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myHR: February 27, 2013

Models of Excellence: Giving Back to Penn and the Community

We’re shining our spotlight on two of this year’s Models of Excellence Award winners. See how their innovative work helped enhance Penn and its surrounding communities.

Energy Smart

Most people don’t know what a megawatt of electricity costs—or how much it constantly changes. But thanks to Kenneth Ogawa (Executive Director of Operations and Maintenance for Facilities and Real Estate Services), the Penn community has a better understanding of what’s behind electricity prices and how to reduce its carbon footprint.

In conjunction with faculty, staff, students and local businesses, Ken led a public awareness campaign known as the Electricity Literacy Initiative to teach people about the cost of electricity and how to cut back on energy use. The campaign ultimately led to the creation of an electricity price ticker (a website widget that shows the real-time, wholesale price of electricity) to educate people about energy costs and how to build a more sustainable future.

“Ken’s knowledge and expertise in his field were invaluable to this project. He worked with so many different people and did a terrific job of teaching others how to be smarter about energy use,” said Eugenie Birch, Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research in Penn’s School of Design and the co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research.

Professor Birch nominated Ken for a 2013 Models of Excellence Award for his collaborative efforts to promote more sustainable energy practices on campus and in the Philadelphia region.

“This project was energy innovation at its best. Ken’s role in bringing together students, faculty members and administrators to spread the word about sustainable energy practices was invaluable to both Penn’s campus and the city of Philadelphia,” Birch said.

To learn more about the Electricity Literacy Initiative, click here.

Mentor, Counselor, Leader

Tony Piccione still remembers his elementary school days and the importance of having teachers whose sole focus was meeting their students’ needs. That’s why he devotes his career to helping Philadelphia kids make the most of their time inside and outside the classroom—and so far, his work has been nothing short of extraordinary.

As the Associate Director and Structured Recess Coordinator for Wilson Community School—a Philadelphia public school partnership between Alexander Wilson Elementary School and the Netter Center of Community Partnerships—Tony develops and manages out-of-school-time programs for elementary students (in grades Kindergarten through six), including recess, summer, and after-school programming. His unique approach to education helps students build their academic, physical, social and emotional skills and paves the way for a brighter future.

“Tony is passionate about working with kids and committed to providing learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. Five years ago, Wilson Elementary School didn’t even have a structured recess program. Tony has made it what it is today, which is arguably one of the best recess programs in the city,” said Richard Liuzzi, Director for University-Assisted Community Schools at the Netter Center of Community Partnerships.

Richard nominated Tony for a 2013 Models of Excellence Award for improving the education of hundreds of at-risk students in the Philadelphia school district.

“Tony is an advocate for kids, and he has an incredibly diverse role when it comes to helping them learn. He serves as a counselor, teaches conflict resolution, and helps teachers excel in supporting the academic, social, and emotional development of their students,” Richard said.

To learn more about out-of-school-time programs at the Wilson Community School, click here.


Are You a Dual Caregiver?

Being a caregiver can be rewarding, but challenging. Whether you’re nurturing children or caring for aging adults, it isn’t always easy to support other people’s needs. So how do you cope when you’re trying to support both generations at the same time? We’ll tell you!

Join us on March 13 to learn about The Sandwich Generation: Bridging the Generational Divide. You’ll get the tools you need to support multiple generations of loved ones—no matter what their age. Learn strategies for dealing with the emotional stress of caring for others, and how to balance your dual caregiving responsibilities in order to meet your dependents’ needs as well as your own.

You’re welcome to bring a lunch to this free workshop. Click here for complete details and to register.


Advance Your Job Performance—and Your Career

Career growth doesn’t happen overnight. You need to continuously evaluate your performance, reflect on your accomplishments, and seek out new goals in order to sharpen your professional edge. That’s why Penn offers the annual Performance and Staff Development Program—and now’s your chance to learn how it can help you move forward in your career.

If you’re a supervisor, join us on March 6 to learn how you can help your staff grow and be more productive. Conducting Performance Appraisals for Supervisors will show you how a caring attitude and honest feedback make performance appraisals a valuable tool for you and your staff. Click here to register.

And if you want to make the most of your own performance appraisal (regardless of whether you supervise others), join us on March 13 for a closer look at Participating in Performance Appraisals for Staff. Learn tools for effective communication that’ll help you discuss your work, set goals and strengthen your relationship with your manager. Click here to register.


Save Money with Flexible Spending Accounts

Patricia Speakman is always looking for ways to save when it comes to her family’s health care. And thanks to Penn’s Health Care Flexible Spending Account, she can.

flexible spending account (FSA) lets you put money aside to pay for eligible health care or dependent care expenses that aren’t covered by other benefit plans. Over 4,000 Penn faculty and staff are enrolled in an FSA, and with good reason. You decide how much to contribute to your account each month (up to maximum contribution limits), and it’s automatically deducted from your paycheck. What’s more? The money you put in is free from both federal income and Social Security taxes.

Patricia enrolled in a Health Care FSA in July 2012 and uses it to pay for prescription refills and trips to the doctor. She can also use it to cover the cost of eligible medical procedures or medical supplies as needed.

“The Health Care FSA is so valuable. It’s tax-free so I can hold on to more of my money. And my FSA debit card is linked directly to my account which makes it a really easy and convenient way to pay for expenses and check my account balance,” Patricia said.

Faculty and staff with dependent care expenses can also save money by enrolling in Penn’s Dependent Care FSA. If you have a child, or a disabled parent or spouse who needs daily care while you work, you can use your dependent care flexible spending account to pay for that care.

Learn more about how you can use Penn’s flexible spending accounts to save money.