As I am compiling this message, more details on the latest (the latest! How awful to refer to them as the latest!) mass shootings keep coming in…I am compelled to begin with recognition of these horrific incidents and a plea for us all to do whatever we can, whenever we can, wherever we can to turn this continuing tragic tide around…We can—we must—we will do more to educate our students about diversity, acceptance, and understanding.  And we will continue to do what we can to see that those in need of support have the services they deserve.  I hope the ‘latest’ tragedy is the last ever…

You can contact our Senators here and urge them to go back to Washington and take up Senate bills 42 and 66:https://educationvotes.nea.org/issue/gun-violence-prevention/?kiosk=true#actions

While I know many of you are either working in our schools and on our campuses in order to get them ready for a new academic year, or teaching and working in summer programs to educate and support students, or engaging in training and professional development and planning in order to improve practice and better serve our students, I do hope you are all also finding the time to enjoy the summer months and to spend time with friends and families!

Summer is one of the busiest times at MEA, with Treasurer trainings, Presidents’ meetings, the NEA Representative Assembly, the MEA Board meeting, UniServ Directors’ Membership meetings, and lots of planning for committees and conferences for the coming year!  But it is great to see many local leaders at our summer activities!

I start every month wondering if there will be much information to share with you in the next update—but as always, there is plenty!  I hope the information is helpful; there should be something for everyone—I aim to please, but your feedback is always welcome!

Janet Kuech, Board Director for District L, Carrie Foster, President of Portland EA, and I participated in the NEA/NCSEA Convening on Trauma last spring.  As a result, MEA has received copies of two great DVDs, “Paper Tigers” and “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope”.  If your local association would like to borrow a copy to have a showing for your district, please e-mail me (gleavitt@maineea.org) to make the arrangements.  For more information on these documentaries, go to:  https://kpjrfilms.co/paper-tigers/  and https://kpjrfilms.co/resilience/  .

The report from the convening, “Addressing the Epidemic of Trauma in Schools”, is also available now.  It will be posted online soon, but meanwhile if you are interested, I can send you a pdf of the report; just let me know!

NEA and NCSEA also continue to work on racial justice.  We will soon have four MEA members who have been trained in “Leaders for Just Schools”!  If you are interested in having one of them work with your district, please contact me and I will connect you!  NEA has also now published its annual report on Racial Justice in Education.  You can find the report at:  http://ra.nea.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Racial_Justice_in_Education_Annual_Report_to_RA_2019.pdf

If you have not yet checked out NEA 360 and the many ‘Ed Communities’ (groups of educators discussing and sharing information on a wide variety of topics—social justice, special education, etc.—you name it!), go to myNEA360.org and register by clicking on ‘create a profile’.  You can even start your own ed community and connect with fellow NEA members in all of the NEA affiliates!

A fun website you may find useful in classrooms is https://www.makebeliefscomix.com/   It was created by Bill Zimmerman, a retired journalist, to motivate students to improve their reading and writing.

For our ESP members—the NEA ESP Leadership Institute (formerly known as the NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow) is a powerful leadership development program for support professionals in all classifications. It is an 11-month program that requires participants to commit to three in-person trainings, webinars, outside reading, and completion of a capstone project designed to elevate the goals of their association and NEA’s core values.  If interested, please check out the application criteria soon; the deadline for applications is September 13th.  For details, go to www.nea.org/ESPLI

Dealing with student loans?  Be sure to check out NEA Member Benefits “Student Loan Forgiveness Navigator” at https://www.neamb.com/products/nea-student-loan-forgiveness-navigator And be sure to share this with those new educators hired in your districts—just one of the many benefits of membership!

Or are you getting closer to retirement?  Be sure to sign up for a Pre-retirement seminar sponsored by MEA and MEA Retired!  To register, go to:  
https://maineea.org/events/category/pre-retirment-seminars/list/

You have probably read about the negative impact of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision laws (GPO/WEP) for those of us in the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, but did you know that, if you have worked in jobs where you have paid into Social Security, and have reached the age of 66 and are still working at your position in education, you may be eligible to collect Social Security while you are still working?  Once you retire, everything changes, of course, and each individual case is different.  But it is worth contacting your nearest Social Security office to see what your particular situation is and if this applies to you! 

MEA Executive Director Paula Voelker and I recently attended a workshop on Common Sense Economics and Racial Justice, sponsored by the Maine AFL-CIO, and learned that a Maine chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute is being formed. The Maine APRI focuses on issues affecting people of color in Maine. If you are interested or know someone who is, go to:  www.facebook.com/A-Philip-Randolph-Institute-Maine-Chapter-493045821235688

At its July meeting, the MEA Board of Directors conducted the regular business as well as discussed the following topics: review of the NBIs adopted at the 2019 MEA Representative Assembly; overview of the business of the 2019 NEA RA topics to work on in Maine; recent and pending court decisions that could impact us; review of this year’s Early Enrollment program and of the Early Career Educators (YEPs) program and plans for 2019-2020; review of the MEA Communications program; review of this year’s legislative session and the many wins (and the two vetoes…); overview of NEA 360; adoption of MEA’s Priority Objectives for 2019-2020; re-appointment of UMF student Carson Hope as Student Observer for 2019-2020; and appointment of Lindsay Dos Santos of the Augusta EA to the MEA Judicial Board.  For more information, contact either your Board of Director (https://maineea.org/board-of-directors/ or me.

NEA is helping to keep members informed as November 2020 draws ever nearer. It is continuously updating the website strongpublicschools.org with information about the candidates, their positions, and events that may interest you.

The NEA Center for Enterprise Strategy will be conducting a national online survey of Aspiring Educator (our student) members.  The survey will be sent to all AE members for whom NEA has a valid e-mail address.  Please take the time to complete the survey to give valuable feedback to NEA about your experiences with the AE program.

Our MEA Retired members are again engaging in Day of Caring projects throughout the state, and would love to have our active members and our students join in whenever you are able!  I will be joining the York County Retired Education Association again this year—it’s a great chance for retirees and active and student members to connect while also helping our public schools and students! The various county projects are listed here. Join in and/or ask your local association to make a donation to one of the projects!  If you need more information, please contact MEA Retired member Jan Cerabona at jcerab2805@aol.com
 

  • Androscoggin: Selecting a school and providing backpacks for kids
  • Aroostook: Collecting school supplies and/or donations at their summer meetings; they will present their donations in backpacks on October 17th at the in-service day
  • Cumberland: Collecting healthy snacks and /or donations for students in a different school each year, called “The Locker Project.
  • Franklin: Collecting school supplies for a school in their county.
  • Kennebec: Helping teachers prepare classrooms for the new school year on Tuesday, August 20, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  at Libby-Tozier School, 466 Academy Road in Litchfield
  • Knox: Working with Friendship Village Elementary School with activities to be determined at a later date.
  • Mid Coast: Working with the staff at an elementary school to assist them as they get ready for the start of school.
  • Oxford: Providing a book by a Maine author to every library in Oxford County.
  • Penobscot: Making a donation to the Corinth Elementary School to support students in need of financial assistance for various activities.
  • Piscataquis: Collecting donations for healthy snacks for area school nurses.
  • Samoset: Collect school supplies and making a donation to the library at a school in their county.
  • Waldo: Selecting two schools in RSU3 and providing such things as school supplies, boots, socks, etc. They also will donate some plants.
  • Washington: Providing treasure chests filled with school supplies to a school or schools
  • York: County—YCREA will be working with Marshwood Middle School for their Day of Caring on September 14th. This will be their tenth year!

If you missed the Treasurer trainings please contact the MEA Business Manager, Tammy Simpson, at tsimpson@maineea.org for important information for our local treasurers.

And if you missed the Presidents’ meetings this summer, please contact me to arrange a time for me to come to you!  I have set a goal of meeting with every local president and their executive board and/or local association by the middle of the school year—please help me reach that goal!  Send an e-mail with some possible times to gleavitt@maineea.org

Remember the upcoming membership meetings—be sure to contact your UniServ Director if you missed the invitation—send a team to help plan for a successful back-to-school—and year-long!—membership drive in your district!  For more information, go to: https://maineea.org/events/  or contact your UniServ Director (https://maineea.org/staff/  I will be attending nearly all of them—hope to see you there! 

As you meet the new hires in your district, be sure to encourage those who are new to the profession to check out the YEP-MEA (Young Education Professionals) program and the events that are planned this year.  The first event will be here before you know it on September 20th!  For more information, go to:  https://maineea.org/yep-mea/

Will you be having a student intern/student teacher working with you this year?  If so, ask if they are a member of Student MEA.  If not, encourage them to join and become connected to MEA and enjoy the many benefits!  Ask your local association if they would be willing to sponsor the student’s membership! Dues are $28/year.  For more information, go to:  https://maineea.org/studentmea/  and click on ‘join’ for more details on all the benefits!
 
On a very sad note, we recently lost one of our most engaged and dedicated members, one who has served the MEA and his colleagues in many capacities over many years. W. Wightman Reilly (Bill, as we called him) passed away earlier this summer.  He served as a local leader and negotiator, as a delegate to the MEA and to the NEA Representative Assemblies many times, as a stalwart member of the MEA Board of Directors representing ESP, and as a steadfast committee member on several MEA committees.  He was a friend to many and cared deeply about students and colleagues.  There will be a celebration of Bill’s life on Saturday, August 17th at 10:00 a.m. at the United Methodist Church of Auburn on Park Ave.  Attendees are invited to bring finger foods to share during a time of fellowship following the service.
 
In closing, I do want to remind all of you that we had a very successful year in the legislature—be looking for updates from your UniServ Directors and Board of Directors on the many newly enacted laws that will mean a return to some things the way they were eight years ago (for example, back to a two year probationary period!) and forward movement on many other issues, such as dealing with the assaults on educators!  There will be an update in the upcoming issue of the Maine Educator and there will be guidance on some specific laws coming from our Director of Collective Bargaining and Research.  Please be sure to understand the new laws and their implementation and do not hesitate to reach out to MEA whenever needed!

We had such a successful year thanks to the many members who stepped up and spoke up!  Plans are underway for the session that starts in January 2020—so stay tuned, and be ready and willing (I know you are able!) to keep things moving forward!
 
Enjoy the rest of this beautiful summer in this beautiful state!  And please, take care of you and yours!