HCPS 411 Update

May 19, 2022

COVID-19 Updates

As inquiries increase about COVID due to rising positivity and classroom outbreaks, here are a few important reminders:

  • The CDC currently lists Harford County as low on the Community Levels tool for COVID-19. This tool considers the impact of hospitalizations, and the number of new cases experienced in a county. The tool updates on Thursday evenings and is being actively monitored.
  • School-Specific Outbreak Data: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/school-resources.
  • To view the current HCPS Operational Status (as of April 1, 2022), please click here.


From the Harford County Health Department: Free at-home iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Tests and KN95 masks will be given away on Sunday, May 22, 2022, at the MDOT MVA VEIP station in Forest Hill (1631 Robin Circle), 9:00-11:00 a.m. or while supplies last. This is a drive through event.

Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson

The next Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson is scheduled for Thursday, May 26, from 12:15-12:30 p.m. Click here to join the LIVE event on May 26.

Open Enrollment Will End Soon!

The deadline to enroll or make changes is 11:59 p.m., Monday, May 23.


IMPORTANT NOTICES:

  • May 9, 2022 – May 23, 2022
  • The rate for Basic Life Insurance will increase from $0.174/$1,000 to $0.236/$1,000 (the Board pays 90% of the premium for eligible employees’ basic life insurance coverage).
  • There are no premium changes for medical, dental, or supplemental and dependent life insurance.
  • There are no changes to the designs of the medical, dental, or life insurance plans.


There are only four (4) days of Open Enrollment remaining. Do not miss your chance to make changes to your election options without having experienced a qualifying life event. The deadline to complete your enrollment is 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 23.


Unless you login to your account and actively select and submit a change, your current health, dental, and life elections will carry over to the 2022 - 2023 benefit plan year. If you currently carry the flexible spending benefit and want to do so again for the following benefit plan year, you will need to complete an active enrollment through your account at hcps.benelogic.com before 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 23.


Looking for more information? The 2022 - 2023 Benefit Reference Guide is now available on the HCPS website at https://www.hcps.org. Please take the time to review the guide now to be ready to make changes to your elections at hcps.benelogic.com.

To log into your account through Benelogic:

1. Using a computer with the internet, visit hcps.benelogic.com.

2. Enter your User ID, which is your HCPS 5-digit Employee ID number.

3. Enter your password. If you do not know your password, click on the “Forgot User ID/Password” link for further assistance.

4. Click the orange “Sign In” button.

5. Click on the large green “GO” arrow to start your enrollment.

6. Once you have reached the end, click the Submit button to finalize your enrollment.

7. Print a copy of the Enrollment Summary for your records.


Life Insurance Change Requests:

If you elect to enroll in or increase your life insurance benefits during the open enrollment, you will immediately be prompted to complete the brief MetLife Statement of Health questionnaire. Upon completion, if approved, this information will not be immediately reflected in your Benelogic portal. To continue to move through your open enrollment elections, you must select to keep the election at your current coverage level. MetLife will notify the Benefits Office of your approval and coverage level. At this point, the Benefits Office will administratively add the benefit to your profile in Benelogic. If you receive a pending status notice after completing your Statement of Health questionnaire, to continue to move through your open enrollment elections, you must select to keep the election at your current coverage level. If your approval notice from MetLife comes after open enrollment has ended, since your election was made during the open enrollment period, your coverage will fall within the eligibility window to add to your benefit plan offerings.


Questions? Contact the Benefits Office by email at benefits@hcps.org.

Blueprint Career Ladder Highlight

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Blueprint) legislation contains requirements for school districts to create a Career Ladder to elevate the teaching profession, to encourage qualified teachers to stay in the classroom, and to ensure diversity within our staff. The Blueprint Career Ladder sub-committee is chaired by Mae Alfree, Director of Staff & Labor Relations, HCPS, and Toni Shivery, Vice President of Human Resources, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health.


Here are resources to support your knowledge of Blueprint Career Ladder:

HCPS Blue Print Career Ladder

FY23 Payroll Calendar

The FY23 Payroll Calendar is now available. It is on SharePoint and can be accessed by clicking here. If you have any questions, please contact your Payroll Specialist. Click here to find the Payroll Specialist for your location. Not sure who to contact? Send your question to Payroll at Payroll@hcps.org.

Teacher Tour, Presented by 5xStronger

The Teacher Tour, presented by the 2021 Teacher of the Year finalists, known as 5xStronger, recognizes and celebrates some of the fantastic and extraordinary teachers in our schools. Each month, nominations are accepted for teachers who are doing an outstanding job in a specific area. One winning teacher will be selected each month! The winning teacher will receive a surprise visit from the 5xStronger team and a special gift from one of our community partners.

For their fifth stop, 5xStronger recognized Karen Louderback, of Fountain Green Elementary School!


“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

-Benjamin Franklin


Engaged students are interested in the content, involved in the lesson, and invested in their learning. Engaging classrooms often have students that are excited, curious, and committed to learning. These classrooms can be identified by a positive and energetic environment, resulting in a deeper understanding and a higher level of retention.


Click here for more information and to see all of this month’s nominees!


A big, heartfelt thank you to our program sponsor, APGFCU, for their donations to our program!

HCPStories: Mijiza Green - Understand your Purpose

Join us as we get to know more about Mijiza Green, who is changing lives every day at Magnolia Middle School! Ms. Green started volunteering for HCPS when she created the Treasured Jewels program for young women. While the program grew, Ms. Green found her purpose. We're very excited to bring this #HCPStories to you and hope you take Ms. Green's advice to "Be the best version of you," because you never know what someone is going through to get to their destination!
HCPStories: Mijiza Green - Understand your Purpose

Fallston High School German Teacher Celebrates 50 Years at HCPS

May 17, 2022, was officially declared “Herr Rick Jones Day” at Fallston High School.

A brief but heartfelt ceremony was held at the school to commemorate an accomplishment that no other high school teacher in Harford County has ever achieved. Mr. Richard Jones is completing his 50th year of teaching German at HCPS!

Rick Jones began his teaching career in 1972 teaching German at Bel Air High school until five years later when he left Bel Air to open Fallston High School in 1977. Herr Jones has spent the last 45 years teaching German, coaching tennis for several seasons, and directing 28 theatrical performances on the Fallston stage including “Little Women: The Musical” just a few weeks ago.

Hundreds of people attended the ceremony as gifts were bestowed upon Herr Jones in appreciation and admiration of his amazing accomplishment. In addition to a beautiful award declaring May 17th “Rick Jones Day,” Herr Jones was presented with a stunning wooden box beautifully ornated with the German flag painted on top. Inside the decorative box were dozens of letters written by former and current colleagues as well as students from Herr Jones’s past.

Superintendent Bulson commended Herr Jones on his passion and dedication to the thousands of students that he has taught over the past five decades. Some of these past students include the parents and even the grandparents of some of the students who were in attendance.

During the conclusion of the ceremony, Herr Jones put to rest any conversation about retirement as he announced that he would be returning to Fallston for his 51st year to the cheers of everyone in attendance.

Congratulations to the May Limelight Honorees!

Congratulations to all of the May honorees highlighted below! And a special thank you to this month's sponsor, Harford Bank. In addition to their certificate and car magnet, eight lucky winners chosen by random draw received gift certificates and giveaways from Harford Bank:

  • Nicole Venters – Joppatowne High
  • Lori Schoendienst – Bel Air Elementary
  • Lauren Kregel – Ring Factory Elementary
  • Tovah Ferullo – Abingdon Elementary
  • Maria Diamond – William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary
  • Alexandra Wimbrough – George D. Lisby Elementary
  • Christina Calabrese – Magnolia Elementary
  • Michael Von Volen – Bel Air High
Big picture

The New MSDE Certification System is Live!

MSDE has released The Educator Application and Certification Hub (TEACH). Existing applicants and certificate holders will need to complete a one-time registration by visiting https://certificationhub.msde.maryland.gov. You will be required to upload verification of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. Verification of your identification must be completed before any service or request can be completed. When registering, please ensure your email address is updated. The Certification Department will provide updates and notification to teachers through TEACH as well as your HCPS email. TEACH requires educators to submit an application/request for initial certification, renewal of a certificate, adding an endorsement or name change. This must be done on MSDE TEACH through the educator’s dashboard.


Any questions regarding certification must still be directed to the HCPS Certification Department:

New Investment Committee Member

The Investment Committee is seeking at-large members to serve on the committee. The committee meets virtually from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. two times per year, with additional meetings as needed. All HCPS employees are eligible to serve on the committee as long as they are active participants in either one or both of the 403b or 457 plans.


The Committee has the authority, duty and responsibility to:

1.) Select the funding vehicles available under the Plans.

2.) Monitor and evaluate the performance of the funding vehicles and the Plans’ investment line-up.

3.) Remove and replace funding vehicles available under the Plan.

4.) Retain an advisor to assist the Committee in the exercise of its authority, duty and responsibilities.


Please contact Deborah Judd, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services, if you are interested in serving on this committee or have questions regarding this information: Deborah.Judd@hcps.org or 410-588-5321.

Diversity 365 - May

Join us as we continue to shine the light on how HCPS celebrates Diversity throughout the year. Each month, we will highlight a cultural/organizational holiday. All you have to do is take a picture or two and share the wonderful things your school or office is doing to celebrate the contributions we all make to HCPS.


This month, we are celebrating:

Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage

Jewish American Heritage


Please email your celebration pictures and a brief write up regarding the event to Sherron Foster-Moore, Diversity Retention & Recruitment Specialist, at sherron.fostermoore@hcps.org by Friday, May 27.


This month’s submissions will be shared in the June 2nd edition of the HCPS 411 Update.

Equity Chats

The Office of Equity and Cultural Proficiency hosts monthly Virtual Equity Chats this school year. This is an opportunity to speak frankly about topics of equity and cultural proficiency. The next chat will be held on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. For this chat, bring questions or topics that YOU want to chat about with the group. We will provide time for participants to weigh in on topics/questions and break into small groups when appropriate. Use this link to register to attend the chat no later than May 24, 2022, at 3:00 p.m.: https://forms.office.com/r/BrWxK5iMky.


Also, if you would like to lead future Equity Chats or have topics in mind, please reach out to Kimberly Sullivan at Kimberly.Sullivan@hcps.org.

Joppatowne High Junior Wins Congressional Art Contest

Shout out and congratulations to Joppatowne High School junior Amiera Celian, who won the 2022 Congressional Art Contest for U.S. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger! Amiera’s art teacher is Ms. Cynthia Hendrick.


Amiera’s work will be featured in an exhibit in the Cannon House Office Building tunnel that leads to the U.S. Capitol.


This nationwide high school arts competition is held each spring and is sponsored by the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. This event, first introduced in 1982, allows high school students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and U.S. territories to showcase their artistic ability. A panel of professional judges from the local art community selects the winner.


Way to go, Amiera and Ms. Hendrick!

Littles University

Calling all Littles University Scholars! It's time to announce our June book! Thanks to our partners at the Harford County Education Foundation (HCEF), our next book is, "There is a Bird on Your Head!" by Mo Willem. This book reunites us with our friends, Elephant and Piggie! Be sure to visit the HCEF website and register as soon as possible, as quantities are limited. Then, join us online June 8 for a special message from Mrs. Lader, Manager of Communications. Know anyone else with a child anywhere from birth to age 5? Tell them about Littles University and make sure they get their copy of our latest book, too!
Big picture

Mark Your Calendar: Churchville Elementary is Celebrating 90 Years of Charging Toward Excellence

Big picture

Here’s A Little Treat Just For YOU

Presented by BurnAlong Virtual Wellness Portal

You are doing awesome, and the weekend is almost here! Enjoy some rejuvenation in under 10 minutes with the most popular classes others at Harford County Public Schools have enjoyed this month.

As a reminder, BurnAlong is our health and wellness partner who provides you and your family with access to 1,000’s of online classes from 1,000+ local instructors at no cost to you. To activate your complimentary account, get started by visiting https://fit.burnalong.com/hcps. If you have any trouble accessing your account, contact customercare@burnalong.com.


Find out more about BurnAlong in this brief video.

Upcoming Webinar Workshop: Retirewise

Get your finances on track with the Retirewise workshop presented by MetLife.


With Retirewise, you’ll be on your way to making smarter financial decisions and creating an action plan that works for you. From budgeting and building an emergency fund to determining your investment options and creating a will, there’s something for everyone to learn.


Workshop Details:

Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Time: 5:00–6:00 p.m. EST


If asked for the company name, enter Harford County Public Schools.


Click here to reserve your spot! Register online now. Space may be limited.


On the fence? Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect. Spouses and partners are welcome! For more information, click here.

CareFirst Wellness Announcements: Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month

To be healthy as a whole, mental health takes a role. Our emotional, social, and psychological wellbeing affects how we think, feel, and act. After the last two years, many are realizing just how much of an impact stress, isolation and uncertainty have taken on all of us. That’s why it is important we all take the time to support our own mental health. To learn more, click here to view CareFirst’s May Wellness Newsletter.


May Recipe of the Month: Antioxidant-rich Berry Smoothie: Click here to learn more and try this delicious dish.

EAP Webinar: The Importance of Sleep on Your Overall Health

Presented by KEPRO Employee Assistance Program


The May KEPRO EAP resources are here. If you are someone who experiences sleeplessness, the good news is that there are minor changes you can make to improve your sleep. This session will explore strategies to start a healthy bedtime routine to help you reduce stress and improve your well-being. Click here to learn more.


Date: Available on demand NOW

Broadcast Length: 50 minutes
How to Access: Go to your EAP website: www.EAPHelpLink.com. Enter your code: HCPS and look for Online Seminars in the lower left-hand corner of this homepage, or you can search for them by title.


The Employee Assistance Program is available to employees and their families anytime, any day, and is a free, confidential program to help you balance your work, family, and personal life.


Employees and their family members can call KEPRO 24-hours per day, 7 days per week toll-free at (866) 795-5701 to visit their website online at www.EAPhelplink.com.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Your EAP is Here to Help

The importance of addressing emotional wellness has never been so great. Mental health is a critical part of overall health. Everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their personal well-being. Don’t wait if you are finding yourself struggling. Commit to prioritizing yourself this month. Contact KEPRO Employee Assistance Program (EAP) today for help with the following and more.


24/7 Support – The EAP is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to help you connect with a counselor either in-person or virtually to discuss your concerns. Household members and dependent children are also eligible for counseling. EAP counseling is solution-focused to bring measurable improvement to your situation.


Grief and Loss Support – The past few years have been complicated when dealing with grief and loss. Even if you have not lost someone from the pandemic, many are mourning the loss of a pre-pandemic lifestyle and events that could not take place. KEPRO can help you work through emotions that may be causing you distress.


Confidential Support – Confidentiality is the cornerstone of your EAP. What is shared in your sessions is protected information, with some exceptions around safety, which your counselor will review.


Anxiety and Depression Assistance – How do you know if you are experiencing anxiety or depression, and when is it time to get professional help? Perhaps you are finding yourself turning to drugs or alcohol to help you cope. Not sure where to begin to get a handle on things? The first step is reaching out to the EAP for guidance. We can help point you in the right direction.


Daily Living Support The stress associated with daily life can be overwhelming at times. KEPRO is here to alleviate your burdens when getting items checked off your list. Contact KEPRO, and they can conduct searches for resources and get this off your plate, whether you’re looking for a new gym, dog walker, realtor, moving company, party planner, or house cleaner.


Legal Support Almost half of the employees who take unscheduled time off work do so to deal with legal-related problems, while 70% of the population doesn’t obtain help due to the cost. Through KEPRO, you have access to a free 30-minute legal consultation with an attorney who has expertise in your matter, with a 25% reduction in their hourly rate should you choose to retain the attorney.


Financial Support – Financial struggles are rated as one of the most significant sources of stress for individuals. Let one of our financial advisors assess your specific concerns and help you determine the most appropriate way to manage your financial situation. Take advantage of this free service and put a plan in place today.


Resources at Your FingertipsWhether you are looking for information about wills, daycare options for your child, or seeking more information about depression, anxiety, or living a healthier lifestyle. Your EAP Website has many resources available for you and your loved ones. KEPRO EAP also offers webinars and training on timely topics to help you manage the work/life challenges we face. Log on and check out what is available.

Shout Outs!

"I would like to shout out the unsung hero of subs, Melissa McKay. Finding, assigning, and organizing substitutes and coverage is no easy task, ever-changing, and can be quite stressful. Thank you for doing this thankless job every day, while always reminding us our health is important, too. You are wonderful and we are lucky to have you."

-Liz Nemeth, Seventh Grade Social Studies, Havre de Grace Middle School


"Shout out to Christina Alton, Kay Malone, and Buck Hennigan in Student Services for their ongoing support of schools during a crisis. I would especially like to recognize their recent response to the Bel Air community and the loss that they experienced. A response team was assembled and these three dropped everything to start and finish their day in the school. The guidance, leadership, and hands-on approach they take help provide the necessary support for staff and students. Thank you! You all make help make HCPS better with your kindness and dedication."

-Craig Malone, PPW, Edgewood/Aberdeen area


"A big shout-out to Wayne Boyer in Transportation for going above and beyond this year to support our school, our drivers, our students, and our families! He is always willing to problem solve, provide answers in a timely manner, and maintains a positive attitude. Thank you so much, Wayne!"

-Meridith Dunlap and Jacqueline Fisher, Ring Factory Elementary School

"We want to give a HUGE shoutout to Laurie Kretschman at Abingdon Elementary School. Not only does she support our reading students at AES, but she is a ‘Time Traveler’ on the weekends. She helped our 4th graders celebrate the end of their ‘Reading History’ unit by providing us answers to all our burning questions. Laurie recreated history by dressing the part, bringing in common items, and sharing about the lives of a colonial. She sparked their curiosity to want to continue research on their own."

-Rebecca Meister, 4th Grade Teacher, Abingdon Elementary School

"Facilities team members Ken Earle and Dave O’Neill saved the day at Harford Glen on Thursday, May 12, when two 30-day old fox kits were trapped in the Ice House. The curious kits had found a hole in the rock foundation of the Ice House and shimmied in only to find it led to a 18 foot drop. The pit is lined with rocks, which made it impossible for the kits to escape on their own. Ken and Dave arrived quickly and went right to work devising a plan to get into the pit and trap the kits. Within 10 minutes of descending down the ladder, Ken and Dave had caught both kits. They kindly restacked props the kits had knocked over in their panic and retrieved the various items students had dropped down the pit while observing. The kits were assessed and found to have healthy coats and were not dehydrated or injured. The fox kits were reunited with their littermates and mother who have a den nearby. Ken and Dave provided amazing customer service and handled what could have been a tragic situation with care and respect."

-The Outdoor Education Team at Harford Glen


Fox photographs taken by Harford Glen volunteer and HCPS substitute Joe Subolefsky. These are the same fox kits involved in the Ice House incident.

Big picture
Big picture

Welcome to HCPS!

Please join us in welcoming the following new hires to the HCPS family:

  • Jeremy Caughron, Custodian I - Shift 2, Harford Technical High School
  • Lisa Johnson, Inclusion Helper, Bel Air High School
  • Jennifer Musser, Administrative Support Assistant, Southampton Middle School
  • Dasha Casciero, Paraeducator, Forest Lakes Elementary School
  • Stacey Wise, Administrative Support Assistant, George D. Lisby Elementary School at Hillsdale
  • Lisa Walls, School Bus Attendant, Transportation Department
  • Earnestine Collins, Custodian II - Shift 2, Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School
  • Tamara Bauer, Administrative Support Technician - School Counseling, Bel Air High School

Office of Communications and Family Outreach

Editor: Lindsay Bilodeau, communications specialist


To submit an HCPS Shout Out or recognize a colleague in the Spotlight on Customer Service, please email the information and photo (if available) to HCPS.411@hcps.org.