Friday, October 13, 2017

Faces of 501: Adrianna Havens

Faces of 501: Adrianna Havens

Adrianna Havens has taught for Topeka Public Schools for the past four years, as an AVID teacher and volleyball coach at Chase Middle School. Havens and her students from an after school art club have created two murals that feature the unique aspects of the school. It took two school years, plus summers from start to finish to complete the “Performing Arts and Chase Way” mural and a semester and a summer to finish the “Multicultural” mural. Ten students from the Chase art club volunteered to work on the murals, using their summer vacations to paint on a daily basis to finish the murals. The end result is two large murals that cover the entire length of a wall at Chase and a hallway that connects State Street Elementary to Chase Middle School and highlights both schools’ commitment to the Performing Arts. 

The "Performing Arts and Chase Way" mural connecting State Street and Chase Middle School. 
The performing arts mural came from the performing arts teachers. They were motivated to have us brainstorm and create a mural that identified Chase as the performing arts middle school. We shared ideas and what we wanted to portray and how it would make the hallway connect the performing arts middle school and the elementary school. We wanted to feel connected to both schools. 

The multicultural mural was originally brought to the table from our previous principal. He just shot an idea at me about “knowing your culture” and I created an after school art club that ran with it. It is completely kid designed and kid created. They sketched ideas and ran it past me and then we brainstormed how to combine all of the aspects they wanted to portray. This let each kiddo who was involved in the Art Club and mural process have a voice as to what they wanted and felt they needed to display to convey their message. The “Performing Arts and Chase Way” mural basically encompasses all that we have available at Chase from our performing arts program, to the arts and music, to our clubs and programs we offer to students.”
Multicultural Mural at Chase Middle School.
“I’ve learned that you definitely need a layout that is super structured when involving kids at the middle school level to paint murals of these sizes. It was challenging to make sure that we were staying clean with our painting skills and to make sure that each section was labeled and set out before we even thought of applying paint. Some kids really took off with their own creative instincts and applied their own touches to sections we were working on, so making sure that they are all somewhat uniform and consistent throughout the mural was challenging. 

My advice for students that want to paint a mural: make sure it's something that will make an impact on those who view it. Don't be afraid to express something that you strongly believe in that has positive values. Even though the performing arts mural is bigger, I have more of a connection and internal response to the Multicultural mural simply because it resounds with power about what they wanted to express. They wanted to encompass celebration and diversity. And I think the kids did a great job at planning how to symbolize both.”

The Performing Arts and Chase Way Mural. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Faces of 501: Freddy Maisberger

Faces of 501: Freddy Maisberger, III
Freddy Maisberger has taught for Topeka Public Schools for the past 25 years, spending two years at Eisenhower Middle School and the rest at Highland Park High School. In that time Maisberger has never missed a day of work because of an illness or other reason. Maisberger teaches Social Studies, and coaches wrestling, cross country and track. The proud Highland Park alum, class of 1985, loves teaching at his alma mater saying it’s been fun to be a part of the changes throughout the years, getting to know the students and teaching former classmates’ kids who are now students is an interesting experience, reminding everyone how great his school is.

The only time I am not in the classroom would be due to coaching responsibilities such as a meet or a state competition. My record goes beyond my teaching career. I have never missed a day of work period.  Prior to teaching I worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield for three years and never missed a day. I actually earned bonus percentages for perfect attendance.  I also retired after 20-years of service with the Kansas Air National Guard never missing any of my required work responsibilities. I’ve never missed a day because I am very driven and have high expectations.  I believe that if I expect the students to come to school every day and give their best then I must too. It has even started to irritate the students that I never miss and they don't get a day off with a substitute teacher. I take that challenge and make sure they know I will be here every day for them. It also offers them consistency and structure to their day. When I was a student I never missed a day in middle or high school. I did in elementary due to an illness such as chicken pox and mumps.  I have always enjoyed school and what it had to offer. I considered it a great day to come to school - my classes were fun and interesting most of the time, friends and of course participating in sports kept me motivated each day.”

            “My students can't believe that I’ve never missed a day, because I don't think they have met anyone that has gone to work every day and never missed. Even when I have told them I have never missed for the birth of my children and family deaths they find it hard to believe.  I have truly been blessed that I have not been ill or had any major family situations that may have required me taking time off.  I tell students to go to work whether it is school or a job. You will gain knowledge and experience while others are gone while gaining respect and admiration for being dependable and a hard worker.  Your actions speak louder than words and everything you do will impact your future.  Stay strong to your will to do your best, be respectful and be a valuable member of our society.”

Friday, September 29, 2017

Faces of 501: Cindy Toyne

Faces of 501:Cindy Toyne 

Having worked for TPS since Oct. 1993, starting as an office paraprofessional, and now has been an administrative assistant for the last 21 years. Cindy Toyne gets to know the students as the gate keeper to the principal’s office and she encourages them that even though high school is a tough experience in their lives, it’s not the end of their story.

GRADUATION IT'S NOT THE END....IT'S JUST THE BEGINNING! I try and let the students know that once they have reached graduation that it is a new beginning -- another different and new beginning in their life and they can become whatever they want... go on to further schooling, military or think a while more to figure what it is they want to do with their life. I tell them that when they just come in to talk or when they are waiting to talk with Mr. Noll because something has happened here at school that needs attention. I am not sure if it sinks in right away, but I feel it helps when they do figure it out. I also try to teach them about respect. If you have respect for other and respect with come back. It’s also important to have respect for yourself, it will get you through the hard times and make the good times better.” 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Faces of 501: Marie Carter

Faces of 501: Marie Carter

Marie Carter, is now a volunteer with Topeka Public Schools. Prior to retiring earlier this year, Carter worked at TPS for 25 years spending her career in the human resources department. Carter started as a benefits clerk, human resources assistant and retiring as the certified personnel manager. Eight years ago she started the middle school intern program at the Burnett Center, giving teens the chance to get work experience in a professional environment to learn what would be required of them in the work force. One of her favorite tasks with the interns is to show them the senior notebook, which they use throughout high school and beyond. 

“I love presenting the senior notebook to the summer interns. They learn to organize, follow-up, write resumes, cover letters and practice oral interviews. This notebook is designed to assist students through their post high school years. When the students are given the opportunity to see what they are capable of…WOW. Many of the students come back to work another summer. There have been students that have graduated out of the program, working with us four to five years, and are doing very well as college students. I tell the students, present yourself professionally in all that you do. Show up for work ready to work, dress appropriately, always BE ON TIME and allow yourself to sit at the table and be heard, especially the young ladies.” 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Faces of 501: Sal Cruz

Faces of 501: Sal Cruz

Sal Cruz has worked for Topeka Public Schools for the past 25 years, serving as a substitute teacher, paraprofessional, van driver and is best known as a drum line coach for Topeka High School. This school year he took a step forward in his career by becoming a certified teacher, working at Randolph and Stout Elementary, Robinson Middle School and Topeka High School as a band teacher. 

I spend a lot of time, work, dedication and commitment to the kids in the program, I am so lucky that God has placed on my heart the desire to teach and reach students. I use the drums as the tool used to inspire students to strive to become better people and instill pride in themselves when they succeed. There is nothing more powerful than the feeling of believing in yourself. It is not always an easy road and most do not continue with music, but many become successful in life because of the lessons they have had being a part of our drum line program. I feel the lessons taught in being a part of the drum line where all students must work as a team is an important skill in preparing students for their future no matter where life leads them. The time is right for me to become a certified teacher. So many opportunities have been missed because I have not had the credentials needed to be accepted as certified teacher.  My son just graduated from the University of Kansas and my daughter is headed to Emporia State University and I decided it was time for me to get the degree that will allow me to do the many things that are important to me. The performance degree that I hold from Washburn University has not allowed me to be where my heart has been leading me and that is into the classrooms of Topeka Public Schools as a teacher.”
“I am impressed with the diversity I see not only in the student body of Topeka Public Schools, but with the staff as well. I grew up in Oakland, went to elementary schools in USD 501 and graduated from Topeka High. I know the students that I will be teaching because I was one of them and I feel I can relate to them. Many of them will have obstacles and challenges to face, but I want them to know that the Topeka Public Schools and their outstanding professionals can be their loudest advocate. I tell students, don't sit on the sidelines and just wait for your time in school to pass. Become involved in your school, take advantage of every opportunity available, and make your school life matter. It truly is what shapes your future. Ignore the fear of failure and try new things. It is better to try than to live with regret.”

Friday, September 8, 2017

Faces of 501: Joan Anderson

Faces of 501: Joan Anderson 

Joan Anderson is the nighttime supervisor for the custodial crew at Topeka High, where she manages a crew of six. She's in her fourth year working at Topeka High, with the first two working for Key Staffing and the last two with Topeka Public Schools. Anderson has been a bright spot on the night crew, making sure that their work runs smoothly, with her supervisor pointing out that she's one of the best hires that they've ever made. 

“When I first came here I knew that this was going to be home. The people here at the school are so friendly and they welcome you in. I knew this was going to be home and this was the job for me. I’m a cleaner, I like to clean. I like what I do and I like my guys and that’s the way it should be. You should be able to work with your people. We’ve spent a lot of time with the floors, it’s been neat to redo them and bring them back to the way they originally were. It makes you feel good to fix up thing that have been neglected. We take a lot of pride in our floors and lots of pride in what it is now compared to what it was. I like taking care of this building.”

“We do have kids that notice the work that is being done. There are kids that help out toward the end of the school year and they realize they don’t want to do this as a job because it’s hard and a lot of work. There’s kids that notice and say you are doing a good job, there’s a lot of kids that come up and help at games and the ROTC kids are great with helping with tables and chairs. It makes me feel good when people say thank you, we get a lot of thank you notes from kids and teachers that show their appreciation. It’s a good feeling.” 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Faces of 501: Jeremy Guerrero

Faces of 501: Jeremy Guerrero 

Jeremy Guerrero, food service, Kanza Cafe, has worked for Topeka Public Schools for the past eight years. On a daily basis he works with his wife, Sylvia, and together they own the barbecue business, JLG BBQ. Their schedule of barbecue events can be found on their Facebook page.

“I used to hang out with my grandpa when we would barbecue for the family. I watched him and asked how he knew when it was time to flip the food and when it was done. I took a foods class in high school and a got a job at Johnny’s BBQ in Kansas City. The years go by and it seemed like I was getting better at it, so I grilled out with my grandpa and he told me how good it was and that I did an awesome job, which meant the world to me. 18 years ago I bought a smoker and everybody loved it, and my grandpa said you have to take this BBQ to another level, so three years ago I started barbecuing at a friend’s bar and grill, last year I bought a food station and this past March I got a concession trailer. I can share my food with the public and meet all of the great people of Topeka. The best thing is having this business where my wife and I are doing this together, it’s challenging to find time to spend time with our family, we both work fulltime and run the BBQ business on the weekends. It makes me feel really good when they like my food and especially when they are smiling and say that they will come back for more. I would tell students to follow your dreams and make them happen, there’s going to be that opportunity and when you see it, feel it, TAKE IT and run with it and be the best at it. You will have to put in the time, hard work, but it will pay off in the end. If that’s what you love, IT WILL PAY OFF IN THE END!” 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Faces of 501: Janet Rice

Janet Rice with Topeka Police Department Sgt. Jayme Green. 

Faces of 501: Janet Rice

Janet Rice is a fixed asset specialist with Topeka Public Schools and has been with the district since the fall of 2003. When not at her normal job, Rice is an active volunteer in multiple community organizations. She spends time with the Topeka Police Department Ambassadors, vice-president of the TPD's Citizen Academy Ambassadors, Keep America Beautiful and Safe Streets.

I enjoy helping in the community.  Volunteering gives me opportunities that I might not otherwise have to meet people and experience new things.  It is personally rewarding for me.  It feels good to lend a helping hand. I appreciate everything that law enforcement officers do to protect my safety and the safety of my loved ones every single day.  So much of what they do is taken for granted.  Law enforcement Officers interact with people who are having their worst day possible.  Through volunteering I am able to show and express my appreciation for what they do.  I want make their day a little brighter and help return them home safely to their family at the end of their shift. “
“My advice to students is wherever you live, get involved in your community.  Don't just sit and complain - be the change you want to see.  Show respect for yourself, others and the environment.  Leave it better than you found it. "

Friday, August 18, 2017

Faces of 501: Kyle Morris

Faces of 501: Kyle Morris

Kyle Morris, is starting his third year teaching 8th grade science at Jardine Middle School. In his former career Morris was a broadcast meteorologist working at television stations Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Kansas. After working as, a substitute teacher for three Topeka school districts and as a program developer in the education department at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, he joined the transition to teaching program through Fort Hays State University. Morris is currently preparing a lesson plan for the total solar eclipse on Monday. 

“When I was a meteorologist I was able to study in more detail the sciences while also practicing public speaking and performance. My background prepared me for the ability to keep young minds better engaged through that performance and my former career always seems to spark interest and curiosity. I can give them real world information from my experiences of working in science and that initial interest and curiosity can always be used as a jumping off point to work into other science content areas. Science is about asking your own questions and trying to discover the answer yourself. The students are going to view the eclipse while filling out a guided worksheet. This will allow them to observe the eclipse and try to come up with answers to their own observations. We have also included cross-curriculum opportunities with elements of math through percentages and graphs, and language arts with creative writing. I’ve been preparing for collaboration with the entire middle school science department in the district, and then creating the details with the science team at my school. This is an opportunity for students to really experience science in the real world through an event that does not happen often.  I remember being in school during the 1994 annular solar eclipse in Kansas. So I'm really curious as to the observational differences will be during this eclipse. Planning for it was not the most fun, but I think we have developed something that will increase learning and allow the students to fully experience the event in their own ways. The excitement and interest that this event could create in students to me is really exciting.

“Teaching middle school, it's not as bad as people tend to think. It can be challenging, but the students are at a unique stage where they are transitioning from a child into their teenage years. They still have a bit of innocence hidden behind their attempt to look mature. I get to experience the youthful ignorance with the development of personalities and it can be a lot of fun. I want them to learn the material I am teaching along with all other subjects, but more importantly I hope they develop in their decision making. Even if they never remember what an index fossil is, or the difference between a base and an acid, I want them to have developed the skills that it took to learn and discover the content. The content is important, but not as much as the development their brains go through when actively participating in science.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Faces of 501: Sgt. Gary Williams

Faces of 501: Sgt. Gary Williams 

Topeka Public Schools Police Officer Sgt. Gary Williams has worked for the district since Aug. 2014. In addition to his work at Highland Park High School he is a member of the Kansas Air National Guard's 190th Refueling Wing, Williams will leave for deployment with the 190th on Aug. 28 

“The good part about working for Topeka Public Schools is the overall positive attitude. Just about every day, I get to come to HPHS, and be greeted by smiling faces!  Students and staff alike! Also the school hours are fantastic. Having been in public service all my life, I have rarely had a "regular" schedule.  I love being home in the evenings, as I don't feel like I'm missing out on life anymore. When I'm not working, I'm usually working! I have two young children, and of course they occupy most of my off duty time. On top of family, I've been a member of the 190th Security Forces Squadron at Forbes Field for 20 years. I have enjoyed my career at the 190th, and have no plans to retire anytime soon. Who knows, at this point I might try to do 30 years!  The other huge part of my life is teaching self-defense. I have a 1st Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, which lead me to understand I needed to learn other stuff to augment that system.  So I went out and learned boxing, and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Those things lead me to fighting in MMA. I'm not sure if I'm going to fight anymore, but I will teach self-defense, and firearms for the rest of my life.

“I tell students to always get all the information you can before making a decision. Every day I see students at the school making decisions based on limited information. A lot of that is youth, and only seeing what you want to see. When the opportunity arises, and it often does, I tell students to gather as much information as you can, before you make a decision. I don't care what the topic is, gather the information from all sources, and make that decision based on your values, and the facts at hand.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dr. Tiffany Anderson Presents Nationally on Trauma and Equity

Dr. Tiffany Anderson is presenting nationally on topics focused on health and wellness and on closing achievement gaps. This month she was invited by the Kellogg Foundation to train their board and Battle Creek, MI educators on practices she has used to lead trauma informed initiatives in her past and in Topeka. Following the training, TPS staff are in the process of submitting a grant to Kellogg for funding for early childhood programs and expanding early childhood family health services. Today, Dr. Anderson has joined leading researchers and authors to present on intervention services in schools. While some TPS educators are training this week at KU on tiered intervention strategies, others are in Utah, being trained at a conference on equity. Staff members are also recruiting teachers while at the conference. The link to the conference can be viewed here: Truman Medical Center in Kansas City will host their annual conference focused on mental and behavioral health support services for students at the annual Trauma Sensitive Schools Team Summit where Dr. Anderson will serve as the keynote. To learn more about Trauma Sensitive Schools through Truman Medical's Behavioral Health unit click here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

TPS honors LEAP Award winners

Topeka West teachers Chris Perry and Corey Wilson celebrate with senior Linda Deng at the LEAP Awards. 

Topeka Public Schools recently celebrated a group of students for the first ever LEAP Awards. LEAP stands for Learning, Engaging, Adapting and Preparing. Students from the Highland Park, Topeka West, Hope Street Academy and Topeka High School were selected as the first class of LEAP winners.

The students honored were Dayonde' Wheeler, Khalilah Davis and Linda Deng all of Topeka West. Benjamin Zhang, Celestial Simonson, Isabelle Smallback and Obioma Nwakpuda of Topeka High. Kelly Nemecheck of Hope Street Academy. Aspen Hearne, Ca'ttia Thomas and Phillip White of Highland Park.

Topeka High seniors Obi Nwakpuda, left, and Celeste Simonson.  
Topeka Public Schools Board of Education President Patrick Woods talks with Highland Park senior Phil White.

The inaugural LEAP Awards were held in the Topeka High School cafeteria. 

Topeka West senior Linda Deng, right, shakes hands with TPS Board of Education members Janel Johnson and Patrick Woods.  
Topeka West junior Dayonde' Wheeler, left and Topeka West teacher Andrea York. 

Hope Street Academy Principal Dale Noll, left, and senior Kelly Nemecheck. 
TPS Board of Education member Dr. Peg McCarthy, left, shakes hands with Highland Park senior Aspen Hearne.

Topeka High teacher Cathy Terrell, left, and senior Obi Nwakpuda. 

Topeka High principal Rebecca Morrisey hugs senior Izzy Smallback. 

TPS Board of Education member Nancy Kirk, left, shakes hands with Topeka High senior Izzy Smallback. 

Topeka High senior Celeste Simonson, left, and Topeka High teacher Janice Waldo. 

TPS Board of Education member Rev. John Williams, left, shakes the hand Topeka High senior Benjy Zhang. 

The Highland Park High School Air Force JROTC presented the colors. 

TPS Superintendent Tiffany Anderson, left, talks with Topeka West junior Dayonde' Wheeler.  

Topeka High senior Benjy Zhang, left, talks with TPS Board of Education member Nancy Kirk. 

The Topeka West Premier Strings kicked off the evening by playing at the reception. 

Highland Park teacher Chad Brown, left, talks about senior Phil White. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

TPS Honors 2017 Distinguished Staff Members

Topeka Public Schools honored the 2017 Distinguished Staff Award winners on April 12 at French Middle School. The winners of these awards have a total of 191 years of service to TPS. The award is the highest honor that TPS bestows on their employees.

Here are this year's winners of the Distinguished Staff Awards:

2017 Distinguished Staff Award honorees with the Topeka Public Schools Board of Education. 

 Marcus Clark, Custodial, Highland Park High School, right, hugs TPS School Board President Patrick Woods. 

 Steven Crawford, Paraeducator, Chase Middle School, right, with Principal Dr. Keith Jones. 

 Dustin Dick, Building Leader, Topeka West, right, with TPS School Board Vice-President Dr. Michael Morrison. 

 Debbie Dickerson, Elementary Educator, Stout Elementary, left, with Principal John Litfin. 

 Peggy Fisher, Certified Support Staff, Lundgren Education Center, right, with Dr. Jennifer Barnhart. 

 Denise Good, Classified Support Staff, Burnett Center, right, with Marie Carter. 

 Michael Hoover, Food Service, Eisenhower Middle School, right, with Principal Leosha Giardina. 

 Elena Ramirez-Johnson, Office Personnel, Highland Park High School, left, with Principal Dr. Beryl New. 

Jessica McHenry, First-Year Teacher Secondary, Eisenhower Middle School, left, with Principal Leosha Giardina.  

 Ellie Myers, First-Year Teacher Elementary, McEachron Elementary, right, with Principal Vic Williams. 

 Kirsten Cigler Nelson, High School Educator, Topeka High School. 

 Larry Robbins, District Leader, Burnett Center, right with TPS Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Anderson. 

Robert Schawo, Middle School Educator, Jardine Middle School, right, with TPS School Board President Patrick Woods. 

For more photos of the event check out the TPS Facebook gallery

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

HPHS Key Club Students Attend State Conference

HPHS Key Club Students Attend State Conference

Twelve Highland Park High School Key Club students started their spring break attending the 67th annual Key Club District leadership conference in Wichita. At the conference, students from various parts of Kansas heard from guest speakers, shared ideas on how to better serve their communities and completed in different categories.

Congratulations to Jonathan Lozano, who ran for District Officer and will serve as this year's Division 11 Lieutenant Governor. Cassandra Santiago won first place on her solo performance of Sapphische Ode by Brahms, which she sang in the Talent Contest. Marineth Ordinal won second place in the Impromptu Essay Contest in which she composed in 45 minutes.

Club Sponsor, Bria Collins, wants to give special thanks to Mr. Nathan Cooper for driving and chaperoning the trip. To Ms. Angie Davis and Ms. Monica Augusto for their help in arranging transportation and billing. The Key Club is sponsored by the Southwest and Downtown Topeka Kiwanis and each club generously donated to cover the remaining costs of the conference fees and lodging.

Key Club is an international student-led organization to provide service, build character and develop leadership.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Topeka Center for Advanced Learning (TCALC)

The Topeka Center for Advanced Learning (TCALC) is underway with four pathways: Teaching and Training, Medical Science, Environmental and Energy, and Engineering Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing. Teachers are attending the 8th grade parent nights at each of the high schools and Hope Street Academy Career Fair to visit with students and parents of the opportunities of the program for juniors and seniors.

Enrollment is now being secured for 2017-18. Requirements for enrollment: on track for graduation, junior or senior status, willing to be on teams with students across the district, and following business ethics in class and projects working with business. If a parent or student has any questions, they can contact Eileen Caspers, General Director of School and Career Programs at 785-295-3041 or email:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dr. Anderson Takes Part in National Discussion

The Aspen Institute, an international organization, has involved Topeka superintendent in national discussion on educational policies. The Senior Congressional Education Staff Network convenes annually and is involving the Topeka superintendent the national discussion. 

In February, a small group of 30 people comprised of Congressional staffers from the Senate and House education and workforce committees, experts from across the country and Aspen staff will meet to review and discuss policies on the implementation of federal education policy on states, districts and schools. Dr. Anderson is one of the selected experts as a result of her past work impacting eliminating achievement gaps and her current work on the Every Child Succeeds Act. 

The prior Aspen Institute panel discussion involving the superintendent can be seen here