January 25, 2016
Issue No: 



Life’s Little Reset Button

When making a visit to CMR one year ago, I noticed this:

I snapped a picture and filed it away for this article because it nails the truth. As we move into the start of the second half of the school year, we get a clean slate and special opportunities.

To be sure, the first semester made some memories. As I looked over the GFPS Facebook timeline from the first semester ( I was struck by the vast array of activities that were highlighted. It made me excited about the comprehensive program we offer our kids. It made me thankful for a myriad of community partnerships that were recognized. And it made me proud of the award-winning accomplishments that were highlighted. I also know that we have had more than a few challenges and rocky moments too. While it is interesting to look back, we cannot rest on our laurels or wallow in our sorrows. We must look ahead to this new time, to these new opportunities, to this clean slate called the 2nd semester.

It is also a good time to take stock of how we are doing. Cabinet and I will be reviewing our strategic plan to check our progress on our goals. We will begin the process for developing the 2016-2017 budget. We will continue our work with the Board and community around the facility upgrades that are so desperately needed.
We are just as excited for the second half of this year as we were for the first.

I challenge you to take advantage of this little reset as well. I challenge you to focus on being excellent in your work, on motivating yourself and others, on being tenacious when times are hard, and on positive relationships with all. The second semester is just as important as the first as we seek our mission: GFPS successfully educating students so they can navigate their futures. 90 more days to make it happen. Let’s do this!

Take care. Be safe. Stay well.


Call for PIR Facilitators for the 2016-2017 School Year

Call for PIR Facilitators for the 2016-2017 School Year

Details about 2016-2017 PIR Calendar/reminders:
· The date range is June 13, 2016 - April 30, 2017.
· All forms are due by Friday, March 11, 2016.
· Please be sure to avoid any holidays as well as MEA days and Wednesdays when scheduling your dates.
· PIR Sessions can be done as a single 6-hour session, two 3-hour sessions, or three 2-hour sessions.
If you are interested in facilitating or co-facilitating a PIR offering, please fill out the PIR Proposal Form ( no later than Friday, March 11 (Note: this form is different from last year. Do NOT fill out an old .pdf form). For more information about PIR Facilitator Obligations and Pay, please visit the following link:



CALUMET TO RUN SAFETY TEST- within the next three weeks Calumet will be running safety tests of their new refractor. The test may be a loud roar as they burn off a simulated pressure relief gas, if the flame is visible it may be as high as thirty feet. You may be interested in knowing that GFPS is actively involved in Calumet’s citizens committee. This is a group made up of a variety of interest groups and is limited in number. GFPS has the privilege to have Tammy Lacey, Rae Smith, Dave Houtz and Brad Barringer on this committee. The meetings are held once a month to discuss relative topics and concerns. This has been an excellent and positive opportunity for the community and GFPS.


New Employee Fitness Program – Oula

Oula is a great dance fitness program, however it is different from Zumba. For a full description of Oula go to This class will be held at Meadow Lark Elementary School in the gym. Classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning February 2, 2016. Class time is 6 am – 7 am. The Instructor for this class will be Bethany Chabot.


ELL Corner

Developing Language in the Classroom

What can you do if your students don’t understand what you’re teaching? One option may be to help them develop the academic English they need to truly understand the concepts you are teaching. To help facilitate building academic language and engaging all students, not just ELL’s, here are a few strategies to try.
• Use Google images to pair a visual and illustrate key concepts.
• Use real objects and artifacts when possible to demonstrate.
• Create a 1-paragraph summary of assigned longer texts. Tips:
o Write in present tense with only 3-5 new vocabulary words.
o Help student read the summary.
o Practice with students reading and re-reading the summary at their own pace.
If you would like more information or additional strategies, we would love to share them with you! Contact us at:
Lisa Jahraus, Title TSA, 268-6028
Irina Payne, ESL Teacher, 268-6056


Ferst Foundation

Ferst Foundation:

Would you like to provide a year’s worth of books to children in our community? Now you can easily give this gift! Through the Ferst Foundation, you can provide books for a year every year for children aged 0-5. One year of books for a child you know is just $40. To pay it forward and donate to an anonymous child in need of books, it only costs you $36! For more information, or to order books, please contact Lisa Jahraus (Title TSA, x6028), Carol Paul (Title Coordinator, x6779), or Amy Meyer (Family Engagement Coordinator, x6778). Also, be sure to find us on Facebook – Great Falls Ferst Foundation! Give us a LIKE!


Montana State University, Northern Online Courses

Online Courses for Educators
MSU-Northern has partnered with VESi to provide online
courses that provide graduate or undergraduate level credit.
Courses offered for 2 or 3 Graduate and Undergraduate level credits with fees of just $285.
For more information click here.




In order to be eligible for severance pay, teachers choosing to retire at the end of the second semester must submit a letter of resignation by March 1. Please refer to Article 8, Section C of the Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Agreement for further information.

While the deadline noted above is March 1, the Human Resources Office would very much appreciate notification as early as possible. The earlier we know, the earlier we can start the recruitment process for open positions. An early start will help us with the difficult task of replacing the experience and expertise of our much appreciated retiring staff and also allows us to get top notch candidates to be your colleagues.

If you are even close to considering retirement (5 years or less) please contact the Teachers’ Retirement System and setup an appointment. The more you know the better you can prepare for retirement. TRS may be contacted at 1-866-600-4045. It is very important to note that the Irrevocable Election Form must be completed and submitted to TRS a minimum of 90 days before your retirement date. (March 11, 2016 is this year’s deadline.) For more information on the recommended timelines click this link to the TRS Retirement Timeline.

Additionally, you can log into your TRS account to view information on wages and contribution history, purchasable service, and your current beneficiary. Click here to enter your TRS Account. You can also update your contact information or request an estimate of benefits.

For more information TRS has provided a handbook that can be accessed via this link TRS Member’s Retirement Handbook or on their website at

If you have additional questions about retirement, deadlines, paperwork, etc. please contact the Human Resources Department at 268-6010.


Heisey Teacher Scholarship

Great Falls Public Schools Foundation’s
Heisey Teacher Scholarship Applications for 2016-2017 School Year
Now Open

• Twenty $1,000 scholarships will be awarded competitively to school teachers in the Great Falls Public Schools District to help fund work toward a master’s degree, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification, academic work supporting Great Falls Public Schools’ District Goals, or an Endorsement, including; counseling, administration, special education, or any other field related to education.
• Twenty scholarships will be awarded throughout the district, with the intent of awarding support in multiple schools. In the event that one or more schools do not have a qualified applicant, multiple scholarships may be awarded at the same school.
• Teachers who have already completed a master’s degree may apply the scholarship to a second master’s degree or an advanced degree (Ph.D. or Ed.D.).
• Scholarships may also be used for the purpose of working toward an advanced degree or securing an endorsement in a specific subject area, which is applicable to teaching.
• Scholarships may be utilized to fund the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification process.
• Scholarships may be utilized to support academic work which would directly support the professional in their capacity of supporting district level goals and initiatives.
• All monies must be expended within six months of the date the scholarship is awarded.
• Any teacher presently holding a teaching position in the Great Falls School District and who is committed to signing a contract to teach in the school district for the school year following the scholarship award.
• Online applications opened January 5, 2016
• Application is available here.
• Online applications will close on February 11, 2016

• Competency as a teacher as indicated by letters of reference and other information presented to the committee.
• Commitment to the profession as indicated by goals.
• Availability of job vacancies in the field, as well as needs of the district.

If you have any questions regarding the online application process, please contact Lyndsay Lettre at 268-7401 or at foundation [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us. General questions about the scholarship can be directed to Dave Crum at 268-7340 or at dave_crum [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us.