HCPS 411 Update

November 4, 2021

COVID-19 Status and Updates

The current COVID-19 transmission status for Harford County, as determined by the CDC, is “substantial.” To view the CDC Data Tracker, please visit: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view.

As a reminder, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to COVID-19 protocols may be found here: Parents/Guardians, School-Based Employees, and Non-School Based Employees.

Other resources regarding HCPS COVID-19 safety protocols can be found both on hcps.org under COVID Resources and on SharePoint here.

October Monthly Minute

Were you unable to join the Monthly Minute live last week? No worries - we have you covered! Click below to watch Dr. Bulson's latest Monthly Minute message from October 28, 2021.

To view a complete archive of all past Monthly Minute videos, visit the Monthly Minute page on our website by clicking here.

Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson. October 2021

November 12, 2021 is a Systemwide Professional Learning Day in HCPS

The intent of the day is to have staff (including administrators, clerical staff, counselors, educational support professionals, psychologists, related service providers, teachers, and social workers) engage in professional learning experiences around their own professional goals. HCPS will offer a keynote and a variety of synchronous, live choice sessions for participants to choose.

From 8:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., participants can engage in professional learning by accessing live, virtual choice sessions. A full conference booklet with directions and all session choices can be accessed here: November 12, 2021 Professional Development.

In addition, participants can create their own learning experiences to meet their current goals. For example, participants have the flexibility to schedule blocks of time for:

  • Collaborative Planning (with all safety guidelines in place)
  • Individual Planning
  • Grading and Reporting activities
  • Completion of job-required documents such as Special Education related paperwork
  • Reading of professional journals, articles, and books
  • Engagement in online learning modules offered through professional organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Teaching Tolerance, SAVVAS, Lucy Calkins and The TCRWP Colleagues, the National Art Educator Association, the Maryland State Department of Education, etc.
  • Reflection on current practice
  • Research on tools, techniques, and strategies relative to essential job functions
  • Classroom and resource set up and organization
  • Other self-identified professional tasks

Staff may choose to engage in the professional learning events from their school workspace or remotely. Schools and Offices will be closed to visitors to allow for participation in the professional learning. Phone and in-person coverage at all buildings will resume on Monday, November 15, 2021.

The Professional Development Day runs from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a one-hour duty-free lunch.

Registration is not required for any session. Most workshops will be offered through Microsoft Teams which has a cap of 500 participants. If a session has reached 500, anyone additional trying to join will receive a message on the screen that the session is full. We will be closely monitoring these messages so that we may determine if additional sections or times will need to be offered.

Questions about this day can be directed to HCPSProfessionalLearning@hcps.org.

Get S’More Out of Teaching – A Unique Professional Development for 1st and 2nd Year HCPS Instructional Staff

Join the Teacher of the Year (TOY) groups and many of your fellow first- and second-year hires around the campfire at Harford Glen for some fun, food, and fellowship on November 16 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. We will gather to meet with other teachers, share stories, and build connections. We hope that you walk away feeling heard and seen for the incredible work that you are doing each and every day with students. As a TOY team, they hope to walk away with ideas for how they can further support you in your journey with Harford County Public Schools. Please sign up for this paid event using the link in the flier.

Learning Management Systems Presentations

All instructional staff are invited to preview the two Learning Management Systems that are being evaluated as a replacement for itslearning. The recordings from the Canvas and Schoology presentations, as well as a feedback form, will be available on the front page of the Instructional Technology SharePoint page. Staff will have an opportunity to provide input until November 12, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. This input will be used along with other evaluation measures to determine the Learning Management System that will be implemented in Harford County Public Schools as of July 1, 2022.

November is Assistive Technology Awareness Month

November is Assistive Technology (AT) Awareness Month. In celebration of this event, we would like to remind everyone the importance of assistive technology.

Assistive technology comes in many forms and can be personalized to fit everyone’s needs and preferences. Watch this short video to learn more about assistive technology.

Many people are unsure of what assistive technology is exactly or what types of items can be considered assistive technology. According to the federal definition, assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities. (Federal Register, August 19, 1991, p. 41272).

In short, determining if a device can be considered a piece of assistive technology depends on how the device is being used, therefore, any item can be considered a piece of assistive technology. Assistive technology can apply across the entire school day and be used in many environments. AT can address the needs in Communication, Reading, Writing, Study Skills, Math, Organization Skills, Environmental Control, Employment Skills and Activities of Daily Living.

Additionally, AT can be thought of as a range of devices that include Low or No Tech, Mid-Tech and High-Tech solutions. Individuals may often use a variety of tools to help complete tasks, interact with communication partners, and promote self-independence. Assistive technology is something that can be available throughout our lifetime and empower us to be successful in careers, communities, and continued educational opportunities.

Did you know?

Great Tools for All – these are available in HCPS for ALL students and staff. The Texthelp Read and Write Toolbar and EquatIO Marh Spaces ensure that built in accessibility features are available. Want to learn more about them? Use the Assistive Technology Request Form linked below and check the option for Staff Assistance.

Assistive Technology Request Form​

Professional Development Announcements

McDaniel College – Virtual Open House

McDaniel College will hold an information session for their spring offerings on Wednesday, November 10, at 4:30 p.m. Click here for flier and to register.

PARAPRO Assessment Opportunities – November 12, 2021

With principal approval, the ParaPro Assessment will be available to all HCPS employees seeking to meet the highly qualified requirements of paraeducator positions in Harford County, which permits an individual to work with students in the classrooms under the direction of the teacher.

The test measures skills and knowledge in reading, math, and writing as well as the ability to apply those skills and knowledge to assist in classroom instruction. Test administration is scheduled for November 12, 2021. The test will be offered in two sessions: 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at C. Milton Wright High School, located at 1301 North Fountain Green Road, Bel Air, MD 21015. Please sign-up and pay for the assessment on HECTOR.

Additional information related to the test, procedures for reimbursement, test prep/review and the MD passing score requirements are also available on the HR site: HERE.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Pauline Timmons, in Special Education, at Pauline.Timmons@hcps.org or 410-588-5246.

New Scholarship Opportunity for Aspiring Teachers of the Visually Impaired

On behalf of Assistant State Superintendent Marcella E. Franczkowski, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Division of Early Intervention and Special Education Services (DEI/SES) is pleased to announce a partnership with the National Federation of the Blind to provide scholarships to 15 aspiring Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) in Maryland. This partnership will provide full-tuition scholarships for up to 15 current teachers to earn a Graduate Certificate in Visual Impairments through Louisiana Tech University and receive Maryland TVI certification.

The two-year program will begin in Spring 2022 and include primarily virtual coursework, as well as several weekends of in-person training and collaboration opportunities held in Baltimore. Participants must be certified to teach in Maryland in any grade level and content area and do not need to have prior experience working with the blind and low vision student population.

The comprehensive scholarship program includes:

  • 100% of tuition costs (not including fees and books)
  • Mentoring through the National Federation of the Blind
  • In-person meetings conducted in Baltimore within a community of practice
  • Access to information and resources through the National Federation of the Blind and the Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Applicants must:

  • Currently hold a teaching certificate
  • Agree to teach Blind and low vision students in Maryland for at least three years upon completion of this endorsement, and meet all the entrance requirements of the Louisiana Tech program

To learn more about this exciting opportunity and the application process, follow the link: https://nfb.org/programs-services/education/narrowing-gap-blind-and-low-vision-students-maryland-teacher.

The DEI/SES invites and encourages you to share the application with your teacher community and spread the word about this great opportunity to build Maryland’s capacity to support our blind and low vision student population.

Staff Wellness Program Webpage

We are excited to announce the launch of the HCPS Staff Wellness Program webpage! On this page, you will find a calendar of health and wellness events and webinars, helpful links to online fitness programs and challenges, employee assistance information, mental health videos, and more! Each month, this page will be updated to include the most up-to-date health and wellness information. If you are interested in receiving HCPS Wellness emails, we encourage you to sign-up for those emails when visiting the Staff Wellness Program webpage.

CareFirst Wellness Announcements

November is recognized as National Diabetes Month. Did you know nearly 34.2 million adults in the United States have this condition, and about 1 in 5 of them don’t even know they have it? The good news? An individual can avoid or significantly reduce their risk of developing complications with lifestyle modifications. This month’s wellness newsletter focuses on prediabetes, preventing diabetes, risk factors, and CareFirst Resources available to members. Click here to view CareFirst’s November Wellness Newsletter. Click here to view the Know Diabetes by Heart info sheet available on the HCPS Staff Wellness webpage.

CareFirst ShareCare Recipe of the Month: Stuffed Acorn Squash with Apples & Cranberries

Acorn squash on its own is delicious; stuff it with seasonal fruit and ground turkey and you’ve got a healthy main course that is sure to become a family favorite. Click here to view the recipe for this delicious meal.

Gratitude Challenge through BurnAlong

BurnAlong is hosting a month-long Gratitude Challenge starting on November 15. Focus on Gratitude this November with a new challenge from BurnAlong! Join others from HCPS and other organizations on a four week journey to discover the power of practicing gratitude and mindfulness in your every day life. To view November’s Wellness Calendar and learn more about this program and how to participate click here.

Save the Date: On November 17, BurnAlong will be hosting a live event through their portal on healthy eating. More information to come.

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 complementary 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.

CLICK HERE to watch this quick two-minute video to help get started with your online member portal.

Caring for Our Elders

Presented by KEPRO Employee Assistance Program

The November KEPRO EAP communication resources are here! Is it time for you to approach conversation with your family about aging? Find out more about the aging process and how to both practically and emotionally care for elderly relatives. Click here for more tips on how better embrace each other’s differences.

Date: Available on demand beginning November 16, 2021

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, seven days per week toll free at (866) 795-5701 to visit their website online at www.EAPhelplink.com.

Registration Now Open: Annual Fall Pre-Retirement Webinar

Through the Maryland State Retirement Agency and the Community College of Baltimore County, Harford County Public Schools announces a pre-retirement webinar for HCPS employees and their spouses. This webinar provides vital retirement information to all members who are within eight (8) years of retirement, whether it is normal service or early retirement. Discussion topics include:

  • HCPS Retiree Benefits
  • State Retirement Pension Benefits
  • Legal Consideration
  • Social Security Benefits
  • Financial Planning

This year’s pre-retirement session will be held virtually on November 6, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. To register:

  • Click here to go to the Pre-Retirement Webinar Pre-Retirement Planning Registration portal.
  • Click the “Select” button.
  • Click "Register for Selected Courses."
  • You will be redirected to the login page. If you have previously attended a Pre-Retirement Seminar or other class at CCBC, log in using your current username and password. Not sure what your username and password are? No problem, call at 443.840.5059 and let our call center register you for course number/CRN 73804.
    If this is your first Pre-Retirement Seminar, click the "New Account" button on the right-hand side of the screen. Fill out your information (anything in red is required information) and choose Submit.
  • After you have registered for the seminar, choose "Finalize Selection" and print your confirmation.
  • You will receive an email confirmation of your registration within three business days. You will receive instructions on how to join the webinar two days prior to the event.

If you are unable to register online or by phone at 443.840.5059, please complete the highlighted sections on this form and email it to Sarah Moore at scullip@ccbcmd.edu.

Upcoming Webinar: Understanding Social Security

In partnership with MetLife, HCPS is offering employees the opportunity to participate in a webinar to help better understand the nuances of Social Security. The more you know about Social Security, the better chance you have of getting the most out of it. In this webinar, you will learn how it can pay to delay your benefits, the effective of earned income and how benefits are taxed, and the next steps you can take to create an income strategy.

Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Time: 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

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

The Season of Giving - Central Office Food and Coat Drives

The holiday season is a time of year many families are unable to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal and gift giving due to financial hardship. From now through November 19, the HCPS Office of Title I will collect nonperishable food items and monetary donations. Nonperishables may be dropped off in the A. A. Roberty Building lobby Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monetary donations may be made at the A. A. Roberty Building in cash or check made out to Harford County Public Schools. Monetary donations can be made Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Please ask for Pam Smith, HCPS Homeless Liaison, to deliver your monetary donation. All funds will be used to purchase food items for families in Harford County.

A winter coat and toy drive will run from November 1 through December 17, 2021. Coats and toys will be delivered to Harford County families for the holiday season. All coat sizes will be accepted. Toys should be unwrapped and can be for all ages. A box will be in the lobby of the A. A. Roberty Building for donations.

Submissions Sought for Harford County Veterans Photo Gallery of Honor

Harford County’s award-winning Photo Gallery of Honor is back this November to recognize veterans for their military service. The photo gallery will include veterans, living or deceased, and will be published every day during the month of Veterans Day. Local veterans, and family members who wish to honor them, are invited to participate by submitting a photo, preferably in uniform, and information about their service.

Submission forms and instructions are posted on the county website.

Photos will be posted on the Facebook page for the Harford County James V. “Capt’n Jim” McMahan Commission on Veterans Affairs and on the county website at https://www.harfordcountymd.gov/927/Commission-on-Veterans-Affairs.

Thanks for helping to support Harford veterans!

Harford County Veterans Resource Fair Saturday, Nov. 13; Giveaways, Discounts & BBQ Lunch!

Harford County veterans, all military, and their families are welcome to this one-stop event for information about veterans’ healthcare and benefits, printed guides to resources and local businesses that offer veteran discounts & more. Harford County veterans can also enter a drawing for a big screen TV and one of three $250 gift cards sponsored by APG Federal Credit Union. A grab-and-go lunch from Mission BBQ will be provided. Masks will be required indoors.

The Harford County Veterans Resource Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 13 at the Bel Air Armory, 37 N. Main Street. The theme of this year’s fair is “Veterans Mental Health, From Awareness to Action.” Click here for details:


We hope to see you there!

The Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation wants to hear from you!

The Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation is working on the 2022 Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plan (2022 LPPRP). The Plan is an element of the Harford NEXT Master Plan, which refines and implements the goals of Harford NEXT. This update process is required by the State of Maryland for continued participation in Program Open Space, a major funding source for parkland acquisition and development.

As part of the process, the Department of Parks and Recreation has created an online public input survey concerning our parks, facilities, and recreation program needs throughout Harford County. The survey is located at - Harford County Open Space & Recreation Survey (surveymonkey.com). The needs assessment survey is available now and will be available through Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

Once this needs assessment is complete, the Department will create a draft plan that will be made available for comment in early 2022. Ultimately, the 2022 LPPRP will be presented to the Harford County Council for final approval.

Shout Outs!

"I would like to recognize Jill Matteson, Swan Creek School e-learning paraeducator! Jill has been terrific working with a variety of students, and she is always willing to go above and beyond. Whether she is translating a story into Chinese to assist an ESOL student, patiently re-reading directions, or providing a safe, quiet space in which a student can work, I know that I can always count on Mrs. Matteson to do her best to help all our students. Kudos!"

-Lisa Mullen, Grades 7/8 RELA Teacher, Swan Creek School

"Gail Moody and Kathy Moyer(Administrative Assistants) at Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School would like to give a huge Shout Out to Lisa Jones in Technology. She is KIND always. She is PATIENT always. She always has the answer, and if not, she finds it out. We cannot say Thank You enough. When things get extremely busy and frustrating, she is a welcome voice on the other end!"

"Shout out to Jen Kline and Andrew Webster at Aberdeen High School! Our technology gurus have helped to ensure a successful quarter one start for the AHS Eagles. They have been instrumental in the roll out of the one-to-one device allocation. As new students enter the building, Ms. Kline and Mr. Webster ensure that students have their device the next day. Jen and Andrew are always flexible, supportive, and kind. No matter what technology problems our students or staff are having they will always stop what they are doing to help. Thanks for all you do for AHS!"

-Kerrie Bauer, Mathematics Teacher, Aberdeen High School

"I would like to give a Shout Out to Laura Crocker of the Fine Arts Office. After the recent passing of an Art Teacher at our school, Laura has come to our building daily to provide needed supports. Laura has assisted with developing lesson plans, navigating the teachers TAC and itslearning. She has also assisted a team of teachers with utilizing rubrics to grade students submitted projects. Thank you, Laura, for going above and beyond to support the students and staff of Joppatowne High School."

-Pamela Zeigler, Principal, Joppatowne High School

Welcome to the HCPS Family!

Please help us welcome the following new HCPS employees:

  • Tara Fortin, Paraeducator, Forest Hill Elementary School

  • Jennye Young, Grade 3 Teacher, Ring Factory Elementary School

  • Kara Barlow, School Nurse, Forest Hill Elementary School

  • Catherine Day, Inclusion Helper, Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School

  • Nyeilah Lawson-Smith, Inclusion Helper, William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School

  • Azja Parker, Inclusion Helper, Riverside Elementary School

  • Kenyatta Queen, School Bus Driver, Transportation Department

  • Courtney Reynolds, Inclusion Helper, Red Pump Elementary School

  • Cameron Roach, Inclusion Helper, John Archer School

  • Gregory Willison, Behavior Intervention Coach, Student Services

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.