HCPS 411 Update

September 8, 2022

Million Father March at Bakerfield Elementary School

No amount of rain was going to stop the festivities and smiles on the first day of school at Bakerfield Elementary School! The Broncos came out in full force to start the school year with their annual Million Father March. Thank you to Bakerfield Elementary School for inviting leadership members, Board members, elected officials, and more friends to participate in their event. It was an amazing morning for everyone!
HCPS 2022/23 Back to School / Million Father March at Bakerfield Elementary School

HCPS Employee Handbook Reminder

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.

As a reminder, the due date for completion of this course was September 6, 2022. If you have not already completed the course, please use this link to complete as soon as possible: http://hcps-md.safeschools.com.

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-ESP Paraprofessional Pre-K Support MOU

The Board of Education and the Harford County Education Association have agreed to support Education Support Professionals who fill the role of Pre-K Paraprofessional and wish to meet the education and/or certification requirement after July 1, 2025. The details are provided in the MOU 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., Director of Staff and Labor Relations, at Mae.Alfree@hcps.org or 410-588-5226.


The COVID-19 Leave MOU between the Board of Education and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 2471/Council 67 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., Director of Staff and Labor Relations, at Mae.Alfree@hcps.org or 410-588-5226.

New this Year: Career Counseling

HCPS is proud to announce that career counseling is now available to all HCPS employees. The goal of career counseling is to assist interested employees with changing or advancing their careers within the Harford County Public School system. This service includes one-on-one, confidential conversations with a career counselor from the Human Resources Department.

Career Counselor Assists you with:

  • Career Exploration Within the Organization
  • Job Transitions
  • Burnout
  • Job Searching Within the Organization
  • Resume Development
  • Interview Preparation
  • Goal Setting
  • And Much More

For more information or to schedule a career counseling appointment, please email Maranda Scott at maranda.scott@hcps.org.

Diversity 365

Join us as we continue to shine the light on how HCPS celebrates Diversity throughout the year. Each month, we will highlight a cultural/organizational holiday. All you have to do is take a picture or two and share the wonderful things your school or office is doing to celebrate the contributions we all make to HCPS.

This month, we are celebrating: Hispanic Heritage.

Please email your celebration pictures and a brief write up regarding the event to Sherron Foster-Moore, Diversity Retention & Recruitment Specialist, at sherron.fostermoore@hcps.org by Thursday, October 6, 2022. This month’s submissions will be shared in the October 13th edition of the HCPS 411 Update.

New Lincoln 403(b) and 457(b) Enrollments

HCPS employees are eligible to enroll in either deferred compensation plan immediately upon hire. Please keep in mind that there may be a lag between your enrollment submission and your salary deductions beginning. Employees can expect the deductions for the 403(b) to begin as soon as administratively possible, typically within two or three pay cycles. Employees may see a longer delay if enrolling in the 457(b) plan since elections can only take effect after the 1st of the month following when the election is made, per current IRS regulations. HCPS receives the Lincoln file for 457(b) deduction enrollments and changes on the 1st of each month. For new hires, HCPS sends new hire information to Lincoln on a regular basis. New participants will not be able to see contributions deposited into their Lincoln account until they are processed by HCPS in our HR/payroll system. During peak hiring times, this process can take a bit longer to complete.

Please reach out to Karen Jirsa at 410-588-5200 if you still are not seeing your deductions a month after enrollment.

Parent Academy Real Talk

New Harford County Health Center for Families

In this Real Talk, hear from Harford County Health Department’s Ronya Nassar, Public Information Officer, about a new resource for families, 1 North Main Family Health Center, providing comprehensive, youth and family-driven health and mental health services in our community.

All Real Talks are shared on the Parent Academy Facebook page and are archived on our website here.

Parent Academy Real Talk: New Harford County Health Center for Families

Harford County Arts Week

Harford County Arts Week, coordinated in partnership with Visit Harford and arts organizations across Harford County, is September 10-18, 2022. The event will offer over 30 arts-related events throughout Harford County during the week. You are invited to share information with your students about this initiative and encourage them to participate in any way they are able. This week coincides with National Arts in Education Week, so it is a perfect time to engage our youth in the arts.

Information about the initiative and a schedule of events can be found at https://www.visitharford.com/things-to-do/arts-and-culture/harford-county-arts-week/.

Access Healthcare Anywhere with CloseKnit

Virtual-First Primary Care Practice through CareFirst

CloseKnit is a virtual-first primary care practice that offers preventive, urgent, and mental health services through an easy-to-use app. As a CloseKnit member, you'll receive a dedicated Care Team to manage your health, navigate billing and benefits, and coordinate in-person and specialty care. Chats with your Care Team are FREE, and there are no annual or monthly membership fees.

How to Get Started or Learn More about CloseKnit Health:

1. Visit https://www.closeknithealth.com/register or download the free app using your phone or tablet.

2. Register and create your profile using your CareFirst member ID.

3. Start accessing the care you need.

KEPRO EAP Presents: A Suicide Awareness and Prevention Podcast

In support of National Suicide Awareness Month this September, KEPRO EAP proudly presents a Suicide Prevention podcast hosted by Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Erica Gergely and Ann Stephan, Licensed Professional Counselor and Kepro Account Manager. In this episode, the team addresses the characteristics that place someone at higher risk for suicide, the risk factors, and warning signs to be aware of, how to help a person who may need support, and how to access that assistance.

Click Here to Listen to The First Episode

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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 plan 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.

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.

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 by midnight today, Thursday, September 8, 2022.

Shout Outs!

"A huge shout-out goes to Jessica Brazil, School Counseling Administrative Support Specialist at Fallston Middle School, for going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure schedules were ready and accurate for students despite the many scheduling challenges we faced this summer. Ms. Brazil is kind, patient, and helpful regardless of how much stress she faces in her duties. Thank you for being a model of what great customer service is all about!"

-Anna Lisa Standish, Assistant Principal, Fallston Middle School

"I want to sincerely thank the consistent and tireless efforts of Special Education Coordinator Pauline Timmons. She works incredibly efficiently and does a significant amount of work ‘behind the scenes’ that is often silently unnoticed but is absolutely essential to providing the everyday seamless and consistent support to our special education staff and students countywide. Collaborating with her on projects, requests, and resource identification has made me a better coordinator for my team and I am so grateful for her and wanted to take a moment to say, “Thank you, I appreciate your work for our team and county!”

In addition, another critical team member I would like to thank is Administrative Support Specialist Tracy Rickmers in the Office of Special Education. Tracy is so very responsive and supportive and has become instrumental to help bridge related service programs and staff with all the essential technology, communications, and departments to support the ultimate care of our team members. I am very grateful for her partnership in all our daily work, thank you."

-Carey Reise, Special Education Coordinator, Related Services

Welcome to HCPS!

Please join us in giving a warm welcome to the following new members of the HCPS family!

  • Yaquelin Barrientos, Custodian I - Shift 2, Aberdeen Middle School
  • James Bumgardner, Custodian I - Shift 2, Bel Air Middle School
  • Mary-Theresa Delaney, Paraeducator, Fallston High School
  • Mary Dulin, Media Specialist, Fallston High School
  • Ashley Fisher, School Bus Attendant - Transportation Department
  • Diana Gervasi, Paraeducator, Hickory Elementary School
  • Glen Moats, School Bus Attendant, Transportation Department
  • Mark Moffett, Custodian I - Shift 2, Forest Lakes Elementary School
  • Angela Ratajcak, Paraeducator, Abingdon Elementary School
  • Gloria Ray, Inclusion Helper, Deerfield Elementary School
  • Ruth Rexroth, Custodian I - Shift 2, Harford Technical High School
  • Delroy Reynolds, Custodian I - Shift 2, Forest Lakes Elementary School
  • Suzanne Sandler, School Bus Attendant, Transportation Department
  • Katherine Seigel, Paraeducator, Riverside Elementary School
  • Linh Truong, Paraeducator, William S. James Elementary School
  • Leah Wachstein, Paraeducator, Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School
  • Anastasia Walker, Inclusion Helper, Fountain Green Elementary School
  • Shykia Wells, School Bus Attendant, Transportation Department
  • Maya Wigfall, Custodian I - Shift 2, Old Post Road Elementary School

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.