Fort Thomas Independent Schools Employee Newsletter

Volume 2 Issue 4

December 2014


Dear Staff,

As we approach the midpoint of the 2014-15 school year, it seems like only yesterday we were all gathered at NKU for the annual opening day breakfast. Time definitely flies when you are having fun!

While sometimes fun and work don’t seem to fit together in the same sentence, this is not the case in Fort Thomas. It is fun to work in a school district that has such amazing talent and tremendous community support. It is fun to witness firsthand the incredible accomplishments of both students and staff. It is fun to know that we work in a district that is admired and respected by others across our region and state.

Indeed, learning should be both engaging and fun. When that is what our students experience each day, we can rest assured that they will continue to amaze us with their achievement.

As we move toward the holiday season, let us commit ourselves to sharing with our students a most precious gift, the love (and fun) of learning!

Happy Holidays!




Encourage budding poets with Shel Silverstein-inspired games and lesson plans. Students can go online to create their own versions of Silverstein’s quirky poems or download the Poetry Kit to practice their rhyming skills via personal poetry puzzles, a word search and more.

This website offers more than 40,000 questions for helping students improve their vocabulary. The site creates a model of students’ knowledge with which to track their progress.

This interactive Web site from the Adult Media Literacy Alliance will help users improve reading skills by providing strategies for reading between the lines, making predictions and identifying main ideas.

This site takes great works of literature and breaks them down into easy-to-digest 60-second video clips.

In this movie, students learn how to infer, or use what they know or see to come up with ideas. They’ll explore ways to observe and find clues that can help reveal the message of a book, essay or paragraph.

Literacy Lesson for a Digital World

Standards met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3, SL.4

What to do: Take book reports to the next level with Book Talk Podcasts. Show your students the video “Podcasting in Plain English” at Tell students they will create podcasts to share books they have read during independent reading or literature circles. Review the Book Talk Podcast expectations for what the book talks should include. Then, provide time for modeling, prewriting, drafting and editing podcast scripts. Demonstrate how to use podcasting software and allow a minimum of two to three days for students to podcast. You can upload the complete podcasts as MP3 files to a class site or blog or save them to a flash drive.



Sessions will be held from 3:30 to 4:30pm in Room 209 at Highlands High School, unless otherwise noted. All participants are asked to register in advance through PD Express.

Session: Office Live Tools

Date: Wednesday, December 3

Standards: 6.2, 6.3, 6.4

Description: The statewide switch to Office 365 moved our email services to “the cloud”. But what does “the cloud” really mean? And what other tools are available in “the cloud”? This session will focus on the new collaborative tools in Outlook Live such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Lync and OneDrive Pro.

Session: Exploring the World with Bing Maps and Photosynth

Date: Thursday, December 11

Standards: 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4

Description: Bing Maps is a powerful tool that allows students to explore the outside world and for teachers to create a "borderless classroom". It allows students and teachers to see the world in a new unique interactive way. Bing Map Apps can increase student engagement in fun and immersive ways. Take your students on virtual field trips to historic places using the three-dimensional photo experiences of the Photosynth Map App.

Session: Digital Storytelling with AutoCollage and Photo Story

Date: Wednesday, December 17

Standards: 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4

Description: You can use the creative powers of AutoCollage and Photo Story to develop a learning activity which supports 21st Century Learning.


All Educational Study Seminars will be held from 3:30 – 5pm in the Central Office Conference Room. Please register for each module online via PD Express.

Module IV: Using Data to Ensure Individual Student Growth and Differentiate Instruction

Presenters: Patrick Richardson, Keith Faust, & Donna Schulte

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 OR Thursday, January 22, 2015

Module V: High-Quality Classroom Practices

Recommended Reading: Danielson FfT, Madeline Hunter, Rick Stiggins

Presenters: Dawn Laber, Jon Stratton, & Tonya Brummer

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 OR Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Module VI: Utilizing Technology to Transform Student Learning

Presenters: Diana McGhee, Jody Johnson, Brian Mercer, & Mark Goetz

Thursday, March 19, 2015 OR Tuesday, March 24, 2015



December 8 - Board Meeting

December 19 - Last Day Before Break

December 22 - January 4 - Winter Break - No School


American Fidelity will complete their meetings with all employees to review their benefit plans. Representatives will be in as follows:

  • December 2-4 - HHS
  • December 5 - CO
  • December 8-9 - HMS

Employees can meet with the benefits coordinator at any school or the Central Office. Please contact Mary Turner at 815.2001 or with any questions.


Take a minute to check the information on your pay stub. Making sure that your name, address, social security number, etc. are correct can avoid potential problems with your W-2 at tax time.

Contact Mary Turner or Peggie Hughes before the end of December with any corrections.


The Fort Thomas Education Foundation will again host the Fort Thomas Holiday Walk for our district this Sunday, December 7, from 5:30-8pm. Stop by the central office for cookies and to see what’s happening in the Fort Thomas Independent Schools. Information about Phase 4 of the Highlands High School Renovation Project and the annual Foundation dance will be available. As always, we’ll have brochures and materials about our schools.


Congratulations to...

Vince Cornett (HMS) on the birth of his son, Colton James, who was born on October 9, at 8:14pm. Colton wasn’t due to arrive until New Year’s Day! He weighed 1lb 9oz at birth and was 13 inches long.Today, Colton is now up to 4lbs. 10.5oz.!
Emily Kelly (HMS) on the birth of her son, Hudson, on November 5. Hudson weighed 7lbs 13oz. and was 19 inches long.

Bill Woods (HHS) on the birth of his granddaughter, Harper Elizabeth Woods, on November 21, at 5:45pm. Proud parents are Jason (HHS Class of 1997) and Kaitlin Woods of Alexandria, KY.

Our Sympathy to...

Tracie Malone (MES) on the loss of her father-in-law, Ron Malone, on November 7.

Nikki Everett (Elementary Art) on the loss of her grandfather, Richard Mallery, on November 10.

Bev Pelle (HHS) on the loss of her husband, Dennis, on November 17.


Congratulations to...

The Girls Cross Country Team for their 2014 KY 2A Cross Country State Championship win!

Ethan Shuley
- 2014 KY 2A Cross Country State Champion! Ethan is the first HHS boys cross country state champion and also set a state record! See more about Ethan's win in the YouTube video below.

Lexie Gabbard, Matthew Gray, Natalie Neace who have been accepted to participate in this year's KMEA All-State Choirs. The audition piece and sight-reading this year was extremely challenging, but all of our students performed very well. Lexie was only one of four Northern Kentucky students to receive a perfect score on the sight-reading portion of the audition!

The District’s STLP organizations For the first time ever, each school has an STLP group advancing to the state showcase at Rupp Arena in March 2015.

STLP Sponsors:

· Johnson – Julie Bolling

· Moyer – Julie Dashley

· Woodfill – Michelle LaMantia

· HMS – Brian Mercer

· HHS – Bill Poff

Ethan Shuley 2014 Ky AA Cross Country State Champion

Submit information for FORWARD FOCUS to Peggie Hughes at