Employee newsletter, October 30, 2019

 Upcoming events

Replace/drop-off ballots at Mountain View High

Lost or damaged ballot? Don't worry, you can still vote in the Nov. 5 mail-in only election. Mountain View High is a designated Maricopa County election ballot replacement and drop-off location.

Voters who miss the Oct. 30 mail-in deadline are advised to drop off their ballots at a designated drop-off location to ensure their vote is counted.

Open hours:

  • Oct. 30-Nov. 1: 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 4: 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Election Day Nov. 5: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Enter the school parking lot from Brown Road, and follow the signs to the administration building. Learn more at recorder.maricopa.gov. Learn the facts about the budget increase at mpsaz.org/info.

Join the painting party at Highland Arts Elementary 

Free this Saturday? Highland Arts Elementary is inviting the community to participate in a community mural painting event. Local artist Hugo Medina designed the mural with students. No art experience necessary. Join the fun at Highland Arts Elementary Saturday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Graphic with senior photo of Loretta Zullo, 120 years of high schools logo and text: Loretta Zullo, director, food & nutrition, Westwood High, Class of 1973, It may not be a favorite memory, but it's a vivid one. Mr. Pat Pomeroy, vice-principal, provided me with some fashion advice and sent me home because my “hot pants” were too short!Calling all Toros

We are celebrating 120 years of high school excellence all year long.

Did you or someone you know graduate Mountain View High between 1977 and 1980? We're recognizing Toros at the Nov. 26 Governing Board meeting. Learn more and RSVP at mpsaz.org/120.

Watch videos from the Mesa High and Westwood High board recognitions. Check out employee alumni graphics and notable alumni videos at mpsaz.org/120.

MPS alumnus? Email your senior photo, graduation year and favorite high school memory to news@mpsaz.org.

Mesa Public Schools in the news

For spirit day, two Mendoza Elementary students dressed as their favorite superhero — teacher Rhonda Collins! 3TV featured the story in several newscasts.

FOX10 featured a recent yoga training for Rhodes Junior High staff facilitated by Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Red Mountain High's choir is hitting the Big Apple. Nearby News ran an article about their upcoming trip to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Nearby News also featured an article about the district's FAFSA grant success, which included an interview with Dr. Michael Garcia, director of opportunity & achievement.

MacArthur staff "Kiss the Pig"

Earlier this month at MacArthur Elementary, teachers and students celebrated the overwhelming donations they received for the PE department during a "Kiss the Pig" event. In celebration of students' fundraising success, staff competed in pie-eating contests, allowed students to pie them in the face and even kissed a pig named Oreo. After students raised over $1,500, Principal Mark Norris kept his promise and shaved his head. Check out Norris' new look and other photos from the event.

Volunteer for the Academic Decathlon

The 36th annual Region IV Academic Decathlon is Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at Red Mountain High. Support our decathletes as they compete in 10 events themed "In Sickness and in Health: an Exploration of Illness and Wellness." 

Volunteers are needed to judge the speech and interview competition 4-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. No experience is necessary. Training and dinner is provided. The Decathlon is also looking for test proctors 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1. Training and lunch is provided.

Interested? Complete the form online or contact Erik Von Burg at elvonburg@mpsaz.org or Dee Gaiser at 480-472-7248.

Apply now for SRP learning grants

Learning grants allow schools, teachers and students to develop projects and programs geared toward state-mandated competencies. Up to $5,000 is awarded per school. Funds can be used to support innovative teaching strategies that improve student performance objectives in math and science. Learn how the 2019-20 recipients used their grant funds.

Applications are accepted through Feb. 28, 2020. Grant applications must be completed by a certified teacher. Learn more and apply on the SRP Classroom Connection Grants website.

Save the date for the holiday boutique

Employees are invited to join special education at the Dec. 6 holiday boutique. Enjoy warm drinks, cookies and a festive atmosphere as you shop from more than 20 vendors. The fair is 1-5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at Student Services Center. Questions? Contact Mindy Herbert at 480-472-0702.

PAWSitive Peers are star students

PAWSitive Peer Sawyer with student at Mountain View

Last weekend, 11 PAWSitive Peer care teams passed their official therapy dog evaluations.

East Valley Academy, Johnson Elementary, Kino Junior High, Mountain View High and Rhodes Junior High are piloting the PAWSitive Peers program using the Mutt-i-grees® curriculum. The program incorporates lessons on social and emotional learning, resiliency, empathy and the human-animal bond. 

This month, PAWSitive Peer Sawyer (pictured) has been present at Mountain View High with social worker Ariel Koch. Sawyer's first two days on campus included:

  • Helping de-escalate a student who was acting defiant and disrespectful so they could calm down and return to class successfully.
  • Visiting counseling to reassure a new student.
  • Going into classrooms where heavier topics were being discussed.
  • Helping a hearing-impaired student feel more comfortable talking about a bullying incident, which allowed administration to take action and keep them safe.

Learn more about PAWSitive Peers.

SchoolMessenger refresher videos now available

Whether you're a seasoned pro in need of a refresher or a newbie looking for tips, you may benefit from watching the new SchoolMessenger series. The short video series was created specifically to cover everything in the original new-user training while answering frequently asked questions.

New user looking to get started? After receiving administrator approval, contact Nina Allred at 480-472-0223 to activate your account.

Important personnel reminders

Plan ahead for Thanksgiving and winter break — This year, schools are closed Nov. 27-29 for Thanksgiving break. Nov. 27 is a nonwork and nonpaid day for all employees not on a 12-month contract. Learn more on the employee calendar webpage.

First semester ends Dec. 20, kicking off winter break. Students return Jan. 6. School-based administrators and short-term employees are off Dec. 23-Jan. 3. No absence requests are necessary. Short-term employees include:

  • all certificated employees, contract or hourly
  • full-time classified employees and supervisors not on 12-month contracts
  • most part-time, temporary and substitute classified employees
  • student workers
  • substitute teachers

All other 12-month staff are off Dec. 24-Jan. 1. Employees in this group who wish to take off Dec. 23 or Jan. 2-3 are required to submit an absence request. This group includes:

  • Department administrators
  • All classified employees and supervisors on 12-month contracts
  • Part-time classified employees hired to work 12 months

District administration offices will be closed Dec. 23-Jan. 1. Human resources and benefits will be closed noon-2 p.m. Dec. 19, and open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan 2, and 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Jan. 3.

Review jury duty policy — Have you been summoned for jury duty? Governing Board policy GBBD-R (7) contains guidelines for jury duty leave. Learn more on page 9 of the employee handbook.

Staff/student relationships — All employees are expected to observe and maintain professional boundaries between themselves and students. Governing Board policies GBH and GBH-R contain the professional boundaries for staff-student relations. Failure to follow expected standards of interaction may be regarded as a professional boundary violation and misconduct per board policy.

Deferred compensation — In case you missed it, learn more about the district's 2019-20 deferred compensation plans.

Be sure to double-check email addresses

Several employees have similar names and email addresses. Before you press send on your next email, take a moment to ensure it will be sent to the intended recipient. When typing in the email address, hover your mouse over the text to see a popup, which indicates the employee's title and site. If in doubt, you can always email employees through their school or department staff webpages. 

Cue the applause

Mesa Public Schools received the Excellence in Sustainability Award from Salt River Project at its sixth annual Champions of Energy Efficiency Awards. The district was honored for its energy- and cost-saving success.

Brian Hay and Nancy Hernandez of Keller at Oct. 24 Governing Board meeting

For the sixth year in a row, Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies has been ranked the No. 1 middle school in Arizona according to SchoolDigger.com. This year, it also moved up one spot to take first place on the elementary list. Rankings are determined based upon 2018-19 AzMERIT scores for public district and charter schools. SchoolDigger analyzes statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education and Arizona Department of Education. Visit schooldigger.com to view elementary, middle and high school rankings. 

The accolades continue for Red Mountain High biotechnology instructor Katy Gazda. She was just named Teacher of the Year at the 16th annual Governor's Celebration of Innovation Awards

Congratulations to the employees honored during the spotlight recognitions program at the Sept. 24 and Oct. 22 Governing Board meetings. Educators of the Month were Keller Elementary sixth-grade teacher Courtney Gallegos, Lowell Elementary third-grade teacher Amanda Kant, Salk Elementary fourth-grade teacher Amy Schaumburg and Stevenson Elementary first-grade teacher Jacqueline Johnson. Customer Service Champions were Keller Elementary secretary to the principal Nancy Hernandez (pictured, with Principal Brian Hay), Lowell Elementary family support specialist Graciela Herrera Sebastian, Salk Elementary cafeteria manager Monica Bloodworth and Stevenson Elementary learning center aide Shannah Newman. See all honorees and view spotlight videos on the communications & engagement webpage.

View some of the district's recent accomplishments in the October celebrations video.

Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, communications & engagement director

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