Burnett Center Closing Early on December 31.

                                  Burnett Administrative Center Holiday Hours

December 31  Open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
January 1    Closed

Late Start For TPS Staff

All TPS staff working today, Monday, December 28, do not need to report to work until 9:30 a.m.

TPS Names New Communications Director

Topeka Public Schools has named a new Director of Communications to replace Ron Harbaugh, who will be retiring at the end of the month after ten years with the district. Misty Kruger will assume the role, serving as the chief media contact for the school district and overseeing internal and external communications.

Kruger holds a bachelor’s degree in mass media from Washburn University and a master’s degree in business administration from Friends University. She has most recently served as the Public Information Officer for the Shawnee County Health Agency. Kruger is also active in the community, where she currently serves as the Optimist International Kansas Governor, is a graduate of the class of 2015 Leadership Greater Topeka and mentors at Lowman Hill Elementary.

“We are thrilled to have Misty Kruger join the Topeka Public Schools family. Misty will take the lead in sharing the good news happening in the district through all types of media. We think her experience and enthusiasm will enable Topeka Public Schools to engage our community and keep them informed about our district,” said TPS Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford.

Kruger will begin her duties with the district later this month.

Wanted: Businesses Offering Free WiFi

The middle and high school students of Topeka Unified School District 501 need safe, reliable
locations to access wireless Internet so they can complete their course work. The City of Topeka
and USD 501 are turning to the surrounding communities for help.

"Many of our kids and families do not have Internet access at home and rely on free WiFi spots
to complete their homework, use educational web solutions and research educational topics in
the after school hours,” said Dr. Michael Hester, general director of secondary education.
“Please join The City of Topeka and USD 501 as partners to connect all of our community to
global opportunities.”

If you own or operate a business within a half-mile radius of any USD 501 secondary school and
would be willing to allow these students free access to your wireless Internet, please contact
Monique Glaudé at mglaude@topeka.org or 368-4470 by Dec. 31. Please refer to the attached
map for school locations.

We will get you a decal (see below) to stick on a window of your business, signifying to the
students they can use your WiFi signal without obligation of purchase. We will post your
business information on an interactive map on both the City’s and USD 501 administration’s
websites, so students can know where to go. Maps specific to each school will be posted on the
website of each school.

We would like to announce the program after the first of the year, when students are back in
school, so they can be prepared to tackle this semester.

“A quality education is critical to the development and success of our students,” said Topeka
Mayor Larry Wolgast. “Today, that success has become contingent upon access to the Internet.
The City is committed to helping these students find a safe, secure place to finish their
assignments and prepare for class for their betterment, and for the betterment of our
community as a whole.”

Padres - Resultados de las Pruebas Informacion

Apreciado Padre/Guardián,

● Usted estará recibiendo los resultados de los exámenes de estado del año pasado

aproximadamente a mediados de diciembre. Debido a que el examen del año pasado

era nuevo, los resultados no se pueden comparar con aquellos de años anteriores.

Usted podrá tener acceso a los resultados de sus hijos(as) metiéndose al portal de

padres. Por favor vaya a http://www.topekapublicschools.net/powerschool/ para obtener

mayor información.

● El año pasado fue el primer año en el que los estudiantes de los grados 3ro­8o y los de

10o fueron evaluados en los Kansas College and Career Ready Standards. Estos

estándares ahora se incluyen en los exámenes de estado y son más rigurosos que

aquellos en cualquier examen previo.

● Para el año 2020, se estima que el 71% de todos los empleos en Kansas requerirán de

algún tipo de educación después de completar la preparatoria. Hoy en día, solamente el

52% de las personas de Kansas tienen educación post­secundaria.

● El pensamiento crítico y el resolver problemas complejos son destrezas necesarias

independientemente de si su hijo(a) quiere ir a la universidad, prestar servicio militar, o

empezar a trabajar inmediatamente después de graduarse de la preparatoria.

● Estos nuevos exámenes de estado nos ayudan a medir la habilidad para tener éxito a

altos niveles y para toda la vida de su estudiante luego de completar su educación de

los grados K­12. Los exámenes de estado de este año se llevarán a cabo entre

mediados de febrero y principios de mayo.

● Si tiene preguntas, por favor comuníquese con nuestro equipo de pruebas en

assessment@tps501.org (785­295­3084).

Parents - Test Score Information

Dear Parent/Guardian,

● You will be receiving your student’s state assessment results from last year around the

middle of December. Since last year was a brand new test, the results cannot be

compared to previous years. You will be able to access your child’s results by logging

into parent portal. Please go to http://www.topekapublicschools.net/powerschool/ for

more information.

● Last year was the first year our 3rd,8th and 10th grade students were tested on the

Kansas College and Career Ready Standards. These standards are now included in the

state assessments and are more rigorous than any previous test.

● By 2020, it is estimated that 71% of all Kansas jobs will require some education after

high school. Today, only 52% of Kansans have some post­secondary education.

● Critical thinking and solving complex problems are skills necessary whether your student

eventually wants to go to college, the military, or straight into the workplace.

● These new state assessments help us measure your student’s ability to succeed at a

higher level for a life after K­12 schooling. This year’s state assessments will occur

between mid­February and early May.

● If you have any questions, please contact our assessment team at

assessment@tps501.org or 785­295­3084

Dog is Subject of Student Drawings

What could be more fun than spending time with man’s best friend at school?

Retired Emporia State University professor Dan Kirchhefer is Quincy Elementary’s artist in residence. He recently tasked the students with drawing a portrait of Samantha, a greyhound therapy dog on loan from the public library. The 5th grade students used the canine as a model in their printmaking exercise.

“Dogs have been a favorite subject for artists for several thousand years,” Kirchhefer said. “This is a great exercise in training your mind to work from a real object. At this stage, 5th graders are usually inclined to draw what they know, but every once in a while it’s good to practice with a live subject.”

The students had a great time drawing portraits of Samantha and enjoyed hosting Mr. Kirchhefer for three weeks of art instruction.

Ryan Named Above & Beyond Winner

Rolling out 1,800 Chromebooks is no easy task, but that was the challenge Topeka High School instructional coach Ryan Arnold faced when he took on the additional assignment of technical assistant at the districts largest school.

Topeka High School Principal Dr. Linda Wiley nominated Ryan for the Above and Beyond Award.  “Ryan worked relentlessly to make the roll out if the Chromebooks a breeze.  He has met every technical challenge with professionalism and enthusiasm,” said Wiley.

Ryan has been teaching at Topeka High the past six years.  He has been in education a total of 23 years.  He talked about the Chromebook rollout.  “It was a steep learning curve for staff and students.  I am grateful to the students and staff who were very patient in understanding that none of this is perfect,” said Ryan.

Special Day For a Special Student

For Topeka High senior Brianna Henderson, Wednesday, December 2nd shaped up to be a pretty good day.
When she arrived at school that morning, Brianna learned that she had been accepted into a Toyota mechanic training program at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis for the fall of 2016. An honors student who has spent the past three and a half years studying auto mechanics at both THS and Washburn Tech, Brianna is also part of a family of mechanics and has always hoped to carry on that legacy. “Ever since I learned about (Ranken’s program) back in September I wanted to do it. I’ve been talking to my teacher nonstop about it. I even got to job shadow there. I’m so excited,” Brianna said of her acceptance.
The program will require Brianna to regularly travel back and forth between Ranken in St. Louis and Topeka’s Lewis Toyota auto shop. Knowing that Brianna’s current vehicle isn’t highway worthy, her teacher, Dean Fairweather, gifted the teen with a much newer, more reliable vehicle. That morning, shortly after she found out she had been accepted at Ranken, she was presented with the car. Fairweather had received the vehicle as a donation from his father, fixed it up and surprised Brianna with it. “I kinda thought Brianna needed a good car, so we repaired it here at Topeka High’s auto shop. It’s running perfectly so she now has good wheels to go and carry on with her career. I just need her to come back and motivate my students when she’s certified,” Fairweather said.
The car and the Ranken acceptance follow years of hard work and tenacity on Brianna’s part. During her sophomore year, Brianna gave birth to her son, Zayl. Shortly after his birth, she was eager to resume her studies, eventually enrolling concurrently at Washburn Tech, where she will graduate with an associate’s degree at the same time she receives her diploma from THS.
According to Fairweather and her THS guidance counselor, Angela Locke, Brianna can expect to earn about $65,000 when she graduates from Ranken’s program. If she goes on to become a journeyman, her pay will increase.

Congratulations, Brianna, on your Ranken acceptance and on your new car. We know you’re going make a wonderful life for yourself and Zayl!

Former TPS Superintendent Has Died

Former TPS Superintendent Dr. Robert McFrazier passed away last week.  Dr. McFrazier served as a teacher and principal as well.  Below is a link with information about Dr. McFrazier as well as funeral and visitation information. 


Westar Donates All-Electric Truck to TPS

 Westar Energy has gifted Topeka Public Schools with an electric truck valued at over $100,000. Westar Senior Vice President Jerl Banning was on hand to present the vehicle to the TPS Board of Education and district administrators on November 19, and spoke about the importance of the gift.
“Fully electric vehicles will save the district money while also giving students an opportunity to learn about electric vehicles. At Westar, ten percent of our vehicles are operated by an electric battery, so we know something about them, and we’re happy to let students of Topeka Public Schools
learn about them for their futures,” Banning said.
In addition to the electric truck, Westar also donated a charging station, located at Quinton Heights Education Center.
Westar Energy has partnered with Topeka Public Schools since 2010 and provides numerous educational opportunities for our students and staff, including curriculum development, academic pathways, job shadowing, internships, scholarships and hands-on learning opportunities, among many others.
Thank you, Westar Energy, for your very generous donation to Topeka Public Schools!

Walk Around the Capitol

Several hundred people showed up November 16 to Walk Around the Capitol, to show their support for public education.  The event kicked-off American Education Week, November 16-20.  Topeka Public School staff, students, parents, retired educators and educators from other Shawnee County school districts, walked on the sidewalk around the Capitol.  Some carried signs promoting the importance of public education.

Walk Around Capitol

As part of American Education Week, November 16-20, everyone is invited to join us for a Walk Around the Capitol on Monday, November 16, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  We will walk on the sidewalk around the Capitol to celebrate public education in Kansas.  Topeka Public Schools' staff, students and parents will join in on the walk.  Retired educators are invited to bring a lawn chair and set up along the sidewalk with a sign about how many years they were in public education.  Members of the Topeka community are invited to join us as well as we celebrate public education in Kansas.

Lonna Latimer -Above & Beyond Winner

                                                       Above & Beyond Winner

It can be a difficult situation when a mother moves a thousand miles to a strange city and her son is about to enter kindergarten.  That’s what happened to one mother who praised State Street Elementary School kindergarten teacher Lonna Latimer for making the transition easier.  The mother has to work long hours which means less time with her kids.  She said Mrs. Latimer sends home papers every single day on what the kids did.  She says, “I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything.”  Mrs. Latimer is always smiling and always has positive words of encouragement for her son.  “She’s like a second mom to my son.  He wants to be at school with Mrs. Latimer,” said the mother.

State Street Principal Sarah Sharp says Mrs. Latimer is very deserving of receiving the Above & Beyond Award.  “She is an outstanding kindergarten teacher who is always hungry to learn and to do what’s best for her students.  She goes above and beyond to see that State Street is a safe, positive working environment for staff, students and parents.”

Lonna Latimer loves State Street.  It is where she attended school when growing up in the Oakland area of Topeka.  She has been a kindergarten teacher for 32 years, 20 of those years at State Street.  “I feel like it’s where I belong and where I can make the most impact on students.”

If you know of someone who goes Above & Beyond to serve the students and staff of Topeka Public Schools, nominate them for the A&B Award.  You will find the nomination form by going to the bottom of the district website to staff site, then to work information/forms for staff/district programs.  There you will find the TPS Above & Beyond nomination form.

TPS Foundation Awards "Day Off"

Congratulations to THS teacher Lisa Spurlock! She was the lucky winner of a free day off for her support of the Topeka Public Schools Foundation.

Each year, TPS Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford awards one lucky employee an extra day of leave in support of the Foundation. Spurlock was surprised in her classroom by TPSF Executive Director Pamela Johnson Betts, TPS Associate Superintendent Tammy Austin and KNEA President Stephanie Harsin.

Spurlock, a first year teacher in the district, made a monetary pledge and payroll deduction to support the TPS Foundation. She said the money should be used "where most needed." Ms. Johnson Betts commended her for stepping up to support Topeka Public Schools and for all that she does for our students. "I am humbly grateful for this gift. Thank you, Foundation, for all you do for teachers," Spurlock said.

Congrats again, Ms. Spurlock, and enjoy your day off!

Brain Friendly Teaching Helps Students

Dr. Spencer Kagan is well- known in the education world for his instructional strategies in the classroom related to how the brain works.  Today and tomorrow, Dr. Kagan is leading a seminar for educators in the Topeka area called Brain Friendly Teaching.

This morning at Highland Park High School, he talked about which teaching methods best align with how the brain learns and how to put brain science to work to maximize learning.  He also talked about how exercise helps students learn and what some schools are doing to keep students up and active in the classroom.  Kagan said studies show that students who are active in school do better in school.  Kagan strategies are used throughout Topeka Public Schools.

Dr. Beryl New is a Woman of Influence

Congratulations to Highland Park High School Principal, Dr. Beryl New, for being named Woman of Influence in Education by the Entrepreneurial & Minority Business Development, a GO Topeka Program.

Grant Patrol Delivers Gifts

The Topeka Public Schools Foundation Grant Patrol visited several schools recently, awarding teachers TPSF grants to be used for projects in their buildings or classrooms.

The TPSF grant allocations committee recently reviewed grants submitted by educators from Topeka Public Schools. Twenty-four grants were approved for funding, totaling $25,602 in Foundation-distributed grant dollars. The funds will be used for classroom, school or district-wide innovative projects. The grants provide enhanced learning opportunities for students that otherwise may not be possible. Topeka Public Schools Foundation Executive Director Pamela Johnson-Betts said the Foundation awards educational grant dollars annually to Topeka Public Schools because “grant dollars provided needed support to the district, endorse educators’ creativity and provide students with expanded educational opportunities.”

Honors Keep Coming for Topeka West Band

Congratulations to the TWHS Band! They had a very successful competition this past Saturday at the Kansas Bandmasters Marching Championships held at Washburn University. Schools were divided by their KSHSAA School Classification.

In Class 5A there were 8 bands from around the state, including Seaman, Valley Center, Maize South, Goddard, Lansing, Wichita Carroll, and Goddard-Eisenhower. The Topeka West Band took 1st Place in Class 5A, and received a trophy for high Visual... Effect. They finished 9th overall in Prelims out of 21 bands.  They advanced to finals to compete against the top 12 scoring bands from Prelims regardless of Classification. At finals Topeka West was one two bands from class 5A to advance and one of three bands to improve their placement by finishing 8th, ahead of Washburn Rural, Blue Valley North, Valley Center and Shawnee Mission West.

The TWHS Color Guard finished 2nd for Finals, behind Olathe North.
Here is a recap of overall scores the bands received:
3A Score School
1 57.03 Riverton (visual, music, effect, perc, guard)

1 78.83 Buhler (visual, music, effect, perc, guard)
2 61.83 Basehor-Linwood

1 71.38 Topeka West (visual)
2 71.23 Valley Center (music, perc)
3 69.25 Topeka Seaman
4 66.95 Eisenhower (effect)
5 66.48 Maize South (guard)
6 60.78 Goddard
7 59.45 Lansing
8 58.03 Wichita Carroll

1 83.00 Olathe North (visual, effect, perc, guard)
2 81.65 Derby
3 79.50 Lawrence (music)
4 75.68 Dodge City
5 74.38 Shawnee Mission East
6 72.60 Lawrence Free State
7 71.80 Shawnee Mission West
8 71.08 Blue Valley North
9 70.98 Washburn Rural
10 62.58 Wichita East

1 TIE 81.88 Olathe North (vis, effect, guard)
TIE 81.88 Buhler (music, perc)
3 78.98 Derby
4 77.83 Lawrence
5 71.20 Dodge City
6 69.35 Lawrence Free State
7 67.83 Shawnee Mission East
8 66.73 Topeka West
9 65.08 Shawnee Mission West
10 64.95 Valley Center
11 62.85 Blue Valley North
12 62.23 Washburn Rural
Congrats, TWHS Band Members!!

Remember Rosa Bus Visits Schools

The Remember Rosa bus pulled up to Avondale West this morning for the first of many presentations that will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historical ride.

The Topeka Metro bus will act as a mobile classroom while it travels throughout the district this school year. Every TPS student in kindergarten through high school will have an opportunity to visit the bus and see the featured exhibits, including displays depicting the March on Washington and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Angela Easton, Education Specialist with the Brown v. Board of Education Historical Site, said it is important for the students to visit the bus “so they can see how this has changed our society and how it impacts us today.”

We think this is a fun, unique way to learn about an important time in American history and are happy to have the bus visit all of our schools!

Whitson Elementary Outdoor Classroom

The students at Whitson Elementary have a beautiful, new outdoor classroom thanks to an anonymous donor.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held yesterday to unveil Whitson Elementary’s new outdoor learning space, a beautiful garden made possible through the efforts of an anonymous donor. Principal Keelin Pierce welcomed students and staff to the Whitson Learning Garden, the only outdoor classroom of its kind in town.
The materials for the space were all donated by a Whitson parent, who also completed most of the construction on the garden himself. He envisioned a space where students could practice hands-on learning, study nature and science, indulge in games and books, and enjoy new learning experiences. The Whitson Learning Garden boasts a multi-tiered planting bed, Japanese rock garden, lending library, learning pit, wishing well with a solar-powered fountain, and a reflection bench.
Thank you so very much to the special volunteer who made this amazing learning garden possible! Whitson students have an outdoor learning space they will enjoy for years to come!

Groundbreaking For Elementary School

The Jardine pre K- 8th grade campus groundbreaking ceremony was held this afternoon at the site of the new building. Local news outlets, elected officials, the building's architects and community members were all in attendance as school district officials celebrated the upcoming construction of the new school.
The building will boast 116,000 square feet on two levels. It will hold 33 classrooms (30 regular and 3 pre-k) including two music rooms, an art room, a two-story media center, four discovery areas (open spaces for collaboration) and two outdoor patio spaces.

Construction will begin next month and is scheduled to last 18 months. Students will begin attending classes in the building in August of 2017. This new elementary school will be connected to Jardine Middle School, making it the third Pre K- 8th grade campus in the district. The other two are Ross Elementary/ Eisenhower Middle School and State Street Elementary/Chase Middle School.

The school is being built with funds from the Securing Our Future bond initiative, which voters approved in April of 2014.

Students Hear From Civil Rights Leader

Georgia Congressman John Lewis has been involved in the civil rights movement for more than 50 years.  As a college student, he organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee.  He was the youngest person to speak when Dr. Martin Luther King gave his I Have a Dream speech.

Today at Washburn University, Lewis told his story to 2,000 TPS high school, middle school and elementary school students.  Lewis told the students to speak up if they see something wrong and to stand up for what they believe.

The congressman is the co-author of a graphic novel memoir trilogy, March.  After his talk, several students approached him to sign their copy of the book.

Topeka West Teacher Named Above & Beyond Winner

Many of you are familiar with the Above & Beyond  Award.  It is a monthly award that goes to a teacher, staff member, parent or community volunteer who goes above and beyond to help deliver services to students.

The October Above & Beyond Award goes to Maggie Corcoran.  Maggie is a language arts resource and 9th grade English teacher at Topeka West High School.  Fellow teacher Jason Berryman nominated Maggie for the award.  “Although she has only been working as a full-time educator for less than 5 years, Maggie has risen above the rest of us as the “go-to” person to get things done.  Inside the classroom she provides a safe and nurturing educational atmosphere for her students and outside the classroom she coordinates the National Honor Society, leads the faculty and staff together group in her building, assists at extra-curricular events and recently spearheaded the faculty tailgate event before the first home football game,” said Berryman.

Topeka West Principal Dustin Dick said, “Maggie is a hard-working, dedicated professional who not only cares about the students, but also cares about the staff.  She is always willing to help wherever and whenever needed.”  When told of the award, Maggie responded, “It is easy to go above and beyond when you love your job.”

If you would like to nominate someone for the Above & Beyond Award, go to the district website (www.topekapublicschools.net).  At the bottom of the page, click on staff site, then formers for staff, then district programs.  You will find the Above & Beyond application form.

Local High Schools Honor Alums

Highland Park High School, Topeka High School and Topeka West High School recently held induction ceremonies for their respective halls of fame.
On Sunday, October 4th, the Topeka High School Historical Society inducted Charles B. Axton II (1950), Fred L. Slaughter (1960), Col. Richard Snyder (1941) and Linda Dickinson Spalding (1961) into the school’s Hall of Fame. Former history teacher and 1914 graduate Amy Swenson received the 2015 THS Distinguished Staff Award.
On Saturday, October 10th, Highland Park High School held a ceremony for their Hall of Fame and Wall of Honor inductees. Larry Robbins (1967) and George Whitney (1956) were inducted into HPHS Hall of Fame. Members of the 1964 wrestling team were inducted to the school’s Sports Wall of Honor.
On Sunday, October 11th, the Topeka West High School Graduate Hall of Fame and Distinguished Staff ceremony took place. Cindy Schmidt Heath (1967), Mark Hunt (1967) and Kevin Young (1988) were all inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. Jim Elmborg, Ed Scarlett and Linda Wardlow were all awarded the TWHS Distinguished Staff Award.

Congratulations to all of the inductees and award winners!

Walmart Helps Teachers

Capital City Schools recently held an assembly with special guests from Walmart. Managers Veronica and Derek brought twenty $50 Walmart gift cards for the school's teachers. The winning teachers' names were drawn at the assembly, and teachers whose names weren't drawn received a fun gift basket.

Thank you, Walmart, for your generous donation to our teachers!

Schools Get New Science Classrooms

French Middle School recently unveiled their three new science classrooms in a ribbon cutting ceremony. Students helped cut the ribbons before they headed into the new labs for the first time. The French science rooms, along with the Topeka West High School and Robinson Middle School science rooms, make up the first round of science classroom renovations in the district. Thanks to the voter-approved Securing Our Future bond initiative, all middle and high school science classrooms will be updated to meet 21st century science standards.
French 6th grade science instructor Diane Denmark said both she and the students were very eager to begin using the new space. “Everything is new… the ceiling, walls, whiteboards, counter tops, cabinets. What we have now that we didn’t have before is that we have an actual science lab. It looks like a lab, which changes the mindset of the students,” she said.

The school year began with science classes being held in traditional classrooms, not science labs, while the renovations were being completed. “We had no counter space for our lab work,” Denmark said. “Now we have the space to spread out. The kids will be starting a chemistry unit and will be working with chemicals, so this space will be perfect.”

One of the new features of the updated science labs is a dishwasher. “We do lots of science experiments. For example we just got done with one that used lots of vials. Prior to having a dishwasher in the
classroom, I had to haul them all home in shopping bags and wash them at home. Now I can wash them here,” Denmark said.
Also at the ribbon cutting ceremony was school board member Dr. Michael Morrison, who spoke to the students. “I just hope all these new facilities encourage you guys to look at science as a career after high school and college,” he said.

District administrators, school principals and architects are working together to decide which buildings will be part of the second round of schools
to receive science lab renovations. The next set of renovations will begin at the end of this school year, and all other middle and high school science labs will be completed by the 2017-2018 school year.

Remembering Rosa Parks With Unity Walk

The 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks' historic bus ride is coming up onDecember 1st. To mark the occasion Topeka Public Schools recently held Unity Walks for our students and staff.

Now is your opportunity to participate in a Unity Walk! This Friday, October 2nd at 5:30 pm, a community Unity Walk will begin at Great Overland Station. Participants will walk across the Kansas Avenue bridge, arriving in NOTO where they can enjoy entertainment, food trucks, activities and an art gallery exhibit.
All are welcome to join this event to remember the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks.

Cyclist Rides to Robinson Middle School

Throughout their years in school, TPS students will inevitably listen to many guest speakers. However, few have stories quite as exciting as Chris Figureida’s. A professional adventurer, Chris stopped in at Robinson Middle School yesterday to talk to the students about his travels around the world. He is currently on his seventh trek across the country on his bicycle, and he took time out of his journey to speak to the kids about making healthy choices in their lives.

Having... cycled over 30,000 miles in the United States alone means Chris has seen his fair share of inclement weather. His adventures have included cycling just outside Greensburg, Kansas, during the 2007 tornado, pushing his bike through mud during Hurricane Irene, and biking through a blizzard in Alaska. His longest journey was when he biked from the lowest sea level point in North America-- Death Valley, CA-- to Mount Denali in Alaska (the highest point on the continent), which he then climbed. Upon his decent, he mounted his bike and rode back to California. The trip spanned 7,700 miles and took five months.

Chris also showed the students his high-tech gear, including a solar panel that he uses to charge all of his electronic devices. He also carries a GPS and a tracking device in case of an emergency. Though Rotary members often host him in their homes during his travels, he frequently camps out in a tent as he makes his way across the US. He showed the students his lightweight, state-of-the-art camping equipment, all of which folds up or compresses to make it easier to carry on his bike.

In addition to telling the students about his experiences, Chris also told them the many ways he uses math, science and technology when he’s riding. From calculating his mileage and routes, to working with the gears on his bike, to utilizing the latest gadgets, Chris is always using the skills he learned in school.
The kids loved hearing about Chris’s fantastic journeys and had lots of questions for the adventurer. We hope they were inspired to partner their knowledge with physical activity in their own lives.

Ross Students Get Hair Cuts

Ross Elementary’s 5th grade boys recently got the opportunity to read to guests and get spiffy, new haircuts at the same time.
Thanks to the efforts of Ross’s Community Liaison Timothy Smith, the boys were treated to a visit by five local barbers. The barbers volunteered their time to give haircuts to the young men in exchange for a story. While the boys read, the barbers went to work, trimming and cutting each child’s hair.
One of the stylists was Wanda Collins, owner of Center Stage barber shop. With nine years of experience, Wanda is a pro who loves working with kids. “Kids are very talkative and they ask a lot of questions, so I love to work with them,” she said.
The event was a fun and different way for the boys to practice their reading skills. “We’re always trying to find different educational experiences for our kids. Some of the things that we have to do in school can get a bit stale, so anytime we can think outside the box and provide a different experience for our kids, we’re open to that,” Smith said.
Not only did the boys get their hair cut, they also got to see that folks in their community care about them. Smith noted, “We have a fabulous staff here at Ross and they work extremely hard to help the kids achieve their academic benchmarks, but any time we can get community stakeholders to come inside the school, it’s a win-win situation. We have people in Topeka that care about the children growing up here and want to give something back to them.”

Thank you to the barbers who volunteered their time this morning!

Students Help Fight Cancer

Students at French Middle School are doing their part to raise money for children and families dealing with childhood cancer.

We caught up with several students at last night’s French MS volleyball game, where they were selling candy apples to raise money. Serenity Meyer, one of the students who organized the fundraiser, said the kids in her Advisor Base (AB) came up with the idea. “We saw a video on YouTube and thought it was really sad that kids
with childhood cancer sometimes die, so we thought if we could make a difference it would be better. We started selling cookies and chocolate bars and sodas at school games.” So far, the students have raised over $100.
Serenity was assisted at last night’s game by Gage Bermauer, Jayvian Jones and Kathryn Dugan. Mrs. Downs, French science teacher and the students’ AB teacher, said she and the kids worked as a team to gather the supplies and coordinate the sales. Other students have participated in food sales at other games.

The money raised will go to the Love,Chloe Foundation, which assists students who miss school due to cancer and helps fund research to find a cure.

Way to go, Falcons!

WU Athletes Visit Sheldon

The students at Sheldon Child Development Center received a visit from Washburn University students this morning. Members of the Washburn men's and women's basketball teams stopped by to read to the youngsters. The little ones loved having guests in their classroom and listened eagerly as the college students read them several books.

Thank you to Tyas Martin, Tom Huppy, Felisha Gibbs, Jada Lynch and Erin Dohnalek for taking time out of your busy day to spend time with our Sheldon friends!

Fun at Family Fitness Night

The 6th annual Family Fitness Fun Night at Hummer Sports Park was another huge success.  The event focuses on fun, healthy activities for students, staff and their families.  Each school had an activity for kids. Local organizations had tables set up to provide information about healthy living. Highland Park High, Topeka High and Topeka West students showed off their dance steps, their drum playing and cheer leading. Everyone had a great time and we are looking forward to next year's event.

Freedom Week March

Students throughout Topeka Public Schools celebrated Freedom Week and Constitution Day the week of September 14-18.   A great deal of the emphasis was on the life of Rosa Parks.  It was 60 years ago that Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

On Friday of that week, students either marched around their school or to a nearby location as part of the week activities.  Quincy Elementary students made signs and marched from their school to NOTO.  Students also went from room to room to see the activities each class had participated in during
the week.

ELL Students Hear From Author

Author, educator, activist and motivational speaker Reyna Grande was in town recently to discuss her award-winning book, “The Distance Between Us” at Washburn University. While in town, she stopped by Topeka High School to meet and talk with the school’s English Language Learners, or ELL students. Over pizza, she shared with them her own immigrant experience in the U.S.

“It’s a way to use my story to inspire them and to give them a little bit of guidance because they’re going through the things that I went through. I want to let them know that they’re not alone in their struggle, that there is hope, and with hard work and perseverance they’re going to get ahead in life and really learn the way of life here,” she said.

Rayna’s book, “The Distance Between Us,” documents her immigration from Iguala, Mexico to the United States to seek a better future, and the harrowing journey behind it. Iguala, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, is where 43 students, on September 26, 2014, were kidnapped and presumed killed sparking massive national and international outcries of Mexican government involvement.

In her book, Grande paints a vivid picture of loss, poverty, and the will to survive, to make her way to “el otro lado,” or “the other side,” referencing the United States. The inspirational memoir gives insight into the hot button topic of immigration. The Los Angeles Times hailed it as “the ‘Angela’s Ashes’ of the modern Mexican immigrant experience.” The THS students were given a copy of her book as a gift from the Tonantzin Society.
In addition to Grande visiting Topeka High, there was also a college fair held at the high school to encourage Latino students to pursue higher education. Representatives from Washburn University Multi Cultural Affairs, Kansas State University Ethnic Studies, Kansas University Latin American Studies Outreach and University of Missouri Kansas City Latin Studies were all in attendance.

Sponsors for these events were AT&T of Kansas and Washburn Multi Cultural Affairs. For more information on this inspirational Latina author visiting Topeka for the Tonantzin Society's Hispanic Heritage Month event, go towww.tonantzinsociety.com

Region 2 Kansas Teacher of the Year

The Region 2 Kansas Teacher of the Year Banquet was held yesterday in Topeka.  Region 2 includes most of northeast Kansas.  Elementary and secondary teachers were selected by school districts in region 2 as their KTOY nominee.  Representing Topeka Public Schools in the elementary category was Pat Nash, a physical education teacher at Scott Dual Language Magnet School.  Topeka High special education teacher Erich Singer was the district’s secondary category nominee. 

Selected as region 2 finalists for the 2016 Kansas Teacher of the Year award were Jolene Pennington, a fifth grade teacher in Paola and Lucinda Crenshaw, a seventh grade science teacher in Lawrence.  The Kansas Teacher of the Year will be named in Wichita in November.

HPC and Capitol Federal Continue Long Partnership

For the nineteenth year in a row, Capitol Federal has signed on to provide volunteers to Highland Park Central Elementary School.

The volunteers have been coming to the school regularly for nearly two decades to help out around the building and work with students. This year they will also begin a lunch reading program with the kids.
Capitol Federal president and CEO John Dicus was on hand recently to officially sign the agreement with Highland Park Central. Dicus and HPC principal Kelley Norman spoke to a group of third graders about the partnership and what it would mean for the students. Also in attendance was a group of five Capitol Federal volunteers who came to meet the students and kick of the 19th year of volunteer work with the school.

Thank you to Mr. Dicus and the volunteers who offer their time to our students!

Lions Club Members Give Books to Youngsters

Members of the Sunflower Lions Club of Topeka celebrated Children’s Dignity Week by donating books to Pine Ridge Prep.  The pre-school students at Pine Ridge got to select a book to take home with them.  There were books in English and Spanish. 

Bobby Duvall of the Sunflower Lions Club said Children’s Dignity Week brings Lions from around the world together to share in service activities that promote the dignity of the most vulnerable members of society, children.

At a later date, Lions Club members will return to Pine Ridge to give vision tests to the youngsters.

ROTC Building Name Honors Topeka West Graduate

Many heroes emerged after the events that took place on September 11, 2001, and one of those heroes was honored at a recent school board meeting.
Kyle Thomas was a 1998 graduate of Topeka West High School. Inspired to serve his country in the wake of the terrorist attacks, he enlisted in the Army. Sadly, he was killed by an improvised explosive device near Tikrit, Iraq on September 25th, 2003.

When TWHS JROTC officers were notified that Ft. Riley would be donating a building to their school’s program, they decided to honor Kyle by naming it after him. At the school board meeting, with his parents in attendance, the building was officially named the Specialist Kyle G. Thomas Leadership Education Training Center by the Topeka Public Schools Board of Education.
Topeka West Senior Army Instructor LTC Richard Hodgson said, “While I didn’t know him, by all accounts from the teachers who remember him, Kyle was an exceptional young man in all respects. He lettered in several sports and was also very active in industrial arts, stage craft and dance. There are still several teachers here who knew him well and, without exception, they all tell me he exemplified the qualities of a leader and good citizen we try to instill in our young men and women in the JROTC program. I feel naming the JROTC building in his honor is very appropriate.”

Kyle Thomas was a true American hero and Topeka Public Schools is proud to call him one of our own.

Purple With a Purpose

The Capital City got a bit of a spruce-up, thanks to the elbow grease of about 75 TWHS students.
The T-West student body was recently treated to an assembly led by Greg Tehven. Tehven is the co-founder of Students Today Leaders Forever, a national non-profit that has hosted 25,000 students to serve 336,000 hours of community service across the U.S. He believes that students have the power to create the communities they want to live in and encouraged the students atTopeka West to become active in their community.

Following the assembly, about 75 Chargers boarded busses and headed for Wanamaker. There, they split up into teams to pick up litter from one of Topeka’s busiest thoroughfares. Paper scraps, discarded cups and even wayward hubcaps made their way into the students’ large trash bags. Despite the messy work—not to mention the heat and humidity—the kids were upbeat and cheerful as they made their way up and down Wanamaker.
The kids had a great time helping out their community and our city shines a little brighter today because of them. Way to go, Chargers!!

TPS Foundation Honors Security Benefit

The Topeka Public Schools Foundation held its annual community breakfast at the Ramada Inn Downtown this morning.  Foundation Executive Director Pamela Johnson-Betts bestowed the foundation’s Patron Award to Michael Kiley of Security Benefit.  The Topeka-based company has been an active partner with the TPS Foundation for many years. 

Johnson-Betts thanked community members for supporting the foundation and its goal of providing educational opportunities for students for educational projects not funded by the school district budget.

Those attending the foundation breakfast also heard
from Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford about the recent accomplishments of Topeka Public Schools.

Reser's Fine Foods Hands Out Checks to Schools

We want to send a special thank you to Reser's Fine Foods. Williams Magnet, Scott Magnet, Meadows Elementary School and Chase Middle School each received a check for $500 for supplies and projects as well as a box of paper. Jeremy Harvey, Reser's employee and "Reser's Cares" committee member said that the company recognized some of the issues that teachers face when returning to school and setting up their classrooms. "We thought it would be nice to help off set some of that," Harvey said. Donating money, time and talents to Topeka Public Schools makes a real difference to our students and staff. Thank you, Reser's!!!

Kansas Education Commissioner Visits Topeka Public Schools

Dr. Randy Watson, the Kansas Education Commissioner, today got to see first-hand some of the great programs serving the students and families of Topeka Public Schools.  Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Tammy Austin, took Watson to Highland Park High School so he could see and learn about the robotics programs.  He also visited a bio-medical technology class at the school.  Commissioner Watson also toured the Pine Ridge Facilities that serves pre-school students and their families, Scott Dual Language School and the Kanza Education and Science Park.

Watson says school district tours, since as the one today, allows him to get out and see what is happening in schools across Kansas.  He is visiting the larger school districts like Topeka first, but hopes to visit as many small school districts as possible.  “I want to learn and listen about the issues, the problems, the things that we can correct at the education department,” said Watson.  “Things I can advocate for and areas where we can make our local efforts even better.”

Casino Delivers School Supplies to TPS

The people who work at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort like doing things for kids.  With reduced funding for public education, they decided to ask casino patrons to bring school supplies to the casino and did they respond.   “We had people with truckloads of supplies arrive at the casino.  We would help them unload the supplies.  They would get free play for their donations,” said Casino Marketing Manager Joy Knudson.

Being the largest school district in the area, Topeka Public Schools was the top choice of many people.  Before the August 20 school board meeting, a large Prairie Band Casino and Resort truck pulled up in front of the Burnett Center.  Casino workers began unloading box after box of school supplies, 44 boxes to be exact.

Ten of the big boxes of school supplies were placed in the room where the school board meets.  When board members entered the room, they were surprised to see all the school supplies.  John Tuckwin, director of casino marketing, told board members about the school supply drive which took place in one day.  He and his fellow workers had their picture taken with Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford and board of education members.  It was a great way to begin a school board meeting.

Students "Linked" to High School

The first day of high school is usually a nerve-wracking experience for students. However, the Topeka West High School freshmen seemed quite at ease on their first day. That's because the school's Link members were on hand to welcome the incoming students and help them get to know the school.

The Link crew consists of 10th, 11th and 12th grade students who, in addition to being active at T-West throughout the year, generously gave up the most treasured of all days: their last day of summer break. They did an awesome job of showing the new Chargers around the school and helping them get to know one another. Link members will continue to act as mentors to freshmen all year long.

Two Named to "20 Under 40"

Congratulations to Juli Watson and Leo Cangiani for being named to the Jayhawk Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, annual Topeka’s Top “20 Under 40” award.  This is the sixth year for the awards which recognize contributions both professionally and personally.  Watson is an assistant principal at Highland Park High School.  Cangiani is community liaison at Scott Dual Language Magnet School.  The two are among 20 honorees who will be recognized by the Jayhawk Council at a banquet in November.

Porch Visit

The August heat wasn’t enough to keep the Williams Magnet faculty inside! For the second year in a row, the teachers took a break from prepping their classrooms to reach out to their community. Armed with materials for parents, they ventured out into the Williams neighborhood hoping to make connections with as many of their students’ families as possible.

Vanessa Hill, Williams teacher and Title 1 Community Liaison, said this activity is very important to the school’s staff and families. “We believe that the first positive moment is very important to students and parents. We want to show them that we care enough about our students to come out to their house on a hot day to see them,” Hill said.

With dedication like that, the Williams Wildcats are sure to have an awesome school year!

Teachers Gather to View Documentary

Excitement filled the room as teachers, paraprofessionals, principals and other certified staff of Topeka Public Schools gathered for a special professional development event at Topeka Performing Arts Center on August 7th..

The well-appointed TPAC set the stage for the main attraction of this year’s back-to-school PD: the premier of Paper Tigers, a documentary film by none other than James Redford. (You may have heard of his father, Robert.)
Paper Tigers is an intimate look into the lives of selected students at Lincoln High School, an alternative school that specializes in educating traumatized youth. Set amidst the struggling rural community of Walla Walla, WA, the film closely examines the inspiring promise of Trauma-Informed Communities-- a movement that is showing great promise in healing youth struggling with the dark legacy of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Following six students over the course of a school year, viewers watch as Lincoln’s staff try a new approach to discipline: one based on understanding and treatment rather than judgment and suspension. Paper Tigers is a testament to what the latest developmental science is showing: that just one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.

"We are very excited to screen Paper Tigers to our staff during our back-to-school convocation,” says Dr. Julie Ford, Superintendent of Topeka Public Schools. “Our district has many children that have had Adverse Childhood Experiences which impact their school career and transition to adulthood. Our staff is eager to learn more about trauma-informed care and brain development in order to assist our children to become successful adults. This includes strategies for preventing and de-escalating problem behavior and learning more about ACEs."
Former principal of Lincoln High School, Jim Sporleder, was also on hand to give a post-screening talk on healing trauma in the school setting and will also lead a workshop for principals and guidance staff. Having over twenty years of experience as a teacher, Sporleder came to Lincoln in 2007. Under his leadership, the school gained national attention due to a dramatic decrease in out-of-school suspensions, increased graduation rates, and a higher number of students going on to post-secondary education. Since retiring, Sporleder has continued to work as a trauma-informed education consultant with Children’s Resilience Initiative, based in Walla Walla, and travels the country to present on the topic of trauma.

Steve Graner spoke to TPS staff, as well. Mr. Graner is currently serving as the Project Director for the Neurosequential Model in Education for the ChildTrauma Academy and is active withCTA in training teachers and school personnel in trauma-informed educational practice. Mr. Graner highlighted emerging concepts and practices of trauma-informed care and brain development in order to assist educators in understanding student behavior and performance.

It was a fun and educational morning for our staff at Topeka Performing Arts Center. We are honored to be able to provide our outstanding TPS team with such a great opportunity!

Special thanks to the sponsors of this event: Architect One, Bartlett and West, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Durham School Services, Eagle Auto Wash, Frito Lay, Hy Vee, Jimmy John's, Pepsi, Schmidt Vending, Schwerdt Design Group, The Burger Stand, Wendy's, and Westar Energy.

Topeka High "All Sports Parent/Athlete" Meeting


Topeka High School will host its annual ‘All Sport Parent/Athlete Participation Meeting’ on Thursday, August 13th 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 athletics during the 2015-16 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; NEW Physical Forms;
Insurance/Medical Release Forms; Transportation Waivers; Procedures for inclement weather;Sportsmanship; and Player/Parent/Coach communication.  The fall sports coaches’ will then host their individual sessions at approximately 7:00 p.m. in designated classrooms.

The ‘Student-Athlete Handbooks with all of the required forms will be available at the ‘All Sport Parent/Athlete Participation Meeting’ on Thursday, August 13th (THS Student Cafeteria), so please plan on
attending.  Remember, that this is where you can get all of your questions answered and introduce yourself to your child’s coaching staff.      

If you have any questions, please contact Rod Hasenbank at Topeka High School at 295-3157.

Caspers Named K-ACTE Administrator of Year

Congratulations to Eileen Caspers, General Director of School and Career Programs for Topeka Public Schools. She was recently named Administrator of the Year by the Kansas Association for Career and Technical Education.

"It is an honor to be selected as the K-ACTE Administrator of the Year for 2015. In the last few years, career and technical education has increased in recognition by students, parents and teachers. It is critical that we continue to assist students in experi...encing careers of their interest and assist them in discovering how their high school curriculum is relevant to their futures,” Caspers said of her award.

According to its website, “The Kansas Association for Career & Technical Education Awards Program seeks to promote excellence in career and technical education by recognizing individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the field, programs that exemplify the highest standards, and organizations that have conducted activities to promote and expand career and technical education.”

As the state Administrator of the Year award winner, Caspers will be considered for the regional award next year.
Congratulations, Eileen!

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