Now’s a great time to join the free NEA edCommunities!

Have you been looking for a great online community where you can collaborate with colleagues both in Wisconsin and throughout the nation? NEA edCommunities is the place for you! At NEA edCommunities, you can:

  • Collaborate with school and community stakeholders.
  • Join groups on specific education topics and  issues – or start your own. Dozens of groups already exists in categories that include: Professional Practice; Bargaining and Advocacy; Leadership; Organizing; Politics; and Social Justice and Issue Advocacy.  Each category includes multiple groups, such as these examples from the Professional Practices category:
    • K-12 Science
    • K-12 Social Studies
    • Common Core K-5
    • Elementary Math
    • Digital Tools & Learning
    • ESP Hot Issues
    • Retired Educator Issues
    • Work4Me
    • And many, many more.
  • Share and access free, high-quality curricula and mashable resources to use as you wish to create customized learning tools.
  • Expand your professional opportunities with virtual learning events.
  • Improve student learning.

NEA edCommunities is, of course, geared to NEA members, but you actually don’t have to be an NEA member to use it. Although some of the groups are private, many are open to all educators throughout the nation.

What does NEA edCommunities do?

  • Connects all educators to virtual groups by interest topics.
  • Provides a safe means to collaborate with colleagues through discussion and file sharing.
  • Facilitates collaboration – at national, state and local levels.
  • Shares resources and materials helpful to educators and students.
  • Surfaces recommended resources, collaboration groups, and people to follow and get inspired in your professional practice.
  • Provides access to online events, webinars and meetups.

To join NEA edCommunities:

  • Register at Registration is free and open to all educators – just click on the Sign Up link!
  • Complete your profile.
  • Join a group – or create your own group.

Read more:

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NEA edCommunities is part of a new nationwide Member Portal call MyNEA360, which gives members and prospective members a simple, secure and useful way to engage with the Association – on any device. NEA 360 is being rolled out state by state beginning this summer. We expect it to be operational for WEAC members in late winter/early spring 2018. Watch for announcements. (In the meantime, you can get started by using NEA edCommunities, which is already up and running.)

With NEA 360, members will be able to:

  • Manage your membership data online or, if you’re not yet a member, sign up for membership online, using any device. You will be able to view your financial and membership information at any time.
  • Subscribe to e-newsletters.
  • Access your personal contacts, including colleagues and friends from NEA edCommunities and your association representatives.
  • Submit questions and requests.

Celebrating Read Across America!

WEAC President Ron Martin joined staff and students at Viking Elementary School in Holmen on Thursday to celebrate Read Across America, the nation’s largest reading event. The National Education Association’s Read Across America, which is celebrated in schools throughout the nation on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss, is designed to motivate students to read. The event helps students to master basic reading and comprehension skills and develop a life-long love of reading by making it F-U-N. Read more about Read Across America.

NEA Foundation highlights Milwaukee urban farming and aquaponics grant program during Earth Week


The NEA Foundation is celebrating Earth Week by highlighting grants that fund special Earth-friendly grant projects such as an urban farming and aquaponics program in Milwaukee.

This NEA Foundation case study and related e-book include valuable insights from two successful STEM projects it funded, in partnership with AT&T, in Milwaukee and New York City. These resources are designed for all educators, whether their districts are rural, suburban, or urban, to grow urban farming or aquaponics programs in their own schools.

Students produce their own food (everything from kale to fish!) and learn about not only science but also social justice, business, healthy eating, and sustainability. These programs have taken root in young minds across each district.

“Once the kids showed up and saw what the class was about, they kept showing up,” says Rochelle Sandrin, a science teacher at Bradley Tech in Milwaukee.

In the spirit of the season, and just in time for Earth Day, you are encouraged to find out more and share these resources. Click these links to post on Facebook and Twitter.

And view this video about the Milwaukee urban farming and aquaponics grant program:

Find out more about NEA Foundation Grants.

Deadlines for applications are
February 1, June 1, and October 15.

NEA Foundation also highlighted these recent Wisconsin grants:

Community Schools put students’ needs front and center

Community schools are an outstanding model for public education in the 21st century because they put students’ needs front and center. These schools can include partnerships with health care and social service providers, mentors, and others who offer a range of services, from medical care and counseling for students, to job resources and emergency assistance for parents and others who live in the neighborhood.

Community Schools exist or are being developed in several communities throughout Wisconsin, including Madison, Green Bay, Oshkosh, Sun Prairie and Milwaukee. Recently the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured the impressive accomplishments of the Community School program at Auer Avenue School in Milwaukee. It is one of four schools involved in the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership.

What defines a Community School?

  • No two community schools are exactly alike. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach that treats all neighborhoods – and all students – the same, community schools are as unique as the children they serve.
  • Successful community schools are built on six pillars:
    • They provide a rich curriculum that includes culturally relevant, robust, and challenging course offerings.
    • They emphasize high-quality teaching instead of testing, including time for educators to collaborate.
    • They provide support services before, during, and after school.
    • They rely on extensive parent and community engagement.
    • They focus on positive discipline practices, resulting in fewer school suspensions and harsh punishments.
    • And they feature inclusive leadership and shared responsibility among the school principal, the Community School Coordinator, and a Community School Committee that includes parents, partners, school staff, youth, and other stakeholders.

The community school concept is not new; it actually dates to the turn of the 20th century when educators and philosophers such as John Dewey advocated a curriculum that was relevant to the lives of students. These educators argued that the school should be the center of neighborhood life and they wanted the building open and accessible well beyond the school day.

The concept fell in and out of favor over the passing decades. At some points, federal grants have supported the creation of community schools. But the emergence of No Child Left Behind put testing and top-down notions of reform in the driver’s seat.

With ESSA, educators – the ones who know students, parents, and neighborhoods best – have the opportunity to advocate for what we know works, and community schools should be at the top of our list.

Today’s community schools recognize that meeting our students’ needs inside the classroom means recognizing that the unmet needs they have outside the classroom affect their ability and desire to learn.

Read more:

Community Schools: As Unique as the Children They Serve – Lily’s Blackboard

Imagine a school that not only provides rich classes and challenging opportunities for students, but also builds the skills of parents who need help learning English or preparing for the GED. A school that has an inviting, cozy resource center where families who need clothing, emergency housing, or even immigration lawyers get help.

Imagine a School…

Each community school is unique, responsive to and reflective of the needs and aspirations of the students, families, and communities within its reach. However, the most successful of these schools are built on Six Pillars. Listed by @neatoday.

Community Schools

A Community School is at the center of the community – open all day, every day, to everyone – that brings together academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement under one roof, leading to improved learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.

Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership

The Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership (MCSP) is a collective strategy to transform schools into a place where students, families, staff, and the surrounding community can work together to ensure every student is successful. Community Schools is a proven model to increase a school’s capacity to better engage and align partnerships centered on the self-identified, real-time priorities of schools and communities.