December already?  I hope you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving break—though brief!—and are ready for a busy month!  At least in a few weeks we start to see the hours of daylight begin to increase…

With the upcoming MEA Board of Directors meeting (December 7-8), getting ready for the start of the legislative session, and lots happening on many fronts, we certainly have plenty to do here as well!  But though there is much to be done, please take a few moments to check out the information compiled here for you!​​​​​​​

Educate Maine recently published a report, Helping Diverse Students Thrive, that discusses the changes in and the needs of the students in our schools, along with strategies and actions to help support all students.

The November issue of ASCD Education Update included an article on “What Schools Can Do for Immigrant Students” as well as related resources.

MEA has been asked to nominate two teachers to serve on an advisory board to work with the Department of Education to inform and design the next phase of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI).  If you are able to attend monthly meetings in Augusta and wish to be considered for this, please contact me no later than Monday, Dec. 9th.  Cost of substitute and mileage will be covered by the DOE as well as lodging if you travel a distance.  The dates for meetings are January 10th, February 7th, March 13th, April 10th, May 15th, June 12th, July 15th, August 19th, September 11th, October 9th.

Registration for the Maine Science Festival Field Trip Day—for 7th and 8th graders on March 20th– is filling up quickly!  Start time is 9 a.m., but if it would be difficult to arrive by then, contact them at info@mainesciencefestival.org.

Have you joined an Ed Community yet?  If not, go to mynea360.org and create a profile—it will just take a couple of minutes, and you can join groups of association members who share your interests—whether social justice, special education, classroom climate, whatever!—or even start your own group to share ideas and learn from colleagues across the country.

If you are an Education Support Professional and have not yet done so, check out the NEA Professional Growth Continuum with useful information about professional and leadership development for our many important ESP classifications. 

The coming year is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the 2020 U.S. Census!  Visit neatoday.org for information on activities and resources.

The National Education Policy Center’s Schools of Opportunity program recognizes schools that are exemplary in working to close opportunity gaps.  Last year, our own Casco Bay High School in Portland was a recipient!  Nominations are now open for 2020; applications are due January 31st.

Do you know about the Children’s Safety Partnership and that by law, all districts should now have a policy on child sexual abuse prevention?  Or that all staff need to be trained on prevention and reporting?  Visit the Children’s Safety Partnership for a model policy and for information on training and resources.

When you have a few free moments over the December break, take some time to check out all the resources and benefits for members that you can be taking advantage of but may not have been aware of!  Check out the MEA, the NEA and the NEA Member Benefits websites and explore! 

Looking for resources, tips, or a bit of inspiration?  Sign up to receive the NEA Ed Practice Newsletter.

If you, like many others, have spent your own money on classroom expenses, you may find these tips from the IRS useful.

Local leaders have been receiving guidance from MEA on implementing LD 1370—“An Act to Address Dangerous Behavior in the Classroom”.  Please know that MEA leaders and staff have continued to meet with the Commissioner of Education and others at the Department of Education, along with leaders from Maine School Management Association (MSMA), Maine Principals’ Association (MPA), and the Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC) in order to see that this new legislation is implemented properly and helps with situations as was intended. If you have questions or concerns, ask your local president to contact your UniServ Director. I would appreciate knowing how things are working out so that issues can be properly addressed as we go forward.

As part of the discussions with these groups, I was made aware of “Collaborative & Proactive Solutions” by Dr. Ross Greene, which you may find of interest as we all work to better meet the needs of the students in our schools.

The deadline to apply for MEA Grants—Human and Civil Rights, Members are Leaders, and Political Action–is December 13th.

And while you’re there, take a look at the many MEA Awards!  Be thinking about deserving nominees for these!  (Nominations are due March 7th.)

2020 is literally now around the corner!  (Okay, on the next page of the calendar…)  NEA has made it a priority to be listening to members to learn what matters to them—to YOU—in the coming election and more information—including the taped interviews by NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia of presidential candidates—is continuously being added to www.strongpublicschools.org

How about running to be a delegate to your party’s convention to ensure that our issues are front and center?

Or running for the school committee or town council where you reside? Or for the state legislature?  Or encouraging a colleague who would speak up for educators and students in these roles?

At the least, keep these days—February 18th, 19th, and 20th—in mind and make plans to attend MEA Lobby Days along with your colleagues! (Note: these are tentatively scheduled—details will be forthcoming as the legislature gets underway, but try to keep these days free so you can join us to address important issues affecting you and our students! Stay tuned!)

Reminders

Survey: Are you involved in developing your school plan?

Have you been asked to provide input on your district or school plans? Educators, parents, and community members are critical stakeholders in the decision-making process to ensure that students and staff have what they need for student success. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act school districts are required to engage stakeholders like you. The NEA would like to know if and how your local school district is seeking using your input. Please help us by completing this brief survey.

Local representatives and leaders should soon be receiving information on various elections that are coming soon for delegates to the MEA and to the NEA Representative Assemblies, for seats on the MEA Board of Directors, and for NEA Director.  Be mindful of the timeframes for these!  And do not hesitate to contact MEA—either me or Terry Gordon–if you have any questions!

To local treasurers—be sure you are checking and updating rosters for your local association and sharing the updated information with MEA. 

Along with the holidays you may be celebrating–whether Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or another—take a moment to remember another important day this month: International Human Rights Day, December 10th.  Where possible, consider including recognition of this day and the importance of human rights for all.

With wishes for you all to enjoy the coming holidays and a bright start to the New Year!

In unity,

Grace