The Powercat Minute

Weeks of 12/7

We Are Wildcats


Sola--6th Grade

Dueringer--7th Grade

Reyes--8th Grade


Silkett--6th Grade; 7th Green

Rodden--8th Grade; 7th Silver

We are...

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Dear CST Family,

The CST Family once again showed its generosity by collecting over 40 crock pots for local needs! Thank you to Krista for spearheading this project and for Andrea, Mandy, and Stacey for helping out Saturday morning. In addition, our Pennies campaign is going well and we've begun collecting cans for a back snack program. There's no shortage of need in the area and I'm grateful for all who have participated...keep up the good work and let's keep the generosity going!

We have a staff meeting this Wednesday beginning at 3:15pm via Zoom. A link will be shared this week. In addition, we'll keep the holiday fun going this week following our 12 days calendar below. There may be some wrinkles thrown into the soap race to make it more interesting...although, it's been pretty entertaining to watch as everyone scatters the building.

As a reminder, Rebecca will be out of the building this week but still accessible through email. Anything immediate can be brought to Krista or me. Thank you for a good first week back to remote. I received an email over the weekend from a parent expressing gratefulness for CST teachers and shared how her son seemed more engaged and happy this go around. I appreciate your reflection from remote 1.0 into this go around. Our ability to adapt is critical anyway, but even more so this year. Keep up the good work and keep moving forward!


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Teachers: please ensure you have emergency sub plans ready for remote learning. In addition, please take your laptop home each night and anything else you may need to work from home—especially as we get into the colder part of the year.

Reminder: Zoom Safety!

Zoom Host MUST:
  1. DO NOT USE ADMIT ALL, I know it may take some time to admit students individually, it is truly the only way to ensure they are students in your class.
  2. Make sure students entering your classroom are on your roster for that hour, if they are not and you think your student maybe using a different device, you can chat them in the waiting room.

Here is a zoom safety video that walks you through different settings you can set for your remote learners. PLEASE double check your settings so we are as secure as possible.

The district has created a Zoom page on Ozone, with lots of different helpful tips when setting up your zoom meetings.

Thanks for being amazing,

Rebecca Reyes

Adopt-a-School Partner...

...Journey Bible Church has adopted CST as a community partner and have several ways they want to support us this year. They've already provided cookies for staff and have plans we'll discuss on Wednesday as a way to show support for staff. They are also going to be providing lunch for us on Friday! A way we can help is to support their back snack program. Below is a flyer about their campaign. The collection will be in the front foyer.
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Girls Basketball!!!

Our girls basketball teams will tip off their season next week and we’re going to be streaming the games live! KSHSAA ruled games can continue but fans are not permitted through January 28th—so we’ll be broadcasting live on Youtube and you are welcome to join us! We’re excited to be able to provide this opportunity for our teams—home or away—to allow parents and fans the chance to watch our wildcats play! Good luck ladies!

Team and PLC time--Review the Info Below

Reminder: OPS Assurances for Online Learning

Review these Olathe Public Schools Assurances for Systemwide Online Learning:
  • Content instruction/delivery should be easily understood without teacher direction.

  • Directions are simple and clear for the end user (e.g., families, caregivers, students) on my LMS. Think Step 1, Step 2, etc….

  • Synergy LMS is the starting place for students and families to access all content. This would include linking simple/clear instructions if I ask students to open apps/websites/tools such as a Google Slide, Seesaw, Google Classroom, or Nearpod.

  • Weekly agendas are the first tab on my LMS to provide consistency for families/students.

  • Limit the number of technology tools I am using with students to provide a consistent experience for everyone. Each time you introduce a new tool it requires new learning for students/families/caregivers.

If you would like to receive a copy of a simple LMS that meets the requirements above, please fill out this form.


Looking for engaging activities that work in a variety of learning environments? Check out this Super Six strategy list! These six strategies can be done in an in-person environment, a socially distanced environment, or remotely!

Resources for Teachers

Providing support for our staff is of the utmost importance. Below you will find engagement strategies to support staff whether we are in-person or in systemwide online learning models.

According to John Hattie's research, structured discussion strategies have a .82 effect size. The strategies outlined below align with our district improvement goals and have a significant influence on student achievement. Furthermore, they provide practice with social skills that help support our BSEL (behavior social emotional learning) goals.

Hattie defines = 0.40 to be the hinge point, an effect size at which an initiative can be said to be having a "...greater than average influence’ on achievement.” In his work, Visible Learning, Hattie argues that “expert teachers are not wedded to specific ideas but instead focus regularly on evaluating the effects they have on their students and adjust teaching methods accordingly.”

(pulled from Olathe's Learning Services website)


Reminder: 12/18 Half Day Schedule

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Check it out!

Learning Services Homepage

Lots of information--curriculum, power standards, PD, technology, etc.

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Learning Services

AIM for Excellence !! Some GREAT Tools from 11/11

11/11 AIM:

Here is a video overview of the AIM:

The Olathe Public Schools has brilliant teachers who problem solve and find new and creative ways to meet the needs of their students.

As a means to share great ideas across the district for student engagement, click HERE to share ideas to support your fellow colleagues:

We will share ideas submitted by:

  • Highlighting as a “Tip” from an Olathe staff member in the “Updates from Learning Services” section of the AIM.

  • Tweeting out the great idea and highlighting the staff member.

Thank you for considering to share your ideas to support your Olathe colleagues!

What is a Spark Starter?

1. The Sunshine Spreaders - Teachers who spread joy and positivity.

2. The Courageous - The teachers who step out of their comfort zone without fear of failure.

3. The Encouragers - The teachers who inspire with courage, spirit, and confidence.

4. The Innovators -The teachers who seek new and/or better ideas.

When you combine these qualities together, it lights a spark that sparkles with passion and enthusiasm. As Tisha Richmond would say, "We can have the techiest tools and most innovative ideas in the world, but the fire for innovation won’t start without a spark."

Spark Starters are filled with passion; a passion that is contagious. A fire is starting in Olathe and it is a beautiful sight to see. Every two weeks we will shine a light on the amazing Spark Starters throughout Olathe.

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Reminders: 11/23 Email


I want to share a few updates/reminders from my principal’s meeting last week as well as Dr. Yeager’s email from Thursday…

  • No finals in the secondary—MS or HS. There may be an end of unit quiz or test as we you wrap up but no cumulative finals.
  • To more appropriately weight the semester 1 grade book, the following will be utilized (there is no action needed on your end)
    • COVID Grade book Weighting: With the shortened number of class meeting dates in the first quarter, quarter one and quarter two will be weighted differently when determining semester grades. At the end of the semester, the semester grade on the grade card will reflect a quarter one weighting of 40% and quarter two weighting of 60%. This will allow students an opportunity to recover their semester grade after a shortened quarter one and be a fair representation of learning for the full semester. The current expectation is that second semester will be back to a 50/50 weighting, as in the past. This is approach is consistent across all 10 Olathe middle schools.
  • Remote 2.0 will carry with it an expectation for students to have screens on. This will promote higher levels of engagement and is best practices for online learning. This will be communicated to parents but feel free to let students know.
    • Families/students will be encouraged to reach out to you if there’s a reason for not turning the screen on
  • Learning Services Open Zooms for you to ask questions of curriculum coordinators, have professional collaboration with your colleagues or seek technical assistance. As you enter the zoom, you will be asked your specific need and then you will have the opportunity to join a breakout room for assistance.
    • Tuesday, Nov. 24 from 11:00-1:00pm
    • Click HERE for the Learning Services Zoom link.
  • PLC conversations: Engage students in any learning environment. You can click HERE to access research-based instructional strategies that can increase student’s talking about their learning and support the social-emotional needs of our students.
  • Tuesday—7-9am—Cowtown Donuts and a coffee truck—come one, come all! Lunch from Austin’s served during lunch period!

Also—a reminder of how appreciated you are—click on the link to see what our parents and students are saying about YOU! Keep checking back as new comments continue to be added.

Have a wonderful evening and last day before the holiday!


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WAH and Math Lab

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IMPORTANT: Covid Reminder


In light of covid related letters sent out to staff and families yesterday, please be reminded of how a direct exposure is defined:

· No mask

· Less than 6' apart

· More than 10 minutes

Our biggest risk occurs during lunch when masks are off and eating together. If you are eating lunch with someone, please do so distanced so as not to create a situation where a direct exposure could occur. We have spaced our students in the lunchroom to limit possible exposures for this reason and we need to ensure we do the same as a staff to reduce risk of spread, exposures, and need to quarantine.

In addition, Nurse Ross is working with all student-releated Covid issues and maintains frequent contact with families and the county health department. I work with staff-releated Covid issues along with HR. Please direct your student concerns to Jenn and staff concerns to me.

Let me know if you have questions. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


PLEASE READ: Zoom Safety


While I know that zoom is mostly behind us as we move into hybrid, we still have a majority of our staff that will have remote students for the remainder of the semester. With that being said, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you are following some basic zoom safety protocol to ensure we keep a safe and secure online learning environment for all.

Zoom Host MUST:

  1. DO NOT USE ADMIT ALL, I know it may take some time to admit students individually, it is truly the only way to ensure they are students in your class.
  2. Make sure students entering your classroom are on your roster for that hour, if they are not and you think your student maybe using a different device, you can chat them in the waiting room.

Here is a zoom safety video that walks you through different settings you can set for your remote learners. PLEASE double check your settings so we are as secure as possible.

The district has created a Zoom page on Ozone, with lots of different helpful tips when setting up your zoom meetings.

Thanks for being amazing,

Rebecca Reyes

Wedneday Cleanings and Available Planners

Spray cleaning will become a regular thing on Wednesdays. Please clean off desks/counter tops.

Also, we have a bunch of student planners if in the lounge if they need any for students.

Student Backpacks--Lighten the load?

While we expected backpacks to be used and full, we are seeing some students walking around with very full and very heavy backpacks. As teams and individual teachers, please consider help you can provide for students to help "lighten the load". Some examples...

  • Having students drop their lunch in their lunch period class
  • Class binders being kept in the classroom
  • Cat locations--place for coats/jackets
  • Cat locations--place to keep other items
  • Other successful ideas?

Especially in hybrid, we may be able to accommodate our students easier with smaller classes. Please have this discussion and offer up options for students.


Students in quarantine will need to be marked absent moving forward since there is no longer an opportunity for remote instruction. Please treat a quarantine similar to extended absence. Work can be sent home via email or picked up in the entryway. Teachers may choose to continue to use the LMS as a means of sharing learning and work but it is not required. Teachers are also not required to Zoom daily with students who are quarantined.

We will talk more in teams this week about best strategies and as usual, we'll work with students as needed.

Zoom through TeacherVUE

Based on feedback, we made the Nearpod below to walk certified teachers through:

1) How to launch Zoom through TeacherVUE with the auto populate option.

2) Security features that are available when using the Zoom through TeacherVUE (e.g., waiting room, mute all students, lock room, rename students, etc...).

3) Engagement features that are available for teachers (e.g., polling, whiteboard, share screen with annotation tools, etc...).


Join Code: VELKZ

Please let us know if you have any questions are in need of any other support!

Best Wishes,

Andrea Paulakovich

Director for Learning Services

Olathe Public Schools

Food for thought:

  • Continue to reach out to parents if students are struggling in any way--this should be the first step
  • With the possibility of hybrid there may be need for more PLC time. Talk within teams about a possible 3rd day of PLC or a "flex" day where team or PLC could be used.
  • Do you have an emergency sub lesson planned and ready?
  • Is your room ready for in-person learning? Set aside 10-15 minutes a day to prepare your room if you haven't already. This includes room decorations, bulletin boards, etc. We don't want to be scrambling if we get the go ahead for hybrid or in-person learning.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) (Please Read)

This link will provide info about our EAP. Please read through to be familiar with services and supports available to all of us. Below is part of the information included at the link HERE.

Please reach out if we can be of any support.



Life can be tough. When your responsibilities start to feel overwhelming and showing up each day with a smile on your face seems difficult, it's important to reach out for help. You can lean on your free and confidential New Directions Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for support.

  • New Directions EAP can help you or anyone in your household:

    • Receive care after a traumatic event or diagnosis
    • Make healthy lifestyle choices
    • Be more present and productive at work.
    • Be a caring, loving friend and family member.
    • Receive support when you don't feel like yourself
    • Get help with responsibilities that are distracting and stressful
    • Grow personal and career skills
    • Consultations on finances or legal needs

  • Counseling services are available 24/7, even on holidays. Sessions can be in person, over the phone, or through texting.

  • Support Line - 1-800-624-5544

    Mobile App - Search for new Directions EAP

    Website - Log in using our company code: Olathe Schools

    These services are free of charge and completely confidential even from Olathe Public Schools.

There's also a service called "TalkSpace" where staff can text with a counselor and receive "text therapy".

Talk Space

Zoom Outages

Your problem solving through last week’s Zoom outage was much appreciated! If you haven’t already, please establish some norms with your students on what they could or should do if something like this occurs again. So much of our technology is integrated so it’s not always a simple fix, but if they had a couple troubleshooting tips at the ready it may help make that a little less stressful for them. Some thoughts on if Zoom is down again…

  1. Students check email for a communication from teachers with info/direction
  2. Students default to their classroom page (google classroom, etc.) to begin reviewing or completing work
  3. Do students know how to access email outside of ClassLink in case it too is down?

Just some thoughts—any other tips? Send this way and/or to staff—it takes a village!

Synergy updates

Here are today’s Synergy updates, plus one on Nearpod:

  • All students need to make sure they are logging in through ClassLink and then clicking on StudentVUE.
  • If you are experiencing challenges with submissions for assignments using Synergy Dropbox and/or Google Submissions, please know that technology is aware of this and is currently working with engineers at Synergy to get this resolved ASAP.
  • If you receive a spinning window when trying to delete in the Course Content window, unpublish the assignment for the time being. This has been reported to Synergy and they have escalated this be resolved ASAP.
  • The FAQ about Synergy for Teachers is being updated daily and you will find an UPDATE ON and the date when new information is added. Also, staff can quickly search the document for their answer by using the directions below:

You can click “CTRL F” on an HP or “COMMAND F” on a Mac and search the

document by a keyword.

  • Some students are unable to select SM1 courses in the LMS drop down box. This is actively being worked on by Synergy.
  • Over the weekend, an enhancement will be added to the Zoom feature in Synergy that will allow more flexibility to start classes earlier and to utilize the reoccurring Zoom link feature.
  • Nearpod--Some of you may have experienced challenges with Nearpod today. They had nation-wide outages. We believe this is fixed.

Remote Classroom Best Practices


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Working with Sub-Services

Good morning,

We all want a smooth transition when a teacher is absent, so below is a review of the expectations of the substitute teacher/nurse so you are aware and can do your part in the process. I have also included some things you can do to help the day go smoothly with a substitute teacher. If you are a staff member that does not require a substitute teacher/nurse then you may disregard this email.

When a Substitutes accepts a job in Absence Management:

Substitute teachers/nurses will expect to find lesson plans for classes for the day here. It is important that teachers use Absence Management for lesson plans so the substitute can review expectations prior to arriving at the school when possible. Some staff may prefer Synergy, but just be aware that the substitute cannot see those lesson plans until they arrive at the school. The link for all zoom sessions will be in Synergy. I have attached a guide for using Absence Management for those that require a substitute.

When Substitutes Teachers arrive at school:

Substitute teachers will check in at the office and get the password to access Synergy for the day. Technology will be checked out to them, and they will work at the teachers desk.

They will open Synergy and Absence Management, making sure they have read all lesson plans, reviewed any student health concerns, and find links needed for online classes/groups.

A few things teachers can do to help the day go smoothly:

· Leave lesson plans in Absence Management.

· Enter the job in Absence Management as soon as you can. If having trouble entering a job in the morning, please call the Staffing Support Team at 780-8268. It is not best practice to leave a message at the school for the secretary to handle when they arrive- by that time it may be difficult to fill the job. The Staffing Support Team is available from 6:00-5:00 each day.

· Log into Absence Management now, before you need a substitute, to ensure you have no trouble accessing the program. Please check that your school and subject are correctly listed. Trouble? Email Shelly:

· At the high school level, please add your assigned parking space number to the notes for a full day absence when possible.

· Everyone should have at least one person listed on their preferred substitute list to ensure the jobs fill as quickly as possible. Also, if you click the heart beside their name, it will email them when a job is entered for you. If you need a name, you can ask your building secretary or the Staffing Support Team. If you do not have at least one name listed, the program will do nothing for the first 15% of time the job is posted for you.

· If you have a specific substitute you want to get a job, please take all other preferred substitutes off of your list before entering a job. After the substitute has accepted the job, you can add your other preferred substitutes back on. If you do not do this, anyone listed on your list has an equal opportunity to take the job, not matter what number they are on your preferred list.

· Please be mindful of what you leave in the notes and lesson plans. If you say negative things about your class, leave tedious lesson plans, or ask for a specific qualification then substitutes may not want to take your job. (examples to avoid: this class is tough on substitutes so expect to call the office; lesson plans that are 10 pages long; Spanish speaking substitutes only)

· If there is a staff member that would be the best to contact if they are having trouble, listing them is nice.

Thank you for taking time to read through all of this. If you have any questions you can email me at, or call me at 780-8268.


Important Links to Bookmark

Comprehensive Return to Learn Plan (especially scan for your content/class)

The link below continues to be updated. Because this is a document with frequent updates, I suggest you save the link rather than print. This document covers all details about our return to learning, but again, continues to be update. Please bookmark this link and save for future reference and most up-to-date info.

District FAQ

The district FAQ section has also been updated:

Message from district

Furniture- furniture, including soft and flexible seating, does not need to be relocated, moved to storage, taken home, purchased, etc. in order to achieve social distancing. Masking is our primary protection against the spread of COVID. Disinfecting protocols are in place to combat the transferability of COVID from furniture. Furniture may be moved around within instructional spaces to obtain the maximum possible social distancing, but removal of furniture is not necessary. Staff members choosing to remove personal items from the classroom should plan to take items off site. The district is not equipped to store personal, furniture items belonging to staff.

Countertop Dishwashers and Other Sanitizing Equipment- individual buildings and/or teachers are not to purchase such items. The district will provide any equipment identified as necessary for disinfecting.

HEPA Filters- steps have been taken to upgrade our HVAC filtering system to higher MERV ratings across all of our systems. Additional HEPA devices are not to be purchased or allowed in the building. Doing so is not necessary if all other protocols (ex. masking) are followed.

Barriers- staff and students are not to bring their own barriers to school, whether fixed or portable. Each staff member will be provided both a mask and a face shield. While use of the face shield over the mask is optional, the combined use of this personal protective equipment provides a greater barrier than Plexiglas or portable plastic barriers. Barriers still allow the release of aerosol particles into the air. In addition, if not properly and frequently disinfected, such barriers are more harmful than helpful.

Synergy Items

If you are receiving a message that says, "reached quota" when trying to create a YouTube video in Synergy, please know Technology is working with YouTube to update our quota. Until this is updated, you will see a message that is red and says "reached quota."


· Just a reminder that you can find resources to support you with Synergy on the Learning Services website under "Instructional Technology" and "Synergy." Here is a direct link:

· Questions we received regarding Synergy have been added to the Teacher's FAQ document. Here is a direct link:

· We created Pre-Made banners for the LMS Library if staff would like to use a resource that is already the correct size for the banner. Here is a direct link:

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Synergy Video Tutorials (for future reference)

Synergy Video Tutorials

(you may need to log into Google to view)

The videos linked above showcase the basic features and functions of Synergy. Staff will have to log in with their district Google Apps for Education account to view the videos.


Password: Network Password

Below is a screenshot of the page linked in this section.

Proud to be a wildcat!

Chisholm Triail: We Are Wildcats!

Pennies for Shoes!!!

A message was sent to parents this weekend and announcements will begin later this week for students, but begin strategizing your approach to becoming the first ever Cat time Pennies for Shoes champion! Aside from class and teacher incentives, there may just be a traveling trophy to win and display with pride for all to enjoy for the year.

The competition begins on Monday, 11/30 and the following will be in place...

  • Each Cat time will have its own envelope to collect money and turn in daily
  • A and B Cat classes work together for 1 total Cat collection
  • Top 5 will be read daily on announcements
  • Final collection is at 7:55am on 12/12
  • Winner is highest average per Cat student
  • Remote classes will compete separately for a prize--first core hour of the day will collect money--Umphrey/Williams/Jones/M. Kinzer/Boyd/Rotert

More info to come! Reach out to Bethany or Rick with questions.