Your NTA Newsletter

May 2016

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President's Message

You've heard a lot from me over the last few weeks, so I will be brief here.

In the past two years, we have been called to action in more ways than ever before. I'm so pleased that so many of you answered that call. It is important to note that in each of the ways that we have stood up: licensure, testing, charters, healthcare, funding are fights that are only just beginning.

Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of this season's presidential primaries knows that people are anxious for change, and change is coming in one form or another. In some cases, this change may find us becoming scapegoats. In other cases, it may bring relief from the unfunded mandates that are taxing us to the breaking point. Regardless of what we are facing, we must be vigilant and we must be thirsty for our own change.

In 2014, delegates to the MTA annual meeting elected outside Barbara Madeloni as our leader, signaling a desire for such change. Progress has happened swiftly, but there is still so much to do. Even if Barbara does not win re-election at the annual meeting (I believe she will remain our president), the MTA has changed fundamentally and this new way of doing business will continue in some form or another. Ultimately, we need to accept that if we are going to survive, if we are going to give our students the very best, we need to be activists. We really have no other choice.

Thank you to all of you who have stepped up- keep up the good work! We are making a difference.


Community Volunteers at JCS

JCS first grade students in the Starfish Unit are reaping the benefits of dedicated, committed and caring community volunteers. Over the last two school years, up to fifteen retired or semi-retired men and women with a myriad of experience have enriched the lives of very fortunate children.The volunteers bring backgrounds including past and current careers in nursing, book author/illustrator, retail, engineering, administrative assistants, teaching at the high school-college level and teaching special education. The initial goal of the program was to provide students of all reading abilities the opportunity to “read” one on one to an adult as a means to practicing and enhancing the skills taught during class time. As time has evolved, the added benefits of having an interested adult to enjoy their often humorous comments and life stories, while supporting the development of reading and writing, has been observed. Sometimes it’s unclear who is learning more!

The benefits and comments of students include, “They help me to figure out the words;” “Thank you for all you help me with and all things I struggle with;” “They help me be a better reader;” “They help me read big words;” “They are nice and happy.”

The volunteers frequently email, write and verbalize their perspective while spending time in a useful, valuable and humorous way. “I enjoy my “kid fix”...and a fun morning to boot;” “Each one has their own identity, and I love listening to them as we read through the stories and the comments they want to share;” “It’s impressive watching the teacher - an eye opener to how much schools must change as time passes;” “One-on-one work with an adult, especially in the early years, is so important in assisting children to progress. I have enjoyed establishing a relationship with each child and seeing the growth of the students over the course of the year.I look forward to each session and would continue in a heartbeat;” “I love to see the light in their eyes when they understand the story the words tell;”

The only challenge has been to come up with a special title for this worthwhile program. Perhaps TLC2--Teaching-Learning-Caring/Connecting might say it all!

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Opting Out of High Stakes Testing

The MTA offers a lot of information about opting out of high stakes testing.