Two TPS Teachers Nominated for Horizon Award

Kenya Patzer

Emillie Galloway

  Two TPS educators have been selected as district nominees to a statewide award program. Randolph teacher Emillie Galloway and Topeka High teacher Kenya Patzer have been chosen as TPS nominees for the Kansas State Department of Education Horizon Award program.

The Kansas Horizon Awards are sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education. The award recognizes exemplary first-year educators. Last year, 32 educators from around the state were recognized.

The Horizon Award program, currently in its ninth year, allows all school districts in the state an opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the award. To be eligible for a Horizon Award, teachers must have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding. The Horizon Award program is a regional competition with four regions corresponding to the state’s U.S. Congressional districts. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers may be selected for the award from each region.

The 2011 Horizon Award winners will be announced in January.

Rivera Retires From Burnett Post

When it comes to greeting people and directing traffic, Linda Rivera has the job down pat. She exemplifies characteristics of a good employee in a way her colleagues find admirable.  Dependable, trustworthy, manageable, team player, participant, upbeat, good communicator—these are just a few words that describe the person, the legend, Linda Rivera. Chances are you have spoken to Linda at one time or another. She is the “voice of Topeka Public Schools” and has been answering the district office phone at the main reception desk for 22 years. “When anyone calls the district office, her voice (not a machine) is what the caller hears,” says TPS Executive Director of Administration, Tammy Austin. “You can expect to be greeted with warmth and care. Ms. Rivera's smile, attentiveness, positive attitude, and calm demeanor have made our patrons feel welcome at TPS.”

Her pleasant voice and calming personality set the stage for her helpful direction of public and staff inquiries. Those who come to the Burnett Center are welcomed by a friendly face—a person who is always willing to help them find what they need. She could tell stories about “interesting” questions or comments she has heard over the years.

At times, those with complaints have given her an ear full. She has “heard and seen it all,” and has kept her composure and helpful attitude each day. Her ability to listen and assist often reduces the intensity of the situation and promotes a peaceful resolution. TPS Certified Personnel Manager Marie Carter notes, “I don't know too many people who could manage the receptionist desk as well as Linda has. Sitting in that position she must know who everyone is, where everyone is, and what they do in order to correctly direct people.”

Pamela Johnson-Betts, Topeka Public Schools Foundation executive director says, “Linda is one of the kindest, most patient souls the earth has to offer. She has a great sense of humor and interest in others. She is a poetic frustrated writer, observer of interactions, soother of the soul and woman of wisdom. She shares life insights with her children, grandchildren, fellow workers and even the superintendents that have passed through her door.”

On August 31, her time with TPS ends as she enters her retirement. “Linda has been a great representative of Topeka Public Schools for 22 years,” says TPS Director of Communications Ron Harbaugh. “She will be missed.”

When asked about her a favorite memory from her time with TPS, Linda says, “I have been able to get to know most of Topeka Public Schools staff by being here at this desk.  And what I’ve learned is the district is comprised of many dedicated people that are devoted to improving the lives of our students.” She continues, “It’s been a privilege to work here with so many co-workers and friends that when I leave it will be with the knowledge that I have met and worked with the best.”

Strategic Plan Discussion

Topeka Public Schools is entering the second year of its five year strategic plan. Last night, members of the strategic planning committee, board of education members and school administrators met to discuss the results of year one of the plan and talk about objectives for year two of the strategic plan. The objectives for year two will be presented to the school board at the September 1st board of education meeting.

Shaner Students Receive Sackpacks

Shaner Elementary School students will be able to carry their school supplies in a new sackpack, thanks to the generosity of two groups that have helped Topeka Public Schools in the past. Today Lana Gordon, representing the National Foundation for Women Legislators and Kent Pope, manager of Office Depot, donated more than 200 sackpacks to students at Shaner. The sackpacks contained school supplies.

The students in Darlene Bluvan’s 3rd grade class were surprised and excited to be the first in their school to get a sackpack. They cheered and said thank you to Gordon and Pope. Last year, the NFWL and Office Depot donated several hundred backpacks to students in Topeka Public Schools.

Doug Glenn Named Volunteer of the Year

Congratulations to Board of Education member Doug Glenn for being named Volunteer of the Year for Big Brothers Big Sisters for its school-based program. Mr Glenn has been matched with a little brother since January 2010. He volunteers at Bishop Elementary School. He also serves as a member of the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

(Picture) Board of Education President Patrick Woods presents volunteer award to Doug Glenn.

Eisenhower Open House & Cookout

Parents and students are invited to attend the open house and cookout at Eisenhower Middle School on August 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tour the school and meet the teachers and principal. Hot dogs, chips and soft drinks will be served.

NO SCHOOL at Capital City Schools Monday

Capital City Schools at 500 SW Tuffy Kellogg Drive is still without power this Monday morning. Thus, there will be no school today (Monday, August 22) at Capital City Schools.

THS Fire Responders Recognized

The emergency crews which responded to the Topeka High School fire on August 9 were honored at last night’s school board meeting. Members of the fire department who put out the roof fire were recognized for their quick response to the school. Topeka Fire Shift Commander Michael Thompson told board members that the fire was out within 13 minutes after the fire alarm sounded. Representatives of the Topeka Police Department, the custodial staff at Topeka High School, campus police officers and a representative of the TPS service center were recognized for their role in responding to the fire or for cleanup of the school after the fire. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Damage from the fire is estimated at $270,000.

Storm Causes Damage to Schools

A strong line of storms last night producing winds up to 70 miles per hour forced the closing of four schools due to loss of electricity. State Street Elementary, Avondale East Elementary, Chase Middle School and Capital City Schools were without power at mid morning today. Principals and staff were at the schools this morning to make sure that any students who showed up were returned home.

The high winds broke several windows at Avondale East Elementary School. A large tree was on the ground next to the school building. At State Street Elementary School, skirting along the bottom of several new portable classrooms was torn away. Large tree limbs were scattered around the school. Several schools were without phone service due to the storm.

Staff from the Topeka Public Schools’ service center were out early this morning removing downed tree limbs on school property and beginning repairs on broken windows and the portable classrooms. Power is expected to be restored to the schools later today.

District Phone Services Unavailable At Some Schools

Due to the storms that hit Topeka during the overnight hours, some schools are experiencing outages with their phone service.

The following schools have no phone service as of 9:15AM Friday morning:

Avondale East
Capital City
Erickson Security
Hummer Sports Complex
State Street

Multiple staff members are working diligently to restore service as quickly as possible to the affected systems. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

The Topeka School District email system is now available.

Robotics Program Launched at Highland Park High

Add robotics to the class offering now available to students in Topeka Public Schools. An official ribbon cutting for the Advanced Automation Robotics Program at Highland Park High School was held this morning at the school. Nine students are signed up for the class which will meet two hours each day. The class is available to students from other high schools in the district as well. The instructor will be Bruce Babin, a former mechanical engineering professor at Kansas State University.

The robotics program is the result of a partnership between Topeka Public Schools, Go Topeka’s Entrepreneurial and Minority Business Development Plan and Washburn Institute of Technology. High school students who complete the robotics class will be eligible to receive a certification with the job ready title of technician, operator or basic programmer. Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, one of the largest robotic companies in the world, will provide training for the program.

Markus Cowan, a senior at Highland Park, is one of the students who will be taking the robotics class. “I feel good because it is an opportunity to learn. It’s what I have been looking at on television. I’ll have a chance to build stuff and work with robotics and make them move.” HPHS sophomore Marces Cole is also taking the class. “I think it is a good move for Highland Park, especially this year. I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I was a little kid.”

Instructor Bruce Babin has already received training from Motoman Robotics. “I will start going through some basic programming with the kids getting them familiar with the robot. The kids will start playing with the robotics come September,” said Babin. Interim Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford and Board of Education member Hal Gardner are looking forward to the program. “This is exciting for Topeka Public Schools because it opens up another opportunity for career pathways and connections with post secondary education and the world of work,” said Ford. Gardner says the new robotics class is already generating a lot of attention. “We already have people in California and the east coast wanting to get involved and we are going to lead the way. So, I think it is a phenomenal experience for 501 and the kids,” said Gardner.

20 Under 40 Award

Pilar Mejia, an ELL secondary coach, has been selected as a member of Greater Topeka’s 20 Under 40 group for 2011. The award recognizes 20 young leaders of the community who are under the age of 40. Pilar was chosen for her work and accomplishments both professionally and personally. Pilar has been with Topeka Public Schools since 2004. She and other young leaders will be honored at an event November 17th.

Students Begin New School Year

“Hi. What’s your name and what grade are you in?” Those were the words many students heard this morning when they returned for another school year. Interim Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford and TPS Board of Education members were waiting outside schools to greet students and their parents. It has become a yearly event for board members and district administrators to visit schools on the first day of class.

Being new to Topeka Public Schools, Dr. Ford will try to visit all 27 elementary, middle and high schools today

Art Teachers Visit Local Gallery

Students in Topeka Public Schools will have a better understanding of the local arts community once art teachers finish two days of in service. Today, a number of art teachers met at the SouthWind Gallery to hear about the growing arts community in Topeka. Owner Gary Blitsch said he hopes the meeting will lead to future joint projects with teachers and students.

Highland Park High School Art Teacher Tiffany Pryor says some high school students are already familiar with Gary and the SouthWind Gallery. “Topeka West students come here on a regular basis to do some critical analysis of art pieces at the gallery. He has invited all of us to take advantage of that and he’s here with information to help students do those things and help them get out more and see real art.”

Friday, the art teachers will go the Kansas Museum of History to learn about sesquicentennial events related to the arts that they might incorporate in their classrooms.

Avondale East Open House/Back to School Fair

Avondale East Elementary School will be holding an open house and back to school fair on Monday, August 15th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Parents and students are encournaged to visit their classroom and meet their teacher and school staff. There will be free school supplies, free books and cookies and punch.

Schools Honored For Making AYP

Chase Middle School and Shaner Elementary School received a surprise visit from Interim Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford today. She, along with other school administrators, visited the two schools to congratulate staff for helping the schools make Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP. Both Chase and Shaner have now made AYP two years in a row, removing them from the “on improvement” list.

Dr. Ford brought a congratulations banner, balloons and cookies for the principal and staff at both schools.

Picture: Interim Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford on the right. School attorney Cindy Kelly on the left.

Topeka High Reopens Thursday

Topeka High School will be open tomorrow (Thursday). The school was closed Wednesday due to the roof fire on Tuesday night.

Topeka High Roof Fire - Teacher Meeting Moved

Black smoke rising above downtown Topeka this afternoon was the result of a roof fire at Topeka High School. Fire crews responded and had the fire out in a short time. There were no injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

As a result of the fire, Topeka High teacher are to report to St. John's AME Church at 701 Topeka Boulevard for their in-service meetings Wednesday. Topeka High School will be closed to the public Wednesday. Secretaries and office personnel are not to report to work Wednesday.

THS Football Practice Information

Topeka High School's first practice for football will be August 15th and 16th at 6:00 p.m. at Chandler field due to potential heat . Please make sure your student has a completed physical form and signed concussion form turned in before or on the 15th. Contact Coach Walt Alexander with questions at 913-370-0417.

Big Donation to Parents as Teachers Program

Youngsters who are served by Parents as Teachers will be getting a new outdoor playground thanks to the United Way. At the August 4th board of education meeting, United Way Board Chairman Scott Griffith presented a $10,000 check to Topeka Board of Education President Patrick Woods. The money will be used to build the playground for infants and toddlers and to provide books for them at the Parents as Teachers Pine Ridge location in east Topeka.

The Parents as Teachers program offers monthly personalized home visits, weekly playgroups and developmental screenings for low income families. The Pine Ridge site also has a computer lab for adults to help them access information, enhance jobs skills and look for employment. The Pine Ridge site serves more than 50 families who live in the area.

The Topeka Public Schools’ Parents as Teachers Pine Ridge site is the result of a partnership between the school district, the Topeka Community Foundation, the Topeka Public Schools Foundation, El-Shaddai Ministries, United Way of Greater Topeka, the Community Resources Council and the Topeka Housing Authority.

BOE Approves Budget

The Board of Education approved the 2011-12 budget at its August 4th board meeting. The $249,952,822 budget calls for an increase of two mills from 54.3 to 56.3. The vote was unanimous, 7-0. It is the first time in three years that the school district’s mill levy has increased.

Topeka High All Sports Meeting - August 11


Topeka High School will host an ‘All Sport Parent/Athlete Participation Meeting’ on Thursday, August 11th beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the THS Student Cafeteria. Any parent of a Topeka High student that has an interest in participating in any athletics during the 2011-12 school year, are encouraged to attend this informational meeting. This meeting will include a General Session covering: Philosophy of THS programs; KSHSAA rules and procedures; Eligibility and Code of Conduct requirements; Physical Forms; Insurance/Medical Release Forms; Transportation Waivers; Procedures for inclement weather; Player/Parent/Coach communication; and Sportsmanship. The fall sports coaches’ will then host their individual sessions at approximately 7:00 p.m. in designated classrooms.

Several of the required forms are available at enrollment and will also be available at the ‘All Sport Parent/Athlete Participation Meeting’ on Thursday, August 11th (THS Student Cafeteria). If you have any questions, please contact Rod Hasenbank at Topeka High School at 295-3157.

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