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#RethinkSchool: “Not a Second to Waste” – A Teacher Embraces Student-Centered Education

August 16, 2018 - 12:05pm

Drawing on a wide-ranging teaching career at the community college level and with students attending Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, Daniele Massey understands that a personalized education can be great preparation for success in college, careers and life. 

Today, Massey lives in Virginia with her family. Her husband remains on active military duty. In this interview, she describes her journey and lessons learned.

You’ve had opportunities to work in different school settings and different phases of a student’s life – what has that process been like for you?

When I first got back to the high school classroom I was paired with a teacher who was very traditional in style — very lecture-based:  you give the information to the students and they pretend to receive it.  Then they go home and do homework, but don’t understand anything, and they come back the next day and you start the cycle over again. It creates a lot of frustration!

Then another colleague transferred in. We were teamed up to teach algebra. And I remember we looked at each other and agreed: The kids are not getting it. What can we do about this? They have to master algebra. We felt that urgency because algebra is a required graduation credit.  It’s the gateway class to future success.

So we combined our efforts and skill sets and it ended up being the most fabulous teaching experience of my career. We ended up “flipping” our classroom, and focusing on whatever was best for our students.

Could you speak more about how that change happened and what it looked like?

We looked at our state and local assessment data and saw the failure rate in algebra. And, we looked at the problem-solving being tested on the state assessment.  So, we had the hard facts to back up our argument.  Then we went to our principal and said, “This may sound crazy, but we want to tear down the wall and combine our classrooms and create a learning center – with workstations, group activities, and different projects for the students.”

Our principal listened and asked questions.  We showed him the data; we broke it down for different groups of students. After about 30 minutes he got up from his desk, grabbed his toolbox and said, “Okay. I’m so moved by what you want to do. Let’s go.”  He took out a hammer and crowbar and literally started tearing the wall down right then and there!

With this new approach we were also able to communicate that math is a way of thinking. It’s not just something that happens during period 2, by reading chapter 2.  Suddenly math became something our students could actually enjoy and have fun with.

How did their parents react?

We had to get all the parents on board.  Our principal supported that 100 percent.  For example, we had to find another way to tell parents what was going on because their kids weren’t coming home with familiar textbook assignments like, “On page 55, do numbers 2-20.” Instead, a homework assignment might be, “Watch this video and take notes.”  Parents were wondering, “Is my kid actually learning?”

Once the students understood our new approach, we started putting the parent outreach in their hands. We’d say, “Explain to your parents what you’re doing. Walk them through your day.” And once they understood, the parents thought it was incredible. They started volunteering to help!

It ended up being a whole team effort.

Do you think that sense of urgency, with your very mobile students from military families, contributes to your school model?

Absolutely. You may only have that one school year – if that much time — to work with a student.

Being a military spouse and a parent myself, I can say to my students and their parents: “We don’t have a second to waste. What do you need?”

You have to do what’s in the best interest of the student, not what is easiest for the teacher or the school. Once you start to focus on the student, all of a sudden the conversation among the teachers, administrators, superintendents shifts to that personalized context, and seeing every student as an individual.

What advice do you have for fellow educators who are changing schools and launching new ventures?  

What you want to think about first is – What will the benefit be for students and their learning? What’s at the heart of what I’m trying to do?  As long as you remember that, the details will come.

Otherwise, it becomes a burden for you as a teacher – the grading and all the reports.

That’s not what teaching is. Teaching is creating a learning experience that best fits the needs of the students.

 

ED’s Writing Team composed this post based upon an interview by Denisha Merriweather of the Office of Communications and Outreach. (The original interview has been edited for length.)

Continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. Check back on Thursdays for new posts in the series. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

 

The post #RethinkSchool: “Not a Second to Waste” – A Teacher Embraces Student-Centered Education appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

Join Us for Living School Grounds on the 2018 Green Strides Tour in Missouri

August 15, 2018 - 1:07pm

It’s my favorite time of the year again:  Green Strides Tour season!

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and its Green Strides outreach initiative share promising practices and resources in the areas of safe, healthy and sustainable school environments; nutrition and outdoors physical activity; and environmental education.  As part of its Green Strides outreach, the Department conducts an annual tour of past honorees.  This year, the Green Strides Tour will reach its twentieth state, Missouri, on October 24 and 25, and spotlight ED-GRS honorees’ use of Living School Grounds.

We’ll see green schools’ features and practices from all three of what have become known as the ‘Pillars’ of the award in which these school sites have documented gains.  However, this year’s tour will bring particular attention to how schools can use their school grounds that include gardens, habitats, nature trails and wetlands to engage with not only science, math, nutrition and agriculture, but also art, literature and social studies.  Through their hands-on, project-based learning, and citizen science on school grounds, students also discover the joys of physical activity in the outdoors, as well as the benefits of nutritious, school-garden grown produce.  The use of green schoolyards, along with other sustainable infrastructure and practices, helps students deepen their understanding of the natural world and their connection to it, fostering stewardship values that will permit them to preserve our nation’s most precious resources for years to come.

At Keysor Elementary School, in Kirkwood, Missouri, students tag Monarch Butterflies in their rain garden. With over half of green space on campus dedicated to actively stewarded water-efficient and regionally appropriate landscape plantings, an increase in animal and insect species has been recorded. The school grounds provide real-world examples of habitat preservation, landscape maintenance, nutritional well-being, social engagement, and creativity.

Looking back over four iterations of the tour, we’ve seen a green school or two, and gotten a little dirty along the way!  In 2013, with an “Education Built to Last” tour, we visited 11 states to engage in 40 events; spanning Alabama, New England, New York, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC.   In 2014, we focused on “Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students” during an additional 46 events in 6 states, including Boulder and Fort Collins, CO; Palm Beach and Broward, FL; West Virginia and Kentucky; Prior Lake Savage and Waconia, MN and Maryland.

At Flagstone Elementary School, in Castle Rock, Colorado student presenters share different aspects of their school sustainability efforts on the 2014 “Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students” Green Strides Tour.

Those two tour seasons were whirlwinds!  As budgets have become slimmer and my own family has grown, we’ve begun focusing our efforts on highlighting sustainable schools practices in a single state each year.  In 2016, we toured Pennsylvania for some lessons in “Real-World Learning” and then, in 2017, we had the chance to “Take Learning Outside” in Georgia.

This year, we’re excited to showcase some of the ED-GRS public and private school honorees in the St. Louis area according to the following schedule.

 

Wednesday, October 24
8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. Bellerive Elementary School, 620 Rue de Fleur Dr., Creve Coeur
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. McKelvey Elementary School, 1751 McKelvey Rd., Maryland Heights
12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Green Trails Elementary School, 170 Portico Dr., Chesterfield
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. The College School, 7825 Big Bend Blvd., St. Louis
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School, 7539 Manchester Rd., Maplewood
4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Reception and Discussion Panel, 7539 Manchester Rd., Maplewood

 

Thursday, October 25
8:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.  W. W. Keysor Elementary, 725 N Geyer Rd., Kirkwood
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. St. Louis University High School, 4970 Oakland Ave., St. Louis
12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Crossroads College Preparatory School, 500 DeBaliviere Ave., St. Louis
1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Parkway North High School, 12860 Fee Fee Rd., St. Louis

 

We hope you will join us (all are welcome!) and take home some lessons to make your own school community more sustainable.

 

Andrea Suarez Falken is Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and ED’s Facilities, Health, Environment Liaison. 

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The post Join Us for Living School Grounds on the 2018 Green Strides Tour in Missouri appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

#RethinkSchool: From a Junkyard to a STAR School; STAR School Uses Navajo Cultural Values with STEM Projects to Overcome Rural Challenges

August 9, 2018 - 2:06pm

Mark Sorensen was fed up with seeing Native American students score lower on standardized tests, graduate at lower rates and be less likely to pursue post-secondary education compared to other groups of students in the U.S.

He had a vision for a charter school that would provide the Native students in his community a culturally inclusive school environment that would motivate them, so he bought a junkyard.

STAR School, located on the edge of the Navajo Nation near Flagstaff, Arizona, serves 145 K-8 students and challenges their application of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to daily life.

Unique Beginnings

“We found some land that was right near the reservation, but there were no power lines, no water lines and no kind of infrastructure,” Dr. Sorensen, director of STAR School said. “This piece of land was a junkyard.”

Dr. Sorensen used his previous experience living off-grid on a ranch as a baseline to learn how to run a school on solar power. Even though it was a highly complex process, STAR School became the first off-grid, solar and wind powered charter school in the country and has received recognition as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.

Schools from across the globe have contacted Dr. Sorensen to use STAR School as a model, including members of the Maasai tribe in Kenya.

The Four Rs – Relationships, Respect, Responsibility and Reasoning

STAR stands for Service To All Relations and reflects the school’s commitment to community service and Navajo values, which guide the academic and behavioral focus of the school.

“What’s important to us here is to recognize that this came out of Navajo culture, and it’s what has sustained the people for all these centuries,” Dr. Sorensen said. “We built the sustaining values into how we teach, not just what we teach.”

Dr. Sorensen explained that “peacemaking” is a principle that comes out of the four Rs and is practiced by the staff as well as students.

“After we started teaching and acting according to these values, the incidence of conflicts among students reduced drastically,” Dr. Sorensen said, “and for the past eight years we never had a single fist fight on the campus. I’ve been a principal for over 40 years, and that is incredibly unique.”

This experience at STAR School contrasts with a National Center for Education Statistics report that found American Indian/Alaska Native high school students reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property substantially more than Hispanic, African American, White and Asian students.

STEM in the Community

At STAR School, the values of relationships, respect, responsibility and reasoning are used to evaluate real-world problems in the community. As a STEM school, students then use STEM to try to solve them.

“Science means so much more to [students] when they apply it to an actual situation in their community,” Dr. Sorensen said. “The students can be empowered to make the community stronger.”

Students at STAR School helped engineer and build inexpensive, alternative air-conditioning units called bucket coolers using 8 gallon buckets and aquarium pumps. The students were able to install these bucket coolers at their grandparents’ homes, which commonly lacked sufficient cooling for the high desert heat.

The students also help ensure families have fresh drinking water. They test the community’s water quality and then help filter it in a repurposed school bus that has a mobile filtration unit.

“[The students] leave this school going into high school with an idea that science, technology and engineering actually helps their family and their community,” he said. “I know there are some of our graduates who have gone into scientific fields because of what they started learning here.”

The Gift of Being Rural

The STAR School demonstrates the creativity and innovation rural areas bring out of communities and students. Place-based learning introduces and engages students in analytical problem solving while proving students a sense of ownership in their education.

“We have unique gifts. It would be great to see more rural schools linked up to share our gifts, and have people recognize that between 100 and 200 students, there is a wonderful chemistry that can develop for a school that size,” Dr. Sorensen said. “We are a good example of that.”

STAR School is an example of the tremendous possibilities when we rethink school and embrace innovation to focus on students.  How are you rethinking school? If not, why not?

 

Savanna Barksdale was an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach.

Continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. Check back on Thursdays for new posts in the series. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

The post #RethinkSchool: From a Junkyard to a STAR School; STAR School Uses Navajo Cultural Values with STEM Projects to Overcome Rural Challenges appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

Educate Comprehensively — From Calculus to Carpentry; East Syracuse Minoa Schools’ Message at the U.S. Department of Education

August 7, 2018 - 11:22am

The East Syracuse Minoa Central School District prides itself on educating the whole student — every student.  Its educators say this dedication to excellence through cross-disciplinary and inquiry-based learning forms the core of its identity and values.

Fifty-three of the district’s high school students and eight faculty members and parents traveled to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C., recently to showcase the district’s comprehensive education — one with broad offerings that include art, physics, music, English composition, computer programming and automotive technology.  As evidence of this integration, the group opened its 105-piece K–12 student art exhibit and showed a student-made film on all of its career and technical education classes to myriad D.C.-area arts educators, leaders and advocates, one of their Congresspersons’ staff members and ED staff.

“We have students who take AP [Advanced Placement] art in the morning and go to auto tech in the afternoon,” said Matthew Cincotta, chair of the high school’s art department.  He described a class in which students merged information from art and biology to inspect a dissected cat.  “We talked about connective tissue,” Cincotta explained. “You have to understand anatomy to understand how to draw hand and body parts.”

The artwork at ED, which will be exhibited through August, includes two works from rising senior Amanda Szatanek — a self-portrait and a ceramic Buddha. Amanda, who is leaning toward a career teaching ceramics, is passionate about art and science, and has completed classes in both areas.  The exhibit also includes a charcoal sketch of a golden retriever, whose creator, rising sophomore Helaina Scolaro, said her family selected this breed for a pet because the color of the dog’s hair matches hers (and her younger brother’s). “Luna” sports soulful eyes and abundant whiskers. Helaina is considering a career in interior design.

Helaina Scolaro with her charcoal sketch of her golden retriever

Amanda Szatanek with a photo of her ceramic Buddha

 

The district’s high school is one of only 11 in New York State designated as comprehensive; it provides career and technical education classes that range from fashion sewing as part of Family and Consumer Science to TV news as part of Communication and Media Studies, a broad range of academic classes, including many AP offerings, and a student-led credit union.  College-level courses are available in conjunction with area higher education institutions. In addition to the numerous classes listed in its 54-page high school course catalog, faculty provide classes on request from even just one student.

During the program, Grenardo Avellino, executive principal of the high school, explained the district’s philosophy. The 21st century requires graduates skilled in “critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation,” he said, all of which he views as “essential for success in college, career and citizenship.”  ESM students develop these abilities as well as their leadership capacities both inside and outside the classroom, and provide their voice in all the school does by representing their classmates on various committees.  Students also learn practical ways to apply their studies. For example, ESM carpentry students have been building new homes and additions for residents of the school district for more than 30 years. The program has saved homeowners thousands of dollars on labor costs, while improving the community and educating its local students.

Avellino noted several points of pride for the school district, including a graduation rate that rose to 92 percent in 2017 — an 11 percent increase in just one year and 12 points above the statewide average— and five consecutive citations  for being among the 583 “Best Communities in the Nation for Music Education.”

Many students, teachers, administrators and ED officials praised ESM’s education model and the important role the district assigns to the arts. Cassianne Cavallaro, the student speaker, noted the opportunities she had at ESM, from participating in the jazz band to taking 10 college-level courses. She graduated this spring, and plans to pursue a college degree in illustration.

“The faculty at ESM have definitely provided the most impact on my development as a student,” Cavallaro said. “My teachers have given me helpful real-world advice, supplied extra tutoring, or, in general, willfully gone beyond the expectations of a teacher for the selfless benefit of their students.”

The program included a performance by the high school’s chamber choir of six varied compositions. The 16-member choir, mostly student-run, was led last year by Cooper Pokrentowski; he is headed to college in the fall to become a music educator. Lorien Beaulieu, an elementary school music teacher who accompanied the group to ED, said that many students participate in multiple activities.

Cassianne Cavallaro and Cooper Pokrentowski, recent high school graduates, cut the ribbon to open the ESM student art exhibit.

Choir members, too, described wide-ranging pursuits in their classes and extracurricular activities. Maria Markert, a rising senior, plans to take AP calculus and SUPA (Syracuse University Project Advance) biology next year and is interested in engineering. She sees an overlap between her STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) interests and her love of music. As with science, she explained, “There’s a lot of problem-solving and figuring out how to fix different problems that come into music.”

Matthew Cincotta (far left), chairman of the high school’s art department, with the East Syracuse Minoa Central High School Chamber Choir, which performed six pieces of music.

The importance of the arts in education resonated strongly with Michael Wooten, ED’s acting assistant secretary in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.  With a focus on a main lesson of the day, he noted how science and the arts go hand-in-hand.

“STEM is critically important in helping us build our houses,” Wooten said. “But art helps us make our homes. STEM is critically important in helping us construct great bridges and great buildings. But art is what helps us design the great monuments and the great edifices — the great signatures of our landscape that tell the world who we are.”

Students and teachers gather on stage and celebrate their work.

 

Ellen Schoder is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education

Nancy Paulu is an editor and writer in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

All photos are by U.S. Department of Education photographer Paul Wood.  More photos from the event may be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofed/albums/72157698916949835

The Department’s Student Art Exhibit Program provides students and teachers an opportunity to display creative work from the classroom in a highly public space that honors their work as an effective path to learning and knowledge for all. To visit the exhibits or for information about exhibiting, contact Jackye Zimmermann at jacquelyn.zimmermann@ed.gov or visit https://www.ed.gov/student-art-exhibit/.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Achieving Gold: Asian American and Pacific Islander Students Convene for the 2018 Youth Summit

August 3, 2018 - 2:12pm

Domee Shi, creator of the Pixar short Bao, shares a lively moment during the Going for Gold panel.

After weeks of hard work, hours of meetings, and too many packets of instant coffee, we pulled it off – hosting the 2018 AAPI Youth Summit! Held yesterday at Google’s D.C. headquarters, this year’s gathering built on a tradition of connecting with young Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders.

Each year, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) invites AAPI students and interns to an event aimed to educate, connect, and inspire the next generation of AAPI leaders. This year’s theme, “Going for Gold,” highlighted trailblazer AAPIs across different industries and throughout the federal government.

To kick off the event, WHIAAPI’s Executive Director, Holly Ham, delivered opening remarks. She shared stories from her youth and discussed her inspiration to go for gold in both the private and public sectors. Holly encouraged participants to dream big and take a few risks. She then introduced Aerica Banks, chief operating officer of the Asian Google Network, who expressed her excitement for us being there and welcomed everyone to Google’s space.

Larissa Knapp, deputy assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Directorate of Intelligence; Sujit Raman, associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice; Dr. Jennifer Shieh, senior policy advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy participate in A Heart of Gold: Pathways to Public Service Panel, moderated by Melissa Fwu from the White House Office of Public Liaison.

The countless email chains and rounds of phone tag paid off for our first panel, “A Heart of Gold: Pathways to Public Service.” Moderated by Melissa Fwu from the White House Office of Public Liaison, the panel featured three accomplished federal employees from different facets of government. The panelists discussed their paths to a career in public service and shared their thoughts on why AAPI representation in the federal government is important. Jennifer Shieh, senior policy advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, discussed her shift from studying biomedicine to working on policy at the White House. Sujit Raman, associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice, shared advice for prospective lawyers in the audience. Larissa Knapp, the deputy assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Directorate of Intelligence, demystified the FBI and explained how students can work in the intelligence community.

After this educational panel, we had some fun. In our “Race for Gold” session, participants were quizzed on their knowledge of pioneering AAPIs. Who was the first AAPI to serve in Congress? (The answer is Dalip Saund.) Why is Maya Lin so important? What AAPI subgroup was the first to arrive in North America? From history to pop culture to politics, our student leaders really knew their AAPI trivia. The top three contestants entered a sudden showdown, where they competed for a free house and eternal glory (actually, some Asian snacks).

After a short break, we dove into our “Going for Gold” panel. Panel moderator Bill Imada is the founder, chairman, and chief connectivity officer of IW Group, a communications agency that consults on the growing multicultural markets.  Imada introduced the summit’s special guests and panelists. Short video clips built suspense, after which Thomas Hong and Domee Shi entered to thunderous applause.

Thomas Hong, a member of the speed skating Olympic Team USA, shares how we can go for gold.

Looking like your typical college kid, Thomas blended in with the summit attendees. The 21-year-old, however, is a world record-holder for short-track speed skating who competed for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Thomas talked about his AAPI identity and what it meant to him to return to his birth country of South Korea to represent Team USA. Domee began as an intern (just like us!) at Pixar and went on to become the first woman to direct a Pixar short. She directed and wrote “Bao,” (the short film playing before “Incredibles 2”), which features an adorable little dumpling that comes to life on the big screen. Raised in Toronto, Domee talked about the differences she sees between the Asian experience in Canada and in the United States. Bill deftly guided the conversation, our attendees loved hearing the panelists’ remarks and stories, and everyone left inspired. Along with our guests’ impressive accomplishments, we found them to be courteous and kind.

The summit concluded with a networking reception. Professionals from across the public sector joined us for hors d’oeuvres and candid conversations.  Our attendees appreciated the opportunity to connect with federal employees, learn from their experiences, and meet role models and potential mentors.

We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to coordinate and execute this event, and we enjoyed working with everyone at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to make our vision into a reality. After this experience, we’re all ready to go for gold.

 

Sai-Kit Jeremy Lee, Maureen (Maki) O’Bryan and Andrew Teoh are interns at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

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Categories: Higher Education News

#RethinkSchool: Family Relationship Opened Door to “Synchronous Learning” Between Colorado Schools

August 2, 2018 - 1:29pm

“When I was a student at Arickaree High School, we didn’t have a clue as to what was going on in the real world,” said Gregg Cannady, who today heads collaborations and concepts development at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado, about 100 miles from his former high school in Anton. That was in the 1970s. “I went to college and found out I was totally unprepared,” Cannady said. “I really didn’t understand any career that wasn’t something that I’d not seen out on the farm.”

You might think that in the 21st century, things would be different in rural education from when Cannady was in high school. But, according to Cannady, a music teacher with 30 years of experience, engaged, job-related education is still lacking in parts of rural America.

When Cannady took his education positon at STEM School in Highlands Ranch, it was to create a music program. But Principal Penny Eucker and the Nathan Yip Foundation, a sponsor, urged Cannady to do something also for the state’s rural students.

Eighth-graders from STEM School Highlands Ranch (shown in the classroom) collaborate with rural students from Arickaree High School (shown on the video monitors) using 3D creation in computer science. Sharing a lesson on a room-sized screen brings the lesson to life in real time at both locations. (Photo credit: STEM School Highlands Ranch)

At the same time, Shane Walkinshaw, Arickaree School District superintendent, was looking for STEM opportunities for his district’s just over 100 students. It happened that the Walkinshaw family lease farmland from Cannady’s father. This family relationship led to conversations about greater opportunity for Arickaree students and was the start of the synchronous learning partnership between the two schools.

“Synchronous learning,” as Cannady explained, is “a two-way collaboration of engaged learning that guides students to real-world problems that they can solve together in real time.” The technology requirements are an internet connection and large viewing screens at each participating location so that, Skype-style, a teacher-facilitator and students at one location can interact in real time with students who are a great distance away.

As an example, Walkinshaw said, “Today we were working on a song together with a school in Mexico. Traditionally as a teacher, I would sit in front of the class and lay out everything we were going to do. But today I came in and asked the students questions like, ‘Where are we at in the process?’ And they got right into trying to perfect the song.”

High-school students at STEM School Highlands Ranch (shown in the classroom) and Arickaree High School (shown on the video monitor) were divided into small groups and challenged to build aqueducts like those built by the ancient Romans. Each group’s model was judged on its ability to carry cups of water over the longer distance. (Photo credit: STEM School Highlands Ranch)

Synchronous learning is different from online learning. Cannady calls online learning “the talking head” with teachers talking at students. “[Arickaree] Superintendent Walkinshaw told me,” Cannady said, “it’s not engaged learning. So it’s not synchronous, meaning real-time interactions student to student.”

Neither Cannady nor Walkinshaw is suggesting that synchronous learning should, or even could, replace human relationships. Rather, synchronous learning is “our next-best thing to being there. The first thing we did with Arickaree is we went there; we tried to build relationships. You go meet them in person,” Cannady said.

Looking ahead, Cannady said that the global learning crisis people talk about is real, and the need for action is now. He drew an analogy from his childhood. “Being raised on a farm, you feed the cattle. We didn’t talk about feeding cows. We didn’t write a book on how to feed cows, whether we should feed cows or not feed cows,” Cannady said. “When the cows were hungry, we fed the cows. These kids need us right now. It’s time to stop writing the manual on what to do ‘if.’ It’s time to just do it.”

 

Joe Barison is a public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications and Outreach.

Continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. Check back on Thursdays for new posts in the series. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

The post #RethinkSchool: Family Relationship Opened Door to “Synchronous Learning” Between Colorado Schools appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act Signed into Law

August 2, 2018 - 9:17am

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century (Perkins V) Act  was signed into law this week and brings changes to the $1.2 billion annual federal investment in career and technical education (CTE).  The U.S. Department of Education is looking forward to working with states to implement the new legislation which goes into effect on July 1, 2019 and replaces the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (Perkins IV) Act of 2006.

“The law creates new opportunities to improve CTE and enables more flexibility for states to meet the unique needs of their learners, educators, and employers,” said Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

Provisions in Perkins V allow school districts to use federal funds to provide all students, not just those enrolled in CTE, career exploration and development activities in the middle grades and for comprehensive guidance and academic counseling in the upper grades.

Perkins V removes the Department from negotiating state performance levels for student academic attainment and other outcomes, leaving it to states and their stakeholders to determine their performance goals.

Perkins V also updates and expands the definition of “special populations” to include homeless individuals, foster youth, and those who have aged out of the foster care system, and youth with a parent who is on active duty in the armed forces.  The new law also increases the amount states may spend on students in state correctional systems, and increases the amount states may set aside in a “special reserve” fund to focus on rural areas, areas with high numbers or concentrations of CTE programs, or areas with gaps or disparities in performance.

 

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Categories: Higher Education News

Savoring the Little Moments: The U.S. Presidential Scholars Recognition Program from a Scholar’s Perspective

August 1, 2018 - 3:02pm

As one of three 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars from Hawaiʻi, it is safe to assume that my plane ticket from Honolulu to Dulles was one of the more expensive tickets reimbursed by the program. From the day the list of Presidential Scholars was released to the moment I boarded my nine-hour flight, thoughts of the National Recognition Program (NRP), held each year in the nation’s capital, felt surreal—scenes of historic national landmarks and famed politicians from both CNN and “Cory in the House” filled my mind.

From attending the Medallion Ceremony to meeting the sitting President in the White House and my state’s elected officials on Capitol Hill, NRP was full of the unique opportunities that it had promised. On Sunday afternoon, Scholars checked in at Georgetown University and were introduced to their small-group “clusters” of students from similar regions. The first highlight of NRP was the Medallion Ceremony in the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, where Scholars and their guests were addressed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Mick Zais.

Gen. Zais reminded this year’s class of Scholars, “For each of you, there are 23,000 students who are graduating from high school [in America]. Those are pretty slim odds, of being 1 of 23,000, and I hope you recognize the specialness of that achievement.”

Other program highlights included the Scholars’ visit to the White House, as well as the Salute to the 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars performance by the Arts Scholars. The performance, which was held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, was undeniably the pinnacle of NRP’s celebrations. The raw talent and creativity possessed by the nation’s top young musicians, singers, actors, writers and visual artists, who organized the full performance within a week, was breathtaking.

At a quick glance, NRP is clearly characterized by its prestige, and while my experiences undoubtedly confirmed these perceptions, they also proved that the two-day program, while short in length, could form a network of valuable friendships, reinstill the importance of civic duty and provide countless moments of learning and laughter alongside incredibly inspiring peers. While at surface level, the official events described above are what define NRP, it was in fact the little moments of connecting with others—on the bus, during mealtimes and long after the evening activities adjourned—that I will cherish forever.

Even a week after returning home, I fondly recalled the conversations I shared with my Advisor and fellow Scholars from Hawaiʻi, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Germany as we wandered around Georgetown past midnight trying to find Insomnia Cookies. I often think back to the talks shared with students from Washington to Vermont as we anxiously waited to receive our medals and lined up to enter the White House; I already miss the ease of being able to spark new connections by merely asking, “Where are you from?”

I miss Monday night’s goodbye activities and the many laughs shared as my cluster planned and performed a humorous “foreign Americans” skit. Finally, I continue to feel inspired by the insights offered by numerous Scholars during the Scholar as Citizen forum. From a student’s enthusiastic call encouraging everyone to register to vote to a panelist’s reminder of our responsibility as Presidential Scholars to ensure that the thousands of other incoming college freshmen across the nation receive the same privileges and opportunities that we have received, the forum reminded me that my peers serve as some of my greatest resources.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, in its 54th year, has formed a diverse network of thousands of the country’s brightest minds in law, politics, education, science, technology and the arts. Upon receiving the honor of joining this network and meeting my fellow Scholars, many of whom were already founders of organizations, nationally renowned academics and acclaimed performers, I began to wonder whether or not my accomplishments were enough to justify my being there.

Yet, one of the greatest gifts that NRP provided me with was the ability to recognize the importance of my peers’ achievements in furthering my own ambitions. I soon began to view the myriad of talent and intellect surrounding me as a means of motivation rather than a source of self-doubt. Ultimately, I knew that I had nothing to prove beyond my ability to be kind and open-minded towards so many incredible individuals that I hope I will someday meet again.

Official White House Photo by Joyce Boghosian.
This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

I’m honored to have been a part of the 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars cohort and am deeply grateful to the program staff and Advisors for making this year’s NRP possible. As all 161 of us Scholars prepare to embark on the next step in our respective journeys, may we continue to create and explore with the same curiosity, drive and passion that first brought us together.

 

Isabelle Rhee is a 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholar from Hawai’i who loves to explore her cultural identity and issues of social justice through her writing. Rhee will attend Yale University in the fall.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Space Innovation Day Features Live Conversation with NASA Astronaut in Space

July 24, 2018 - 1:00pm

On Wednesday June 27th, 2018, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum held Space Innovation Day, an event to celebrate space exploration, STEM education and students as makers. The event was co-developed by the museum and Future Engineers, a technology firm that is a current awardee of the U.S. Department of Education and Institute of Education Sciences’ Small Business Innovation Research Program (ED/IES SBIR).

In the morning, the event featured a live conversation (called a “downlink”) between NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor on the International Space Station and Washington, D.C.-area students at the museum. After a brief introduction of Auñón-Chancellor as she floated around in the space station, students asked her a series of questions such as “What it is like to experience space?” and “What does it take to be an astronaut?”

A student at the Air and Space Museum talks to NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor on the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The morning also included on-stage interviews with three students who won the Future Engineers Two For the Crew ChallengeThrough this national competition, sponsored by the ASME Foundation with technical assistance from NASA, K-12 students submitted a digital design of an astronaut tool intended to be manufactured on the International Space Station using a 3-D Printer. This tool allows innovative solutions to be provided to the astronauts immediately and means that NASA does not need to ship tools into space. One of the student winners designed “2 Pliers + 1 Handle,” a set of tool parts including needle-nose and lineman’s pliers with attachable handles. The 3-D printed multi-purpose tool can be customized into many different configurations when in space.

Digital design of the 2 Pliers + 1 Handle tool.

The challenge competition was run through a web-based platform that Future Engineers is developing with the support of a 2017 award from ED/IES SBIR.  The platform provides an online hub for students to create and submit solutions to innovation design challenges. Future Engineers is planning to launch the school version of their platform in the 2018-19 school year, with the goal of bringing many different kinds of maker design challenges to classrooms around the country across many areas of STEM for grades K to 12.

Deanne Bell of ED/IES SBIR supported Future Engineers (standing with microphone to the left) talks to the student audience about the Two for the Crew Challenge. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The afternoon of the event featured hands-on exhibits with educational opportunities for hundreds of students and museum attendees, including a 3-D design makerspace by Future Engineers, an augmented reality solar system experience by the Space Foundation and a virtual reality space station experience by NASA.

We look forward to more maker design challenge events in the future!

 

Edward Metz is a program officer at the Institute of Education Sciences.

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About ED/IES SBIR
The U.S. Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research program, administered by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), funds projects to develop education technology products designed to support students, teachers, or administrators in general or special education. The program emphasizes rigorous and relevant research to inform iterative development and to evaluate whether fully-developed products show promise for leading to the intended outcomes. The program also focuses on commercialization once the award period ends so that products can reach students and teachers and be sustained over time. ED/IES SBIR-supported products are currently used in thousands of schools around the country.

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Categories: Higher Education News

#RethinkSchool: Flying Drones, Veterinary Care and a Chiropractic Clinic, All in a West Texas High School

July 19, 2018 - 12:52pm

“One of the workforce arguments is that we’re turning out folks that know how to color in the right bubble on a multiple-choice test, but they don’t know how to do anything,” said Dr. Kim Alexander, superintendent of the Roscoe Collegiate Independent School District in West Texas. In 2012, Superintendent Alexander and his district colleagues started to address this problem by creating an innovative series of apprentice partnerships with local businesses, and today it appears that Roscoe high school students know how to do everything.

Alexander, who is a Roscoe area native, has worked as an educator in the Roscoe District for 32 years, with the last 15 years as superintendent. In 2012, Roscoe was trying to become a STEM academy. “We wanted to have real-world relevance and real workforce readiness, and even job creation,” Alexander said. “One of the rural dilemmas is to have proximity to meaningful [student] apprenticeship opportunities. You have to partner with profitable businesses.”

Roscoe’s first business partnership started when the high school’s athletic trainer, who is a Roscoe alumnus and a chiropractor in Abilene, Texas agreed to use a gym dressing room to see chiropractic patients with Roscoe students as apprentices.

A veterinary technician (holding the dog) instructs Roscoe High School students who are working toward their veterinary-assistant certification. (Credit: Roscoe Collegiate Independent School District)

Other partnerships offering apprenticeships to students followed. “There’s a problem of a veterinary shortage for food animals in our region. So we got the concept of housing a mixed-animal veterinary clinic for educational purposes and for certified veterinary-assistant certification,” Alexander explained.

People in the community said that Roscoe was providing students with good workforce readiness in biomedical education but not offering much opportunity in engineering. Alexander said that’s when Roscoe came up with Edu-Drone. “Kids like the drones, and it’s just robotics in the air. That’s when we partnered with a local drone company that was working on a curriculum for FAA 107 commercial-drone certification. We had one of our business partners negotiate a deal to market our drone curriculum through [an office supply outlet]. Now at Roscoe, we do commercial drone flights for agricultural data collection, real-estate cinematography, topline, and windmill-blade inspection.”

Instructor Dusty White (right) watches a Roscoe High School student fly a drone above Roscoe Collegiate Center. The 11th-grade student received his unmanned aircraft vehicle pilot license at age 16. (Credit: Roscoe Collegiate Independent School District)

The U.S. Department of Education’s David Cantrell, director of School Support and Rural Programs, visited the Roscoe District recently, and he was impressed with the innovation. “[The district] received the Small Rural School Achievement Grant from my office for several years, and they’re doing some really creative things with their educational funds,” Cantrell said. “My team and I spent three days onsite talking with the superintendent and meeting community members, school staff, parent groups, student groups. It’s not like your typical K-12 school in an urban setting or any other rural district.” The Department of Education grant averages $25,000 per year, and the district has received the grant annually for the past 10 years.

In addition to business partnerships, Roscoe is starting a program to combine a high school diploma with earning a bachelor’s degree.

The story of Roscoe’s creative approach is spreading throughout the state, and beyond. It is only fitting that these innovative educators have the eyes of Texas upon them.

 

Joe Barison is a public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications and Outreach.

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Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. Check back on Thursdays for new posts in the series. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

 

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Categories: Higher Education News

The Many Roads to Becoming a Spelling Bee Champion

July 17, 2018 - 12:20pm

Aren participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

At age 13, our son Aren can’t cross the street by himself, or eat without dropping food all over the floor. He struggles with reading and has difficulty following simple instructions. He also has a speech impairment called cluttering that often makes his speech incomprehensible to others. On top of this, he is hyperactive and needs to burn off his immense energy frequently throughout the day.

I could write pages about Aren’s many challenges and our struggles with figuring out how to work with them. As Aren’s parents, the journey has not been easy. On the other hand, Aren constantly surprises and humbles us with what he can achieve. Early on, we decided that our mission as parents was not to focus on his disabilities. We would not dwell on or be limited by the things he couldn’t do. Rather, we agreed to seek out and develop Aren’s unique strengths while scaffolding his weaknesses in a way he could understand and embrace. We vowed to be open to exploring his talents, even where he started out with marked deficits.

To accomplish this, we decided to pursue some homeschooling so Aren could work on both his strengths and challenges at his own pace. Later, we enrolled at Connecting Waters Charter School. Here, his teachers, principal, special education occupational therapist, speech therapist, and reading tutor each provide him with invaluable individualized support and guidance. Instead of subjecting him to traditional classroom instruction, which he would likely have tuned out, we chose the path of closeguided training. The results have been remarkable. Aren has developed incredible visualization, drawing, mental math, and creative skills. He particularly loves drawing complex freeway interchanges that would make a commuter faint. Remarkably, his drawing is effortless, and he often does it while in conversation.

Aren’s drawing of a highway interchange.

When Aren was 9, my wife (staying true to being open to possibility) asked Aren if he’d like to compete in his school Spelling Bee. To be frank, my wife thought that a kid who didn’t read until just a year prior would not be interested in participating. To my wife’s surprise (and perhaps horror), he said yes. We later found out that he didn’t know what a spelling bee was; he just wanted to see what freeways we would drive to the competition. As a “human GPS,” he desperately needed to input I-580 to I-205 to Highway 120 to 99 to his system!

We were worried that Aren might be disruptive at the Spelling Bee and would not be able to sit still. But he surprised us – he put in diligent effort, was able to sit still and write legibly, and won! This victory left us both shocked and extremely proud. We were even more proud that he was able to follow through with the rules of the competition. Aren went on to represent his school in the countylevel competition, where he came in 5th place! Once again, I was completely and utterly floored, and of course glowing with pride!

This was one of many humbling moments when I learned from my son that it doesn’t matter where your starting line is.

Aren continued to showcase his strength, winning, in total, four school bees and three county competitions. Later, at age 12, he even won the California State Junior High Spelling Bee! This child who could barely read 4 years prior had somehow spelled his way to the top of his state. Aren became so enamored of spelling that he dreamed of competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. This dream seemed impossible for our kid with a speech impairment, attention issues, and a reading disability. But yet again, Aren proved himself right, and proved us wrong. He tied for 42nd place at Scripps… out of 11 million. He had fantastic support and many people cheering him on. His school’s CEO even cut her vacation short to come watch Aren compete live.

Today, Aren is a happy, healthy, and energetic 13yearold, brimming with enthusiasm on subjects as diverse as cars, chemistry, and mathematics. He is ahead of peer expectation in math and English. With strong parental involvement and support from our school’s special education department, he has come a long way in areas such as visual tracking and social interaction. His drawing skills and math talents continue to progress on his own volition. We are so excited to witness Aren’s future, his unique contributions to society, and the help and inspiration he can give to others.

Never give up, no matter where you are.

 

Andrew Wang is Aren’s father.

Cross-posted at the OSERS blog.

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Categories: Higher Education News

#RethinkSchool: Rural District Embraces the 3 E’s to Advance Student-centered Vision

July 12, 2018 - 7:51am

Superintendent Kirk Koennecke smiles as he recounts how his rural school district’s connection with the Lean Six Sigma business process began, as a way to offer new learning options and provide marketable skills for students.  When courses in this well-known enterprise improvement approach were offered locally, no adults signed up.  But students did – and educators at Graham Local Schools saw an opening.

School leaders seized on Lean Six Sigma training as a way to help more students gain recognized tools for the world of work. Interest has grown, and this year, every junior is scheduled to receive a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt designation through their standard business electives. Seniors from Graham High School now have the option to graduate with Green Belt certification, in addition to their diploma.

The Lean Six Sigma program is just one example of the innovation Graham Local Schools has implemented. The district offers a 21st century learning lab for students, and provides place-based, work-based and service learning experiences on and off campus. Teachers are encouraged to employ flexible spaces, changing the configuration of the classroom to adapt the learning environment to the learning.

“Success Today, Prepared for Tomorrow”

“Success today, prepared for tomorrow.” That student-centered vision drives this innovative rural education partnership in Saint Paris, Ohio.  Overall, the district serves 2,000 students in a primarily agriculture-based community of some 3,600 residents, with a handful of dedicated community, manufacturing and business partners.

The ultimate goal is for all students to chart a clear pathway to the postsecondary options and careers of their choice – what the district calls the 3 E’s of enlistment, enrollment or employment – become responsible citizens and continuous learners, and build fulfilling lives.

Gaining Real World Experience

An important part of the experience for Graham’s students is place-based learning. Graham collaborates with over 30 community organizations and businesses to provide a host of opportunities for students to apply their skills in age-appropriate real-world contexts – from career days and job shadowing to internships and apprenticeships.

Students’ experiences deepen as they advance toward graduation, with added opportunities to build their skills and explore their postsecondary options through the Career Gears program, which continues the focus on personalized instruction and on learning beyond the daily schedule.  For students in grades 7-12, the STEAM program enables students to earn college credit in career clusters such as Aviation, Biomedical, Info Tech, Pre-Engineering, Logistics, Robotics and Agribusiness.

Given the region’s rich history and base in agriculture, it’s not surprising that Graham has a thriving ag-based career-technical student organization – FFA.  What is surprising is that the club’s high-school members manage over 22 acres of commercial, sustainable farmland – named Falcon Farms after the school mascot — as well as a dry creek bed for ecological projects. The school also supports an outdoor learning lab, with trails and a variety of ecosystems, including a prairie area and retention pond, as well as a greenhouse.

Hands-on learning happens indoors as well as outdoors. Seniors in the high school business program manage “The Daily Grind,” a self-sustaining coffee shop for students and staff.  Proceeds are reinvested in the business, as well as helping to fund extra-curricular clubs and charities.

For students whose plans include college, a number of new offerings and additional supports are underway, from an early college high school program that will allow students to earn more college credits – including, for some, an Associate’s degree – by the time they graduate from high school, to plans by Clark State Community College to add bachelor’s degree programs to their offerings, to micro-grants that will assist students attending nearby Franklin University in purchasing textbooks.

A single blog post is not nearly enough room to describe the vast range of innovation and creativity on display in Graham Local Schools. Their efforts demonstrate that size is no barrier to rethinking school.

If this district in a small community in rural Ohio can do so much, why can’t more schools rethink school?

 

Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. Check back on Thursdays for new posts in the series. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

The post #RethinkSchool: Rural District Embraces the 3 E’s to Advance Student-centered Vision appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

Student Chefs Are Cooking Up Change at ED

July 10, 2018 - 1:02pm

Recently, student chefs from six cities across the country were at the Department of Education to participate in the Cooking up Change National Finals. These talented students earned their way by winning local competitions in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Orange County and Troy, Alabama. They engaged in a cook-off that saw the team from Orange County win first place and the team from Houston win second.

Rayvion and Jaleigh from Troy, Alabama, prepare their meal of Tuscan Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Mashed Potatoes, and Apple Crisp at the Department of Education.

Cooking up Change challenges high school culinary students to create healthy, great-tasting meals that meet the real-life requirements of the national school meal program. Cooking up Change serves up life-changing opportunities, helps students realize their own potential and puts student voices front and center in the national dialogue about school food. Healthy Schools Campaign launched Cooking up Change in Chicago, and more than 2,200 students from 23 cities have participated in local contests since the program started in 2007. Winners travel to Washington, D.C., for the national finals to show off their culinary skills and engage with health and education leaders, the culinary community and Congress.

Orange County impressed the judges with their menu of Chinese Orange Chicken, Spicy Thai Slaw, Momo Otsu Mugi. The team from Houston wowed judges with their menu of Zucchini Pasta with Cajun Chicken, Pinto Bean & Tomato Soup and Bananas & Yogurt. Although there were only two winners, all of the student chefs created delicious school meals that would be a great addition to menus across the country.

Meals were judged on their originality, taste, texture and appearance. Teams scored additional points for the quality of their presentation to the judging panel. The judging panel consisted of Department of Education staff, national leaders, chefs and students. In the end, each team was a winner, having earned their way to the national finals by winning their local competition, and having demonstrated the hard work and skill it takes to create healthy and delicious school meals on a tight budget.

 

Sara Porter is Vice President of External Affairs for the Healthy Schools Campaign.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Overcoming Homelessness and Poverty through Education

July 2, 2018 - 1:29pm

[Note: The U.S. Department of Education’s Youth Engagement Team was pleased to host students affected by homelessness and their peer leaders from SchoolHouse Connection for a listening session with Jason Botel, principal deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. He was recently appointed vice-chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The session provided students an opportunity to discuss obstacles that homeless students encounter in pursuing their education, and the practices and policies that can help them succeed. The students present endured repeated moves between schools and unstable living situations; they also experienced hunger, deep poverty, and in many cases, parental abandonment and abuse. Despite these challenges, they are still pursuing their educations in college.

One of those students, Latte Harris, shares her experiences and highlights the challenges she and many others face while homeless.]

Have you wondered what being homeless is like? Being homeless is like driving a car with three wheels. You don’t have all the tools you need to succeed. While other cars zip past you, hope begins to dissipate with every passing mile. It is like living two different lives. At school, I was stressed about how to hide my homelessness and, when I wasn’t at school, I was stressed about how to satisfy at least my immediate needs.

Being homeless has taught me that nothing is handed to you. A person has to work hard for what he or she desires the most. In high school, my sisters and I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to leave our motel room in Oregon with all of our belongings, and take three buses and a mass transit train to make it to school in Washington State.

Every night we stayed in a different motel. The only thing I could control was my grades. The feeling of getting an A at the end of the term was all I needed to remind me that I would survive, in and out of school. I was confident only in my education and my resolve to succeed. I knew that the only way to break the cycle of poverty in my family’s life was to gain an education. The day I received my high school diploma from Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Washington, was surreal. And, I knew I wouldn’t stop there.

Today, I am a first-generation college student at Portland State University, and I hope to major in sociology. Through my studies, I’ve been empowered to initiate change in my family that will allow us to acquire economic and socio-emotional wealth.

Being homeless robbed my family and me of an understanding of how the world works. Receiving a college degree will ensure that I can obtain the cultural capital necessary to help support my family and others affected by homelessness. It is important for me to be able to ensure that others understand how to navigate social systems and achieve success, while still offering active support.

The Department of Education has a team of individuals dedicated to addressing the needs of students affected by homelessness. The Education for Homeless Children and Youths (EHCY) Program collaborates with a variety of federal partners to serve children, youths and families experiencing homelessness. Meeting with the Department of Education’s staff was important to me because it highlighted that homeless students have the ability to achieve more when they have the right supports and services.

I was pleased to hear about the various support programs and guidance that EHCY provides to local homeless education liaisons because my liaison was critical to me, and to students in similar situations. It was important to share my personal experience with Jason Botel, because his work will impact many students like me.

Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve made it this far, and that brings me an immense amount of relief and hope as I work to break the cycle of poverty in my family’s life through educational attainment.

 

Latte Harris graduated from Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Washington. She is majoring in sociology at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

Photographer: Joshua Hoover, ED Studio Team

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Categories: Higher Education News

2018 YoungArts Student Art Exhibit

June 29, 2018 - 2:23pm

The art exhibit “Total Tolerance,” featuring 2018 YoungArts winners in design, photography, visual arts and writing, recently opened at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The first YoungArts exhibit at ED, it features a collection of work from 21 student artists and celebrates religious, cultural, gender and racial diversity. The works reflect the artists’ personal views on inequality and social justice and, in some cases, are directly rooted in their lived experiences.

YoungArts has been the sole nominating organization for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts since 1979. That year, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. Evan Plummer, senior director of education for the National YoungArts Foundation, remarked, “For 37 years, YoungArts has identified and nurtured the most promising artists in the United States across 10 arts disciplines. The winners come from all 50 states and with a passion for their artistic practice.” Two of the artists featured in the exhibit, Ameya Okamoto of Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, and Aidan Forester of South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, were selected as 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

The arts give all students the opportunity to experience a well-rounded education and an outlet to express issues that are affecting them in their daily lives. Jason Botel, principal deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, opened the program by stating the importance of the arts in allowing for this type of dialogue. He said, “Through arts … we gain a better understanding of one another and positively influence human lives in ways that no other academic discipline can possibly duplicate.”

The audience enjoyed a performance from 2018 YoungArts winner in spoken word, TiKa Wallace. An 11th-grader at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia, she shared her view of the world — a result of her experiencing different communities and schools, and finding her voice within them. Performing her award-winning piece, “Death Jokes,” she asked the audience to “consider what you say before you say it” as in “When someone says ‘I feel like I’m going to die,’ You take them seriously” because “You had no idea what it means to be so powerless until you are … Watching someone self-destruct.”

TiKa Wallace delivers a spoken word performance of “Death Jokes.”

Wallace’s mother, Katherine Williams, sent her from five to 10 years of age to the Shakespeare in the Park camp where she acted in and directed plays. Williams said “TiKa’s art gives a voice to other teens. … it is good that adults, as well, are hearing what teens are saying, thinking and feeling about the world.” Wallace said that, after she graduates, she would like to study American Sign Language interpretation and explore a career in theatre.

Amal Haddad, a senior at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, Maryland, took her first visual arts classes in high school. Her winning YoungArts piece, “United in Anger,” is an artwork series she created about the 1980s AIDS epidemic, inspired by the Gran Fury activist artist collective in New York City that was determined to use the power of art to resolve the AIDS crisis. Haddad explained that she wrote a paper on AIDS that had to be devoid of emotion. Since she didn’t have a way to express her feelings in the writing assignment, she decided to put her piece back in the printer and superimpose the slogan “United in Anger” on it. This became an award-winning piece of art. Haddad’s experience in YoungArts resulted in a phenomenal success for her: “The first time I submitted work to an arts competition,” she said, “it was accepted.” This fall, she will attend Swarthmore College to study English.

Prior to the ceremonial ribbon-cutting that formally opened the exhibit, Jacquelyn Zimmermann, director of ED’s Student Art Exhibit Program, invited the audience to speak to the artists during the viewing to help advance an understanding and tolerance of other viewpoints. She said, “The performing and the visual arts are honest, courageous revelations from various experiences and personal views of the artists on issues of inequality, social justice and intolerance. … these demonstrations of problem solving represent the value and power of the arts, and why every student should have the opportunity to learn them in school.”

Works (on left) by Presidential Scholar in the Arts Ameya Okamoto and the Total Tolerance exhibit statement.

The exhibit is on display until June 30, 2018.  You are invited to view the work and join the conversation on “total tolerance.”

Click here for photos of this exhibit opening.

 

Chareese Ross is in the Department of Education’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

All photos are by ED photographer Leslie Williams.

ED’s Student Art Exhibit Program provides students and teachers with an opportunity to display creative work from the classroom in a highly public space that honors it as an effective path to learning and knowledge for all. To visit the exhibits or for information about exhibiting, contact Jackye Zimmermann at jacquelyn.zimmermann@ed.gov  or visit https://www.ed.gov/student-art-exhibit.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Be Safe and Healthy: Tips for a Fun-Filled Summer

June 27, 2018 - 1:50pm

June is National Safety Month and, with the onset of summer, what better time for tips to help children stay safe and healthy.

Slips, trips, and falls
  1. Develop an action plan for injury prevention: According to the CDC each day about 8,000 children up to the age of 19—almost 2.8 million children each year—are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. Be mindful of where children play and help prevent unnecessary falls. Check out the CDC’s Injury Prevention and Control website, and see if a plan can be tailored to your specific needs and situations.
  2. Help children be safe on the playground: With the summer months can come an increased use of playgrounds. Check out the local playground—or backyard playground equipment—to ensure that it is safe for play.
  3. Promote an understanding of the need for sports safety. The CDC advises that children wear protective gear during sports and recreation. Remind children that no one wants to intentionally get hurt and wearing proper protective gear can decrease the risk of injury.

Know the surroundings
  1. Ensure children know their address and their way home: With summer can come an increased number of activities, including going to different events and locations. If children go to the park, the community center, the local pool, or their friends’ homes, for example, make sure they know their way in both directions.
  2. Make sure children know 9-1-1: Even in familiar surroundings an emergency can arise. Let children know what situations warrant 911 calls. Practice with younger children on learning the numbers buttons on a landline and cell phone, and what they need to do differently on the cell than home phone.
Medicines and potential food allergens
  1. Help children realize the need for medicine safety: Although one can have a more relaxed schedule in the summer, remember to remain vigilant in ensuring children know about medicines and safety. Help children understand why they should only take medicine intended for them, with differences in age and weight between kids and grown-ups, for example, being one of numerous factors.
  2. Remind older children of the dangers of drug misuse: The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports a softening of attitudes among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders regarding perceived harm of non-medical use of prescription medications. Reading online about how misuse of prescription drugs can affect the brains of teens and providing students with the facts about drugs may help older children understand the biopsychological underpinnings for refraining from prescription drug misuse.
  3. Be aware of food allergens: Let children know that, while summer may offer more time to try new things, including new foods, they should check with an adult first because some foods may cause an allergic response in certain children. Problem foods for children can include eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and gluten. The allergic reaction may be mild. In rare cases it can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis.
Sun and water safety
  1. Provide protection from the sun: Make sure children are equipped with sun screen, hat, sunglasses and clothing that provide adequate protection against the harmful effects of the sun.
  2. Make sure children drink lots of water.  Water is necessary to keep hydrated.
  3. Reinforce water safety: Introduce the process of learning to swim. Consider signing children up for swimming lessons, and let them know about various aspects of water safety.

One more tip for summer: Keep reading and avoid the summer slide! These are just a few ideas to help children have a fun-filled summer, and be safe all year- round.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Betsy’s Blog – Combating the Opioid Crisis

June 20, 2018 - 1:22pm

The opioid crisis has produced broken families, shattered lives and indescribable tragedy throughout the United States. Drug overdoses have claimed more than 300,000 lives since the year 2000 and have become the leading cause of injury death in the country. In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. No community is immune to this “crisis next door.”

On October 26, 2017 President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The Presidential Memorandum he issued that day expresses the Administration’s commitment to addressing the opioid crisis and its effects.

The Department of Education and other Federal agencies throughout the Administration are actively combating the opioid crisis. On the newly-created Opioids.gov you can see the magnitude of the crisis and the Administration’s efforts to combat it – from stopping the flow of illicit opioids into the U.S. to providing first responders with overdose-reversing drugs increasing access to treatment. Americans can share their own stories at CrisisNextDoor.gov, and I certainly encourage students, parents and educators to share how they have been impacted.

I recently visited the powerful “Prescribed to Death” memorial at the White House that honors the precious lives lost to opioid misuse. While the numbers are staggering, this memorial helped to illustrate the reality that this crisis is not about numbers, it’s about real, individual people. It’s about lives cut far too short. It’s about the grief of families losing sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers to the tragedy of overdose.

The impact on children has been especially profound. In just a dozen years, the incidence of infants born drug-dependent increased by almost 500 percent. Nearly a third of all incidents of children being placed into foster care is a result of parental drug misuse. Not unexpectedly, our nation’s schools are on the forefront of dealing with this crisis.

The Department of Education is engaged in a two-pronged approach to addressing the crisis. First, we are helping to educate students, families and educators about the dangers of opioid misuse as well as the importance of prevention and recovery. We are also supporting State and local prevention and recovery efforts and highlighting successful practices by schools.

One such school is Johnstown Elementary, located in western Pennsylvania and in a community hit hard by the opioid epidemic. I visited Johnstown earlier this year to see the school’s unique program to strengthen social and emotional learning to aid in preventing drug abuse and violence. I was impressed by the program’s focus on promoting good behavior instead of merely reacting to bad behavior and observed students as young as kindergarten putting it into practice. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, Johnstown’s approach could easily be replicated by many other schools.

The Department of Education’s website Combating the Opioid Crisis: Schools, Students, Families houses a number of resources from throughout the federal government that can help inform awareness, prevention and recovery efforts. State and local officials can also check out our recent webinar on how to respond to the opioid crisis in schools here.

These efforts are just the beginning of our work to combat the opioid crisis. We’ll continue to work with students, parents, educators, health care professionals and all others across the nation to educate Americans about the dangers of opioid abuse, help prevent opioid misuse and halt the devastation these drugs have wreaked.

 

Betsy DeVos is the U.S. Secretary of Education.

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Categories: Higher Education News

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Visits the Netherlands

June 18, 2018 - 1:23pm

Secretary DeVos and IMC Weekend School Ambassadors

[Note: This post originally appeared on the website of the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in the Netherlands.]

Secretary DeVos with students in Rotterdam

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, travelled to the Netherlands for an official program on June 11-12, as the second stop on a three country trip to Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, to explore the vocational education, decentralized school systems, and apprenticeship programs within Europe.

Her visit to the Netherlands, planned by the Dutch Ministry of Education, focused on vocational education, school choice, and advancing education options to prepare students for the modern economy. Secretary DeVos started her trip by meeting with the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, and the Ministry helped to plan her visits. She viewed how Imelda Primary School in Rotterdam has incorporated arts into the school to advance student understanding of abstract concepts and to encourage problem solving.  She spoke with students at Edith Stein College in The Hague about the Dutch educational system and challenges faced by students.  She also visited students [at] Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts in Amsterdam, where students were preparing performances for their end of year productions.

Secretary DeVos with a student at ROC Amsterdam

Secretary DeVos had a hands-on program at the Regional Vocational Education Center Westpoort in Amsterdam where students demonstrated skills they were learning in the fields of electrical engineering, automotive repair, catering, and other programs.  Her visit explored different aspects [of] secondary vocational education within the Netherlands, and how it prepares students for technological jobs.

Secretary DeVos had two round-tables during her trip.  The first focused on school choice, funding, and administration in the Netherlands with a teacher, a parent and board member, a professor and expert on Dutch education law, and a school administrator.  Her second round-table was a discussion with student ambassadors from IMC Weekend School on motivating students to seek potential career opportunities.   She also met with American teachers currently in the Netherlands as Fulbright Scholars and English Teaching Assistants.

DeVos also looked at the links between education and culture at institutions such as the Anne Frank House and the Teekenschool at the Rijksmuseum.  Each day ended with special dinners, the first hosted by Ambassador Hoekstra and the second hosted by Minister van Engelshoven and the City of Amsterdam.

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Categories: Higher Education News

8 Common Public Service Loan Forgiveness Mistakes

June 14, 2018 - 10:44am

If you are employed full-time by a government or not-for-profit organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness after making 120 qualifying payments (10 years), thanks to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

But loan forgiveness is not automatic. There are a number of specific requirements you must meet. If you want to make sure you’re on the right track, avoid these common mistakes:

1. Not submitting an Employment Certification Form each year Submitting an Employment Certification Form (ECF) is the single most important thing you can do to make sure you’re on track for forgiveness. You should submit this ASAP.

In order to ensure you’re on the right track for forgiveness, it is important that you submit an Employment Certification Form (ECF)

  • as soon as you start your first public service job,
  • annually from that point on, and
  • any time you switch employers.

We use this is form to help verify you’re on the right track and to inform you about anything you should do to adjust to maximize the amount forgiven in the future.

Since borrowers who are interested in PSLF should be on income-driven repayment plans, we recommend submitting your annual ECF at the same time you recertify your income-based payments.

2. Making mistakes on your Employment Certification Form

Your ECF could be rejected if you make mistakes. Here are some common mistakes we see:

  • Missing information: Two of the most common missing items are the employer’s address and Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can find your employer’s EIN on your Wage and Tax Statement (W-2). Don’t submit your ECF without all the required fields filled in.
  • Inconsistent information: This occurs when you provide information on a new ECF that is inconsistent with info from a previous ECF. Most commonly, we see inconsistent employment begin dates.
  • Correction errors: If corrections are made on the form, initials must be provided next to the change.
    • If you’re correcting the borrower sections (Section 1 or 2), we need your initials.
    • If you’re correcting the employer sections (Section 3 or 4), we need the employer’s initials.

Tip: The ECF requires a signature from an “authorized official” at your employer. This is typically someone in your human resources office. Ask your employer who your organization has authorized to certify employment if you’re uncertain.

3. Not consolidating your FFEL, Perkins, and parent PLUS loans

There are different types of federal student loans, but only Direct Loans qualify for PSLF.

If you borrowed before 2011, or if you have Perkins or parent PLUS loans, you may need to consolidate your loans in order to qualify for PSLF.

  • To check which types of loans you have, log in to StudentAid.gov/login. If you see a loan type that doesn’t include the word “Direct,” you’ll need to consolidate it to get PSLF for that loan.
  • To fill out the consolidation application, go to StudentLoans.gov.
4. Not enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan.

You can get PSLF only if you enroll in and make payments under one of the income-driven repayment plans. While payments made under the 10-Year Standard Repayment Plan also qualify for PSLF, you will have fully paid off your loan within 10 years (i.e., before you can qualify for forgiveness) if you pay under that plan. Therefore, an income-driven plan is your best option. Not only will it help you qualify for PSLF, but most people enrolled in income-driven repayment plans see a reduction in their monthly payment amount—win-win! You can apply for an income-driven repayment plan on StudentLoans.gov.

Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness: You may have a second chance to get Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) if your application was denied because you were on the wrong repayment plan. With the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, Congress set aside a $350 million fund to offer PSLF to borrowers who were denied for being on the wrong student loan repayment plan. This is a one-time-only expansion that will only be available until the funds run out, so it’s important to take action early. For complete eligibility requirement and to learn how to apply, visit StudentAid.gov/tepslf. 5. Missing your income-driven repayment recertification date

In order to remain eligible for income-driven payments, you must recertify each year. If you don’t, your payment will likely go up—possibly significantly. Recertify every year at the same time on StudentLoans.gov. This is a good time to submit an updated ECF too.

6. Staying on a deferment or forbearance

When you are in deferment or forbearance, you don’t get credit toward the 120 payments you need to qualify for PSLF. Every month you stay on deferment or forbearance, you’re pushing back your forgiveness date. Here are some tips to help you avoid this mistake:

  • If you want PSLF, you should be on an income-driven repayment plan. Your payment amount under these plans should be affordable because it is calculated based on your income. If it’s not affordable, and especially if you are on the Income-Based Repayment Plan, contact your servicer to see if you qualify for a different income-driven plan that will lower your monthly payment even further. Or, if you’ve had a drop in income since you last had your payment calculated, you can recertify your current income-driven repayment plan early.
  • You can waive periods of deferment—for example, if you’re working full-time for a qualifying employer while in graduate school, you could consider waiving any in-school deferment that is applied to your loans so you can start making qualifying payments. Contact your servicer to waive a deferment.
7. Missing payments

You shouldn’t miss loan payments, but it’s especially important if you’re working toward PSLF. Your payment won’t qualify if it’s more than 15 days late.

8. Not being strategic with early or extra payments

You cannot receive forgiveness any sooner than 10 years—even if you pay early or extra every month. For PSLF, you must make 120 separate monthly payments—and you can receive credit for only one payment per month, no matter how much you pay. If you consistently pay more than you have to, it will reduce the amount forgiven once you reach the 120 payments necessary.

However, one instance where we’ve seen borrowers interested in making additional payments while working toward PSLF is when they receive an employer-provided student loan repayment benefit. If your employer does provide these benefits and you’re working toward PSLF, consider inquiring whether the payment can be broken out monthly, as opposed to being paid as a lump sum. That way, it covers multiple scheduled monthly payments and not just one.

The easiest way to avoid these mistakes is to submit your ECF early and often and to keep in touch with FedLoan Servicing, our PSLF servicer. They are available to help you every step of the way.

BONUS: Answers to some PSLF FAQs:

  • Private loans do not qualify for PSLF.
  • Qualifying employment is about who your employer is, not the job you do for your employer. For example, if you are a government contractor, but your employer is a for-profit company, your employment would not
  • Payments don’t have to be consecutive—you can leave public service and come back and still qualify without starting over.
  • Any amount forgiven under the PSLF program is not
  • You can calculate your projected forgiveness amount using our repayment calculator.

 

Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

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Categories: Higher Education News

President’s Education Awards Program: A Celebration of Student Achievement and Hard Work in the Classroom

June 11, 2018 - 11:15am

President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) student recipients are selected annually by their school principal. This year, PEAP provided individual recognition to nearly 3 million graduates (at the elementary, middle and high school level) across the nation at more than 30,000 public, private and military schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Outlying Areas — American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands — and American military bases abroad.

Students received a certificate signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Schools also received letters from the President and the Secretary.

The Department encourages schools to be on the lookout for 2018-19 school year materials from PEAP program partners: the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). The materials outline how to order certificates to award students before the end of the school year. Certificates are FREE, and there is no limit.

Please review the participant list at to see if your school is currently involved. If not, contact your local school/principal and urge them to participate for the upcoming school year.

Background –

PEAP was founded in 1983. Every year since then, the program has provided principals with the opportunity to recognize students who meet high standards of academic excellence, as well as those who have given their best effort, often overcoming obstacles in their learning. Eligible graduating K-12 students are selected by their principal under two categories.

        

  • The President’s Award for Educational Excellence – This award recognizes academic success in the classroom. To be eligible, students must meet a few academic requirements, including a high grade point average or other school-set criteria and a choice of either state test performance or teacher recommendations.
  • The President’s Award for Educational Achievement – This award recognizes students that show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment, or intellectual development in their subjects but do not meet the academic criteria above. Its purpose is to encourage and reward students who give their best effort, often in the face of special obstacles, based on criteria developed at each school.

Recent School Celebrations –

At Fairland West Elementary School  in Ohio, Principal Teresa Johnson presented 51 fifth-grade students with the President’s Award for Educational Excellence on May 22. Johnson read the letter of congratulations from President Trump, and students received a gold-embossed certificate signed by the President and Secretary.

The awards were presented to students by their fifth-grade homeroom teachers: Mrs. Sullivan, Mrs. Black, Mrs. Staggs, Miss Dillon, and Ms. Thompson.

Ombudsman Alternative Center in Mississippi serves high school-age students in Natchez School District who meet criterion and can take classes at their own pace to earn their high school diploma.  Two Natchez students were recognized by PEAP this year, receiving certificates for their academic achievements. Principal Allison Jowers announced the students’ awards in May at the local board meeting, saying both students had earned the honors through their hard work and dedication to education. Jaila Queen, a freshman, earned the academic excellence award, while Briana White, a senior, earned the educational achievement award.

 

 

Two Natchez students Jaila Queen (left) and Briana White (right) received awards signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for their academic success this year.

The program also receives great feedback throughout the year. From Long Pond School in New Jersey, which celebrated their students’ achievement on May 24: “This is the 34th year that Long Pond has participated in this program, and it’s really exciting to be part of it.” Principal Bryan Fleming closed the event with the reading of the anonymous poem “Just One,” which speaks of the many ways a small effort can spark greatness. The poem ends with the lines, “One life can make a difference, that one life could be you.”

 

Frances Hopkins is director of the President’s Education Awards Program at the U.S. Department of Education.

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Categories: Higher Education News

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