December 2015 Volume 17 Issue 1

Presidents Corner

2015 is coming quickly to a close and we are getting ready to embrace 2016. It's hard to believe that 16 years ago at this time many of us were worried about all the school computers crashing in Y2K! Actually, I would have been interested to see how the district might have handled that.

It has been a long haul since stepping foot into our classrooms in September and I often feel that this is the longest part of our year. Our students need a break and so do we. Take time to enjoy your family and friends and prioritize rejuvenation for yourself before coming back to to tackle 2016. Read the article below for some good advice on this!

My family finally has a break in our daughter, Olivia's, hockey tournament schedule over the next few weeks so the entire Mikesell family will be at home and not traveling. Considering I don't even have our Christmas tree up yet (actually I still have a few Halloween decorations that still haven't been put away) my work is cut out for me over the next few days.

Please feel free to contact me anytime for questions, concerns or comments regarding GPEA issues.

The Mikesell family wishes you and yours a fun & festive (but mostly restful) holiday season.

Laura Mikesell

GPEA President

Cell - 313-310-3643

Christmas break vital to teachers wellbeing!

Christmas holidays play a critical role in preventing teacher burnout and exhaustion, according to a new study by academics at City University London. The research confirms the vital importance of having such breaks in the school calendar.

Legislative Update

With the exception of Senate Bills 279 & 280, which target your bargaining teams and association leadership on their retirement accrual and release time, this year has been a little better for teachers as compared to the outrageous attacks on public education since 2011. Legislation has made somewhat of a turn for the better in teacher evaluations and the official end of No Child Left Behind which put far too much emphasis on toxic testing and overly rigid requirements from Washington that were mandated and often unfunded to the states. SB 279 & 280 continue to sit on the House floor and we are hopeful that that is where they will stay.

On another note - we are now watching Senate Bill 571. This is directly targeting the funding of public school budgets and impacts ALL public school districts in the state of Michigan. This legislation bars school districts and intermediate school districts from distributing factual and unbiased information regarding local millages and bonds for 60 days prior to an election and has already been sent to Governor Snyder for his signature.

Specifically, Senate Bill 571 would prohibit a public body, or person acting for a public body from using public resources for communications referencing local ballot questions by radio, television, mass mailing or prerecorded telephone message for 60 days prior to an election.

Please contact Governor Snyder now using this form letter. It will take you less than 2 minutes.

GPEA Representative Information and Training Seminar - ALL INVITED!

Monday, Jan. 11th 2016 at 4-5:30pm

20090 Morningside Drive

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

Rm. 207 at Barnes

Pizza and pop will be provided

If you have never been an AR or you are a past or current AR - you are encouraged to join us. This is designed to regain some much needed confidence to continue working together as an association. What we do here matters to our professional educators.

Our presenters will be Paula Herbart - President of Local 1 and Mara Wirtz - President of L'anse Creuse Education Association and new Uniserv director in Local 1. Both of these women work tirelessly on our behalf as constant advocates for public educators.

Association Representative (AR)Training will include the following:

· De-Escalation

· Communication

· Representing Members

· Data Collection

Pupil Protection Laws & Weingarten Rights for Teachers.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

2016 MEA Scholarship Applications Available Online!

Only dependents of MEA members or MEA-Retired members in good standing are eligible for the scholarships. The general criteria for awarding the scholarships include

academic achievement, extra-curricular activities, as well as school and community service.

Last year, 20 public high school students and 11 returning college students were awarded scholarships totaling $44,250. The Scholarship Fund Trustees will be meeting in March to determine how many scholarships and their dollar amounts will be awarded.

The MEA Scholarship Fund is financed through voluntary contributions of members, staff and friends of the Michigan Education Association.

The deadline for returning applications is Thursday, February 25, 2016. Contact Barb

Hitchcock at for additional information.

New Human Resources Director

Nicole Pilgrim, M.Ed. is our new Human Resources Director replacing Dean Niforos. She comes with 14 years of middle management and director level human resource experience from the University of Phoenix, Quicken Loans and Bethel Early Learning Center. GPEA leadership was part of the hiring process and Nicole was ultimately chosen by Gary Niehaus. The GPEA will be working with her at her earliest convenience to bring her up to speed on our current contract.

FAQ from the GPEA

Can administration cancel a Tuesday meeting and then make it mandatory to attend on another day?

Administration can cancel a Tuesday meeting and reschedule for another day BUT they cannot make attendance mandatory. If you have been asked to attend a meeting after school on a day that is NOT a scheduled Tuesday meeting - you have the right to decline. It is a professional courtesy to let your principal know that you will not be in attendance due to a prior commitment.

Does the GPEA/GPPSS contract have language that impacts curriculum decisions?

No - the contract does not speak specifically to curriculum design and decisions. It only speaks to remuneration for meetings, grade level leader/department chair pay and expectations.

Is it true that some of our surrounding districts are trying to make teachers come in on snow days or take those as a personal day?

Yes - Lakeview EA in St. Clair Shores has been fighting this for several months. They refused to settle a contract due to this language. After showing up as a unified education association to board meetings - that has been taken off the table. The GPEA supported Lakeview in this endeavor.

Happy Holidays from your GPEA Executive Board!

Mike Rennell, Kim Maddalena, Judy Ignagni, Chris Geerer, Jackie Shelson, Rob McIntyre, Barry Mulso, Cheryl Gawel, Deb Raab, Greg Johnson, Peter Palen & Laura Mikesell