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Tiny Homes for Teachers


A school district in Colorado is considering a unique incentive in recruiting new teachers – offering up tiny homes to its staff.

The Eagle County School District, located near the upscale skiing community of Vail, is weighing the option of tiny homes after difficulties recruiting and retaining teachers because of the high cost of living in the area.

The median home cost in Eagle County is $630,900, according to Sperling’s Best Places. The district reports that for the 2016-2017 school year, first-year teachers earned an average annual salary of $41,000.

According to Education Week, the district is looking at the possibility of adding up to 18 tiny homes – each usually under 400 square feet – to 50 acres of land it owns in a nearby area.

Would you consider living in a tiny house for your dream job?

Teacher Pay Across the USA


Today’s teachers face more stress and job demands than in years past. However, their paycheck isn’t reflecting the extra energy and effort. According to a study published by the Economic Policy Institute, average weekly teacher wages have decreased from $1,122 to $1,092 during the past 20 years (adjusted for inflation). In contrast, weekly wages of all college graduates rose from $1,292 to $1,416 during the same time period.

Teacher salaries can vary greatly from state to state, so educators in the lowest paying states are impacted the most by lagging pay. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these states pay teachers the least:

1. Mississippi: $42,043
2. Oklahoma: $42,647
3. South Dakota: $43,200
4. North Carolina: $43,587
5. Arizona: $43,800

Top-paying states include Alaska, New York, Connecticut, California and Massachusetts. While there is a correlation between teacher pay and cost of living in many of these states, there are exceptions. For example, teachers in Richmond, VA make an average of $7,000 more than their peers in Charlotte, NC. These cities have a similar cost of living.

There is some good news for teachers in the lowest paying states. Earlier this year, the governors of Arizona and North Carolina announced plans to increase teacher pay. In Oklahoma, a bill was passed that will give teachers a $6,000 raise over three years. And just this month, South Dakota lawmakers approved a small raise for teachers in their state.

Youngest Qualifier for National Spelling Bee


By age 5, the typical child is mastering the letters of the alphabet and learning to spell simple consonant-vowel-consonant words.

Edith Fuller is not your typical 5-year-old.

Fuller recently won the Green Country Regional Spelling Bee in Tulsa, Okla., earning a berth in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, to be held in Washington D.C. in May. Fuller is the youngest qualifier for the national contest ever and beat out more than 50 participants, including many 14-year-old eight graders.

In the regional event, Fuller spelled 37 words correctly, including the final word, “jnana.” Other words included “colloquial”, “chauvinism” and ” sarsaparilla.”

Does your school have a spelling bee?

Crayola Crayons Brighten Classrooms Worldwide


When it comes to crayons, the Crayola name immediately pops into the mind. School supply lists feature requests for generic folders, notebooks and glue. But when it comes to crayons, teachers know that Crayola is the way to go.

What makes Crayola such a popular choice in schools?

Tradition – The first eight-pack of Crayola wax crayons was produced in 1903, to meet the demand for a safe, quality crayon. Now, Crayola produces 3 billion crayons each year, an average of 12 million crayons daily! While packaging and colors have changed over the years, the quality has remained the same, making Crayola – the brand we loved as children – the crayon choice for the next generation.

Safety – Crayola crayons are nontoxic and, for the most part, made in the USA. Crayola has long been committed to safety and is a founding member of the Crayon, Watercolor and Craft Institute, which promotes product safety in art materials. The organization is now known as the Art & Creative Materials Institute and its seal can be found on Crayola products.

Quality & Durability – Generic crayons may come at a lower price, but you’ll often have to replenish your supply much sooner than with Crayola crayons. Crayola crayons are made of durable, yet smooth, wax that won’t crumble as you color. The crayons are also double-wrapped to prevent snapping in the middle.

Affordability – The first eight-pack of Crayola crayons sold for a nickel in 1903. Over 100 years later and the price hasn’t changed much. Crayola Classpacks are even more affordable, providing you with an entire school year of colorful crayons at an excellent price.

SCHOOLSin is proud to offer quality Crayola crayons and other art supplies to our customers.

Van Halen Gives Back to Music Education


Eddie Van Halen has been regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in the world, but did you know that the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer gives back to music education?

Van Halen has often spoken about the importance of music in his life and how it kept him on the right path while growing up. With tight budgets causing many schools to start limiting music programs, Van Halen felt the urge to take action.

Van Halen has donated 75 of his guitars to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to keeping music alive in schools. Since 1996, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation has donated over $20 million in musical instruments to schools with under-funded music programs nationwide. Van Halen, and his brother Alex Van Halen, are listed on the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation website as multi-year, $100,000 and above donors. In addition to donating the guitars, the brothers have donated money to the organization.

The Van Halen News Desk recently released a video of Van Halen talking about his experience with Mr. Holland’s Opus. In the clip, Van Halen explained his desire to give back to the music community and the emotions he felt when seeing a student using one of his guitars.

Visit for the complete video.

The Important Role of the Substitute Teacher


Substitute teachers are a vital part of any school, expected to take charge of classrooms, seamlessly grasp lesson plans and to create as little of a distraction as possible while full-time teachers are out for professional development or sick days. Often summoned with just hours or even minutes notice, substitute teachers are saddled with the daunting task of keeping a normal feel in the classroom when situations are anything but that.

According to Bureau of Labor statistics, over 560,000 substitute teachers were employed in elementary and secondary schools in 2015. The mean wage for those teachers was $14.40 per hour and about $29,000 annually. For most substitute teachers the pay is not the main attraction for entering the field. Many enjoy working with children and promoting education, but have not fulfilled all of the requirements to be a full-time teacher. Others prefer the flexibility and on-the-job training.

Below are tips to help substitute teachers achieve a successful day:

• Arrive early and get situated in the class before students arrive. Review class rosters, lesson plans and class rules.
• Come equipped with an emergency bag that includes pencils, erasers, a stapler, water bottle and other items you might need throughout the day.
• Bring along weather-appropriate clothes and shoes in case your day involves playground duty.
• Meet or speak with the classroom teacher beforehand, if possible, to learn about student personalities, current lessons and any issues that may arise.
• Introduce yourself to the class and set the tone early
• Follow the lesson plan!
• Leave notes for the teacher regarding behavior (don’t forget to include positive behavior), what was covered and what homework was assigned
• If you are new to the district, send a note to the principal thanking them for the opportunity to teach their students.

Share you own stories about serving as a substitute teacher or having substitute teachers assist in your classroom.

Magnet Schools – A Closer Look


Last month we answered some common questions about charter schools. This month we’re following up with a deeper look at magnet schools. In the late 1960s, magnet schools emerged as a solution to the segregation that still existed in large urban school districts. These schools were intended to attract students from different school zones by offering an alternative educational environment. The goal was to have families voluntarily desegregate their children through school choice, rather than busing. During the past several decades, magnet schools have evolved within the public school landscape. We put together a basic Q & A:

What’s a magnet school?
Magnet schools are public elementary and secondary schools that are operated by one or more school districts. These schools charge no tuition and are funded by tax dollars. Transportation is usually provided. Magnet schools enroll students from different school zones, which enhances diversity and contributes to desegregation. This is accomplished by using a lottery system and other recruitment strategies.

How does the curriculum differ?
All magnet schools follow the Five Pillars that are determined by the Magnet Schools of America:
1. Diversity
2. Innovative Curriculum and Professional Development
3. Academic Excellence
4. High Quality Instructional Systems
5. Family and Community Partnerships

Along with the Five Pillars foundation, magnet schools each have a focused theme. Examples include STEM, Montessori, Fine and Performing Arts, World Languages, International Studies, Career and Technical Education (CTE) and World Languages. State or district standards (such as Common Core) are used, however they are taught within the overall theme of the school.

How many US students are enrolled?
There are around 2,700 magnets in the US, with an estimated 1.5 million students enrolled.

Do they perform as well as traditional public schools?
Research examining magnet school performance has produced mixed results. Studies out of California and Texas, for example, have shown that magnet students in those states have higher levels of academic achievement. Other studies have found no differences between magnet and non-magnet student performance.

Ball Chairs Keep Kids Focused


More and more students are having a ball in class, all because of their seating.

Ball chairs are becoming increasingly popular in today’s classroom and studies have shown that they can have a positive effect on student performance. The giant bouncy balls were originally used to give students with sensory processing disorders a safe outlet for fidgeting. Now, exercise balls, ball chairs, yoga balls and other core-building seating can be found throughout classrooms.

In addition to providing a soothing bouncing sensation for students, the ball chairs help strengthen core muscles and improve posture.

SCHOOLSin offers a variety of stability balls and ball chairs for today’s classroom. We have seen an increasing demand for the specialty seating, especially in renovated schools and classrooms. Check out all of our specialty seating at

Do you use ball chairs or other types of specialty seating in your classroom? How have the students responded to their special seating?

Black History Month Activities


February is Black History Month, a yearly celebration of the accomplishments and sacrifices of African Americans in our country. Get your students involved with hands-on activities that are fun and also teach important lessons.

Wax Museum
Assign or have each student select a famous African American from today or the past. Students research their famous person and prepare a short speech, written from that person’s perspective. Have a wax museum night where students dress like their famous historian and recite their speeches to friends, teachers and family members.

Underground Railroad
After researching as a class, create your own Underground Railroad in the hallways of your school. Draw a map, hide clues and have other classrooms serve as safe houses. Encourage students to work together just as those traveling the actual Underground Railroad did to survive.

Make Art Like Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a famous African American artist famous for his Neo-Expressionist, graffiti-type style. Learn more about Basquiat and then have students create their own masterpieces that are inspired by his style.

The website, Education World, offers more great ideas and lesson plans that complement your Black History Month curriculum. Share your ideas with us!

Community College Advantage


In today’s society, a college degree definitely provides a leg up in the job market. Depending on the career field, a bachelor degree isn’t always the only the avenue to explore.

According to Bureau of Labor statistics, an Associate’s Degree can lead to a thriving career in many fields and may provide a better return on investment than a four-year degree.

For example, the median pay for an air-traffic controller is $122,950 per year. While long-tern, on-the-job training is usually required, the typical entry-level requirement is an Associate’s Degree.

An article in U.S. News and World Report featured four additional career fields where an Associate’s Degree is just as valuable – and come with a better return – than a Bachelor’s Degree. Those fields include engineering technology, radiation technology and medical imaging, plumbing and heating and dental hygiene.

What are your thoughts on community college and Associate’s Degrees?

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