Community News 4/27/20

Community News 4/27/20
Posted on 04/27/2020
Online Learning

Community News

Highland Park Meal Distribution

Thank you to all our community partners and dedicated volunteers for preparing and giving out meals in these uncertain times. We appreciate all you do to support our students and families.

Message from the Superintendent

Superintendent Gives masks to nurses at Stormont Vail

Dear Topeka Public Schools Family,

Pictured above are dedicated nursing staff members from Stormont Vail where we donated masks made by our very own staff members. St. Francis also received a donation of masks.

This week we are recognizing our administrative assistants for Administrative Assistant day. Mrs. Laura Allen is one of these amazing administrative assistants who do so much for the district. She was the first TPS volunteer to make masks for staff and the community. She is pictured in the first highlight below. We have also shared our graduation plans to host a virtual ceremony and we are providing some special opportunities for students to become engaged in the ceremony in meaningful ways based on their feedback. The principals will give diplomas to students as a mobile distribution opportunity.

Last week, we celebrated The Week of the Young Child and we enclosed the video for you to view from our web page. It's also running on our cable TV station. Also, State Board of Education member, Mrs. Ann Mah, celebrated five schools that were recognized for gaining Challenge Awards as a result of their performance on state assessments in 2019. The schools include: French Middle School, Quincy Elementary, Lowman Hill, McCarter Elementary and McEachron Elementary. We congratulate the academic accomplishments of staff at those schools and we thank everyone for the outstanding work being done to keep students engaged.

We are all working together as a community to serve and uplift one another through this pandemic.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

Dr. Tiffany Anderson


Mask Making
Mrs. Laura Allen, Administrative Assistant at Stout Elementary

Tracy Keegan
Tracy Keegan, Principal of Williams Magnet School

TPS Serves Community and Opens Up New Learning Possibilities by Making Masks

Sewing is a skill many people have and use to make quilts, clothing, and gifts. During the coronavirus pandemic, it has become an essential skill to help frontline workers. The CDC recommended everyone wear facemasks. With disposable masks in short supply, Dr. Anderson put out a call to the district requesting volunteers to help sew masks for frontline workers at the hospital and in the district.

The Superintendent's COVID-19 Crisis Team has partnered with staff and volunteers to make masks that follow CDC guidelines. TCALC is also using 3-D printers to create masks for TPS staff and front-line workers. We have now created over 150 masks and we delivered 100 cloth masks to hospitals and a couple of dozen to district front-line staff. These efforts have opened a new learning opportunity for students as well.

This week, Williams Magnet Principal, Tracy Keegan, provided a class for TPS scholars on how to make masks using their own sewing machine. The first Zoom class started this week. Over the next few weeks, students will be engaged in project-based learning as they use their sewing skills to help front-line employees. For more information on the sewing Zoom classes, or to volunteer your skills, please send an email to Phoebe Nordyke at [email protected].

Online Learning

Online Learning and School Updates

Online classes are in full swing! We are seeing great success in these first few weeks, but we want to continue updating the process as we go to determine what works best for our teachers and students based on their feedback. Many older students that had to babysit during the day were missing out on some of their lessons. We are now offering virtual tutoring later in the evening and at other times during the day for those that are busy during the work day. To read more about how our students are learning with online school, click here.

Additionally, online registration for the 2020-21 school year will be opening early. As more information becomes available we will send out updates. To view last week's parent letter, click here for English, or here for Spanish.

Topeka West Graduation 2019
Topeka West

HIghland Park Graduation
Highland Park

Topeka High

Graduation Weekend Events

Graduation is right around the corner. Here is a timeline for the virtual graduation ceremonies and events leading up to the big day.

Friday, May 15: Light the Future with our Seniors
Mobile Diploma Distribution will begin with a drive thru diploma pick up ceremony for graduating seniors. Students can decorate their cars, teachers will be in vehicles in the parking lot cheering students on and giving them the royal treatment as they drive across the parking lot stage. Students are to wear their caps and gowns for all ceremonies at comprehensive schools.

Mobile Diploma Distribution times:

  • Highland Park - May 15 at 4:30 p.m.
  • Topeka West - May 15 at 4:30 p.m.
  • Topeka High - May 16 at 1 p.m.

Hope Street graduates have received information from their principal on the alternative events.

At 8PM, the district stadium lights will be on for 20 minutes and 20 seconds to celebrate the Senior class of 2020. We ask all community members to also have their porch lights on at that time in celebration of our seniors who are graduating.

Saturday, May 16: Virtual Graduation Ceremony Begins

Virtual graduation ceremonies for Topeka High, Highland Park and Topeka West will begin with the time schedule to be released on May 4th. Hope Street's virtual graduation ceremony will be on May 14th.

*Capital City students will graduate with their home schools.

* Hope Street's pre-recorded graduation ceremony will be released Thursday morning on Hope Street's social media and on our cable channel.

Online Learning

TPS Teacher Featured on PBS Program

We are excited to announce that Kansas teachers, students and parents just got a new partner in their continuous learning efforts! Premiering this week, a new television program produced by Kansas PBS stations and Kansas State Department of Education will feature lessons hosted by local teachers, including our very own Cherryl Delacruz, 6-12 Math Consulting Teacher! Click here for more information on when it will be airing on KTWU 11.

Salvation Army

Volunteer Appreciation Week

National Volunteer Appreciation week is April 19-25. We want to thank our community partners for their ongoing support of our meal distribution sites as we limit staff exposure during these weeks of increased spread. In collaboration with the Salvation Army, Harvesters, and our local churches, we were able to assist our community and respond to their needs. The outpouring of support from everyone was truly amazing! We look forward to resuming operations on Monday, May 4th with our food sites. Please check out our district website and follow us on Facebook as we share more information in the days ahead.

Elena Ramirez Johnson

Elena Ramirez-Johnson is April's Above and Beyond Winner

This month we want to recognize a volunteer and staff member that has gone above and beyond during this COVID-19 crisis. Elena Ramirez-Johnson is a dedicated mother of a TPS student and a staff member who has been at Highland Park since 2004. She is volunteering at Highland Park High and Ross Elementary meal sites, and through her church at Quincy as well. Serving on the front line is part of what her entire family does as her spouse is a driver for Topeka Metro and together they care for their parents. They embody what love looks like in action and we thank her and her entire family for their selfless service during the pandemic. Thank you Mrs. Ramirez-Johnson for your hard work and dedication to supporting the district.

Rev. Williams

Creating Equitable Opportunities for All Students

Rev. John R. Williams, current school board member with the Topeka 501 School District, was recently re-elected Western Region Director for the National Black Council of School Board Members (NBC) an organization that promotes quality education for all students, with a focus on equity—building access and closing the gap on learning and achievement of students of color.

As the Western Regional Director, Williams provides oversight of nine states. Williams, who has served on the Topeka School Board since 2013, says, “It is such an honor to be re-elected to serve not only the students of Kansas but to assist in bringing equitable opportunities to all students in the western region.” Congratulations Rev. Williams!

Student Working

Your Census Response Matters

A kindergartener counted in the 2020 Census this spring will be starting high school when the next census comes around in 2030: That’s 10 years of school supplies, teachers, school lunches, and so much more. This is your opportunity to help ensure they have a bright future.

Students are learning that the 2020 Census is a count of every person who lives in the United States and its territories. Responding to the census helps your community get its fair share of funding. Census data guides how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year for schools, health care facilities, roads, transportation, recreation centers, social services, and more.

The 2020 Census is happening now. You can complete your questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail when your invitation arrives. For questions about responding to the 2020 Census, you can visit or call 844-330-2020.


Virtual Preschool Application

Have a young scholar ready to start preschool? Please attend one of our Virtual Preschool Application events hosted via Zoom. The next application events will be on April 29, June 3 and June 10. These events are for families applying for students to attend Head Start, Scott Dual Language, State Pre-K, Pine Ridge Prep, Preschool Intervention Program, and Tuition-Based Shaner. Click here for more information.

Distinguished Staff Awards Show

Distinguished Staff Awards Show on our TV Station

Tune in to watch the Distinguished Staff Awards Show on our TV Station, Cox channel 14, on May 3, at 6 p.m. The videos of the DSA winners will also be shown throughout the following week. The DSA is the highest award that a TPS staff member can receive and the recipients for the 2020 Distinguished Staff Award (DSA) have been selected. These 14 Topeka Public Schools staff members have shown tremendous dedication and work ethic for TPS.

The winners are:

  • Dr. Beryl New - Burnett Center
  • Kelly Roberts - Avondale East
  • Keisha Cross - Ross
  • Gail Ramirez - Bishop
  • Keri Martens - French Middle
  • Taylor Sharp - French
  • Rebeka LaClair - Whitson
  • Dr. Laura Lyons - Topeka High
  • Jacob Grindol - Topeka High
  • Eric Bradshaw - Topeka High
  • Sheila McDonald - Robinson
  • Melinda Darling - Quincy
  • Meredith Royston - State Street
  • Joan Valburg - Capital City

DSA recipients, thank you for all that you do for TPS!

25 years Logo

District to Honor Staff with 25 Years of Service

This week our 25 year employees received in the mail a token of appreciation honoring their achievements. At the May 7 Board of Education meeting, Topeka Public Schools will formally recognize staff who are celebrating 25 years of service with the district. To those celebrating 25 years, thank you for your continued service to the district and the impact you have made on the students, families, and other staff. To view a list of staff members being honored, click here.

CTE Scholar Logo

Six TPS Students Named CTE Scholars

Out of 57 students in Kansas, Topeka Public Schools is proud to announce six TCALC students have been named Kansas Career Technical Education (CTE) Scholars. They are selected for outstanding achievement in technical skills, leadership, and community engagement. Congratulations to Nathan Basaldua, Jayden Beals, Trejon James, Garrett Jones, Jada Martin, and Marcus Rodriguez!

Governor's Scholars

TPS Students Honored as Governor's Scholars

Each year the Kansas State High School Activities Association organizes the Kansas Governor's Scholars Program with The Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force. This program is designed to honor the top 1% of graduating seniors from each high school across Kansas as measured by their GPA. This year's Topeka Public Schools Kansas Governor's Scholars are:

Highland Park High School:

Rowan Dougan

Jordan Johns

Topeka High School:

Irene Caracioni

Jacob Gernon

Calvin Heit

Malcom Lathrop-Allen

Topeka West High School:

Boaz Drain

Charles Pershall

Luke Phelps-Roper

We congratulate all our Governor's Scholars for their outstanding academic accomplishments!

Online Art Club

Two Art Teachers Find Creative Ways to Connect with Their Students

Two art teachers, Chastity Romero Latham, from Jardine Middle, and Barbie Atkins, from Robinson Middle, have teamed up to find the best ways to connect with their students virtually. As art teachers they had some difficulty figuring out how to transition their classes online. Some students don't have access to art supplies or support at home to continue their art. They both decided to start virtual art club meetings to help create a secure, creative space online for the students. The meetings include weekly drawing challenges and a chance for the students and teachers to “just hang out” together. To read more about these two teachers, click here.

Lora Isaac
Lora Isaac, Music Teacher at Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School

Teachers Deliver Surprise Gifts for Students

Stephanie Karrer and Scott Ritter from French Middle School put together treat bags for their students and went door to door, ringing doorbells and leaving treats on their doorsteps. Karrer and Ritter wanted to do something special for their kids to recognize the hard work they have been putting in during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goodie bags, with lots of fun treats, were left on the student's porches. To read the KSNT story, click here.

Lora Isaac, a music teacher at Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School, put together an Easter basket for one of her students. While in online class the little girl was sad that the Easter bunny couldn't make it to their house due to the virus. So, Ms. Isaac dropped off a full Easter basket of eggs and tasty treats. To read the story, click here.

Rodney Johnson

Topeka High Associate Principal Shares Experiences from his 40 Year Career

Topeka High Associate Principal, Rodney Johnson was highlighted on the Voices of 501 podcast. Johnson has been with Topeka Public Schools for 40 years and is retiring at the end of this year. Johnson has been a valuable member of this district in many different positions, first as a woodworking teacher and then later, as an associate principal. To learn more about Mr. Johnson and his tenure at Topeka High, listen to the podcast. Thank you Mr. Johnson for your dedicated service to Topeka Public Schools and the impact you have made on the students.

Our next episode of the podcast, out April 24, is on the topic of E-Learning. If you want to hear more about Mr. Johnson's story or listen to other podcasts, click here.

Week of the Young Child

Celebrating The Week of the Young Child

During the week of April 13-17, we celebrated our youngest learners. The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration to spotlight early learning, young children, their teachers, families and our community. We have several young children that put together a message of thanks to first responders and essential workers during this COVID-19 crisis. You can view the video here.

University of Kansas Med

KU Partners to Expand Health Services with TPS.

The University of Kansas will continue to partner with Topeka Public Schools to provide virtual healthcare via telehealth. The telehealth visits will be with Breah R. Chambers, the same nurse practitioner who was at the Topeka High School clinic. She will be available 30 hours a week through Zoom. The patient's insurance will be billed for the appointments as it normally would for a doctor's appointment. Services will be provided for the uninsured at a sliding fee of $5-$25 depending on household size and family income. This opens up health care beyond the high school to all students, families and staff in the district. To make an appointment call 913-574-1534. To read the news article, click here.

Stacie Kelley and Family

French Family Fighting on the Frontlines of the Virus

Stacie Kelly is the daughter-in-law of Dennis Kelly, a paraprofessional at French Middle School. She is a nurse practitioner and is currently volunteering in NYC during the COVID-19 crisis. Her husband, Mark, and their children were interviewed by Hoda Kotb on the Today Show

Thank you to Stacie, and her family, for your support and sacrifices during this crisis.

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