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CCSD Highlights Students and Staff During American Education Week

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The Clark County School District (CCSD) is celebrating American Education Week this week through events aimed at highlighting the hard work and accomplishments of students and staff. American Education Week is a nationally celebrated movement to honor public education and those who make a difference every day in the lives of young people.

On Monday, Green Valley High School hosted the National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist Reception, in which CCSD recognized its 62 National Merit Scholar semi-finalists. These students are among the less than one percent of high school seniors nationwide to be chosen for this prestigious honor. CCSD Trustees Deanna L. Wright, Linda Cavazos and Carolyn Edwards were on hand for the event.

On Tuesday, Spread the Word Nevada (STWN) presented free books to all students and their families who attended a special event that included CCSD Trustee Deanna L. Wright reading a book to those in attendance. The Breakfast with Books literacy program aims to increase the awareness and importance of reading as a family activity.

Also on Tuesday, there was an Advanced Placement (AP) Celebration at Cheyenne High School, recognizing the achievements of 200 AP students. AP classes provide students the academic skills they need to succeed in college and also provide students with more time to concentrate on the subjects that interest them. Among those in attendance for this event was CCSD Trustee Carolyn Edwards.

On Wednesday, seven outstanding support staff employees were honored for outstanding service during a surprise celebration at West Career and Technical Academy. CCSD Board of School Trustees member Linda Cavazos presented each honoree with a certificate from the Board of School Trustees. The honorees also received a customized portrait created by West Tech students Catelyn Kaufman, Ziad Abou-Nasr, Ben Abrea and Sierra Lowell under the direction of art teacher Mary Beth Heishman.

Thursday’s big event was the 4th Annual “Diced!” Culinary Competition (pictured) at Southwest Career and Technical Academy. Culinary Arts students from four CCSD high schools put their kitchen skills to the test during this friendly competition, as they battled to see which team had the best looking and tasting final dish. Chefs from local restaurants served as guest judges for the competition. The event coincided with the 25th anniversary of Magnet Schools in CCSD.

Winners of the “Diced!” competition were as follows:

1st place – ECTA Team 2
2nd place – NWCTA
3rd place – SWCTA Team 1

Las Vegas High School Students Volunteer at 14 Local Non-Profits

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Nearly 160 Las Vegas High School students took part in the 19th annual “Be a PAL Community Service Day” on Nov. 17, providing a day of community service at 14 local non-profit organizations. PAL is an acronym for Partnership at Las Vegas, and LVHS students have been volunteering in this capacity every year since 1999. According to Faculty Advisor Robert Bray, the PAL Program at LVHS is the oldest Career and Technical Education program of its type in Southern Nevada.

Title I Hope Provides Services to More Than 11,000 Students

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With the holiday season just around the corner, many people are looking for ways to contribute to help those in need. One way may be through supporting the Clark County School District’s Title I HOPE program.

Many are surprised to learn that the district is currently serving more than 11,000 students who are classified as homeless. The criteria for being homeless includes a variety of situations ranging from “couch surfers” to students whose families live in weekly or monthly rental facilities. However, the common thread is that all of these students need, and are eligible for support services through the district’s Title I HOPE department.

Although the department has Title I in its name, the services provided through Title I HOPE are available to homeless students at any of the 358 CCSD schools, not just those with an official Title I school designation.

“Unfortunately, we have one of the highest rates of youth homelessness in the entire nation,” said Coordinator Kelly-Jo Shebeck. “Our services of providing assistance are available to all 358 CCSD schools and the seven charter schools sponsored by the district.”

The services primarily consist of providing students with basic necessity items so they can be successful in school. To fulfill these needs, the department provide backpacks that contain a variety of personal hygiene items that students may not have access to on their own. Shebeck said assistance can also come in the form of providing school and physical education uniforms as well as clothing and shoes. They also work to remove transportation barriers for students and provide referrals to community service organizations.

“Each school has a contact person, usually a counselor, who will serve as an advocate for homeless students,” said Shebeck. “If a school has a need, they just need to contact us and we will see what we can do to provide assistance.”

While Title I HOPE focuses on helping students, they can use assistance themselves in the form of donations. Although they receive some Federal Title I funding, it is not nearly enough to accommodate the needs of 11,000 students.

Individuals, businesses and/or community organizations who would like to provide donations to support the department, can contact Coordinator Meg Pike or Shebeck via Interact.

“While our department is small, the need is great especially around the holidays, so we appreciate all the community support that we can receive,” said Shebeck.

Nominations Accepted for the 2017-18 LifeChanger of the Year Awards

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Nominations are being accepted for the LifeChanger of the Year 2017-18 awards program, which will honor an outstanding teacher or school employee. To be considered for LifeChanger of the Year, one must demonstrate:

A proven ability to make a beneficial difference in the lives of students
The ability to positively add to the development of the school’s atmosphere
Leadership within his/her school and/or district
A record of excellent performance at the professional level
Commitment to producing a nurturing atmosphere
Adherence to high moral and ethical standards

For more information, click here.

Teacher Celebrates 42 Years of Educating Special Needs Students at Helen J. Stewart

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After 42 years of teaching at Helen J. Stewart School, Ritha Burroughs remains as enthused about her job as the day she started.

Stewart is a special school that focuses on a functional curriculum for students with special needs. Its students range in age from six to 22.

Burroughs, a Detroit native who joined the teaching staff in 1976, takes great delight in her students’ accomplishments, whether big or small. “I teach students how to tie their shoes, recognize their names, act appropriately in public and many more things. We cover it all,” explained Burroughs. “The other day, one of my students successfully used a broom and dustpan, and it made my day.”

A nationally board certified teacher, Burroughs presently works with middle school students but has taught students of all ages at Stewart. “I feel I’m making a difference, helping the students become more independent and making the parents’ lives easier. Our mission is to prepare these students for life.”

Burroughs and her colleagues are helping to shape behaviors and skills. The best thing, said Burroughs, is helping students accomplish something and gain self-confidence. “I’m always trying to come up with new ways of addressing their needs and helping them reach their goals.”

Burroughs’ love of teaching extends beyond the walls of her school. She also works with adults, teaching them English and how to read. “Many of my adult students are from other countries. Helping them is very rewarding.”

Principal Dr. Patti Schultz has nothing but praise for Burroughs. “She is an exceptional teacher who works closely with transition agencies, offers district-wide training on functional curriculum and works closely with families to help them access wraparound services. We are proud to have her on our staff.”

So, how does someone stay at the same school for 42 years? “This school provides me with everything I need to teach students and also assist their parents. I’m so happy here, which is why I have stayed all these years.”

Nonetheless, everything comes to an end, and Burroughs expects to retire at the end of this school year. “I say that every year, but it’s probably going to happen this time.” She plans to spend her retirement doing a lot of traveling. Burroughs has already been to such far-off places as Cuba, the Gobi Desert and the Amazon River.

Regardless of where her future travels take her, Stewart School will always have a special place in Burrough’s heart. “I love my job and feel blessed to be here.”

Nominations Accepted Now through 1/18/18 for The Heart of Education Awards

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The Smith Center and the Rogers Foundation are once again shining a spotlight on great teachers in CCSD. Nominations are now open for the Heart of Education Awards for Clark County teachers. To be eligible, licensed teachers must be full-time, in good standing and have completed at least three consecutive school years of teaching in CCSD by the date of their application submission. Teachers in after-school, private schools or studios, or other educational settings are not eligible at this time. Substitute teachers are not eligible. Winners of previous Heart of Education cash awards are not eligible for three years following their award. For more information, visit TheHeartOfEducation.org.

Chaparral High School Graduate Returns to Educate the Next Generation

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To many people, a school is the cornerstone of the community. To countless Clark County School District alumni, giving back to the community means serving as teachers, administrators or support staff in the schools they attended as children.

Chaparral High School boasts approximately 8-10 former students who proudly serve on its staff, including Assistant Principal Jennifer Giusto.

Giusto spent most of her academic life around Chaparral, having attended schools zoned for the community at all levels, including a year at Jo Mackey during CCSD’s Sixth Grade Center Plan of Integration program.

From Harris Elementary to Woodbury Middle School, Giusto graduated from Chaparral in 1998 knowing she would be back as an educator.

“There was an open position at Chaparral, where I did my student teaching at too. I applied in 2003 and have been here ever since,” said Giusto. “There are people that need positive influences, and I want to be one of those positive influences.”

Giusto recalls growing up around Chaparral High School as a great experience – one that was full of excitement and lifelong friends.

That can be said of the many alumni that have returned to Chaparral, including a school police officer who was a student of Giusto’s, an English teacher who has been at Chaparral since 1991 and a science teacher who has been at the high school since Giusto was a junior.

“Chaparral just draws you back,” Giusto said. “It’s a great place!”

The Public Education Foundation Honors “Education Heroes”

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The Public Education Foundation’s 2017 Education Hero Award Gala, held Sept. 23, honored the following organizations and individuals:

Michael J. Brown & Barrick Gold Corporation – Education Hero Award

Hall of Fame Boxing Referee Richard Steele – Champion of Children Award

Senator Debbie Smith (posthumous) – Lifetime Education Achievement Award

For more information, click here or call Mike Campbell at (702) 799-1042.

Award Winning P.E. Teacher Aims to Keep Children Moving

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Many schools have running clubs, but Physical Education (P.E.) teacher Denise Hoy has gone the extra mile with her running club at Grant Bowler Elementary School. The 10-year Clark County School District (CCSD) veteran started the Logandale school’s running club three years ago and it has grown by leaps and bounds, with all 650 students now participating.

Students in grades one through five run before, during and after school on a grass field next to the school. Students log their miles through a “running card” that is read by an iPad.

In the 2016-17 school year, Bowler students ran a total of 34,170 miles. That’s 10,000 miles farther than a trip around the equator. For this school year, Hoy has set a goal of 36,000 miles.

In addition to the running club, Hoy also coordinates various events during the school year, including a four-school track meet called the “Speed Meet” for students in grades one through five, the “St. Paddy’s Run” and the “Reindeer Run” in December. These special events involve not only students but also parents and many of Hoy’s colleagues at the school.

As an incentive, for every 10 miles a child runs, they get a charm on their running necklace. They also receive a T-shirt that indicates the number of miles they have run.

Erika Whitmore, who has three children at Bowler, has nothing but praise for Hoy. “I knew something was different when my kids were asking me if they could run laps in the morning. Mrs. Hoy is instilling in our students a love for staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

Hoy emphasized that health and wellness, including physical fitness, are crucial elements of learning. “Active children are better learners. Their minds are ready to take in new information and learn at the best of their ability. Additionally, these activities can help prevent obesity, which is a significant problem among children in the U.S.”

Increased use of technology such as cell phones, tablets and so forth have contributed to a more sedentary lifestyle for children. Hoy explained, “I’m teaching children the importance of moving and being active. I love teaching P.E., but more importantly, I want these kids to grow up with the mindset that they are going to be active and healthy well into their future.”

Hoy’s initiatives and dedication to physical activity have not gone unnoticed. Thanks to her efforts, Bowler received the Fire Up Your Feet award in 2016 and won former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move! Active Schools” award for two consecutive years starting in 2014. Hoy is proud of her school’s accomplishments and credits much of the success to a supportive administration and teachers who share her vision.