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Nicole Alcantara

Aquarius Casino Resort Donates Supplies to Bennett Elementary School

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Bennett Elementary School in Laughlin is among the schools to benefit from the Aquarius Casino Resort’s school supply drive. Bennett is one of three schools to receive a share of nearly 16,000 items that were collected by Aquarius employees. Aquarius General Manager Sean Hammond told the Laughlin Times, “Many of our employees have personal connections to these schools. Realistically, if you don’t have a student that attends then you know someone who does; you know a teacher or an administrator. Someone close to you will benefit from these supplies.” For more information, call the school at (702) 298-3378.

CCSD Schools Honor Those Who Lost Their Lives on 9/11

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Two Clark County School District (CCSD) schools held separate ceremonies in honor of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. Palo Verde High School’s Air Force JROTC held its annual rededication ceremony in remembrance of the victims, including the school’s foreign languages teacher Barbara Edwards. Edwards was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. Joseph M. Neal STEAM Academy held a special flag-raising ceremony, attended by all students and staff. The Cheyenne High School Army ROTC Color Guard, band and choir were on hand for the Neal Elementary School observance, which included remarks from Principal Denise Murray, whose husband was a Port Authority Police Lieutenant who was previously stationed at the World Trade Center. Mrs. Murray and her husband lost 32 of their Port Authority Police friends on 9/11. The Palo Verde observance included the placement of a new flag on the Barbara Edwards Memorial. Also participating were the Color Guard, Armed Drill Team, Unarmed Drill Team and choir.

Educators Can Apply for Educational Leadership Courses

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Vegas PBS and the Clark County Education Association have partnered to bring together Southern Nevada’s best and brightest educational leaders through the program “Learn to Lead: Building Great Educators through Leadership Pathways.” Funded by a Nevada Department of Education grant, the program is designed to impact an educator’s ability to lead a classroom, school, district or community to the next level in educational success. By combining collaborative and cooperative classroom modules, online coursework via Vegas PBS’ interactive online training portal, independent research, collaborative workshops, expert keynotes and peer-to-peer mentoring, educators will develop and use these skills to lead them through a successful capstone project. For more information, call Jami Miller at (702) 799.1010, ext. 5345.

Three CCSD Teachers Are Among Finalists for the National Presidential Awards for Excellence

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The Nevada Department of Education announced today the names of the six 2017 Nevada finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Janis Dayton of Jim Bridger Middle School and Kristen Taylor of Advanced Technologies Academy are two of the four Nevada Secondary Mathematics Finalists. Heather Witt of K.O. Knudson Middle School is one of two Nevada Secondary Science Finalists. Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero said, “This the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science teaching.”

Fitzgerald Elementary School Students Pitch in for Hurricane Harvey Relief

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Kindergarten students at H.P. Fitzgerald Elementary School have declared September as “Empty Your Piggy Banks” month in an incredible act of kindness to support people in Texas after viewing the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. The donations will be made to the Red Cross.

Jadore Martinez was the first student to bring in her piggy bank.  She stated,” I want to make sure some of the small kids get to go back to school and have toys to play with.”

Fitzgerald Elementary School supports this enormous act of compassion its kindergarten students displayed toward helping their new friends in Texas.

“Growth Mindset” Helps Helen M. Smith Students Learn

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Helen M. Smith Elementary School first-grade teachers Lilly Kulaszewski and Sarah Dlouhy can often be seen wearing T-shirts that say, “I believe in the Power of Yet.” The shirts may attract puzzled looks at the grocery store, but resonate on the school campus. That’s because the “Power of Yet” is a cornerstone of the school’s “Growth Mindset” framework, in which all students learn how to overcome adversity and accept responsibility for their own learning.

The “Power of Yet” calls for a change in the way a student looks at a problem or challenge. Instead of saying, “I can’t do that,” the student says, “I can’t do that, yet.” As Principal Robert Hinchliffe explained, “Even though a student may be struggling now, they are encouraged to keep trying and eventually get it. There’s a big difference between not knowing and not knowing yet.”

Inspired by the book, “Mindsets in the Classroom” by Mary Cay Ricci, the Growth Mindset is now in its second year at the school, and Hinchliffe calls it a huge success. “It’s been great watching our school come together and make excellent use of the Growth Mindset principles.” As explained by Kulaszewski, “It’s built into our culture and how we talk to our students. It’s about setting goals and making things happen.”

The Growth Mindset includes a unit about the brain and how it works. Teachers tell children about the neuron connections that happen when students are faced with a challenge. Those connections result in more neurological pathways and strengthen the brain.

Part of the Growth Mindset framework is the Class Dojo app which shares information about each student with the parent in real time while also disseminating schoolwide, grade-level, department and classroom highlights via photos and video. Ninety-five percent of the school’s parents have signed up for the app, giving them unprecedented access to the school and encouraging greater parent involvement.

Dlouhy said the Growth Mindset has a positive impact on communication among students and teachers. In the past, a teacher may have told a student “You did so well.” Under the new paradigm, the teacher is much more specific in their praise and brings home the point that a student can achieve anything so long as they have grit and determination.

Kulaszewski said her students cheer each other on as they learn. “One child is happy for another’s success. It’s amazing to watch, and it’s the most powerful thing I’ve seen in my class.”

Dlouhy and Kulaszewski are spreading the word about the program to other teachers in Nevada and nationwide through social media and other means. They have even started selling “Power of Yet,” “Got Grit?” and “Neuron Connections are my Jam” T-shirts online, and are excited to see other educators embrace the Growth Mindset principle and use it to transform their classrooms.

Superintendent’s Mailbag: How to be Part of a School Organizational Team (SOT)

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Each week, the Clark County School District responds to some of the emails it receives from district employees, parents or community members. This week, the district responds to a question regarding School Organizational Teams.

“How can I be a part of a School Organizational Team?”

School Organizational Teams are made up of elected licensed staff, education support professionals, parents/guardians and students, as well as one or more optional, non-elected community members who will assist the principal in making important decisions impacting the school.

The elections for this school year’s SOTs are taking place.

• Teacher member elections are on Thursday, Sept. 7.
• Support staff member elections happen Monday, Sept. 11 – Thursday, Sept. 14.
• Parent member elections happen throughout the month of September. Please check with your student’s school for exact dates.

Check out these videos for more information on SOTs and the election process:

• General Overview:
• Parents:
• Teachers:
• Support Staff:

Teacher Exchange Helps Educators Obtain Classroom Supplies

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The start of a new school year is an especially busy time at The Public Education Foundation’s (PEF) Teacher EXCHANGE. That is when upwards of 2,000 Clark County School District (CCSD) teachers visit the EXCHANGE to obtain classroom supplies.

Because of generous support from the Caesars Foundation, the Teacher EXCHANGE is a year-round resource center for CCSD teachers. The EXCHANGE can save teachers hundreds of dollars per year in out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies. This year, the EXCHANGE opened July 11, but the number of visitors spikes for back-to-school and also during the Winter and Spring breaks.

During the school year, the EXCHANGE is open for shopping on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. About 2,500 teachers visit the resource center in any given school year, while another 3,000 in rural areas can access items via the Teacher EXCHANGE express van, which travels to schools throughout the county. The EXCHANGE also will have an online retail operation that will begin by October and will run 24/7.

The center, which is part of the PEF location at 4350 S. Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas, operates on a points system. Licensed professionals in public schools receive 500 points for a $25 donation. Those points can be used for about $300 worth of classroom supplies.

On average, teachers spend about $500 out-of-pocket each year on classroom supplies. Many teachers spend far more than that. The Teacher EXCHANGE collects books, office supplies, manufacturing and convention overruns and other surplus materials originally headed for landfills and distributes them to teachers for use in the classroom.

Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Stavan Corbett said, “We harvest supplies from various trade shows. We have relationships with different casinos up and down the Strip. When a vendor comes in and is finished with their convention, they often leave things behind that are useful to teachers and those items are donated to the Teacher EXCHANGE.”

Teachers from Title I schools with a Free and Reduced Lunch rate of 70 percent or higher qualify for “Yoobi” supply packs, which provide an entire classroom with needed supplies. These supply packs are available through a partnership with the Kids In Need Foundation.

Corbett, who previously served on the CCSD Board of School Trustees, said the Teacher EXCHANGE helps minimize the stress a teacher may experience as they start a new school year. “They can come here and get the teaching and classroom supplies they need, thus reducing their own spending for their classrooms and students.”

For more information on the Teacher EXCHANGE, call 702-799-1042 or visit