SCH Digest

Scott E. Miller, Superintendent

June 2021

Greetings SCH Family,

We have less than a week left in this often strange and atypical school year. We've all had to pivot and adjust, sometimes hard and fast, to meet the needs of our students, staff, and the community.

Public education itself has never been an easy job, and that fact was brought to light even more so this year. But no matter your position or function at SCH, you made a difference, and I am very proud of all the individual and team efforts to put kids and the community first through the pandemic.

If you take anything away from this experience, I hope it is a sense of pride in your resiliency. We are capable of great things when we work together.

Thank you, and I hope you have an amazing summer.

- Scott

Curriculum - Elementary

May 1 marked National Principal's Day, with the following Monday celebrating National Teacher Appreciation Week.

We want to thank all our amazingly talented principals and teachers who go above and beyond for our students.

You have all been extraordinarily flexible and creative during this challenging time. We’d also like to recognize our outstanding principals who had provided guidance and leadership when there was so much uncertainty. Your leadership matters and does not go unnoticed. Thank you all for your service to our schools and our community.

Curriculum - Secondary

Charles N. Scott Middle School in Hammond has been identified by The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) as a Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP).

SCH has been implementing the national ASCA model for our school counseling program for the past three years, a venture made possible through the generosity of the Lilly Grant. The RAMP model emphasizes collaborative efforts that benefit students, parents, teachers, administrators, and the overall community.

Congratulations to Scott Middle School on this awesome achievement!


Congratulations to the Freshman Cohort of Teachers at Morton High and Hammond Central High Schools for completing another round of training for the implementation of the New Tech Models, which will be featured in our two high schools starting in fall 2021!

Food & Nutrition

SCH’s Food and Nutrition Department is a federally funded one – and with federal funds come lots and lots of regulations and mandates. For example, one of the regulations and stipulations for receiving federal funds for school meals is that the district has a Wellness Policy and Wellness Committee.

Our Food and Nutrition Department would love to see our District Wellness Committee be more than something we do to check a box during an audit and have a designated Wellness Team at each school building.

We evaluated our entire Wellness Committee model during April and May and are in the process of creating a strategic plan for how we drill down to the school level, where there can be tailored committees and goals based on each school’s needs and interests.

Theresa Mince, Purdue Extension’s community wellness coordinator for Hammond, will be spearheading this effort with us, and we are so grateful for her expertise and passion. Below is the groundwork and frame already in the works, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the future (and hopefully recruiting you for your school’s Wellness Team!).

Who Should Be Involved:

  • Administrators

  • City Officials and Employees

    • City Planners

    • Parks Department

    • Transportation Department

  • Colleges/Universities

  • Custodians

  • Food and Nutrition Staff

  • Food Pantries

  • Insurance Plan Representatives

  • Local Advocacy Groups

  • Local Church/Synagogue Leaders

  • Local Hospital & Clinic Employees

  • Local Law Enforcement Officials

  • Parents and Guardians

  • Professional Societies

  • Recreation Professionals

  • A representative from North Township Trustees Office

  • Representatives of Interested Community Organizations

  • School Board Trustee

  • School Counselors

  • School Nurses

  • Social Service Agencies

  • Students

  • Teachers (especially Physical Education teachers)

Hammond Academy for the Performing Arts

We want to thank everyone who came out to see The World Goes 'Round in May! Our students absolutely loved being back on stage and performing for all of you! Be on the lookout for the full show in its entirety this week!


Same academy, new name

In February, school board members approved the renaming of the Hammond Academy for the Performing Arts to the Hammond Arts and Performance Academy.

HAPA has strong brand recognition that resonates with the community and greater Lake County, which is why working around the known HAPA acronym was necessary. The suggestion for a new acronym came from students and staff who learn and teach at HAPA.

While the school isn't rebranding in painting facilities or constructing a new building, the HAPA acronym will change as a "logical step of inclusion" to meet the moment and serve students and teachers.

Head Start

Thanks to the partnership developed between staff and parents, the positive outcomes of Head Start’s two-generation approach are now on display. In addition, head Start teaching staff has been working with families to support the in-home implementation of Conscious Discipline.

Conscious Discipline is the social-emotional learning program used by Head Start for in-person and virtual learning. Head Start provided parents with materials that mirror those used in the classroom. For example, the picture shows a Safe Place (SP), which a parent set up. The Safe Place is a designated space where a child can go when working to manage emotions. In addition, posters show calming techniques such as “Push the Wall,” Stretch it Out,” or breathing techniques and Steps to Calm.

The SP also includes Feeling Buddies, which helps students in labeling and accepting their emotions. This Spanish-speaking family has overcome several significant challenges this year, including a major health issue. Conscious Discipline and the support of staff have made a difference for this parent and her children.

Head Start is still taking applications for the 2021-22 school year! Head Start provides preschool/pre-K services for children ages 3-5. Students must be 3 years old by August 1.

Health Services

Since 1972, National School Nurse Day has been set aside to recognize school nurses. School nurses serve as a critical health hub for students, ensuring that students are ready for learning by managing complex and chronic health conditions, identifying and addressing health disparities, and promoting healthy lifestyles. SCH recognizes the following nurses for their years of dedication and their commitment to providing care and services to students, families, and staff:

  • Sarah Ligon - Director
  • Gail Postulka - Morton HS
  • Amanda Martinez - Gavit MS/HS
  • Tina Zukley - Clark MS/HS
  • Kelly Flynn - Area Career Center
  • Janet Haas - Hammond HS
  • Tami Wasowski - Scott MS
  • Takia King - Eggers MS
  • Teresa Davis - O’Bannon ES
  • Eva Lawrence - Hess ES
  • Rhonda Safstrom - Morton ES
  • Karen Nolan - Irving ES
  • Tricia Vallow - Edison ES
  • Joyce Pearson - Harding ES
  • Olivia Guynn - Maywood ES
  • Jennifer Bartos - Lincoln ES
  • Pamela Otero - Float
  • Evangelina Garcia - COVID-19 assistant


EMS Week is a perfect time to honor our frontline heroes dedicated to providing services that save so many lives every day. The Health Services Department for SCH is comprised of nurses as well as Emergency Medical Technicians. We honor and recognize their years of service, dedication, and contributions to the department.

  • Mark Fetzko - Clark MS/HS
  • Angelica Lemus - Gavit MS/HS
  • Karen Sapyta - Eggers MS
  • Heather Lozano - Wallace ES
  • Erika Vazquez - Jefferson ES
  • Adam Blomquist - Kenwood ES
  • Cynthia Castrejon (MA )- Franklin ES

Human Resources

SCH Recognizes Employees of the Year

Congratulations to our 2020-2021 SCH Employees of the Year:

  • Karla Davis, para-professional at Lincoln Elementary School
  • Ann Williams, custodian at Irving Elementary School
  • Timberly Kinnie, teacher at Gavit Middle School
  • Kim Lozano, special needs coordinator for all SCH schools
  • Lori Thursby, principal at Lew Wallace Elementary School

  • These employees were nominated by their peers and recognized during the school board meeting on May 18. Thank you all for everything you do for School City of Hammond!

    Language Development Program

    LDP is happy to announce the re-opening of our ESL Bootcamp Parent English classes.

    Bootcamp classes began four years ago at the Administration Building and were suspended due to COVID-19.

    However, as K-12 students attend summer school classes, parents will attend Bootcamp classes at Irving Elementary. LDP would like to thank Mrs. Colette Weitknecht and her administrative team for hosting the classes.

    Enrollment is open now, and parents will need to provide their own transportation. Below you will find additional information about Bootcamp.

    • Date: June 7 to July 22

    • Days: Monday – Thursday

    • Time: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

    • Special Events: SEL Weekly Parent Workshops

    • For more information, contact 219-933-2455

    Leadership Academy

    The Leadership Academy would like to give all our instructional coaches a huge shoutout for all of their work to provide professional development to teachers this year. They have gone above and beyond to be sensitive to the needs of our teachers and have provided some outstanding sessions.

    We would also like to give a big thank you to all the teachers who have spent time with us to continue their own learning! We know the demands on your time are great, and we want you to know we are grateful you have chosen to spend time with us.

    The Leadership Academy is always on demand! Check out our Resource Site for recordings of our previous presentations. Remember to fill out the Independent PD Reflection Form after viewing to receive a PGP Certificate.

    We have more great sessions being presented on topics such as Social-Emotional Learning, Tech Round Table, Growth Mindset, Cultural Competency, the 6th Grade Transition to Elementary School, and more. Watch your email for more information!


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    Special Education

    Recovery Services
    If you are a staff member who meets with parents during case conferences, take some additional time to review the benchmarks and goal progress. If your team feels the student did not make adequate progress in the educational setting due to the impact of COVID-19, discuss providing the student with recovery services.

    Recovery services should be designed to provide the student extra time and support to recover any lagging skills. For example, staff can add additional minutes to the student's existing services or arrange them to be done in an after-school setting.

    Special Education Google site
    Please take the time to visit the Special Education Resource Google site to find more information about our department. The site, created by our Assistive Technology Specialist, Lucy Somers, provides an overview of the programs, staff, services, and resources available.


    VW IDEM Mitigation Funding Grant

    Volkswagen dishonesty is the School City of Hammond fortune. VW was fined for not reporting accurate emissions from diesel vehicles they manufactured. Part of its $3.3 billion fine was dispersed to state governments to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles.

    The Indiana Department of Environmental Management manages the funds through a grant that will cover 25% of the total cost of purchasing new propane school buses and 75% of the total cost of new electric buses. In addition, SCH will scrap old diesel buses by putting a hole in the engine block and cutting the chassis.

    This round will apply to replacements of pre-2009 engine model year buses that travel 7,500 miles annually. The funding will distribute awards ranging from $50,000 to $2 million, with a total amount of $12 million available. Last year, the SCH was awarded funding to purchase 10 propane buses and pursue funding for 16 propane buses.

    Around the District

    Clark Middle/High School

    At the end of April, we held our final Top 10 Dinner at the beautiful Hammond Marina Clipper Room. We want to thank our clerical staff for helping organize and set up the event and Dr. Yanders for coming out to support our students. It was a great night to be a Pioneer!

    Edison Elementary School

    Edison would like to highlight our amazing #1 custodian, Rafael Villanueva-Garcia. Rafael goes above and beyond to support our school every day.

    He is always willing to lend a hand and makes sure our building is safe and clean for our Edison scholars every day. We are incredibly grateful to have Rafael on our team!

    Eggers Middle School

    Mary Moriarty, an 8th-grade science teacher at Eggers Middle School, alongside her co-teachers, developed the following parody skit about the...ahem...challenges teachers faced during e-learning this year.

    Day in the Life of Eggers' E-Learning

    Gavit Middle/High School

    On April 30, the Gladiators and Governors committee hosted another successful community service event, with around 40 students gathering at Hessville Park to pick up litter. Students successfully filled eight large trash bags and left the park and our community cleaner and more welcoming.

    It was so great to see current Gavit and Morton students interact and come together for the community in such a special way. Thank you to Mrs. Sanchez for organizing the events. Other helpers included Mrs. Ondas, Mr. Danko, Mr. Page, Mr. Cummins, Coach Mishler, and Miss Cruz. We look forward to more students joining us for our May community event!


    Final Prom Evokes Emotions

    Prom is generally thought of as the 'beginning of the end' for the school year. Schoolwork is winding down. Seniors are getting ready to graduate into new adventures. Everyone is looking forward to a much-needed period of rest. It's usually a hopeful time.

    The knowledge of Gavit closing at the beginning of June had this year's prom feeling a bit different and brought on a myriad of emotions.

    Even still, the Morton and Gavit admin teams saw prom as the perfect opportunity to formally unite for the first time, hosting a joint prom on May 14 at Wicker Park Social Center.

    As students arrived at the event, decked out in their most stylish outfits, any concerns about the two schools merging to one melted away. Gavit and Morton students danced together, ate together, and overall had a wonderful time. It went smoother than anyone could have imagined. Everyone had a wonderful evening. Hopefulness returned.

    This hopefulness is likely to ebb and flow as Gavit merges with Morton. There may be struggles as teachers move to new buildings and students say goodbye to their school for the last time. Change can be difficult. But as Albert Einstein once said, "in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

    We all need to focus on that last word. This consolidation will bring about so many opportunities for students, staff, and the community. And if our recent joint prom is any indication of the future, it's clear that everything is ultimately going to be all right.

    Harding Elementary School

    The Harding PTA is always taking canned food donations for Hope Christian Church Food Pantry. You can drop off donations any time during business hours at Harding - call the office when on-site, and someone will come out to get the items.

    Hess Elementary School

    We were so excited to celebrate our Hess teachers and staff for Teacher Appreciation Week!

    Our teachers are incredibly dedicated and work hard to make a difference in the lives of their students each day. This has been an interesting year (to say the least!), but our teachers and staff have risen to the occasion. We are so proud of you!

    Irving Elementary School

    Irving Elementary School celebrated our front office staff last month on Administrative Assistant’s Day. We treated them like queens for the day because they truly deserve it for all they do for our school!

    They manage all of our office business, treat students with kindness, and create a welcoming environment for all who enter. They really are the best Sec(R)etaries in the world!

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    Jefferson Elementary School

    What was once a dream is now a reality for our kiddos. We have just installed our Little Lending Library for all to access. Students and families can access the lending library and find exciting books any time of the year! You can find our Little Lending Library next to the flagpole in our parking lot.

    Thank you to Jefferson Elementary PTA for the vision, SCH Carpenters for installing it; Hammond Home Depot for donating the materials; Jefferson Custodians for helping out; and one of our awesome grandparents for building it. We will decorate it soon!

    Kenwood Elementary School

    Kenwood would like to thank our amazing staff for making the transition to in-person learning virtually seamless. Our custodians made sure the classrooms, gym, and cafeteria were set up and ready for students.

    The support staff and teachers worked tirelessly to ensure that students knew they were missed and welcomed our families with open arms as they re-entered the building. In addition, our office staff has been instrumental in the communication between Kenwood and our families.

    We could not have made the transition without the entire Kenwood team working together!

    Lincoln Elementary School

    At Lincoln Elementary School, our May school spirit days were filled with creativity and fun!

    In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week in early May, our students dressed like their teacher superheroes! Teachers sure do have special powers, such as multitasking (by instructing in person or virtually) and creating a nurturing learning environment for all students. Other May spirit days included wearing favorite hats and always a school favorite - pajama day!

    We celebrated the Memorial Day holiday by wearing our favorite red, white and blue outfits for our last May spirit day.

    Maywood Elementary School

    The Maywood Elementary Girls on the Run (GOTR) team received tutus from the GOTR Northwest Indiana Council. The girls meet on Mondays and Wednesdays and recently participated in a 5k event at Highland High School.

    Go Lady Mustangs!


    Students, teachers, and staff at Maywood Elementary School held a reverse parade on May 20 to welcome and thank Enchanted Backpack for its amazing donation of $20,000 in school supplies. Here's Maywood Principal Le Terra Smith and students cheering with Mustang pride!

    Morton Elementary School

    Teachers: We would like to thank our teachers for working so diligently to assist with our Return to Learn Plan. We are so proud of our teachers for teaching virtually and in-in person simultaneously. Morton Elementary teachers have gone above and beyond to ensure that the school experience is amazing for all students. We thank you!

    Custodians: We would like to thank our custodians for working tirelessly to move furniture, sanitize, and ensure that we have a safe environment here at Morton Elementary. They have not missed a beat throughout the entire pandemic, and we are lucky to have such an amazing team. Thank you for your dedication to our school!

    Food Service: Our cafeteria staff has been through frigid temperatures, extreme heat, and torrential downpours to ensure that our kids have food to eat. We are very fortunate to have our cafeteria staff here at Morton Elementary. They work relentlessly to ensure that no student goes hungry. Thank you for your awesome support!

    Morton Elementary Office: We are so thankful to have such a wonderful office staff. Mrs. Maldonado and Ms. Tirado have turned the office into a wonderful and efficient space. They have worked overtime to remold, remodel, and revamp the office. Thank you for all you do!

    Morton High School

    Morton High School Achieves 100% Sponsorship with 2021 Adopt-a-Senior Program

    Morton High School teachers and senior class sponsors Linda Quintanilla, and Santina Johnson recently helped establish the Morton Adopt-a-Senior program, which paired a 2021 class graduate with a prospective sponsor.

    All 75 Morton seniors who signed up for the program were assigned a sponsor, with the program achieving a 100% success rate in its inaugural year.

    Upon registering, each sponsor received a welcome letter with the graduate's name and profile link. The profile outlined details about each student, including their plans for after graduation and current interests. Adopters were encouraged to donate letters or notes of encouragement, graduation memorabilia, gift cards, or monetary gifts.

    Items were distributed to each graduate on June 2 during the last school period.

    O'Bannon Elementary School

    O'Bannon Students Honored as King and Queen of Social Distancing

    The 3 W’s are essential at O’Bannon. We Wear our masks, Wash our hands and Watch our distance.

    Our teachers recommended students to be our King and Queen of Social Distancing. We randomly drew a number, and our winners were JaVion and Zamya! They won a crown and an autographed copy of the book "Winona & Gus & the Coronavirus." They also virtually met the author!

    Scott Middle School

    Throughout the school year, the Scott Student Support Team (SSIT) worked with our Student Ambassadors to address issues they felt needed to be discussed in school. These issues included racial bias, the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ issues, and so much more.

    To help with this work, Scott partnered with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and began implementing their No Place for Hate program. NPFH is a nationwide, student-centered program that works to help combat bias and bullying at over 1600 schools across the United States.

    To be recognized as a No Place for Hate School, several things must occur. First, a student committee must be formed and meet regularly. In addition, a pre-survey must be completed, a pledge must be signed by more than 70 percent of the student body, and students must complete several No Place for Hate lessons and activities.

    In a virtual setting, this proved to be a challenge. However, Scott students and staff working together made this goal a reality, and Scott Middle School was officially recognized as a No Place for Hate school for the 2020-2021 school year!

    Scott was one of only five schools in Indiana to receive this recognition. In addition, student Ambassadors recorded videos discussing their experiences and were featured during an event hosted by the ADL. Congratulations to all for this recognition!

    Wallace Elementary School

    Wallace Elementary School would like to recognize and thank all the amazing and dedicated staff members for supporting our transition to in-person learning! This would not have been possible without the commitment from everyone working together to make our students feel safe and welcome.

    We appreciate our teachers’ planning, creativity, and flexibility with teaching both in-person and virtual students. Our office secretaries have made numerous phone calls and responded to families’ questions and concerns to be comfortable sending their students to school. Our caring custodial staff has continuously cleaned and sanitized our building to ensure everyone’s safety.

    Providing meals to our students daily and ensuring they even have one for Friday, our cafeteria staff are working hard every day! Our paraprofessionals, the health service department, our family facilitator, the instructional coach, and our media specialist have contributed to making this unique and often challenging situation successful.

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