Ross and Eisenhower Build a Bridge

It was an exciting week at Topeka Public Schools as teachers returned to prepare for the start of the 16-17 school year. One of the highlights of the week was the unveiling of a special project at Ross Signature Music Elementary School and Eisenhower Middle School: The Bridge.

Many people know that the elementary and middle school are connected by a hallway. In the past, that hallway has, at times, had a negative connotation. This summer, Eisenhower principal Leosha Giardina and music teacher Stacy Neumann set out to change that. They gathered volunteers together to implement their vision of a colorful and inviting hallway connecting the two schools, and they named it The Bridge.

Many people worked together to create a fun and welcoming space, including three very special Eisenhower students. Abel Robles, Aldo Tinajero and Isaiah Kinkade tirelessly painted a massive piano mural that pays tribute to the schools’ music focus.

The mural isn’t quite finished yet; Neumann hopes to add silhouettes of students to the walls and a gallery featuring student art work, but the Bridge is already looking like a signature piece for both Ross and Eisehnower.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the Bridge possible:

Diana and Bob Swafford, Colorworks Paint and Supply, for guidance on color and brush selection

Scott Udey, Eisenhower art teacher, for materials, help in painting the silhouettes, and art for the gallery

Chelsea and Ken Neumann, daughter and husband of Stacy Neumann, for their assistance in painting

Jose Tavares, Crystal Southen, Kathy Southen and Jeff Parker for beautifying the floors  

TPS Holds Welcome Back Convocation

On Thursday, August 12th, Topeka Public Schools held the 2016 Welcome Back Convocation for our nearly 2,500 staff members. This was the perfect way to welcome our employees back after a long, hot summer. For some, this was their first opportunity to see new superintendent Dr. Tiffany Anderson in person... and she didn’t disappoint! With her trademark tennis shoes, she enthusiastically welcomed the excited crowd. School board president Patrick Woods also addressed the audience (and even took a selfie with them!), as did NEA-T president and TPS teacher Stephanie Harsin. Scott Magnet teacher Pat Nash, who was recently inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame spoke about her experiences as a teacher in a message that resonated with all. Robinson Middle School art teacher Barbie Atkins was also recognized as a 2016 Horizon Award recipient.

Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Anderson

Assistant Superintendent Tammy Austin

Lastly, Jardine MS 7th grader DeAndre Hicks delivered a moving and uplifting speech about how Topeka Public Schools employees—everyone from custodians to principals to nutrition workers to teachers—have made a difference in his life. The crowd was brought to their feet with applause, and some tears, as he asked them if they would be the one to make a difference in students’ lives. (See his inspiring speech on YouTube at

DeAndre Hicks, Jardine Middle School 7th grader

The event was a fun way to energize and inspire our staff as they begin the new school year, but it was made even better by the many student groups who provided entertainment. We would like to thank the following groups for helping us welcome everyone back to a great school year:

Highland Park High School Cheerleaders (Coach: Deletha Kelly)
Highland Park High School Dance Team (Coach: Monica Augusto)
Highland Park High School JROTC (Teacher: Fernando Adams)
Topeka High School Cheerleaders (Coach: Stacey Bailey)
Topeka High School Dance Team (Coach: Alyssa Schultz)
Topeka High School Drum Line (Director: Sal Cruz)
Topeka High School Step Team (Coach: Teresa Leslie Canty)
Topeka West High School Cheerleaders (Coach: Roberta Freeman)
Topeka West High School Dance Team (Coach: Chelsea Switts)
Topeka West High School Marching Band (Director: Barry Evans)

THS Drumline

TWHS Marching Band

BCBS Donates School Supplies to Ross Elementary

We want to spend a special thank you to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Enrollment Risk/Contract Management Department. They recently collected school supplies for students at Ross Elementary, and BCBS employees Jamie Schnacker, Lisa Amen and Stacey Erdman delivered them to the school yesterday. New backpacks, notebooks, pencil cases and many other items will be waiting for the students when they begin school next week.

Thank you BCBS for your generosity!!

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