HCPS 411 Update

November 11, 2021

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COVID-19 Status and Updates

The current COVID-19 transmission status for Harford County, as determined by the CDC, is “substantial.” To view the CDC Data Tracker, please visit: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-datatracker/#county-view. Please remain diligent in mask wearing, distancing whenever possible, staying home when sick, following quarantine guidance, and intentionally including COVID-19 mitigation measures in school activities. Any concerns about COVID-19 mitigation can be directed to COVID19Questions@hcps.org.

New this week: A section has been added to the family FAQ to answer questions related to the afterschool testing program that begins November 15, 2021: https://www.smore.com/742v8.

Other resources regarding HCPS COVID-19 safety protocols can be found both on hcps.org under COVID Resources and on SharePoint here.

Tomorrow, November 12, is a Systemwide Professional Learning Day in HCPS

The intent of the day is to have staff (including administrators, clerical staff, counselors, educational support professionals, psychologists, related service providers, teachers, and social workers) engage in professional learning experiences around their own professional goals. HCPS will offer a keynote and a variety of synchronous, live choice sessions for participants to choose.

From 8:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., participants can engage in professional learning by accessing live, virtual choice sessions. A full conference booklet with directions and all session choices can be accessed here: November 12, 2021 Professional Development.

In addition, participants can create their own learning experiences to meet their current goals. For example, participants have the flexibility to schedule blocks of time for:

  • Collaborative Planning (with all safety guidelines in place)
  • Individual Planning
  • Grading and Reporting activities
  • Completion of job-required documents such as Special Education related paperwork
  • Reading of professional journals, articles, and books
  • Engagement in online learning modules offered through professional organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Teaching Tolerance, SAVVAS, Lucy Calkins and The TCRWP Colleagues, the National Art Educator Association, the Maryland State Department of Education, etc.
  • Reflection on current practice
  • Research on tools, techniques, and strategies relative to essential job functions
  • Classroom and resource set up and organization
  • Other self-identified professional tasks

Staff may choose to engage in the professional learning events from their school workspace or remotely. Schools and Offices will be closed to visitors to allow for participation in the professional learning. Phone and in-person coverage at all buildings will resume on Monday, November 15, 2021.

The Professional Development Day runs from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a one-hour duty-free lunch.

Registration is not required for any session. Most workshops will be offered through Microsoft Teams which has a cap of 500 participants. If a session has reached 500, anyone additional trying to join will receive a message on the screen that the session is full. We will be closely monitoring these messages so that we may determine if additional sections or times will need to be offered.

Questions about this day can be directed to HCPSProfessionalLearning@hcps.org.

Monthly Minute TEAMS Live Link

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Join Dr. Bulson next Thursday, November 18, at 12:15 p.m. by clicking here.

National School Psychology Week

Governor Larry Hogan proclaims November 8-12, 2021, as National School Psychology Week in Maryland. Read the full proclamation here.

November 26, 2021 Pay Date

Although HCPS offices are closed Friday, November 26, 2021, banks will be open. Therefore, the actual pay date remains November 26, 2021. Checks (for employees who are not on direct deposit) will be mailed to the employee’s home address (per LAWSON Employee Self Service, ESS) on Wednesday, November 24, 2021. Please verify the address shown on your October 29, 2021, pay stub is your current address. If the address is incorrect, log into ESS and update your address (click on Life Events and then Move). Please note, to access ESS, you must be logged onto an HCPS computer/HCPS network. Also, the format for username is your network username followed by “@hcps.org,” for example, johsmith@hcps.org. See the DSS and ESS Instructions for all you can do in DSS/ESS.

For questions regarding this information, please contact your Payroll Specialist. Click Here to find the Payroll Specialist for your location.

Not sure who to contact? Send your question to the general email at Payroll@hcps.org.

Bus Status Dashboard

The Transportation Department is excited to announce a new feature available on HCPS.org for HCPS bus transportation. The tool is meant to enhance communication related to bus service as we continue to face challenges due to staffing shortages within the Transportation Department. The Bus Status Dashboard will be updated as bus service issues are identified; such as buses and bus routes that are experiencing a known delay, and whether a replacement bus will be necessary. This tool serves an additional resource that is not designed to replace direct phone calls and notification to schools and administrators.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Cathy Bendis, Director of Transportation, at Cathy.Bendis@hcps.org or 410-638-4092.

GET More Program

Are you interested in becoming a teacher?

The Growing Exceptional Teachers More (GET More) Program is a program that provides tuition reimbursement equivalent of the negotiated tuition reimbursement rate for instructional staff (currently $300 per graduate credit hour) for employees who are represented by HCEA-ESP or AFSCME. The purpose of this tuition reimbursement assistance is to allow program participants to complete a teacher certification program in a high needs area of teacher education, with the ultimate goal of receiving their teacher certification and returning to work as a teacher in HCPS. This program is open to employees who have one (1) or more years of service with HCPS.

More information is available by clicking the provided link: GET More Application.

Questions on how to apply for this program should be directed to Benjamin Richardson, in Human Resources, at Benjamin.Richardson2@hcps.org.

Parent and Community Engagement: The NEW Judy Center at Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary

Harford County Public Schools was recently awarded a $330,000 Judith P. Hoyer Early Care and Education Center (Judy Center Early Learning Hub) Grant for fiscal year 2022 to serve the Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary School community. Take a moment to watch how the new Judy Center will provide comprehensive early care and education services for young children and their families to promote continuous improvement towards school readiness.

Read more here: https://www.hcps.org/webfiles/WebFilesHandler.ashx?id=1096.

Parent and Community Engagement: The NEW Judy Center at Hall's Cross Roads Elementary

HCPS Teacher of the Year Update

We are excited to announce that the HCPS Teacher of the Year (TOY) application process has been updated!

Nominations will be accepted online at hcps.org, beginning on Monday, November 15, 2021. A nomination will require the nominator’s contact information, nominated teacher name and school, and reason why “My candidate should be recognized as the 2022 Harford County Teacher of the Year…” Once a nomination form has been received, the nominated teacher and their administrator will be notified via email.

The Teacher of the Year application has been updated with the help of current and former TOY. The link to the application will be included in the email notification of nomination, along with information regarding the program and process. Nominations can be submitted by colleagues, supervisors, administrators, former and current students, families and community members.

An email regarding the updated nomination process will be sent to our school community via our mass communication system at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, November 15.

More information is available now on www.hcps.org/aboutus/teacheroftheyear. Questions regarding this information should be directed to Christina Paquette, Communications and Family Outreach, at Christina.Paquette@hcps.org.

Vote NOW for the November Family Friendly School Award Winner!

It’s that time again! The voting window to name the next Family Friendly School Award winner is NOW OPEN! There can only be one winning school each month… now is your time to weigh in!

Click here to vote once before 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, November 17, to let us know which nominated school should win the coveted title of “Family Friendly School” and a staff Chick-fil-A luncheon!

As a reminder, if “your” school isn’t in the running this month and you feel it should be, nominate it next month! One winning school will be named each month through May, and schools may win multiple times. Reminders about nominating and voting windows will be shared in future HCPS 411 Update issues and on the Parent Academy Facebook page throughout the school year.

We look forward to announcing the November winner later this month!

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Congratulations to This Month's Bowtie Breakfast Honorees!

The HCPS Bowtie Breakfast program celebrates Central Office employees who consistently demonstrate outstanding customer service and go above and beyond in their roles. Honorees are nominated by colleagues to attend Superintendent Bulson’s virtual event held each month. Congratulations to the November honorees! Join us in celebrating our awesome HCPS staff!
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Parent Academy Workshop: Raising Young Women

Mijiza Green, Director of the Treasured Jewels program and HCPS Parent and Community Engagement Liaison, shares her years of experience in working with girls and strategies that are effective in raising resilient young women. Take a moment to watch!

Raising Young Women

Professional Development Announcements

Loyola University – Graduate Program Flier

Please see flier about graduate programs and information sessions on November 17 and December 8. To learn more about program offerings and opportunities, please contact Loyola’s recruitment team at education@loyola.edu.

PARAPRO Assessment Opportunities – November 12, 2021

With principal approval, the ParaPro Assessment will be available to all HCPS employees seeking to meet the highly qualified requirements of paraeducator positions in Harford County, which permits an individual to work with students in the classrooms under the direction of the teacher.

The test measures skills and knowledge in reading, math, and writing as well as the ability to apply those skills and knowledge to assist in classroom instruction. Test administration is scheduled for November 12, 2021. The test will be offered in two sessions: 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at C. Milton Wright High School, located at 1301 North Fountain Green Road, Bel Air, MD 21015. Please sign-up and pay for the assessment on HECTOR.

Additional information related to the test, procedures for reimbursement, test prep/review and the MD passing score requirements are also available on the HR site: HERE.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Pauline Timmons, in Special Education, at Pauline.Timmons@hcps.org or 410-588-5246.

CareFirst New Explanation of Benefits

Understand your care and costs

Mail you get from your health insurance provider shouldn’t be confusing. That’s the feedback CareFirst received on its Explanation of Benefits (EOB). They listened. And they made it better.

Following your next visit to a healthcare provider, you’ll receive the newly redesigned EOB. You’ll find it’s much simpler and easier to understand than before. Whenever you receive care, the new EOB layout will show you exactly how much you owe and what you saved as an HCPS CareFirst member.

Click here to take a look at the webpage CareFirst has designed with an example of the new EOB. If you have any questions email benefits@hcps.org.

CareFirst Wellness Announcements

November is recognized as National Diabetes Month. Did you know nearly 34.2 million adults in the United States have this condition, and about 1 in 5 of them don’t even know they have it? The good news? An individual can avoid or significantly reduce their risk of developing complications with lifestyle modifications. This month’s wellness newsletter focuses on prediabetes, preventing diabetes, risk factors, and CareFirst Resources available to members. Click here to view CareFirst’s November Wellness Newsletter. Click here to view the Know Diabetes by Heart info sheet available on the HCPS Staff Wellness webpage.

CareFirst ShareCare Recipe of the Month: Stuffed Acorn Squash with Apples & Cranberries

Acorn squash on its own is delicious; stuff it with seasonal fruit and ground turkey and you’ve got a healthy main course that is sure to become a family favorite. Click here to view the recipe for this delicious meal.

Gratitude Challenge through BurnAlong

BurnAlong is hosting a month-long Gratitude Challenge starting on November 15. Focus on Gratitude this November with a new challenge from BurnAlong! Join others from HCPS and other organizations on a four week journey to discover the power of practicing gratitude and mindfulness in your every day life. To view November’s Wellness Calendar and learn more about this program and how to participate click here.

Save the Date: On November 17, BurnAlong will be hosting a live event through their portal on healthy eating. You can register by clicking the registration link found on the HCPS Wellness calendar which can be accessed by clicking here.

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 complementary 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.

CLICK HERE to watch this quick two-minute video to help get started with your online member portal.

Caring for Our Elders

Presented by KEPRO Employee Assistance Program

The November KEPRO EAP communication resources are here! Is it time for you to approach conversation with your family about aging? Find out more about the aging process and how to both practically and emotionally care for elderly relatives. Click here for more tips on how better embrace each other’s differences.

Date: Available on demand beginning November 16, 2021

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, seven days per week toll free at (866) 795-5701 to visit their website online at www.EAPhelplink.com.

The Season of Giving - Central Office Food and Coat Drives

The holiday season is a time of year many families are unable to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal and gift giving due to financial hardship. From now through November 19, the HCPS Office of Title I will collect nonperishable food items and monetary donations. Nonperishables may be dropped off in the A. A. Roberty Building lobby Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monetary donations may be made at the A. A. Roberty Building in cash or check made out to Harford County Public Schools. Monetary donations can be made Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Please ask for Pam Smith, HCPS Homeless Liaison, to deliver your monetary donation. All funds will be used to purchase food items for families in Harford County.

A winter coat and toy drive will run from November 1 through December 17, 2021. Coats and toys will be delivered to Harford County families for the holiday season. All coat sizes will be accepted. Toys should be unwrapped and can be for all ages. A box will be in the lobby of the A. A. Roberty Building for donations.

Harford County Veterans Resource Fair Saturday, Nov. 13; Giveaways, Discounts & BBQ Lunch!

Harford County veterans, all military, and their families are welcome to this one-stop event for information about veterans’ healthcare and benefits, printed guides to resources and local businesses that offer veteran discounts & more. Harford County veterans can also enter a drawing for a big screen TV and one of three $250 gift cards sponsored by APG Federal Credit Union. A grab-and-go lunch from Mission BBQ will be provided. Masks will be required indoors.

The Harford County Veterans Resource Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 13 at the Bel Air Armory, 37 N. Main Street. The theme of this year’s fair is “Veterans Mental Health, From Awareness to Action.” Click here for details:


We hope to see you there!

Shout Outs!

"I would like to send a Shout Out to all the STRIVE paraeducators at Forest Hill Elementary School, they are simply the best!! We would not be able to do what we do daily if we did not have the support, dedication, and knowledge of 15 wonderful paraeducators! They come to work, day in and day out even when those days are tough. We would like to thank each of you and please know, we see you and appreciate you! The STRIVE teachers from FHES!"

-Jennifer Daly, Special Education Teacher, Forest Hill Elementary School

"Sending a shout out to school librarian Cori Mank at Swan Creek School. Her leadership and guidance have been instrumental in maintaining strong library services for the students of HCPS. She is quick to respond when help is needed and always has a great book recommendation! Thanks for all you do, Cori!"

-Sarah Scholl and Jessica Jefferies, Librarians at Havre de Grace Middle High School

"A big shout out to Diane LaPenna and Carla Fromille from the Office of Third-Party Billing, commonly called Medical Assistance, who were recently recognized by the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland State Department of Education for scoring a 100% on their FY2021 audit. A shout out is also due to all the Special Education Teachers and Related Service Providers who worked diligently to submit their Medical Assistance logs timely and accurately, as well as all the Special Education Coordinators who provided support and encouragement when needed."

-Eric Clark, Director of Budget

Welcome to the HCPS Family!

Please help us welcome the following new HCPS employees:

  • Jackqualine Batts, Inclusion Helper, Magnolia Elementary School

  • Brianna Bennett, Inclusion Helper, Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School

  • Rachel Bouldin, Inclusion Helper, Hickory Elementary School

  • Alena Carnell, School Nurse, C. Milton Wright High School

  • Nicole James, Administrative Support Specialist, Edgewood Elementary School

  • Heather Moretti, Paraeducator, Youth's Benefit Elementary School

  • Julia Newby, Inclusion Helper, Aberdeen High School

  • Brianna Scherpf, Inclusion Helper, Riverside Elementary School

  • Jeannette Slesicki, Speech Language Pathologist - Infants/Toddlers, John Archer 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.