March 29, 2014 FEA Pacific Update

MARCH 29, 2014

Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director Report
Upcoming Events
Excess Placement Program
Retirement Information
FEA Newsletters and Updates
Be Prepared
Reality Check
Do You Know your Negotiated Agreement? Article 51- Pupil Grades
Legal Eagle Corner-
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits

Area Director Report: My last update was in January. I had every intention of sending an update in February and much sooner than the March 29, but we all know about the best intentions. Life happens. Even though February is a shorter month, it was busy for all of us. FEA President, Chuck McCarter and I had a successful visit to Okinawa. I want to personally thank AEAO President, Melanie Horton, for her excellent hostess skills. She ensured we visited all the schools and held two general meetings to provide all teachers an opportunity to meet and listen to Chuck and me. After week there, Chuck attended the Pacific Area Leaders Council during the weekend. It was a productive and successful meeting. Chuck, Melanie and I were also able to meet with Dr. Curtis. We appreciated her time with us very much. February also brought the Excess announcements and its chain of events. Thank goodness for our responsive FEA HQ. Catch up seems to be my constant mantra and March began whether I was ready or not.

March turned out to be as busy as February. Excess and VISA/VERA enquiries abounded. FEA Board Members held a teleconference, which was my Sunday night. We all learned on learned on March 11 that Mr. Brady was our new DoDEA Director. Before I knew it I was off to visit the Korea schools during the week of 17-21. I want to thank TEAK President, Joan Oana for her hostess skills and the FRSs and FRs that ferried me and helped with train and bus rides. In spite of the differences in Korea, Okinawa and mainland Japan, the one common factor I see is that our teachers want the best for their students and are devoted to ensuring student success.

The end of the third quarter and Spring Break is almost here. As always, I hope that you take time to reflect on your successes, appreciate your colleagues and yourself. I know you already setting your goals for the last quarter of the 2013-14 School Year. However you choose to spend your Spring Break, I wish for you the best break ever!

Upcoming Events:
March 30 NEATA Board Meeting
April 17 Area Advisory Council
April TBD Pacific JCC
May 9 TEAK Spring Meeting
May 10 TEAK Board Meeting
May 14 AEAO Spring Meeting and Retirement Recognition
May 16 NEATA Spring Meeting
May 17 NEATA Board Meeting
May 17-19 Pacific Area Leaders Council Meeting

FEA Elections: Your locals have are holding elections for District Officers and delegates to attend the FEA Annual Membership meeting and NEA Representative Assembly held in Denver, Colorado, this summer. FEA HQ is also conducting elections for the Stateside, Europe and Pacific Area Directors. You should have received your ballot from FEA for the Pacific Area Director. Please participate and vote. The ballot is due to FEA Washington office by 22 April. If you did not receive a ballot, please see your FRS.

Excess Placement: Once again the commencement of the Excess Placement Program was delayed and the date is now April 1. Even though the Pacific does not have the high number of excess teachers as Europe or the unexpected closing of three DDESS schools, it is still a time of anxiety as our teachers need to know where they will be going as well as the teachers that hope to receive a notification of VERA and or VSIP. For updates and information on the program, go to For those hoping for VERA and of course teachers that are retiring, the next item is for you.

Retirement Information: Whether you are retiring this year or contemplating retirement in 20, 10, 5 or the next few years, I encourage you to do your research, work with your HR specialist to understand retirement. As I related to teachers in Korea last week, after I submitted a request to DLA for a retirement estimate and received it, it was not until then that I truly understand the FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System). It was a surprise for me. Those under CSERS (Civilian Service Employee Retirement System) still have defined benefits. Lucky you! I have sent to your District Presidents some links and information regarding retirement along with forms that will be required for those retiring. Contact your FRS if you are interested in the information.

Retirement Membership: Thanks to Lisa Ali, Europe Area Director: Several people have contacted me recently regarding FEA and/or NEA Retiree Membership. For FEA Retiree Membership, information and membership forms are on the FEA website at Members should click on "Join FEA" on the right column, then "join now" and then "FEA/NEA Retired and Pre-retired membership".

The NEA/FEA retired dues are lifetime dues. Once a member pays the retired dues amount, he/she is not charged again for retired dues; however, he/she must continue to pay full active dues while teaching.

NEA/FEA Retired members have access to several money-saving programs, such as Insurance programs, Credit Programs, Loan and Mortgage Programs, Investment Programs, Discount Programs, and other Professional Services.

FEA Newsletters and Updates: You can receive the FEA President Newsletters and FEA Updates immediately. All you need to do is sign up. You may want to consider using a private email address. FEA President's Report Email List or for the shortcut paste this in your browser:

Be Prepared for Spring Travels: Thanks to Alex Veto, Europe AD for the following: For those of you traveling during the upcoming Spring Break, here are some travel tips.(It really is not that far away!) 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. And, should you find yourself ‘stuck' in an airport then the guide that you can find here might prove valuable.

Reality Check: All educators understand that progression is vital for our students. We know that our students must feel safe to go into uncharted territory and make mistakes in order to grow and be prepared for the adult world. We applaud their victories and find ways to help them learn from their errors. Management also proclaims these qualities are essential for our students. Guess what? It is also vital for our educators. The Educator Performance Appraisal System (EPAS) was negotiated by management and the Association. One of the main tenants of the EPAS is that the administrator will support the educator's growth. Chuck McCarter, FEA President, recently stated that "Too many of our administrators are not providing a collaborative and supportive environment for our teachers to grow. Using checklists and sitting in a classroom to find perceived or preconceived deficiencies sure misses the mark." Just like our students, teachers need positive reinforcement and encouragement in their efforts to reach their educational goals. Currently, I am not seeing that across the Pacific Region, but rather in 'pockets'. Our teachers and students both deserve a positive, well-trained and supportive administrator.

Do You Know your Negotiated Agreement?: The end of the quarter is almost here. Article 51 covers pupil grades. Below the entire article is pasted:

Section 1.
A unit employee may establish his/her own grading system. In such cases, the unit employee is responsible for translating the grading system to the Employer's. The unit employee's record of grades shall contain a key for translating his/her system to the established grading system in use.

Section 2.
Students' grades may be requested for review and approval by the Employer before grade reports are distributed to students or parents.

Section 3.
In the event that any grade is challenged, the unit employee shall explain and justify the grade assigned.

Section 4.
If the Employer takes action to change a student's grade without the consent of the affected unit employee or directs the unit employee to change a grade, a written statement from the Employer shall be provided to the unit employee, stating that the change in grade and/or the passing or failing of the student was done at the discretion of the Employer.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner: Sorry, the Legal Eagle, Michael Bauernfeind, is currently in arbitration.

Mark Your Calendars
April 1-30 Month of the Military Child
April 1-30 Child Abuse Prevention Month
April 2 Autism Awareness Day
April 8 Easter
April 11 Global Youth Service Day
April 12 Anniversary of First Man in Space
April 14-22 Passover (Pesach)
April 14 Poem in Your Pocket Day
April 24 Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
April 27-28 Holocaust Remembrance Day

MAY events are below April

April 1-30 Child Abuse Prevention Month-In the early 1980s, Congress resolved that the week of June 6-12, 1982, should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week, in commitment to identifying and implementing solutions to child abuse. The following year, in 1983, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

April 1-30 Autism Awareness Month - Learn basic information about autism at the Autism Speaks website and The Autism Program (TAP) of Illinois site.

April 2 World Autism Awareness Day -Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with fundraising and awareness-raising events. See the World Autism Awareness Day website.

April 8 Easter - In the Christian faith, Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus's resurrection. Lent, Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week mark a period of spiritual preparation for Easter.

April 12- Anniversary of First Man in Space - Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space on this date in 1961, when he made a one-hour, 48-minute voyage, orbiting Earth in a spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union. Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space on this date in 1961, when he made a one-hour, 48-minute voyage, orbiting Earth in a spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union.

April 14-22 Passover (Pesach) - Passover or Pesach is an eight-day long celebration during which Jewish families traditionally commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The dates for 2014 are from sunset on April 14 through nightfall of April 22. The highlight of the Passover celebration is the ceremony of Seder performed on the first two evenings of Passover.

April 24 Poem in Your Pocket Day On Poem in Your Pocket Day, people throughout the United States select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day. On the website there are several examples of how classes and learning communities participate this fun learning experience.

Request the National Poetry Month poster:

There are so many resources for this event. Listed below are just a few. Grangers Poetry Database:
Username: dodea
Password: dodea

Poetry Out Loud:

Poem Hunter:

Youtube has many clips of poets reading their poetry. One of my favorites is Dr. Maya Angelou's, "Still I Rise"

Read Write Think:

National Poetry Month:

Poetry Foundation:

From a blog on Japanese Poetry and lesson ideas:

April 27-28 Holocaust Remembrance Day - Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation's annual commemoration of the Holocaust. It begins the evening of the 27th and ends the evening of the 28th.

April 24 Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day- Always the fourth Thursday in April, this program encourages parents to bring their kids to work with them and show them the wide range of jobs available to them. For more information, see the Daughters and Sons to Work website

May 1-31 Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month -A diverse group whose heritages represent more than 50 ethnic groups and 100 languages, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made enormous contributions to the civic, cultural, and economic fabric of our nation. Read more at these sites:
• Asians/Pacific Islanders (NEA)
• Library of Congress
• The Art of Asia
• Asia for Educators
• Notable Asian Pacific Americans
May 1-31 Jewish American Heritage Month - On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month, recognizing the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. Read more at these sites:
• Jewish American Heritage Month
• The Library of Congress
• Law Library of Congress: Research Guide
• American Jewish Historical Society
• National Register of Historic Places
May 1-31 Better Hearing and Speech Month - This annual event provides opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. Learn more at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website.
May 4-10 National Teacher Appreciation Week-This is the week to thank a teacher and take action to ensure public school educators are recognized, valued, and respected. Visit the National Teacher Day web page to learn more.
May 6 National Teacher Day - National Teacher Day is a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives. Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day for that year only. NEA and its affiliates continued to observe National Teacher Day in March until 1985, when the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the event to Tuesday of the first full week of May. In May of 2009, a bill was introduced in Congress that created a national day of teacher recognition on the Tuesday of the first full week of May. See National Teacher Day web page.
May 7 National School Nurse Day School nurses work to promote health and provide the best care possible to students and their families. Take time on this day to look at the difference school nurses make in our schools. See School Nurse Day and learn more about school nurses at the National Association of School Nurses website.
May 8 National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day-National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is a day for everyone to promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Learn more at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration website.
May 5 Cinco de Mayo-The anniversary of the unlikely 1862 Mexican victory over the French army at the Battle of La Puebla is more widely celebrated in the United States than in Mexico, where it is considered a regional holiday.
May 11 Mother's Day -Mother's Day honors mothers and motherhood.
May 9 Completion of Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 - Considered one of the greatest American technological feats of the 19th century, this effort connected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts by rail for the first time. The prodigious labor was largely provided by army veterans, and Irish and Chinese immigrants. See the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco for more information.
May 17 Anniversary of School Desegregation Ruling -On this date in 1954, racial segregation in public schools was unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment clause guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
May 22 International Day for Biological Diversity - The United Nations proclaimed May 22 the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. To learn more, visit the Convention on Biological Diversity website.
May 26 -Memorial Day-This holiday commemorates American men and women who have died in military service.

Other Tidbits

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to this page

NEA - How Can You Deal With Angry Parents? (Thanks to Brian Chance, NEA Director for FEA)

DOD Civilians eligible to expedite airport check in (Thanks to Melanie Horton)

Until the next Update,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director