One to One

Portage Township Schools District Newsletter | February 2019

We're feeling the love!

February is a great time to show appreciation for the special people in your life, and doing so is an opportunity to model kindness for your children. Put a nice note in their lunchbox or backpack, encourage them to thank their teachers, or help them create a homemade gift for a friend or family member. Valentines Day doesn't always have to be about roses and chocolate; it can be a time in which your family gives thanks to those who love and help you!

PTS Celebrates 100 Days of School

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Believe it or not, our students have already been in school for over 100 days! On Jan. 25, several of our elementary students participated in a variety of activities, including dressing up as 100-year-olds, and counting 100 objects. Despite the 2-hour delay that day, the students had a great time learning about the number 100 and celebrating 100 Day!


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The Portage Girls Bowling Team took home their second state title in a row on Feb. 2! Congratulations to the members the 2019 team that brought home the trophy:

Julia Boer

Tinley Fasel

Makayla Himden

Jade Keller

Kayla Marr

Lauren Smith

Makayla qualified for the individual state competition, placing 11th and earning the Mental Attitude Award. Congratulations to the team and head coach Debbie Gossett for making us #PortageProud!

Rick Snodgrass coaches 35th basketball season

Video by Rebecca Rosado

PTS Public Relations Intern

Join us in congratulating head boys basketball coach Rick Snodgrass on his 35th season coaching the sport! We are lucky to have had him with us for the past 12 years mentoring and encouraging our students both in the classroom and on the court. Hear about some of his favorite moments and what keeps him coming back year after year in the video below.

Attendance program aims to provide support for families and encourage students to come to school

By Evan Gerike

PTS Public Relations Intern

Portage Township Schools has put new attendance policies in place for this school year.

In order to address attendance rates across the state, the Indiana Compulsory Attendance Law shifted its focus, according to Director of Student Achievement and Innovation Robert Wilson.

“The policies are new this year and support the recent county and city ordinances passed last summer,” Wilson said. “This is in compliance with state guidelines and law.”

PTS released its own official attendance policy, aligning itself with these ordinances and laws. The policy states that its purpose is “to streamline and standardize the process in which we address students who are chronic/habitual truants. This is vital to improve our students’ attendance and progression toward graduation.”

Each school in the district is responsible for following these guidelines.

“Our first priority is educational in letting parents know of their student's attendance status and how that can affect them and their child legally,” Wilson said. ”Through this intervention process we are hoping to help shift resources to positively address the students attendance issue rather than seek punitive measures.”

To help this education process, the township has included three different attendance distinctions: unexcused, excused, and exempt.

Unexcused absences are defined as the student missing from school without any proper parent contact. Excused absences include absences when the school is contacted by a parent or guardian and absences due to a planned and approved vacation. Students are allowed five excused absences per year.

Exempt absences include a much broader range of absences including absences caused by a medical illness that is treated by a professional, absences due to a funeral or memorial service, or absences due to a student serving in the National Guard for up to 10 days.

Students who miss ten or more days, not including exempt absences, are considered habitually truant. Once becoming habitually truant, students under the age of 18 meet the conditions that may lead to their parents or guardians being referred to the Child Protection Services for Educational Neglect.

PTS has implemented security measures as an attempt to prevent this stage. At five absences, a conference call will be held with the parents or guardians. At seven absences, the family will receive a home visit from the appropriate employees.

Wilson said he hopes the district can implement incentives to reward students who follow the attendance policy.

Apple Professional Development Series

Last month, JJ from Apple visited Portage High School West for the final time this school year to conduct a professional development opportunity for our staff members. We would like to thank Apple and JJ for their commitment to improving the educational experiences available to our students by providing opportunities for our Portage staff members to continuously learn. Improving the use of technology in the classroom allows us to ensure our students are future-ready and able to be successful in their futures.

How 'I Can' statements encourage learning at PTS

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By Carly Jones

PTS Public Relations Intern

At Portage Township Schools, teachers and staff are determined to give students the best learning experience possible, and want to implement curriculum that is both educational and inspiring.

An example of this is the “I can” statements that teachers of all subjects are encouraged to include in their daily lesson plan. These statements are usually written on the board so students know what they should have learned and should be able to complete at the end of the class period. These statements are used for all students K-12 as they are equally as effective for any age.

On the PTS webpage,, parents and teachers can access the “I can” statements rubric that are used to determine academic standards for each unique set of lessons and will ensure the success of our students.

To access the rubric, navigate to the menu tab on the PTS webpage and click on “our district.” From this point, clicking on “curriculum” and then “curriculum development” will display all the different ways teachers can organize their lesson plans to fit what is needed to be taught to the students. Next, click on “develop instructional timeline” and navigate to the “Portage Township Schools I can” link and this is where parents or teachers are able to access the statements for each grade.

An example of an “I can” statement to keep kindergarten students on a successful path in their English language arts skills would be “I can identify both upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet.” As the student advances in their education, the statements become more difficult as the classwork does. Such as, an eighth grade science statement that states “I can identify number of cells produced in mitosis and meiosis.”

PTS is determined to encourage the success in our student’s educational journey, and the implementation of “I can” statements into everyday learning is a step in the right direction towards graduation.

PHS Outstanding Young Man

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On Feb. 2, 16 members of the PHS senior class participated in the Outstanding Young Man competition! Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Trey Sebben - 4th Runner Up
Evan Gerike - 3rd Runner Up
Conner Belt - 2nd Runner Up
Jeff Stanley - 1st Runner Up
Truman Edwards - 2019 OUTSTANDING YOUNG MAN

Congratulations to all of the participants on a job well done!

Technology allows for individualized learning experiences

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By Emily Extin

PTS Public Relations Intern

Portage Township Schools has been working to give their students more technology that provides each student with a personalized experience by giving the district multiple approaches to learning.

The learning is seen as personalized by having adaptive software, such as KHAN Academy or Study Island, available to students. Programs such as these allow the students to work at their own level and pace. Students who need to recover credits are able to take online courses personalized to their needs to do so.

“Technology allows for many modalities of learning to be applied through both visual and auditory,” Director of Innovative Learning Michael Depasquale said.

Depasquale stated that teachers are continuing to develop their curriculum to increase their use of technology in the classroom. Classrooms have been using Nearpod, Flipgrid, Turnitin, flipped video lessons, and more.

“Teachers have received professional development on newest techniques including working with Apple, looking at ways to bring higher order thinking to their learning, being creative, and creating videos with Clips, iMovie, and Keynote,” Depasquale said.

He said teachers have also been developing their content on Schoology, the district’s Learning Management System. The teachers meet with various coaches that give them support as they implement different activities involving technology.

“VR [virtual reality] kits exist in every school, and Augmented Reality is available directly through the iPads that the teachers and students have in their possession,” Depasquale said.

Our district is continuing to look at innovative practices to constantly meet the needs of all students, and we are fortunate to have the tools we need to achieve this.

PHS students enjoy annual Winter Formal dance

Photos by Evan Gerike

PTS Public Relations Intern

Portage High School students enjoyed an evening of fun and dancing on Friday, Feb. 1 at the Winter Formal. The annual event, which is held at Duneland Falls Banquet Center, is sponsored by the school's Student Council and open to all students. Enjoy our Winter Formal photos below.

Adverse Weather Conditions: To Close or Not to Close?

The decision to close school due to the possibility of adverse weather conditions is not always an easy one. The safety of our students is always our main concern, and there are several additional considerations that factor into our decisions and when they are made. The type of adverse weather, our city and county's abilities to keep the roads safe, and the ability of our buses to safely transport students all factor into our decisions.

Click on the Emergency Weather Announcements button below to read more about Portage Township School's policies and protocols when adverse weather is forecasted for our area. Remember that all closing notifications will be delivered via School Messenger phone calls and e-mails, posted to the PTS Facebook and Twitter pages, and listed with our local media and school closing websites. If you need to check or update your contact information, please contact your child's school.

STEAM: Incorporating the arts into STEM learning

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By Tori Henderson

PTS Public Relations Intern

Myers and Aylesworth Elementary School art teacher Bridget Nadolski is working to incorporate Science, Technology, Education, Art and Mathematics into her classes at school. STEAM is an educational movement that allows students to think critically and learn creatively.

“It is an instant motivator for learning,” Nadolski said. “It puts the student in real life learning situations where decisions have to be made, cooperation is inevitable for success, and it inspires students to reach beyond the pencil and paper on their desk.”

Nadolski has always incorporated each element into her art classes but is branching out to extend these lessons to other teachers.

“In life, everything you see, do, touch, art has inspired it in some way. Recently I have used the Maker Space at Myers in cooperation with 4th grade teacher Mary Mann and Computer Coordinator Danielle Florence. We created a lesson on Jackson Pollack using robotics and ipads to paint, desktops to do expository writing, green screen photography, and tables with tools for innovative inventions using geometric theory. This really inspired the kids and the adults too!” she said.

Nadolski said that her students love learning this way, and she hardly has to discipline them because they are all eager to do the lessons. By teaching her students this way, she gets to watch them “become inventors, dreamers, and communicators.

“I feel that our educational system has become too narrowed by catering to the national and state testing,” Nadolski said. “The S.T.E.A.M movement is the educator's way of breaking away and getting back to the business of teaching our students to reach success in today's world.”

Important Events and Reminders

Late-Start Wednesday CANCELLED

In order to preserve as much instructional time as possible after January's winter weather, we have decided to cancel the Feb. 6 Late-Start Wednesday. Please be sure to have your child to school at normal start times that day.
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Mobile Marketplace - Feb. 14

We would LOVE for you to come to our next Mobile Marketplace at Willowcreek Middle School on Feb. 14! Remember to bring your proof of Indiana residency and bags or boxes to carry your selections. See you there!
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MindUP Parent Night - Feb. 20

Join us on Feb. 20 for our first MindUP Parent Night. Our elementary School Advisers have been implementing the MindUP curriculum, which teaches students how to process and control their emotions through knowledge of the brain and how it works. In this interactive workshop, we will provide the basics of the program and give you the tools you need to incorporate MindUP at home.
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