March 30, 2011 FEA Europe Update1. Transfer Update
2. BOD Meeting
3. Our DoDEA Family
4. Area Directors' Travels
5. "What's Wrong With This Picture?"
6. Best Practices
7. Your Membership Number
8. Month of the Military Child
9. Traveling for Spring Break?
10. Travel Claims
11. Complimentary Life Insurance
12. Helping Children With Asperger Syndrome
13. NEA HCR Trainings
14. Summer Training Opportunity
15. Mark Your Calendars
1. Transfer Update -- For those of you waiting to hear the results of the transfer round, I know the waiting is difficult, but all official offers and announcements will come from DoDEA. It is a stressful time for many, but please be patient!
As someone who has been at the table for the transfers, I do want to give you my impressions as a participant in the process. I can clearly say that the program and placements are done as fairly and correctly as humanly possible. We spent long intense days…. We spent hours pouring over vacancies and applications to insure that our educators receive the best placements available. Obviously, we are limited by the available vacancies and the total number of transfers that can be funded.
I have always been very impressed with the commitment and dedication of the DoDEA staff, our reps, and our own Connie Shanaghan. Connie had compiled a list of concerns/individual needs, etc. that were sent to her and made sure that information was used if it was needed. Everyone involved worked as a team and was absolutely dedicated to doing the best job possible for our teachers. While there are still concerns about vacancies and backfills being submitted, the combination of categories in those vacancies, and some related issues, FEA will continue to work to improve those aspects of the transfer program. As always, for the latest accurate and up-to-date information on the transfer program, go to www.feaonline.org.
Transfer program placement notifications are expected to be sent out to all employees within 5 business days. If you send questions to FEA (FEAAdmin@nea.org) about your transfer/placement, please be sure to include your group (A+, A, B, etc) and your SCD.
One further note about the Transfer Round: During the week, Ms. Fitzgerald, our Acting DoDEA Director came down to speak with us. It was an excellent conversation about transfers, communications, and the issues surrounding our educators in Japan and Bahrain. In our memories, this was the first time the Director has ever visited the Transfer Round, and this is an excellent example of the open communication and care that Ms. Fitzgerald has brought to DoDEA.
2. BOD Meeting -- Our Spring Board of Directors' Meeting was obviously overshadowed by events in Japan and Bahrain. During the week, we met with a variety of officials from the NEA, as well as an afternoon meeting with Ms. Fitzgerald, and other DoDEA officials. We presented a number of questions about issues to DoDEA management and are looking forward to hearing more from them on those issues.
In a time of constant communication by e-mail and phone, face to face meetings are still invaluable. Our BOD works very well together to address problems, look for solutions, seek out resources and assistance, and to serve our members.
3. Our DoDEA Family -- Many times people have said to me that DoDEA feels like a family. With electronic communications, now we stay in touch with our "family" across the world. Obviously, many of us are thinking of our friends in Japan and Bahrain during these difficult times. FEA has worked with DoDEA management to ensure that information and news are disseminated as quickly as possible and that new avenues of communication like Facebook are open as well. The FEA website will also be a good source of information.
Some members have asked how they can help. Below is a message from NEA:
Urgent Appeal: NEA's Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund
On March 11, Japan was hit with one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history, soon followed by a massive tsunami. As all of us have seen in the news, the death and destruction have been enormous. During this time of crisis, NEA is working with Education International (EI) to establish a Solidarity Fund that will assist our colleagues at the Japan Teachers Union (JTU).
EI reports that the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima have suffered great damage. In addition to the immediate humanitarian needs around shelter and medical care, there will be longer-term needs around rebuilding communities and schools.
NEA is participating in the Education International Solidarity Fund, which supports education union members who are negatively impacted by natural and man-made disasters.
To donate, checks should be made out to the National Education Association, with "Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund" in the memo line.
Checks can be mailed to:
Japan Earthquake Solidarity Fund
National Education Association
1201 16th Street NW, Suite 614
Washington DC 20036
All funds will go directly to Education International to support relief work in Japan.
4. Area Directors' Travels -- I just returned on Monday from the BOD meeting and Transfer Round. I will be in the office this week. On Tuesday, Alex traveled to Hohenfels for a school visit. On Thursday Alex and I will meet with Dr. Bresell for the April Area JCC (just a day early!) and on Friday we will spend the day preparing for the Spring EAC meeting and Association Day in Wiesbaden. (See the attached flyer.)
5. "What's Wrong With This Picture?" I recently wrote to an FRS and asked her to call me. Later that evening, I got a message from her, apologizing for not calling, but due to a CSC meeting, she had not had any prep time during the day and so did not see my message. What disturbs me about this is how many things take up the limited amount of planning time teachers have. Some of our principals seem to have forgotten the importance of uninterrupted time to plan lessons, grade papers, and give feedback to students, along with the myriad of other things that teachers have to accomplish in a day. If we truly want to improve student achievement, we must ensure teachers have the time they need to plan appropriately.
6. Best Practices -- I recently saw this great example of collaboration in the JCC notes from one of the schools in my area: "Admin will be asking for teachers to volunteer to be on the scheduling committee at the beginning of March. Core selection and elective classes will be discussed along with the possibility of some room moves over the summer." This is an excellent example of administration working together with the teachers on these important issues.
7. Your Membership Number -- Your FEA NEA membership number is on your membership card, but it is also on the FEA Journal you received recently as well as the NEA Today that comes to you. Keep this number handy for accessing parts of the FEA website.
8. Month of the Military Child -- April is the Month of the Military Child. As DoDEA teachers, we recognize our important role in providing not only an education, but a nurturing and stable environment for the children of our military members. The children, who are everyday heroes, make daily sacrifices in supporting America's Armed Forces. Though this site says 2010, the information may still be helpful; http://www.monthofthemilitarychild.com/projects/index.html
9. Traveling for Spring Break? For those of you traveling during the upcoming Spring Break, here are some travel tips. Make sure you have copies of all your passports and other important documents stored separately from the originals when you travel. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information in your wallet or purse in the event of an accident or sudden illness, etc. You may want to include local (European) contact information as well as stateside contacts. It is also a good idea to let a colleague know your travel plans and contact numbers in case of emergency.
10. Travel Claims -- See the attached for information about processing your travel claims.
11. Complimentary Life Insurance - Remember that one of the benefits of your membership is a complimentary life insurance policy, formerly known as "Dues Tab". It is free, but you must sign up for it. To sign up, check or change your beneficiary information, go to http://www.neamb.com/home/1199_881.htm
12. Helping Children With Asperger Syndrome -- Among the other good resources available on the NEA website this month is this information from Kathi Grace, an award-winning special educator in Vermont, who has a few tips for her colleagues working with students with Asperger's: http://www.nea.org/home/42605.htm
13. NEA HCR Trainings -- Attached is a flyer for the upcoming Diversity and Social Justice Seminars (April 1-10) presented by NEA/FEA. See the flyer for locations and more information.
14. Summer Training Opportunity -- FEA has strongly advocated with DoDEA for more meaningful professional development for our educators and it seems they have heard us. Today we received notification of a training opportunity for Elementary educators (see the attachments). We have no additional information right now but will put out further information as quickly as possible. We hope this will be just the start of more opportunities for ALL our educators. Please note the suspense time is very short.
15. Mark Your Calendars!
1-10 April -- NEA HCR Trainings (see attached flyer for locations)
10-16 April - National Environmental Education Week (http://www.eeweek.org/)
14 April - Poem in Your Pocket Day (http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/406)
22 April -- Earth Day (http://www.earthday.org/education)
28,29 April -- European Area Council, Wiesbaden
30 April - Association Day, Wiesbaden
1 - 7 May - Teacher Appreciation Week
16. Stress -- In spite of the beautiful spring weather in some parts of Europe, this is a stressful time of year. In addition to the recent TerraNova testing and other things going on in our schools, waiting for transfers and placements, and a host of other issues, there seems to be a rise in the stress level in many of our schools. Please work to support and help each other in any way you can. The work you do can sometimes be as difficult as it is important. Your FEA leadership will continue to work at all levels to support you.
Thanks for all you do,
FEA Europe Area Director
0611-44756131 or DSN 335-5373/69