RELAY - September 2022

Great Bend USD 428 - News and Highlights

It is the goal of the monthly RELAY to connect our staff with news and highlights from across our schools and community. There are so many successes, positive stories, and virtual smiles to share!

We hope you enjoy this brief update. Take a moment to learn something new, celebrate with a colleague or friend, and pause to see the good happening all around you.

In this issue:

  • Quick Reads - Calendar Highlights
  • Nominate an Outstanding Teacher - 428 opens Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominations
  • Google Calendar Tips
  • Meet the Board of Education
  • Let's Celebrate - September Birthdays
  • Community Resources
  • School Highlights
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Vaccination clinics are coming to a school near you!

Immunizations are an important layer of protection for our school community. We want to make every effort to keep students and staff in school. USD 428 will host a series of School Vaccination Clinics in partnership with the Barton County Health Department.

For staff, the clinics provide a convenient opportunity to receive the annual flu vaccine (Fluzone) and/or COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines are provided to staff at no charge. Please visit our clinic dashboard (click here) to download the consent forms for your school and return them to your school nurse.

2022 Vaccine Clinic Schedule:

  • Great Bend High School - Sept. 27, 7:30 am - 9:30 am

  • Great Bend Middle School - Sept. 29, 7 am -9:30 am

  • Eisenhower Elementary School - Oct. 12, 7:30 am - 9:30 am

  • Jefferson Elementary School - Oct. 12, 1 pm - 2:30 pm

  • Lincoln Elementary School - Oct. 12, 9:30 am - 11 am

  • Park Elementary School - Sept. 28, 10 am - 11:30 am

  • Riley Elementary School - Oct. 7, 10 am - 11:30 am

  • Washington Education Center, Helping Hands Preschool - Oct. 27, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

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Each year, Great Bend USD 428 recognizes one elementary and one secondary teacher as the local USD 428 Teachers of the Year. These teachers are then nominated to the state-wide Kansas Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education.

USD 428 Teachers of the Year receive a $500 classroom stipend and an additional personal day to work on the State KTOY application.

Anyone can nominate a classroom teacher for this honor. Nominees who meet the selection criteria below will be invited to complete a local application that provides information about their teaching career and teaching philosophy.

Teacher of the Year Timeline:

  • Sept. 1-12: Nominations accepted from USD 428 Staff

  • Sept. 14-21: Eligible nominees invited to provide additional information

  • Sept. 22 - Sept. 29: Complete Nominations reviewed by past USD 428 KTOY Honorees

  • Oct. 4: Announce 2023 USD 428 KTOY Honorees

  • Nov. 7: State KTOY Application Deadline (2024 KTOY Contest)

Selection Criteria:

  • Full-time Classroom Teacher, Pre-K through 12th-grade
  • Must have completed a minimum of five years as a classroom teacher by the end of the current school year
  • Has the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues
  • More details about qualifications can be found on page 10 of the State KTOY information packet - click here.

2022 USD 428 Teachers of the Year:

Joseph Bliven, 2022 USD 428 Secondary Teacher of the Year

“When you combine relationship building with engaging teaching, you end up with an exceptional teacher like Mr. Bliven,” said David Reiser, principal at Great Bend Middle School. “Students naturally gravitate to him because of how he goes about establishing positive relationships. He also does a great job of making science interesting and relevant to his students.”

Bliven received his M.A. in Education Studies in 2016 from Michigan University before moving to Great Bend to be a Science Teacher at Great Bend Middle School. Within his first year of teaching, Bliven received the Panther Technology Star Award for his implementation of Google Classroom and was selected as USD 428’s nominee for the Kansas Horizon Award, a recognition program for outstanding first-year teachers.

Bliven has given back to area youth and the community through coaching and tutoring in the classroom as well as on the tennis court. In 2018, Bliven was awarded the Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in Men’s Tennis.

“I feel my greatest contribution to education is my willingness to meet students where they are,” said Bliven, “to make science something that every student can see in their own lives.”

“I believe that through carefully constructed lessons and striving to make science a relevant and applicable tool, I can change the stigma that science is only for the ‘smart kids’ and bring a sense of wonder and excitement to my students that they may not even know they are missing.”

Dara Touslee, 2022 USD 428 Elementary Teacher of the Year

"Mrs. Touslee has many years of experience and brings a wealth of knowledge to her students and colleagues," said Kelsey Sciacca, principal at Park Elementary. "She has an amazing ability to engage all her students in the classroom. Her students show enormous growth throughout the year and she is a true asset to our building and our district."

Touslee earned her Elementary Education Degree from Panhandle State University and later pursued a Master’s Degree in Education from Kansas State University. She has taught 4th-6th grades, worked at the district level in staff development and technology instruction, followed by the last 12 years teaching kindergarten at Park Elementary School.

Sharing her experience in education, Touslee serves as a mentor for students at Fort Hays University and Barton Community College and mentors a GBHS student who is interested in Early Childhood Education. Touslee is active in the community, serving on numerous boards and committees that all have a common interest of support the academic, emotional, and social development of youth.

While Touslee has 33 years of teaching experience, 29 of which have been served in Great Bend, she doesn’t shy away from implementing new technology into her classroom.

“I think technology is a ‘must’ in education,” Touslee said, “it is an active part of student learning.”

In recent years, she has received several grants from the USD 428 Education Foundation to implement Touchtronics, a hands-on alphabet and phonics development tool, as well as embraced iPads with a strategy to have her students record video as a way to learn and develop speaking skills.

When asked to explain her teaching philosophy, Touslee referenced a quote on her wall that came from a former kindergarten student, “Sometimes you have to get off the sidewalk.” To Touslee, it reminds her of the importance to teach the curriculum, but also of the importance, “to make it fun, and make it real.”

“I try to expand my students' knowledge and help them explore, create and discover the joy of learning,” said Touslee. “Fun is the most used word in my classroom.”

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Google Calendar Tips

This week we shared a quick "Tip Tuesday" video on the USD 428 social media pages and we thought our staff might benefit from these tips too!

Did you know you can customize your Google Calendar view AND add our building/district calendars to your Google Calendar?

Watch this brief video to learn more!

Tip Tuesday Google Calendar
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Meet the Board of Education

Back to School is a great time to (re)introduce you to the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education. Our District is guided by a seven-member board that is elected by the community. Members serve a four-year term as a volunteer, donating many hours to attend meetings, visit schools, learn from State and national leaders, and more. Members receive no compensation for their time or service. USD 428 benefits greatly from the leadership of these dedicated individuals who are active in our community and our school district.

Our District website is a great resource to learn more about the BOE and policies, find meeting schedules, and view monthly board reports. Board of Education (

The Board of Education has many duties including:

  • Governance

  • Monitoring the use of Financial and Human Resources

  • Education Planning and Evaluation

  • Appointing the Chief Administrator, the Superintendent of Schools

  • Facilities Management

  • Short and Long-Term Goal Development and Strategic Planning

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Do you have a celebration to share?

If you have a birth announcement, anniversary, personal accomplishment, or a celebration to share with your 428 family - please email to be included in the monthly RELAY!
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First Day of School Staff Selfies!

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Jefferson Kinders welcome guest readers each Friday!

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Welcome, new teachers!

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Explore Great Bend Calendar of Events

Community events and coupons for local businesses too!

Be sure to follow Explore Great Bend on Facebook for news and events!

City Wide Cleanup scheduled for Sept. 24

The City of Great Bend will be hosting a city-wide cleanup event from Sept. 24 - Oct. 2. Construction dumpsters will be located at Sunflower Diversified Service at 5605 10th St. for citizens to drop off big or bulk items. People are also encouraged to recycle approved items and drop those items off at Sunflower's recycling center on the same site.

Volunteers will be available to assist with unloading vehicles. Learn more on the city's website or Facebook page.

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Share Your Stories and Activities!

It only takes a few minutes to share the GREAT things happening in your classroom! Email high-resolution photos and a quick caption and we'll share it with the community on social media!

Quick Photo Caption:

"Students are learning _______________, by doing ______________."

Submit News to

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