Give Thanks: Nominate a Teacher for the $25K Fishman Prize

FishmanPrize-Shareable-1a_305_305_s_c1I know the impact that great teachers can have on the lives of children every day. Their patience and resolve that all students are capable of learning and experiencing academic success were instrumental to my own son’s achievement.

There is no greater compliment than one from a parent who believes that were it not for great teachers, their child would never realize his or her full potential. That’s why I believe we must thank our nation’s best and brightest teachers—particularly those working in high-need communities.

The most rewarding endorsement a parent can give is a nomination for the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a $25,000 award—sponsored by TNTP—given annually to four teachers in high-need schools. As a 2012 winner, I know the power of this recognition. For the first time, I was given a platform to use my voice to advocate for the teaching profession and for the well-being of the students I serve.

Through a special summer residency for winners of the Fishman Prize, I met with policy makers at the U.S. Department of Education, worked side-by-side with some of the nation’s top educators and published a paper on my teaching strategies. I have even dined with President Barack Obama as we discussed ways to promote educational equity in high-need schools. Ultimately, I have brought these experiences back to the classroom, where I still work today.

All great teachers deserve this type of platform and recognition. Let’s show them how much we appreciate the hard work they do every single day. Take a moment today to thank a teacher with a nomination for TNTP’s Fishman Prize.

Nominate a great teacher today!


Leslie Ross, a 2012 Fishman Prize winner and NPTA member, shares why you should nominate great teachers today. TNTP’s Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice celebrates phenomenal teachers in high-need communities with a $25,000 prize and a unique residency experience.

How ROTC Enhanced My College Experience

Before I graduated high school, I had no interest in joining the military. It wasn’t until orientation at George Mason University that I decided to explore the possibility so I checked out the ROTC booth. Not expecting much when I first sat down in the ROTC presentation, I left it feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Could ROTC be the right path for me? The presentation didn’t sound like a sales pitch. Rather, I got the impression the speakers were there to help me by providing information about another option and opportunity that I didn’t know was on the table. They simply encouraged us to “try it out and see if we like it.”

I entered college like many clueless freshman—not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life. However, joining ROTC proved to be one of the best decisions I ever made. In my first year, the content covered in ROTC training surprised me, as most of it focused on instilling leadership values. My career goals then became clear through that very leadership training, and I decided to make health, fitness and recreation resources my major.

Over time, my involvement in ROTC provided me with increasingly more opportunities to grow and lead. Unlike my non-ROTC friends, I had the opportunity to take part in many professional development and leadership trainings during summer breaks. I worked as a counselor at the West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference, taught ethical decision-making to high school students, participated in the Sachkhere Mountain Training School in the Republic of Georgia for a month and attended Air Assault School at Fort Benning in Georgia. I truly believe that all of those opportunities greatly enhanced my college experience in ways that would not have been possible without ROTC. Not to mention, the Army made the investment for me to participate in those activities.

Second Lieutenant Andrew Giller (second from right) at the 2014 U.S. Army Strengthening America's Youth committee meeting, where he spoke with leaders of national organizations about his college and ROTC experience.

Second Lieutenant Andrew Giller (second from right) at the 2014 U.S. Army Strengthening America’s Youth committee meeting, where he spoke with leaders of national organizations about his college and ROTC experience.

In addition to being in ROTC in college, I had a part time job, attended all of my other classes and enjoyed a typical college social life. I even started an ultimate Frisbee club! As I progressed through college, ROTC demanded more of my time, but I do not feel like it took away from my college experience in any way. As a matter of fact, it made it better. I developed lifelong friendships through ROTC, connected with upperclassmen and participated in extensive career networking. I still stay in touch with a mentor from my freshman year of college who influenced my decision to join ROTC. That relationship is irreplaceable.

Now, less than a year after graduation, I just started my career in field artillery and have chosen to make the Army my career. I am currently in training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and will soon be stationed for three years at Fort Drum in New York, where I’ll be training and working with the leaders in my field. Next, after I fulfill my four year post-ROTC obligation, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in sports management with the Army. Looking down the road 20 years from now, I still see myself in the Army, but I could also see myself as an athletic director at a college or in a profession along those lines.

The three pieces of advice I give to students heading to college is to keep your options open—don’t close any doors, don’t be intimidated and try a little bit of everything. When you find something you love—like when I found ROTC—put everything you have into it.


Second Lieutenant Andrew Giller is a recent graduate of George Mason University who participated in ROTC. He encourages others to keep an open mind and keep all options on the table when it comes to education, professional development and personal fulfillment.

Resources for Spanish-Speaking Families to Support Student Success

We recently celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15), an important time to recognize the contributions made and significant presence of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States.

National PTA also used the month to raise awareness of the unique challenges Hispanic and Latino children and families face and elevate support for them in schools and communities.

Twenty-five percent of students today are Hispanic, and Hispanic children and youth are the fastest-growing population in America—the U.S. Census Bureau projects that the Hispanic school-age population will increase by 166% by 2050. Hispanic and Latino students are an important part of our nation’s future, and it is essential to support their learning and development and ensure they have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

A key component to helping Hispanic and Latino children succeed is families who are engaged in their child’s education and armed with tools and resources to support them at home.

We know Hispanic and Latino parents want the best for their children and want to be engaged, but there are cultural and language barriers that make it challenging.

To bridge the gap, National PTA and organizations with which our association collaborates offer a variety of Spanish-language resources to empower Hispanic and Latino parents to support their children’s success.

  • Parents’ Guides to Student Success, which feature key items children should be learning in English language arts and math in each grade, activities that parents can do at home to support their child’s learning, and methods parents can use to build stronger relationships with their child’s teacher.
  • Clave al Éxito, a mobile tool that includes videos and tools for parents to engage in their child’s education and better communicate with their child’s teachers on their academic progress.
  • BeALearningHero.org, a website through which parents can find tips, fast facts, videos, guides and other resources specific to their children’s needs.
  • Fuel Up to Play 60 en Español, which includes information, resources and activities for parents to help their children lead more active and healthier lives.
  • The Smart Talk, a digital tool that helps families have conversations about online behavior and set ground rules together for technology use. As more and more kids get devices and go online, it is important that parents talk to their children about how to live safely in the digital world.

National PTA also has collaborated with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Univision on a webinar series to educate PTA, school and community leaders on ways to empower Hispanic and Latino families to engage in student learning. As part of the series, we will host a webinar on why Hispanic families should get involved to support the children they love on Nov. 17 (in English) and Nov. 18 (in Spanish).

To register for the webinar or to view other webinars in the series, and for more resources to help Hispanic and Latino families support their children’s success, visit PTA.org/HispanicChild.


Laura Bay is president of National PTA.

A Hidden Hazard: Button Cell Batteries

shutterstock_197883374The National Youth and Consumer Safety Council urges you to spread the word about a hidden hazard found in many everyday products in your homes—button cell batteries. Button cell batteries are small coin shaped batteries—less than 20mm in diameter—that pose significant injury risks to children. You may not even be aware of this potential hazard because many of the devices in your home come with the batteries already installed.

When swallowed, these batteries can cause severe burns. Ingestions can result in long-term complications requiring a feeding tube for nutrition, a tracheostomy tube to relieve airway obstructions and additional major surgeries. The number of ingestion-related injuries continues to increase as button cell battery use grows.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Journal estimates that there is an average of 3,289 battery‐related emergency room visits each year, based on injury data from 1990‐2009. The CPSC has tallied, from 1997‐2010, an estimated 40,400 children under 13 years old treated in hospital emergency departments for battery‐related injuries.

Button batteries are found in a vast array of products from children’s toys, remote controls, calculators, watches, flashlights, musical greeting cards and many other consumer products. Take the following precautions:

  • Check all of your products that use button cell batteries to be sure the battery compartments are secure.
  • Immediately dispose of old batteries when you change expired button cell batteries.
  • Keep unused new batteries locked away out of the reach of children.
  • Keep in mind that these batteries aren’t just in children’s products, they are found in a vast array of everyday products such as hearing aids, bathroom scales, thermometers, car/keychain remotes and everyday products in your home.
  • Check the floor and furniture for batteries that may have accidentally fallen out. Even your pets can fall victim to button battery poisoning.
  • The symptoms of button battery ingestion may be similar to other childhood illnesses. Go to the emergency room immediately if you suspect your child may have swallowed a button cell battery. Tell the doctors and nurses that it may be a button battery.

Help spread the word about button battery poisoning dangers. Let others know about the potential dangers. For more information about this hazard and for additional safety information, safety alerts and recalls go to TheSafetyCouncil.org. Pass it on and save a life!


Jamie Schaefer-Wilson is the executive director at The Safety Institute.