Employee newsletter, August 26, 2019

Upcoming events

GROW professional learning system is now live

GROW, the district's new professional learning system, is user-friendly and supports professional learning for all. To access the system, which has replaced ERO, log in with your active directory credentials. Get started as a user by reading the course participant guide, or visit the professional learning webpage for more information about other system roles.

Employee benefits reminders

The first half of the district's 2019-20 contribution to eligible employees' health savings accounts will be distributed Sept. 12. The second half will be distributed Jan. 16.

Look out for emails from Omada, the digital lifestyle program, at the email connected to your Cigna account. Emails will come from "Mesa Public Schools Omada Program" and contain wellness information. Learn more and take the one-minute eligibility screener.

Budget increase election information

A 15% maintenance and operations budget increase, or override, is on the Nov. 5 mail-in only ballot. The budget increase helps the district retain and attract quality teachers and staff, improve school safety and security, and prepare students for college and the workforce. Learn the facts about the budget increase and find informational resources to share at mpsaz.org/info.

Employees and board members are prohibited from using district resources to influence the outcome of an election, per Arizona state law and district Policy GBG - District and Staff Participation in Political Activities and its regulation. As a reminder, district information about the budget increase, including fact sheets, should not be sent home with students.

In Nov. 2018, the community approved a $300 million bond for Mesa Public Schools. Follow WeConstructMPS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on the master planning process and bond projects. 

High school and MPS logos; 1899-2019; 120 years of high schools; tradition, innovation, community

We're celebrating 120 years of high school success

This year marks the 120th anniversary of high schools in Mesa. In 1899, the first high school classes were held on the second floor of Old North Elementary School in Mesa.

We'll be sharing more details about the yearlong celebration soon with staff and community. In the meantime, we need your help. If you're a district high school graduate who'd like to share your favorite high school memory and digital senior portrait with us, we're creating graphics to share via social media throughout the year. Consider sharing about the high school teacher or staff member who made a difference in your life.

Email your digital senior photo, name, title, site and favorite high school memory to news@mpsaz.org.

Turn Student Stress Into Success

Join us for a special community event Wednesday, Sept. 18. Learn about important key indicators for stress in children and teens, including anxiety, depression and suicide. Experts will share strategies for supporting youth mental health wellness.

Guest speakers include digital wellness expert Katey McPherson, Community Bridges' Natalia Chimbo-Andrade and ASU Health and Counseling Services' Dr. Aaron Krasnow. Community resources will also be available from partners including Teen Lifeline, Community Bridges and EMPACT. The event begins at 6 p.m., Sept. 18, in the Shepherd Junior High auditorium, 1407 N. Alta Mesa Dr., Mesa, AZ 85205.

Mesa Public Schools Foundation supports our students and staff

Did you know that Mesa Public Schools has a foundation, which has been meeting district needs for over 25 years?

The Mesa Public Schools Foundation comprises 13 community volunteers who focus on raising awareness, funding and support. The non-profit charitable community organization solicits, manages and distributes funds and resources for the benefit of the district and its students. It furthers the education, development and welfare of children within district boundaries who qualify under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (or corresponding provisions of any future U.S. Revenue Laws).

By providing grants for teachers, and shoes and eyeglasses for students, MPSF continues to support the educational needs of Mesa Public Schools. Employees can support the foundation through payroll deductions, donations and events, including the annual auction. Learn more and donate at mpsaz.org/foundation.

Free R.A.D. system self-defense course

The rape aggression defense system (R.A.D.) is a free program of realistic, self-defense tactics and techniques. The R.A.D. system is a comprehensive course for women that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training.

The two-day course will be held at 63 E. Main St., Mesa, Oct. 4, from 5 to 9 p.m., and Oct. 5, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Interested in enrolling? Please contact Jaime Jimenez at 480-202-2146 or jvjimenez@mpsaz.org.

Supplemental instruction materials update

The district has updated processes and procedures related to purchasing preK-12 supplemental instructional software, applications and online programs. New processes have been developed to meet multiple state and federal regulations, including equity, standards-based instruction, web accessibility, student privacy and evidenced-based practices. Learn more. Questions? Contact your supervisor or Dr. Tracy Yslas, executive director of teaching & learning.   

Apply now for $5,000 Diamondbacks grants

The Arizona Diamondbacks and University of Phoenix are inviting teachers and faculty to "Pitch Us Your Program" for a $5,000 classroom or school grant. Nominations are due Sept. 27, 2019. Grants will be awarded in four categories: education programs, innovation and technology, nutrition and fitness, and school and campus improvements. Learn more and apply online

National Board Certification funding available

Arizona K12 Center has funding available for 200 teachers to seek National Board Certification. The funding stream, available on a first come, first served basis, will provide each qualified teacher the financial assistance to pay for all four components and up to a $225 credit for eligible Arizona K12 Center candidate support events. Learn more.

Mesa Public Schools in the news

The literacy collaboration between Whittier and Zaharis elementary schools was featured on 3TV and CBS5.

District communications specialist Nina Allred and Broadway transportation supervisor Frank Castillo shared about the bus driver shortage on Telemundo.

ABC15 interviewed Edison Elementary counselor Jaime Clemens and opportunity & achievement director Dr. Michael Garcia about the district's counselor additions. Garcia was also interviewed for 3TV and East Valley Tribune.

Nathan Myers, director of educational technology, talked to KTAR reporter (and Mesa High alumna) Griselda Zetino about the district's use of Canvas for online learning.

Laurie Struna, media communications specialist, wrote about five ways to engage at your local school in August issues of UpClose, Nearby News and Ranchers Roundup.

Cue the applause

Heather Thomas STUCO administrator of the yearCongratulations to Heather Thomas, team leader at Carson Junior High School (pictured right), for receiving the Administrator of the Year Award from the Arizona Association of Junior High Student Councils. The award is given to only one junior high school administrator in the state. Thomas received the award for her outstanding support of the Carson Student Council.

The top 10 nominees for Arizona Teacher of the Year have been announced, and two are from Mesa Public Schools. Congratulations to Lauren Cluff, Hughes Elementary National Board Certified reading interventionist, and Taryn Tidwell, Shepherd Junior High music and drama teacher. The annual awards program from Arizona Educational Foundation honors teaching excellence throughout the state. Cluff and Tidwell will move on to the next round of the competition, which includes an in-person interview and demonstration of their teaching. We wish them the best of luck!


Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, communications & engagement director

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