September 24, 2018

Engagement Check

Today is the 18th day of the 2018-2019 school year.  The end of the week marks mid-term of the first quarter.  We are one-eighth of the way into the BEST YEAR EVER.  The presence of eager learners can be heard and seen throughout the district.  Classroom and work routines are established.  We are in the groove.

But I also know that as the realities of busy schedules and challenging work set in, so can disenchantment and weariness.  The on-going struggle of balancing heavy responsibilities is real.  It seems like a good time to step back and analyze how you are feeling about your work.  It’s time to ask an important question:  AM I ENGAGED?

As noted at Convocation and according to Gallup research, employees in every organization fall into three categories:

  1. ENGAGED EMPLOYEES work with passion and feel a profound connection with their organization, team members and goals.
  2. NON-ENGAGED EMPLOYEES are checked-out and put neither energy nor drive into their work. They get through the day doing what they need to do to stay employed.
  3. ACTIVELY DISENGAGED EMPLOYEES undermine the efforts of engaged employees and spread their misery to everyone.

While I’d like to think that GFPS only has ENGAGED employees, the research tells us otherwise: every organization has all three types of employees.

With all that in mind, I ask you to check your engagement level.  If your work behavior falls into Type 1 above, CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU!  You make up the majority of GFPS employees.  You are the engines that make our goals come true.  You are the difference-makers.  You are the “wildcards.”  You are the ones seizing every “chance” to do better and to do more.

If your work behavior falls into Type 2 or 3 as noted above, I think you have two choices: stop doing it (i.e. find another job) OR love the job you have with all your heart.  Anything less is not only harmful to GFPS, but it is also harmful to yourself.  It is unhealthy to spend hours per day being miserable.  The good news is that humans can change our thoughts which changes our behaviors which changes our outcomes.  Our brains allow us to love everything we do.  If you can’t change what you do, you can always change how you are doing it!

Our kids, our community and our future demand that you do what you do when you are at work with passion, integrity and enthusiasm.  So, to all of you engaged employees out there, I hope you are being richly rewarded with all the progress and learning that is taking place around you.  If I could, I would end each of your days with a personal pat on the back for a job well done.  To everyone else, commit to new thinking today, and tomorrow, and for each of the 162 school days, and three and half quarters ahead of us.  You have the power to take this chance to be the wildcard, to live this life, to start with yes instead of no…to make it the best year ever!

Take care.  Be safe.  Stay well.



Did you know that every year, millions of eligible voters are unable to cast a ballot because of a missed registration deadline, outdated registration information, or other problems with their voter registration? The number of unregistered voters in the 2016 elections was 60 million – or one in four eligible voters in the country.

Given that elections matter and that our democracy depends on the voice of the citizenry, Tuesday, September 25 has been declared National Voter Registration Day.  This fall, decisions will be made that determine who runs our local governments, our state legislature, and how our state is represented in Congress. In May, we will elect who runs our school district.

To learn more, check out this webpage:

Flying Wild logo with school house and flying bird

Teacher Workshop      

October 19th, 2018

This information-filled Flying WILD – Project WILD training is designed to provide K-12 educators with instructional tools and resources to assist in teaching K-12 youth about Montana’s avian fauna.

Participants will be engaged in standard’s based learning incorporating science, math, and reading literacy skills.  Learn about the new E-bird website and potential classroom resources from Montana Audubon and FWP.

To reserve your spot or for more information contact FWP at 454-5844.

6 hours of OPI Credit will be available.  

The workshop begins at 8:30 and adjourns at 3:30;  please wear appropriate clothes to go outside.

Location. Participants will meet at FWP Regional Office, Giant Springs Road, Great Falls.

There is no fee for the workshop.  Contact Laura at to register for the workshop.

Be Sure to Complete Your Health Screening and Maintain Your Engaged Premium Incentive!

Employees enrolled in Great Falls Public Schools health plan may earn a $55 per month premium contribution reduction by completing a biometric screening and online health risk assessment (HRA) questionnaire by December 31, 2018. This incentive is available to all enrolled employees, regardless of which plan you’re enrolled in or the number of family members enrolled. If your spouse is covered under your GFPS health plan then she/he must also complete a biometric screening and HRA by December 31, 2018 to earn the premium incentive.    

The incentive is awarded at the start of the plan year (October 1st) in good faith that you will complete the Engaged incentive activities.  However, if you or your spouse (if enrolled) do not complete both the biometric screening and HRA by December 31, 2018, you will no longer receive the Engaged incentive and will be subject to the higher premium contribution.

A Benefit for You and Your Enrolled Spouse!

A health screening can provide valuable benefits for you and your spouse!  Most adults in the United States have at least one elevated health risk and around half of them don’t know it. It is not uncommon for screening participants to discover emerging risks and, through behavior changes and lifestyle modifications, avoid developing a condition such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or worse, a heart attack or stroke caused by one of these conditions.

Details and FAQ’s regarding how to make an appointment at a Community Health Care Center for your biometric screening and how to access the online HRA can be found at and are also listed below.

If possible, we recommend that you complete your biometric screening first. This will provide you with current biometric values to enter into your health risk assessment.

Participation is Voluntary

Engaged incentives and activities are a benefit of your GFPS health plan and are designed to support your health, and the health of your family members. Participation in the activities to earn the Engaged premium incentive is voluntary. Great Falls Public Schools cares about you and your health; we encourage you to participate and hope you will benefit from the incentives and incentive activities.

The Engaged premium incentive is provided based on participation in the health screening activities, and not on individual health status.

Questions?  Please contact Human Resources at 406-268-6010.

Details and FAQ’s
About How to Earn Your 2018-19 GFPS Engaged Health Plan Incentive


Please remember that in order to be eligible for severance pay, a retiring teacher must submit a letter of resignation to the Board of Trustees no later than December 1, 2018 at 5:00 p.m., if terminating employment at the end of the first semester.  You are encouraged to forward your letter prior to this date.   You may wish to refer to Article 8.C of the Negotiated Agreement for further information.  Teacher Retirement System must be contacted and an irrevocable election form completed by October 10, 2018 in order to be eligible to deduct additional contributions from termination pay on a tax-deferred basis. The Irrevocable Election Form is available in Human Resources or Teacher’s Retirement website.  The Teacher Retirement System can be reached at 1-866-600-4045.

Human Resources Office

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Effective immediately, if you are submitting items to be placed in future NEWSBITS, please e-mail the information to:

Thank you!

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 graduation cap and diplomaLesley University Graduate Program in Great Falls

Starts November, 2018!

Integrated Teaching through the Arts Curriculum & Instruction, M.Ed.

Program is designed for all K-12 educators
Project based – no GRE required
Skills that transfer to your everyday lessons!
Move up on the Salary Schedule as you go!
Financial aid and payment plans are available.
Regionally and nationally accredited
Financial Aid Counselor to assist Student Loan Process!
Deferred Student Loan payment 6 months after completion of your degree!
Nineteen weekends total! The entire program is completed in less than two years
$5000 Loan Forgiveness is available!              $50 application fee waiver!

Face-To-Face teaching one weekend a month: Saturday & Sunday 8am – 5pm

Contact: Cathy Kuntz

American Red Cross Logo#Riverview Pints for Troy



October 17
11:30 to 6:30
Riverview Gym

Sign up for an appointment on line at (search by troystrong) or by calling Lee Ruud at 268-7040.                 1-800-red cross

CCHC Logo - Community Health Care Center, Inc., 115 4th Street South, Great Falls, MT 59401

Community Health Care Center School-Based Health Center Information

The Community Health Care Center is pleased to offer medical and behavioral health services to Great Falls Public School students, their families and staff. School-Based Health Centers are small clinics that are located on school property.  There are clinics located at Paris Gibson Education Center and Giant Springs Elementary.  For more information call 406-454-6973.

  • Paris Gibson Education Center; 2400 Central Ave; Mondays, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm and Wednesdays, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Giant Springs Elementary School; 520 32nd Street North; Thursdays, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

Giant Springs Elementary School Hosting Children’s Author

Thursday, September 27, 2018 students at Giant Springs Elementary are in for a treat!  Children’s author, Ryan Acra is excited to encourage kids to grow their creativity and celebrate their ideas. Ryan is the author of the series Sugarbeet Falls. He will be reading to students and engaging them in finding the superhero within throughout the day in various grade levels.

The main character in his recent book has the ability to conjure up real-life superheroes to help him with day-to-day life. Acra self-published the first book and placed the story in Sugarbeet Falls, a fictional Montana town that’s inspired by the real towns he grew up in, like Ekalaka and Wolf Point.

What’s more important to Acra is teaching kids to develop their creativity.

Becky Nelson
GFPS Community Connections Coordinator

Travel Per Diem Rate Change

District Policy 7336 outlines the guidelines established for Travel Allowances and Expenses.  As a part of the guidelines, our district uses the GSA.Gov guidelines and rates for Meal Per diem. The purpose of this memo is to notify employees that effective October 1st, the established GSA Meal rate changes.  Any travel paperwork that has already been received for travel after October 1 will be adjusted accordingly at the Business Office.  Information, in the form of a new rate sheet, for Montana cities will be sent out to each of the building secretaries.  For out of State travel, employees are directed to the GSA.Gov website.  The only exception to the meal rate identified on the site is GFPS does not pay the $5 incidental fee.  If you have any travel related questions, feel free to contact Brenda Hess at Extension 6065.