Monday, April 30, 2012

My Sister-In-Law

My sister-in-law, Anna, was in Anchorage over the weekend to support my nephew as a member of his school's Native Youth Olympics (NYO) team. We had a wonderful chance to watch the athletes in action and catch up on a number of topics.

Anna is a teacher and has been for 28 years. Her work is phenomenal and she is the backbone of her school program. She fills in when the principal has to be gone, provides support for those new to her school, advises students and staff members needing help with everything from where to find gradudation decorations in the attic to which companies to order supplies from that are reliable, and is a trusted member of the community. When she supports an idea, the people of her village know they can trust her and the idea because she carefully weighs it out before lending her name to it.

Stability in a school makes a world of difference for our children. They and their families know what to expect because there is a clear plan for education. The expectations are identifiable and constant. Those in policy and decision making roles for our schools and our children must take notice and rely upon the expertise of those who are most experienced and knowledgable about what will work.

We know endless testing and needless citation of state or national mandated goals and objectives in lesson plans will not improve our success rates. What will work? Teacher autonomy! Countries considered the most highly successful in educating their children do the least amount of testing! Hello??? Anybody listening???

I love my sister-in-law because she is a wonderful and accomplished person as well as fantastic teacher. Please, somebody listen to her!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Planning Year-Round

Right now, two terrific planners are hard at work. What are they doing? They are putting together plans for training next fall. They are preparing for an offering of a Planning Your Financial Future class that will be offered in Anchorage. This is an outstanding course with positive ratings every time it has been offered! Teresa Muench from NEA Member Benefits and our own NEA-Alaska staff member Barb Young work hard to make these courses available to locals upon request. The information shared is fantastic for every member regardless of where they are in their careers. Local Presidents make the request to NEA-Alaska to start the ball rolling. The courses are extremely popular and sometimes take as much as a year to schedule because of the need for highly trained professionals to present the information. In this time of shrinking budgets, projected reductions and less than desirable investment income, it is crucial to take advantage of an opportunity to benefit from this valuable information.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Real Heroes

We don't always think of heroes in the same way I've been thinking of them this week. To me, real heroes are those who often work behind the scenes. They aren't flashy and out in front of a crowd to have real impact. My hero this week is Jess Kiehl. Jesse is on the staff of Senator Dennis Egan in the Alaska State Legislature. Jesse has worked tirelessly on behalf of our state's public employees to help those coming into service since July of 2006 have a decent retirement to look forward to after years of work. It is Jesse's work to craft the compromise bill which would ultimately pass the State Senate in a 14 to 6 vote. The bill is far from being enacted into law due to opposition in the House, but the hours and hours of effort to create the legislation is nothing short of heroic and historic! Thank you to Jesse and Senator Egan. Thanks also to the fourteen courageous and steadfast Senators who voted to move this bill forward. We applaud your efforts and vow to fight on until this issue is resolved favorably for Alaskans!