Pine Ridge Celebrates 1st Birthday

The Topeka Public Schools Parents as Teachers Pine Ridge Center at 1100 SE Highland celebrated its first birthday yesterday with an open house, punch and birthday cake.

The center’s success over the past 12 months is attributed to the many partnerships that formed to create Pine Ridge and to operate the center. Multiple families and children take part in the Parents as Teachers Program each week that provides playgroups and activities that help prepare youngsters from birth to three attain the skills they will need for learning. Programs for parents are available including parenting skills and a computer lab to help parents find employment.

The Pine Ridge Center staff looks forward to another successful year of providing early childhood programs to the families of east Topeka.

Meadows Elementary is Number One

Meadows Elementary School is the number one school in Kansas when it comes to recycling. Meadows took part in the re-cycle bowl competition sponsored by Nestle Waters North America last fall. The competition involved elementary, middle and high schools from across the state. Meadows received a first place plaque and a $1,000 check from Keep America Beautiful.

Students recycled 10,703 pounds of materials or an average of 16 pounds per student over a four week period, according to Philicia McGee, Executive Director of Keep America Beautiful – Topeka/Shawnee County. Meadows Principal Nicole Dial told students they helped win the award. “You did your part by re-cycling. You threw things in the recycling bin, you recycled milk jugs and you helped keep our school clean, so good job to you.” Dial also thanked parents, teachers and custodians for help in achieving the award.

The $1,000 check will be used to upgrade the rugs at the school entrances. Dial told students that the new rugs will mean their shoes will be cleaner, the floors will be cleaner and the school won’t have to use as much cleaning products.

Nationwide, schools involved in the recycling bowl collected more than two million pounds of materials during the recycling competition.

Johnson-Betts Recognized by ABWA

The year 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the Career Chapter ABWA (American Business Women's Association) Scholarship Luncheon. Over the years, more than $260,000 in scholarship funds have been raised and distributed to women attending Washburn University and new in 2012, women attending Washburn Tech. As part of the celebration, ABWA honored 30 years of amazing women who have made a difference in the community and in the lives of women students at a luncheon on March 27.

Topeka Public Schools Foundation Executive Director Pamela Johnson-Betts was among the women recognized at this year's luncheon. She was selected by the ABWA as the Woman of Distinction in 2005. She was the secretary of the Kansas Department of aging in 2005 when she was honored. She has headed the Topeka Public Schools Foundation since 2007.

This year's Woman of Distinction is Carol Wheeler, vice president and professional and regional services officer at Stormont-Vail HealthCare. To see all 30 women selected as Women of Distinction as well as additional information about the event, click here.

Student in Kansas Geographic Bee

A 5th grade student at Whitson Elementary School will compete in the 2012 Kansas National Geographic Bee in Abilene on March 30. Jack Mickelsen won his school’s competition, then took a qualifying test which he submitted to the National Geographic Society.

The state winner will receive $100, the “Complete National Geographic on DVD” and a trip to Washington D.C., where the winner with represent Kansas in the national finals May 22-24. The national first place winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship and a free trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Students Raise Funds to Help Others

Landon Middle School students have raised $1,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The money was raised by a competition between advisor bases. The AB which raised the most money will be rewarded with a pasta party from Olive Garden. The check was presented during a school assembly on March 16.

Pi Day at Chase Middle School

March 14th was pi day. If you remember from your school days, pi equals 3.14 and represents the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. Chase Middle School math teacher David Jung told students that if they each read at least 3.14 books, he would cut off the beard he had grown for six months. The students met the challenge reading more than 1,900 books, so with the students watching Assistant Principal Bob Gay shaved off most of Jung’s beard, but he left just enough to form the pi symbol on Jung’s face.

Topeka High School Named Equity and Access Leader

Topeka High was named today as the recipient of this year's "Equity and Access Leadership Award," by the Kansas Coalition for Equity and Access to Transition Services (KCEATS). Principal Dr. Linda Wiley, Special Education Chair Lori Roenbaugh, and Assistive Technology Coordinator Paula Swartzman-Waters were acknowledged for their work towards successful post-secondary outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities at Topeka High School in a nomination statement by Dr. Linda Aldridge, general director of Special Services for Topeka Public Schools.

Earlier in the school year, Lori Roenbaugh was also honored as a "Possibilities in Action Partner Award" winner, by the National Association of School Psychologists, for her involvement in improving collaboration within the Topeka High School community and advocating on behalf of students and their families.

"Between the rigorous, test-driven demands of No Child Left Behind, and contemporary political rhetoric dismissing the valiant efforts of public schools and teachers, it is more important than ever for Kansas educators to focus on meeting the needs of students with disabilities and students from diverse language and cultural heritages," said Dr. Robb Scott, president of the Kansas Coalition for Equity and Access to Transition Services. "It is great to see transition services at Topeka High as the leading edge of positive change throughout the entire school."

Schools and districts nominated for the annual Equity and Access Leadership Award are evaluated based on evidence of policies which benefit culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities and their families. As a guide, Kansas educators are encouraged to consult a list of best practices at Nominations for the 2013 award may be sent to .

Apodaca Goes Above & Beyond

Quinton Heights custodian Brian Apodaca is the Above and Beyond winner for the month of March. He was nominated by the Quinton Heights staff for his hard work preparing the building during the summer of 2011 and his dedication to quality as he maintains the Quinton Heights facility.  

When Quinton Heights was repurposed to be used for the English Language Learners/Migrant Programs, Parents as Teachers and the Special Education Preschool last summer, Brian had the task of converting the facility from an elementary school to housing these programs. He moved desks, boxes, bookcases, filing cabinets and a myriad of other heavy items for 40 people. He moved equipment and materials from one room to the other, in and out of the gym, and to the shed and trucks. Sometimes, he had to move things more than once. He did all of this while maintaining the cleanliness and upkeep of the building and preparing it for the first day of school. The preparation included stripping and re-waxing all of the facility floors.

Parent educator Yvonne Guy says, "Brian continually amazes us with his knowledge and quick-thinking. He responds quickly, thoroughly and efficiently." Quinton Heights secretary Joleen Weber adds, "He's always there when we need help and he is quick to respond when the kids need something. He's very pleasant to be around."

If you know of a staff person, parent or community person who goes above and beyond to serve the students of Topeka Public Schools, nominate them for the Above & Beyond Award. The nomination form can be found here.

Students Create Re-cycled Art

Art students at Eisenhower Middle School are turning re-cycled materials into beautiful art. Instructor Sean O’Callaghan was asked if a guest artist at the Mulvane Art Museum could do an activity with his kids. Having previously worked at the Mulvane Museum, he said yes. “Her idea was to use re-cycled materials and make art, help save the environment and make something beautiful at the same time,” said O’Callaghan.

For two days this week, Ohio artist Michelle Stitzlein spent time with the Eisenhower art students to use plastic bottle caps to create a work of art. “I go into schools and we work with plastic bottle caps. They are free, plentiful and they are colorful. Ninety percent of the bottle caps are not re-cycled, so they end up in the landfill. We use the caps in a creative way,” said Stitzlein. Eighth grade student Maura Mossat is enjoying the project. “It is extremely fun and definitely one of the most exciting we have done all year.”

The students have created colorful butterflies, flowers and frogs from plastic bottle caps on pre-painted boards. The boards will later be fitted together to form the shape of Kansas. Once it is finished, the art piece will be put on display at the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University.

Topeka Area Head Start

Age requirements:
Must be 4 years old by August 31, 2012
Must be 3 years old by August 31, 2012

Age requirements:
Eearly Head Start: prenatal-3 years old
Head Start: Must be 3 or 4 years old by August 31, 2012

Applications being accepted for the 2012-2013 school year!

When: Monday, March 12th

Where: Big Gage Shelter House
(next to Topeka Zoo Entrance)
634 SW Gage

Time: 10:00a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

You will need to bring:
• Child’s Legal Birth Certificate
• Current proof of income – ALL adults within household
(2011 Tax return or TANF (AFDC) Verification)
• Child’s Immunization Record
• Child’s Social Security Card

Head Start offers complete services for all eligible children
including children with special needs and severe disabilities.

Two TPS Teachers Selected as AVID Staff Developers

Kimberly Sonnich, a language arts and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) teacher at Robinson Middle School, and Aryn McCoy, a special education teacher at Topeka High, have been selected to be staff developers for AVID. They will attend training in San Diego in April and will then work at AVID Summer Institutes held within the Central Division of the United States. Kimberly will be training educators in the Language Arts Path and Aryn will be presenting the Student Success Path training.  Both will also be assisting school districts with the development of AVID site plans which they will go back and implement in their schools.  
What is AVID?
AVID is a program designed to help students in the middle prepare for and succeed in colleges and universities. Students in the program commit themselves to improvement and preparation for college. AVID offers a rigorous program of instruction in academic “survival skills” and college level entry skills. The AVID program teaches the student how to study, read for content, take notes, and manage time. Students participate in collaborative study groups or tutorials led by tutors who use skillful questioning to bring students to a higher level of understanding.

March Madness

Congratulations go out to both Highland Park High School and Topeka High School. Both the boys basketball teams earned their way to the state playoffs as did the Highland Park High School girls.

Highland Park boys will play on Wednesday night at 8:15 p.m. at the Expo Center.

Topeka High boys will play Thursday at 4:45 p.m. in Wichita. (THS will be letting school out at 1:30 p.m. so staff and students can travel to the game.)

Highland Park girls will play on Thursday night at 8:15 p.m. at the Expo Center. Good luck HPHS and THS!

Highland Park High School will hold a pep rally Wednesday at 11:10 a.m. at the high school.

Board Names Friends of Education Winners

The Topeka Public Schools Board of Education recognized one group and one individual as 2012 Friends of Education winners at their March 1 meeting. The Jardine Middle School Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) coordinators were recognized as winners in the community/civic organization category. McEachron Elementary volunteer, June Rule, was recognized in the school volunteer category.

The Kansas Confidence in Public Education Task Force sponsors the award program each year. TPS selects local winners and then submits them as nominations to the Task Force for statewide recognition.

Pictured below left to right: Quentin Martin, Doug Shima, Larry Zimmerman and Jeremy Snowden. Not pictured: Hank Miller, Rev. Steven Crowder and Craig Strever. More information about the Watch D.O.G.S. can be found here.


Below: June Rule meets with students to work on math.

 More information about June Rule can be found here.

Information about the Task Force can be found here.

Dr. Seuss & Green Eggs and Ham

Today is Dr. Seuss’ 108th birthday. The famous children’s author would be proud that more than twenty years after his death, his books are as popular as ever. In Topeka Public Schools and throughout the nation today, children were read Dr. Seuss books on the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day.

At Avondale East Elementary Schools, members of the community stopped by to read a Dr. Seuss book to students. The readers included a police officer, a banker and a former principal at Avondale East. The day began as it should on Dr. Seuss’ birthday with green eggs and ham on the breakfast menu.

Fruit Table at Avondale West

What better way to begin the school day than with an apple, orange or grapes. That’s what students at Avondale West Elementary saw this week when they arrived at school and found a fruit table with two kinds of apples, oranges and grapes for sale.

The fruit table is a one week experiment. It was the idea of 3rd grader Josephine Curls, a member of the Avondale West Health Council. One student from each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms make up the health council which was formed last fall. “We noticed a lot of cupcakes, a lot of snacks and we wanted to help get the awareness going that you can still eat healthy and have it taste good,” said parent volunteer Traci Routsong. “ The health committee has come up with all sorts of things they want to do. They put up posters about healthy eating. They are thinking about having a fun run.”

The health council surveyed students about their favorite fruit before deciding what to sell. So what do students think about having fruit to eat before school? “We have been selling a lot. It’s really fun,” said Curls, who was sitting behind the fruit table. Why is it important? “Because people need to eat healthy fruits and vegetables, really healthy,” said Curls.

What happens after this week? “We have had a lot of parents ask about after school snacks because we have a lot of after school activities. The health committee will meet to see if it is cost effective since we buy all the fruit. Then we’ll see about a fruit table either before or after school,” said Routsong.

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