ROTC Cadets Welcome Bob Dole to Topeka

The Topeka High School Marine Corp Junior ROTC color guard helped begin a ceremony to honor former Kansas Senator Bob Dole today. Several hundred people, including Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and Governor Brownback, gathered to welcome Dole and his wife Elizabeth back to Topeka and to witness the unveiling of a bronze plaque on the sidewalk honoring the native of Russell, Kansas. The plaque was in the shape of Kansas. Dole, who is 88 years old, is the first Kansan to be honored on the Kansas Walk of Fame. Kansas Historical Society Executive Director Jeannie Chinn said the plan is to add up to three plaques each year to the walk.

Dole served in the Kansas Statehouse in the 1950’s before heading to Washington. He served 35 years in the United States Senate. He ran for President in 1996. Dole is still very active telling the crowd he was going to visit Elkhart, Kansas, and Russell once he left Topeka.

FMS Students and Staff Enjoy Technology Boost

French Middle School is one of two schools in Northeast Kansas to receive a Technology Rich Classroom Grant from the Kansas State Department of Education last spring. The school received $85,000 and has purchased five promethium boards, nine digital cameras and three laptop carts containing 15 laptops each. In addition, the grant provides seven days of professional development to help staff learn more about infusing technology into classroom instruction.

THS Teacher Elected to Camera Club Position

Scott Udey, Photography Teacher at Topeka High School since 1997, was nominated and elected to the position of Region 1 Director of North Central Camera Club Council (N4C). N4C consists of 40 photography clubs including Topeka Camera Club where Scott has been the President for several years. This appointment is a four-year commitment where each year he will move up in position and responsibility until he is president of the N4C his last year. He was appointed to this position this Sept. 10, at the 2011 N4CConvention here in Topeka hosted by the Topeka Camera Club.

The Topeka Camera Club spent two years planning for the convention of photography seminars under Scott’s leadership. The club meets once or twice a month to talk about photography and critique each other’s work. For more information about these organization go to or .

Student Newspaper Wins Award

The Topeka High School student newspaper, The World, has received an International First Place Award from Quill & Scroll, an international honor society for high school journalist. This is the 11th First Place Award for The World since 1963, and the 8th since 2002. Topeka High has been a member of Quill & Scroll since it started in 1934.

Lunkins is Above & Beyond Award Winner

Congratulations to Tyronne Lunkins, the first Above & Beyond award winner for the new school year. Lunkins is a special education paraprofessional and has been at Randolph Elementary School for the past 14 years. He also coaches a football team made up of Randolph students. Lisa Roush, who nominated Lunkins said, “He is a role model for our 4th and 5th grade students and uses his life experiences to help our students realize what a gift an education is and how much can be accomplished in life when you have one.”

The Above & Beyond award is given to a teacher, staff worker, parent or volunteer who goes above and beyond to help the students of Topeka Public Schools. If you would like to nominate someone for the Above & Beyond award, you’ll find a nomination form on the district website under staff/forms for staff/district programs.

CERT Training For Teachers

Shawnee County Department of Emergency Management is pleased to announce that 50 teachers in USD 501 will be trained as Community Emergency Response Team or "CERT" members.

During the USD 501 in-service days, CERT instructors will deliver an abbreviated CERT curriculum. CERT Academy is normally 22 hours, but with many of the teachers being certified in CPR and First Aid the curriculum was slightly altered.

The training will begin September 26, 2011 at Eisenhower Middle School 3305 SE Minnesota Ave Topeka, Kansas 66605. The second session and graduation will be November 7, 2011. The training is free.

CERT instructors teach members how to take care of themselves, their families, their neighbors and their community before, during and after a disaster or emergency.

CERT is a national program administered by the Shawnee County Department of Emergency Management and is supported by federal grants. It is one of the programs under the Citizens Corps along with Volunteers in Police Service (ViPS), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and Fire Corps. If you are interested in CERT training, contact Shawnee County Emergency Management: phone 785-233-8200 Ext 4152 or email

You can read more about CERT at or visit the SNCO CERT Facebook page at

Students Learn About Water

A number of 4th grade students from Topeka Public Schools got a little wet when they attended the Make a Splash Topeka Water Festival at Garfield Park yesterday. The kids had a great time learning about water. There were classes about water created from thunderstorms, groundwater and how water affects our daily lives. More than a thousand students attended the water festival.

(picture) Students from Ross Elementary School

Book Festival Brings Authors to School

Students in three schools got to see and hear from a real life author today. Author Eric McHenry from Washburn University talked to a 6th grade class at Eisenhower Middle School about poetry. He read some of the poems he has written and talked to the students about how to write poetry. Author Tom Averil visited Avondale West Elementary School. Averil is a Kansas author who has written numerous books about the Sunflower State. Tina Thompson read her book, Carly Likes Blue, to students at McCarter Elementary School. Thompson is director of early childhood development for Topeka Public Schools.

The three were among numerous Kansas authors who are taking part in the Kansas Book Festival on September 24th. The festival was put together by the First Lady of Kansas, Mary Brownback. It will be held at the Kansas History Museum includes meet-the-author sessions, panel discussions and book signings. Brownback hopes the book festival will promote literacy and encourage a life-long love of reading.

(picture) Author Eric McHenry at Eisenhower Middle School

Foundation Serves 25 Years

Topeka Public Schools Foundation (TPSF) and Topeka Public Schools past and present Board members, along with TPS administrative staff, commemorated TPSF's 25 years of service to the District with a reunion celebration last Sunday evening. Jim Edwards, current Foundation board member, and Melodie Woerman, past Foundation board member served as co-hosts for the event.
Dr. Walt Menninger, Dr. Marvin Edwards and Pamela Johnson-Betts

Past TPS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Edwards, who was the catalyst for the development of the Foundation, spoke to the group. Attendees also heard remarks from TPS alum and former TPS Foundation Board member Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker. In addition, the group received remarks of appreciation from TPS Interim Superintendent, Dr. Julie Ford.

The Monday morning Foundation Community Breakfast was also a success. Foundation Executive Director, Pamela Johnson-Betts said, "The community embraced the event as over 175 people attended on a Monday morning, bright and early." She continued, "We appreciate that several businesses sponsored the event and attended along with other state and local officials who showed their support."

Jim Deines, a local business man and 12-year Foundation Board member, was given the Foundation "Patron Award," and Dr. Marvin Edwards was presented the Foundation Founders Award.

Left: WIBW Channel 13 General Manager Jim Ogle announces Patron Award winner, Jim Deines.

Students Attend Construction Career Expo Day

Where will the highway, construction and transportation workers of tomorrow come from? The answer may be students from Topeka Public Schools. More than 1,400 high school and middle school students from Topeka Public Schools attended the Kansas Department of Transportation’s first Construction Career Expo Day at the Kansas Expocentre.

Students were able to get an up close look at KDOT trucks, backhoes and other equipment. They also got to see what it was like to operate the equipment. Construction companies had booths set up to promote careers in their industry. A career learning center was set up for junior and senior students.

“We are overwhelmed by the turnout, it was amazing,” said Kimberly Qualls of KDOT. “To get 1,400 students on a first year event and get them through and get exhibitors and sponsors, it was phenomenal.”

Each student receive an event t-shirt and lunch. Federal grants and sponsors paid for bus transportation to get students to the event.

TPS Named in Kansas Best 150 in Sports

The Topeka Capital-Journal,, AM 580 WIBW and 94.5 Country are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Kansas' statehood by asking Kansans what makes this state great.

Last month's survery collected information on favorite sports. The Dungeon at Topeka High was named the Best High School Gymnasium, former coach Willie Nicklin was named number 2 in the Best High School Basketball Coach Category and the Topeka High cheer squard was named number 2 in Best High School Cheerleader Squad Category.

Hummer Sports Park was named Best High School Stadium and the 1976 Highland Park High School basketball team was number 5 as the Best Team in State History.

This month, the survey is collecting information on education. Click for the survey here.

Literacy Project Receives Award of Excellence

The federally funded Mentor Coach Project has been selected by Community Action's Board of Directors to be the recipient of the 2011 Award for Collaborative Excellence. This award is presented each year to a partner or organization that has donated funds, products, or volunteers to Community Action in order to provide increased or improved services.

Community Action was founded in 1970 to develop strategies to eliminate poverty and to serve low-income families and individuals in Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas. The mission and philosophy of the agency has been summarized as "Helping People Help Themselves."

USD 501 Sheldon Head Start and Community Action, Inc. Head Start have worked together for the past year, providing coaching support for home visitors and classroom teachers. The award will be presented on Thursday, Oct. 13 at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center at 6 p.m. A staff member from Sheldon Head Start will accept the award.

For more information, click here.

Businessman Helps Music Students

A successful school district is one that has the support and involvement of the community. Topeka Public Schools is fortunate to have many businesses, organizations and individuals who help our students. One example is LeRoy Dubois, the owner of Midwest Musical Arts. He is sponsoring music teachers, who teach private lessons at his store, to visit schools and work with students at no charge to Topeka Public Schools.

Recently Dr. Tom Morgan, Director of Percussion Studies at Washburn University, spent time with students at Eisenhower Middle School and Scott Magnet Schools. Morgan is just one of several teachers who will work with students this school year to help them improve their musical skills.

9/11 Ceremony at Topeka High School

Topeka High School students were reminded of the events of September 11, 2001, during a 10th anniversary ceremony at the school’s Constitution Plaza today. A 10 year old girl born just after the terrorist attack, talked about the events of the past decade missed by those whose lives were cut short. The ceremony was put on by the cadets of the Marine Corps Junior ROTC at Topeka High School.

Earlier this week, students at Highland Park High School attended an event at their school to remember what took place ten years ago this Sunday.

Schools Benefit from Nancy Perry Day of Caring

Several projects were completed at eight TPS schools as part of the Nancy Perry Day of Caring. On September 9, United Way corporate partner volunteers joined together to complete various community projects. Volunteers painted playground equipment at Avondale West Elementary, Highland Park Central Elementary, Quincy Elementary, Shaner Elementary, Lowman Hill Elementary and Stout Elementary. Several projects were also completed at Topeka High School and Quinton Heights.

The Nancy Perry Day of Caring is a day of volunteer service which also honors Nancy Perry, former United Way of Greater Topeka president and CEO. Local nonprofits and community groups submit projects and United Way facilitates company and volunteer matches to complete the projects. In 2010, over 852 community members from nearly 38 companies completed 85 volunteer projects. It's a day which really does make a difference.

Lowman Hill Elementary Principal Russ Hutchins says, "The five volunteers who came to our school were wonderful. They painted our playground and made it look brand new!"

Food Service Staff Losing Weight

Students at Meadows Elementary School are frequent users of the running and walking track which encircles their school playground. Students at the school even have a running club which uses the track. Now, food service workers at Meadows are joining in the effort to get healthy. Each weekday morning, the workers take a brief break and walk around the track. Food Service Manager Amber Wiltz began eating better and exercising after she went through cancer. She encouraged her staff to join her for a daily walk. “I decided this year at 9:30 every day we were all going to take a walk break. We walk a mile a day.”

Tonja Widow is one of the food service workers who know that walking can help you feel better and look better. Besides walking the Meadows track in the morning, she also tries to walk before and after school and it is paying off. Tonja has lost 39 pounds in the past two months. All of the food service staff who walk the Meadows track have lost weight.

Topeka Public Schools encourages students and staff to exercise, eat right and live a healthy life. It helps keep health care costs down and it’s the right thing to do.

Board Approves Contract With Teachers

The Topeka Public Schools’ Board of Education tonight approved the 2011-2012 Professional Agreement with NEA-Topeka. The vote by the board was unanimous and comes just days after teachers approved the contract. Seventy-one percent of voting teachers approved it.

The contract calls for a salary increase of $750 in the current school year. It increases the number of allowable instructional days up to but not to exceed 184 days. It also includes a memorandum of understanding that the school district will design and develop a compensation plan aimed to recognize and reward performance which is considered above and beyond normal job expectations for certified employees.

The professional agreement is from August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2012.

Quote from Patrick Woods, Board of Education President

"The approval of this negotiated agreement reflects the fact that improving the working conditions of our front-line educators remains a high priority for this board. After all, Teacher Working Conditions are really Student Learning Conditions. I know the Administration and the Teachers' Association worked extremely hard putting together an agreement that is fair and equitable to teachers, invests our limited resources wisely, and most importantly improves learning conditions for our students by extending instructional time, among other measures. As a board member and a parent, I appreciate all of their work at the bargaining table and what they do for our students.”

Quote from Jeremy Gibson, NEA-T President

“The Professional Agreement between Topeka Public Schools and NEA-Topeka continues to build on the partnership we have established in serving our students and staff. By working together, Topeka teachers have a voice in creating solutions. For example, we agreed to a collaboration time where mutually agreed to topics will be addressed. In addition, we worked together to decrease health insurance premiums while maintaining current benefits through the Wellness Program. NEA-Topeka is pleased to see the value the Board has for the teachers in Topeka Public Schools.

Quote from Keith Newbury, NEA-T IBB Member

The NEA-T IBB team is happy for the ratification of the contract. It speaks highly of the relationship of the entire IBB team, as well as Interest Based Bargaining itself, that a mutually beneficial contract agreement was reached in what could fairly be described as difficult times. We look forward to continuing to build on this contract, the process, and the relationship between both teams to ensure improved conditions to allow the district to recruit and retain the best possible teachers to educate our children.

Mikesic Wins TPS Foundation Drawing

Elisabeth  Mikesic, TPS speech pathologist,  is the winner of this year's Friends of the Foundation extra day of personal leave. The drawing was for employees who contributed to the TPS Foundation by August 29. Dr. Julie Ford, interim superintendent, and Jeremy Gibson, NEA-T president, drew the winning name.
NEA-T President, Jeremy Gibson, and Interim Superintendent,
Dr. Julie Ford drew Elizabeth Mikesic's name for
an extra day of personal leave.

The Friends of The Foundation employee campaign runs through the month of September, if you have not already done so, consider making a contribution this year. A donor form can be found here. The Foundation works strictly on behalf of the District to raise dollars to create innovations and opportunities beyond the District's legislative funding allocation. 

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