Posts

Interview with Harriet Sanford, President & CEO of the NEA Foundation

We recently sat down with Harriet Sanford to hear about her impressive 40-year career in education, and her current work supporting public teachers and students through the NEA Foundation. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Harriet Sanford

Why did you go into education? 

I began my career – 40 years ago (sigh!) — as a public school teacher at Arbor Hill Elementary School, in Albany, NY, just blocks away from where I spent the first seven years of my life. Although I did not remain in the classroom for many years, my commitment to improving lives and underserved communities for the better never faltered. It has been a privilege to work in education philanthropy for the last 12 years, but make no mistake, it is educators who go to work in the trenches every day, not funders.

Neither my mother nor father completed their educations. Nonetheless, they were adamant that their children take advantage of all of the opportunities that a public education offers — both in and out of school time. They fully expected their children to pursue higher education and ensured that we could immerse ourselves in our studies, service, sports, and more. With many communities, schools and families just like mine facing insufficient resources, my work and the Foundation’s work is to do all that we can to ensure that every student has access to a high-quality education and finds his or her own joy in learning.

What is the NEA Foundation and what support does it give teachers?
The NEA Foundation is an independent, 501(C)3 public charity, created, in 1969 by educators for educators, to improve public education for all students. Highlights of support for teachers include:

  • Our Grants to Educators, distributed three times each year, fund educators’ creative and innovative classroom projects designed to prepare students for college, work, and life. Last year, our grants empowered more than 6,000 educators, reaching more than 186,000 students.
  • Our annual Awards for Teaching Excellence honor the challenging but crucial work that public school educators do every day. We reward outstanding educators who are shining examples of the millions of people who work tirelessly in America’s public schools, in service of students, but seldom hear how much we appreciate them.
  • Our Global Learning Fellowship, leads 30 educators along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and other significant historical and cultural sites in Peru, as part of a year-long, cohort-based, professional development program. Participating educators return from their travels with fresh knowledge, skills and perspective needed to teach in the global age, and better equipped to deliver globally focused curriculum in their home schools and communities. Fellows also contribute to a growing, freely accessible, online collection of 195 lesson plans, accessed by peer teachers around the country more than 4,000 times.
  • We regularly produce issue briefs sharing the Foundation’s and our partners’ lessons learned on a wide range of topics and disseminating actionable information that helps educators overcome challenges to teaching and learning.

How do EverFi & the NEA Foundation work together?

The NEA Foundation and EverFi work together to increase educator and student access to technology and digital learning tools. We collectively strive to support critical skill areas that will enhance students’ ultimate academic and life success.

The partnerships currently supports NEA school districts across the country, providing free access to EverFi’s digital resources and accompanying professional development. Districts that have participated include Springfield, MA; Lee County, FL; and Prince George’s County, MD. Our partnership is leading us to work on more programming in STEM and to develop initiatives in social and emotional learning.

What encouragement would you give teachers who are working to integrate critical skills education into their classrooms?

My key piece of advice to educators, no matter what or whom they teach, is almost always the same: It takes “fierce” to battle your own self-doubt when you are the only one who seems to know that “good enough” is just not good enough for your students. Excellence is what you are after, and you are not going to let anything or anyone stand between your students and excellence. Bring “fierce” to the table every time. Be gentle, kind and caring with your students, but be fierce about their education.

 

Thanks to Harriet for giving us a glimpse into the important work she and the Foundation are doing to support public school education! If you’re interested in learning more about EverFi or our work with the NEA Foundation, reach out to Steve Sandak at steve@everfi.com.

Vault Helped Me Learn about Needs vs. Wants

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Chicago student Khloe W who shares how the skills and knowledge she gained from Vault – Understanding Money™  will help her reach her goal of graduating from college and earning her doctorate. Congrats to Khloe for being one of our scholarship recipients!

Khloe W

Student: Khloe W
Teacher: Linsey Rose
School: STEM Magnet Academy
State: Illinois
Sponsor: MassMutual Foundation

Imagine standing on a tall podium, thanking your family for supporting you from undergraduate to doctorate! That is how I want to be. There are many things that this EverFi Vault has taught me that will help me accomplish [my goals]. One big accomplishment that I want to do when I grow up is go to college, and be very successful. College is very important to me because I love getting an education and learning new things. Seeing my brothers and sisters go through college, I know it can be stressful thinking about failing many times. I also know that college costs a lot. EverFi Vault has prepared me to become a successful and responsible college student through the modules.

One important thing that Vault has taught me is about the different institutions that take care of money like brokerage firms, banks and credit unions. This is important to know when I go to college because I will need a bank account, since I will be away from my parents and have my own responsibilities. Also, I will need to know about these different parts because I will need to open up savings accounts for emergencies and pay bills to help my parents with the college funds.

Knowing that college is a lot of money, Vault has also taught me to be responsible and careful with the people I share my financial information with. EverFi says that financial information is very imperative and a key to success to life. If others can get access to it, things can do bad. For example, people can hack into your account and take your name, and spend your money, and that is not good. So, we have to be mindful about the information we share to others about our financial purposes. This is important to me and my dream to go to college because the world is cruel, and people can take advantage, be manipulative, and this can be food for thought as I continue to try to accomplish my dream.

One last thing that is very important and can affect my dream is how I spend and save my money. In college, I’ve heard many stories about the students being “broke”, and having no money to live off of, or not enough to buy necessities. I do not want this to happen to me and the way I can do that is to manage my money correctly. I will make a budget and make sure to document/establish my needs and wants. This is important because some people will focus on what they want to buy to fit in and do not focus on what they need to survive or succeed. Also, I can do this by getting a debit card. EverFi Vault has taught me the difference between the two [debit cards and credit cards] and for this situation a debit card is the best decision. Knowing that I can track my balance, see transactions and transfer/send money, this can help me better manage my money and what I spend rather than using cash.

In conclusion, this is how EverFi is helping me to with accomplish my dream to go to college. Vault is a very fun and interactive game that helped me better understand real problems in the real world.

Announcing the Scholarship Contest Winners!

The Winter Scholarship Contest ended last week with a record number of student submissions. From earning their doctorates to being nautical engineers, your students shared big dreams. We loved hearing about what they’ve learned through Vault and FutureSmart, and how financial education will make a difference in their lives. Each of our five student winners earned a $1000 college savings scholarship to help make their dreams a reality. Their stories will be featured on the EverFi Blog over the coming weeks. Congratulations winners!

Khloe W, STEM Magnet Academy, Illinois

Shannon W, New Market Middle School, Maryland

Grace K, Falls Lake Academy, North Carolina

Diandra P, Giltner High School, Nebraska

Mateja C, Berlin Middle School, Wisconsin

Want to submit more stories? The Spring Scholarship Competition is now open! We will be awarding another five $1,000 college savings scholarships to students in the U.S. who complete Vault, FutureSmart, or EverFi Financial Literacy, and who provide a short reflection by April 28th. This is a great capstone project for students and allows them to reflect on what they’ve learned. Click here to learn more.

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: Tabitha Herrin

We recently sat down with Tabitha Herrin, a teacher at Stewarts Creek Middle School in Smyrna, TN, to hear how she uses EverFi’s resources in her classroom. This is part of our Teacher Spotlight series.

Tabitha Herrin

Tabitha Herrin

What impact have EverFi’s courses had on your students?

A parent told me that a student who used EverFi Financial Literacy in my class helped his older brother with his FAFSA form! I love hearing stuff like that.

I’ve also seen the impact of Healthy Relationships and Ignition – both hone in on all of the issues of this middle school age. Students connect with the courses on a personal level and really enjoy them.

What do you like best about the programs?

They fit around my curriculum so well. Also, they are very up to date. The kids don’t think it looks like something from the 80s or 90s – it’s very engaging for them.

What is your approach to implementation?

I use a half and half method – 10 students will get on the computers and the rest of the class will go through our written curriculum. We alternate back and forth each day.

What best practices would you share with other teachers?

  • I have new students every 9 weeks, so I created a PPT that has the login info on it. I also print off a paper version of the instructions that I put at their desks. The login process happens during one class period. Because of the half and half method, students may only get on the computers twice a week, but all will cycle through. They are welcome to work on it outside the classroom as well. Their EverFi grade is their main grade. Their username & password is their login information. That way, they can remember it year after year and just add their course code for each year.
  • I planned an engagement activity for Venture (the entrepreneurship course where students create their own food truck business). I reached out to several food trucks in the area and invited them to come to the school. It was a great way to support the local food trucks and provide an additional incentive to students who completed their business plan.
  • Another activity I created is “The World’s Largest Party with Ignition.” Once students finish Ignition, they apply what they’ve learned about how to use technology by planning a party for a country of their choosing – they love it! They have to research basic facts about the country. The population of the country is the attendance; the theme of the party is the native dress; famous landmarks are the venue. Students create a PPT and do a presentation at the very end. We also bring in the food aspect, and students have to make at least one recipe for the class. It takes about 2 class periods to do. It brings in a lot of excitement, and combines many aspects of what they’ve learned in Ignition including technology and research, and it helps them learn more about different cultures and practice their presentation skills.

Do you have any advice for other teachers considering using EverFi?

Don’t be overwhelmed by all of the resources! Try it out with one class/program, or do one program for all of your grade levels until you can get familiar with it and get your lesson plans done. Once you’ve done it all the first time, EverFi makes life so much easier!! Eventually, you can get to have a course per grade level.

Anything else you’d like to share about the program?

The customer support is amazing! If I have an issue or am having problems, I send an email and my Schools Manager connects me to the tech team and they help immediately. By the end of the class period I get a response back. Having that support is great! They even partnered up with my tech specialist at the school and we figured out how to fix a problem I was having. The support is probably one of my favorite aspects.

Tabitha, thank you for your commitment to equipping students with critical life skills!

Tabitha uses Vault for 6th grade, Healthy Relationships and Ignition in 7th grade, and Venture and FutureSmart in 8th grade.

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: Sean Bradley

We recently sat down with Sean Bradley, a teacher at W. Erskine Johnston P.S. in Kanata, Ontario, to hear more about how he uses Hockey Scholar with students. This is part of our Teacher Spotlight series.
teacher-spotlight

Sean Bradley

How do you use EverFi’s courses in your classroom?

I have my students work at their own pace to complete the modules. Due to the high level of student engagement, and with all of the earphones being used, you can hear a pin drop at any given moment. We use the topics covered in the lessons to springboard into other discussions of how Mathematics and Science are related to the NHL and the real world. This has provided material for rich and relevant teachable moments and for the class to draw connections across the curriculum.

We recently watched the streaming of the Future Goals Showcase, EverFi’s virtual educational field that kicked off the World Cup of Hockey on September 14, 2016 (video here). Everyone became very excited and watched many of the games, especially the final game when Canada won the cup! This opportunity was a wonderful way to establish a community of learners and to positively start a brand new year.

What do you like best about the program?

The videos in Hockey Scholar are fantastic. In addition, the interactive game that follows allows the students to practice what they have learned in fun and authentic ways. Lastly, the multiple choice quiz checks to see if they have mastered the skill or not. I especially like the fact that they can go back and redo the module to improve their score and get a minimum of 70%, which is needed in order to ‘win’ the Stanley Cup! This offers the student an opportunity to learn from his or her mistakes and demonstrate persistence, and to take responsibility for his or her own learning. The students who completed the whole program were very excited when they received a certificate in the end, which provided them with the satisfaction of accomplishment.

I am always trying to tie in “real world” applications into my Math and Science classes. There is no better way to do it than with my favourite sport – hockey!

What impact has this course had on your students?

I think that the courses impacted my students in different ways. Many of the students were already familiar with the sport of hockey, whether they played on a team or watched the sport on TV, but I don’t think they had ever given any thought to the extent that Science and Math are used in the NHL. I don’t think that they will ever look at the game in the same way again!

For the students who were not as familiar with hockey, this provided an opportunity to learn about the sport while engaging in worthwhile math and science activities. I believe that some new Senator fans emerged after learning about the sport.

I always ask my students at the end of the year to share some of their favourite moments of grade 6. Time and again, the Future Goals program came up as their favourite activity of the year.

What best practices would you share with other teachers?

  • Love what you’re doing! If you show that you are enthusiastic about a topic, the students will likely respond positively to what you are teaching. It never hurts to show that you have a sense of humour, too.
  • If you can get them engaged and focused on what they are learning, you will have them hooked. This can be best accomplished with activity based lessons and more of a constructivist approach, rather than the students sitting and listening to the teacher lecturing – they become active participants in their own learning!
  • Make it “real”! Students shouldn’t have to ask, ”Why do I ever have to know this?” Providing opportunities for authentic learning experiences is an invaluable practice in the classroom. It provides the students with a keen sense of purpose for the learning activity, and highly motivates them by making connections to their real lives and the world around them.
  • We need to realize that it is okay to share the teaching with online work. As technology becomes more available in the classroom, it is important to utilize these tools in connection with face-to-face discussions. In other words, the students are not supposed to just log on the computer and the teacher just sits back and hopes that learning is happening. I’ve found you must plan thoughtful discussions that complement the online experience, and instigate peer to peer conversations using accountable talk and building on each other’s discoveries and ideas. I feel that the integration of these two learning tools together is key!

Do you have any advice for other teachers considering using Hockey Scholar?

Don’t hesitate to adopt EverFi. Do it for sure! After completing the course for the first time last year, the course has now become a staple in my Math and Science classes and will be for years to come. Think of yourself as essentially the ‘coach’, shaping their skill development, guiding them to be their best, and assisting the students in reaching their future goals.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Sean!

Thank you to the NHL, NHLPA and EverFi for the time and effort that went into producing such a worthwhile and engaging STEM educational program!

Student Blog Contest Winner

Our final student blog post of the 2015-2016 school year comes from middle schooler Eowyn M of Maine. Eowyn writes that the Vault – Understanding Money™ course taught her to make good financial decisions now, in order to help her achieve her dreams in the future. Thank you, Eowyn, for sharing your story with us!

Student: Eowyn M
Teacher: Haley Harwood
School: Westbrook Middle School
State: Maine
Sponsor: MassMutual Foundation

Vault helped me figure out how to achieve my dream. My dream is to own my own animal shelter. I plan to buy a house, and have the animal shelter on the first floor, and my living space on the second floor. I would only take hurt animals and lost animals in my shelter because it’s not fair to take animals out of their habitat. Take lizard for example. That lizard would be better off with his family in the wild. Maybe we wouldn’t feed him right or he wouldn’t be happy and would die of depression, loneliness, or anxiety. All those things we would have to consider in my animal shelter.

Vault helped me realize how I plan to run my business when I grow up. It helped me look at it a different way, and see how running your own business isn’t as easy as it sounds. Vault helped me with knowing good ways to save and spend my money. Like putting aside some cash to save for a business or college in the future. I plan to go to the University of New England for college. Vault also helped me with knowing which decisions are smart, and which decisions weren’t. Vault also helped me out by telling me what things are needs and what are wants. That will really come in handy when I start to think about buying a house for the shelter. I will need to be really responsible with my money. 

Because of Vault, I went home and asked my mom to set up a savings account for my animal shelter and college and we did! Now whenever I receive money, I put it in my savings account to use it to help me with my future in taking care of animals.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Michigan student Eric C who shares how the Ignition – Digital Literacy and Responsibility™ course taught him to think critically about the image he portrays of himself on the Internet. Congrats to Eric for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Eric C
Teacher: Anthony Wright
School: Sterling Heights Senior High School
State: Michigan
Sponsor: NHL, NHLPA

With the ever increasing significance of technology in our daily lives, what we do online is making a bigger impact on our futures. The EverFi program has taught me about the potential consequences my choices may cause, through the engaging and interactive Ignition program.

For a while now, I’ve known that social media and text messaging can be a cause of controversy, especially when it comes to viral trends. However, I didn’t realize how quickly something as harmless as a picture or video could be spread to a larger audience, many of whom may be critical of the contents. I already knew that I could potentially hurt my chances of getting a job in the future, but I didn’t know the true scope of how far the damage would go.

After completing the Ignition course, I found myself with the challenge of deciding whether to post a risky status update online or not. At the time, it seemed like no harm would come from it, as most teenagers would do. However, I realized that the language and content of the message would be painting a less than ideal image of myself on the Internet. Because future employers and educational establishments will be able to see that, I decided against posting that status. Afterwards, I went back and edited all of my social media profiles, removing any questionable content, leaving behind a clean image of who I am and what I stand for.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Today we’re featuring a guest post from California student Luis G who shares how EverFi – Financial Literacy™ helped him realize the benefits of keeping his money in a savings account rather than under his mattress. Congrats to Luis for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Luis G
Teacher: Thu Nguyen
School: Middle College High School
State: California
Sponsor: Union Bank

My dreams for the future are to go to the University of California, Irvine and earn a business degree and get a career in the business world. The EverFi program has helped prepare me to achieve those goals by helping me save money through a variety of ways. Thanks to EverFi enhancing what I know about savings, I’ve been saving more money through the power of interest. I have a savings account, which at first may seem small, but it adds up later on. EverFi also has given me extra help for the financial aid application process for college. I knew very little, but thanks to EverFi it made it a simple and painless process. Not only that, but I gained a greater understanding of lifetime earnings when it comes to the education that you receive. That with higher degrees you would earn more money over the course of your lifetime. EverFi helped explain what subsidized and unsubsidized loans are which is a big help for me in the near future. Subsidized is the best option of the two because the federal government will help cover the interest I accumulated while I am still in school, unlike unsubsidized loans where I would be held fully responsible for paying all the interest that accumulates on my loan. The final way that EverFi has helped me is by helping me learn on how to invest in the future. It’s better to do something with the money than leave it all alone under my mattress where I gain nothing from it being there.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Maryland student Jahzara T who shares how Radius – STEM Career Readiness™ helped her realize how math will help her achieve her career goals. Congrats to Jahzara for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Jahzara T
Teacher: David Lai
School: Thomas Johnson Middle School
State: Maryland
Sponsor: American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)

In the future, I plan on working in any field related to science (specifically biology) and traveling the world. I also hope to earn a Ph.D. in college and complete missionary work within the environment in other countries. In order to complete these tasks, math will play a huge role. In our everyday lives, math is all around us. The EverFi Radius course helped me understand certain topics in math more and also introduced me to some key concepts that I have never learned before. In this program, I learned how to decrypt or encrypt binary numbers, different systems and networks, and also reviewed other skills, like using formulas involving pi and using the order of operations. Radius incorporates real-life scenarios to help me understand how different formulas or processes can be used in everyday life. Not only did it teach lessons about certain topics, but it also provided a list of careers that I could choose from. Even though examples from the real world were given, the program also found a way to make it fun to complete the activities. I was first assigned as an agent and could make a customized character. I was then given an agent file and a smartphone with applications to unlock as I completed certain modules. EverFi Radius was not only educational, but fun as well.

Student Blog Contest Winner

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Michigan student Emily L who shares how the EverFi – Financial Literacy™ course taught her that it’s important for every person to learn about personal finance, regardless of what career they want to pursue. Congrats to Emily for being one of our student blog contest winners!

Student: Emily L
Teacher: Christy McGee
School: Saline High School
State: Michigan
Sponsor: TCF Bank

Prior to going through the EverFi program I didn’t have a very good understanding of anything financial. Upon completion of this program, I gained a greater understanding of a variety of finance related topics. In essence, EverFi gave me a preview of what else is out there. The unknown is often intimidating, but this program showed me that the world of finance is nothing to fear, but rather something to embrace and even benefit from.

I used to be turned away by the topic of finance. I figured that since I do not want a career at a bank or something along those lines, I did not actually need to pay attention to such a topic. Wrong! We make financial choices all day long that could be detrimental if we aren’t aware of the impact they are making. I learned that financial mistakes can have a lasting impact. If EverFi hadn’t gone into detail about the hazards of using a credit card, it might not stick in my mind as something to be hyper aware of. Even though I still do not love learning about finance, I at least have a better idea of it and I know not to fear it.

Thanks to EverFi, I now put more thought into my purchases. Is it a need or a want? Is there something else I am saving up for? Those are common questions I ask myself more frequently after completing the program. In addition, I now take a couple dollars out of each paycheck I receive and put them in my savings account rather than deposit the whole paycheck into my checking account. I believe this is a smart choice that will benefit me in the future. I think that it is cool that EverFi influenced me to do so.