Fort Thomas Independent Schools Employee Newsletter

Volume 3 Issue 2

October 2015


Dear Staff,

Great News! The state assessment results are in and Fort Thomas Independent is ranked 1st among all school districts in Kentucky. Not only are our scores higher than all P-12 school districts, they are higher than all of the K-8 districts as well. This is definitely something to be very proud of. It serves as testimony to the tremendous work that each of you is doing for the benefit of students.

In typical Fort Thomas fashion, we will celebrate on Wednesday of next week by providing a special cake for staff members at each school. The students will receive free ice cream sandwiches at lunch. Be sure to let them know how proud we are of them. Congratulations!

On October 18-21, we will be hosting a visiting team of educators as part of the AdvancED accreditation process. They will visit each of our schools, observe classes and interview staff, students and parents. I am sure that they will be looking for evidence that we are living our mission and vision and have made a commitment to continuous improvement.

A large part of our success is due to the tremendous support that we receive from our community. The Fort Thomas Education Foundation is a great example of this. If you have not yet done so, I would ask that you consider making either a one-time or ongoing payroll deduction contribution to the FTEF. It is important that we demonstrate our appreciation for all that they do for our students. Information on how to contribute is included in this edition of Forward Focus.

Let them eat cake (and ice cream)!



Bits and Bytes

“As seen online”…

Remember the “as seen on TV” commercials? With fewer and fewer people watching TV commercials, many advertisers have turned to the Internet to post pictures, ads and motivational sayings. I found this one recently and thought it was worth sharing.

7 Characteristics of Teachers Who Effectively Use Technology

1. They always start with the why

2. They are malleable and can easily adapt

3. They embrace change

4. They share

5. They think win-win

6. They are thorough and think ahead

7. They actively care

Internet Connections

Join a Giant Sing-Along

Performer and teaching artist Dave Ruch from Buffalo, New York, is going all out to put the fun in the fundamentals of online connection during Connected Educator Month. He is setting up a worldwide sing-along for elementary students at 1:15 p.m. (ET) on October 30. Zoom is hosting and donating bandwidth. The lighthearted event, named Largest Online Gathering of K–5 Classrooms (ever!), will last 15 to 20 minutes as Ruch performs songs and asks students from Los Angeles to Zimbabwe to move and participate with him. He will also demonstrate unusual instruments and teach students a new trick, such as playing hambone using their bodies to make the rhythm or mastering the time-honored ability to play the spoons. Participants need only Internet access and an interactive whiteboard, desktop or laptop computer, tablet, or other device to plug into a projector, but each classroom must register individually—no schoolwide enrollments. Teachers can sign up as late as one minute before the event begins.

Travel the World from the Classroom

With today’s connected classrooms, field trips aren’t limited to your county, your state, or even your country. Students are taking virtual field trips to some of the world’s most amazing locales with experts as their guides, thanks to Skype. The website hosts a series of tours covering a wide range of educational subjects. For example, students can interview a Yellowstone National Park ranger and speak with an underwater videographer and shark diver. The free tours last from 15 minutes to an hour.

Bing in the Classroom

Our district enjoys ad-free Bing search results and enhanced privacy protections through our participation in Bing in the Classroom program. Did you know that you can access free digital lesson plans through the Bing in the Classroom program?

Some recently posted free lesson plans for K-3, 4-8 and 9-12 include:

  • Why is the sun important to living things?
  • Rotation: Why do some planets have longer days than others?
  • Human Space Travel
  • Atmospheric Composition
  • Web Browsing
  • Web Development

If you need a refresher of all of the teaching tools on Bing in the Classroom please view this interactive Teacher Guide:

  • Step by step walk thru on how to navigate the homepage
  • How to download lesson plans
  • Bing Has Answers – study buddy
  • Educational carousal
  • Educational tools and resources for teaching like mystery pic and word of the day
  • Access to Microsoft Educator network.


Technology PD Sessions for October

This year, we are going to introduce a new form of technology PD sessions. Sessions will be held during evening hours and will be held online using Skype for Business. All participants will be asked to register in advance through PD Express. Reminders will be sent.

Using the SchoolPointe Online Classroom to Enhance Collaborative Spirit

Thursday, October 1, at 8pm

Our web hosting service provides every teacher a “cyber” space of his/her own! Come and find out how to use this tool for communicating online with students and parents, including posting videos in your video library!

SchoolPointe’s New Learning Management System (LMS)

Monday, October 26, at 8pm

Do you love Facebook but hate that you can’t use it with students? Don’t want to learn another user name and password? Using SchoolPointe’s new LMS might just be the alternative for you! Learn how to set up a class and begin safe social networking with your students.

Educational Study Seminars

All Educational Study Seminars will be held from 3:30 – 5pm in the Central Office Conference Room. Please register for each module online via PD Express.

Module II: Fostering Creativity, Curiosity and Innovation

Recommended Reading: Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner
Presenters: Michael Howton and Lee Gatens

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 OR Thursday, October 15, 2015

Module III: Understanding and Assessment by Design
Recommended Reading: McTighe
Presenters: Brian Robinson, Jeff Schneider and Matt Haskamp

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 OR Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Module IV: Using Data to Ensure Individual Student Growth and Differentiate Instruction
Presenters: Patrick Richardson and Donna Schulte

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 OR Thursday, January 21, 2016

Module V: High-Quality Classroom Practices
Recommended Reading: Danielson FfT, Madeline Hunter, Rick Stiggins
Presenters: Dawn Laber, Keith Faust, Jamee Flaherty and Norma Lawless

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 OR Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Module VI: Utilizing Technology to Transform Student Learning
Presenters: Diana McGhee, Jody Johnson and Brian Mercer

Thursday, March 17, 2016 OR Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Upcoming October Calendar Events

October 8 - PD Day - No School
October 9 - NKEA Day - No School
October 12 - Board Meeting
October 21 - Student Late Arrival Day

Annual Flu Shot Clinic


Open to employees, family members and friends ages 18 and over


Highlands High School - AP Conference Room


Wednesday, October 7 - from 2-4pm


Flu shots will be administered by our school nurse Mary Moore and pharmacist Craig Seither from the Fort Thomas Drug Center.


Free to employees with one of our school insurance plans – please have your insurance card with you!

$25 for those not covered by our insurance plans. Receipts will be given to those paying and the Fort Thomas Drug Center will submit a claim if needed.


So we can make sure enough vaccine is on hand, please email Mary Moore at if you plan to attend the shot clinic.

Payroll / Benefits Reminders

Healthcare Open Enrollment

Open enrollment for your 2016 Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan (KEHP) benefits is October 12 – 26. Health insurance booklets will be sent out in the next few days. Please watch for your 2016 Benefits Selection Guide!

Change of Address

Any change of address should be reported to your school secretary as well as Peggie Hughes and/or Mary Turner. Please make sure we have your current address on file for your payroll and personnel records.


High school and middle school employees: If you have a parking space, please note that in the 'Notes to Sub' section when you create your absence.

Check out the video below for easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your preferred subs!

Note: The video talks about setting a sub to never see your absences, but you do not have the ability to set this. If you have an issue with a sub, please send the sub's name to Mary Turner and she will set it so that sub is never assigned to you.

Supporting our Education Foundation

For information about FTEF, including online giving:

You can also download and print an employee donation form available at:

http://www.Employee Giving Form

United Way Annual Campaign

Our yearly United Way campaign will run through October 15. Information and donation forms will be distributed to all employees this week. Please take a minute to read the information and consider making a donation to this very worthwhile organization. Donations can be payroll deducted. For more information about the United Way, visit

To encourage everyone to participate, the school with the highest percentage of employees contributing to United Way will win a Graeter's Ice Cream Social.

Gene, Ginger and Jon will bring (and dish out!) ice cream sundaes for all faculty and staff during lunch!


Congratulations to...

Rick Rafferty (HMS) who was named a 2016 Ashland Inc. Teacher Achievement Award winner. Rick is now qualified to compete for the 2016 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced next month.

Barb Garrett (JES) and Arlie Singleton (MES) on their marriage on September 19th.
Mary Scaggs (MES) on the marriage of her daughter Emily to Joel Daley (both HHS Class of 2009) on July 31.

Our Sympathies to...

Pam Brenner (MES) on the loss of her father Howard “Jack” Woltenberg on August 31.

Raeginia Mahaney (JES)
on the loss of her brother William LaMar on September 4.

Jan Heilman (CO) and Natalie Heilman (MES) on the loss of Jan's mother, Nell Ader, on September 8.


Congratulations to...

HHS seniors Gabrielle Farley, Molly Mearns and Daniel Peale, who have been named 2015 National Merit Semi-Finalists.

Lora Danielle Robinette - HHS Class of 2011
who won a prestigious Fulbright award to teach in Brazil. Lora Danielle Robinette, who earned degrees in Spanish and political science from the College of Arts and Sciences, is the University of Louisville's 10th Fulbright scholar this year.

Submit information for FORWARD FOCUS to