HCPS 411 Update

October 14, 2021

COVID-19 Status and Updates

Today’s Harford County COVID-19 positivity metrics are 5.29% positivity and 21.59 cases per 100,000 residents. This information is updated daily at approximately 10:00 a.m. by the Harford County Health Department here.

We are watching our metrics rise again in Harford County, with today representing day six of over 5% positivity. As we watch these numbers, we will provide further updates, as necessary. As always, we require masking, encourage distancing whenever and wherever possible, and ask all to intentionally plan activities based on COVID-19 protocols and on what is essential to student learning.

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

HCPS FY2023 Budget Input - Virtual Sessions and Survey

HCPS wants your help as we collect input to prepare the FY23 Budget. We hope that you will join the Superintendent for the FY23 Budget Virtual Input Sessions on October 20, 2021, and October 21, 2021.

Click here to register for the Wednesday, October 20, 2021 Virtual HCPS FY2023 Budget Input Session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Click here to register for the Thursday, October 21, 2021 Virtual HCPS FY2023 Budget Input Session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

If you are unable to participate in the virtual input sessions, please complete the FY23 Budget Survey. The survey will be available through midnight on Friday, October 29, 2021.

The input you provide at the input sessions or via the survey is crucial to the process of shaping the next HCPS budget. We appreciate you sharing your time and your comments!

HCPS Customer Satisfaction Survey Link

HCPS recognizes customer service as a vital component of an organization's culture that, in our case, ultimately affects overall student success. To ensure that we, as an organization, remain accountable for delivering top-notch customer service, the HCPS Customer Service Task Force introduced a customer satisfaction survey to help us gauge our current level of service and identify opportunities for improvement. This initiative was piloted with Central Office staff first, and those employees were encouraged to add the link to the customer satisfaction survey to their HCPS email signature beginning in January 2021. In addition, the link to the survey is accessible in the footer on hcps.org. Survey responses and data are collected and monitored by Judy Simon, HCPS Customer Service Specialist.

After 10 months of piloting the survey link with Central Office, we are ready to invite all HCPS employees to do the same.

Those who would like to add the link to the survey in their email signature line are encouraged to do so. Please feel free to use the following language:

Click here to take a brief customer satisfaction survey.

Vote NOW for the October 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 Tuesday, October 19, 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 October winner later this month!

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Parent Academy Presents: How to Talk with Your Children About Differences

Parents/caregivers may not realize that young children “see diversity” and that research confirms that awareness of differences starts early. Dr. Paula Stanton and Ms. Meredith Heldt, from the HCPS Office of Equity and Cultural Proficiency, share how to communicate with your children intentionally about differences and how to help them embrace diversity.
How to Talk with Your Children About Differences

Digital Tools and Resources Review Process

HCPS is engaging in the next cycle of the review process to build a technology toolkit that supports instruction, while meeting all legal requirements to ensure a secure environment and protect student privacy and data. This process will build a high-quality pool of web tools for classroom use, focused on endorsing a best tool that provides/solves a specific instructional purpose.

We invite teachers to submit web tools for consideration by Monday, October 25. Complete the Digital Tools & Resources Recommendation Form. If you need support completing the Form, please contact your School Librarian, Instructional Coach, or the Instructional Technology Team.

Questions regarding this information may be directed to Martha Barwick (martha.barwick@hcps.org).

itslearning Test Options

When adding a Test to Plans, teachers will see two options. Use the greyed-out option that is noted “to be discontinued.” We recommend that you use the “to be discontinued” test for whole group assessment as it contains features that teachers have become accustomed to.. This test will be discontinued AFTER June 2022.

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The ONLY reason we would recommend using new test is If you need to assign a Test to specific students.

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Questions regarding this information can be directed to instructionaltech@hcps.org

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.

Professional Development Announcements

University of Phoenix

Happy October! Please see the Fall -Winter Schedule of online classes for teachers. Continuing Education classes are online, asynchronous, four weeks, and available to enroll monthly. Currently enrolling for Oct. – Jan. 2022 classes.

Contact Nicole Berkebile at nicole.berkebile@phoenix.edu or 480-290-4328 for 10% off tuition cost on classes or degree programs.

3 credit/4-week online courses
$157.50 per credit with 10% tuition discount. Ask about our payment options of Tuition Deferment or Employer Billing.
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Advanced Master of Education programs:

Master of Arts in Administration and Supervision (leads to principal licensure)
Start dates for 2021: 10/26 or 12/7

Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction (up to 12 credits may be waived)
Start dates for 2021: 11/2, or 12/14

School and Classroom Enrichment Grants

Harford County Education Foundation (HCEF) wants to help educators create those opportunities to nurture and engage young minds.

Apply for a School and Classroom Enrichment Grant using the HCEF online application portal at www.harfordeducation.org/classroom-grants. The grant application closes on October 29, 2021.

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Academic Tutoring

The Academic Tutoring Program will be running for the duration of the 2021-2022 school year. We are looking for short-term (“on call”) and long-term tutors. Tutors will provide students with instructional support and remediation. Tutors are needed in the areas of reading and mathematics for students in grades K-12. We are expanding the program to tutoring students in Science and Social Studies at the high school level. Tutoring will be offered for the graduation required courses in these two areas. Teachers and paraeducators in any content area may serve as tutors and will be able to identify their desired content(s) and grade level(s). Tutors will also be able to determine the number of tutoring sessions that they would like to conduct each week. Elementary students will be supported in a virtual, one-on-one setting. Middle and high school students will be supported in a virtual, small group setting with three or fewer students. Tutors will be compensated at their per diem rate.

If you are interested in serving as a tutor, please complete this survey form: https://survey.hcps.org/rws5.pl?FORM=Fall2021TutorRegistration.

For any questions, please contact Academic.Tutoring@hcps.org.

October is National Physical Therapy (PT) Month!

Celebrate PT Month with the HCPS Physical Therapy Team! HCPS has a proud team of countywide physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapy assistants (PTAs) that provide physical therapy services to students with IEPs and 504 plans. PTs and PTAs are licensed health care professionals and are movement experts. They work collaboratively with students, school staff, and families to improve students’ functional mobility.

The HCPS PT team created a fun quiz to see how much you know about Physical Therapy. There’s a sweet treat if you participate! Answer all questions and you will be entered into a raffle for two dozen custom decorated cookies to celebrate PT Month!

Take the quiz here: Physical Therapy Month Quiz.

All entries must be received by Friday, October 22, 2021.

CareFirst Wellness Announcements

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and October 15 is National Mammography Day. Breast cancer is a disease in which atypical cells grow out of control. The cells usually will form a tumor that can be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. Although most breast cancer cases happen in women, men can also develop this disease. Early detection through screenings and exams are the best way to stop cancer in its tracks, and catch it while it is easier to treat! This month’s newsletter provides more detail and information on exams and screenings you should be getting, risk factors, signs and symptoms, as well as support and resources.

Click here to view CareFirst’s October Wellness Newsletter.

Click here to view the Cancer Prevention Works – Things You Should Know.

Changes to the Submission Process for Certification and Tuition Reimbursement Requests

Effective October 1, 2021, all transcripts and or tuition reimbursement documentation should be electronically submitted to transcripts@hcps.org.

Electronic transcripts submitted directly from the college/university are preferred. If you cannot obtain an electronic transcript, a scanned copy, including the envelope, may be emailed in place of the electronic submission. Transcripts should be sent as a separate document from all tuition reimbursement forms.


Tuition reimbursement requests, to include:

  • An official transcript,
  • The Partial Reimbursement Request form which aligns with your union, and
  • An itemized receipt indicating payment method(s) and amount(s).

Documentation must be submitted via one of the above methods within 90 days of the course completion date. Please do not send incomplete requests; all documentation should be submitted collectively when possible (except for official transcripts when emailed directly from the college/university/transcript service).

Tuition Reimbursement Questions: benefits@hcps.org

Certification Questions: certification@hcps.org

Get Started with BurnAlong

BurnAlong is right by your side with a ton of great programming to keep you healthy, well, and fit. First off, a brand new BurnAlong partner, LivFitCo, is now offering upbeat cycling, HIIT, Barre, and breathing practice classes on the platform. Check them out!

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.

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 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 year’s pre-retirement session will be held virtually on November 6, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Watch future HCPS 411 Update newsletters for more information on how to register and obtain a day of event link.

Embracing Diversity and Differences

Presented by KEPRO Employee Assistance Program

The October KEPRO EAP communication resources are here! Whether in our work or personal life, we all could benefit from learning about how to live and work in a way that is respectful, kind, and embraces diversity in all walks of life. Click here for more tips on how better embrace each other’s differences.

Date: Available on demand beginning October 19, 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.

Shout Outs!

"A HUGE shout out to Laura Knapp, Instructional Technology Teacher Specialist. She has gone above and beyond in her support of teachers at the new virtual school, Swan Creek. Laura is always available to troubleshoot, offer suggestions, and to give encouragement. I would not be able to be successful in my job without her assistance. She is a gem!"

- Lisa Mullen, Grades 7/8 RELA Teacher, Swan Creek School

"Shout out to Zayron Blake, inclusion helper at Bakerfield Elementary School, and Tara Laurence, paraeducator at Bakerfield Elementary School, for going above and beyond their duties, being adored by kids, and helping make the school a better place. A shout out also to Sean Sheehan, chief custodian for Bakerfield Elementary, for always being kind and courteous, going above and beyond his job, and always being so helpful!"

-Terri Bremer, ESOL Teacher, Bakerfield Elementary School

"Shout Out to Jackie Ranney, special educator, and paraeducators Kortney Watkins and Pam Pinckney, from Joppatowne Elementary, for their amazing connection with students who need extra academic and emotional support. They have some very challenging cases but do an amazing job meeting the needs of students."

-Keesha Mack, Counselor, Joppatowne Elementary School

"Ms. Savannah Feist, our newest addition to the Tech Wing at Havre de Grace High School, has so much energy and commitment to our school community! She is a wonderful educator who challenges her students, engages in spirit days with gusto, and her classroom is nicely decorated for Fall. She is also rocking the Warrior Staff of the Month wrestling belt - for her contributions she's made with students and staff, as our Foundations of Tech (FOT) teacher. We are so lucky to have her!"

- Deanna Burch, Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, Havre de Grace High School

"A special Shout Out to Andy Wachter and Ray San Juan in OA who were EXTREMELY responsive all through testing, not to mention kind and patient. Excellent customer service 😊! We appreciate you!"

-Church Creek Elementary School

"We cannot thank Danielle Bedsaul enough for her professionalism, kindness and thoroughness when answering our questions and resolving our issues. ABHS has had to request specialized transportation for five new students since the start of the school year, and Danielle and her team have been nothing but accommodating. We appreciate her willingness to answer our last-minute phone calls and emails so quickly on an almost daily basis. Thank you, Danielle, for being so easy to work with and always meeting the needs of our students and families in a timely manner!"

-ABHS Special Education Department

Welcome to the HCPS Family!

Please help us welcome the following new HCPS employees:

  • Stacey Albrecht, Inclusion Helper, Havre de Grace Elementary School

  • Michol Bellamy, Paraeducator, Prospect Mill Elementary School

  • Kari Budnick, Satellite Kitchen Assistant, Alt Ed

  • Kayla Fruhling, Inclusion Helper, Jarrettsville Elementary School

  • Courtney Gehman, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant – Infants & Toddlers, John Archer School

  • Viateria Lyons, Inclusion Helper, Magnolia Elementary School

  • Ankita Ranjan, Art Teacher, Emmorton Elementary, Prospect Mill Elementary, Meadowvale Elementary schools

  • Tammy Rohleder, School Nurse, William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School

  • Aspen Sadler, Paraeducator, John Archer School

  • Kara Williams, Paraeducator, Joppatowne Elementary 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.