HCPS 411 Update

September 10, 2020

HCPS Learning Support Centers

You've heard a lot about the Learning Support Centers (LSC) at our schools, but you probably haven't seen one in action! We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the LSCs at Joppatowne Elementary and Havre de Grace High schools. This is the first step to gradually returning all students to the classroom and we look forward to moving forward, together! A huge shout-out to the students and staff in these LSCs for allowing us to see a part of their day!
HCPS Learning Support Centers

Parent Academy Real Talk: Health of Students and Staff in Learning Support Centers

During this Parent Academy Real Talk on the Health of Students and Staff in Learning Support Centers this fall, Mrs. Mary Nasuta, Supervisor of HCPS Health Services, Mrs. Katie Ridgway, Supervisor of Risk Management, and Mrs. Lynda Boegner, Clinical Health Bureau, Acting Director of the Harford County Health Department provide parents an overview of how the health of students and staff will be supported in the Learning Support Centers.
Parent Academy Real Talk: Health of Students and Staff in Learning Support Centers

"Status" Bar for Virtual Learning Applications

On September 9, HCPS added an applications “Status” on the student landing page (where students access the tiles/apps). Students are now able to see if itsLearning and Office 365/Microsoft Teams are functioning as expected (noted in green), if there are any issues with the service (noted in yellow), or if there is a systemwide outage (noted in red). Our goal is to provide students and families with this information as soon as we are aware of any technical issues in itsLearning or Office 365/Microsoft Teams. A Blackboard Connect 5 email regarding this new feature was sent to families on September 9, and the information was also shared on HCPS social media.

"Wait... How Do I Do That?"

"Wait... How Do I Do That?" is back with another installment from Assistant Principal Spence from Havre de Grace High School. Mr. Spence shares how students can be sure they join Teams as a student... not a "guest!" Take a look!
"Wait... how do I do that?" Joining Teams Edition

New Issue of the HCPS Digital Teaching and Learning Newsletter

The latest issue of the Digital Teaching and Learning Newsletter was sent on September 9. If you missed the email, click here to access it.

Report Financial Fraud, Waste, And Abuse

The Board of Education of Harford County encourages any concerned individual to report financial fraud, waste, abuse, or violation of Board of Education Policy and HCPS procedures using the Fraud Hotline at 410-809-6056.This Hotline can also be used to report violations of the HCPS coronavirus reopening guidelines in order for us to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Financial fraud consists of ways by which HCPS employees or vendors use their employment status or vendor relationship to take funds for themselves or others at the expense of HCPS. Financial waste or abuse of financial resources includes ways that HCPS employees or vendors improperly, carelessly, or excessively spend, consume, mismanage, or misuse HCPS resources. Waste also includes spending unnecessarily as a result of inefficient or ineffective practices. Board of Education Policy and HCPS procedures are available on hcps.org and SharePoint. HCPS COVID-19 guidelines can be found on the #HCPStogether page on hcps.org.

If you are aware of misuse of HCPS resources or violation of Board of Education Policy and HCPS procedures, please call the Fraud Hotline at 410-809-6056. You can also fill out the Fraud, Waste or Abuse Reporting Form and submit via email to Laura.Tucholski@hcps.org, or send directly to the Office of the Internal Audit, located in the A.A. Roberty Building. Please note all reports are kept confidential.

Questions regarding this information should be directed to Laura Tucholski, Office of Internal Audit, at Laura.Tucholski@hcps.org or x5297.

HCPS and Maryland State Retirement and Pension System Pre-Retirement Webinar

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

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

This webinar is scheduled for Saturday, October 3, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


  1. Click to visit the website for Pre-Retirement Planning Registration.
  2. Click the Select button next to the course titled Pre-Retirement Webinar, towards the bottom of the screen, and you will advance to the next screen.
  3. Click Register for Selected Courses towards the top of the screen.
  4. Scroll back to the top of the screen to click on the button, Register for Selected Courses.
  5. You will be redirected to the login page. If you have previously attended a Pre-Retirement Seminar or other class at CCBC, log in using your current username and password. Not sure what your username and password are? You can call CCBC at (443) 840-5059 and let the call center register you for course number CRN33758. If this is your first Pre-Retirement Seminar, choose New Account on the right-hand side of the screen. Fill out your information (anything in red is required information) and choose Submit.
  6. After you have registered for your seminar, choose "Finalize Selection" and print your confirmation. You should receive an email confirmation of your registration within three (3) business days. You will receive instructions on how to join the webinar two days before the event.

    If you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Miller, Coordinator of Benefits, at elizabeth.miller@hcps.org.

    Professional Development Announcements

    Walden University

    Walden University would like to extend ‘welcome back’ wishes and provide some inspiration as well as an opportunity for employees to win supplies for their ‘classroom’. Please see flyer for details. Learn more: WaldenU.edu/harford

    University of Phoenix

    Make the most out of classroom curriculum:

    Evaluate and utilize curriculum in a way that makes learning come alive for students. The Master of Arts in Education/Curriculum and Instruction is designed for teachers (P–12) seeking innovative strategies for creating and enriching classroom curriculum. You can complete your coursework in as little as 17 months, and you’ll take just one course at a time so you can balance your education with your life. Visit https://www.phoenix.edu/degrees/education/curriculum-and-instruction/maed-ci.html.

    Save time and money:
    Teachers with academic endorsements or who have completed specific University of Phoenix® Continuing Education for Teachers courses, such as Curriculum Development and Technology in the Classroom, can save time and money by applying to waive up to 12 credits. This special waiver allows you to finish your MAEd/CI program in about 1 year, saving you more than $6,000 on tuition and fees.

    Enroll for the upcoming MAEd/Curriculum and Instruction online program beginning October 6! Contact Nicole Berkebile at nicole.berkebile@phoenix.edu or call/text (480) 290-4328 for more information and to take advantage of your Tuition Discount.

    Important: Paystub Review Requested

    All participants of Harford County Public Schools' health, dental, life, or flexible spending program should review their paystub in Employee Self Service (ESS) to verify deductions match your requested plan and coverage level. Review the "Current amt" column on your paystub. Employees may review their benefit elections in Benelogic at https://hcps.benelogic.com.

    All employees should see a deduction for "Retirement/Pension" in the "Current amt" column on their paystub. The only exception is for rehired retirees.

    Any employee missing a deduction or with an incorrect deduction amount should contact the Benefits Office at benefits@hcps.org no later than Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

    For your reference:

    1. Retirement/Pension and 403B/457 plan deductions are taken every pay period (26 pays for 12-month employees, and 22 pays for 10-month employees).

    2. Health, dental, life, and flexible spending plan deductions are taken the first and second pay period of the month (24 pays for 12-month employees and 20 pays for 10-month employees).

    3. For Fiscal Year 2021, the months of October and April have a third pay in which deductions will not be taken for health, dental, life, or flexible spending.

    For a copy of the current Insurance Rate Chart, please refer to your HCPS Benefits Enrollment Guide (pages 5 and 6). This guide is available on SharePoint/Human Resources/Benefits/Forms & Information or at https://www.hcps.org/departments/HumanResources/default.aspx?tab=4.

    Drive-thru Flu Shot Clinic

    Get Your Flu Shot Without Leaving Your Car!

    HCPS, in partnership with CVS, will be hosting a drive-thru flu shot clinic. Events will be held on various days in school parking lots throughout the county. Employees and their families (ages 9+) are welcome to attend an event to receive their flu shot.

    Pre-registration is preferred, but not required. To register, click on the school location and date you wish to attend.

    CVS representatives will be wearing masks and proper PPE. Please be sure to bring your insurance card and identification with you. Flu shots will be billed to your insurance*.

    Questions? Email the Benefits Office at benefits@hcps.org.

    *HCPS medical plans cover flu shots at 100% with no member liability.

    +Events will be held at the school location listed per the selected link although the provided address is for Central Office.

    Shout Outs!

    "I want to give a Shout Out to the gentlemen in the print shop. They have been the back bone of our continual education since the onset of COVID 19. They still remain pleasant and helpful when ever we call or need something processed. I am amazed that there are only 3 workers for our entire county and they still do the job accurately and proficiently."

    -Andrea Ensor, Secretary, Forest Hill Elementary

    "I would like to give a Shout Out to Debbie Taylor, Chief Custodian, and all of the custodial staff at Fallston High School. As the School Nurse, I was very anxious about coming back to school and getting my Health Suite organized to meet the new CDC standards so I could manage any ill students at our Learning Support Center. I had emailed Debbie ahead of time about needing her assistance as well as the assistance of her crew that week. Within ½ hour of my arrival on my first day, Debbie was in my Health Suite asking how she could help. By the end of the day, 99% of the things that had to be moved (and it was a lot!) were moved. Work orders for new keys and another job were also submitted and in the pipeline. Thank you Debbie and your crew for making it happen and taking all of my anxiety away. The Health Suite at our Learning Support Center is now ready to go! We truly are “in this together” and the support I received on my first day back showed me that first hand."

    -Dawn Higinbothom, R.N., School Nurse, Fallston High School

    "Huge Shout Out to Myra Brock....from March to now she has responded to several of my “dumb questions” and been so personable. She makes me feel like my questions aren’t so dumb and that they are all fixable."

    -Christopher Bley, Science Teacher, Magnolia Middle School

    "I want to Shout Out loud and proud to George Toepfer and Kate Johnson of the Social Studies Office. They are both amazing workers and amazing friends. There is never a time when they will not stop what they are doing and listen to me. Or help me understand something puzzling. Or listen to an idea of maybe an easier way to accomplish a task. They will both roll up their sleeves and jump in rather then delegating and observing. I believe it is because of them we have a strong Social Studies staff and excellent Social Studies teachers. George and Kate are extremely dedicated to the quality of work that comes out of our office. Both work many hours off the clock. I feel that our relationship with one another has strengthened the Social Studies curriculum and in turn the teacher can teach at their best and the students now benefit. Communication has been a big key to keeping the flow of Social Studies strong. I cannot think of any other people I would rather work with and enjoy my work. Thank you MrG and Kate for making me a better me!"

    -Lucy Brandt, Administrative Support Technician, Office of Social Studies

    "I would like to give a Shout Out to Patty Billings, Ken Earle, Jason French and Jason Walker who have been working tirelessly every day through this whole pandemic to prepare schools and staff for this upcoming school year. Also, I would like to say thank you to all the custodians and the Facilities Dept. for all their hard work this summer too! Go Team!"

    -Jan Abbott, Administrative Coordinator, Facilities Management

    "A huge Shout Out to all that are helping in the Instructional Technology "after hour" and "summer" help sessions. I have used them on many occasions, and they are always so helpful. Too many to name, but they have all been wonderful! I am so grateful!"

    -Courtney Carletti, Math Teacher, North Harford Middle School

    "I would like to give a shout out to Mark Szot, school counselor at North Harford High School. My son emailed him at 8:30 p.m. on the second day of school with a question about his schedule. Mr. Szot got right back to my son that night and was very helpful. He didn’t have to respond until the next day, but he took the time that evening to respond and it meant a lot to us. Thank you, Mr. Szot."

    -Tiffany Sawyer, Work Order Coordinator, Facilities Department

    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.