Teachers Column

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The Dallas school system has organized a physical-fitness and nutrition program to counter burnout among its teachers.

Begun this fall, the program involves a complete physical examination, an eight-week session that includes nutrition and health counseling and planned exercise, and membership at one of three school-system fitness centers that are scheduled to be in full operation by January.

While the school system is spending $250,000 on the program, its employees must pay $120 to enroll. Their spouses may join for $225, and the public for $450.

"Teachers love it," said Jewel L. Howard of the district's employee-relations department. "We're trying to make people feel good about themselves, and we've already seen an improvement in morale."

So far, 5,000 of the school system's 6,700 teachers have signed up for the program. Competition between schools in volleyball and other sports is being planned.

Notwithstanding such efforts, burnout and layoffs continue to force many teachers out of the profession.

Finding Career Alternatives for Teachers is a new "do-it-yourself" program for teachers looking for jobs in different fields.

Adapted by Anne Miller, a former English teacher, from a course she designed at The New School for Social Research in New York City, the program consists primarily of eight lectures on four tape cassettes.

The lectures deal with such questions as "how to figure out what you can offer the business world," "how to get started," and "how to make it all happen."

The program is available for $44.95 plus a $4 charge for shipping and handling from Chiron Associates, Box 2498P, New York, N.Y. 10163.

The Council for Basic Education has announced a new fellowship program that will award up to 200 stipends of $3,000 apiece to outstanding high-school teachers of English, foreign languages, history, and other humanities disciplines for summer independent study.

The council will make the awards under a two-year pilot project supported by an $800,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Teachers who apply are encouraged to have a master's degree or its equivalent; to have taught full time in grades 9 through 12 for at least five years; to teach at least three-fifths of their schedule in English, foreign languages, history, or other humanities discipline; and to have a "worthy" plan for the summer.

Up to 100 awards will be made for the summer of 1983.

Applications may be obtained after Dec. 1 from Independent Study in the Humanities, Box 2915, Princeton, N.J. 08541. The deadline for filing applications is Feb. 15, 1983.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is offering stipends for its own Summer Series for Secondary School Teachers.

Full-time or regular part-time humanities teachers in grades 7 through 12 at public, private, or parochial schools are eligible for four-, five-, or six-week sessions on subjects such as "Three Approaches to History: Thucydides, Plutarch, and Bede," "Plato's Republic," and ''Religion in a Democratic Society: Tocqueville's Democracy in America."

The sessions will be led by a master teacher and a "distinguished scholar" at various locations around the country.

Teachers chosen to participate in the program will receive a stipend of either $1,550, $1,840, or $2,125, depending on the length of the seminar, to cover travel and living expenses and books.

Applications will be accepted until Feb. 1, 1983. Preference will be given to those with at least three years of teaching experience.

For information, write Division of Fellowships and Seminars, National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, D.C. 20506.

Tired of the arduous chore of averaging students' grades?

Now there is a calculator that averages marks from "A-plus" to "F'' at the push of a button.

Susan M. McGuire, a high-school English teacher in suburban Sacramento, Calif., set out to replace the usual dull process of converting letter grades to numbers, doing the standard numerical figuring, and reconverting that average to a letter.

She developed a calculator that has a key for each letter grade and an "equals" key that gives averages instantly. It also has a "weight" key that enables the teachers to give greater consideration to such things as mid-term tests than to "spot quizzes" or homework exercises.

The Viam Corp. of Carson, Calif., is marketing Ms. McGuire's calculator for $59.95 (retail) as the SM-450 GradeMaker.

Said Robert M. Hirashima, Viam's vice-president: "It's been selling like, how do you say it, hotcakes."

With only one member, the Grass Lake Education Association in Wilton, N.D., may not be expected to have a great deal of clout in the local school system.

But Nancy Loney, the lone member, doesn't necessarily agree.

You see, she's responsible for all of the teaching that is done in the Grass Lake Public School District #3. That's because she presides over the district's five students (six, if you include a high-school student who sends in his homework assignments by mail) in its one classroom.

Ms. Loney won the right to be a one-member teacher union last July, when the state supreme court ruled that the central North Dakota school board's refusal to recognize her as a collective-bargaining unit "would be invidious discrimination and an unconstitutional classification."

Ms. Loney, who took the Grass Lake school board to court because she "wanted more bargaining power"--such as the right to legal counsel and arbitration--said she likes Grass Lake, but that she'd "like to get into a bigger school system."--tt

Vol. 02, Issue 12

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