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EDUCATION’S FRONTLINE the people • the politics • the profession



a 2017 ford focus f r o m



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CONTENTS SUMMER 2017 Volume 15 Issue 2




Find out what GAE members have been up to. • NEA Global Fellow • SAT Practice = Score Gains? • Moving to a new district? Transfer your GAE membership

2017 LEGISLATIVE 201715Legislative Session SESSION HIGHLIGHTS

SUMMER 2017 Volume 15 Issue 2

fought for public education in 2017.


Sid Chapman president

Charlotte Booker vice-president

From OSD to private school tax credits, take

GAE Highlights a look at how the Georgia General Assembly 8 GAE MEMBER SUCCESS:

Lisa Morgan



John Tibbetts’ committment to the classroom and focus on students earns him Georgia’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

Chris Baumann

Starting off on the right foot can make all the difference. Check out these tools and tips as you plan for the months ahead.


executive director



See the special notice to fill GAE ESP At-Large Director Vacancy

Starla Tanner director of government relations and communications

Kevin Pearson public relations

Jennifer Clark editor internal communications social media




A self-named “teacher’s principal,” GAE member, and 2018 Principal of the Year, Tommmy Welch supports his teachers and embraces the idea that he is still teaching and learning daily.

26 MEMBER FUN AT THE NEA RA Couldn’t make it to the NEA’s 2017 RA? Check out images of GAE members in action



The beginning of another school year means another opportunity to “get it right!” Learn your ABC’s from GAE-Retired.

KNOW is published quarterly as a service to all members of the Georgia Association of Educators, 100 Crescent Centre Parkway, Suite 500, Tucker, GA 30084, 678-837-1100 or toll-free 1-800-282-7142, Periodicals’ postage paid at Tucker, Georgia and additional mailing offices. Postmaster! Please send changes to: GAE, 100 Crescent Centre Parkway, Suite 500, Tucker, GA 30084-7050.

Advertisers Advertising contents should be addressed to the Editor. Advertising rates are available upon request. Advertising is printed as a service to readers and publication does not imply Association endorsement. The Association reserves the right to refuse any advertising.

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Sid Chapman, GAE President

PRESIDENT’S LETTER Before being elected GAE President, Sid served as GAE Vice President (2010-2012, 2012-2014), Board Director and member of the GAE Internal Concerns and Elections and Credentials Committees. He also served in his local association, the Clayton County Education Association (CCEA), as president (2002-2014).

Dear Colleagues,

Many of you know I began as a high school social studies and taught English, Psychology, and Economics at the Tech College. I’ve enjoyed many years teaching students in Clayton County, and my role as President of GAE has allowed me to have an even greater impact on Georgia’s students and public education. I believe in the mission of our Association, which exists to protect and strengthen the landscape for Georgia’s educators. The strength of GAE lies in our membership. I am thankful for each and every person I have met in this organization. I would have never imagined that joining this organization would yield so many partnerships, collaborations and wins for students and public education in Georgia as a whole. Education can change a person’s life and helps make dreams come true. I hope you are spreading the word about the wonderful work our members our doing. But, there is much more work to be done. We must take action and impact the success of public education in Georgia.Your membership is essential to the Georgia Association of Educators, but so is your participation. You are more powerful than you realize and your actions and your voice can make a real difference in the fight for public education.You are the faces on the front line with students every day. From the school bus seat and the lunch room table to the classroom seat, you work hard to help students succeed. The more actively involved you become and the more you know about GAE’s history successful track record of winning and our future goals, the more GAE can accomplish on local, state and national levels. Above all, the more GAE can do for you.

Your GAE membership also means having access to relevant and timely professional development seminars and cutting-edge workshops designed to help you achieve your professional goals. As we prepare for the 2017-18 school year, we have many exciting professional development opportunities ahead. Have you heard about Practice, Practice, Practice: Classroom Management? This workshop is especially beneficial to our members who are classroom educators. Did you know the number one problem in the classroom is not discipline, but the lack of procedures and routines? This workshop will provide classroom management techniques through instructional strategies designed to promote a highly effective classroom learning environment enhancing student achievement. To learn more about our Classroom Management workshop and other upcoming professional development opportunities, contact or visit professional-teaching-and-learning/

Dr. Sid Chapman, President Georgia Association of Educators

THE CHOICE IS YOURS. We offer your KNOW magazine in both a print format and a digital format. The digital magazine comes straight to your email box. It gives you access to more information, cool news, and lots of bonus features-from “live” ads to video. It puts all that and more just a few clicks away. Or if you prefer, you can sign up to receive the old-fashioned KNOW magazine. To have the magazine sent to you, login at, click on your PROFILE, and choose your preferred delivery method for the magazine.

Community Schools



Addressing the Needs of Students for a Stronger Community


• the profession the people • the politics



TLINE the people • the politics • the WINS

| 1 13 SEE THE


2017-2018 LEGISL ATIVE






Notice to GAE Members: Georgia Association of Educators annual membership dues include the following refundable contributions: Georgia Association of Educators Foundation $2 for Active Certified members and $1 for Active Education Support members. GAE Foundation contributions fund educational scholarships and grants to members and potential educators and are tax deductible as charitable contributions. Georgia Association of Educators-Fund for Public Education (GAE-FPE) - $6 for Active Certified members and $3 for Active Education Support members. GAE-FPE contributions are used for political purposes and are not tax deductible. GAE Foundation and GAE-FPE contributions are voluntary and members have the right to a refund of these contributions. Send your request for refund of GAE Foundation and/or GAE-FPE contributions in writing to GAE Membership Processing at: GAE Membership Processing; Suite 500; 100 Crescent Center Parkway; Tucker; Georgia 30084-7050. NEA, GAE, and local association membership dues are not deductible as charitable contributions. Dues payment (or a portion) may be deductible as a miscellaneous itemized deduction. Six percent (6%) of GAE membership dues is attributable to lobbying expenses and is not tax deductible.

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Students can link their SAT Suite of Assessment scores to their Khan Academy accounts to receive a free, personalized study plan built just for them and access to thousands of interactive questions with instant feedback, video lessons, full-length practice tests, and more. Educators can visit for resources and tips to get students practicing.


Along with a growing number of states and districts offering the SAT Suite of Assessments to all their students, Official SAT Practice is helping to level the playing field. More than 3.7 million unique users have signed up since the tool’s launch in 2015. As with score improvement, adoption has been consistent

across demographics. Educators have played a critical role in bringing the free, personalized practice tools to students. Approximately 28% of usage on free Official SAT Practice happens during school hours. Thanks to the commitment of educators across the state, more Georgia students are taking advantage of the other opportunities that the SAT Suite of Assessments offers, including college application fee waivers, scholarships, and connection to Advanced Placement® (AP®) coursework.

The College Board and Khan Academy have released data linking Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy to substantial score gains from the PSAT/NMSQT® to the SAT®. The extensive analysis included nearly 250,000 students from the graduating class of 2017, who took the new PSAT/NMSQT and the new SAT in the past year. Students who practiced 20 hours on Official SAT Practice achieved an average 115-point score gain on the SAT—nearly double the average gain among students who didn’t use Khan Academy. Shorter periods of practice also correlate with meaningful score gains. For example, 6-8 hours of practice on Official SAT Practice is associated with an average 90-point increase. And even more encouraging, score improvement gains were consistent across gender, family income levels, race and ethnicity, and parental education.


Students should head to to sign up.


KNOW & Tell ATLANTA EDUCATOR SELECTED AS 2018 NEA FOUNDATION GLOBAL LEARNING FELLOW Multifaceted yearlong learning journey to prepare Emily Robinson, students as global citizens curriculum coaches, IB coordinators, foreign language speakers, and more. Some have participated in similar programs, and some have never traveled abroad. The diverse cohort will allow educators to learn from each other and bring global perspectives to a wide range of students. “We believe that educators are the key to giving students the skills to thrive in an interconnected world,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “We created the Global Learning Fellowship to provide professional development in teaching global competencies and to support educators as they integrate these skills into classroom instruction.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 13, 2017) – The NEA Foundation named Emily Robinson, an English/ language arts educator at Druid Hills High School in Atlanta, Ga., as one of the 48 public school educators to become a member of this year’s class of Global Learning Fellows. Robinson will spend a year building global competency skills (the capacity to understand and act on issues of global significance). As a result of the Fellowship, Robinson will be better equipped to prepare students for global citizenship. Fellows also create valuable global lesson plans for their students that are freely shared with educators across the nation and the world through open-source platforms. “I teach regular English classes, advanced, gifted, ESOL, and journalism, so I can reach numerous types of students,” says Robinson. “I can see being able to use what I learn as a Global Learning Fellow to teach students in any of these classes.” This class was selected from over 400 applicants from across the country. These new Fellows teach all grade levels – and all subjects: from visual and performing arts to agri-science, vocational studies to history. They come from rural, suburban, and urban schools. They are National Board Certified,

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Over the course of a year, the NEA Foundation staff, partners, and field experts will support Robinson as she immerses herself in online coursework, webinars, and collegial study, including a two-day professional development workshop this fall and a nine-day international field study, bringing the full cohort together with experts in global learning. Prior Fellows have contributed valuable knowledge to the field by posting replicable lesson plans on open-source platforms here and here. Past Fellows have returned to advance global competency in their schools and districts—one Fellow recently brought Peruvian artists to her school to teach her students how to incorporate their own culture into their art. Get to know all of the 2018 NEA Foundation Learning Fellows by visiting The NEA Foundation will accept applications for the 2019 Global Learning Fellowship this fall. About the NEA Foundation The NEA Foundation is a public charity founded by educators for educators to improve public education for all students. Since our beginning in 1969, the Foundation has served as a laboratory of learning, offering funding and other resources to public school educators, their schools, and districts to solve complex teaching and learning challenges. We elevate and share educator solutions to ensure greater reach and impact on student learning. We believe that when educators unleash their own power, ideas, and voices, communities, schools, and students all benefit. Visit for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our blog.



GAE MEMBERSHIPS DO NOT TRANSFER FROM DISTRICT TO DISTRICT. If you are transferring school districts, please alert GAE at membership@ or by calling 678.837.1100 and complete a new membership form at

Georgia Association of Educators - is your professional association that supports, protects, and strengthens those who nurture Georgia’s children.

UPDATE: EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT For nearly 14 years, students and educators lived under the flawed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) returned decision making for the nation’s education back where it belongs – in the hands of local educators, parents and communities – while keeping the focus on students most in need. ESSA was passed with bipartisan support including assistance from Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson. The new law requires states to develop a plan that addresses standards, assessments, school and district accountability, and special help for struggling schools and students. Full implementation of Georgia’s ESSA Plan will be effective in this year’s 2017-2018 school year. The Georgia Department of Education will submit the state’s draft plan on September 18, 2017. For additional information on the working groups and plan go to GAE will continue to monitor ESSA development and implementation. Stay tuned for opportunities to become involved with implementation in your school.

GEORGIA ESSA TIMELINE January - April 2016 • GaDOE analyzed new ESSA provisions and established ESSA State Leadership Team • An Advisory Committee and six Working Committees were established – Accountability, Assessment, Federal Programs to Support School Improvement, Education of the Whole Child, Education & Leader Development, and Communications GAE President Sid Chapman served on the Advisory Committee May – July 2016 • Working and Advisory Committees developed discussion points as basis for stakeholder feedback and developed focus areas • Statewide stakeholder feedback sessions were planned August- October 2016 • ESSA stakeholder feedback sessions were held throughout the state February 2017 – June 2017 • Working committees began drafting language for Georgia ESSA Plan • Draft ESSA plan is developed and presented to the State Advisory Committee • Public comment period • Review of plan by Governor, State Board of Education, State School Superintendent • If necessary, reconvene committees to revise Georgia’s State Plan based on feedback September 2017 • Georgia State ESSA Plan will be submitted to the US Department of Education




THE SENIORS IN JOHN TIBBETTS’ ECONOMICS CLASSES LIKELY DON’T REALIZE HOW PREPARED HE IS TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEIR CLASSROOM EACH DAY. They may know a few details about his military service in Afghanistan and Turkey, his harrowing work in the Pentagon on 9/11, or his consulting work that led him to love economics in the first place. They may also know about his penchant for handson classroom activities and avid incorporation of classroom simulations that are inspired by real-world fluctuations in the markets.

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Given his professional demeanor and humble nature, they may not know much of this at all. Then again, that intentional focus on the students may be the exact reason why he’s Georgia’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. An economics teacher from Worth County High School in Sylvester, Tibbetts was one of 10 finalists for the statewide title, which was awarded in early June.

“That was a great surprise, and then I spent the next two weeks preparing,” he said. Tibbetts contacted previous finalists and winners in the South Georgia area. “I wanted to show that I could be an effective advocate for teachers and education in Georgia.” Tibbetts then had a 45-minute interview with a statewide panel and delivered a speech about teacher collaboration. He spoke about the value of finding partners across the school and district who care about student success. “For me, a partner is someone who understands the importance of what you’re doing and is willing to work with you to find an answer,” he said. “We check our egos at the door and work together.” As part of this, partnerships should also include administrators, parents, students, and the community at large to tackle issues. “If we could all take that view to heart, we might get more done for education,” he said. Tibbetts will talk about partnerships as one of his main tenets this year. As Teacher of the Year, he’ll take a teaching sabbatical to give speeches and conduct workshops around Georgia on behalf of public education. He’d also like to advocate on behalf of teachers to be treated as the professionals they are. “Many times, we’re affected by decisions made at higher levels where we’re unable to interact,” he said. “I often hear people say they’re checking with the stakeholders, but they often leave out the teachers on the front lines who understand the complex layers and implications of these decisions.” In that sense, legislators should be part of school district partnerships as well, he emphasized. “Teachers should be given that deference for new laws and policies that will affect

the classroom,” he said. “Ask us how new processes will affect what we do and whether it’ll make teaching easier or not.” Tibbetts will also vie for the National Teacher of the Year award, which has a similar application process to the state award. He’s already talking to former finalists about their impressions and what he can do to make his application stick out.


Earlier this year, Tibbetts was nominated by peers at the district level as Worth County’s Teacher of the Year. During the last week of the 2016-2017 school year, he found out he was a finalist for the state.


“Although we’re three weeks out from the announcement, I still have to pinch myself to believe I was selected,” he told KNOW Magazine in July. “It’s an incredible honor to represent so many great teachers at my high school, district, and state.”

“Knowing the great teachers in my own school and across the state, it’s still overwhelming to think I was honored at the state level,” he said. “We’ll let the national process flow and see where the chips fall.” In the meantime, Tibbetts is preparing for a year away from the classroom. Worth County High School hired a retired economics teacher to fill Tibbetts’ spot, which he jokes the students may enjoy even more. “It’s strange to think I won’t be in the classroom this year, and I’m going to miss it,” he said. “Teaching is a process, and every year, you look forward to what you’ll change next time. I had my list of changes ready for this fall, but now that’ll have to wait.” Tibbetts graduated from Tift County High School in 1979 and the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He served as an Army officer for 21 years and retired in 2004 as a lieutenant colonel. During this time, he was stationed overseas for more than five years in Turkey and Afghanistan, as well as service for Desert Storm, where he led tank units and was a plans officer. He also obtained a master’s degree in operational art from the U.S. Army Command General Staff College. Following two decades of military service, he worked for IBM as a senior consultant and then decided to pursue teaching. He first taught social studies and history classes at Tift County High School from 2005-2010, then became an education consultant, and taught at Albany Early College in Dougherty County. He joined Worth County High School as an economics teacher in 2015.


“My past makes me the teacher I am today and provides me with experience for the classroom,” he said. “Teaching social studies, I have the travel and international perspective to provide context for subjects such as U.S. history or world history.”


The students appreciate his service, and he’s honored during veteran-related services at the school. Because of that, he works hard to fold real-world scenarios into classroom discussions. “When you teach in a rural area, many kids haven’t been to the next county, much less the next state or another country,” he said. “I advocate for teachers bringing the world into their classroom to make the subject come to life.” For instance, Tibbetts worked in the Pentagon in the early 2000s and was stationed there during the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Part of his duty that day was to contact staff members to ensure they were safe and inform their families. Many of today’s high school students were toddlers then and have little recollection of the significant day. “The students only live in the aftermath of 9/11, and very few know about my role in it,” he said. “I’m always pleasantly surprised when a student shows appreciation on Veterans Day or during a patriotic event at school.”


Part of that military training has boosted Tibbetts’ natural leadership skills and ability to work with students equally. He often sees his high school students as the same age as the soldiers he trained and treats them with the same level of responsibility in the classroom. “In the Army, there’s no black, white or red — just the green uniform,” he said. “I don’t let preconceived prejudices get in the way. Instead, we’re adults who respect each other and work together.” Tibbetts is also known at Worth County High School for his hands-on simulations that reflect economic principals. If the cafeteria is filled with students showing off paper cups, for example, everyone knows it’s the Gross Domestic Product lesson. If students are auctioning chocolate, his class is learning about the effects of inflation. If they’re creating paper footballs to sell, the day’s lesson is about specialization and division of labor. “I really look forward to these days all year. I save scrap paper so I have a whole box ready to go,” he said. “You can do so much to engage students with simulations, even with pieces of paper.”

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Tibbetts treasures his economics classes for the connection to the “very fabric of our daily lives.” Since the Worth County district dictates that seniors take economics, he often focuses lessons on understanding budgets, investments, and government regulations as they approach graduation. By linking concepts to the students’ personal relevance, Tibbetts finds they often pay more attention and find connections to their own livelihoods. “Tax increases and Congressional budgets seem like mundane and distant decisions for most Americans, especially students,” he said. “Economics provides an opportunity to show them why their citizenship — and how their vote — matters.” Outside of the classroom, Tibbetts is a Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy mentor at Worth County High School and is certified to be a wrestling referee through the Georgia High School Association. He also coaches middle school soccer, is an avid gardener and cares for 25 chickens. His wife, Rhonda Garrett, is a home health care nurse, and his two sons, John and Ryan, are graduates of Georgia State University. Tibbetts often visits his father, G.W. Tibbetts, for advice about teaching. G.W., who lives not far away in Tifton, served with the Georgia Association of Educators as a UniServ Director for 30 years and is now a retired GAE member. “John was with me at conventions and helped me deliver membership materials in the summers,” he said with a laugh. “We sit down regularly and talk about the classroom.” As Tibbetts carries on the family legacy in education as Teacher of the Year this fall, G.W. hopes his son will speak to administrators as well. In particular, he hopes the state will train administrators how to handle new evaluations and responsibilities handed down with new statewide rules and regulations. “His mother and I are very proud, as are his five brothers and sisters,” he said. “We always knew he was good, and we’re looking forward to his year working on behalf of public education.” -Carolyn Crist is a writer based in Athens, Georgia.

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ON THE DAY THE GEORGIA ASSOCIATION OF SECONDARY SCHOOL PRINCIPALS NAMED TOMMY WELCH THE 2018 GEORGIA HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR, HE KNEW SOMETHING WAS OFF IN HIS SCHOOL. Although it had become normal for visitors to take tours and learn how Meadowcreek High School runs as smoothly as it does, Welch noticed names on the check-in list that seemed unusual. Though he was well-prepared for the faculty meeting that afternoon, he realized several of his top administrators were avoiding him throughout the day. As he approached the doorway, he saw the district superintendent and state education officials. Then he saw his wife, daughter and brother — and then his mother, who traveled from Buffalo, New York, to be there. “At that point, I couldn’t contain myself anymore,” he said. “I lost it.” The celebration was a surprise, but most of all, it was an affirmation of how far the school had come. In the past, Meadowcreek hadn’t been known to collect many awards, but now the hard work was finally paying off.

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As principal of Meadowcreek High School in Norcross since 2011, Welch was one of five finalists for the statewide title, which was awarded in February. The application included an extensive review of school-based performance measures and data.

“You make sure that you prepare yourself, so when an opportunity becomes available, you step up,” he said. “Someone believed in me to lead, so I did.”

“The application forces you to look back on the particular aspects that created that success and go through that journey again,” he told KNOW Magazine in July. “You forget how much work has gone into it, and it made me teary-eyed to see how much we did in a short amount of time.” Meadowcreek’s graduation rate, for instance, has jumped more than 20 percent since he became principal. SAT scores also improved 40 percent, and retention rates for ninth graders are up. During his stent as Principal of the Year, Welch plans to speak about improving leadership programs available for educators. In particular, he poses several questions: Are these training programs out there? Are they consistent from one educational institution to another? Are we recruiting and retaining high-qualified teachers for the profession? “It’s difficult when we talk to students about careers and they have to make a decision about entering a noble profession for noble reasons and potentially compromising their ability to maximize their earnings,” he said. This is particularly true for students in nontraditional education settings and students from diverse backgrounds, he added. “It comes down to dollars and cents for many families,” he said. “At the same time, money isn’t everything, and we talk about quality of life here at Meadowcreek.” Welch’s passion for education training is reflected in his own career path. He started as a teacher and coach in 2003 and gradually moved from the classroom into administrator roles, bumping from assistant principal to interim principal to principal. “I never thought I would be an administrator,” he said with a laugh. “I still remember my head coach pulling me aside and saying, ‘You don’t belong here. You need to do more for the students.’”


The same moment happened when Welch was assistant principal. The superintendent approached him and said he behaved and led like a principal, so Welch decided to move up.


“I had seen the journey, and it was exciting to know the journey was being recognized,” Welch said. “This award is great for the students, the district, the community and public education in general.”

In coming months, Welch will also vie for the National Principal of the Year award, which has a similar application process to the state award. He’s already developed a large portfolio to submit for the review process, which narrows down the 50 state principals to three finalists. “It’s huge for the school and state to have someone represented at the national level,” he said. “It’s also huge for GAE — I believe this work starts at the teacher’s level.” Welch was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He moved to Atlanta to teach social studies at Meadowcreek High School and coach football. During that time, he obtained an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from Piedmont College, an add-on endorsement from the University of Georgia, and a doctorate in philosophy from Mercer University. During his time as a teacher, Welch joined the Georgia Association of Educators for support and resources in the classroom. Now a self-named “teacher’s principal,” Welch remains a member to support his teachers and embraces the idea that he’s still teaching and learning daily. “The No. 1 indicator of student success at the school level is the teacher, then the principal,” he said. “Knowing that, it’s my responsibility to serve my teachers and take care of them so they can take care of the students.”


Welch emphasizes teacher well-being at Meadowcreek, acknowledging that teachers are often the first ones to encounter student issues and confront parental concerns. “I always tell my administrators, whether it’s a teacher’s best day or worst day, we have to make sure they’re OK as a person and nurture them in the same way we do our students,” he said. “We’re in the people business, and I think sometimes that gets lost.”

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Although Welch is often immersed in the day-to-day life on his campus, he takes time for afterschool activities, too. He tries to attend as many athletic matches and community service events as possible, and he participates in collaborations with nonprofits such as the United Way and the Boy Scouts. He’s supported at home by his wife Stacy and daughter Harper Rae, who is now 4. “I have great support systems,” he said. “I don’t get to see my family much due to my schedule, but they are very understanding and involved.”


Welch also likes to travel in his free time, which tends to link back to education. Whenever he travels to a new state or country, for example, he looks at the education system to see what’s different. On a recent trip to Cuba, he immediately asked to see a school so he could understand a new way of fostering students. “This is me. This is what I love to do,” he said. “I like to see how education works throughout the world.” Similarly back home, Welch finds value in showing the world what Meadowcreek knows how to do, too. To promote the school’s innovative programs across the district and state, Welch created a community outreach specialist staff position and the “Meadowcreek Experience.” Visitors who come to the school to see entrepreneurship and student-based projects meet with student ambassadors who tour them around the school and explain the education process from the student’s perspective. The ambassadors are part of a class that trains them strategically about what to say and where to tour in the school. “People are blown away by how article and authentic the students are,” he said. “We made this experience for students to feel the buy-in about their education as well.” Similar to an orientation session at a college or university, the Meadowcreek Experience orients visitors to the school’s processes and major highlights. Educators from Alabama, Arkansas and Hawaii have visited recently.

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“Part of the Meadowcreek Way is innovating and sharing that work with others,” Welch said. “Transferring that knowledge is one of the most valuable aspects of academia.” Welch focuses on students and their wellbeing as well. In a school with so many nationalities, ethnicities and languages, he understands the nontraditional school lifestyle and how a high school must accommodate teens who have jobs and family responsibilities unlike other schools in Gwinnett County and around the state. One avenue of this unique take on public education is Meadowcreek U, an academy school made of small learning communities that also allows students to work with area companies to learn skills and earn credit. Welch used his undergraduate business degree to pull together the sometimesopposing cultures of the education sector and public sector to make partnerships work. The school partners with Brand Bank, Travelers Insurance, Cisco Systems, the Georgia Institute of Technology, TJMaxx and Vulcan Materials, among others. The Meadowcreek U concept is built on an underlying theory that the most successful students of the future must create their own jobs. They each have a student-based entrepreneurship program to learn how to create, design and promote products and services within their interests. Brand Bank, for example, houses a branch right at the school, where students at ages 15 and 16 can start on a career trajectory instead of work for a fast food restaurant or retail company. “With the economy now, it’s not good enough to say you want to get a college degree and work for someone,” Welch said. “Now you need to think about creating a business and opportunities for others, and my students get that better than anyone else.” -Carolyn Crist is a writer based in Athens, Georgia.


2017 Legislative Session GAE Highlights 2017 Legislative 2017 LegislativeSession Session

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LEGISLATIVE SESSION HIGHLIGHTS Below is a summary of the important education bills considered in the 2017 Georgia Legislative Session. This was the first year of Georgia’s biennial legislative process, so this summary includes bills that passed both chambers of the Georgia Legislature and also includes bills that did not pass both chambers but are still “alive” for next year’s session. BILLS THAT PASSED THIS YEAR The most widely-known piece of education legislation this session was HB 338, now known as “The First Priority Act.” This bill represented a new effort by Governor Deal to focus on struggling schools following last fall’s overwhelming defeat of his proposed Opportunity School District (OSD).

The newly created Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO) will oversee the efforts. GAE will be represented on the Education Turnaround Council and will be able to have input on the CTO selection and bill implementation.

Rather than allowing the state to take over “failing schools” via a constitutional amendment, as the OSD proposed, the First Priority Act creates a legislative process for the state to assist struggling schools and students. GAE and other education advocates worked collaboratively with the bill’s sponsor and other education leaders to refine the bill through numerous drafts and amendments. In essence, this bill recognizes that current Georgia law already allows state intervention into struggling schools and creates a mechanism for assisting schools in improving academic outcomes in order to avoid such intervention. The bill narrowly identifies the schools eligible for such turnaround assistance, using the Department of Education’s (DOE) definition of “the lowest 5% of schools in the state” identified in accordance with the statewide accountability system under federal law. These “turnaround eligible schools” will be offered amended flexibility contracts allowing them to accept additional state resources. Such schools will undergo comprehensive evaluations to develop strategic improvement plans and each school will have three years to show improvement pursuant to that plan before state intervention is a possibility. GAE was instrumental in assuring that the bill included a focus on struggling students, as well as struggling schools. These “low performing students” will receive evaluations and Turnaround Coaches in the community will help identify resources to assist these students, including state funds available through a grant process.

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Among the grant programs that low performing schools may access is the new “Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation,” created pursuant to HB 237. This tax credit program has a $5 million cap, sunsets in three years, and will be overseen by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA). GAE typically opposes tax credit programs for educational purposes because they traditionally involve diverting public dollars to private schools. The program created by HB 237, however, will only benefit public schools and will provide additional state resources for low performing schools.

The Legislature revisited student evaluations this year. Sponsored by the Senate Education and Youth Committee Chair, Lindsey Tippins, SB 211 seeks to maximize flexibility in the use of state mandated testing. A comparability study will be undertaken to check national assessments (like SAT and ACT) against Georgia standards in order to determine if those national tests can be used instead of state tests. The bill does not currently reduce or increase the number of assessments but Chairman Tippins hopes it will ultimately streamline the assessment process. SB 211 also mandates that local districts must consider dual enrollment students for valedictorian and salutatorian status unless they transferred after their sophomore year and have taken no courses on campus. In 2015 the Governor’s Education Reform Commission presented a slate of recommendations for changes to public education. As of the 2017 Session, the only legislation to come out of these recommendations is HB 430 implementing certain changes regarding charter schools. GAE is supportive of that portion of this legislation that establishes authorizing standards for charter schools and provides more transparency in the process. However, there are concerns with the bill’s impact on local districts’ utilization of district facilities and access to federal funding. GAE was vocal in addressing these concerns and will continually monitor the implementation.

OTHER BILLS OF NOTE THAT PASSED THIS SESSION ARE: The FY2018 budget bill included a 2% increase in the salary schedule for teachers, school nurses, bus drivers and school nutrition personnel. GAE will continue to advocate for this increase in schools that have waived the salary schedule. The budget also included $1.5 million for the Public School Employees Retirement System to increase the benefit multiplier from $14.75 to $15.00 per year of service. HB 139, which promotes transparency in local system and school budgeting by requiring the DOE to include specific school system and school site budget information on its website. HB 224, which allows students of military families living in military housing to attend any school in the local system that has capacity. SB 149, which states that “best practice” is for school resource officers to complete a 40-hour training course, and requires such to be provided by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council. SB 186, which provides that students who earned a high school diploma through dual credit coursework are eligible for HOPE grants. And, finally, HR 686, which creates a House study committee on equitable local education funding.

See following page for a complete list of Georgia Education Committee Members

BILLS THAT ARE STILL “ALIVE” FOR NEXT YEAR Although these bills did not pass both chambers this year, they may be considered for passage again next year under the same bill number. The most troubling of these bills is HB 217 which seeks, yet again, to increase the annual cap on private school tax credits. Currently Georgia’s Private School Tax Credit law allows eligible private citizens and corporations to receive tax credits for donations to private organizations which in turn provide scholarships for students to attend private schools. Currently the cap on this program is $58 million annually. HB 217 sought to increase the annual cap to $100 million. GAE joined all public education advocates in vocal opposition to this increase because it diverts needed revenues from the state budget. Every tax dollar which goes to this voucher program is diverted from the state budget and thus represents dollars lost to the funding of public education. To date this program has diverted more than $458 million in state tax dollars from the state treasury to private organizations in order to send students to private schools. The program lacks transparency and accountability. GAE will be watching this bill closely next year and issuing Calls to Action as necessary. As discussion at the Capitol centered on assisting struggling schools, SB 30, which promotes the Community Schools model, garnered wide-spread support. This bill would provide a grant program to fund implementation of Community School programs. Recognizing the proven impact of the Community Schools model on student achievement, GAE supported this bill and provided crucial testimony during several committee hearings. We remain hopeful that it will pass during the 2018 Legislative Session.

Two other pieces of legislation that GAE will be watching next year are: HB 273, which would provide for a scheduled daily recess in grades K-5. SB 3, known as the CONNECT Act, seeks to increase the number of students graduating with credentials that prepare them to go to work right away.

A MAJOR BILL WAS DEFEATED GAE was closely following SB 68, one of this year’s voucher bills. Vouchers can be implemented in numerous ways, such as through tax credits (see HB 217 above) or through what is known as “Education Savings Accounts (ESA).” SB 68 was an ESA voucher bill and was strongly opposed by GAE. The Senate Education and Youth Committee did not take a vote on this bill so it “died” in committee. Undoubtedly we will see a new and perhaps different form of voucher bill next session. As always, GAE will keep its members informed of this threat to public education.



February 22, 2018

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2017 GEORGIA EDUCATION COMMITTEE MEMBERS To email a committee member: OR *Rep. Brooks Coleman – R District 97 – Duluth 416 State Capitol 404-656-9210

Rep. Mike Glanton – D District 75 – Jonesboro 408-D Coverdell Bld. 404-657-1803

Rep. Kevin Tanner – R District 9 – Dawsonville 614-A Coverdell Bld. 404-656-3947

Rep. David Casas – R District 107 – Lilburn 601-H Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0254

Rep. Dewayne Hill – R District 3 – Ringgold 612-C Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0325

Rep. Sam Teasley – R District 37 – Marietta 415 State Capitol 404-463-8143

Rep. Tommy Benton – R District 31 – Jefferson 217 State Capitol 404-656-5126

Rep. Scott Hilton – R District 95 – Peachtree Corners 507-E Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0202

*Sen. Lindsey Tippens – R District 37 – Marietta 303-A Coverdell Bld. 404-657-0406

Rep. Dave Belton – R District 112 – Buckhead 401-B Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0152

Rep. Wayne Howard – D District 124 – Augusta 511-H Coverdell Bld. 404-656-6372

Sen. John Wilkinson – R District 50 – Toccoa 421-A State Capitol 404-463-5257

Rep. Beth Beskin – R District 54 – Atlanta 601-F Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0254

Rep. Jan Jones – R District 47 – Milton 340 State Capitol 404-656-5072

Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims – D District 12 – Dawson 110-A State Capitol 404-463-5259

Rep. Buzz Brockway – R District 102 – Lawrenceville 504-A Coverdell Bld 404-656-0188

Rep. Dominic LaRiccia – R District 169 – Douglas 508-A Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0213

Sen. Ellis Black – R District 8 – Valdosta 304-A State Capitol 404-656-3932

Rep. Wes Cantrell – R District 22 – Woodstock 401-E Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0152

Rep. Brenda Lopez – D District 99 – Norcross 511-F Coverdell Bld. 404-656-6372

Sen. Matt Brass – R District 28 – Newnan 304-B Coverdell Bld. 404-656-6446

Rep. Amy Carter – R District 175 – Valdosta 245 State Capitol 404-463-2248

Rep. Howard Maxwell – R District 17 – Dallas 402 State Capitol 404-656-5143

Sen. Donzella James – D District 35 – Atlanta 121-D State Capitol 404-463-1379

Rep. Doreen Carter – D District 92 – Lithonia 509-D Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0220

Rep. Randy Nix – R District 69 – LaGrange 417-B State Capitol 404-656-5146

Sen. Fran Millar – R District 40 – Atlanta 319-B Coverdell Bld. 404-463-2260

Rep. Joyce Chandler – R District 105 – Grayson 601-G Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0254

Rep. Miriam Paris – D District 142 – Macon 404-B Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0109

Sen. Elena Parent – D District 42 – Atlanta

Rep. Pam Dickerson – D District 113 – Conyers 611-E Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0314

Rep. Ed Setzler – R District 35 – Acworth 401 State Capitol 404.656.7857

Sen. Jesse Stone – R District 23 – Waynesboro

Rep. Terry England – R District 116 – Auburn 245 State Capitol 404-463-2247

Rep. Valencia Stovall – D District 74 – Ellenwood 611-C Coverdell Bld. 404-656-0314

Sen. Horacena Tate – D District 38 – Atlanta

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321-B Coverdell Bld. 404-656-5109

325-A Coverdell Bld. 404-463-1314

121-A State Capitol 404-463-8053

Stretch your classroom supplies budget

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NEA, NEA Member Benefits and the NEA Member Benefits logo are registered service marks of NEA’s Member Benefits Corporation.


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See the GAE Promise in Action. Real wins for real members.


GAE Legal Services…Standing with GAE members when they stand for justice “I will never join another professional organization,” said Stephanie LaShan Fleet after a concerned citizen filed a complaint with the Professional Standards Commission against the GAE member for allegedly putting a choke-hold on a 5th grade student. Stephanie Fleet teaches 5th grade at Pleasantdale Elementary, DeKalb County Schools. In May 2014, the 5th grade team decided to have several practice runs for their Honors Day Program scheduled for the next morning. As Ms. Fleet was Grade Chair, she was in charge of facilitating and handling the entire 5th grade event that would occur the following day. As she entered the cafeteria and the students were getting settled in their chairs – all 102 - Ms. Fleet noticed one student that had previous discipline issues started bullying other students. Because Ms. Fleet is so good at classroom management and discipline, other teachers and the administration look to her for help, particularly with this particular child. He had been brought to her for timeouts throughout that entire year because she knew how to de-escalate and handle his disruptions. Ms. Fleet immediately and appropriately intervened in an effort to de-escalate the situation. She placed one hand on the back of his chair and asked him move to the tables in the back of the cafeteria. “If you don’t want

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to participate you don’t have to,” Ms. Fleet said. The student jumped up, however, lifting the chair up with both hands in the front. He then raised his fist like he was going to punch Ms. Fleet. He grabbed the pen out of her hand and threw it across the cafeteria. He swung at her again and again. Ms. Fleet dropped her papers and caught his fist. Then he swung at her with his other fist. She caught that fist. Then he went to kick her. That’s when she spun him around and placed her arms across his chest and shoulders in a restraint she had been taught the previous year in a school district workshop. She was holding both his fists. Her arms never touched his neck at any time. To its credit, the PSC found no probable cause that Ms. Fleet violated the educator code of ethics.

I am very grateful that I had GAE’s team on my side. My UniServ Directors went to bat for me and their network attorney represented me with real passion. Thank you GAE! - Stephanie LaShan Fleet

Your GAE UniServ Director (UD) is trained to provide you with the assistance you need. Your UD can put you in contact with our attorneys — specialists in educator defense. Find contact info for your UD at


Do you have a legal question for our resident expert? Email your question to Mike.McGonigle Please include your name, contact information, and GAE membership number. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible. For urgent matters, call GAE at 800-282-7142 or contact your GAE UniServ Director.

The information provided is intended only as a general guide to employment rights of Georgia educators and is neither complete nor intended to provide legal advice on a particular problem.

Oops! Uh-Oh!

Did we get disconnected? Dear valued GAE member: GAE strives to ensure you receive the full value of your membership. However, in order to do this we must have a valid, personal email address. Why personal? Work/school-based emails can, and most often are, blocked from reaching you. If you have received this notice, we do not have a current valid, personal email address for you. Please take a moment to ensure you’re receiving information on advocacy efforts, professional development opportunities, employment advice and our world-class benefits. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter and most of all – thank you for being a member. Sincerely,

HOW TO UPDATE? Visit, sign-in (first initial, last name for username, then last 4 of your SSN# for the password), and provide your personal email and update any other information, or Contact our membership department at 678-837-1100 and ask to speak to an associate who can update your information.

Dr. Sid Chapman, President, GAE

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A LITTLE PLANNING PAYS BIG DIVIDENDS A little planning before school begins can pay big dividends throughout the school year. Starting off on the right foot can make all the difference. Here are some things to consider as you plan for the months ahead. Check them off as you go.

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11. BUILD TEAM SPIRIT. If you teach elementary students, you might give your class a name, such as “The Bumblebees from Room Three.” 12. PLAY “THE NAME GAME.” One way to get everyone, including you, to know everyone else in the room quickly is to play “The Name Game.” The first person in row one says, “I’m John.” The second person says, “That’s John and I’m Mary.” The third person says, “That’s John and Mary and I’m Susan.” Continue around the room.

1. GET YOURSELF READY. Give yourself enough time to set up your new home (if you are moving), report to school, make calls to insurance companies, register or service your car before beginning your new job. Then plan time for enough sleep. You’re beginning an exciting journey, but a very demanding one. 2. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Be nice to the school secretary and the custodian. They know the school, the students, and the neighborhood, and they can help you. Get involved in school activities and school staff functions. 3. GIVE YOUR CLASSROOM SOME CLASS. Decorate your classroom in a manner that will catch the eyes of your students and give them something to think about at the same time. 4. INTRODUCE YOURSELF. Post a biographical sketch of yourself outside your classroom and encourage others to follow suit. You never know when a student may find he or she has something in common with a teacher and is able to strike up a relationship that could be a positive learning experience. 5. ESTABLISH THE RULES. If you want discipline to work during the year, start off by establishing class rules (no more than five) right at the beginning. Let the students help develop and establish the rules. They will be more likely to follow them. The rules should be posted in the classroom.

6. CHECK SCHOOL POLICY. If you intend to be teaching subject matter that borders on controversy, be sure you are within board policy. Keep your personal views on religion and politics to yourself. 7. GET ORGANIZED. Organize your personal papers. You never know when you may have to produce a document related to your job. 8. KEEP RECORDS. Set aside a place for keeping receipts of expenditures that could be deductions on your income tax – classroom materials, professional books, and so on. 9. IMPROVE YOURSELF. Select one area in which you’d like to improve your professional ability during the coming year. Then decide how best to go about it. 10. SET A CLASS GOAL. Working together toward a goal – such as a holiday project to help a needy family, a class trip, or a class party at the end of the year – can help develop class spirit. Start your planning early in the fall to build enthusiasm.

13. DEVELOP RESOURCES. Develop your own sources of information and your resource list. Know where to get help when you need it. For example: How might you deal with a lack of instructional materials offered by the district? One way is to keep your eyes open for free and inexpensive materials such as those published in the education publications you receive. 14. DO YOUR BEST. Determine what factors are likely to keep you from doing your job during the school year. Then figure out a way to work around them. For example: How will you work with too many students in your class? How will you deal with the wide range of student abilities? How will you deal with disruptive students? 15. APPRECIATE THE SMALL THINGS. Give yourself a lift by focusing on the positive – the student who tells you that he or she learned something that first week of school or the child who speaks to you in the parking lot and uses your correct name.

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20. FIND A SHOULDER. Look for a colleague to turn to for special advice or simply to unburden yourself about a specific classroom challenge. 21. GET PARENTS INVOLVED. Determine how you will involve parents in your students’ education during the coming year. Is there any special way to approach parentteacher conferences? Are there any particular messages you want to send home to parents? How will you deal with parents who want to help their students learn? 16. BE REALISTIC. You will not win the battle with every student. Don’t let your sincere concern for each child turn into a depressing experience through a fear of failure. 17. BE PREPARED FOR SPECIAL STUDENTS. You may have students with special learning problems or physical handicaps. Don’t expect those problems to work themselves out. Plan from the beginning how you will deal with them in the best interests of the student, yourself, and the rest of the class. 18. THINK ABOUT HEALTH. Make an early determination about how you will handle students with special health problems. Do you know what to do if you have a student subject to epileptic seizures? What about administering medicine to students? 19. REMEMBER GIFTED STUDENTS. As soon as you have identified students who could be considered gifted, make arrangements to address their specific abilities.

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22. COMMUNICATE WITH PARENTS. Send a note home early in the year to introduce yourself. If you teach primary grades, explain to parents that you need time to get to know pupils before you can comment on them. Let parents know that you are available, and list the process and times for getting in touch with you. If you teach upper grades, include your policy on homework. 23. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Read or re-read your contract so that you will know your rights. 24. PLAN LESSONS. Develop your lessons on the basis of what you think your students need to know and then determine the best way of teaching them. 25. SUPPORT YOUR ASSOCIATION. Join your local education association for the moral support of people who understand the difficulty of your job. 26. MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION. Whatever else you do, give the class the impression from the beginning that you are well organized. Your students must feel that you are prepared and know what you are doing.

27. BUILD AN ATTITUDE. From the first day forward, you can help your students decide whether school is drudgery or a serious undertaking that can be both rewarding and enjoyable. If you give the impression that being in class is a chore for you, that attitude will be reflected in your students. 28. FOSTER CURIOSITY. If you want your students to be curious, you have to set an atmosphere that encourages curiosity and doesn’t stifle it. 29. START OFF SLOWLY. During the first grading period, while the material is not too difficult, go over the course content slowly enough that most students can find some success. 30. SET A POSITIVE TONE. Send a positive note home with every student at some time during the year. Catch the kids being good. 31. KEEP THE PRINCIPAL INFORMED. If you plan to do anything new or unusual this year, make certain you mention it to your principal in advance. 32. BRIEF YOUR STUDENTS. Let your students know early exactly what you expect of them in each class. Most students will rise to the teacher’s expectations. 33. REMEMBER THREE QUALITIES OF GOOD TEACHING. Be flexible, be patient, and keep your sense of humor. Source: Adapted from 33 Ways to Start the First Year Off Right, Virginia Education Association, 2002.

Special Election Notice to Fill GAE ESP At-Large Director Vacancy In accordance with GAE Bylaw 5-9, c., the GAE Board of Directors shall fill a GAE ESP At-Large Director vacancy through a special election to be conducted by the Board of Directors at its September 15-16, 2017 Board of Directors meeting. GAE currently has one GAE ESP At-Large Director vacancy. The following procedures for the GAE ESP At-Large Director interim position vacancy are as follows: GAE ESP At-Large Director – (New position created by constitutional amendment vote at GAE 2017 RA)

Candidates for this GAE ESP At-Large Director interim position shall submit nominations to the GAE Executive Director no later than August 25, 2017 on the official nomination form. Candidates for GAE ESP At-Large Director shall be non-supervisory Active Educational Support members. A member who is elected to serve in this GAE ESP At-Large Director position by the GAE Board of Directors serves in an interim capacity which does not constitute a full term; therefore, members are eligible to run for this vacant interim position and also to fill the remainder of the term of the vacant position in the regular election at the GAE April 2018 RA. Please review the GAE Uniform Code of Elections (UCOE) on our website at for a detailed explanation of the rules and procedures for candidates including eligibility, nomination procedures, publication procedures, and campaign procedures. To access this document, go to, login into the member site, go to MEMBERSHIP & ADMIN, click on MEMBER CENTER, then Governance Documents, and then open the

Representative Assembly and Board of Directors Policies document. The UCOE begins in Section 12.100 of the Representative Assembly and Board of Directors Policies. Nomination Procedure Candidates for GAE ESP At-Large Director must use the official nomination form available on the GAE website or in the official publication. The nomination should be mailed or transmitted directly to the office of the Executive Director. GAE will not accept responsibility for non-receipt of nominations addressed to any other person or office at GAE. Nomination forms for GAE ESP At-Large Director must be postmarked or transmitted no later than August 25th. Candidates who wish to deliver a presentation to the GAE Board of Directors may submit a written statement and/or appear in person on September 15, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the GAE Headquarters and deliver a presentation to the GAE Board of Directors. Candidates will be allowed to speak for up to three minutes. The GAE Board of Directors will conduct the election by secret ballot following all presentations. The newly elected GAE ESP At-Large Director will be installed and immediately begin to serve on the Board at this meeting.

Official Nomination Form for Candidates for GAE ESP At-Large Director (To Fill One Vacant Position – Does Not Constitute a Full Term) 2017-2018 Special Election Name

Last 4 digits of SS# (optional)

Please check the position candidate is being nominated for GAE ESP At-Large Director

Official Nomination Form

Mail or remit completed nomination form no later than August 25th to:

Mail Nomination Form to: Georgia Association of Educators Attn: Chris Baumann, Executive Director 100 Crescent Center Parkway, Suite 500 Tucker, Georgia 30084-7050 Telephone 678-837-1100

Fax Nomination Form to: 678-837-1120

Address City Telephone Number

State Zip E-mail Address

District/Local Association Name of Nominator

Last 4 digits of SS# (optional)

Signature of Nominator

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THE BEGINNING OF ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR… ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO “GET IT RIGHT”! As a 29-year-veteran in the classroom, I embraced the onset of each school year with energy, enthusiasm, and optimism, hopeful that I would be an even better educator with each year of experience I accrued. With the onset of this academic year comes the opportunity not only to continue to make the difference in the lives of your students and in the public education community of which you are a part but also to intensify your interactions with GAE. WHY SHOULD YOU BECOME EVEN MORE INVOLVED WITH GAE?





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ADVOCACY Unlike other professional education organizations in the state, GAE and its members advocate on three levels: local, state, and national. Most other public education organizations in Georgia are not tridimensional. Being involved with an organization involved on three levels is important because educational issues do not just happen on one level. Being informed about, advocating for, and having others advocate for public education locally, statewide, and nationally means that all bases are covered. What can you do? Below are several suggestions, not at all an inclusive list but a starting place for thinking about even greater involvement with your organization. On the local level, get to know your school board members, attend school board meetings, and even run for a seat on the school board. Who me? Yes, who better to know what should happen within your school system than you, the expert. Who is with the students (hopefully) 180 days during the academic year? On the state level, get to know your legislators before the session starts. Attend community events at which they are present. Host a legislative forum in your area. During the legislative session, read and share the GAE Legislative Hotlines and participate in the action alerts, and attending GAE’s Day at the Capitol is a must.

On the national level, know your U.S. Representative and Senators. Put their phone numbers in your contact list, and don’t be afraid to call and voice your opinion. Attend their “back home” events within your community. To know more about the advocacy work that NEA is doing, visit the NEA website (, read the NEA Education Insider. (Go to http://edadvocacy. to subscribe), and subscribe to Education Votes: You are the face on the front line. Be a knowledgeable one, share your knowledge with others, and support those who advocate for a pro-public education agenda.

BENEFITS Knowing what benefits are available because you are a member of three organizations means that you can save money on your membership dues. Finance, insurance, shopping, car rentals, magazine subscriptions, travel, and degree programs are just some of the areas in which you can save money. Sometimes a potential member will utter “I cannot afford to join GAE.” Having saved $350 dollars per year by switching to an NEA homeowner’s insurance product, I maintain that you cannot afford NOT to join GAE. Being part of a three-million-member organization means greater member benefits and coupled with GAE’s Access Card program, these benefits extend wherever you are throughout the United States. What can you do? Check out what is available at the NEA Member Benefits website: Check out what is available at the GAE members-only portion of the website: Download the “My Deals” Access App. Whenever you are spending, check out NEA and GAE Member Benefits to see how much money you can save!

COMMUNITY Knowing as much as you can about the organization of which you are a part gives you the edge over just the “average member.” For example, knowing that GAE is the oldest professional public education organization in the state and, unified

with NEA, the largest in the country makes me feel proud and powerful. Realizing that 1 out every 100 people in the United States is an NEA member intensifies that I am not alone and am part of something bigger, not only in Georgia but throughout the United States. Being active within GAE has strengthened my professional connections throughout the state. What can you do? The suggestions below are not exhaustive but are designed to get your involvement even more engage. First, if you are not active on your local level, become active: Attend local meetings. Create a celebration for American Education Week. Help with the spelling bee. Organize an event for Read Across America. Become an Association Representative. Run for an officer position. Next, become active on the state level: Read The KNOW magazine from cover to cover. Go to the GAE website and Facebook page. Attend the GAE Spring Representative Assembly. Make time to attend other events sponsored by GAE and GAE-Retired.Volunteer to serve on a GAE State Committee. Run for the Fund for Public Education (FPE). Nominate yourself for a Board of Directors position.

DON’T LET YOUR NEA AND GAE MEMBERSHIP BE UP “IN THE AIR”! Keep your NEA and GAE membership and member benefits in place.

JOIN GAE-RETIRED! Contact: Karen Solheim, President, GAE-Retired 678.837.1105

Lastly, NEA offers opportunities for involvement. First and foremost, if you have not yet attended an NEA Representative Assembly, make plans to attend the next one: June 30 to July 5 in Minneapolis. After several decades of attending the NEA RA, I still get goosebumps of joy and pride entering the convention hall the first day with 9,000 to 10,000 of my “union brothers and sisters” from all across the United States and from the overseas affiliate, realizing that the NEA RA is the world’s largest democratic deliberative boy. Lao Tzu purports that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” As you begin the next part of your journey at the onset of this academic year, remember that you have another opportunity to “get it right.” You are already on the right road by being a member of your local association, GAE, and NEA. Enlarge your highway through the ABC’s of GAE: advocacy, benefits, and community.

Karen Solheim Karen Solheim President, GAE-Retired 678.837.1105



EETINGS 2017-18 M 7

THANK YOU! As a result of your generosity, over 250 books and 75 teddy bears were donated!

July 18, 201 5, 2017 September 1 2018 January 19, 18 March 9, 20

kwy., Tucker ent Center P sc re C 0 0 1 : GAE .m. 11 a.m.-2 p

E ONFERENC C R E B M E M ALL, 2018 April 20

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TRS: IN THE NEWS With Dr. Buster Evans, TRS Executive Director LEGISLATIVE UPDATE The 2017 legislative session concluded on March 30, 2017, and was the first year of the two-year (2017-2018) biennium session. Retirement legislation introduced in 2017 that has a fiscal impact must be forwarded for an actuarial study in order to remain a valid bill for the 2018 session. Non-fiscal bills do not require an actuarial study and remain valid. The House Retirement Committee met on May 9, 2017, and voted to forward HB 218 and HB 418 for actuarial studies. These bills remain viable legislation. HB 633 was tabled and not forwarded for an actuarial study. Unless the legislation is reconsidered by the House Retirement Committee, the bill will “die in committee”. The Senate Retirement Committee met on May 22, 2017 and voted to forward SB 293 for an actuarial study. The State Auditor will provide the respective chairpersons with the actuarial studies showing the cost of each bill. A copy of the actuarial study is attached to the bill and travels with the bill throughout its life. After the actuarial study is completed, the bill may be amended only in such a manner as reduces the cost of the bill. Any substitute or amendment must be accompanied by a certificate from the State Auditor certifying whether the substitute or amendment changes the cost reflected in the actuarial study and, if so, a new actuarial study is required. A synopsis of each bill is available in our most recent legislative update available at

COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT (COLA) The TRS Board of Trustees grants a cost‐of‐ living adjustment (COLA) to eligible retirees on July 1st and January 1st of each year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in accordance with Board policy (Administrative Rule 513‐5‐1‐.16). A retiree is eligible to receive a COLA when the current average CPI (current index) is equal to or greater than the average CPI at the time of the retiree’s retirement (base index). Since the current index is higher than the base indexes for all TRS retirees, eligible current TRS retirees will receive a 1.5% COLA effective July 1, 2017. Please be reminded that COLA change notices will not be mailed out in an effort to reduce costs.

30 | KNOW • Volume 15

Issue 2

$70 BILLION For the first time in the history of this System, TRS has over $70 billion in assets. Thanks to our diligent team of investment professionals and a stronger stock market, TRS assets have increased by over $4 billion since July 1, 2016. Our year-to-date investment return is over 10%, and we are hoping to finish this fiscal year with this strong performance which helps continue to sustainability of the retirement system.

TIS THE SEASON It’s that time of year when many teachers, who have dedicated their careers to educating our children, are about to end their teaching journey and embark upon retirement. We are well into the busy 2017 retirement season and it looks like the numbers are similar to last year. As of May 23rd, we have received 3,154 June 2016 retirement applications, which is comparable to the June 2016 number of 2,945. As far as July 2017 retirement applications, we have received 594 so far, which is up a little bit compared to the July 2016 number of 472. Retirement is an exciting time…for some it’s an opportunity to travel and spend more time with family…for others it’s an opportunity to start a second career or volunteer. Regardless of what our members do in retirement, our team at the TRS of Georgia wish to say a sincere “thank you” for your service to public education in Georgia, and congratulations on your retirement!

WE’RE HERE TO HELP We are not only available to answer questions by phone and email, but we also have staff who can meet with you here at our offices, as well as personnel who travel throughout the state. Whether in person, email, on the phone our goal is to provide excellent customer service to all of our members. We are more than happy to come speak at conferences and meetings to provide you with an update on TRS. Just call TRS at 404-352-6500 and ask for Mike Zarem or Lisa Hajj if you are interested in having someone come out. Always feel free to contact us and let us know how we’re doing. We always welcome your feedback! Again, thank you for the privilege of serving you here at TRS!


SEMINAR SESSIONS INCLUDE: Teacher Retirement System (TRS of Georgia) GAE and NEA Member Benefits Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) Financial planning for retirement Enjoying retirement Open to GAE members and non-members who are within five years of retirement For further information, contact GAE-Retired Vice President Sandra Hawthorne: sh_hawthorne@ or 706.570.4740 Sponsored by GAE Retired

NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN UNTIL JANUARY 15, 2018 At the GAE-Retired 2018 Annual Meeting (tentatively scheduled for April 20), attendees will be elected GAE-Retired officers: President • Vice President • Secretary • Treasurer

Interested in nominating someone? Interested in nominating yourself? Please submit names by January 15, 2018, to all three members of the GAE-Retired Nominating Committee: • Jill Cavan ( • Alton Mattox ( • LaNelle Holland (

Questions? Contact all three members of the GAE-Retired Nominating Committee.

From the GAE-Retired Constitution and Bylaws: Section 1. EXECUTIVE OFFICERS: The Executive Officers of the GAE-Retired shall be the President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Section 2. QUALIFICATIONS FOR EXECUTIVE OFFICERS: All candidates for the offices of President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer shall be retired members of GAE-Retired and shall have been retired at least one full Membership Year immediately preceding election. Retired membership in the GAE-Retired shall be maintained throughout an officer’s term of office. Section 3. ETHNIC MINORITY GUARANTEE: If after two consecutive terms no Black has been elected President, nominations at the subsequent GAE-Retired All Member Conference shall be restricted to that ethnicity. At all times at least one of the Executive Officers shall be Black.

ble and ity in a most no ing the commun iree, rv et se R s e of you, de ew us ca N ca r de ea Be r D ked hard fo us children. or io w ec pr ve r u’ ei Yo th e! of pment ational your servic cilities and educ safety and develo Thank you for for the growth, clean and safe fa ls, ng ea ki m or g w e in : th ish ay or ur t thanks important w transportation, no is work withou safe and orderly ntials.You did th te po ll fu r the students had ei th reach ll will help them “Whew!” experiences that ery student” is sti now, you can say d an ic school for ev th bl or w pu t as ea w gr it n “A io ofession. compensat but not your pr ft your position le up ve u’ ppen? Yo ha t? at ha Now w eak out and stand to make th r mission is to sp can you do now ou t e d ha W an w y. n, ne so sio ur n, vi jo sio at your vi d on th us on that etired are focuse it’s time to join , -R on EA ssi N be pa d ot ur an nn d yo ca ll ire e sti s that Both GAE-Ret n and mission ar s, and employee ees n. Since that visio r schools, student io ou at r uc fo e active employ ed es th ic ic n bl vo he e pu w s th er for d ak an m e n lin nt sio ci d de faces on the fro policy makers an are the daytime eak freely to the sp d an e er th be ore than silenced. We can doing it! fits that mean m consumer bene nd we have fun A ur . yo ot nn ep fits, and you ca ke ne y o be pl als t sim tertainmen ember, you en m d d an ire l et ve -R tra e EA d and N e to use th s offered by u now have tim As a GAE-Retire ounts and rebate Yo sc . di nt e re th ffe g di in is ep e op, ke u incom if you love to sh ever now that yo u’ve worked. And yo as rd ha as ay fun. t public should – pl that even more we do to suppor rvices will make important work e th you. g in ith w do our Member Se ng ep rt worki gy to ke e can’t wait to sta ur ideas and ener W yo ! s us ed in ne jo d en ire th et ; GAE-R ent to exhale rgia. Take a mom education in Geo ation, Always for educ ired friends Your GAE-Ret d t, GAE-Retire lheim, Presiden So en ar K t: ac d, cont t GAE-Retire formation abou in r 1105 he 7. rt fu 83 r 8. Fo om • 67 sident@gmail.c re .p ed tir re e. ga

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Increase O Increase UR Numbers = YOUR P ower Ask a co lleague GAE tod to join ay.

The GAE mission.

We’re the faces on education’s front line. We exist to support, protect, and strengthen those who nurture Georgia’s children. After all, our education program can be only as good as our educators. For us, standing up for education means standing up for you.

32 | KNOW • Volume 15

Issue 2

KNOW Summer 2017  
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