April 15, 2021
Board of Education Recap Article
This is not a full recap of all issues discussed at the Board of Education meeting. These are not official minutes. For more information on the Board of Education meeting, click here.
There were two board meetings on the night of April 12. One regularly scheduled meeting and one special board meeting. The special meeting was in response to a request made on the part of a parent towards our mask policy. The parent wanted the district to remove the mask policy. According to Senate Bill 40 legislation, this means that the board would serve as the hearing officer. The board had 72 hours to conduct a hearing and will have seven days after the hearing to make the decision. The decision will be given to the parent and if there are any changes in policy, the community will be made aware. In the special meeting called on April 14, no decision was made.
The district received a gas bill for its Newton facilities of about $159,000 (this number does not include the Walton facility) which is about five times as much as the normal bill. Kansas Gas Services provides our gas services but the supplier of the fuel is who the bill is from. The company’s name is Symmetry Energy Solutions. The district has joined a group called KJUMP which is through the Kansas Association of School Boards that is looking into the issues associated with the billing of the utilities. The group has given the district some recommendations including only paying a certain amount of the bill that corresponds with the unit price.
The district is also working on a number of different programs for summer recovery. Y Scholars will continue but there will be some additional opportunities for families.The district is looking to add credit recovery at Newton High School. There will be two different sessions for this--one in June and one in July. More information about what’s going on at the high school will be sent out in the future.
Chisholm will have a platform completion opportunity that’s going to be funded as a part of a grant. For grades K-4, the district will bring in a group called the Marzano Academies. Dr. Marzano will kickoff that training. The learning sessions after that will take place in July. The district will use ESSER funds for all of the programs except the Y Scholars and the program at Chisholm. There will also be more information about Santa Fe summer recovery in the future.
Special and Regularly Scheduled Board Meeting:
BOE Facebook Live Recap:
The numbers this week taken from logs maintained locally are:
● Students quarantined: 8 on 4/8/2021 (32 on 4/1/2021)
● Staff quarantined: 3 on 4/8/2021 (7 on 4/1/2021)
● Active cases: 4 active cases on 4/2/2021, including 3 student and 1 staff (6 active cases on 4/2/2021, including 4 student and 2 staff)
This past week Karen Lehman worked with Hesston Pharmacy to offer a student vaccination clinic to administer the Pfizer vaccine to anyone 16 or older with parent permission. Although I do not have exact numbers as of yet, they had approximately 53 students and two staff they served. There were a few no-shows, but it did go well according to Karen. This was a great service to our students and community. A special thanks to Karen, those at Hesston Pharmacy who worked this out, and the Harvey County Health Department for their part in making this successful.
AP & Paraprofessional Week
This past week was Assistant Principal’s Week and April 7 was Paraprofessional’s Day.
The buildings celebrated these days or the week in various ways. I do appreciate the work
our AP’S and paraprofessionals do a great deal. When I think of the category of paraprofessional, that is not limited to special education. In many districts, that includes what USD 373 refers to as an aide. As you all know, the work these people do to support students and teachers in classrooms is incalculable.
TO ALL PARAPROFESSIONALS AND AIDES: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WORK! WE CANNOT FUNCTION WITHOUT YOUR DEDICATION AND SUPPORT!
When thinking about the work of an AP, that too has no quantitative measure. We have some amazing people working in that capacity here supporting principals, staff, students, and parents. It takes a special person to want to engage in that administrative position.
THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR AP’s! You folks ROCK!
KSHSAA State Track
Looks like they have expanded KSHSAA State Track to three days to accommodate Covid restrictions. It is an amazing few days at WSU for participants and spectators! I hear we send quite a few every year as well.
This past week, I was able to spend a few minutes with the science staff that were in attendance at a PD session at McKinley. I wish I could have spent more time and talked to all of the groups but the conversation I did have was fun AND enlightening.
The 7-8 team spent quite a bit of time explaining and showing me what they are doing in their courses to support student learning. It was impressive and was evident they are working so well as a team to provide some great learning experiences for kids. One question they specifically asked of me was my thoughts about the district direction in terms of student evaluation, specifically if shifting to a more competency-based system is potentially on the horizon. This is a big task for schools, but that is the direction I see all of education heading. It will not happen overnight but it is a natural progression to shift the focus from grades to learning.
Superintendent’s Advisory Council
I had the pleasure of meeting with what I consider to be the second Superintendent’s Advisory group in the past month. The same three questions were asked of this group as was the last, those being:
● What should a Newton graduate look like when they leave here (know, understand, be able to do, etc.)?
● What are we doing well?
● What can we improve upon?
An amazing student answer to the first question was “Know how to not immediately die in the real world.” When you consider that response, there is a LOT to unpack. What an awesome statement! Additional comments ranged from fiscal literacy to knowing your direction to being employable.
In the area of what we are doing well, I was tremendously pleased with student responses. They were very complimentary of the course and program offerings. They were also complimentary of what they felt that they knew that the staff, for the most part, genuinely cared about them. They specifically said that many staff really understood the mental health aspect of being a young person. That made my heart happy.
The one thing that was pretty unanimous that we could improve upon was that all staff (not just many) need to understand the mental health aspect of being a young person. Being trauma-informed is a great buzzword to hook our wagons to but what does that really mean?
I do want to thank Caleb Smith for arranging these for me. I really look forward to next year and being able to engage in these more often with students.
Staff Feature: NHS Maintenance
Relationships are at the center of Bernard Okpe’s life. Whether it is with his family, with his customers at his job as a store manager in Nigeria or with his coworkers at USD 373, relationships and people have always been important to him.
Okpe built a lot of relationships working at Emperor’s Chinese Restaurant in Nigeria for 27 years. He was the store manager for the restaurant part but people also could stay in the facility’s hotel area as well. Okpe was in charge of all the food and drink for the restaurant.
Even though he enjoyed his job at the restaurant, Okpe’s relationship with his sons eventually led him away from Nigeria and to the United States. His oldest son Matthew was going to school in Ile-Ife at Obafemi Awolowo University. While he was there, five students were killed in a massacre. Matthew wanted to get away from the violence. Matthew took the SAT and received a high enough score for a scholarship at Wichita State University and eventually settled at the University of California Berkeley. Matthew’s younger brother Elias, followed him to the United States when he was given a scholarship to Newman University.
Eventually, Okpe left his job and moved to the United States with his sons. He ended up in Kansas. Unfortunately, while he was in the states, his wife had to stay in Nigeria to take care of the rest of his children. Okpe sent money home to support his family. His sons helped him get his green card so he could stay. Eventually, his daughter did join him in Kansas in 2015.
Okpe worked at a number of different places in the Wichita area after moving to Kansas. However, it was another relationship, a friend, who told Okpe to apply for a job with USD 373. Okpe says he loves working for and helping the students by keeping their classrooms and the rest of the school clean. He says he really likes his coworkers and supervisors.
“When I came to Newton High School, I loved the job,” Okpe said. “When I worked at the restaurant I saw people, a lot of people. People were nice to me. Children came with their parents to eat. So I’ve been working in midst of people for a long time.”
In his time with the district, Okpe began making relationships with people at work and in the community. He goes to a local church, First Christian Church, where he met more people. When Okpe passed his citizenship test his whole church came down to support him and celebrate with him.
And in the end, one of Okpe’s most important relationships, the one he has with his wife, became much easier. She moved to Newton in 2019.
District Feature: Northridge Elementary
When you come across students working on math, how often do you see them literally running to get to the next problem?
Probably not very often. However, that’s what Miss Berrey and Ms. Elliott’s class were doing in early April. That’s because Ms. Elliott had the idea to incorporate math into something a little more active--an egg hunt.
Each plastic egg had a letter on it, and each student had a lettered sheet of paper. When they found the egg, they would open it, and there would be a math problem for them to solve inside. They would then write their answer by the letter on their paper that corresponded to the letter on the egg and move on to the next problem.
“Making education fun is my main goal,” Ms. Elliott said. “I know when I was little a lot of stuff we did wasn’t very fun and I noticed especially with my kiddos, they retain the information so much more when they are out having a fun time with their friends.”
As students tore through the Northridge lawn, running, laughing and having fun it appears that Ms. Elliott met her goal.
District Feature: Newton High School
Newton High School’s third-quarter culinary classes raised $650 for a former teacher.
Robin Montano was the journalism teacher and a soccer coach at USD 373. This was her first year away from the school. She is also a member of the Wichita Aero FC women’s soccer team.
The culinary department had been thinking about putting on fundraisers throughout the year. When the soccer team needed to raise some funds to be able to travel to nationals after qualifying, it seemed like the perfect fit.
“The kids blew it out of the water,” Hotel and Restaurant Management Pathway Teacher Kim Powell said. “I don’t know if we were expecting that type of turnout.”
The fundraiser was also a competition between student groups. Students competed with their best culinary fare from gluten-free peanut butter cups to coffee cake. Students had to decide what they thought would sell well and what would make the most money. They had to think about dietary restrictions as well as the cost to make the items. Staff would come in and pay what they thought each item was worth.
The two winning groups were Team SAP--Samantha Howell, Aline Timan and Peyton Doherty and Team Bussin Bussin Brylee Budde, Gracie Hendrickson, Enyisha Peterson and Alexis Valle-Ponds.
Powell said they hope to continue and expand on these sorts of fundraisers in the future.
Student Serves on KSHSAA Advisory Board
Athletics has always been a big part of Nick Treaster’s life.
“I’ve done wrestling since I was three, so wrestling has always been a part of my life,” Treaster said.
Treaster has been an athlete in and out of school as well as a state champion in wrestling. However, this spring he began building a new connection to athletics. He was one of six students in the state named to the KSHSAA Student Advisory Team. He was the 5A inductee for the year.
“I was really surprised because, honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get it,” Treaster said. “I was competing against 32 other guys from 5A. It’s honestly an honor. It’s something I’m pretty proud of to say I’ve accomplished.”
There are two representatives from each class which creates a team of 12. Each class has one male and one female representative. KSHAA uses this committee to help incorporate student voice into its perspective and decision-making. The student advisory team has a number of duties including providing input to the Executive Board and staff, networking and communicating with other students regarding advisory committee positions and expressing student opinions relative to the KSHSAA activities, rules and policies.
“To be a representative from Newton who is on the board and someone who can be a positive role model for other athletes and students who are involved in activities in KSHSAA is something really cool,” Treaster said.
To apply, students write an essay about what being involved in activities means in developing a well-rounded student. KSHAA usually looks for leadership attributes as well as involvement in school activities when making the decision on who to select.
NHS Student Giveaway
Railer Students Of The Week
Enrollment opened on April 1. The tentative deadline for returning families to submit their 2021-22 application is May 7, 2021. You will just be getting students enrolled at this time and payment isn’t expected or able to be made until July 1. More on that below.
All families should enroll their kindergarten through twelfth-grade students using the 'Online Registration' link available through their parent portal account. If you are a parent of a returning student and need to enroll a new student for any grade level, you can follow the instructions available in the online application process to add their new student properly.
Families who are new to the district may access the online application through the 'New Family Registration' link on the USD 373 website under Enrollment Information. Again, you will not be able to enroll until April 1 either. We know you’re excited. It’s almost time.
Payments for 2021-22 fees cannot be submitted or paid before July 1, 2021. Free and reduced meal applications for 2021-22 will be available AFTER July 1, 2021.
If you need help with your parent portal please contact your student's school office.
New Covid Reporting Forms
Below are two new forms for reporting a positive COVID case or that your student is a close contact. You may use these instead of calling into the building if your child has tested positive or has COVID symptoms or is a close contact. If you would still like to call, that is acceptable as well. We hope these forms will allow us to keep our students and staff safe through speedy contact tracing.
Tested Positive/Symptoms: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScj701IpDPoqpCn8hB4Yxgez1G9g9niMKQFhUYV81QrAFmQ_A/viewform
Question and Feedback Form
Question and Feedback Form
On all of our district and school websites, you will see a Questions & Feedback button on the home screen. This will lead you to a new form that you can use to get your questions answered more quickly and make sure your feedback goes to the correct person. Please use this form for any emails or questions. You’ll notice a few dropdown menus. If you choose general district, a dropdown menu with a variety of topics will appear for you to choose from. If you select school specific, a dropdown menu will appear with a list of schools for you to choose from.
My Artful Heart
Writing Portfolio: Jaxon Raper
If I were a snowman at night I would...
Play football and play with my friends. I would make a football out of snow. I would make a football feelld out of snow. I would make a out of snow. It would be rilee fun.
In the deep forist ther was a haunted house. Evre nit ther was a fol moon. Ther wer bats. The gras was red and green. One nit ther was a kid that wit in the house. He nevr cam bac awt. No dude wit sis. One nit the dor creekt opin. It was a kid he lit the house on fier. It was the sam kid. He iskaept through the windo.
Cooper Early Education Center--Sarah Livesay
1) This month teachers and family consultants have been completing the second round of home visits for Head Start students.
2) Grant applications for all Cooper programs: Infant-Toddler (state and United Way); Parents as Teachers (renewal and Kindergarten Readiness; Head Start; Preschool-Aged At-Risk have been completed and submitted.
3) During our animal unit, we had a visit from some baby goats thanks to Teacher Katie Base and her son.
4) We have started Kindergarten Transition meetings for those students with an IEP who will be moving on to their elementary school next fall.
5) We are in the planning process for Field Day and Preschool Graduation as well as looking at the Cooper calendar of events for 2021-22.
6) We will be hosting a virtual art show later this month featuring all of our Cooper artists and their works from the year.
Northridge Elementary--Ms. Stephey
Wow, this year is winding down FAST! We are currently in the middle of state assessments at Northridge. We have two of our remote classes coming into our building to take their assessments, which has worked out great. Kindergarten Roundup was a success. It is so awesome to see teachers and staff working together to make Kindergarten a successful experience for our families. We all know how stressful it can be sending our kiddos off to school all day for the first time. We will continue to work with families who need to enroll and give assistance and support to them. The Northridge PTO has decided to do the Step It Up Fundraiser that will run from April 5th - April 19th. We are excited to see how this will go. Teachers and students benefit greatly from our PTO, who helps our school fund field trips, supplies, and technology software for our building. As I am finishing out this current school year, I am meeting with Mrs. Nagel often and including her in all pertinent decisions that will need to be made for the 21-22 school year. I am excited for her and have no doubt that she will be an excellent administrator for Northridge. The staff and students are extremely lucky to have her:)!
Highlights from our PE teachers, Mr. Nava and Mr. Gilbert: After Easter break, we will be starting our striking unit! Students will be using tennis racquets, baseball bats, hockey sticks, badminton racquets, and pickleball paddles. If the weather cooperates, we will plan to be outside to enjoy the sunshine. Coach Gilbert and Coach Nava
South Breeze Elementary--Ms. Bohling
1. Redesign planning continues at South Breeze with March being a time of innovative planning! Our three focus area teams of Family Engagement, Social Emotional Learning, and Academic Growth were given ½ days to continue the planning needed to create prototype action plans. Great things are being planned for South Breeze!
2. We are in full swing with state assessments. Last week we completed 3rd and 4th-grade ELA state assessments. This week we will work on math. Students are giving their best effort. Staff are very interested to see the results.
3. Kindergarten Round-Up on April 1 was a success! We had 38/39 signed-up kindergarteners come to South Breeze. It was so wonderful to spend time with them and their families. Their excitement for learning and being able to come to school had all of us grinning ear-to-ear!
4. South Breeze has an amazing PTO group. They are currently planning a special “walk to a nearby park” 4th-grade celebration and lunch. This PTO constantly plans things for our students and this year has been rough on them as they had so many ideas that had to be shut down. But with their usual gusto, they just kept thinking until something was a “go”! We LOVE our PTO!!
Sunset Elementary--Mrs. Watson
Kindergarten Roundup was a huge success!!! It was so wonderful to be able to sit down with students and parents at our own schools this year. There is nothing like the excitement of a child that is getting ready to go to the “big kid’s” school. Our numbers were pretty representative of what we generally see at Roundup. Sunset had 26 students. We have about half or a little more come and then our numbers increase significantly at One-Stop in July. It is great to see that we are doing our best to return to a new normal while still implementing procedures to keep students, staff and families safe. In case you have never attended Roundup, here is a rundown. Students sit down with their parents and a teacher. While the parents fill out a short questionnaire, students are interacting with the teacher. They write their name, color a picture, use scissors to cut, and just get to know each other. Teachers schedule a time for the child and parent to return to school in August to complete the ASQ (Ages and Stages Questionnaire) and to visit the classroom. Next, they visit with the school nurse to collect necessary paperwork and get health-related questions answered. Finally, families check in with our administrative assistants and are offered the option of completing online enrollment and school or completing at home on their own. What a fun day for all!
Walton Rural Life Center--Mrs. Bremerman
We are winding down our third nine weeks and about to gear up for our last quarter!! That brings lots of exciting spring activities to Walton! Here are some important dates
a google form will “go live” with items in our greenhouse that are for sale!
We will have cohorts of students selling plants from the greenhouse every day after school, feel free to come by and see what we have, we will be there from 3:00-3:30
Annual Oyster feed!! Stay tuned for more information
Day on the farm
We are really looking forward to these activities!
Coach Gilbert’s Physical Education Class
In Physical Education we just said goodbye to Miss. Paige Hiebert (our student-teacher). Now that weather gets nicer outside we will be competing in an outdoor frisbee golf course. We will also be learning the art of kicking and dribbling with our feet.
Jenny Gihring: Great person to go to for staff morale
Brittany Birch: Great at communicating and meeting the technology needs of all students.
Kiley Preheim: Knows how to support the needs of all her students.
Mrs. Kemph has done an amazing job of connecting with the remote 2nd graders. Even though they’ve never been together in-person, she has included encouraging notes when we pick up supplies and has made remote learning with all its strengths and weaknesses a good experience. We are so lucky to have her!
Kirstyn Pracht does an amazing job of teaching language arts and social studies to her 5th graders at Santa Fe. Not only does she have an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, her creativity and commitment to make the curriculum come alive results in classes that are both interesting and enjoyable. Who knew that learning about the Federalist Papers could actually be fun?!
I would like to praise the IDD team for such a thorough job of explaining my son's IEP this month and all the time to implement this document into action. He is the 18-21 program. We have seen such great results since Mr. Caleb Smith and his team has persevered with him. This year has been a HUGE blessing for my son and all of us who "cheer" him on! Thank you
Ms. Latta - has been very supportive and helpful with helping my 7th grader with navigating the world of Summit, online learning and re-integrating back into full in person class time. She has made getting him back on track and developing a way that works best for him to keep himself organized a priority because it is clear that she wants to see the kids in her class do well and be successful with their learning objectives. He has commented, "I couldn't have done it without her!"
Mr. Page - has been a fantastic mentor and influencer for my senior daughter. His encouragement and the support of her other teachers have helped make her final year at NHS enjoyable and fun, along with giving her a great educational experience!
I want to give a shout out to Mrs. Flaming, Ms. Tawnya Frary and Mr. Mike Doerksen. You are all doing an amazing job with my daughter even if she is stubborn sometimes. She talks about each one of you almost on a daily basis and how much fun PE was that day. Swimming can be challenging with her and you guys always have a way to teach and help her learn. So blessed to have you guys. Thank you all so much you are an amazing team.
My child has really bad asthma, and I'd like to thank Ms. Katie Base, Nurse Sheri Thompson and all of Cooper for helping him during a flare-up.
Ryan Emmitt- Is one of the best of the best! He really goes out of his way to treat the kids with kindness.
Valorie Pfannistiel- She is a joy to have in our building. She works so hard.
Nick Sisson- He is the best ever! He has been really resourceful and helps his students soar with success.
Jenny Bristol has a full plate, and she is admired for making things happen.
Gina Skinner always has a smile on her face and is loving and caring to everyone she meets.
Mrs. Parks is a joy to work with. She is always so lovely.
My son’s kindergarten teacher at Northridge, Ms. Mattison, is amazing. She goes above and beyond with communication and patience every day!
Shout Out to Dr. David Decker for all his hard work, coming in at a difficult time for school finance. All the hard work on Sparks and COVID funding, capital outlay and the daily budget items. Learning many new things during a difficult time and still keeping a positive attitude.
Sam, I would like to give a shout out to my son's teachers Miss Crabtree, Miss Mills-Wise, and Mr. Epp. He has missed lots of school this year having three surgeries which each kept him out for several days to a week. He has been able to maintain at least a 4.0 in all of his honors classes. I know he has worked hard but there's no doubt that he wouldn't have been able to keep up and learn the content without great teachers. They are all very much appreciated!
I would like to recognize Kate Bremerman, principal of Walton Elementary, for everything she has done for my family. We moved to the district in the middle of hybrid learning this school year, and Kate and all the staff at Walton have been so welcoming and helpful with my 2 children. Thank you guys so much.
Jody Hall is a lifesaver! We are so lucky to have him and his expertise in our district
Emerie Hall is crushing it as a first-year teacher at NHS.
Liz Gunn makes classes challenging and fun for students and goes above and beyond to help students.
Emseralda Valle and Cecilia LaRose are the best paras that a teacher could ask for! They are both very hard working and always want to see the students succeed in the classroom!
I would like to give a shout out to Reagan Seidl, Amber Warsnak and Wendy Gile for going way above and beyond in covering for me while I was off for surgeries. I could not have done it without you. You guys are the best coworkers I could ask for.
Good morning. I want to give a HUGE shout to Tyann Hekele, and Chris Wedel. Tyann and Chris have been supportive and are always willing to help staff. I believe they are a BIG part of the success in our department and school.
Shout out to our aides and paras at Slate Creek. They are all rock stars! We greatly appreciate all that they do for kids and teachers. Keep up the awesome work!
Jody Hall- every meeting I go to I hear about something Jody is organizing or creating! I appreciate his cooperation in making us a better district by helping us look at the data!
Shout out to Santa Fe Specials Team for problem-solving what is best for students and collaborating with teachers to make ALL kids successful by doing what is best for kids focusing on the positives to end the year strong!
Mrs. Kaufmann engaged students this week with a triangle challenge and students from every class wanted to show their work to various staff teaching and walking through their classrooms!
Mrs. Schwindt found a creative way to engage students in learning by taking a pre-assessment and providing opportunities for students to verify, add on to their thinking, collaborate amongst their peers, and revise their thinking throughout her instruction and positive reinforcement!
Mr. Sisson, Mrs. Duncan, and Mrs. Doerkensen have been working hard in their schedules in planning for next-year math opportunities and doing work that will benefit students and planning to communicate their work to families! They have truly gone the extra mile!
Mrs. Ramey for guiding her students to success using creative resources to practice skills from foundational to complex levels of thinking!
Santa Fe 5th-Grade Science team for providing hands-on learning through planning and experimenting on relational forces by building roller coasters with their students using household items and marbles!
Mrs. Fiedler and Mrs. V’s paras At Santa Fe, these are the most amazing people.
Sarah Kauman is a bright spot on Thursdays! She gives up some of her plan time weekly to do an adapted art class with my students. It is geared more for their level helping keep them more engaged. We all look forward to our time with Mrs. Kaufman!
Staff shout out for Kayla Berrey. Kayla Berrey at Northridge does an amazing job building genuine, caring relationships with her current and former students!
Shout out to Chris Wedel at NHS. He's been working with a challenging student all year and did a great job getting her focused and calmed down the other day. He found the magic formula!
Miranda Wolke is a natural with our kids. She's reliable, kind, accepting, and never afraid of a challenge. I am honored to have her help in my classroom!
I would like to give Tommy Edgmon a shout-out. Tommy constantly supports and shows appreciation to staff and students. I have seen Tommy handle challenging situations with compassion and empathy. He instantly fills the classroom and cafeteria with positivity and regularly looks for ways to build relationships with ALL students.
I would like to praise the IDD team for such a thorough job of explaining my son's IEP this month and all the time to implement this document into action. We have seen such great results since Mr. Caleb Smith and his team has persevered with him. This year has been a HUGE blessing for my son and all of us who "cheer" him on! Thank you