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Investment in Teacher Training Benefits Staff and Students

(NewsUSA) - Ongoing professional development for teachers is essential to meet the changing needs of today’s students, experts say, and further investment for teacher training is an opportunity to use remaining federal funds allotted to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the pandemic, many schools received funding through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund, also known as ESSER; any funds yet unused must be committed by September 2024, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

ESSER was an unprecedented infusion of funds to schools, and using remaining ESSER money for professional learning will help teachers enhance and adapt their methods to meet the needs of today’s students, according to experts at Discovery Education, one of the leading providers of educational technology and professional learning to educators. 

“Times change, and the classrooms of today demand new strategies for teaching and learning. Investments in professional learning are investments in the future, as participating educators will learn new ways to help this generation of learners prepare for success beyond graduation,” says Dr. Karen Beerer, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at Discovery Education. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools invested in educational technology to keep students learning in a remote environment. Although in-person learning has resumed, taking advantage of funding to enhance teacher training yields long-term benefits and helps school systems increase their return on pandemic resource investments, Dr. Beerer adds.  

Discovery Education’s professional learning supports teachers’ ongoing development and helps them make continuous improvements to their classroom instruction throughout their teaching careers. This helps them make better use of online resources that are designed to help teachers nurture curiosity and improve student engagement. 

“We know that learning opportunities for each educator will enhance learning opportunities for each student,” Dr. Beerer says. 

For more information about Discovery Education’s professional development, visit 

100% of Latino Grads Start Trades Careers With Centro Educativo Latino's Workforce Development Program

(NewsUSA) - Development Program

New Partnership Offers HVAC Training in Spanish

The US Census Bureau reports that approximately 20% of the US population is Hispanic and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 30% of construction workers are Hispanic.  As baby boomers reach retirement age, Latino workers play an increasingly crucial role in keeping the dynamism of the US labor market and for many of them, having options to education in their native language is critical for developing skills that make them employable.

Since its inception in 2010, Centro Educativo Latino at Lenoir Community College (LCC), in Lenoir County, North Carolina, has become a cornerstone for the Hispanic community, offering over 70 Spanish-language workforce development courses in high-demand trades. 

Carlos Cotto, the Director of Centro Educativo Latino and LCC's Associate Dean of Workforce Development and Latino Programs began his mission to help more Latinos feel welcomed at the college, turning access into more economic opportunities in the state.

“It's sad to say, but the Latino population has never had access to a good, higher education….. they’d be taught at churches, libraries, or a little trailer on the side of the college campus. My intention with CEL was to create a college within a college welcoming the underserved population in their native language.”

A One-of-a-Kind HVAC Program

Recently Interplay Learning, the leading provider of immersive skilled trades training, joined forces with LCC to advance the mission of Centro Educativo Latino, its workforce development program, and increase access to the nation’s first North American Technician Excellence (NATE) HVAC certification hybrid program in Spanish. 

The integration of Interplay’s trades training has elevated the impact of its 200+ hour associate degree program, incorporating online courses and the latest in 3D simulation and VR training technology, presented entirely in Spanish.   

Along with its catalog of online courses, the VR training provided by Interplay is also available to students through the school’s VR headsets, which they cast onto screens during weekend labs, creating a field-like virtual reality environment that enhances safety, engagement and hands-on learning experiences. This dynamic approach puts theory into practice, addressing language barriers and caters to diverse learning styles.  Students get hands-on practice with a wide variety of scenarios and equipment types in a safe, no-fail environment.  

A Model for Equitable Education

This approach to learning marks a tide change in technical education, bridging the gap between theory and practice with innovative opportunities once typically reserved for English-led trade programs.  

Cotto says, "This partnership with Interplay Learning is a significant step forward in providing our students with courses that reinforce NATE and offer the best cutting-edge 3D simulation and VR training in their native language. This comprehensive education ensures they are industry-certified and just as prepared for the demands of rewarding careers and entrepreneurship as their Anglo peers."

Centro Educativo Latino extends its commitment beyond linguistic accessibility by providing an affordable and flexible hybrid model of HVAC instruction, blending Interplay’s online coursework and in-person labs. 

The program addresses the needs of parents and individuals working full-time by offering four hands-on weekend classes, serving approximately 120 students. A sliding-scale pricing model, supported by generous scholarships like Train the East, ensures that education remains financially accessible, reducing student fees to about 3% of comparative state-funded programs. The in-demand program reaches 29 surrounding counties, with its popularity drawing students who travel from out-of-state to participate in the always-full program. Cotto breaks down the costs,

"Our HVAC program adds up to about 240 hours of online and in-person instruction and costs about 3% of the cost of similar state-funded programs. We provide all tools and materials at no extra cost, plus access to college, state, and NATE certifications, ensuring comprehensive value for our students.”

88% of students willingly drive up to 2.5 hours for this program, underlining the dedication and enthusiasm for this valuable educational opportunity. Additionally, the hybrid instructional model has acted as supplemental support for program instructors, enabling their main HVAC instructor, Henry Perez, to expand his mentorship and impact to more students. This past year, Perez received an award for one of HVAC Excellence’s top 25 Most Influential Instructors for 2024. 

Program Outcomes 

Steady Enrollment 

The popular program has continued to attract students from surrounding counties and out-of-state, with enrollment holding steady at 30 students per class. With four classes per weekend, the program averages about 120 students per semester.

Industry-Certified Graduates

99% of students graduate from the program, with 100% obtaining their NATE Core Certification and state EPA, along with various Interplay certifications across HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, enhancing their employability and career prospects. 

Strategic Partnerships and Entrepreneurship

The program has established strong relationships with local employers who value the skills and certifications of Centro Educativo Latino graduates, leading to 100% of grads going on to work in the trades. Cotto is particularly proud to share the story of two young women who recently completed the program with honors and are now enjoying a better socioeconomic standard of living, boasting newly attained annual salaries starting at $62,000 a year.  

Cotto explains, “When students show up to local employers with three community college certificates, NATE, the State EPA certification, and a portfolio of about 34 Interplay HVAC certificates, the employer says to us, ‘We need more of these people.’ So we stay well-connected and funnel our students into the workforce when they meet employers' qualifications.”

Cotto also weaves in classes in entrepreneurship to prepare students to start their own trade businesses, which 75-80% of students completing the program have gone on to do. 

“For the longest time, the Latino community never had a place to go for higher education in the skilled trades,” notes Carlos Cotto, director of Centro Educativo Latino and LCC’s associate dean of workforce development and Latino programs. “This partnership with Interplay Learning is a significant step forward in providing our students with comprehensive, cutting-edge 3D simulation and VR training in their native language, ensuring they are industry-certified and well-prepared for the demands of rewarding careers and entrepreneurship.”

The collaboration between LCC and Interplay Learning empowers more individuals within the Latino community to access and excel in trades education. Not only is the program opening doors to new economic opportunities, but it's fostering a more skilled and diverse workforce.

“Empowering the Latino community through accessible trades education aligns seamlessly with our mission,” said Doug Donovan, CEO and founder of Interplay Learning. “We believe in the transformative power of education and technology, and this collaboration exemplifies our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in the workforce.'”

About Centro Educativo Latino 

With a mission to bridge gaps and empower Hispanic individuals, the Centro Educativo Latino at Lenoir Community College is a pivotal resource for the Spanish-speaking community, offering quality education in their native language.  The program provides Spanish-language courses in workforce development fields like HVAC, welding, and cosmetology, along with ESL classes. Serving over 2,000 students in the last two years significantly increased Latino enrollment at the college, fostering a sense of community and belonging. This initiative underscores Lenoir Community College’s dedication to inclusivity and creating educational opportunities for diverse student populations.

About Interplay Learning

Austin-based Interplay Learning is the industry leader in immersive training solutions for the skilled trades. Interplay’s acclaimed SkillMill training platform enables rapid upskilling and empowers new technicians to be job-ready within weeks, not years. Featuring expert-led videos, hands-on 3D simulations, knowledge checks, and personalized learning paths, SkillMill is more scalable and engaging than traditional training. Leveraging advanced technologies like AI and VR, Interplay is reshaping the future of online skilled trades training, delivering highly effective learning experiences that result in better careers and better lives. 

Recent accolades include Forbes’ 2023 America’s Best Startup Employers, 2022 Inc. 5000 list, 2022 Inc. Best in Business list, and three honorable mentions in Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards. Visit to learn more.


Unplug and March into Reading with Toys for Tots

(NewsUSA) - March is National Reading Month, and the Toys for Tots Literacy Program continues its commitment to helping children “Unplug and March into Reading” by placing books into the hands of less fortunate children and encouraging families to unplug from their screens and electronic devices and enjoy a book together!

Literacy is the foundation for success in life, and it starts with early access to books in childhood.  Unfortunately, children in low-income families have very limited access to age-appropriate books.

The Toys for Tots Literacy Program was established in 2008 as a year-round effort to offer our Nation’s most economically disadvantaged children the ability to compete academically and to succeed in life by providing them direct access to books and educational resources that enhance their ability to read and communicate effectively. “This Program not only brings the joy of reading to these children, but it also serves as an important tool in breaking the cycle of poverty,” says Lieutenant General Jim Laster, USMC (Retired), President and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “Our goal is to dramatically change the landscape for less fortunate children and provide books and educational resources to ensure their future success,” he adds.

Since its founding, the Program has delivered more than 53 million books to children in low-income communities and Title I funded schools across the United States. Last year, the Program delivered a record number of over 6.3 million books to disadvantaged children—breaking the cycle of poverty one book at a time.

Most people know Toys for Tots as the organization that brings holiday cheer to children in need with gifts of new toys, but Toys for Tots remains committed to the welfare of children throughout the year with initiatives such as the Toys for Tots Literacy Program. One hundred percent of each dollar donated goes toward purchasing books for economically disadvantaged children.

“By getting books into the hands of less fortunate students, teachers, and families, we are helping children become their best selves,” LtGen Laster emphasizes. Children who have developed strong reading skills perform better in school and have a healthier self-image and a stronger sense of well-being.

All children can improve their reading comprehension skills by unplugging from screens and reading books themselves, playing word games, and reading aloud with family members. Unplug and March into reading with family, peers, or get lost in a book by yourself—and consider making a donation to the Toys for Tots Literacy Program to bring the transformative power of reading to all children.

Visit for more information about the Toys for Tots Literacy Program and to donate.

How to Become a CFP® Professional

(NewsUSA) - Financial planning can help you reach your goals in life. It is also a profession that offers rewarding, flexible careers. These careers provide many benefits, including work-life balance, growth potential and the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Financial planners who go on to earn professional certifications may enjoy even greater benefits. Becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTMprofessional, for example, shows potential clients and employers that you have met extensive training and experience requirements and are committed to high ethical and professional standards. CFP® professionals consistently say their certification gives them a competitive edge over other advisors, increases their credibility with clients and boosts their income and career satisfaction.

If you decide to become a CFP® professional, you must complete the following four requirements:

  • Education: You must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and complete a financial planning program that has been approved by CFP Board. If you have an advanced degree or hold other professional designations, you may be able to skip some of these coursework requirements.

  • Exam: Once you’ve completed the education requirement, you are ready to take the CFP® exam. This comprehensive exam tests your ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations, emphasizing critical thinking and problem-solving skills over factual recall or recognition. It covers the financial planning process, risk management and insurance, and other important topics.

  • Experience: You must also complete at least two to three years of financial planning experience to qualify for CFP® certification. This experience may be gained through a professional position or an apprenticeship, and it may be completed either before or after you pass the CFP® exam. You can earn qualifying experience in several ways, from engaging with clients directly to supporting the financial planning process to teaching financial planning-related courses.

  • Ethics: All CFP® professionals commit to CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, meaning they agree to adhere to high ethical and professional standards for the practice of financial planning. Importantly, the Code and Standards include a commitment to CFP Board to act as a fiduciary — that is, to put their clients’ best interests first — when providing financial advice. You will also need to disclose information about your background, as CFP Board will conduct a detailed background check.

Visit to learn more about these requirements and how to get started.

The path to CFP® certification is a rigorous process, but it provides you with the knowledge and skills you need for a fulfilling financial planning career.

Campaign Combats Underage Drinking

(NewsUSA) - Underage drinking levels are at historic lows, and one way to continue this trend is to prevent teens’ access to alcohol. The We Don’t Serve Teens campaign, first developed in 2006, is a community-level collaboration of alcohol suppliers, retailers and distributors working with parents and prevention groups to curb underage drinking.     

Today, participating groups and organizations are voicing their commitment to the campaign and its important message that debuts a refreshed look and feel that is digitally modern, culturally inclusive and demographically diverse.     

The We Don’t Serve Teens campaign takes a united stance throughout communities nationwide: “Don’t serve alcohol to teens. It’s unsafe. It’s illegal. It’s irresponsible.” Partners are encouraged to post messages against underage drinking in stores and restaurants, engage with the campaign online, hear messages on the radio and even include information on food and beverage delivery receipts. The materials will also serve as a reminder for families to have conversations at home about expectations, values and practice saying NO to underage drinking.     

“Underage drinking has declined dramatically but remains a safety issue for teens that is often overlooked, disregarded, or takes a backseat to more pressing concerns,” says Chris Swonger, President and CEO of Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and “The We Don’t Serve Teens campaign brings a critical mass of public and private entities together to spotlight underage drinking prevention. We have made a lot of progress over the years and fewer teens are drinking alcohol. By working together, we hope to make even more progress on this important issue.”     

In 1991, 80% of American teens had consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime, but today, more than three out of five teens (64%) have never consumed alcohol (Monitoring the Future, 2021). Although this trend is positive, challenges to ending underage drinking remain. The availability of alcohol to those under the legal drinking age remains high with eight out of 10 high-school seniors reporting that it is easy for them to access alcohol. Working together, significant strides have been made in reducing underage drinking, but until it is eliminated, there is still work to be done, according to     

“No retailer wants to sell alcohol to someone who is underage,” says John Bodnovich, Executive Director, American Beverage Licensees. “Retailers are on the front lines in communities across the country -- we are proud to once again lead the effort to prevent underage drinking. We look forward to working with community partners as well as industry partners to keep alcohol out of teens’ hands and stop underage drinking. Responsibility starts with us.”      

Visit for more information or to participate in the campaign.

Who Celebrates National School Choice Week?

It's the seventh annual National School Choice Week, a nonpartisan, nonpolitical awareness event that has grown considerably every year - it's up from 21,000 last year and 150 events in its first year.

So who are the people leading the celebrations?

Some are parents who put themselves in the driver's seat of their children's education. They considered their children's unique needs, learning styles, and interests. They looked at the available options - traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, homeschooling, online schools, or a combination of these options - and chose the education environments they considered best for their children.

Some tracked down publicly or privately funded scholarships; others checked waitlists; and many others decided that their local school was, in fact, the best fit for their children.

Some event organizers are teachers and school leaders, happy to be playing such a crucial role in the education and development of children across America. Different schools offer different curricula, different approaches to education, different perspectives - and this diversity is worth celebrating. Every child is unique; every family is unique. Children who are excited about violin or Mandarin, children who need an extra lift in a particular area, children who thrive in traditional classrooms and children who don't - everyone should be given an opportunity to excel in whatever way best suits them. And great teachers and school leaders are an essential part of that excellence.

Some events are planned by community leaders hoping to help even more children have the opportunity to reach their full academic potential by creating new paths and raising awareness about the importance of continually expanding access to effective education options for children and families.

The participants in National School Choice Week may all be different, with unique perspectives, backgrounds, and stories. But they all believe one thing: that every child, given the right environment, can succeed. No matter what school your family has chosen, National School Choice Week provides an opportunity to celebrate students and the hope of a bright future for our whole nation.


School Choice Is About Parents, Not Politics

During National School Choice Week, schools of every type - traditional public, charter, magnet, online, and private - will join homeschool groups to celebrate the things that make their education environments unique and effective.

As a nonpartisan awareness effort, National School Choice Week provides an opportunity to bring conversations about education out from the political sphere and to the kitchen tables and living rooms of parents in communities across America.

This is important because, even though education is a matter of public policy, it is also deeply personal.

At its core, school choice affirms the special bond between parents and children. School choice empowers parents to turn the love and concern they have for their children into action. It encourages them to talk to their children and make decisions together about what schooling environments fit the talents, interests, and challenges that are unique to every student. And it recognizes that while one school might be a good fit for some students, it isn't necessarily a good fit for every child.

By exercising school choice options, parents who want their children to learn Mandarin can send them to a school where they will learn Mandarin; parents who believe their kids need a lot of time outdoors or who want to affirm their faith tradition can follow that path; parents who didn't go to college but want their kids to have that opportunity can find a college prep choice.

Parents choose schools for a variety of reasons. For example, a survey of Indiana parents found that parents considered factors such as academics, morality, social skills, diversity, college preparation, an appreciation for nature, patriotism, the ability to enter the job force without a college degree, and an opportunity to learn another language.

These choices reflect the diversity and individualism of our great country, and they should be respected and celebrated. After all, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we all share the same goal: to unlock the potential for success and happiness in every child through a great education tailored to who they are and who they want to be.

National School Choice Week - Time to Start a Conversation

National School Choice Week 2018 begins on January 21, shining a positive spotlight on traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

The goal is simple: to let parents know that they have choices when it comes to their children's education, and to celebrate the many different and effective education options available for students.

For almost every parent in America, there are ways to get involved in this positive, inspirational week.

If you are looking to find a new school for your child and want to know how to start the process, use the Week as a time to research your options. Download a free school choice guide for your state at

If you want to learn more about the different schools and education environments in your area, consider using the week to attend a special event. More than 32,000 are being planned during National School Choice Week - everything from information sessions, school fairs, and open houses, to rallies. Find an event in your community by visiting

If you are happy with the choices you have made for your child's education, take time during National School Choice Week to thank a teacher or school leader, or to brag about your child's school in a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You can also share your story with us at

If you think that your community or state needs more educational choices for children, use National School Choice Week to speak up and make your opinion known.

Making a difference is easier than it sounds. All it takes is starting one conversation.

You can start that conversation on social media (using #schoolchoice in your posts), or by talking with a friend, coworker, or member of your family.

"Did you know that this is National School Choice Week?" is a good question to get the discussion going.

When more Americans talk about opportunity in education, more parents will discover the options available for their children's education. That means that more children will have the chance of being matched with schools that meet their unique talents, challenges, needs, and interests.

This National School Choice Week, all that it takes is one conversation to brighten the future of a family. Will you start one?


Student Preparation Program Yields College Scholarships

The Dell Scholars Program was developed by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to assist high-school seniors who have overcome significant obstacles to obtain a college education.

In 2018, of the 500 scholarships offered through the Dell Scholars Program, 281 were awarded to AVID students.

Students in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program work to overcome challenges, including limited funds for college and limited family experience with college and college preparation.

AVID is a nonprofit that provides training and support to educators, so they can ensure that all of their students are college-ready. AVID educators are trained to tutor as well as mentor students, and to provide opportunities for the students to develop friendships and support networks with peers. Many of the AVID participants are first-generation college students who benefit from the mentoring and social support as well as from the academic instruction.

"The Dell Scholars are an inspiration to all of us at AVID. These students have overcome significant obstacles to succeed, and we're honored to be a part of their college journey," Dr. Sandy Husk, CEO of AVID, says in a statement announcing the scholars. "I'm excited to see what they will achieve in the Dell Scholars Program."

All students who become Dell Scholars receive not only financial assistance to help defray the cost of college, but also resources and mentoring throughout their college experience. These supports reinforce their study habits and relationship-building skills from AVID and similar high school programs that will help them succeed and earn a bachelor's degree in the subject of their choice.

According to the Dell Scholars website, "Our support is constant until they leave campus with a degree in hand."

Dell and AVID share the common goal of leveling the playing field for promising high school students who might not otherwise have been empowered and motivated to prepare for and attend college.

For more information about AVID, visit

For more details about the Dell Scholars Program, visit

Cultural Center Breathes Life into Historic School

The Stewart Indian School in Carson City, Nevada, was opened by the federal government in 1890 with the goal of educating Indian children. The school's original goals included assimilating the children into mainstream American culture and offering vocational training while discouraging tribal traditions and language.

The school's mission shifted to an academic focus in the 1960s and it closed in 1980, when it became the property of the state of Nevada.

Today, the state-run Nevada Indian Commission is working to restore many of the historic stone buildings on the 240-acre campus with the two-fold goal of educating the public about the school's history and providing entrepreneurial and cultural opportunities for Native Americans.

Some building space will house a museum; other areas will include venues for arts, culture, and business development.

Sherry Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission, says that the museum and cultural center "offer a new beginning to the campus."

In the spring of 2019, a new cultural center and museum is scheduled to open in one of the campus buildings. Plans also call for creating a welcome center in a former post office near the museum.

Long-term plans include rehabilitating many of the stone buildings on the campus so they can be functional spaces available for use as places of learning about tribal culture and arts.

The school was also known for strong athletic programs, and renovators hope to restore the gymnasium to its position as a gathering place not only for sports, but for other community social events.

Nevada governor Brian Sandoval was instrumental in promoting the restoration and reinvention of the school.

Sandoval made raising $4.5 million in funding for a museum and cultural center a priority in his 2017-18 budget and pledged to continue his support for other related projects. He participated in a blessing ceremony for the museum and cultural center in July.

"The importance of history and culture and what happened here, for better or for worse, it has to be preserved," Sandoval says.

"It has to be a story that is told forever. This has to be a place where people can travel from all over the country and all over the world and truly understand what happened here."

For more information about the school and museum, visit


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