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September 2008 News

September 24, 2008

Plummer named Finalist for Kansas Distinguished Principal of the Year

Jan Plummer

Jan Plummer, Principal of South Breeze Elementary School, has been selected as the District 4 Distinguished Elementary Principal of the Year. As such, she is now one of six finalists for the 2008 Kansas Distinguished Elementary Principal of the Year.

Plummer is credited with rescuing South Breeze from a rather lackluster existence and transforming it into a professional learning showcase, where student performance is stellar and parental involvement is integral. Under Plummer’s watch, South Breeze has moved from mediocre to great.

With a student base that includes 56% who qualify for free and reduced meals, 41% who represent an ethnic minority, and 20% for whom English is not their primary language, the school’s 2008 performance on the state assessments more closely resembles that of an ivy league academy of super achievers. Nearly 97% of students achieved standard or above on the state reading assessment, and over 95% achieved the state standard or above in math. Students from poverty have especially flourished under Plummer’s leadership, with over 93% of these at-risk students achieving or exceeding the state reading and math standards.

The strong sense of support extends not only to students, but also to South Breeze staff. Teachers are strongly supported, both professionally and personally. Teamwork and collaboration are embedded within the South Breeze professional culture. South Breeze students and teachers know and believe they are an important and respected cog in the school’s wheel of success.

Photo: Jan Plummer

September 17, 2008

Zinn Named Director of Food Service

Mandy Zinn

Mandy Zinn has been selected as the new Director of Food Service for Newton Public Schools. Zinn is a life-long Newton resident and attended the very schools for which she will now be providing meal service.

Zinn received her Dietary Manager certification (CDM) from Wichita Area Technical College in 2001. She is also a Certified Food Protection Professional (CFFP) and Certified Nurses Aide (CNA.) and has CPR and Serv Safe certification.

Zinn has extensive experience in food service management, having served as the food service director for several area retirement centers during the past seven years. In addition to her work experience, she is a member of the Kansas Dietary Managers Association and is the next President-Elect for the organization. She will serve as the group’s President in 2010. Zinn will assume the food service directorship for the district on September 29, 2008.

Photo: Mandy Zinn

September 17, 2008

Harder Bids District Goodbye

Lori Harder Lori Harder

It was a tearful scene as friends and colleagues celebrated resigning Food Service Director Lori Harder’s years of service to Newton Public Schools. Harder was feted at a reception in her honor last week after her announcement that she would be moving to a position in Andover. Harder served as the Director of Food Services for the district for the past nine years.

In addition to feeding Newton Public School children during the school year, Harder was instrumental in establishing and coordinating the Power Up Summer Free Food program, implemented in 2006 and sponsored by the school district and Peace Connections. The program provides free breakfast, lunch, and activities for all area children during the summer school break.

Co-workers set up a relaxing spot for Harder at the reception, complete with reclining lawn chair, umbrella, palm tree, and a personalized sign reserving her spot in the shade. She also received a plaque and photo album depicting memories of her time with the district.

Top Photo: Resigning Food Service Director Lori Harder receives a hug during a reception in her honor.
Bottom Photo: Harder relaxes as she reads a plaque she received during the reception.

September 17, 2008

Micah bike helmet Bike Helmets

Fair is All About Safety

Newton Public Schools, Newton Police Department, Newton Health Department and the Newton Kansan are teaming up to present a Community Safety Fair. The fair will be held Saturday September 27, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., at Slate Creek Elementary School, 901 East 4th Street. There will be several fun activities to help teach children and parents about bike and driving safety. The first 50 participants to complete the safety activity circuit will receive a free bike helmet, one per family.

Some of the planned safety activities include a Bike Rodeo, Seat Belt Safety Tips, Bicycle Safety Tips, How Helmets Keep You Safe, and a Parking Lot Safety activity presented by Newton elementary school resource officer, Brad Celestin. The event promises to serve up plenty of fun while learning about safety. The Slate Creek PTO will serve lunch at the Safety Fair from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Safety Fair Flyer (pdf)

Top Photo: Slate Creek student Micah Quinlin tries on his new free bike helmet that he received last school year. More children will be sporting new helmets following the Community Safety Fair on September 27, when 50 helmets will be given to children who attend and complete the activities at the fair.

Bottom Photo: A table full of new bike helmets sits waiting to be awarded to their new owners. Newton families who attend the Community Safety Fair on September 27 will receive a free helmet if they are one of the first 50 to complete all of the safety activities at the fair.

September 9, 2008

Bradshaw nominated for Kansas Teacher of the Year


Mary Bradshaw, a teacher at Chisholm Middle School, has been nominated for the 2009 Kansas Teacher of the Year Award. Bradshaw, along with other nominees from the region, will be honored at a banquet at the Wichita Marriott on September 13. During the banquet, all of the Region 4 semi-finalists will be honored and two regional finalists—one elementary and one secondary teacher—will be announced. Those two finalists will join finalists from the other three regions in the state to make up the eight finalist field for the 2009 Kansas Teacher of the Year.

Bradshaw, who coordinates the efforts of the English Language Learners Program for USD 373, has served in a variety of teaching and administrative capacities throughout her career, as well as administering and participating in numerous teacher training and mentoring programs. One of her earliest, and toughest, teaching challenges involved implementing a health education program in Somalia, targeted at reducing infant and child mortality rates.

Bradshaw’s passion for teaching and mentoring has taken her to states and continents near and far: from as close as Hesston and Bethel Colleges, to Colorado, California, Somalia, Tibet, and Paraguay. Her determination to make education accessible to all knows no boundaries, and she is not deterred by geography, language, economic condition or social status.

As part of her nomination narrative, Bradshaw poignantly expressed her motivation for teaching ELL in Newton schools “As in Somalia, where maternal/child health education could make the difference between life and death, I continue to work with the most fragile, the poorest, and the highest risk students. I know that the empowerment that comes with English proficiency has profound effects on the lives of my students, both in the short term and the long term.”

The winner of the Kansas Teacher of the Year award will be announced at a banquet on November 22, during the Kansas Teacher of the Year Leadership Conference at the Wichita Marriott.

Photo: Mary Bradshaw

September 9, 2008

Bunting, Tongish Receive Boardsmanship Awards

P. Tongish, B. Bunting

Newton Board of Education members Barbara Bunting and Pat Tongish have been recognized by the Kansas Association of School Boards for completion of KASB’s Boardsmanship Academy.

Local school board members are awarded boardsmanship points for attending continuing education courses from KASB and and the National School Boards Association. Tongish achieved Level I status by accumulating 50 points and was awarded a specially designed certificate for her accomplishment.

Bunting achieved Level II status of 100 points for the second consecutive year, and in doing so received a certificate along with a gold lapel pin.

This is the 23rd year of the KASB Boardsmanship Academy, which encourages school board members to seek continuing education to help them become better board members.

“It is crucial that school board members seek ways to be informed of the ever-changing status of public education,” said John W. Koepke, KASB executive director. “We hope to show concerned citizens, the Legislature, and other taxpayers, that school board members are both informed about the issues and conscientious about their duties to the children of this state.”

Photos: Pat Tongish and Barbara Bunting

September 8, 2008

Reception to Honor Sprout, Riley

N. Riley & B. Sprout

Two long-time Newton USD 373 transportation staff who are leaving the district will be honored for their service during a reception on Sunday, September 14, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the McKinley Administration Center Boardroom.

Bob Sprout is stepping down as the director of transportation to pursue a career in the ministry. He has served the district for 26 years. Neva Riley has carried Newton children to and from school as a bus driver for the past 38 years. Riley plans to travel a bit and catch up on neglected projects and activities during her retirement.

The public is invited to stop by and help show appreciation to Sprout and Riley for their many years of dedicated service to Newton Public Schools.

Photo: Neva Riley and Bob Sprout

September 8, 2008

William Allen White authors coming to Emporia

William Allen White

Students in Grades 3 through 8 will have the opportunity to meet 2 William Allen White award-winning authors on October 4 in Emporia. Ann M. Martin, author of “A Dog’s Life,” and L. D. Harkrader, who wrote “Airball: My Life in Briefs,” will participate in autograph sessions, meet with students, and receive their awards during a ceremony...


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