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Faces of 501: James Bell

Paraprofessional James Bell is in his fifth year of working at Robinson Middle School. Prior to working for Topeka Public Schools, he was a full-time teacher in Texas and in the Riverview Gardens School District near St. Louis. He also had his own business teaching driver’s education to high school students, even teaching Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott how to drive.“In my career in education I have taught every grade level of students from kindergarten to high school. Without a doubt in my mind, middle school students can be the most challenging and yet the most rewarding at the same time. Their emotions are sometimes changing by the minute, but once a connection has been made, you are imprinted in their lives forever. Many former students see me in the hallway and say how much they miss our class. They often thank us for making them accountable when we had them as students. Can't beat the feeling that we made a difference in someone's life.”
“One of the main dif…

Faces of 501: Gabriela Lemmons

Gabriela Lemmons, a seventh and eighth grade English Language Arts Dual Language teacher, is in her third year at Landon Middle School. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked in the publishing and printing industry and earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Kansas. As a published author, she averaged 30 readings a year and was very active in the Latino Writers Collective, an organization in the Kansas City area which she helped found. While looking for a new profession, she discovered that Topeka Public Schools offers a dual language magnet school. From there she enrolled in Fort Hays State’s Transition to Teaching program and completed the program in May 2017.

 “I encourage students to find mentors that will support their writing.  I also encourage students to seek online resources. There are many online communities where members support writers of specific genres, from slam poetry, science fiction, memoir, to mystery. There are also online resources that continuou…

Students Engage in School Safety Conversation

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that took 17 lives shook the nation, including Topeka Public Schools students. Since that tragic day on February 14, students across the nation have begun to voice their concern, ideas for improvement and demands for change. Katie Knouf, junior at Topeka West High School, is one of the students providing insight on school safety and gun violence. Knouf explains that the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida has created an opportunity to bring awareness to the gun safety issue here in Topeka, Kansas.

Knouf, along with the rest of her Current Events class, reached out to Topeka West school administrators to discuss ideas about gun safety.

"We called in our principals and talked with them personally about how they would handle it (school shooting) and what we would be instructed to do. We talked about the drills, how we handle the drills, what we can do better and how we can make the campus safer."

Knouf believes that open dia…

Faces of 501: Rich Lindstrom