MESSAGES 2014 :: JANUARY 23, 2014

JANUARY 23, 2014 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

The State Board of Education began a good discussion this month of options for student testing as we move into a second year with the new Standard Course of Study. As you know, North Carolina's current testing program for accountability purposes is aligned to the new standards and there are new testing options on the horizon from the Smarter BALANCED consortium and other companies or groups. Board members heard recommendations from the Department of Public Instruction that we leave the current testing program in place until 2016-17 for stability's sake and that we convene an advisory group that would include teachers and other key stakeholders to make recommendations to the Board. As is its practice, the Board discussed this in January, and will make decisions on these recommendations in February or March.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
  2. Model Teacher Contract Update
  3. Regional Teachers of the Year Announced
  4. #NCed Chat: January Topics
  5. Online Evaluation Tool: Getting Started for New Teachers
  6. NC Again Leads Nation in National Board Certified Teachers
  7. 2014 NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey Update
  8. National School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest
  9. Love the Bus 2014
  10. 2014 Arbor Day Photo Contest Deadline Approaching
  11. Stop Rx Abuse PSA Competition
  12. 10K For Solving Real-World Problems
  13. 2014 Siemens Summer of Learning Opportunities

State Board of Education Meeting Highlights

At the State Board of Education meeting last week, members approved staff recommendations for program approval requests under the Innovative Education Initiatives Act, 26 charter schools for opening in August, Career and Technical Education revisions to Essential Standards, districts' and charter schools' requests for Standard Six flexibility, and a plan for digital learning in public schools. Among the Board's discussion items were renewal recommendations for charter schools with charters expiring in 2014, grading scales, and the Board's FY 2014-15 supplemental budget. The Board also recognized the 2013-14 National Title I Distinguished Schools Calvin Wiley Elementary (Guilford County Schools) and Jonathan Valley Elementary (Haywood County Schools). For a complete list of Board actions, visit http://stateboard.ncpublicschools.gov/minutes-actions/sbe-actions/2014.

Model Teacher Contract Update

The official public comment period for the temporary rulemaking process for Model Teacher Contracts ended Jan. 15, and all comments received during the public hearing in addition to those submitted via e-mail and U.S. mail are currently being compiled for presentation to State Board of Education members.

The State Board of Education will provide an additional opportunity to provide comments in the coming months as the permanent rulemaking process for Model Teacher Contracts begins. This will again include opportunities to submit comments via a public hearing, e-mail and U.S. mail. The public hearing will be scheduled during a time that does not interfere with student instruction and will be audio streamed for those who cannot be present but would like to listen in. Teachers will be notified when the public comment period begins and the public hearing will be held.

Please remember that comments should focus on the model teacher contract, which deals with employment issues and not teacher tenure. We appreciate your involvement in this process and look forward to hearing your thoughts during the permanent rulemaking process.

Regional Teachers of the Year Announced

Congratulations to the following nine teachers who were selected to represent their regions and charter schools as the state's regional Teachers of the Year:

  • North Central Region: Rhonda Holmes, Conway Middle (Northampton County Schools);
  • Northeast Region: Charlene Evans, Plymouth High (Washington County Schools);
  • Northwest Region: Alex Reynolds, Jesse Carson High (Rowan-Salisbury Schools);
  • Southeast Region: Melissa Gillespie, Laney High (New Hanover County Schools);
  • Southwest Region: James Ford, Garinger High (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools);
  • Sandhills/South Central Region: Everlene Davis, South Columbus High (Columbus County Schools);
  • Piedmont-Triad/Central Region: Kathy Saunders, Asheboro High (Asheboro City Schools);
  • West Region: Melissa Faetz, South Macon Elementary (Macon County Schools); and
  • Charter Schools: Chris Weaver, Evergreen Charter (Buncombe County).

The 2014-15 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year will be announced April 3 during a luncheon ceremony in Cary.

#NCed Chat: January Topics

#NCed Chat provides opportunities for North Carolina educators to develop their personal learning networks (PLNs). Educators from all over the state come together once every week in a public Twitter conversation around specific topics and share valuable resources. Often, educators from around the world join the conversation. January topics include collaboration, global awareness, productivity and student safety. Visit NCEDCHAT.BLOGSPOT.COM for archived chats, resources, chat schedule and directions on how to participate. We even have an app for that: MYAPP.IS/NCED. Invite your teams to join the conversation. For more information, e-mail Lynne Johnson at lynne.johnson@dpi.nc.gov.

Online Evaluation Tool: Getting Started for New Teachers

This webinar will provide you with an opportunity to review the process for the NCEES Platform and Terminology; Help Guides; Professional Development Plan Types and Teacher Plan Types; and demonstrate how to complete Training and Orientation, Teacher Self-Assessment, Initial Professional Development Plan and Formal Observation. To register for the webinar, please choose one of the following dates and times:

NC Again Leads Nation in National Board Certified Teachers

North Carolina added 330 newly-credentialed teachers in 2013 to its National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) cadre. This brings the state's total number of NBCTs to 20,122, and places North Carolina first in the nation in the number of NBCTs. In addition, six North Carolina public school districts placed in the Top 20 districts nationally for the total number of National Board Certified Teachers: Wake (1), Charlotte-Mecklenburg (4), Guilford (10), Winston-Salem/Forsyth (16), Buncombe (18), New Hanover (20). Five North Carolina universities made the Top 50 public and private universities and colleges with the highest number of alumni who are newly certified National Board teachers: UNC-Chapel Hill (20), Appalachian State (tied for 23), UNC-Charlotte (tied for 40), East Carolina University (tied for 42), and UNC-Wilmington (tied for 46). To read more, please visit www.ncpublicschools.org and click on the appropriate link under "News."

2014 NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey Update

Just a heads up that the Spring 2014 NC Teacher Working Conditions (NCTWC) Survey is just around the corner. The NCTWC Survey is an online, anonymous school survey that asks questions about teaching and learning conditions within a school. All school-based, licensed educators and instructional staff, including administrators are encouraged to take the survey. Survey results are one component of an ongoing process for collaborative school improvement planning. For more information, please contact Yvette Stewart at yvette.stewart@dpi.nc.gov. Visit www.ncteachingconditions.org to learn about the available tools.

National School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest

Rules for the 2014 National School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest have been posted on the School Bus Safety Web site at www.ncbussafety.org/Poster. The contest is open to students in grades K-8. The deadline for submission to the state (through your transportation department) is May 23.

Love the Bus 2014

Celebrate your school bus drivers and the importance of school bus transportation at your school by participating in the Love the Bus 2014 campaign. You know that without the school bus, some students would find it impossible to be in class every day. Did you know that traveling by school bus is also the safest way for students to get to and from school? Feb. 10-14 is School Bus Driver Appreciation Week in North Carolina and the perfect time for LOVE THE BUS celebrations. Resources and downloads are available for your use. Also register your school's event at www.ncbussafety.org/LoveTheBusNC. For more information contact Derek Graham with DPI Transportation Services at derek.graham@dpi.nc.gov.

2014 Arbor Day Photo Contest Deadline Approaching

The 2014 Arbor Day Photo contest, which is sponsored by the North Carolina Forest Service, is open to all students in the 5th through 12th grades. Students are encouraged to submit photographs of trees in or around urban areas, depicting this year's contest theme, "Young and Old." The contest is designed to engage students' critical thinking skills by having them submit a photographer's statement discussing the contest theme and their interpretation of how their photo relates to the theme. The deadline for entries is Feb. 28. Prizes will be awarded to the top three photos. For more information or to download an entry form, please visit www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/arbor_day_photo_contest.htm, or contact Jennifer Rall, photo contest coordinator, at Jennifer.rall@ncagr.gov.

Stop Rx Abuse PSA Competition

Attorney General Roy Cooper's office will be holding its Stop Rx Abuse competition for the third year to increase awareness about the dangers of youth prescription drug abuse. All students enrolled in grades nine through 12 are eligible to enter by creating a short public service announcement. The competition will run from March 1-April 15 and winners will receive prizes. In the coming weeks, each high school will receive detailed rules and guidelines about the competition, as well as a promotional poster to display via U.S. mail. To learn more, visit www.ncdoj.gov or e-mail questions to StopRxAbuse@ncdoj.gov.

10K For Solving Real-World Problems

The InvenTeam initiative, created by the Lemelson-MIT Program, offers an unparalleled opportunity for high school students to cultivate their creativity and experience invention. InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that receive grants of up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Each InvenTeam chooses its own problem to solve. Invention Ideas and InvenTeam projects span many fields from assistive devices to environmental technologies and consumer goods. Applicants are encouraged to consider needs of the world's poorest people (those earning $2/day) when brainstorming invention ideas. The initial application deadline is Feb. 28. More information is available online at http://web.mit.edu/inventeams/apply.html.

2014 Siemens Summer of Learning Opportunities

Siemens STEM Academy offers two, one-of-a-kind, all-expenses-paid professional development opportunities that provide unique experiences to middle and high school teachers from across the country looking to bolster STEM learning and gain pragmatic skills that they can translate back into the classroom. For all the details, please visit http://www.siemensstemacademy.com/index.cfm?event=showSTEMApplication&landing=1.