HCPS 411 Update

September 1, 2022

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HCPS 2022-2023 School Year Virtual Staff Kick-Off

If you were unable to tune into the live Virtual Back to School Kick-Off for Staff on Monday, August 29, we encourage you to take a moment to watch the video below to hear messages from Superintendent of Schools Sean Bulson! We wish everyone a great first week of school!
HCPS 2022 / 2023 Back to School Staff Kickoff

HCPS Staff and Family First Day Photo Request

Share your first day of school pictures with us for a chance to be featured in our Back to School YouTube video! We want to see those smiling faces of both staff members and students!! Please email your picture(s) to communications@hcps.org.

We can't wait to share the happy faces of our students and staff as they begin the 2022-23 school year!

2022 End of Summer Fest

Thank you to everyone who joined HCPS at this year's End of Summer Fest event with the Aberdeen IronBirds! More than 500 tickets were purchased by HCPS families for the game. HCPS leaders and other community partners were able to engage with many families and provide important resources to support their educational journey. Throughout the stadium, there was great excitement for the start of another wonderful year of learning at HCPS!

Special thanks to Superintendent Sean Bulson, Student Member of the Board of Education Noa Blanken, and 2022 Teacher of the Year Ashley Gereli (pictured below, left to right) for throwing out the first pitches to get the game started that night!
HCPS End of Summer Fest at Ripken Stadium

HCPS Employee Handbook Updated

The HCPS Employee Handbook was revised effective July 1, 2022. It has been distributed to all networked employees via Safe Schools, where employees are asked to complete the course by confirming that they have received the Handbook. Employees are encouraged to review all of the information in the handbook.

All employees should use Safe Schools to acknowledge receipt of the Handbook. Due to an unfortunate crossover in the distribution system, new employees may also have received an email providing a SharePoint link to the HCPS Employee Handbook with a request for the employee to acknowledge receipt. You may disregard any email notification directing you SharePoint.

You are encouraged to view the HCPS Employee Handbook at your convenience. Any changes or updates are noted in BOLD. Please direct any questions that you have regarding the Handbook to Human Resources.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Dan Reimers, Staff and Labor Relations Specialist, at Daniel.Reimers@hcps.org or 410-588-5226.

HCEA COVID-19 Memorandum of Understanding - Updated

The updated COVID-19-related MOU between the Board of Education and the Harford County Education Association is now available on the Human Resources Staff Relations SharePoint site, or by clicking here.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Mae Alfree, Ed.D., in Human Resources at Mae.Alfree@hcps.org or 410-588-5226.

Mental Health Absences

On July 1, 2022, House Bill 118, Absences Due to Mental Health, went into effect. This legislation requires school systems to provide mental health resources to students upon their return from a mental health-related absence. The Bill further requires school systems to accept notes from a licensed mental health provider, in cases where a note from a doctor is required, if an absence is due to a mental health concern.

The Office of Student Support Services has developed a protocol to be followed in response to the new legislation. The following procedure will be followed when a student provides a note indicating their absence was mental health related:

1. When a teacher receives a note indicating a student was absent due to a mental health issue, they will notify the student’s school counselor.

2. The school counselor will provide the one-page “Mental Health Absence Resource” located at https://www.hcps.org/students/docs/MHAbsenceResource.pdf to the parent/guardian via e-mail and/or directly to the student.

3. School counselors will meet with students at their discretion and based on their knowledge of the individual student.

4. As stated in the legislation, if administration has decided a doctor’s note is required for the absence, a note from a licensed mental health provider is allowable.

Please visit https://www.hcps.org/students/docs/MHAbsenceResource.pdf to view or print the “Mental Health Absences Resource”.

Any questions should be directed to Bernard Hennigan, Executive Director, Student Support Services, at bernard.hennigan@hcps.org or 410-588-5334.

Safety and Security Virtual Town Hall - Recording Available

On August 17, 2022, the HCPS Parent Academy and Office of Safety and Security, in partnership with local law enforcement agencies around the county, hosted a Safety and Security Virtual Town Hall to address plans for school emergencies, as well as everyday challenges like bullying and mental health. A panel of school system experts shared important information about the measures HCPS is taking to keep our students, staff, and school buildings safe this school year and answered questions submitted from members of the community.

If you were not able to watch the Town Hall live, please click below for the recording of the event.


As we begin a new school year and continue to focus on increasing our customer service efforts, a new marketing campaign has begun to support employees, students, parents/guardians, and the larger HCPS community. Ask HCPS is a general contact method for all HCPS-related inquiries. Our dedicated Customer Service Administrative Support Specialist, Judy Simon, will manage all inquiries received through Ask HCPS to ensure thorough and timely responses. Questions may be sent to AskHCPS@hcps.org, or called in to (410) 809-6193. Personalized responses will be provided to each inquiry. Beginning this week, some Central Office team members have added the logo to the signature line of their HCPS email account. Any HCPS staff member interested in adding this customer service tool to their email signature is invited to do so; click here to download the image. We encourage you to share this resource with the families in your community as we begin another exciting school year.

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The Nomination Window is Open for the September 2022 Family Friendly School Award!

The Family Friendly School Award program is back! Like last year, announcements regarding nomination and voting windows opening and closing will be made via social media, the HCPS website, and the HCPS 411 Update. Encourage your school community to participate to help your school earn the coveted title of Family Friendly School. To win this award, a school must first be nominated by at least one person and then receive the most votes by the community among all the schools in the running that month. Winning schools will once again receive the positive coverage of the award, a custom banner to display in the school, and a complimentary staff luncheon from Chick-fil-A of Harford County. Good luck to all our schools this year!

To nominate for September, click here. The nomination window is open until Thursday, September 8.

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New this Year: Principal Parent Engagement Toolkit

The HCPS Parent Academy is proud to introduce the Principal Parent Engagement Toolkit on hcps.org! This library of resources is being developed to support the work HCPS principals are doing around family engagement within their school communities. HCPS is committed to creating and maintaining welcoming and inclusive environments in all our schools and offices to help foster genuine relationships with our community members. This toolkit will highlight innovative and effective engagement strategies that have been successful in our very own schools.

“Tools” will be organized within the Toolkit by the National PTA Standards for Family-School Partnerships. These sections are not meant to be sequential; one is not more important than the others. We encourage our principals to utilize this ongoing resource to enhance their family and community engagement efforts throughout the school year. Visit this page often for new content and ideas!

Many thanks to Karen Jankowiak, proud principal of Prospect Mill Elementary School, for working with the Parent Academy to create the first video for the Toolkit for Standard 1: Welcoming all families into the school community!

Principals and school-based staff members who have a program, practice, or event that they feel should be included in the Principal Parent Engagement Toolkit are encouraged to reach out to Mary Beth Stapleton, Manager of Family and Community Partnerships, at MaryBeth.Stapleton@hcps.org.

Standard 1: Welcoming All Families into the School Community, featuring Prospect Mill Elementary

Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Limited opportunity for student loan borrowers to qualify for the Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. This temporary policy is only in effect through October 31, 2022. Click here for more information from Lincoln Financial.

School Counseling Professional Development Opportunities

Loyola University is offering two, one-credit fall courses for school counselors and supervisors. Please click the links below to learn more.

Student Services STAR Award

Congratulations to Mary Buie, Administrative Support Technician in the Edgewood Pupil Services Office, for being honored with the Student Services STAR Award this summer.

Mary was nominated by her colleague, Pupil Personnel Worker Craig Malone. In her nomination, Mr. Malone shared, "Ms. Buie has an innate ability to put people at ease and to make them feel welcome." Mr. Malone further shared how Mary goes out her way to assist families in securing necessary paperwork for timely enrollment, calms their anxiety with supportive words and actions, and shares her vast knowledge of state and community resources to those in need of additional support.

Mary goes above and beyond for the Edgewood Pupil Services Office and is a cherished and valuable member of the team.

Congratulations to Mary and a big thank you for all that she does for HCPS students and families!

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Parent Academy Real Talks

Kindergarten Readiness: A Principal’s Perspective

What do parents and caregivers of little ones need to know to get their child ready to start their school career? Mary Beth Stapleton sits down with Dr. Stacey Gerringer, esteemed principal of Abingdon Elementary School, to talk about registering for school and incoming Kindergartener events; what to expect in the classroom and cafeteria; skills to practice at home to encourage independence; activities to prepare little ones for learning and working with them to understand two-step directions and other social skills; and more.

If you know families with little ones who may benefit from hearing this information, please share it! All Real Talks are shared on the Parent Academy Facebook page and are archived on our website here.

Parent Academy Real Talk: Kindergarten Readiness: A Principal's Perspective

HCPS Food and Nutrition Information for the 2022-23 School Year

In this episode of Real Talk, Mary Beth Stapleton talks with Kristen Sudzina and Derek Layser, Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor of Food and Nutrition Services for HCPS, respectively, about information parents and caregivers should know about school meals for the 2022-23 school year. Learn about the Meal Benefit application and why families should consider applying; using MySchoolBucks for paying for meals in the cafeteria; how Food and Nutrition staff plan menus; and more. Visit https://www.hcpsmenus.com/ for more information!

Parent Academy Real Talk: HCPS Food and Nutrition Information for the 2022-23 School Year

Littles University

We hope our Littles University Scholars had a wonderful summer! Mrs. Lader's most recent reading of, "Trying" by Kobi Yamada is linked below. This school year, thanks to our generous friends at the Harford County Education Foundation, we’ll continue to explore new books with our Littles and their families. Didn’t get this month’s book? Click here to register for a copy of next month’s book and grow your Littles home library!
HCPS Littles University- "Trying"

What's New with BurnAlong in September

Healthy Aging Month

BurnAlong courses will focus on the fundamentals of healthy aging throughout September. Join BurnAlong on September 14 at noon for a Healthy Aging Roundtable with expert instructors across nutrition, mental health, fitness, and financial wellness, answering your questions and giving insight into how you can be healthy and well as you and your loved one's age.

What is BurnAlong?

As a reminder, BurnAlong is our health and wellness partner who provides you and your family with access to more than 23,000 live and on-demand online classes from 5,000+ credentialed instructors at no cost to you.

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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.

CareFirst Wellness Announcements: Self-Improvement Month

September is Self-Improvement Month

This health observance is a timely reminder to assess where we are and would like to be. It is time to care for ourselves and focus on improving our personal, mental, financial, and physical health. To learn more, click here to view CareFirst's September Wellness Newsletter.

September Recipe of the Month: Italian-Style Chicken Recipe

Click here to try this Italian-style chicken designed to fill you with good-for-you vegetables and tasty, nutritious chicken.

SmartDollar Financial Wellness Solution

When it comes to managing your finances and preparing for your financial future, it may not be easy to know if you're on the right track. SmartDollar is a free online financial program brought to you by CareFirst ShareCare. All employees, enrolled in the medical or not, can access ShareCare to take advantage of this opportunity to help you steer your financial destiny. To learn more about how to register, click here.

September ShareCare Self Challenge: Sleep Better Now

Did you know you are supposed to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night? Join ShareCare's self-managed Sleep Better Now Challenge and start making little changes in your sleep habits that could help you catch more zzzs and improve your overall health. To learn more and participate, click here.

EAP Webinar: Taking Better Care of Yourself

Presented by KEPRO Employee Assistance Program

This month, participants will identify the ways to implement self-care as part of their schedule and learn the art of slowing down. Click here to learn more.

Date: Available on demand beginning August 16, 2022

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.

Maryland State Pension System: Mentor Newsletter

The Summer 2022 retirement newsletter provided by the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System is now available for active employee members. This edition includes important information about Military Service Credit, Approved Leave of Absence, and a Talking Seal. To view the newsletter, click here.

Upcoming Webinar Workshop: Life Insurance Options

Let's face it, life and disability income insurance can be confusing. You are not alone if you are unsure how much you need or which type of insurance to choose. HCPS is partnering with our life insurance vendor, MetLife, to offer all employees the opportunity to learn the benefits of insurance, how to determine your insurance needs, and which types of insurance are best suited for different situations.

Date: Thursday, September 22, 2022

Time: 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

If asked for the company name, enter Harford County Public Schools

Click here to reserve your spot! Register online now. Space may be limited.

On the fence? Here's a sneak peek of what to expect. Spouses and partners are welcome!

Save the Date: Annual Fall Pre-Retirement Webinar

Through the Maryland State Retirement Agency and the Community College of Baltimore County, Harford County Public Schools announces a pre-retirement webinar for HCPS employees and their spouses. This webinar provides vital retirement information to all members within eight (8) years of retirement, whether normal service or early retirement. Discussion topics include:

  • HCPS Retiree Benefits
  • State Retirement Pension Benefits
  • Legal Consideration
  • Social Security Benefits
  • Financial Planning

This year's pre-retirement session will be held virtually on November 5, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Watch future HCPS 411 Update newsletters for more information on registering and obtaining a day of event link.

Shout Outs!

"Huge shout out to Paul Kline, Mark Ressler, Robert Smith, and Theodore Plass. They went above and beyond this summer! Paul did an amazing job overseeing the project and landscaping to make our school ADA compliant with beautiful landscaping. We received constant updates as the project moved forward all summer. In addition, Mark, Robert, and Theodore did an amazing job keeping our grounds looking beautiful. We are so proud to welcome our families for the 2022-2023 school year with a fresh new look."

-Lisa Minutoli, Principal and Linda Puto, Chief Custodian, Churchville Elementary School

Welcome to HCPS!

Since July 1, 2022, our staff management team has hired 310 certificated staff and 160 support staff into our HCPS family! We'd like to welcome all our new hires and wish them a wonderful first year! We know they will shine bright!

Do you know someone who would be an asset to HCPS? We still have several support staff vacancies we are looking to fill. Follow our recruitment team on social media and share posts to help us spread the word!

  • Facebook - @HCPSRecruiter
  • Instagram - hcpsrecruiter
  • Twitter - @HCPSRecruiter

A huge shout out to everyone on the recruitment team who is out on the front lines year-round to find the best of the best to join the HCPS family! Thank you for your time and dedication!

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Office of Communications and Family Outreach

Editor: Lindsay Bilodeau, Innovation 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.