Fort Thomas Independent Schools Employee Newsletter

Volume 3 Issue 4

December 2015


Dear Staff,

I hope that each of you is rested and rejuvenated as a result of having had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. That renewed energy will be important as we enter into these final few hectic weeks of the first semester. If you don’t believe that, just ask any elementary teacher how much energy it takes to keep up with students who can’t wait for Santa to come. I am confident that their responses will illustrate my point.

That being said, regardless of one’s faith or religious affiliation, the holidays are definitely a special time of year. It could be because we actually pause to reflect on all of the ways in which our lives have been blessed, or perhaps because we are filled with the joy that giving to others brings. It is truly magical!

As we approach the holiday season, I hope each of you and all our students will take time to reflect on just how fortunate we all are to be in Fort Thomas. I can tell you that this is something that I never take for granted. There is no better place to be a superintendent, teacher or student than here. For in this community every child is provided with the greatest gift of all – a high quality education.

Let’s inspire our current students to be the generation which makes sure that someday all children around the world will receive this most precious gift.

Happy Holidays!



Bits and Bytes


Every Kentucky school district must develop a technology plan and have that plan approved each year by the local Board of Education. One of the components of our current technology plan states that the technology department will “publish periodic electronic reminders of acceptable use, its provisions and how and where to report abuse of the policy”. In the next few issues of Forward Focus, we will publish reminders. Please contact Diana McGhee if you have questions about these reminders.

Reminder #2: Board policy 08.2323 states: District employees and activity sponsors may set up blogs and other social networking accounts using District resources and following District guidelines to promote communications with students, parents, and the community concerning school-related activities and for the purpose of supplementing classroom instruction.

If you are interested in creating a social networking account to use with students, please let Diana McGhee know, and she will send you the permission form to complete

Internet Connections


Poems About Teaching and Teacher is a Poetry Foundation resource for grades 9-12 that includes poems and essays written by veteran teachers on teaching poetry.

WatchKnowLearn includes thousands of free K-12 educational video clips in all subjects for teachers, students and parents.

Understanding Science was developed for K-higher education teachers, professors and students and provides a look at science, its principals and methods.

ReadWriteThink presents 58 student interactives for grades K-12 that develop skills in organizing and summarizing, inquiry and analysis, writing poetry, writing and publishing prose, and learning about language.

Motivate: Math Enrichment for School provides opportunities for students in grades K-12 to discover how math relates to life and other subjects.


Technology PD Sessions for December

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.

Mixing it up with OfficeMix

Thursday, December 3, at 8pm

OfficeMix, a new Microsoft Office add-in, provides the ability to turn PowerPoint presentations into interactive online lessons and quizzes. Come discover new, advanced ways to use PowerPoint.

*** You must use a Windows computer to create the OfficeMix, but you can show the Mix from any Internet-capable device.***

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 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 December Calendar Events

December 14 - Board Meeting
December 18 - Last Day Before Winter Break
December 19 - January 3 - Winter Break - No School

Current Teacher Scholarships - Application Deadline Soon!

Each year the Fort Thomas Board of Education offers five (5) $500 scholarships to teachers pursuing course work beyond a Master’s degree (Rank II) at an accredited institution. The application requires teachers to indicate the courses they will be taking with a short description as to why or how the course or program being pursued will enhance their ability to increase student achievement, meet personal or professional goals, and meet an identified Fort Thomas school district need.

If you are interested in applying for one of the Board's Gail Federle Current Teacher Scholarships, please fill out the application and submit to Gene Kirchner by Friday, December 11. The Scholarship committee will review all applications and select the 2015 scholarship recipients the week of December 14.

The application is available on our website under Resources for Employees or at this link:

Payroll / Benefits

American Fidelity - Cafeteria Plans
American Fidelity will be in to meet with employees about available cafeteria plans. They will get there around 8:15 and stay to the end of the school day.

Here are the remaining dates for each school:
Dec 2-4 HHS

Dec 7-8 HMS

Remember, all employees who work 4 hours or more per day MUST meet with them.


Congratulations to...

Jason Burgess (HHS) on the birth of his daughter Cecily Noel on November 12. Cecily weighed 8 lbs. 1 oz. and was 21 inches long.
Brian Alessandro (HMS) on his marriage to Ally Cox on November 21.

Our Sympathies to...

Jeff Searcy (JES) on the loss of his brother Calvin on November 17.

Darrell Simpson (HHS) on the loss of his mother Vivian Fox on November 19.

Rhonda Wassom (HHS) on the loss of her father Herbert Roberts on November 25.


Congratulations to...

HHS senior Mark Baron who earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT.

The following students who were accepted into the Kentucky Children's choir (All State chorus for 5-6 grade students). They will perform in Louisville on February 4.

  • Caroline Slaby
  • Emersen Slaby


  • Bailey Houston
  • Aiden Knasel
  • Kenzi Vennefron


  • Grace Shuley
  • Sophia Veshapidze


  • Anne Exterkamp
  • Natalie Horton
  • Kimberly Ossege

The following HMS students who have been selected to participate in the Kentucky Junior High SATB Choir

  • Claire Adams
  • Zachary Baxter
  • Lizzy Roeding

The following students who have been selected to participate in the Kentucky Junior High SSA Choir


  • Michelle Chalk
  • Jennifer Harrah
  • Emma Horton

HHS Freshmen
  • Lydia Lightfoot
  • Hailey Little
  • Taylor Smothers

The following HHS Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors who have been selected to participate in Kentucky High School All-State Choirs

  • Natalie Neace – Mixed Choir
  • Matthew Gray – Mixed Choir
  • Payton Epperson – Men’s Choir
  • Gracie Fettig – Women’s Choir
  • Lexie Gabbard – Women’s Choir
  • Audrey Cann – Women’s Choir
  • Ella Grimm – Women’s Choir
  • Taylor Parks – Women’s Choir

The following HHS students who have been selected to participate in the Kentucky All-State Symphony Orchestra

  • Brian Johncox – bass, Symphony Orchestra
  • Donnie Adams – bass, Symphony Orchestra
  • Sam Steiden – violin, Symphony Orchestra
  • Etana Plymesser – cello, Symphony Orchestra
  • Michael Emmerich – violin, Commonwealth Strings
  • Ryan Millard – violin, Alternate
  • Nathan Schimpf – violin, Alternate

To the following 5th grade students who participated in the Northern Kentucky Honor Choir concert on Friday, November 13.


  • Lela Grillot
  • John Laskey
  • Caroline Slaby
  • Emersen Slaby


  • Katie Deshler
  • Bailey Houston
  • Aiden Knasel
  • Emma McGlone
  • Kenzie Vennefron


  • Jonah Listerman
  • Avery Emmerich
  • Ella Hart
  • Averill Hoover
  • Sophia Veshapidze

HHS Sinfonia In Toronto!

The HHS Sinfonia and Chamber Orchestra traveled to Toronto to perform and attend a master class at the University of Toronto. They spent three days over fall break on this tour. The orchestra performed at Casa Loma, a castle constructed in 1911 in midtown Toronto. The audience was visitors to Canada from all around the world.

They also attended a fantastic master class with world-renowned conductor and violist, Uri Meyer, having studied with Leonard Bernstein and been on the faculty of Rice University and the University of Michigan. In addition to the performance and master class, the orchestra saw the city from the CN tower, the highest tower in the world, and experienced Niagara Falls up close from a boat. The trip was both educational and fun.

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HMS students wear red, white and blue for their Veterans' Day program.
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Woodfill students participate in a STEM lesson during a visit from NKU CINSAM.

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