Volume 47, No. 1, August 10, 2018

Photo of Dr. Conley and female staff member on first day of schoolWelcome back, #oneteam!

Thanks for ensuring Wednesday was a successful first day of school for our 64,000 students. Welcome to our new employees, and welcome back to our returning staff. It was also the first school day for new Mesa Public Schools superintendent Dr. Ember Conley (pictured, right).

On Aug. 3, Dr. Ember Conley kicked off the new year at the #oneteam employee rally. To accommodate all district staff, five rally sessions were held at the Mesa Convention Center. Staff enjoyed an inspirational presentation from Tom Kelly, formerly of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Olympic team. Dr. Conley also shared her vision and goals for the district. The message of the day? Behind every successful student is #oneteam of dedicated educators.

Revisit the #oneteam staff slideshow on YouTube

Help us celebrate success

Amazing things are happening at Mesa Public Schools, and we love to share student, staff and school success stories with our community. How can you help? Send information to news@mpsaz.org that appeals to the broader Mesa community.

We will consider submissions to feature in an upcoming Mesa Agenda, through the district news feed or on district social media accounts (FacebookTwitter or Instagram). We're especially looking for stories that support our district vision and goals.

If you have questions about submitting news for consideration, feel free to email Heidi Hurst or call 480-472-0224.

Educator Preview Night

On Aug. 16, our friends at Mesa Arts Center are hosting a special free event just for Arizona educators. Attendees will enjoy refreshments, live music by Grammy award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey and advance information about upcoming student-friendly events. The school with the greatest participation will win a free arts experience. Learn more and RSVP on the Mesa Arts Center website.

Plan for retirement

Is retirement in the horizon? Plan to attend a 90-minute Arizona State Retirement System meeting. All meetings are held on the third floor of the Administrative Services Center, 63 E. Main St., Mesa.

Route 3 - Retiring within the next three years
Tuesday, Sept. 18, 3:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 24, 3:30 p.m.

Route 4 - Retiring within the next year
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 3:30 p.m.

Register for a meeting on the human resources webpage. Employees who do not have internet access may use the computers in the human resources lobby or seek assistance at their work site. Hurry, meetings fill up quickly!

Employees hired to work at least 20 weeks and at least 20 hours per week are required to enroll in ASRS. Contributions are set up automatically through payroll deduction for eligible employees.

It is important to establish an online ASRS account to ensure your contributions are correctly posted. Enrollees can review account statements, use benefit estimation tools and manage beneficiary information. Visit the ASRS resource page to learn more and build your retirement timeline.

Questions? Contact Deb Herman in human resources at 480-472-0404.

Wanted: enthusiastic supporters for United Way campaign

Photo of student services center staff after playing an escape room game for the United Way fundraiserDo you enjoy helping others and giving back to our community? If so, we need your help! We want YOU to be a community connector for this year's United Way campaign.

We're looking for two people from each school and department to design and conduct their site's United Way campaign, raising money that helps our own students. It's also fun. Just ask our Student Services Center community connectors who organized an Escape Room fundraiser for their colleagues last year (pictured).

We'll give you tools and ideas and offer you all the support you need. You'll be required to attend a one-hour pre-campaign training session in late August.

To become a community connector, please contact Miguel Flores at 480-472-0223 no later than Friday, Aug. 17. He will tell you if your site needs a community connector and can sign you up for a training session. Thank you for caring about our community.

Apply for a minigrant from the Mesa Public Schools Foundation

The Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2018-19 minigrant program, which funds projects regular school budgets can't accommodate. Any district educator, employee or student group (with a teacher-sponsor) can apply. Proposed projects must directly benefit student achievement. Apply now on the Foundation webpage.

District earns grant to increase FAFSA completion rate

Mesa is one of 25 organizations in the country to receive up to a $40,000 2018-19 FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant from National College Access Network. The district is challenged to increase the Class of 2019's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rate by at least five percentage points over the Class of 2018.

FAFSA completion can help predict student success in postsecondary education, with 90 percent of seniors who complete FAFSA attending college directly after high school. NCAN will award a $100,000 grand prize to one of the 25 organizations based on challenge results.

Win prizes in the MPS Trip Reduction Program

Save on fuel and vehicle maintenance, minimize air pollution and win prizes when you participate in the district's Trip Reduction Program. Mandated by Maricopa County, the Trip Reduction Program promotes carpooling, taking the bus, walking or biking to work. You will automatically be entered in a prize drawing when you join and when you track your alternate transportation to and from work at least two days each month.

Thank you for doing your part to help clean the valley's air. For more information about the program, contact Miguel Flores at 480-472-0223.

Review statements of awareness and understanding

Board policy GBCB requires each employee to complete an annual statement of awareness, statement of understanding and, for certificated staff, disability statement of awareness. Please take time to review these documents before you sign and return them to your administrator or supervisor. New employees must return their signed documents within 30 days of hire, and the deadline for returning employees is Sept. 19. Find forms and more information on the human resources webpage.

Watch school board meetings and stay informed

The educational television department broadcasts school board meetings live and makes them available later on YouTube. The next meeting begins 7 p.m. Aug. 14 in the board room, located in the Curriculum Services Center building, 549 N. Stapley Dr. Agendas, videos, highlights and minutes are available on the district website.

Know a great invocational speaker?

If you know a Mesa-based faith leader who would be interested in giving the pre-meeting invocation at a future Governing Board meeting, please complete this Google Form or contact Miguel Flores at 480-472-0223.

Customer service rockstars

This summer, satisfied customers took the time to recognize school and district staff for stellar customer service. The schools and departments that received the most responses in June and July were:

  • Lindbergh Elementary - 84 responses
  • Lehi Elementary - 22 responses
  • Native American Education Program - 13 reponses

Customers praised kind employees who assisted with registration and student schedules, including this comment from Rebecca, a parent at Westwood High School. "Mr. Tim Miholich, as always, was amazing. He worked with my son and me to get his schedule as it needs to be. He spoke with my son regarding what he will need to do so he can graduate. He didn't sugar coat it, but he was supportive and encouraging."

Need more customer service cards at your location? They're free from the warehouse — code: 9135151ESW. An online form is available on the district home page. Consider placing a link on your school or department home page. 

Cue the applause

Photo of Hale Elementary teacher Mandy HealMesa Public Schools earned the Gold Healthy Arizona Worksite Award. The award recognizes organizations that make efforts to positively affect the health and well-being of employees. Visit the district's wellness webpage to learn more about available opportunities and workshops. 

Marlo Loria, Career and Technical Education director, won the Spirit of ACOVA award this summer. The award is from the professional association for CTE administrators. It's presented to a recipient who embodies the association's mission of community, advocacy and leadership in CTE.

Erik Von Burg, gifted and talented department specialist, is one of two Arizona educators to win a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. He was named a finalist in 2016. He received a trip to Washington, D.C., a $10,000 award and a citation signed by President Donald Trump. In other Presidential Award news, Hale Elementary sixth-grade teacher Mandy Heal (pictured) was named a finalist earlier this month. Congratulations, Erik, and best of luck, Mandy!


Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, communications and marketing supervisor


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