Parents: 9 Back to School Pro Tips

Back to school time can be a hectic time for both you and the kiddos. These are some of our best back to school tips to help ensure this school year gets off to a great start!

 

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Walk or ride the route your child will take and make note of school patrols, crossing guards and high traffic areas along the way. Talk to your kids about NOT talking to strangers and find out what, if any, policies your child’s school has regarding early arrivals or late pick-ups. Learn about the school’s entrance and exit policies. Then, if you can, pop in and check out what the inside of the school looks like.

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Get Rewarded for your Public Service Work with Loan Forgiveness

If you work in public service, you already know that feeling of self-fulfillment that comes from helping others, but you might not realize a potential added benefit of your public service work: federal student loan forgiveness.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. I know what you’re thinking … “qualifying” is used a lot of times in that sentence. How would you possibly know if you qualify? You don’t have to guess; there’s an easy way to determine your eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.


Submit an Employment Certification Form (sometimes called an ECF).

 1. What’s an ECF and why should I submit it?

An ECF is a form that you can complete and submit to keep track of your progress toward loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. It requires you to provide some basic information about you (the borrower) and your employer. Both you and your employer are required to certify that the information on your ECF is true, complete, and correct. Once you submit your form, the PSLF servicer will determine if your loans are eligible for PSLF and if your employer qualifies.  Qualifying public service employment can include government work, teaching in a public school, or working at a non-profit organization.

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Learning to Let Go: It’s Time for Preschool

This year, I sent my youngest child to preschool.

Over the summer, we had the luxury of hours of cuddle time, reading books together, jumping on the trampoline and building endless Lego and wood block structures.

Chowin' down! (photo courtesy of the author)

Chowin’ down! (photo courtesy of the author)

But now, it’s time for him to start his preschool journey – and I’m feeling a little hesitant about a few things.

First, I am really going to miss him every day. What if other kids say harsh things to him and his feelings get hurt? What if he trips and falls? Or, what if he has an accident and the teachers don’t comfort him as well as I can?

I’m worried about a lot – but I’m also very excited.

Noé’s preschool is diverse in a number of ways. Students are as young as two years old or as old as five. The student population is also made up of kids from different socio-economic backgrounds, as well as different ethnic and language backgrounds. Additionally, some families have a generational history of high levels of education while other may or may not have attained high school diplomas.

Every day, the teachers set up learning stations where students can create, arrange, construct, converse, act out, write, draw or play together.

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Debunking Common Myths Behind U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask? Read on!

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask? Read on!

Five years ago, I was tasked with developing what came to be called U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS).  You may have heard of it.  The recognition award is now known for honoring sustainable schools annually.

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask?  Well, we established a federal definition when we created the award.  That federal education definition includes three broad areas that we call PillarsPillar I is ‘Reducing Environmental Impact and Costs‘, including waste, water, greenhouse gases, energy, and transportation. Pillar II is ‘Improving Health and Wellness‘, including physical activity, nutrition, and environmental health. Pillar III is ‘Teaching Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education.’

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Finding My Voice and Sharing My Story with Secretary King

Jamie Talley (in white), a NAEHCY scholarship recipient, sharing her views with Secretary King.

Jamie Talley (in white) is a NAEHCY scholarship recipient.

My name is Jamie Talley, I am a National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) scholarship recipient. I experienced homelessness, and I work every day to make myself someone different than the family I was born into.

I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Washington D.C., with other NAEHCY scholars. There is one moment that I will remember forever.

You’ve been given the opportunity to sit at the table and make a difference, so make it count.

That moment was when it actually dawned on me just what was taking place. These may not have been his exact words, but this was the point Sam Ryan, Special Assistant and Youth Liaison at the U.S. Department of Education, was making just before Secretary John B. King, Jr., entered the room.

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Announcing the New Pay for Success Competition for Early Learning

Expanding access to high quality early learning is one of the smartest investments we can make, but we should – and can – do more. Here at the U.S. Department of Education, we’re committed to helping ensure that all children are ready for kindergarten and beyond.

We should have a greater focus on evidenced-based practices, on measuring and improving outcomes for our youngest learners, and more incentives for promoting innovative approaches that promise to further improve child outcomes.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce today a new grant competition, the Preschool Pay for Success (PFS) Feasibility Pilot. This is an opportunity for state, local and Tribal governments to explore how to use Pay for Success to expand access to proven programs. It’s also a chance for them test other innovative promising approaches — all with a focus on improving outcomes for our children and society.

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Wherever You Are – Let’s Read, Let’s Move

Students gathered at the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens to listen to Secretary King and others read out loud.

Students gathered at the National Arboretum to listen to Secretary King and others read out loud.

Reading over the summer makes students more prepared when the new school year begins. That’s why the U.S. Department of Education (ED) makes an annual call to action that encourages more reading time out of school, especially over the summer months. Two events held last week celebrated reading and physical activity and aimed to increase awareness about the critical importance of summer learning.

The Olympic anthem rang out. Played by a band from MusicianShip, a D.C. nonprofit that facilitates music opportunities for students, it set the stage for this year’s Let’s Read, Let’s Move event at the U.S. National Arboretum. Dignitaries and special guests proceeded to the garden that served as the reading area, followed by pre-k to 6th grade students who carried flags representing their “Olympic” teams: Bursting Beans, Outgoing Onions, and Helpful Honey Bees among them.

With extreme energy, each VIP, including Secretary King, White House Executive Director of Let’s Move! Deb Eschmeyer, White House Chief Horticulturist Jim Adams, Chef Carla Hall, from ABC’s “The Chew” and Brian Mihelic, Washington, D.C. Youth Rugby, read a portion of Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin. It was difficult to tell who was more enthusiastic – the special dignitaries and guests who incorporated movement into their reading or the children who followed directions, paid attention and asked probing questions afterwards. Do worms really think baseballs are rocks? Do worms really eat paper? In the story, the worm eats his homework, which causes some trouble for him, and students agreed that would cause trouble for them, too.

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ED Seeks Winter/Spring Interns

Former interns participating in a listening session with the Secretary.

Former interns participating in a listening session with the Secretary.

Have you ever wondered about pursuing a federal career? Are you interested in public service? Would you like to gain valuable work experience and help move the needle on education issues in this country?

The Department of Education may have opportunities that match your interests – and we’re currently accepting applications for interns!

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How to Apply for a PLUS Loan

How to apply for a PLUS loan

If you’re a parent of a dependent undergraduate student or if you’re someone planning to attend graduate school, you’ve probably heard of the PLUS loan. The Direct PLUS Loan is a federal loan program that’s available specifically for these two groups of people to help cover the remaining cost of attending school after all other financial aid has been applied. Below we’ll explain the requirements, application process, and some tips if you’re considering getting a PLUS loan.

Requirements to Receive a PLUS Loan

No Adverse Credit History
A credit history is a summary of your financial strength, including your history of paying bills and your ability to repay future loans. To qualify for a PLUS loan, you cannot have an adverse credit history.

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Making the Impossible Possible as a Migrant Student

Blog author Yesenia Solis. (Photo courtesy the author)

Blog author Yesenia Solis. (Photo courtesy the author)

Months ago, traveling to Washington, D.C., seemed unbelievable to me, but recently this is exactly what I did. I am a rising senior from Avenal, California, and I want to someday be part of the government to make a change. So, thanks to the Ivy League Project – a program that encourages economically disadvantaged students to apply to the most prestigious universities in America – I was able to travel across the country to visit the Department of Education and several famous schools along the East Coast.

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National Summer Learning Day at an Oasis of Hope in Indianapolis

The program at Westminster Neighborhood Services serves as an oasis of hope, providing a safe and nurturing environment for children. (Photo courtesy Westminster Neighborhood Services)

The program at Westminster Neighborhood Services serves as an oasis of hope, providing a safe and nurturing environment for children. (Photo courtesy Westminster Neighborhood Services)

“Something on the inside, working on the outside. Oh, what a change in my life!”

These words from a song I used to sing in church rang through my ears as I walked through the halls of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. This church, situated on the corner of State and Sturm Roads, houses one of the hidden treasures of the Near Eastside of Indianapolis.

Recently, I spent National Summer Learning Day witnessing some of the work being done by Westminster Neighborhood Services, Inc. (WNS). Summer Learning Day activities happen across the country annually, with events highlighting the importance of keeping all children learning, safe and healthy every summer.

WNS has established relationships with a wide range of partners, such as the public library, museum, churches, local government, the business community, civic groups and many individuals to provide supportive services to families in the community.

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A Celebration of Professional Careers in the Arts With Savanah College of Art and Design

On July, 21, 2016, the Department of Education’s (ED) newest student art exhibit — featuring works crafted by both B.F.A. and M.F.A. students in painting, photography, printmaking and illustration from Georgia-based Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) — was unveiled as opening ceremonies took place at ED’s headquarters.

Throughout the proceedings, SCAD demonstrated the qualities that cement its position as a top-tier college of the arts, and the essence of its mission statement — that the Savannah College of Art and Design exists to prepare talented students for professional careers, emphasizing learning through individual attention in a positively oriented university environment — shone through to all the guests.

If one thing stood out above all else on opening day, though, it was the deep and undeniable impression that SCAD leaves upon its students. In addition to SCAD artists’ mastery of their mediums, unveiled at the opening, they benefit from the college’s full commitment to supporting their continuous growth and aiding them in developing their career paths beyond graduation.

Attendees at the SCAD art exhibit opening take a moment to appreciate and admire the new pieces of art on display.

Attendees at the SCAD art exhibit opening take a moment to appreciate and admire the new pieces of art on display.

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