8 Things You Should Know About Federal Work-Study

If you’re looking for another way to help pay for college, Federal Work-Study may be a great option for you. Work-study is a way for students to earn money to pay for school through part-time on- (and sometimes off-) campus jobs. The program gives students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience while pursuing a college degree. However, not every school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program. Schools that do participate have a limited amount of funds they can award to eligible students. This is why it is so important for students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form as early as possible, as some schools award work-study funds on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here are eight things you should know about the Federal Work-Study Program:

Read More

President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP): A Celebration of Student Achievement And Hard Work in the Classroom!

President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) student recipients are selected annually by their school principal. This year, PEAP provided individual recognition to nearly 3 million graduates (at the elementary, middle and high school level) across the nation 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 received a certificate signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Schools also received letters signed by the President and the Secretary.

Read More

The Ability to Inspire: U.S. Presidential Scholars National Recognition Program from an Advisor’s Perspective

Who are we and what did we do?

We are Nina Srivastava and Andy Trattner, and we had the honor of serving as the Executive Advisors for this year’s National Recognition Program (NRP) honoring the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars.** We are alumni of the program ourselves (2014) and rising college seniors at Harvard (Nina) and MIT (Andy). We helped run the NRP events for this year’s Scholars, arriving in DC two weeks before they did, and preparing with the Department of Education (ED) staff. Simone Olson and Caryn Kuzner at ED have been at the helm of this program for years, and we were grateful for their experience and guidance.

As you can imagine, coordinating the logistics of transporting over 150 high school seniors to recognition events around our nation’s capital is an intricate task. We did everything from vehicle orchestration to board game selection to security checkpoint choreography.

Our primary role, however, involved leading a team of twenty recent alumni who return to NRP each year to staff the program, the Advisors. Each Advisor serves as the primary point of contact for the “cluster” of 6-8 Scholars they are assigned.

Clusters move together from event to event, come up with group cheers to help with attendance, and bond through facilitated group activities during free time. It sounds very organized and boring, and although it is organized, the activities are far from boring!

We were Advisors for the past two years before becoming Executive Advisors, so we can say with certainty that meeting diverse folks from all over the country is a fun adventure every year for all of the Advisors.

Read More

Student Chefs Cook up Nutrition and Great Taste at ED

Seven teams of student chefs from across the country converged on the U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters recently to be judged on their efforts to create innovative and healthy menus for school lunches that would appeal to their fellow students.

The teams were national finalists in the Healthy Schools Campaign Cooking up Change competition. It recognizes and rewards students who develop tasty and nutritious meals that meet the same strict monetary and dietary standards that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets for real school lunches.

Read More

John F. Kennedy Centennial Celebration an Opportunity to Strengthen Civic Engagement

“Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You – Ask What You Can Do For Your Country.” – President John F. Kennedy, 1961

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the birth of one of the most celebrated presidents in our nation’s history, John F. Kennedy. To commemorate the occasion, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation has launched a year-long initiative to honor his legacy by encouraging youth to get more involved in their communities, and to better understand how government works.

Read More

“What Is Education?” Elevated Thought Students Respond Via the Arts

For students from Lawrence, Massachusetts, the answer to “What is education?” comes best through the arts — painting, drawing, photography, narrative, poetry, music, and film – and through their own context as passionate learners in a historically immigrant, low-income community north of Boston.

Eight Lawrence students, along with their adult mentors from Elevated Thought and the Mayor’s Health Task Force, came to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C. in mid-May for the opening of the students’ art exhibit, on view at ED through June. They also came to demonstrate what student voices can contribute to a community’s renewal and to learn from ED’s leaders about how best to exercise their Youth Bill of Rights.

Read More

Apprenticeship Program Helps Students Find And Fund Their Passions

Ask anyone in America what they would expect to see when walking through an American high school, and the last thing they’d probably say is a group of students building a house! Yet that’s exactly what goes on each and every day at the Academy of Construction and Design (ACAD), located at the Integrated Design & Electronics Academy (IDEA) Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor were privileged to visit this school. During the visit, several high level officials had the opportunity to see this innovative high school apprenticeship program in action.

Read More

Thelonious Monk Jazz Informance: A Lesson in Democracy

The conception of a perfect democracy drove the recent musical performance by students when their peers from nine District of Columbia schools, parents, educators, and ED employees gathered at U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters to hear jazz – America’s gift to the world.

To celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month, ED hosted its fifth annual jazz informance—an informational performance—with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. A jazz ensemble composed of student musicians from the Baltimore School for the Arts and Duke Ellington School of the Arts joined nationally acclaimed recording artist, educator and jazz trumpeter Terell Stafford to perform at the event.

Read More

Full STEAM Ahead: ED Celebrates African American Excellence in STEAM Fields

“I have always liked math and science because, as a child, I struggled with reading. But … I close my eyes and can see the world in numbers.” This is what Kennea Carter, a student from D.C.’s E. L. Haynes Public Charter School, shared with the audience at the Full STEAM Ahead: Educational Summit on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics held at the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) headquarters. This summit, hosted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, brought students and STEAM leaders together to celebrate African American excellence in STEAM fields and to help students learn how to enter them.

As a part of the celebration, Carter and her robotics team thrilled the audience with a demonstration of their robot’s ability to perform tasks. When asked how they became a team, the students said it was their robotics teacher, Shane Donovan, who told them about the opportunity and encouraged them to get involved. The Haynes pre-K through 12th-grade school was named after the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics.

Read More

A Student’s Perspective: Five Reasons to Study Languages

international education panel

Marianne Zape speaking at ED’s “Succeeding Globally through International Education and Engagement Panel”

Recently, I participated in a panel discussion on ED’s international strategy, “Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement.”  Maureen McLaughlin, senior advisor to Secretary Duncan and director of international affairs, asked me what advice I would give to U.S. students contemplating whether or not to study another language.

My suggestion? You absolutely should! For one, it’s fun, and beyond that, there are countless benefits. Here are my top five reasons for learning another language:

  1. Learn about new cultures and ideas. Language and culture are intertwined. Whatever language you choose to learn, it will always tell you something about the society in which it is spoken. Whether it’s through words whose meanings have evolved over time, popular sayings, or knowing cultural faux pas to avoid, you will learn more than just grammar and vocabulary.
  2. Better understand your own language. When you learn a new language, your natural reaction will probably be to compare it to your own. You’ll start to notice similarities and differences in mechanics and structure that will make you think more about your first language.
  3. Establish meaningful connections. Making an effort to speak to someone in his or her native language, even if you’re not the best at it, shows how interested you are in getting to know them. I’ve also learned that there is no better way to improve than to have a native speaker help you. They may not know that you’re familiar with their language at first glance, but when you make the effort, you might just get a really good tutor and a new friend. I did!
  4. Gain a professional advantage. Having foreign language skills can set you apart and give you an edge over the competition. Many sectors hire bilingual or multilingual candidates to avoid costly mistranslations, deliver services to non-English speakers more efficiently, and to gain access to documents unavailable in English. While researching the French Revolution for a class, I found so many intriguing sources–journals and letters–that weren’t in English. Familiarity with French allowed me to incorporate them in my work.
  5. Build resilience, confidence, and independence. Like all new things, learning languages can be daunting, but the challenges you face are part of the process that make it even more of an achievement! Knowing that you have the skills to navigate on your own and communicate effectively provides a sense of security and comfort even in an unfamiliar environment.

Be it personal or professional, learning another language is a truly meaningful experience with benefits that can last a lifetime.

Please click on this link to watch the full May 23 panel discussion.

Marianne Zape, an intern with ED’s International Affairs Office and a student at UC San Diego, speaks Tagalog, English and French.

FFA at White House Rural Economic Forum

“I was an FFA member back in the day” … “Some of my greatest memories are as a student in a rural setting” … “We believe in the future of agriculture and in students like you.

Comments like these were common from White House Staff, business leaders and attendees at the White House’s Rural Economic Forum held at Northeast Iowa Community College on August 16. State FFA Officers from Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois joined rural advocates, small business owners, cabinet members, my national FFA officer teammate, Wyatt DeJong, and me in a discussion focusing on rural America.

Riley Pagett and Wyatt DeJong at the White House’s Rural Economic Forum

The day was a success in developing ideas for effective rural communities, recruitment to such areas and other issues involving rural persons and businesses. The day also marked a great step forward for the American education system. People became more aware of the importance of education of people of all ages from all walks of life through breakout sessions. Business and industry leaders, staff, cabinet members and others brainstormed ideas in which we could enhance rural America – educational standards, increased broadband coverage, and opportunities for students to return to production agricultural areas and family farms were topics covered. Thoughts in the breakout sessions were solidified during President Obama’s remarks to the group.

“It’s always a mistake to bet against America. It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker, the American farmer, the American small business owner, the American People,” President Obama said. As the President wrapped up the rural economic development forum, he said he has confidence in our nation’s economic recovery and is encouraged by what he saw on his trip through rural Iowa and Minnesota.

His comments seemed to motivate attendees and summed up the day. He explained that the future direction of the Rural Council is to support the work done that day and the work of rural people he had encountered during his term.  He thanked “the future farmers” for our commitment to young people, agriculture, education and rural America.

To me, his comments spoke highly of today’s youth and of what we had achieved that day in Iowa – awareness, need for opportunity in rural areas and a sense of community among all.

Riley Pagett
Oklahoma student
2010-11 National FFA President