Friday, October 20, 2017

Faces of 501: Chris Keil

Topeka Police Officer Chris Keil is a proud graduate of Topeka Public Schools, attending Potwin Elementary, McCarter Elementary, French Middle School and Topeka West. After high school he earned his degree in Sociology from Baker University starting with the TPD in 2006, he has been the school resource officer at Jardine Middle School since the 2011 school year. 

I love being in the school! I have a blast reminding the kids during football season or basketball season that I was a French Falcon! Over the years French and Jardine have shared a great rivalry in sports and it was the same when I was a student.  You played hard for every game but you got a little more excited when you saw French vs. Jardine on the schedule.  Outside of sports I think it makes connecting with the kids a little easier because we have so much in common.  I have hit that age where some of my classmates growing up are now parents to the students I have and that helps with familiarity and building connections. I relate to the kids by being a big kid myself!  You have to start with breaking down the stiff uptight cop look.  Give hugs, high fives, laugh and joke with the kids.  I make my office a safe place for the kids and I let them know they can come in for any reason (other than to skip class) and relax, snag a piece of candy and just chat.  I have pictures of my family up and pictures that my kids have colored for me.  I have KU stuff up everywhere so the kids see as soon as they come in, oh he is a normal guy, he has a family, he roots for KU just like I do.”

“When working with kids you must take up a mentoring role when dealing with any situation.  Depending on the age as well as the individual kid, he or she may not know right from wrong or legal versus illegal.   It is very important that as an officer you take the extra time to speak with the child. Working with adults is different because there is an expectation of knowing right from wrong and a basic understanding of the law and so there will not be as much of a mentoring aspect as there would be when working with kids.”
“There is a big misconception that SRO’s patrol the halls looking for law breakers.  That could not be further from the truth.  Our primary goal is the safety of everyone in the building but beyond it is mentoring and helping the kids.  We get into the classrooms and talk about decision making and how to handle situations that come their way.  My favorite presentation is teaming with the history teachers on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  It is thrilling to watch the kids get excited and involved in debate about the laws and current events going on when you can put it in perspective for them. For example, search and seizure sounds boring to them until you start talking about who can search their lockers/backpacks and bring it all back around to how it applies to the 4th amendment.  That moment when you see a concept click and make sense to a kid in class is amazing.  Could a teacher do the same, absolutely, but I think it means a little more when the kids hear it from a police officer.”

“I tell the students to get involved.  Take part in every activity that the school has to offer.  Play every sport, sign up for the school play and musicals.  If being on stage isn’t your thing be part of the stage crew behind the scenes.   Finally, watch the news! Stay up on current events and things going on in the world.  You are our future and you need to stay informed and educated so that you can help make our world a better place!”

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.”