rooted in the values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect, and shared responsibility. Learn more about Human Rights Day. See also the United Nations Human Rights website.
December 15---Bill of Rights Adoption Day: The Bill of Rights is the name by which the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution are known. Introduced in 1789 as a series of articles, they came into effect on December 15, 1791, after ratification by three-fourths of the States. For resources, see Bill of Rights Institute.
December 16 ---Boston Tea Party Anniversary: The Boston Tea Party was a direct action by colonists in Boston against the British government. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor. See the Boston Tea Party Historical Society.
December 17---Anniversary of Wright Brothers' Flight: The Wright Brothers forever changed human travel at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, with their heavier-than-air powered flight, which traveled 120 feet. See the Library of Congress' Wright Brothers page for teaching resources.
December 8-16---Hanukkah: Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates the Maccabees military victory over the Greek Syrians and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The festival is observed by the lighting of a special candelabrum, the Menorah, with one additional light lit on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. See Chanukah resources.
December 21---Winter Solstice: The winter solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. It is the shortest day and longest night. The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. There are two winter solstices: winter in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere. Remember that the winter solstice here is the summer solstice there.
December 25---Christmas: Christmas is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. In Christianity, Christmas marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days. Traditions include the sending of cards, decorating with poinsettias and a Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols, and giving gifts.
December 26---Disbanding of Soviet Union: On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union was officially disbanded, breaking up into fifteen constituent parts, thereby ending the world's largest and most influential communist state, leaving People's Republic of China to that position.
December 26-January 1---Kwanzaa: Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday based on the agricultural celebration of Africa called "the first fruits" celebrations, which celebrate the times of harvest, gathering, reverence, commemoration of the past, recommitment to cultural ideals, and celebration of the good. Kwanzaa is celebrated annually December 26-January 1. Learn more about Kwanzaa.
December 31---New Year's Eve: New Year's Eve is December 31, the final day of the Gregorian year and the day before New Year's Day. In modern Western practice, New Year's Eve is celebrated with parties and social gatherings marking the passing of one year into the next, at midnight.

* Remember---if you have something you would like to share, please pass it along to either Alex or me and if possible, we will include it in our updates.

Here's wishing you a GREAT week!

Lisa Garmon Ali
FEA Europe Area Director
PSC 41 Box 5569
APO AE 09464
Tel: 44-1638527662 (outside UK)
01638527662 (local)
226-7662 (DSN)