Friday, August 18, 2017

Faces of 501: Kyle Morris

Faces of 501: Kyle Morris

Kyle Morris, is starting his third year teaching 8th grade science at Jardine Middle School. In his former career Morris was a broadcast meteorologist working at television stations Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Kansas. After working as, a substitute teacher for three Topeka school districts and as a program developer in the education department at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, he joined the transition to teaching program through Fort Hays State University. Morris is currently preparing a lesson plan for the total solar eclipse on Monday. 

“When I was a meteorologist I was able to study in more detail the sciences while also practicing public speaking and performance. My background prepared me for the ability to keep young minds better engaged through that performance and my former career always seems to spark interest and curiosity. I can give them real world information from my experiences of working in science and that initial interest and curiosity can always be used as a jumping off point to work into other science content areas. Science is about asking your own questions and trying to discover the answer yourself. The students are going to view the eclipse while filling out a guided worksheet. This will allow them to observe the eclipse and try to come up with answers to their own observations. We have also included cross-curriculum opportunities with elements of math through percentages and graphs, and language arts with creative writing. I’ve been preparing for collaboration with the entire middle school science department in the district, and then creating the details with the science team at my school. This is an opportunity for students to really experience science in the real world through an event that does not happen often.  I remember being in school during the 1994 annular solar eclipse in Kansas. So I'm really curious as to the observational differences will be during this eclipse. Planning for it was not the most fun, but I think we have developed something that will increase learning and allow the students to fully experience the event in their own ways. The excitement and interest that this event could create in students to me is really exciting.

“Teaching middle school, it's not as bad as people tend to think. It can be challenging, but the students are at a unique stage where they are transitioning from a child into their teenage years. They still have a bit of innocence hidden behind their attempt to look mature. I get to experience the youthful ignorance with the development of personalities and it can be a lot of fun. I want them to learn the material I am teaching along with all other subjects, but more importantly I hope they develop in their decision making. Even if they never remember what an index fossil is, or the difference between a base and an acid, I want them to have developed the skills that it took to learn and discover the content. The content is important, but not as much as the development their brains go through when actively participating in science.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Faces of 501: Sgt. Gary Williams

Faces of 501: Sgt. Gary Williams 

Topeka Public Schools Police Officer Sgt. Gary Williams has worked for the district since Aug. 2014. In addition to his work at Highland Park High School he is a member of the Kansas Air National Guard's 190th Refueling Wing, Williams will leave for deployment with the 190th on Aug. 28 

“The good part about working for Topeka Public Schools is the overall positive attitude. Just about every day, I get to come to HPHS, and be greeted by smiling faces!  Students and staff alike! Also the school hours are fantastic. Having been in public service all my life, I have rarely had a "regular" schedule.  I love being home in the evenings, as I don't feel like I'm missing out on life anymore. When I'm not working, I'm usually working! I have two young children, and of course they occupy most of my off duty time. On top of family, I've been a member of the 190th Security Forces Squadron at Forbes Field for 20 years. I have enjoyed my career at the 190th, and have no plans to retire anytime soon. Who knows, at this point I might try to do 30 years!  The other huge part of my life is teaching self-defense. I have a 1st Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, which lead me to understand I needed to learn other stuff to augment that system.  So I went out and learned boxing, and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Those things lead me to fighting in MMA. I'm not sure if I'm going to fight anymore, but I will teach self-defense, and firearms for the rest of my life.

“I tell students to always get all the information you can before making a decision. Every day I see students at the school making decisions based on limited information. A lot of that is youth, and only seeing what you want to see. When the opportunity arises, and it often does, I tell students to gather as much information as you can, before you make a decision. I don't care what the topic is, gather the information from all sources, and make that decision based on your values, and the facts at hand.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dr. Tiffany Anderson Presents Nationally on Trauma and Equity

Dr. Tiffany Anderson is presenting nationally on topics focused on health and wellness and on closing achievement gaps. This month she was invited by the Kellogg Foundation to train their board and Battle Creek, MI educators on practices she has used to lead trauma informed initiatives in her past and in Topeka. Following the training, TPS staff are in the process of submitting a grant to Kellogg for funding for early childhood programs and expanding early childhood family health services. Today, Dr. Anderson has joined leading researchers and authors to present on intervention services in schools. While some TPS educators are training this week at KU on tiered intervention strategies, others are in Utah, being trained at a conference on equity. Staff members are also recruiting teachers while at the conference. The link to the conference can be viewed here: Truman Medical Center in Kansas City will host their annual conference focused on mental and behavioral health support services for students at the annual Trauma Sensitive Schools Team Summit where Dr. Anderson will serve as the keynote. To learn more about Trauma Sensitive Schools through Truman Medical's Behavioral Health unit click here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

TPS honors LEAP Award winners

Topeka West teachers Chris Perry and Corey Wilson celebrate with senior Linda Deng at the LEAP Awards. 

Topeka Public Schools recently celebrated a group of students for the first ever LEAP Awards. LEAP stands for Learning, Engaging, Adapting and Preparing. Students from the Highland Park, Topeka West, Hope Street Academy and Topeka High School were selected as the first class of LEAP winners.

The students honored were Dayonde' Wheeler, Khalilah Davis and Linda Deng all of Topeka West. Benjamin Zhang, Celestial Simonson, Isabelle Smallback and Obioma Nwakpuda of Topeka High. Kelly Nemecheck of Hope Street Academy. Aspen Hearne, Ca'ttia Thomas and Phillip White of Highland Park.

Topeka High seniors Obi Nwakpuda, left, and Celeste Simonson.  
Topeka Public Schools Board of Education President Patrick Woods talks with Highland Park senior Phil White.

The inaugural LEAP Awards were held in the Topeka High School cafeteria. 

Topeka West senior Linda Deng, right, shakes hands with TPS Board of Education members Janel Johnson and Patrick Woods.  
Topeka West junior Dayonde' Wheeler, left and Topeka West teacher Andrea York. 

Hope Street Academy Principal Dale Noll, left, and senior Kelly Nemecheck. 
TPS Board of Education member Dr. Peg McCarthy, left, shakes hands with Highland Park senior Aspen Hearne.

Topeka High teacher Cathy Terrell, left, and senior Obi Nwakpuda. 

Topeka High principal Rebecca Morrisey hugs senior Izzy Smallback. 

TPS Board of Education member Nancy Kirk, left, shakes hands with Topeka High senior Izzy Smallback. 

Topeka High senior Celeste Simonson, left, and Topeka High teacher Janice Waldo. 

TPS Board of Education member Rev. John Williams, left, shakes the hand Topeka High senior Benjy Zhang. 

The Highland Park High School Air Force JROTC presented the colors. 

TPS Superintendent Tiffany Anderson, left, talks with Topeka West junior Dayonde' Wheeler.  

Topeka High senior Benjy Zhang, left, talks with TPS Board of Education member Nancy Kirk. 

The Topeka West Premier Strings kicked off the evening by playing at the reception. 

Highland Park teacher Chad Brown, left, talks about senior Phil White. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

TPS Honors 2017 Distinguished Staff Members

Topeka Public Schools honored the 2017 Distinguished Staff Award winners on April 12 at French Middle School. The winners of these awards have a total of 191 years of service to TPS. The award is the highest honor that TPS bestows on their employees.

Here are this year's winners of the Distinguished Staff Awards:

2017 Distinguished Staff Award honorees with the Topeka Public Schools Board of Education. 

 Marcus Clark, Custodial, Highland Park High School, right, hugs TPS School Board President Patrick Woods. 

 Steven Crawford, Paraeducator, Chase Middle School, right, with Principal Dr. Keith Jones. 

 Dustin Dick, Building Leader, Topeka West, right, with TPS School Board Vice-President Dr. Michael Morrison. 

 Debbie Dickerson, Elementary Educator, Stout Elementary, left, with Principal John Litfin. 

 Peggy Fisher, Certified Support Staff, Lundgren Education Center, right, with Dr. Jennifer Barnhart. 

 Denise Good, Classified Support Staff, Burnett Center, right, with Marie Carter. 

 Michael Hoover, Food Service, Eisenhower Middle School, right, with Principal Leosha Giardina. 

 Elena Ramirez-Johnson, Office Personnel, Highland Park High School, left, with Principal Dr. Beryl New. 

Jessica McHenry, First-Year Teacher Secondary, Eisenhower Middle School, left, with Principal Leosha Giardina.  

 Ellie Myers, First-Year Teacher Elementary, McEachron Elementary, right, with Principal Vic Williams. 

 Kirsten Cigler Nelson, High School Educator, Topeka High School. 

 Larry Robbins, District Leader, Burnett Center, right with TPS Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Anderson. 

Robert Schawo, Middle School Educator, Jardine Middle School, right, with TPS School Board President Patrick Woods. 

For more photos of the event check out the TPS Facebook gallery