Community News 1/13/21

Community News 1/13/21
Posted on 01/13/2021
Highlights from 2020

Community News

Top Highlights of 2020

Listed above are some highlights from 2020. Even during a pandemic, our students and staff continued to reach new heights. We can't wait to see what's in store for 2021!

Message from the Superintendent

Chiefs

Dear Topeka Public Schools Family,

Thank you for your support, flexibility and understanding as we opened for the 2021 year. While our staff had low COVID transmission rates, the administration felt it was best to offer some in-person learning for our scholars. Our board supports in-person learning for an extended period while in an orange rating on the county scorecard and we are following that plan. We thank our board for allowing us to open to serve some initial needs while our internal district staff scorecard was below an orange rating. With an extended community spread of red for many weeks, we anticipate the district scorecard will increase as well to a red rating as staff interacts with the community. In a district as large as Topeka, the virus can spread rapidly and like many universities, we will have to remain remote until the spread declines to an orange rating. As one impact from the spread, last week, our substitute vendor lost all of their subs as the virus and the community spread has prevented them from returning at this time. Without enough staff, we simply cannot safely serve all of the needs.

We are fortunate we have an alternative learning platform to use until it's safe to return in person and we do hope informing families one week in advance was helpful before we have any staffing issues we can't cover in future weeks. We know our parents need advance notice. We thank our families for supporting allowing teachers to teach in the safest possible way so they do not have a significant health risk when there is an alternative platform that could be used. While in-person these two weeks,

  • technology issues preventing remote learning were fixed,
  • family tragedies that impacted students over the winter were addressed in-person,
  • supplies were replenished.

Additionally, the high school seniors helped us plan our first mid-year graduation and TCALC expanded their courses. TCALC and many programs will continue offering as many instructional opportunities as possible in-person.

If a family has a critical need, schools are providing assistance in various ways and we encourage you to contact your child's principal. All high schools are providing some limited opportunities in-person for continued academic, extra-curricular and social-emotional support. To ensure the high red rating has limited impact on our district with over 13,100 students and 2,500 staff in the future, we are using this time advocating for vaccines and our first group of district health professionals have been vaccinated.

Thank you for your understanding and support. You can view my parent message about reopening and remote learning in English here and in Spanish here.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson

Superintendent

 

Remote Learning

TPS Transitions to Remote Learning on January 19th, 2021

We are thankful to have experienced a decrease in cases at the beginning of 2021 that allowed us to bring students back in-person to receive supplies and social-emotional support from their teachers and peers. As the winter season continues the Shawnee County Health Department has predicted the COVID numbers will continue to increase and stay in the red. To prevent community spread from entering our school buildings and to maintain adequate staffing, Topeka Public Schools will be transitioning back to remote learning until the county experiences two consecutive weeks in the orange rating or until after spring break. All students will be in remote learning starting on Tuesday, January 19th. This decision was made to ensure the safety of all students and staff. We thank you for your understanding and continued support.

Graduation

TPS to Hold Mini Graduation Ceremonies in February

Topeka Public Schools is excited to announce we will be celebrating our seniors who are able to graduate early at mini graduation ceremonies starting on February 10. There will be a variety of sessions for students to sign up for by appointment. Each school will hold socially-distanced ceremonies with 10 or fewer individuals to help celebrate their accomplishments during COVID-19. To read more about these ceremonies, click here. We are so proud of our graduating seniors who have persevered despite the many challenges the pandemic has caused. We know our students will continue to do great things!

Haydee Martinez-Bretado

Scott Dual Language Teacher Receives KSDE Kansas Horizon Award

Haydee Martinez-Bretado, a kindergarten teacher at Scott Dual Language Magnet, has been selected as a winner of the 2021 Kansas Horizon Award from the Kansas State Department of Education. The Kansas Horizon Award program identifies and recognizes educators who have completed their first year of teaching in an elementary and secondary classroom in Kansas. The mission of the program is to recognize exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding. To watch a video of Ms. Martinez-Bretado receiving her award, click here. We'd like to thank Kansas Commissioner of Education, Dr. Randy Watson, for helping make the surprise special. Congratulations on this honor, Ms. Martinez-Bretado!

Board of Education Appreciation week

School Board Recognition Month

January is School Board Recognition Month—a time to salute the work of our school board members and to celebrate public education. School board members play a crucial role in ensuring our students receive the best education possible by working with parents, education professionals, and community members to create successful learning environments. This year has been especially challenging due to the pandemic. The TPS School Board has had to make some difficult decisions to ensure the safety of all students and staff. To listen to the newest episode of the Voices of 501 podcast that features first-year board members as they reflect on the past 12 months in office, click here. We encourage you to join in celebrating the work and success of our school board members by thanking them for their service.

TPS Police

Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

Last week, TPS celebrated National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Across the country, on January 9, we had an opportunity to thank law enforcement for their service. We would like to recognize the Topeka Public Schools Police Department, as well as our local, county and state police agencies. Support can be shown in a number of ways:

  • Wear blue clothing in support of law enforcement.
  • Send a card of support to your local police department or state agency.
  • Share a story about a positive law enforcement experience on social media.
  • Ask children in your community to write letters in support of law enforcement

You can share your support for our school police on our Facebook or Twitter page, and remember if you see a police officer, thank a police officer.

Brianna

Hope Street Senior, Brianna Smith, Selected as January Senior of the Month

Hope Street Academy senior, Brianna Smith, or Breezy as she is affectionately known, has been selected as January's Senior of the Month. Smith is very well-loved at Hope Street for her ambition and drive. She is driven to do her best and works hard to achieve all of her goals. Following graduation, Smith plans to be either a midwife or beautician and has been accepted to both Emporia State University and Kansas City Kansas Community College. To watch Smith's full story, click here. Congratulations, Brianna!

Annual Living the Dream Food Drive

District's Biggest Food Drive Kicks-Off January 4th-Feb 1st

The annual MLK Jr. Living the Dream Food drive began on January 4th and will last through the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, ending on February 1st. Food collection bins are located outside each district school building. Students and staff are encouraged to donate non-breakable, non-perishable items, and whichever school collects the most items will receive the LTD traveling trophy at the following board meeting. Quincy Elementary won the honor for 2020. Last year the food drive collected more food items than ever before and we are hoping to top that number this year due to COVID needs. For more information on LTD scholarships, awards and other events visit www.ltdtopeka.com

TCALC CNA Pathway, Simulated Lab

TCALC Students Begin Classes in New CNA Pathway

A new joint public-private partnership is investing in TPS high school students as potential employees by providing customized career-focused education. SPARK funds have enabled Washburn Institute of Technology to expand its Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) training using a new simulation lab that will be located on-site at TCALC. Washburn Institute of Technology is providing a new pathway that includes CNA training. This new CNA program offers paid internships for $15/hr starting with over 40 of our TCALC students. They are attending TCALC and serving at Stormont Vail as we work through this international health crisis. We thank Washburn Tech for this partnership which allows our TCALC students to utilize this new opportunity.

Lee Bowers

Alumni Spotlight: West Graduate Finds Success in Art and Business

One Topeka West alumnus has made a name for herself doing what she loves. Lee Bowers was one of seven Chickasaw artists recently featured in the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts (SWAIA) Indian Market, considered the most prestigious art show in the United States. Bowers grew up in Topeka and attended Topeka West High School. She credits her art classes for inspiring her to follow her passion and become an artist. Bowers got her master's degree in film from the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles and began working in special effects on movies such as the original Star Wars. After leaving the film industry, she formed her own company with a friend, Bowers and Eddy, and began creating special effects and "branding" with motion graphics for television giants such as ABC, HBO, Showtime and many others. In 2017 she moved from California to New Mexico to focus on her original love of painting. To see some of her work, click here. Bowers has certainly lived an amazing life and TPS is so proud of her accomplishments!

College Connection Newsletter

January College Connection Newsletter Now Available

The January College Connection Newsletter highlights FAFSA preparation, ACT/SAT registration and testing dates, virtual college exploration, as well as available scholarship and job opportunities. The next ACT test date is February 6, and the next SAT test date is March 13. You can register for the ACT by clicking here or the SAT by clicking here. To read January's College Connection Newsletter, click here.

TPSF Logo

TPSF Director and Members Join Panel for African American History Lecture

TPS Foundation executive director, Pamela Johnson Betts and two TPSF board members and former TPS administrators, Duke Palmer and Dale Cushinberry have been tapped to participate as panelists in an upcoming Juneteenth Committee African American history lecture series. The panelists will give a free, virtual presentation on Monday, January 25, at 6 p.m. on historically African American leaders, including Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr. with a modern-day perspective using Zoom. Click here for a flyer with more information and how to register for this event.

Inclement Weather Information

TPS Inclement Weather Updates

As the weather begins to cool, we want to update families and staff about our winter weather notification procedures. Due to a late start at the beginning of the school year, the district will now consider snow days as remote learning days. Families will receive notification about remote learning days due to winter weather through Blackboard messaging, we will also update the district social media, district website and contact our local media partners. For more information about remote learning day procedures, please contact your building principal.

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