Community News 2/26/21

Community News 2-26-21
Posted on 02/26/2021
Topeka Public Schools employees have been vaccinated

Community News

COVID-19 Staff Vaccinations

This month, over 1,500 Topeka Public Schools employees have been vaccinated. We are so thankful to all of our community partners for recognizing the need to protect K-12 educators so we can safely bring students back to in-person learning.

Message from the Superintendent

Dear Topeka Public Schools Family,

The last two weeks, our staff members who wanted the vaccine were vaccinated through the Shawnee County Health Department's initiative to vaccinate all public school staff. We thank all the individuals and agencies that partnered with us to prioritize the delivery of vaccines to our staff for their leadership, planning, and logistics that made it all possible.

This week, we celebrated National Public Schools Week and our Distinguished Staff Award Winners were surprised with flowers and balloons as we notified them they have been selected. Thank you for supporting our amazing educators in our public schools. Public schools are incredible places in part because of the diversity and support from parents across the community. In this edition, along with highlighting students and staff, we are also highlighting TPS parents who have been actively involved in community-wide family activities this season.

As we end February, we congratulate the many students who have taken the ACT this month and the numerous students who have scored almost a perfect score on the ACT. This year Topeka High has a record number of students scoring above a 30 on the ACT. Congratulations to all of our scholars, staff award recipients, and our families who also received community awards this month. The collective focus on service above self by all in our community makes Topeka an incredible place to live and grow.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson


Principal Aryn McCoy recieves her vaccination

TPS Staff Thankful to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

On Monday, February 15, Topeka Public Schools staff began getting the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Through a partnership with the Shawnee County Health Department in collaboration with the Governor's office, Stormont Vail Health, and The University of Kansas St. Francis Campus, over 500 doses of the vaccine were administered to TPS staff. Board President Dr. Scott Mickelson stated, "Thank you to our community partners, including local hospitals, health officials and Governor Kelly for making these vaccinations possible. I also want to acknowledge and thank all the healthcare workers for working so diligently to administer the vaccination to those at the greatest risk." Several TPS nurses also volunteered to administer vaccines at the Stormont Vail Events Center to honor our partnership. It is anticipated that the second dose will be administered in March for those that received the vaccine this week.

DSA Winners

Surprising the 2021 Distinguished Staff Award Winners

Throughout National Public Schools Week, the recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Staff Awards (DSA) were surprised with their awards. These 14 recipients have shown tremendous dedication and work ethic for Topeka Public Schools. The DSA is the highest award that a TPS staff member can receive. Listed below are all the winners and the category they won in:

  • Ms. Billie Wallace - District Administrator
  • Ms. Rebecca Morrisey - Building Leader
  • Ms. Lori Vawter - Classified Support Staff
  • Mr. Travis True - Certified Support Staff
  • Ms. Elissa Jones - High School Teacher
  • Ms. Jennifer Antonetti - Middle School Teacher
  • Ms. Amy Glinka - Elementary Teacher
  • Ms. Lydia Tuttle - First-Year Secondary Teacher
  • Mr. Austen Witte - First-Year Elementary Teacher
  • Ms. Erin Norwood - Paraprofessional
  • Ms. Katie Shiflett - Office Personnel
  • Ms. Amber Workman - Food Service
  • Ms. Joan Anderson - Custodial
  • Mr. Austin Brookshire - Operations

Check out our district's Facebook and Twitter pages to see videos and photos of the surprises. Congratulations DSA recipients! We will be honoring you virtually on April 27, 2021, starting at 6 p.m. Thank you for everything you do for TPS!

Miles Kusick and Charles White

TPS Students Awarded Grants for their Service Learning Projects

Two Topeka West High School students have received a combined $2,600 in grant funds to improve their school. Both students, sophomores Miles Cusick and Charles White, applied for the Stay785 grant funding available through the Topeka Youth Commission. That funding, up to $2,000 per project, is granted to students who apply and outline projects to help improve the community by keeping our youth in Topeka. Miles was granted $1,600 to build a lending library box and garden at the entrance of Topeka West. He even has plans to start a club at the school to take care of the garden. Charles plans on using his grant for $1,000 to paint murals on the concrete parking lot dividers on the west end of the campus. After the two grants were approved earlier this month, the two students will take the next few weeks to finish planning the projects and finalizing costs before starting work later in the spring. The two young men will be honored at the next Board of Education meeting on March 4, 2021. TPS is so proud of both of these students for their initiative and dedication to the district and we are so excited to see the completed projects!

Virtual School

Enroll Now in TPS Virtual School for the 2021-22 School Year

The Topeka Public Schools Virtual School is opening its doors to all Kansas districts in order to build a lasting partnership for the betterment of Kansas students and families. KSDE partnered with Topeka Public Schools to extend the virtual school to offer an elementary virtual program using Kansas state standards to any Kansas scholar. Elementary and secondary students have been highly successful using a virtual school aligned to Kansas Standards. TPS offers virtual education to elementary, middle and high school students currently and in 2021 any Kansas student may enroll in K-12.

TPS utilizes a KSDE-approved curriculum focusing on Kansas State Standards that prepares students for academic achievement and post-secondary opportunities. The program is staffed with highly qualified and certified educators ready to offer virtual academic support, in-person tutoring, SPED support, ELL support, and social-emotional learning. Data demonstrates this time-tested program decreases dropout rates and increases graduation rates. Schools that need a virtual option may enroll for the 2021-2022 school year.

Watch this video to view the virtual program serving elementary students in action and this video to see the enrollment process and what our virtual school has to offer. To learn more about registration and fees click here or contact Dr. Joy Grimes at [email protected], or Mrs. Lauren Frederic at [email protected].

February 2021 Equity Talks Zoom

TPS Equity Council Hosts Equity Talks

This month, Topeka Public Schools showcased a new installment of the district's ongoing equity series on February 16, with a panel of distinguished guests who were instrumental in supporting diversity and inclusion. The live event also included a Q&A session with the viewers. Panel members included former State Board of Education member Carolyn Wims-Campbell, former Highland Park High School Principal Dale Cushinberry, and staff from the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic site, among others who were the first to integrate public schools in their district. You can view the video of the event posted on the district Youtube channel.

National Public Schools Week

Celebrating National Public Schools Week

Topeka Public Schools believed in the power of public schools. This week, February 22-26, we have been celebrating Public Schools Week by recognizing educators that love Topeka Public Schools. Click here to visit our Facebook page, where can you find stories from educators and parents sharing why they love TPS! At TPS, our purpose is to engage, prepare and inspire our students, but our students also inspire us every single day. We wanted to show what it looks like when teachers tell students they are important and inspiring. As we realize the power of intentionally speaking life into young people, we wanted to give some of our teachers and students the same experience. View the video by clicking here.

Bryson Bullocks

Cap City Senior, Bryson Bullocks, Selected as February Senior of the Month

Bryson Bullocks, from Capital City High School, has been named Senior of the Month for February 2021. Many would describe Bryson as intelligent, polite, and responsible. Bryson is organized and always gets his work done in class. He is quiet and reserved but also advocates for himself and other students when needed. Bryson plans to pursue a career in the culinary arts after graduation. Congratulations, Bryson! We can't wait to see what you accomplish after leaving the halls of Capital City.

TCALC CNA Pathway, Simulated Lab

Find the Pathway to Your Dream Career at TCALC

Enroll in the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers (TCALC) for the 2021-2022 school year. TCALC provides students with the opportunity to pursue hands-on career experience in green energy and environmental science, medical and health professions, engineering and applied math, teaching as a profession and much more. At TCALC, students are taught to solve real-world problems in a setting that provides professional tools, resources, and teachers to prepare them to enter the career of their choosing. To learn more about TCALC, watch this video produced by a TCALC Web & Digital Communications Pathway student, Tyler Parucki. You can find more information on how to enroll in TCALC by visitng their website.

Greg Kriger

Quincy School Counselor Goes Above and Beyond

A TPS school counselor at Quincy Elementary School has been named the February Above and Beyond winner for his outstanding service to students during remote learning. Greg Kriger truly goes above and beyond to ensure students attend remote learning classes, even going as far as waking them up and getting them out of bed in the morning. Earlier this year, Quincy had about 25 students that would come to the building to participate in remote learning due to challenges at home that make it difficult or impossible to learn remotely. In addition to providing social-emotional support, Mr. Kriger volunteers to ride along on the bus routes every morning to ensure that the students make it on the bus. Thank you for your dedication to the students at Quincy Elementary, Mr. Kriger! Topeka Public Schools is lucky to have such amazing staff.

Jackson Bo Jensen

Jackson Bo Jensen, McCarter Elementary

Patrick Woods

Patrick Woods, Scott Dual Language Parent and Former BOE President

Father and Son Set Records in Regional Weightlifting

For one Topeka family, weightlifting has become a shared hobby that has led to multiple championship titles and record-setting performances. Jackson Bo Jenson, a nine-year-old student at McCarter Elementary, can already lift at an elite level despite only starting training in August 2020. It's easy to see where Jackson gets his natural talent, as recently both he and his father, Joe Jensen, competed at the USA Powerlifting Star City Showdown in Lincoln, Nebraska, and won first place in their respective categories.

Former TPS Board of Education President, Patrick Woods, also competed at the same meet, taking first place in his category, and all three of them set new state records. Since all three placed first in their categories they have been automatically qualified to compete in the national competition. Congratulations and best of luck as you all advance to nationals!


TPS Superintendent Advocates to Congress for Broadband Resources

Topeka Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Anderson was the educator invited to present to Congress on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, at their hearing "Connecting America: Broadband Solutions to Pandemic Problems." Dr. Anderson advocated for more resources for schools to address a shortage of devices and hotspots, and the need to offer greater connectivity through expanded broadband resources across all communities. Congress is considering a bill that would establish an Emergency Connectivity Fund through the E-rate program. Additionally, they are considering legislation to provide students and teachers with internet-connected devices and hotspots within 60 days of passing the legislation. This would support those schools still in the process of doing distance learning and work to close the connectivity gap. Additional legislation is being considered for the Indian Health Service (IHS) for IT, telehealth, and electronic health records infrastructure. One of the national articles that summarize some of the issues discussed can be viewed by clicking on the broadband article. If you missed the original hearing, you can view Dr. Anderson's testimony and additional comments during the hearing. Topeka Public Schools will continue to advocate locally and nationally for expanded resources for all students.

Topeka High School 150th

Planning Underway for Topeka High's 150th Birthday Celebration

Topeka High School is celebrating a monumental event this year, its 150th anniversary on September 17, 2021. To celebrate, the Topeka High Historical Society is planning events like a concert and a birthday party at the high school organized by THS alumni. Executive Secretary for the Society, Joan Barker, said this year's celebration is all about bringing the community together. To stay informed on updates for this celebration, visit

Take the DCAC Mental Health Parent Survey

The District Citizen's Advisory Council (DCAC) Mental Health Study Topic Committee is actively researching "Mental Health Services for Students Amid and After a Pandemic" on behalf of the TPS 501 Board of Education. An essential part of the research is an online Parent Survey. This short survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. Your opinion matters to TPS.

TPSF Logo 2021

TPSF Executive Director Featured in Community Video

Pamela Johnson-Betts, who serves as the TPS Foundation Executive Director was recently featured in a Stormont Vail Regional Health Black History video. Her message highlighted the importance of establishing enduring and culturally relevant relationships that can specifically lead to enhanced hospital services and generally elevate individual health community-wide. Ms. Johnson-Betts has served on the hospitals' board of directors for twenty years and is the first African American woman to be appointed to serve as a hospital board of director member.

Shawnee County 2021 Health Needs Assessment

Take the Shawnee County Health Needs Assessment

Improving the health of our community is our priority as health professionals in Shawnee County. To better address the needs of the community, Stormont Vail Health, Heartland Healthy Neighborhood, and the Shawnee County Health Department (SCHD) need your input. We are collaborating to perform a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for the residents of Shawnee County, with the goal to understand the scope of wellness in the community and the challenges in reaching optimal health.

Your input is vital to this conversation. We developed a short online survey, available in both English and Spanish, to receive feedback from you about health needs affecting you and your family. It will take less than 10 minutes, and all responses are confidential.

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