HCPS 411 Update

June 2, 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 medium 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.

May Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson

Were you unable to join the Monthly Minute last week? No worries - we have you covered! Click below to watch Dr. Bulson's latest Monthly Minute message from May 26.

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. May 26 , 2022

Reminder: Employee Assistance Program

All HCPS staff have access to KEPRO, the HCPS Employee Assistance Program provider. KEPRO has many resources to assist in navigating through many topics, including grief. You can speak confidentially to a professional counselor by phone at KEPRO. For those interested, a KEPRO counselor can be contacted at (866) 795-5701. Additional valuable resources can be found online at www.eaphelplink.com, company code: HCPS.

HCPS AFSCME Employees to Receive $2K Retention Bonus from County Executive Barry Glassman

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has directed COVID-relief funding to provide $2,000 retention bonuses to more than 400 Harford County Public Schools employees who are part of the The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) bargaining unit. Only AFSCME employees who did not receive the retention bonus payment in December are eligible for the June payment. The bonus will be included in paychecks at the end of June.

“These essential workers continued to make sure school facilities were safe through the COVID pandemic,” County Executive Glassman said. “It was always my intention to include them in the prior retention bonus program and I am pleased we were able to reach an agreement with HCPS to help retain these vital employees.”

In December, County Executive Glassman provided a $2,000 hiring and retention bonus to bus drivers, bus attendants, and food service workers.

Eight hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars to fund the bonus will come from the Harford County government’s share of federal COVID-relief funding known as ARPA.

“I would like to thank County Executive Glassman for this extra funding,” HCPS Superintendent Sean Bulson said. “Like other school systems, we face a challenging labor market. The added support, along with the county’s full funding of our operating budget, will help us stay competitive and continue our work on behalf of Harford County students.”

HCPS Blueprint Newsletter – 1st Edition

The debut Blueprint Newsletter is available for your review and introduces HCPS efforts for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation. Thank you to all the central, school, and community leaders who are contributing their voice in this process.

2022-23 National Board Certification Jumpstart

For all teachers who will begin the National Board Certification process in Fall of 2022, join current NBCTs for a timeline preview and suggestions for preparation you can begin this summer. All are welcome, including teachers who plan on pursing certification but did not apply for the HCPS scholarship. Those who did apply will be notified next week. A virtual meeting will be held on June 14, 2022, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Click here to join the meeting. We will record the meeting for any interested who cannot attend.

Questions may be emailed to HCPS.NationalBoard@hcps.org.

Thank you, QuaranTeam 5!

The 2020 Teacher of the Year finalists, collectively known as the QuaranTeam 5, have worked tirelessly over the past two years to create new and engaging content for their fellow educators as they’ve navigated unprecedented challenges in their classrooms and at home.

In March 2020, we all experienced a shift in not only our professional lives but our personal lives as well. As many educators did, the QuaranTeam 5 navigated this shift with grace, guiding their students through this transition by crafting rich virtual learning environments for their students to continue to learn and thrive. Taking what they learned from the virtual learning experience, the QuaranTeam 5 has created numerous documents, videos, presentations, and more to further the professional development, mental and physical health, and overall well-being of their peers. We have been very fortunate to have these five educational leaders use their platform as Teacher of the Year finalists to enrich the teaching profession in Harford County.

As this chapter comes to a close, we want to extend our thanks to the QuaranTeam 5 for all of the effort they have put forth and for using their experiences to assist other educators. On Tuesday, May 31, 2022, the Team was invited to the A.A. Roberty building to enjoy dinner from Margherita’s in Bel Air, and to reflect on the work that they have done as a group and how this work has inspired others. We wish each of them a wonderful summer break, and we look forward to having them in our classrooms again, with a new group of students to inspire, this fall.

QuaranTeam 5 members (in order from left to right in the photo on the right):

Melissa Van Ruiten – Third Grade Teacher, Youth’s Benefit Elementary School

Jennifer Knoll – Teacher Specialist, Edgewood Middle School

Karen Gonzalez – Special Educator, Magnolia Middle School

Elizabeth (Beth) White – Social Studies Teacher, Harford Technical High School

Erinn Ragan – Fourth Grade Teacher, Ring Factory Elementary School

Dr. Stacey Gerringer of Abingdon Elementary School is Recipient of Patriotic Employer Award

Dr. Stacey Gerringer, proud principal of Abingdon Elementary School, received the Patriotic Employer Award on May 31, 2022, during the school's Patriot Assembly. The award recognizes employers for contributing to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America's National Guard and Reserve Force. Dr. Gerringer was nominated for the award by Stacy Phillips, the school's Administrative Support Specialist. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Gerringer on this amazing award!
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Swan Creek School Applications Now Being Accepted

Applications are now being accepted for the blended virtual learning programs at Swan Creek School for the 2022-23 school year.

Apply for grades 1-12 e-learning or grades 6-8 in-person, blended learning, or grades 9-12 in-person, blended learning by Tuesday, June 7, 2022. You can access additional program information and an optional FIT Assessment on hcps.org or on the Swan Creek School website to determine if Swan Creek School is a good fit for your student for the coming school year. Apply here.

If the number of eligible applicants exceeds the number of seats per classroom, a lottery system will be implemented. If after reviewing the program information on the website you have questions about the program or application process, please contact Swan Creek School at 410-273-5594.

Take a few moments to watch the latest Parent Academy Real Talk featuring Swan Creek School Principal Mark Truszkowski and Teacher Specialist Amy Wolff who share information about the school and its programs for families considering applying.

Swan Creek School Applications Are Being Accepted for the 2022-23 School Year

Diversity 365 - June

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:

  • Pride Month
  • Caribbean American Heritage
  • Juneteenth

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 Thursday, June 16.

This month’s submissions will be shared in the July 7th edition of the HCPS 411 Update.

Diversity 365 Celebrations - May

Central Office - Human Resources

Ben Richardson, Assistant Superintendent

Nothing celebrates culture like food! Hats off to the HR team for celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage in a most delicious way. Members of #TeamHR used this month to share a meal and share the AAPI culture. The smiles say it all.

Special thanks to Lesley Sampson and BangTam Miller.

Fountain Green Elementary School

Mary Ann Clinton, Principal

Art takes center stage once again at Fountain Green Elementary. In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, students learned about the role of Polynesian art in American culture as well as famous Asian American and Pacific Islanders from around the world. Students were also encouraged to share their own original artwork. Way to soar, Falcons!

Special thanks to Ms. Luzmaria Vignola.

Littles University Special Guests: Bel Air Elementary Patriots

Bel Air Elementary School Patriot program participants stopped by the HCPS Central Office building recently and recorded a special Littles University video. They wanted to share with our young viewers what it takes to become a Patriot when they are in 5th grade! We hope that our Littles University scholars enjoyed hearing from these amazing students and know that when they are in school, they can take part in the Patriot Program, too!
Littles University Special Guests: Bel Air Elementary Patriots

CareFirst Wellness Announcements: Men’s Health Month

June is Men’s Health Month

This national health observance is all about encouraging boys, men, and their families to make healthy living decisions such as getting regular screenings, eating health, and exercising. Another important June health observance is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. To learn more, click here to view CareFirst’s June Wellness Newsletter.

June Wellness-Being Awareness Dates

  • June 5: National Cancer Survivor’s Day
  • June 13-19: Men’s Health Week
  • June 17: Wear Blue to Show Your Support for Men’s Health

June Recipe of the Month: Sirloin Steaks with Mushroom Sauce

Click here to learn more and try this delicious dish

Open Enrollment is Now Closed

What do I need to do now that open enrollment is over?

  • Changes elected during open enrollment will take effect on July 1.
    - New deductions for 11- and 12-month employees will begin on the July 8 pay.
    - New deductions for 10-month employees will begin on the September 2 pay.
  • New ID cards will arrive to member homes in late June if changes were elected.
  • If you added new dependents to your health or dental coverage, you must submit the Dependent Verification Form and required documentation to the Benefits Office by June 15.
  • Effective immediately, changes to your coverage options can only be made within 30-days of a qualifying life event. For more information, please review the 2022-2023 Benefits Reference Guide available on the Human Resources Department page of the HCPS website.

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

What’s New on BurnAlong

Let’s head outside in June! Join the June BurnAlong Challenge

June is National Outdoors Month, so take BurnAlong on the go with you this summer! Join the challenge beginning on June 16 to participate in their Wellness Habits Challenge. From June 16 to June 30, track a wellness habit through your account on the BurnAlong app or your desktop. If going outside isn’t your thing, no big deal! Commit to another wellness habit for 15 days, such as drinking water. Click here to update your wellness habits.

BurnAlong Coaching Services

BurnAlong Coaches can help individuals with developing a routine no matter where you are starting from, starting a new BurnAlong category, connecting you with coaches and instructors to best meet your needs, set and track your goals and wellness habits, and assist you with finding the perfect program to achieve your health, wellness, and fitness goals. To get started with a BurnAlong Coach today, email coach@burnalong.com.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Life

If you need to have some more reasons to head outdoors, BurnAlong has curated some compelling benefits, ideas to incorporate the outdoors into your workday, and some suggested classes to take with you while you roam. For more information, click here.

On the Road this Summer?

You can take BurnAlong with you! Download the app and create an account if you have not done so already. BurnAlong has curated classes that you can take from hotel rooms with limited time and depending on your mood.

What is BurnAlong?

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.

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.

Shout Outs!

"A big shoutout to Eric Rommelman and Scott Rakowski for their incredible customer service! I reached out to Scott with a work order request, and within the week, Eric and Scott made themselves available to support me. With as busy as Facilities & Operations have been, I did not expect such a quick turnaround. Their efforts made a huge difference in my day-to-day and I am so grateful. Thank you to Facilities & Operations for all the work you are doing in Central Office and our schools!"

-Ashley Bowley, Administrative Assistant - Strategic Initiatives

"I would like to shout out Christine Lambert in HR. She is always quick to respond to emails and happily answers all questions- big or small. We are so lucky to have you!"

-Amber Seyler Vyskocil, Art Teacher, Ring Factory Elementary School

"We want to highlight the following William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School staff members for helping at the scene and back at the school during a recent accident involving two school buses and another car. Neither bus was at fault. The school staff did an amazing job keeping the students calm. Their teamwork was incredible, and they are the reason that HCPS Shines!

At the scene and back at the building:

Gwen Ritchey, Kristen Blevins, Maria Bowser, Brittany Russell, Rebecca Lloyd, Jody Renwick, Tonya Chandler, Tammy Rohleder, Jennifer Larges, Jessica Brown, Joanna Marchsteiner, Tashio Jefferson, Krystal Watson, Karen Hamilton, May McClaskey, Cynthia Bauer, Karrie Bandy, Brittany Godfrey, Daniel Zubrowski, Ronald Wooden."

-Danielle M. Bedsaul, Supervisor of Transportation

"We are so grateful for our resident “chick whisperer” Karen Meekins. When her desk-kept baby chicks hatched overnight, it was like Christmas morning at the Swan Creek Curriculum and Instruction Office. In fact, this mid-May “happy hatch morning” was witnessed by 7th grade science rooms across the district. Karen’s love and amazing knowledge of these baby “Rhode Island Reds”, “White Leghorns” (or was it “Delaware”?) reminds us that science is WONDER-ful! We did not see (and hold) most of these “office” chicks for long, because their mission was to fill in where needed. Karen safely whisked them away, traveling to many schools who had baby chick emergencies. Thank you for educating us, supporting your AWESOME middle school science teachers, and bringing LIFE and love of learning to our students!"

-Your Teacher and Curriculum Specialist neighbors

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Welcome to HCPS!

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

  • Douglas Jacobs, Custodian II - Shift 2, Dublin Elementary School
  • Rebecca Gorney, School Nurse, Aberdeen 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.