Tuesday, September 30, 2014

DCAC Hosts Candidate Forum




 
 The District Citizens Advisory Council House of Representatives Candidate Forum will begin with Duane Goossen and “The Kansas Budget.” Mr. Goossen is a former member of the Kansas House of Representatives and served as state budget director for 12 years in the administrations of three governors — Republican Bill Graves and Democrats Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson. He was appointed by Sebelius in 2004 to concurrently serve as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Administration, the agency that manages state facilities, accounting, information services, and employee programs. Goossen retired from the Kansas Health Institute as Vice President for Fiscal and Health Policy, which oversaw KHI’s research and analysis of state fiscal policy, health reform, and other health policy issues.                  


Monday, September 29, 2014

Eisenhower Students Prepare for their Futures

Students in Lauren Peel’s 8th grade language arts classes at Eisenhower Middle School have been giving some serious thought to their futures. They’ve spent time researching colleges and careers, and have been learning new skills that will prepare them for life after high school.


However, a crucial skill they’ve been working on is one that many students will need in just the next couple of years: finding a job. Peel tasked them with visiting an area business and requesting a job application. In class, they worked on filling out their applications and creating resumes. And last Friday, after weeks of learning and planning, the students got to participate in mock job interviews.




Ms. Peel arranged to have several community members conduct the interviews so the kids could see what might be asked of them in that situation. After their interviews, the students received feedback about ways in which they excelled and areas they could improve on.
Student Sunseer Bland said the unit has given him tools to become successful in the future, such as working hard and always being prepared. He hopes these skills help him make into the NFL, or at least to his back-up plan: joining the police department. “This taught me that I have to get my mind right, and that if I work hard to do something, I can accomplish it,” Sunseer said.

The community members who volunteered their time for this project shared some words of wisdom with the students. Rod Spangler, National Director of Technology for American Fidelity Insurance, recommended making a positive first impression. “The first twenty to thirty seconds is so important. First impression is everything, so offer a strong hand shake and make eye contact.”
Ross Elementary’s Community Liason, Timothy Smith, encourages students to continually improve themselves. “(They should) continue to expand their knowledge, read as much as they can, learn as much as they can about people who are different than themselves…and always be on time.”

Sheila Thompkins, General Manager for Jason’s Deli, said there are many factors that trump work experience. “We look for personality, punctuality and a professional appearance. We also look for people who can work as part of a team.”

After the interviews, both John Bowman and Hannah Wilson, students in Peel’s class, said the most challenging question they answered regarded their own weaknesses. However, they both enjoyed the process and feel better about their interview skills. Bowman said, “I enjoyed it because I can learn from it, and when I go on interviews now, I’ll get it right.” Wilson agreed, saying, “Now I know what to say and what not to say.”



Ms. Peel’s lesson is a perfect example of the wonderful opportunities available to students in Topeka Public Schools. Thank you, Ms. Peel, for your hard work preparing for the day’s events, and to the community members who donated their time to our students! Dedicated teachers, engaged community members and future-focused students help make Topeka Public Schools a great place to be!



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Former NFL Player Visits HPHS

Steve Grant, former NFL football player for the Indianapolis Colts, visited Highland Park High School to deliver a motivational speech at an assembly on Wednesday, Sept. 24th. The school's sophomores and juniors were in attendance as the former linebacker talked to them about setting and achieving goals, surrounding themselves with positive influences and making wise decisions. 

Grant's speech was engaging, uplifting and inspiring, and the Scots seemed not only entertained, but motivated by his advice. Thank you, Mr. Grant, for your powerful message to our students!

Quincy Students Decorate Silk Banners


 Bloomerang Artist Carol Bradbury visited the students at Quincy Elementary on Wednesday, Sept. 24th as part on an on-going project with the fine arts signature school. Bradbury has organized "We the People," a community project that Quincy students will help create. Today, students worked on decorating silk panels that will be used to create new NOTO and Safe Streets banners.
Bradbury instructed the students to decorate the banners with a garden theme in mind. First, they were to draw outlines of items found in a garden with a brightly-colored permanent marker. Next, the students used special silk paint to fill in the images. The result: beautiful, vibrant works of art that represent Quincy and the Topeka community perfectly.
Take a moment to scroll through the pictures of 4th and 5th grade Quincy artists in action!!








Corporate Bigs Program Launches at Westar

Big Brothers Big Sisters recently teamed up with Westar Energy to form a Corporate Bigs program at the utility's corporate office. Through this program, Williams students will spend time after school with their mentors about once a week, focusing on educational and skill-building activities.
The program officially kicked off on Tuesday, Sept. 23rd, when the students boarded a bus and headed over to Westar. Once there, they were introduced to their Bigs, got an introduction to the program and got to tour the Westar building.
Students involved in the Westar Corporate Bigs program will be exposed to careers they otherwise might not know about, will learn about the application of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills and abilities, and will have the importance of academic, vocational and social development reinforced.
Patrick Woods is Westar's Director of Talent Management and Diversiy, a TPS School Board member, and a Corporate Big. "We are excited to offer our employees a meaningful volunteer opportunity, as well as share our excitement and knowledge of science and technology with the youth in our community," he said.
If you, too, would like to make a difference in the life of a child, visit www.kansasbigs.org or call 888-KS4-BIGS.








ShareFest Volunteers Help Beautify Eleven TPS Buildings


 ShareFest volunteers were hard at work Saturday, Sept. 20th at eleven TPS buildings. Highland Park Central, Lowman Hill, McCarter, Scott, Whitson, Stout, Meadows, Landon, Robinson, TWHS and Avondale East Education Center all received a bit of a facelift thanks to the generous volunteers who donated their time and effort.
Thank you to all ShareFest volunteers who helped make Topeka Public Schools a great place to be!!!















McEachron Celebrates Grandparents Day

September 19th was Grandparents Day at McEachron Elementary School. Grandparents were treated to music and dance performances, a book fair, and a classroom activity with their grandchild. Thank you, McEachron, for letting Grandma and Grandpa come for a visit!!







Wednesday, September 24, 2014

DCAC Candidate Forum

The District Citizens Advisory Council, DCAC, is hosting a candidate forum on October 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Topeka West High School.  Every candidate running for the Kansas House of Representatives from Shawnee County has been invited to participate.  Duane Goossen will begin the evening with "The Kansas Budget."  Come find out about the candidates.  Questions will be asked by the audience and the student moderators.  The candidate forum is open to the public.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Scott Magnet Students Learn with Differentiated Instruction


We recently visited Scott Dual Language Magnet School, where we found lots of eager and active young students. Their smiling faces were a welcome sight on an early Monday morning!

Walking through the building gave us an opportunity to peek in on many classes in session and one common theme emerged among them: differentiated instruction . For our followers who don't know, differentiated instruction is a teaching method that allows educators to better tailor their lessons to individual students, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. With this teaching style, students are able to learn content in a variety of ways. It also increases classroom interaction with the teacher and other students. There are so many different skill levels within each class and differentiated instruction is important because it allows students to learn at a faster or slower pace, depending on their own abilities. 



Many classes utilizing differentiated instruction will spend time rotating through a schedule with small groups within the class. For example, while one group is working at a table with the teacher, another group might be using technology, like ipads and laptops, while yet another groups is working individually on a worksheet. After a set amount of time, the groups will all rotate, allowing every student to spend time doing each of the three activities.  



In addition to watching the students in their classrooms, we also got to see them having fun in PE and music class.