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Are You Missing Out on These Educator Tax Deductions?

Read these tips from NEA Member Benefits before you start working on your taxes this year. Make sure you claim your educator deductions so you can get back as much money as possible.

The tax reform of 2017 kept the $250 above-the-line deduction for classroom supplies, and it’s still available for the 2019 tax year (the year for which taxes are due on April 15, 2020). The $250 deduction is particularly advantageous because it is above the line on Schedule A, which means you don’t have to itemize to take it and it reduces your overall adjusted gross income (AGI).

This becomes even more important under the most recent tax reform, which virtually doubled the standard deduction, setting the threshold even higher for choosing to itemize. Legislation in 2015 indexed the amount to inflation—though it is unchanged at $250 for 2019—and allows professional development expenses to be included in the deduction. If both spouses filing jointly are educators, each can claim the deduction, for a total of $500. Read more

Ten Free Things for Valentine’s Day

  1. Valentine’s Day Coloring Pages & Bingo Sheets
    Valentine-themed cards, coloring pages, and 10 different Bingo games! (Grades K-3)
  2. Free printable Valentine’s Day Coloring Pages
    Add a little color to Valentine’s Day with our free coloring pages—for kids and adults!
    (Grades K-3)
  3. Heart Bookmark
    Make a bookmark template with card stock and Valentine bookmarks from decorative paper. (Grades 2-4)
  4. The Story of St. Valentine (PDF icon PDF,  22 KB, 4 pgs.)
    The legend of St. Valentine with reading comprehension questions and a brief essay assignment. (Grades 3-5)
  5. Crayon Hearts
    Make Valentine hearts to hang in a window with wax paper, crayons, and an iron. (Grades 4-6)
  6. Valentine’s Day
    An archive of art activities. (Grades K-12)
  7. How To Make A Heart-Shaped Garland
    Festoon your classroom with a Valentine’s Day garland. (Grades 6-8)
  8. DIY Double Knot Bracelet
    An instructional video. (3:44)  (Grades K-12)
  9. Valentine’s Day Facts: Gifts, History, and Love Science
    A brief history of Valentine’s Day from its less than tender beginnings in Ancient Rome to the big business it has become. (Grades 6-12)
  10. Valentine’s Day
    Twelve short videos on the history of Valentine’s Day; chocolate; the science of attraction, kissing and love; and, more. (Grades 10-12)

Bonus

  1. St Valentine’s Day Massacre (17:53)
    The History Detectives investigate a shotgun possibly used at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. This episode looks at the contributions of one of the pioneers of ballistic science and includes additional video on weapons dating and ballistics. (Grades 6-12)

Winter County Forums Starting Soon!

CEA’s second round of 2019-2020 county forum meetings runs January 28 through February 19.

Meet with your colleagues and local union leaders to hear about issues impacting education and your profession, and learn how you can advocate for yourself, your students, and public education.

Attend a CEA county forum near you, and encourage your colleagues to join you. Click here for dates, locations, and more information.

NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship Accepting Applications

Applications are being accepted through February 1, 2020, for the 2021 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship—a year of professional development that includes a summer field study in South Africa.

The fellowship is an opportunity for K-12 educators to integrate global competency into their daily classroom instruction, advocate for global competency in their schools and districts, and help students thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.

NEA Foundation Global Learning fellows participate in a 12-month professional development program that includes in-person workshops, online coursework, webinars by leading experts, peer learning, and a field study experience.

The Foundation welcomes applicants with global experience as well as those who have never left the country. The top requirement for the program is caring about the world and sharing that passion with students.

Apply at www.neafoundation.org/for-educators/global-learning-fellowship/.

Connecticut Education Foundation Receives Grant to Help Students in Need

Hundreds of schoolchildren across the state facing extraordinary hardships will receive a helping hand—as will minority students planning on entering the teaching profession—thanks to a generous donation from Dalio Philanthropies.

The organization donated $40,000 to the Connecticut Education Foundation’s (CEF) Children’s Fund, which provides disadvantaged public school students across the state with many of the necessities that their own families cannot afford, including clothing, eyeglasses, and medicine. CEF also awards scholarships to minority students pursuing teaching careers.

“We are grateful for the generous donation from Dalio Philanthropies,” said CEF President Tom Nicholas. “The funds will build on the success of the Connecticut Education Foundation’s commitment to changing lives for the better by allowing us to further our reach and provide assistance to more students in need across the state. We know that students cannot learn if their basic needs are not met. That is why teachers turn to the Children’s Fund for help, and that is why the Dalio Philanthopries’ support of CEF is so deeply appreciated.” Read more

Celebrate the 100th Day of School

The 100th day of school is fast approaching. It generally falls in early February in Connecticut, though of course that depends on when your school year started and how many snow days you’ve had.

Whenever it happens in your school, here are 10 activities, resources, and suggestions from NEA to help your elementary students get excited about mathematics! Read more

Teacher Leadership Should Be a Redundancy in Terms, Says Former Connecticut Teacher of the Year

Teaching is a challenging profession that doesn’t always receive the recognition it should. Nevertheless, teachers must never doubt their own significance or hesitate to speak up Connecticut’s 2012 Teacher of the Year David Bosso told early-career and aspiring educators during a speech this winter at the University of Hartford.

Berlin social studies teacher David Bosso gave the first talk in the Dean’s Lecture Series at the University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing, and Health Professions.

“Teaching is a strange, tenuous balance between feeling empowered and humble,” Bosso told the 100 students and professors gathered for the first talk in the education department’s Dean’s Lecture Series. “We are giants. We are pillars in our communities. And any teacher who stands among great teachers, among their students, feels like they are walking among the redwoods. But even redwoods, as they reach for the sky, remain firmly rooted in the soil. On average, redwoods live over 500 years. How far into the future does our impact go?”

Read more

Learn About Different Bargaining Strategies for Better Results

When will your next contract be negotiated, and how can you be sure you get the salary, benefits, and working conditions you deserve?

Come to CEA’s Negotiations Conference in Farmington on Saturday, February 1, and pick up new strategies to bring to the bargaining table.

Sessions cover everything from working with your board of education to expanding your impact through social media and bargaining for the common good. See the complete agenda here. This event is free, and lunch is included.

Register now.

Black History Month Lessons and Resources

Photo by LizMarie_AK via Flickr.

To help you integrate Black History Month into your classroom, NEA offers a selection of lesson plans that cover a variety of subjects and that can be adapted to fit multiple grade levels.

Resources for:

How to Keep Your New Year’s Financial Resolutions

If you’re like many Americans, you made a few New Year’s resolutions recently. And, like vowing to eat right and exercise more, financially motivated pledges bring the promise of a better and healthier life. But while making resolutions is admirable, it’s obviously more beneficial to actually keep them.

With this in mind, here are five classic financial New Year’s resolutions, along with expert advice from NEA Member Benefits on how to successfully achieve them: Read more