January 1, 2019
Happy New Year!
ESA Spotlight
Award Presented to Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative
One of this year’s winners of the Bush Prize, funded by the Bush Foundation, is the Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative (MDEC) for its work to create bold, breakthrough solutions within 15 northwestern North Dakota school districts who have limited access to financial resources.

The Bush Prize celebrates organizations that show extraordinary success in not only what they do, but how they do it. It awards the prize annually to organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 native nations in that region.

According to the prize announcement on the Bush Foundation's website, MDEC champions a whole child approach that links physical and behavioral health with education outcomes. Some of the reasons for the award are:

  • Visionary training for educators;
  • Support from school personnel that work with children who have experienced trauma;
  • Training that transforms practices at schools within and beyond the district’s boundaries.

Congratulations on a job well done!

Read more about Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative's efforts here, as presented on the Bush Foundation's website.

Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative staff shown left to right are:
Kelly Armijo, Administrative Assistant; Luke Schaefer, Executive Director; Julie Packulak, Professional Development Coordinator; Lyndsi Engstrom, Program Director; Anne Wiliamson, Community Coordinator; Liz Tofteland, North Dakota e-nurse.
Member Spotlight
Wanda Cook-Robinson, Superintendent of Oakland ISD in Waterford, MI serves on the AESA Executive Council representing the central region.

She is a finalist for AASA’s 2019 Women in School Leadership Award. It honors us to recognize Wanda for her exemplary leadership and to thank her for her service to AESA.

Federal Advocacy Update:
Federal Advocacy Update:
Leslie Finnan, AESA Senior Legislative Analyst, is Moving On

A message from Leslie Finnan:

After five great years advocating for public schools at AASA, I am moving on. Starting on January 7, I will join the team at the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools where I will be the director of policy and advocacy. While the decision to leave AASA was not easy, I look forward to continuing my career of public education advocacy for NAFIS and continuing to work with many of you in that effort.

Please do stay in touch with me at  lfinnan@gmail.com  or, once I start at NAFIS, at  leslie@nafisdc.org .

Take care,

Leslie Finnan
AESA Conference Recap
Thank you everyone who attended the 2018 AESA Annual Conference in Colorado Springs. It was a pleasure meeting and working with you all. Please enjoy this recap from the conference, and we hope to see you at the 2019 conference in Phoenix!

**Click the image above to view the 2018 conference montage.
Upcoming Events
Have Your Voice Heard at the Federal Advocacy Meeting

Registration for Federal Advocacy Committee meeting is open – the AESA room block expires on January 5, 2019. Be sure to REGISTER TODAY

Come to Washington DC and be a part of setting the AESA Federal Legislative Agenda and legislative priorities for 2019. Hurry! It the hotel cut-off date is January 5, 2019 . This is the best time for your ESA and your colleagues to be a part of shaping the AESA Federal Advocacy Agenda for the year ahead.

At this meeting, attendees receive updates on current topics. This year we will hear about privacy, the Higher Education Act, civil rights, and federal funding. Also, after hearing from experts, the group will discuss and debate the priorities that will set AESA’s federal legislative agenda and shape the work for the year ahead. 

Legislative advocacy is an important role of ESA leaders nationwide. That is why AESA’s federal legislative team works for you. Their work is directed by the annual legislative priorities set each year at this important meeting, to reflect the needs and interests of ESAs across the country. Our goal is to have every state represented by one or more ESA leader. (Please note: There is only one vote per state on the final agenda, but all voices are heard.)

The schedule for these two days also allows attendees time to schedule meetings to meet with your ESA’s elected officials and/or their staff in Washington DC . Come and meet the new members of Congress during your congressional visits; hear updates about hot legislative issues that affect ESAs; and most importantly, add your voice as we complete our 2019 federal agenda! 
USDA Plans for Online Access in Rural Areas
Sonny Purdue, Agriculture Secretary, announced plans for offering up to $600 million in loans and grants to help build a network of high-speed Internet through rural areas where connectivity is not accessible.

“High-speed Internet is a necessity, not an amenity” Purdue says.