Note: April is National Financial Capability Month.
On August 28, 2017, I accepted an offer to work with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) through the State Department’s Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) internship program. I imagined that I’d be doing typical intern duties, but didn’t foresee how much I’d learn about financial literacy, or the level of understanding I would gain on how to earn, manage and invest money.
Financial literacy, or financial capability, is a very important area of study. Included in the Secretary’s Final Supplemental Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs from the U.S. Department of Education is a priority area for “[s]upporting instruction in personal financial literacy, knowledge of markets and economics, knowledge of higher education financing and repayment (e.g., college savings and student loans), or other skills aimed at building personal financial understanding and responsibility.”
An education committed solely to acquiring skills and knowledge required for specific jobs — calculus, chemistry and American government, for example — has limitations. Schools that also instill adaptable skills students will need in many workplace contexts — written and oral communication, critical thinking and creativity, for example — can provide a better path to 21st-century success.
Five Fairfax County, Virginia high school juniors conveyed this message during a recent visit to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters, where they showcased their Advanced Placement Capstone™ project on how well the United States’ modern education system prepares students for post-college success.
Last week, nearly 70 students from four states visited the U.S. Department of Education, and inspired ED staff to improve the education system in America to work for all students. These students were anything but diffident, for they came prepared to ask questions, all curious to know what the federal government’s role is in education.
Each group of students shared the uniqueness of their programs and the challenges they face in their schools. These students exhibited determination, optimism, civic engagement and forward thinking. They let us know that their voices are the key to spark effective change.
Surrounded by farm fields in rural Arkansas, Abby Simmons, Matthew Cook and Darshan Patel, 8th grade students at Armorel High School, completed a community based project that garnered national media attention earlier this year. They successfully printed a 3-D prosthetic foot for an Indian Runner Duck named Peg.
The high school students teach themselves how to use 3-D printers and run state-of-the-art software in for photography, design, video, music and virtual animation (just to name a few) under the guidance of Armorel High School teacher Alicia Bell.
“You can teach yourself how to do different software,” Simmons said, “or anything you would like to learn about.”
The students attending the rural school in the unincorporated community of Armorel are eager to help alleviate needs they discover in their community and school. They design solutions using technological tools and resources, while developing invaluable skills in critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration.
The Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education’s White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for African-Americans, invite you to participate in the 2018 Martin Luther King Drum Major Innovative Service award nomination process.
The MLK Drum Major Innovative Service Award goes to volunteers who perform extraordinary every-day acts of service. The term, service, may include leading through outreach, mission-driven service, volunteerism, and ministry focused on innovative educational experiences for students.
Many Americans serve on a daily basis, every month, year after year through faith-based organizations and as volunteers for community groups, addressing a variety of critical education needs. Our focus is to recognize these extraordinary volunteers.
Six Montana students are warmed by a campfire with their teacher, Judy Boyle, and some of their parents who have come along on the ‘field study trip.’ The students, ranging from 1st to 7th grade, journal about the symbiotic relationships and geothermal features they observed and recorded during the day. Place-based education is one way Boyle enables her students to engage with science, their natural environment and community.
The Advantages of Being a Small, Rural School
Life in Divide, Montana, may look a little different from the norm in more populated areas. The two-room schoolhouse serves the six students enrolled at Divide Public School. On their commute to school, the Divide students and their teacher could be held up by a different kind of traffic – a herd of elk.
Since 1837, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been educating and preparing, primarily, but far from exclusively, African American students – nearly a quarter of HBCU students are non-Black – to contribute to the American experience. These institutions help fill the nation’s dual pipeline of productivity: providing diversely talented employees and creating employment opportunities. They consistently add both workers and job-creation to their state and local economies.
Graduating elementary, middle and high school students can be recognized.
School principals or designated school representatives may pre-order certificates at 1-877-897-4784.
President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) student recipients are selected annually by their school principal. Last year, PEAP provided individual recognition to nearly three million graduates at the elementary, middle and high school level at more than 30,000 public, private and military schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
Students receive a certificate and schools receive a letter signed by the President and U.S. Secretary of Education.
Since 1969, the program has annually recognized elementary through high school students from around the country for artistic ingenuity as expressed in film, dance, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts. Each year competitors are asked to bring a different theme to life in a way that is personal and meaningful. This is the 11th year ED has partnered with the National PTA to host a ceremony and art exhibit to honor award-winners.
“People who read and see and witness your work performed will create meaning from it, understand the human story, and understand the context in which you created it,” Jacquelyn Zimmermann, director of the Student Art Exhibit Program at ED, noted at the gathering. It drew students from about 25 states, from Alaska to Florida, as well as their families and teachers, arts educators and advocates, and ED staff.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke about the importance of the arts in education by noting the national focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and articulating the importance of another view, which includes the arts. “I happen to think that art is pretty important too,” she said. “So I like those who really embrace STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education.” Following DeVos, Jim Accomando, the new president of the National PTA, expressed similar sentiments: “National PTA has long recognized the arts as an essential part of a great education.” As reflected by the top leaders of both organizations, access to and participation in the arts are at the core of an excellent education.
It just figures that National School Counseling Week starts the day after the Super Bowl. The country gorges on guacamole-covered chicken wings on Sunday, and when America’s most misunderstood group of educators asks for three nacho chips and a high five on Monday, the country is too tired to party.
In some ways, we don’t mind. The last time we made headlines, most people surveyed felt that school counselors were more of a hindrance than a help in applying to college. Before that, we were the punch line of a car ad — “Your guidance counselor drives a minivan” — or we were known as the washed-up teachers who were given offices close to the principal so he could keep an eye on us.
Note: February 5-9, 2018 is National School Counseling Week.
Vicarious or secondary trauma invades our classrooms and leaks into the hearts of educators who carry the emotional burdens of their students. If we can honor our educators and their work by giving them the skills and space for their own self-care, then we help them stay whole and enjoy long, healthy careers being present for students and their learning.
As a school counselor, I help teachers understand the most important thing they can do for children is to keep their own mood stable. When I come into their classrooms to teach students about breathing strategies, mindfulness, yoga and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), it is not just for the students but also to offer time for teachers to connect with their own breath.
“We need to question everything; to look for ways in which we can improve, and embrace the imperative of change. At the end of the day, success shouldn’t be measured by how much ivy is on the wall,” said U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “It should be determined by how you’re educating and preparing students for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”
Setting this tone of innovation, Secretary DeVos welcomed over 20 education leaders from across the nation to the Education Innovation Summit on Higher Education, held recently at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington. The agenda included general discussion as well as several featured presentations.