HCPS 411 Update

February 13, 2020

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Meet our 2020 Teacher of the Year Finalists!

Karen Gonzalez is a 23-year veteran special educator for Harford County Public Schools. She began teaching Daily Skills at North Harford Middle School and now teaches Life Skills at Magnolia Middle School. She graduated from Joppatowne High School in 1992 and Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education. In 2005, she received her master’s degree in Reading from Loyola University. At Magnolia Middle School, Ms. Gonzalez serves on the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support committee. She is a mentor to others in her department and for student interns from local colleges. Ms. Gonzalez is also a high school swim coach.


Jennifer Knoll is currently in her eighth year of teaching in Harford County. At Edgewood Middle School she shares her love for Earth and Space Science with her sixth-grade students. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Towson University in 2002, and a master’s degree in School Improvement Leadership from Goucher College in 2019. Mrs. Knoll currently serves as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support liaison on the School Performance and Achievement team, coordinator for the Jump Start program for sixth graders, Peaceful Alternatives coordinator, and co-leader of the Ecology Club and Green School Initiative.


Erinn Ragan is an educator who strives to build lasting, positive relationships not only with her students and their families, but also with her community. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Liberty University in 2000, and her master’s in Technology from Walden University in 2009. A 20-year veteran of Harford County Public Schools, Mrs. Ragan has taught third, fourth and fifth grade; she currently teaches fourth grade at Ring Factory Elementary School. Throughout her career, Mrs. Ragan has served as a mentor teacher, grade level chair and on the School Performance and Assessment team.


Melissa Van Ruiten is in her 11th year with Harford County Public Schools. She received her graduate degree through Towson University’s Master of Teaching program. Mrs. Van Ruiten has served as a classroom teacher, as well as a mentor teacher for the county. She is currently a third grade teacher at Youth’s Benefit Elementary School. In 2016, Mrs. Van Ruiten became a National Board Certified Teacher. Most recently, she completed a Master’s + 30 program to achieve Administrator I certification. Mrs. Van Ruiten’s favorite part of teaching is the joy of laughter found in each day.


Elizabeth White is a graduate of Towson University where she received a bachelor’s degree in History and Secondary Education, and a master's in Instructional Leadership. Mrs. White has been teaching in Harford County Public Schools for 12 years. She previously taught at Edgewood High School and is currently teaching at Harford Technical High School. She was the co-winner of a curriculum award in 2015 and is currently working towards National Board certification. She is dedicated to her school community through her work with the Student Government Association. Mrs. White has also served the Social Studies and Technology offices to provide professional development and in the creation of new curricula and assessments.


A surprise announcement of the winner will take place at the annual Harford County Teacher of the Year Banquet to be held on Wednesday, April 1, at the Bayou Restaurant in Havre de Grace. Again this year, the banquet is being provided by the Bayou Restaurant and HAR-CO Credit Union, with many outstanding gifts for our finalists donated by local Harford County businesses!


Congratulations and good luck to this year's finalists!!

Student Services Standout Award Winner is Karen Cunningham of Edgewood Elementary School!

Karen Cunningham, school counselor at Edgewood Elementary School, is the first recipient of the Student Services Standout Award because of her dedication to students, her enthusiastic efforts to support families, and her kindness and compassion towards all! Karen has gone above and beyond the role of School Counselor in so many ways. A few examples of this include organizing and sorting through 230 donated pairs of shoes this summer to make sure that students had a new pair of shoes to begin the school year. She has managed the holiday giving initiative at her school so that children. who otherwise may not, have holiday gifts. She has also implemented the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) National Model at her school and is working towards Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) status within the ASCA organization. Research shows that schools who follow the ASCA model greatly support their students to remove barriers to their learning. HCPS is lucky to have Karen as part of our Student Services Team! WAY TO GO!

Other nominees for the Student Services Standout Award included:


  • Sarah Paquin, School Counselor
  • Laurie Smith, School Counselor
  • Tammy Webb, School Psychologist
  • Trish Schoen, Administrative Support Staff
  • Linda Hicks, School Nurse
  • Sandy Carter, Administrative Support Staff
  • Laura Wade, Administrative Support Staff
  • Kim Noll, Administrative Support Staff


Congratulations to all the nominees, and thank you for your hard work in supporting Student Services!

What is a Census, And Why is it Important?

Once a decade, America comes together to count every resident in the United States, creating national awareness of the importance of the census and its valuable statistics. The decennial census was first taken in 1790, as mandated by the Constitution. It counts our population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities’ vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy.


The next census will occur in 2020. Counting an increasingly diverse and growing population is a massive undertaking. It requires years of planning and the support of thousands of people.


Ultimately, the success of the census depends on everyone’s participation. The Census Bureau depends on cross-sector collaborations with organizations and individuals to get people to participate.


The 2020 Census is important for you and your community, and you can help.


Learn more about the 2020 Census.

Voluntary Transfer Requests

HCEA-represented employees and inclusion helpers (HCESC-represented employees) who wish to be considered for a voluntary transfer must submit their request online prior to the deadline date stated in the applicable negotiated agreement. The Voluntary Transfer Request site may be accessed by clicking on the following SharePoint link: Human Resources - HR Information. Each subject and/or position requested must be submitted separately. It is important to note that the Voluntary Transfer Request site is only accessible from a HCPS device connected to the HCPS network. The Voluntary Transfer Request site is not accessible from home. Please note that only online requests completed on the voluntary transfer request site will be accepted.


Transfer requests are accepted on a year-round basis. Although transfers are accepted on a year-round basis, decisions will be based on the existing vacancy/transfer timeline. To review the 2019-20 SY Employment Timeline, please click on the following SharePoint link: Staff Management Department.


All Other HCESC-Represented Employees


For all other HCESC-represented positions, applications, including transfers, MUST be done through the online application process. All positions within the unit, which offer promotional and transfer opportunities, will be posted for at least one week prior to the close of the application deadline. You MUST apply online for consideration.


Questions regarding this information should be directed to Joanna Karolenko, in Human Resources, at Joanna.Karolenko@hcps.org or x5238.

MSDE Special Education Parent Survey - Special Educator Assistance

Each year, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) surveys parents of children receiving special education services in the state. The purpose of the Maryland Special Education Parent Involvement Survey is to hear from parents about how well they think their child’s school is partnering with them and promoting parent involvement in their child’s education.


Since you play a central role in how parents perceive special education services in the state, we want to tell you about the 2019-20 survey and ask for your help in encouraging parents to complete the survey.


When will the survey be administered?


  • Surveys were mailed February 7, 2020 and must be returned (mail or online) by May 18, 2020. (Please do not make copies of the survey for distribution as they are numbered by the distributor.)
  • Online surveys are available 24/7 at https://www.mdparentsurvey.com.


What are you asking me to do?


We would like you to encourage parents to complete the survey. Historically, we only hear from about 10% of parents in Maryland. Ways you can help:


  • Email the attached flier to parents in English or Spanish or send it home in backpacks.
  • Print the attached flier and distribute it at IEP meetings, PTA meetings, and other school events as a reminder.
  • Include a message in your class newsletter or parent communications.


Where can I get more information about the survey?


  • Review the Frequently Asked Questions document attached here. This document is included in the survey packet parents were mailed.
  • For more information, contact the Special Education Department at 410-588-5246 or via email.


This survey will help MSDE and each local jurisdiction understand how they can support you and support parents in educating Maryland’s children with disabilities. Help spread the word!


Questions regarding this information should be directed to Pauline Timmons, in Special Education, at Pauline.Timmons@hcps.org or x5246.

Maryland State Department of Education Technical Assistance Bulletins

The Special Education Department, as part of an effort to inform school leaders and faculty, will be highlighting each week one or more of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Division of Early Intervention and Special Education Services (DEI-SES) Technical Assistance Bulletins.


This week, guidance is shared on Inclusive Early Childhood Services in the LRE.


A full list of available DEI-SES Technical Assistance Bulletins are available on the MSDE website, located here.


Questions regarding this information should be directed to any of the HCPS coordinators for special education at x5246.

Shout Out!

103.7 WXCY, in partnership with Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union (APGFCU), wants to thank educators by recognizing their hard work and dedication to the children of our community. Each month, the radio station rewards a nominated teacher with a $100 VISA gift card for supplies needed in their classroom. The winning teacher for January was Ms. Corday, mathematics teacher at Joppatowne High School! Congratulations, Ms. Corday!


Nominate a teacher here: https://www.wxcyfm.com/teacher-of-the-month/.

Spotlight on Customer Service

"I would like to commend Bob Kral for his excellent customer service to my department. My computer and hard drive crashed on a Saturday, and I thought that I had lost everything. By 10 o’clock Monday morning, Bob had my computer up and running and was able to salvage all of my files. I was ecstatic. Additionally, Crickett Naylor retired on a Friday and when Kim Noll came to work on Monday morning to serve as her replacement, Bob had already switched out their computers and had her ready to go. His response and customer service is to be greatly commended."

-Buck Hennigan, Executive Director of Student Support Services


"We want to give a shout out to Mrs. Katy Maggi. She is an incredible asset to our main office at Aberdeen High School. As one of our parents recently shared, “…she has outstanding customer service skills and always has a smile on her face. She is a pleasure to both parents and students.” We couldn’t agree more! No matter how many people and items she is managing, she always does it with grace, a smile, and efficiency. She is truly here to serve the students, parents, and staff of the school. Thank you Mrs. Maggi for everything you do to help Aberdeen run smoothly every day."

-Sarah Doyle, Assistant Principal, Aberdeen High School


"Mrs. Kathryn Maggi has been a front office secretary at AHS for the past 3 years. She is an absolute joy to work with and amazing at what she does each and every day for our school and community. We should all be so fortunate to have at least someone like Mrs. Maggi in our lives each day."

-Pat Lawrence, Administrative Support Specialist - Lead, Aberdeen High School

Welcome to HCPS!

Please help us welcome the following new employees to our HCPS family:


  • Sarah Schachtel, Paraeducator, Prospect Mill Elementary School
  • Gretchen Fisher, School Bus Attendant, Transportation
  • Amanda Kight, Food and Nutrition Services Worker, North Harford Middle School
  • Regina Krause, Swim Technician, Edgewood Middle School
  • Janice Demby, Paraeducator, Magnolia Middle 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.