HCPS 411 Update

December 23, 2021

Swan Creek School Named December Family Friendly School!

HCPS Parent Academy, in partnership with Chick-fil-A of Harford County, is excited to announce that Swan Creek School is the December winner for the school system’s Family Friendly School Award program!! Way to go, Bayhawks!


This month, a total of 25 schools were nominated and nearly 1,679 unique votes were cast by the community among the nominated schools, naming Swan Creek the winner with 426 votes!! Not only does the school earn the coveted title of Family Friendly School for the month of December, but the entire school staff will be treated to a luncheon by the program’s partner, Chick-fil-A of Harford County.


We want to give a special shout out to this month's runner up schools, that narrowly missed the title by a few votes:


  • Forest Lakes Elementary School
  • George D. Lisby Elementary School at Hillsdale
  • Fallston Middle School


Keep up the great work!


The school system will continue to celebrate its schools that best engage all families by consistently demonstrating the National PTA Standards for Family-School Partnerships. One school will be named a family friendly school each month through May.


January is up for grabs! Want to see your school highlighted for this award on the website and social media, plus treated to a Chick-fil-A lunch? Continue to encourage parents/guardians, students, staff and community members to nominate your school for the Family Friendly School Award! The nomination window will be open again January 3-10, 2022, on the Parent Academy page of hcps.org. If your school is nominated, our community can show how welcoming your school is by casting their vote January 12-19, 2022.


More information may be found on https://www.hcps.org/parents/parentacademy/familyfriendlyschools.aspx.


HCPS is deeply grateful for its generous Chick-fil-A partners at the Aberdeen, Bel Air, Constant Friendship, and Forest Hill locations for their tremendous support of this program.

Family Friendly Award Swan Creek

COVID-19 Status and Updates

The current COVID-19 transmission status for Harford County, as determined by the CDC, is “high.” As we go into the winter break, please know how much you are appreciated for all efforts at keeping our students in school and following COVID-19 protocols. Our precautions of wearing masks, distancing where possible, hand hygiene, and staying home when sick make a big difference. Thank you!

Resources regarding HCPS COVID-19 safety protocols can be found both on hcps.org under COVID-19 Resources and on SharePoint here. Any concerns about COVID-19 mitigation can be directed to COVID19Questions@hcps.org.

December 21 Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson

Were you unable to join the Monthly Minute live this week? No worries - we have you covered! Click below to watch Dr. Bulson's latest Monthly Minute message from December 21, 2021.


To view a complete archive of all past Monthly Minute videos, visit the Monthly Minute page on our website by clicking here.

Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson. Dec 21, 2021

Next Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson

The next Monthly Minute with Dr. Bulson is scheduled for Thursday, January 27, 2022 from 12:15-12:30 p.m.

Congratulations to This Month's Limelight Honorees!

Congratulations to the December honorees highlighted below! And thank you to this month's sponsor, USB Payment Processing. In addition to their certificate and car magnet, these employees were each gifted a small bag with sweets and a motivational message, and the lucky grand prize winner by random drawing, Linda Puto from Churchville Elementary School, won two tickets to a Baltimore Ravens game in January!

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HCPS Teacher of the Year Update

The nomination window for Teacher of the Year (TOY) has closed to allow TOY nominees time to complete the application, which is due by midnight on January 3, 2022. We look forward to receiving completed applications from all eligible nominees! This information has been posted on the HCPS website and shared on Facebook to ensure our community is aware. Questions regarding this information should be directed to Christina Paquette, Communications and Family Outreach, at Christina.Paquette@hcps.org.

5xStronger Teacher Tour

The 2021 Teacher of the Year finalist team, 5xStronger, is heading out on tour! We are looking to recognize and celebrate some of the fantastic and extraordinary teachers in our schools. Each month, we will accept nominations for teachers who are doing an outstanding job in a specific area. Every teacher that is nominated will be highlighted in the HCPS 411 Update. One winning teacher will be selected each month. They will receive a surprise visit from the 5xStonger team and a special gift from one of our community partners. We will also highlight this teacher and share why they were chosen in the HCPS 411 Update.

For our first stop, we are looking to highlight and recognize one teacher "marigold." In the gardening world, a marigold is a companion plant. When it is planted near another plant, it will help that plant to grow big, strong, and healthy. Protected by its marigold, the other plant has a greater chance of survival. As teachers, it is vital that we surround ourselves with the resources, and people, to help us grow and flourish. Marigolds exist in our schools as well. They are the people who reach out to offer encouragement, support, and help. They remain positive and steadfast in their love and passion for the profession.

Are you lucky enough to be planted near a marigold? Tell us about them. How have they helped you continue to grow, even in difficult circumstances? Submit your nomination by clicking here by January 15, 2022 and your marigold might be the first stop on our 5xStronger Teacher Tour!

Technology Systems Offline During Winter Break

Given the steady cyber-attacks occurring, several of our key systems will be offline during the winter break. The offline window will occur from 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 23, 2021 through 6:00 a.m. on Monday, January 3, 2022. This will include Employee Self Service and eSchoolPlus, which includes Teacher Access Center (TAC) and Home Access Center (HAC). Parents accessing HAC during the winter break will be presented with a page notifying them that the system is offline until Monday, January 3, 2022. Additionally, if your password is due to expire soon, please make the update while at your work location before the winter break, for ease of access.

January 7, 2022 Payroll

Overtime, Special Programs, and other Payroll data will not be processed for payment on January 7, 2022. Items not processed for payment January 7, 2022 will be paid on January 21, 2022. Only regular pay (employees, Daily Subs, LTS’s, ESSER Subs, Lunch/Recess Aides, Food Service, Transportation and Home Teachers) will be processed for the January 7, 2022 pay.


If you have any questions, 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 account at Payroll@hcps.org.

Address Verification for W-2’s

Please verify the address shown on your December 10, 2021 pay stub is your current address. If the address is incorrect, log into Employee Self Service (ESS) and update your address (click on Life Events and then Move). Note - To access ESS, you must be logged onto an HCPS computer/HCPS network. 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.


If you plan on separating/retiring and will be moving prior to Friday, January 21, 2022, please complete the Change of Address Form and email it to HRIS@hcps.org so your 2021 W2 will reflect your current address and reach you timely.


If you have any questions, 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 account at Payroll@hcps.org.

Academic Tutoring

The Academic Tutoring Program is currently running for 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. We are looking for tutors to begin as soon as possible. However, tutors can also begin at the beginning of third quarter.


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.

PARAPRO Assessment Opportunities – January 14, 2022

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 January 14, 2022. The test will be offered from 1:00 to 3:00 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 Human Resources site: HERE.


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

Scholarship Opportunity - Maryland Retired School Personnel Association

The Maryland Retired School Personnel Association (MRSPA), through its MRSPA Fund, is offering three $2,000 scholarships to public school employees in Maryland who are enrolled in a program leading to teacher certification or certification as a school counselor, speech and language pathologist, physical or occupational therapist, school social worker, administrator or supervisor, media specialist or school psychologist. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate.


The scholarship is also available to certificated teachers who are pursuing certification in another area or level of teaching or to become qualified as one of the above-listed education specialists. Applicants must be current employees of the Board of Education and must intend on working in a Maryland public school while working toward certification and upon completion of their requirements for certification.


Applicants apply online between January 1 and January 31, 2022, at www.frederickcountygives.org. Winners will be notified by March 1, 2022. Additional information can be found at https://www.mrspa.org/scholarship-committee.

Professional Development Announcements

Harford Community College

Do you need credits for recertification? Harford Community College is offering fully online courses this spring, including EDUC204: Advanced Materials and Curriculum for Preschoolers, EDUC210: Children with Behavioral Challenges, EDUC219: Everyday Classroom Assessment, and more. To see all classes being offered, go to https://hccweb1.harford.edu/scheduleofclassescredit/. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Laura Hutton, Teacher Education Program Coordinator, at lhutton@harford.edu.


University of Phoenix – Spring and Summer Classes

University of Phoenix is sharing the new schedule January–July 2022 Continuing Education for Teachers, graduate-level courses for MA+30, Professional Knowledge Teacher requirements, or endorsements.

Please see the downloadable schedule for the Spring and Summer 2022. The schedule has classes grouped by subject area.

To receive 10% tuition discount, please contact: Nicole Berkebile at nicole.berkebile@phoenix.edu or call/text message: 480-290-4328.

In addition, University of Phoenix would like to highlight their Graduate degree programs with available start dates:

  • MAEd/Administration and Supervision (leads to principal licensure)
    Starts on February 1, 2022
  • MAEd/Curriculum and Instruction
    Starts on February 8, 2022
  • Doctor of Education
    Starts on February 1, 2022

BurnAlong Virtual Wellness: Invite Your Family and Friends

Did you know you can invite up to four of your family members and friends to create free BurnAlong accounts to participate in various virtual wellness activities together? It’s easy. To add family and friends:

1. Go to your profile picture and select Sub Accounts.

2. Select “Add Sub Account.”

3. Complete the fields on the screen and select “Add.”


To take a virtual class with your friends, family members, and co-workers:

1. Select the class you want to take.

2. Click Schedule and select up to three (3) contacts.

3. Click “Schedule Now,” and your invitees will be notified.


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 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

New Year, New Goals!

A new year is a perfect opportunity to set resolutions that support a healthier version of you! Around this time every year, many of us create plans for the new year that we know will help us live longer and feel better. Yet only a small portion actually follow through. What is the secret to making these resolutions stick? The answer – healthy habits and SMART goal setting! This month’s wellness newsletter focuses on assisting you with creating those SMART goals, the importance of preventative care, and nutrition. Click here to view CareFirst’s January Wellness Newsletter.

Are you looking to improve your meal planning? Use this MyPlate Grocery Game Plan Weekly Calendar to help better plan your weekly breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You can type directly into the boxes on the PDF and save or print for reference when grocery shopping and meal prepping! This document can also be found on the HCPS Staff Wellness webpage by clicking here.

CareFirst ShareCare January Step It Up Challenge

Looking to get more exercise? Need extra motivation to get started? Join the January Step It Up Challenge through CareFirst and the ShareCare app, available to all HCPS employees. Whether you’re adding a quick walk around the block during your lunch break or finally marking that Pilates class off your bucket list, making minor changes to your daily routine can make a significant impact over time. This month, find extra motivation to add more movement to each day and focus on tracking 5,000 steps per day for 21 days for a total of 105,000 steps! The challenge runs from January 1 – January 31, 2022. Click here to learn more about how to register and track your steps.

Save the Date: Health and Wellness Mini Masterclass Sessions

In partnership with CareFirst, #HCPShealth is excited to provide employees with the opportunity to participate in live 15-minute Mini Masterclass sessions throughout January on various health-related topics. Join us on the following dates and times:

· Tuesday, January 11 at 12:15 p.m. – Building a MyPlate Meal

· Thursday, January 13 at 12:30 p.m. – Nutrition and Sleep

· Wednesday, January 19 at 12:45 p.m. – Walking Meditations

· Thursday, January 27 at 1:00 p.m. – Grab and Go Breakfast Meals

To participate in each live event, click on the date and time above. You can also access each event through the Wellness Calendar link on the HCPS Staff Wellness Webpage. If you cannot view the live event, all sessions will be recorded and posted to the HCPS Staff Wellness webpage within 24-48 business hours of the event date to view at a time convenient to you. (Please note: Meeting ID: 967 9932 3986. Passcode: 283152)

Save the Date: Pre-Retirement Planning Webinar

The Retirement Coordinators of HCPS, via the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System (MSRPS), would like you to save the date of Wednesday, February 9, 2022, at 4:00 p.m. for a webinar for HCPS employees. As always, this webinar will provide vital retirement information to all members within eight (8) years of retirement, whether it is regular or early service. Please note: this webinar is a condensed version of our annual pre-retirement webinar held each fall.

A registration form and event link will be provided closer to the event date.

Thank you HCPS Educators!

A message of thanks from our friends at the Harford County Education Foundation:


"We are always humbled and inspired by the work of our Harford County Public Schools educators but especially so during these challenging times. Our educators never rest as they identify and deliver instruction to meet the diverse needs of every learner. As we celebrate the joy of the season, we encourage you to take a deep breath, enjoy precious time with your family, and reflect on all that you have accomplished. You are extraordinary!"


Click here to read the full message shared on the Harford County Education Foundation's social media outlets and published in the Aegis on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.

JVES Casey Cares Pajama Collection

Jarrettsville Elementary is so proud of students and staff for collecting 302 pairs of new pajamas that are on their way to children who are spending the holidays in the hospital! Hopefully, they will bring a bit of cheer to them as they recuperate. The 5th grade was responsible for collecting and counting the pajamas as they came in, and the final count was shared with a representative from Casey Cares who will deliver the pajamas to local hospitals.

Hickory Elementary Food Drive

Hickory Elementary held a week-long food drive to collect goods for a local food pantry! Staff challenged the students to stuff the school lobby and look at how well they did in just 5 days!

This donation is helping Mountain Christian, Abingdon Campus fill their new food pantry. Great job, Hickory Squirrels!

Shout Outs!

"To the staff members from Central Office who came out to schools to assist, substitute, and work in schools - I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU! Specifically I’d like to thank Andy Wachter for assisting in my second grade classroom."

-Sean O’Donnell, Second Grade Teacher, North Bend Elementary


"I’d like to give a shout out to Linda Hicks. In a difficult situation for my family she responded with kindness, professionalism, and sincerity. I could tell immediately she takes the “service” part of her job seriously. We were very appreciative of her."

-Patrick Clark, Special Education Teacher, Fallston High School


"Shout out to William Sharland and Jack Getz. Coming to Havre de Grace Middle/High school to support before the holidays, both William and Jack jumped into the school setting with both feet. Willing to help in anyway possible these gentlemen answered phones, wrote passes, swept floors and did lunch duty with a smile on their face. Both Excelled in providing outstanding customer service to the entire school community and provided HDGMHS with much needed support in a very busy time."

-The Havre de Grace Middle/High School Admin Team


"I'd like to shout out our school nurse and administration at Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School. They have been working so hard to keep our students healthy and safe. They have been assisting students in the nurses office and reminding students to pull their masks up when needed. Their hard work has not gone unnoticed and we wanted to share their tremendous efforts to keep everyone healthy. Thank you for all you do Christina Douglas, Christian Slattery, and Shawn LeMaster."

-Rebeccah Clifton, Third Grade Teacher, Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School


"A huge shout out to Kaitlynn Ruby and Liz Nemeth for braving the world of Minecraft and providing students the chance to create virtual city-states. It is tough to step out of your comfort zone, especially with technology and these two amazing social studies teachers have done it with grace and patience. So while you may only be able to dig a hole or fly, your students are creating amazing structures based on their learning! You ladies ROCK!"

-Sarah Scholl, School Librarian, Havre de Grace Middle/High School


"Shout out to Phil Donahue in the Print Shop for his great customer service. I presented an out of the ordinary rush project that he went above and beyond in problem solving and came up with a solution to get the job done. Much appreciated!"

-Liz McCartney, Administrative Assistant, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment


"We are so fortunate to have Cori Mank as our librarian at Swan Creek School. Not only is she extremely knowledgeable, but she makes the lessons fun and engaging for the students. Cori has gone above and beyond to help us access and use SORA; she is always available for help with anything related to the library."

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