DSA Winners - Classified

The Distinguished Staff Award is the highest honor a Topeka Public Schools staff member can receive.  In April, a reception is held to recognize all the DSA winners in the classified, certified and first year teacher categories.

Classified winners have been chosen.


Category                                     Name                                    School/Building

Custodial                                    Catherin Southern              Highland Park Central

Operations/maintenance       Ron Moorehead                  Service Center

Office Personnel                       Carleen Lister                      Burnett Center

Support Staff                             Laura Maike                         Burnett Center

Food Service                              Patricia Adolphson             Eisenhower Middle

Paraprofessional                      Julie Smoot                           Eisenhower Middle


The DSA selection committee will select certified winners in December and first year teacher winners in January.

Dale Noll Receives Patriot Award


Congratulations to Hope Street Academy Principal Dale Noll for receiving the Patriot Award. The award is given to a supervisor or boss for their support of a Guard or Reserve employee.  Noll was nominated for being highly supportive of Sgt. 1st class Gary Hinnant, who is a campus police officer at Hope Street Academy.  “Principal Noll supports the army’s mission and values when it comes to me leaving my job with short notice.  He is able to adjust to not having me here to assist with the kids,” said Hinnant.  Principal Noll accepted the patriot Award from Kansas ESGR Training Director Ron Brown.

Westar & TPS Promote STEM Awareness

Topeka Public Schools, Westar Energy Expand Pact to Promote STEM, Career Awareness for Students


 Westar Energy and Topeka Public Schools are pleased to announce plans to expand their ongoing partnership with an agreement that will be considered by the school board on Thursday evening. As the district develops STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pathways and the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers (TCALC), Westar will be a key partner providing expertise and opportunities for teachers and students to learn more about the energy industry. The expansion of the partnership follows multiple years of successful collaboration between the utility and the school district.

Topeka Public Schools Deputy Superintendent of Operations Larry Robbins is delighted with the outcome of the partnership thus far. "Westar Energy has been a valued business partner to Topeka Public Schools for a number of years.  This partnership has afforded our students educational opportunities and career choice exploration they would not have otherwise experienced."


The relationship between Westar Energy and Topeka Public Schools began five years ago when the district sought new and expanded partnerships in the community. Westar responded to that call and in 2010 the school district and the electric utility formed a partnership. Soon after, Westar built a wind turbine and purchased land for a substation on the district’s Kanza Education and Science Park site.


Not only did these projects provide electricity to the community, they also introduced new and innovative educational opportunities for Topeka Public Schools’ students. Additionally, the turbine and substation helped ignite students’ interest in learning about- and eventually working in- STEM fields. In 2012, Topeka Public Schools and Westar Energy formalized their partnership, outlining programs to expose students to hands-on learning in technical and professional fields.


Topeka Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford is thrilled with the partnership. “The opportunities that Westar has offered our students around science, technology, engineering and math allow students to see their curriculum come to life and be relevant!”


Eileen Caspers, General Director of School and Career Programs for Topeka Public Schools, stresses the importance of a STEM-focused curriculum. “This is an opportunity to provide rigorous and relevant curriculum with professional learning aligned to sustainable careers. The experience and skills learned by students will assist them in making decisions about their post-secondary education path, future career, or both. In addition, businesses also benefit by connecting with high school students for future recruitment into viable occupations essential to their economic growth.”


Students of Topeka Public Schools have reaped the benefits of the district’s collaboration with Westar Energy and now enjoy enhanced educational opportunities that will prepare them for higher-level learning and ensure career readiness. Westar Energy and Topeka Public Schools are excited to expand this successful partnership.


$1.8 Million for Arts Project in TPS

Topeka Public Schools teams with KU researchers
to secure four-year, $1.8 million federal education award
The Arts Infusion Project will develop and implement
arts-infused curriculum rooted in critical thinking

TOPEKA, Kan. — As part of an initiative to enhance and strengthen programs that integrate the arts into elementary- and middle-school curricula, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement has granted a four-year, $1.8 million award to a collaborative project that teams Topeka Public Schools with two University of Kansas (KU) research centers.


The award, shared among the three partners, will provide support and professional development to teachers in Topeka Public Schools seeking to infuse the arts across the curriculum and strengthen their students’ critical-thinking skills. The Arts Infusion Project (TAIP) brings together Topeka educators with researchers from KU’s Music Research Institute in the School of Music and the Center for Public Partnerships and Research (CPPR) in the Achievement & Assessment Institute.


“Teachers and students at the participating schools will benefit from infusing fine arts across the curriculum, thinking critically about connections to ideas outside of the arts, and using these skills to find creative and innovative solutions to problems beyond art,” said Billie Wallace, director of school improvement for Topeka Public Schools. 


The grant was written by Dr. Christopher M. Johnson, KU professor of music education and music therapy, and Dr. Becky Eason, CPPR associate director, in close collaboration with Topeka Public Schools.


“Through intensive and sustained professional development, TAIP will give Topeka teachers the tools to infuse and bridge their curricula with the arts—bringing the fine arts into the whole school day, and in turn, the whole school day into the fine-arts classroom,” Johnson said.


Through a series of summer workshops and academic-year follow-up sessions, the School of Music will provide professional development to all arts and general-education classroom teachers in high-need elementary and middle schools in the Topeka district. CPPR will serve as the external evaluator of the project, assessing the project’s success in using the arts as a way to teach critical thinking skills. CPPR will also provide grants-administration support. 


“Teachers will also gain knowledge of critical-thinking-based teaching techniques such as higher-order questioning, assessment and transfer,” Eason said. “This project will allow us to build upon the higher-thinking skills inherent in arts education, and make those skills relevant throughout the curriculum.”


The project stresses two objectives to achieve its overall goal:


• Participating Topeka teachers will gain skills and knowledge that will enable them to strengthen the integration of standards-based arts instruction within other academic content areas.


• Teachers will gain skills and knowledge to strengthen standards-based arts instruction by infusing critical thinking into all aspects of instruction and assessment, which will advance the education of the whole student.


The project represents the fifth collaborative research effort between Johnson and Eason, who late last year completed a baseline study for Nashville’s Music Makes Us initiative that empirically proved the link between music participation and improved academic achievement and engagement.


“Ultimately, TAIP will benefit students who may be at risk of educational failure by making the fine arts and the benefits associated with it more accessible and providing students with the tools to succeed in the classroom,” Johnson said.


About Topeka Public Schools

Topeka Public Schools is located in the capital city of Kansas and the home of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v Board of Education. Topeka Public Schools is a diversified urban district and the sixth-largest school district in Kansas with 14,000 students and 2,500 employees. The school district has 29 schools, including two magnet schools, three signature schools and the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers. The school district's Kanza Education and Science Park features Education Station, the Westar Energy Education Center and a 100-kilowatt wind turbine, the result of a partnership with the state’s largest utility company. The largest urban prairie in the U.S. is also part of the Kanza Education and Science Park making it a destination for learning. Topeka Public Schools is living its mission everyday to engage, prepare and inspire students. For more information, please visit www.topekapublicschools.net



Media Contact

Ron Harbaugh

Director of Communications

Topeka Public Schools



Bill Woodard

Communications Manager

Achievement & Assessment Institute

The University of Kansas




Above & Beyond Winner Loves Kids and Music

Tracy Rowe has a passion for music and a passion for students at Jardine Middle School.   “She could just do what she does during the day,” said Jardine Principal Mike Haire.  He suggests there is a lot more to Tracy’s dedication to the kids.   “We are the only middle school that has taken our band to community events in the evening, to ballgames and to elementary school parades.  All the extra hours she puts in to do good things for our kids,” said Haire.  That’s why Jardine Middle School music/band teacher Tracy Rowe is the winner of this month’s Above and Beyond Award.

Tracy is busy not just in the band room, but throughout the school all hours of the day and night.  She works with the 100 students who are involved in the school musical and she spends a couple of nights a week on the school signature committee helping plan what Jardine will be like once the new elementary school is built next to it.

Tracy has been at Jardine Middle School 18 of her 25 years in education.  It may seem like a long time, but Tracy credits the students for her being there so long.  “They make it so much fun.  They love music.  It is a joy to teach them,” said Rowe.  Students like 8th grader Amari McGlory thinks her teacher is one in a million.  “She is nice.  She goes out of her way for you.  She is the best teacher ever.  If you don’t have her, you are missing out on something pretty amazing.”

If you know of a TPS staff member, a parent or volunteer who goes Above and Beyond to help our students, nominate them.  It’s easy to do.  You will find a nomination form on the district website, www.topekapublicschools.net.   Go to staff/forms for staff/district program forms/TPS Above & Beyond.

November Music Programs and Plays

There are lots of school music programs and plays during the month of November.  Support our students and attend one or more of these fun and entertaining events.


Monday, Nov. 10 – Randolph 4th and 5th grade music program at Landon Middle School.  Begins at
                                   6:30 p.m.


Tuesday, Nov.11 – Ross Elementary Veteran’s Day Celebration at 9:00 a.m.
                                  Veterans and their families connected to Ross will be recognized.  Songs
                                  will be played for each branch of the service.  Songs will be sung by Ross
                                   students and a guest artist.  The ceremony will end with the playing of taps.


Tuesday, Nov 11 – Highland Park Central 4th & 5th Grade Music Program at Highland Park High
                                  School.  Begins at 7:00 p.m.


Wednesday, Nov. 12 - Topeka West High School Junior ROTC Cadets will present a Veteran’s Day
                                          Ceremony in the school gym beginning at 9:30 a.m.


Thursday, Nov. 13 – Movie night at State Street Elementary.  Wear pj’s and bring a pillow to watch
                                     How to Train Your Dragon.  The movie runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


Thursday, Nov. 13 – Lowman Hill Elementary 5th Grade Music Program.  Begins at 7:00 p.m.


Wednesday,  Nov 12 – Senior citizens night for fall play,”The Arabian Night”s at Topeka West High
                                         School.  Begins at 7:00 p.m. in the school auditorium.

Nov.  13-15 - Topeka West High School fall play,” The Arabian Nights.”  7:00 p.m. in auditorium.
                        Admission is $5.


Nov 17-21 – American Education Week
                      Many activities and events in our schools.  Check your school for exact times and


Tuesday, Nov. 18 – McEachron Elementary 4th Grade Music Program.  Begins at 6:30 p.m.


Tuesday, Nov. 18 – Scott Dual Language 4th Grade Music Program.  Begins at 6:30 p.m.


Tuesday, Nov. 18 – McEachron Elementary 5th Grade Music Program.  Begins at 7:00 p.m.


Tuesday, Nov. 18 – Topeka West High School Winter Concert.  Begins at 7:00 p.m. at White Concert
                                    Hall at Washburn University.


Tuesday, Nov. 18 – “Junie B. Jones” musical production at State Street Elementary.  It begins at 7:00
                                     p.m. in the Shirley Johannsen Auditorium.

Tuesday, Nov 18 – Williams Magnet School 4th Grade Music Program.  Begins at 7:00 p.m.


Tuesday, Nov. 18 – Scott Dual Language 5th Grade Music Program.  Begins at 7:15 p.m.


Thursday. Nov 20 – Board of Education Meeting.  Begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Burnett Center.


Thursday, Nov 20 – Williams Magnet School 5th Grade Music Program.  Begins at 7:00 p.m.


Thursday, Nov 20 – “Alice in Wonderland:  The Musical” at Jardine Middle School at 6:00 p.m.
                                    Show and dinner for $16.


Nov. 20 & 21 – Landon Middle School musical, “A Pirates Life for Me”.  7:00 p.m. in the school
                           auditorium.  Cost, $5 per person.


Friday, Nov. 21 – “Alice in Wonderland: The Musical” at Jardine Middle School at 7:00 p.m.  Cost $5.


Nov 21, 22, 23 – “Cinderella, the Musical” at Topeka High School.  Show at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and
                              Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Admission $8.


Saturday, Nov. 22 – Topeka West High School Singers perform at TPAC at 7:30 p.m.   

Coats Keep Students Warm

The cold winds of November are blowing and that can be a problem if you are an elementary student on recess without a coat.  For some 60 students at Highland Park Central, that problem has been solved by some Washburn University Students.

Members of the Washburn Law Democrats delivered more than 60 coats to the school to be handed out to students to help keep them warm.  The university students held a challenge to see who could collect the most coats.  Washburn student Nikki Southall talked about the coat drive.  “It went really well.  We’ll keep doing it.”

Highland Park Central Principal Kelley Norman said that counselors, teachers and she will decide which students most need a coat.  The coats will be handed out over the next few days.

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