Kentucky State Capital Building, Teacher Unity, standing with my friend and fellow Franklin County Teacher Kristy Standifer.
This week Kentucky Teachers stood together making their voices heard regarding bills in our Legislature affecting the future of Education in Kentucky. I was there at the Capital Building in Kentucky along with five other teachers from my district, Franklin County. Here is a brief synopsis of the issues concerning us at this time as they were developing.
Photo courtesy of State Representative Chris Harris
The latest update from Adam Hyatt, Franklin Co. Public School teacher at Capital Thurs. March 7 with KEA Franklin County Teachers:
Below is a description of the major issues before the legislature that may be of interest to you. Feel free to pass this along.
Colleagues, There has been very little movement on bills in the state House of Representatives today, but I wanted to provide some information since many are likely wondering what is going on with this legislative session. This email is not intended to elicit support or opposition, just to inform folks on the policies impacting education that could be passed before the end of the session. There are three items of particular interest to us as educators.
The first is the policy change presented in HB 525. This bill proposes to change the makeup of the teachers pension oversight board. The current board is made up of four appointees by the governor and seven members who are elected by active and retired teachers. This bill proposes change the way those seven members of the board are chosen. Under the proposed bill, these seven members will be chosen by the members of six different organizations: KEA (one active, one retired), KY School Board Assoc, Jefferson County Teachers Assoc, KY Assoc of School Adminsitrators, KY Retired Teachers Assoc, and KY Assoc of Professional Educators. The concerns over this change center on the increased representation of administrators on the board, as well as a seat being given to KAPE, an organization that represents roughly 2% of teachers in KY.
The second policy deals with the creation of tax credits for those who make donations for private school scholarships. This bill is currently presented in the form of HB 205 and SB 118, but the language of the bill may be added to another bill through amendment. The concern over this bill is that it will reduce tax revenue to the general fund and serve as an equivalency to tuition vouchers, which are specifically forbidden by the state constitution. The legislature has stated a desire to simplify the tax code by eliminating existing tax credits, and this bill would add another credit to the state tax code.
The third issue before the legislature that impacts us regards the increased power of superintendents in the selection of principals. There are several different proposals that address this, so the specific bill number is not essential. Under the proposal, final approval of hiring a school principal would be in the hands of the district superintendent, not the SBDM council of that school. If passes this would decrease the voice and influence of teachers and parents in the selection of their principal.
I hope this information is helpful to everyone and provides the basics on the issues of concern to us as educators.
Sincerely, Adam Hyatt
Tell your legislators to support public education funding and oppose HB 205 and SB 118. Courtesy The Action Network.
A tradition at Kirsteinfineart provides support to encourage women to speak their truth and stand up for their convictions. Here is our most recent collection to support teachers in speaking out on today’s major Education issues.
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Miquel Velitis a Sculptor from Lima, Peru. His sculptures include a whimsical but powerful exploration of dynamic space. I have known him since our days together at Vermont Studio in Johnson Vermont and his work has always been a testimonial to the relentless pursuit of art and its ability to influence and alter the world.
He is currently in residence at the nearby Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort, Kentuckywhere he is working on a variety of large metal sculptures from scrap metal gathered from local metal scrap metal yards. He has made a tremendous amount of progress this week as shown in the photographs taken at the sculpture park of his sculptures in progress.
Miguel has built sculptures all over the world for a variety of parks, interior and exterior spaces. Countries where his work is on exhibit include China, Poland, the United States, Argentina, Mexico and of course, his beloved hometown Lima, Peru.
Embracing a vigorous investigation of building materials and spatial explorations, Miguel builds sculptures that are arrestingly confident, playful and memorable.
Kentucky is honored to host Miguel as he continues his lifelong artistic quest.
More to come on Miguel as he progresses on his work at the Josephine Sculpture Park, owned and directed by fellow Artist and Sculptor Melanie VanHouten.
Click on photos to enlarge and see captions.
Miguel begins with drawings for his sculptural piece.
Welding is a part of his process.
Here is Miguel driving heavy construction equipment.
Putting the pieces together
Welds in place.
Thanks to Miguel Velit and Melanie VanHouten for the photos in this story.
Thinking about renovating or even restructuring your office, or office space? Check out this story about the restructure at Artsy, and check out the visual art suggested by Kirsteinfineart! Here are a few favorites to give you some inspiration for your staff.
Photograph by Nava Waxman
Photograph by Gary Bibb
Painting by Nancy Hillis
Art to stimulate and inspire any work environment from the Kirsteinfineart Blog.
Writing By Sean Roland, Associate Director of Experience & Operations from Artsy Blog
At Artsy, the Experience team’s mission is to envision, build, and maintain the physical and operational infrastructure as an extension and manifestation of our online brand and product. Some might ask why investing resources into creating a high quality Experience matters. My general answer is that creating impactful environments is always worthwhile as an art form, because it moves people, creates the opportunity for shared experience, and helps galvanize community.
Creating artful, innovative, and positive Experience at Artsy matters because it’s essential to achieving our mission. In order to “make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an internet connection,” Artsy must become a powerful and positive force in the art world, which is no small feat in a highly competitive and critical landscape. The art, design, and hospitality worlds are closely aligned and constantly collaborating, so by demonstrating that we’re thinking and actively contributing to a creative discourse in all aspects of our brand, and not just our online presence, we will build trust and credibility within the world we hope to work and collaborate within.
Our company values state that that we value “Quality Worthy of Art,” we believe that “People are Paramount,” and we strive to embody “Openness” and “Positive Energy.” We’re also constantly exploring the nexus of “Art x Science.” I believe that our physical spaces can embody these values, in much the same way our products, organizational structure, and communication style should. Intentional spatial and aesthetic decisions made with a strong point of view can provide the literal, concrete example of what our company strives to achieve in the digital world. In the past, Artsy hasn’t prioritized these elements, which makes sense. As a startup we’ve had to prioritize and allocate resources and time to where they most mattered — into our core products. But as we grow in size and visibility, our actions across diverse parts of the company will increasingly inform our social capital, and therefore our success.
To align the Experience of visiting or working at Artsy with our aesthetically and functionally mature online platform, our team is adopting an art- and hospitality-focused approach to Experience. We’ve partnered with design furniture company Hem to bring modern, fresh, and relevant design to our offices. We’ve begun designing and implementing a wellness-focused Food and Beverage program because we want to be part of a global dialog around healthy, ethical sustenance. And we’ve begun to add depth and variety to our internal events programming, so that we’re able to better create spaces and experiences that speak to the growing diversity of our team.
We decided on the above approach by first reflecting on the state of our affairs of operations and Experience at Artsy. We asked ourselves hard questions; what we were doing well, what could we do better, and where were we failing? We knew that Experience at Artsy wasn’t measuring up to the products we were putting out into the world, but we needed to tease out why. Our brainstorming yielded some big potential opportunities for improvement, so we built and ran a team-wide survey (with an 87% engagement rate), which helped us determine whether teammates agreed with our hypothesis and ultimately guided our priority setting process:
Optimization of systems, spaces, vendors, and information
Infrastructural improvements and interior design and curation
Diversifying our social event planning and execution
Building a wellness and ethically-focused Food & Beverage program
1. Optimization of systems, spaces, vendors, and information
PICK LOW-HANGING FRUIT
Our survey results showed that first and foremost, we needed to tighten our ship. Our small team (4) was barely staying above water managing the huge array of company-wide support responsibilities — from onboarding logistics, to company-wide procurement of supplies and IT resources, to managing facilities, to food and beverage sourcing and programming. So we divided and conquered the challenges we faced, systematically addressing the failures in communication or process that were costing us time and money and keeping us from more effectively supporting the team at large.
CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSETS
Throwing away unnecessary baggage can really help reboot an Operations team. Our closets were literally full of broken furniture and forgotten projects, because no one felt empowered to ditch them. So we did, and then we bought nice storage shelves and a ton of labeling tape. Now we have room to store supplies, which has allowed us to shift our buying habits to be more efficient and cost-effective. Figuratively, our team was also storing some skeletons of projects and proposals that hadn’t come to fruition, so there was a hint of “can’t do” instead of “let’s try it” in the air. We ditched our hangups, and reset expectations that any good idea is worth exploring and pitching to each other and leadership.
OPTIMIZE SYSTEMS, THEN GO VENDOR SHOPPING
We were constantly running out of office and food supplies. After we solved the storage issue, we built inventory and ordering systems. We trimmed the variety of things we buy, and created pars (standardized consumption data) based on observation of consumption over a period of weeks. Now that we’ve reached a steady state, meaning the basics are covered week after week, we’ve begun shopping for better vendors who will offer us wholesale relationships. This will help us simplify ordering and allow us to provide better amenities at the same cost. We no longer feel beholden to vendors who don’t want to work with us on pricing, because we now have the bandwidth to shop around. For example, we were working with a startup cleaning company with a cool interface that “spoke” our language. But our floors were filthy, so we traded them in for a more traditional company, with good results and great cost savings.
GET COZY WITH FINANCE
We spend the money, and Finance pays the bills, so it seems natural that we would constantly be in communication. But we weren’t, so important bills (like our internet!) weren’t getting paid. A little digging revealed that transitions on both our teams had put us at a distance, and we needed to reestablish clear processes by which to communicate effectively to ensure we were fulfilling our responsibilities. Now that we’ve repaired the broken communication, we’ve naturally begun collaborating on creating reporting tools to help us make smart budgeting and decisions, which is especially important given the volume of transactions that flow through our team.
LISTEN TO YOUR TEAM, AND GET CREATIVE WITH SOLUTIONS
One of the most notable results from our first survey was that team members felt unhappy about the lack of color and art in our office. We brainstormed an exciting long-term project called “Art at Artsy” with our Special Projects team. We’ve begun planning, but in the meantime we wanted to show immediate results. So we went out and bought plants. A ton of plants. A jungle. Overnight we went from a white box to a tropical haven. Everyday my team gets thanked for bringing color to the office. Never underestimate the power of affordable but impactful purchases.
We’ve taken our first steps on a long path to transform Experience at Artsy. We hope it will become something extraordinary that parallels the journey you might take in an amazing restaurant, or at an incredible art installation. It’s an approach that is challenging yet actually pretty simple; shift your team away from a reactive, need-filling mentality to an intuiting, experience-creating mindset. Cover the basic needs and automate them whenever possible, so you can spend more time creating impactful experiences that move beyond the everyday and push your team to engage in a collaborative discourse with other parts of the company and the creative disciplines.
I love this story, appearing in the New York Times, written by Ruth La Ferla. How refreshing and invigorating to see someone my age strike an individualistic fashion statement without reserve.
Calm, graceful and unapologetic, Lyn Slater asserts her free will and expressive clothing choices with aplomb and panache. She gives me hope that there may be some women out there willing to take a chance and wear clothing that is outside the narrow restrictions of “the norm.” Bravo Lyn!
Click below image to open this story.
If you like this story, you might find my fashions appealing at Kirsteinfineart. My fashions can work well for you, no matter your age. Young or age plus, these styles make a definite statement for the woman who is an individualist. Check out my fashions And enjoy my landing page here for my new Collection: Evening Splendor.
Fine art and fashion go hand in hand. Click here to see today’s latest fashion creation by Jan Kirstein.
“Wild and Wicked 2” by Jan Kirstein. Click images to see enlargements.
Writing advice from Coco Chanel
by Elaine Bennett
No doubt you’ve heard of Coco Chanel, the French fashion designer who liberated women from stiff, formal clothing and popularized the still-ubiquitous “Little Black Dress.” Her fashion advice remains legendary—just Google “remove one accessory” and your screen will fill with blogs and articles quoting or misquoting her famous dictum
“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
But while Chanel intended that as fashion advice, I think it works just as well for writers.
How many adverbs have you used? Surely you don’t need them all. And those adjectives—wouldn’t a few descriptive phrases enliven your work more?
Of course, before you can revise—your outfit or your writing—you have to create it first. Write until you’ve finished the draft. But before it “leaves the house,” give it a good once-over. Is every word, every sentence, necessary? If it isn’t—copy, cut, and paste. Slap it into the writer’s equivalent of a jewelry box, the Outtakes file.
“In order to be irreplaceable one must be different.”
While we’re on the subject of revising, I’d lop off “In order” at the top of that sentence. But let’s not blame Chanel; perhaps it got added in translation.
“To be irreplaceable, one must be different.” I tell my writers a variation of this all the time. And my clients, too. They talk about subjects that thousands—millions—of people have already talked about: diversity, ethics, management. How can they differentiate themselves from the crowd? By weaving their own stories into the mix. No one else has had yourexperiences, has your perspective.
Make your communications irreplaceable—and your ideas memorable—by being your own, unique self. (Little Black Dress optional.)