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Maize USD 266 Parent Newsletter - February 2020
Superintendent's Message
Kindness matters for OneMa1ze, and you can find examples throughout the district


As we work to foster a OneMa1ze school community that meets all students' needs, one common theme is kindness. We want to treat others right, build empathy, and work to understand others' perspectives. This approach makes our educators caring and effective, our students resilient now and in the future, and improves our community here and beyond.

Our teachers make an effort to begin each day greeting students with a smile, handshake, or hug, an effort in line with the Capturing Kids' Hearts program, which we recently expanded from our elementary and middle schools to our high schools. Kindness matters from the very beginning of the school day. We even have provided such training to departments across our district to ensure that our paras, bus drivers, food service workers, and clerical staff members are part of our district's shared mission of kindness.

Through our Maize Way character education program, our students learn about friendship, compassion, respect, and generosity, among other traits that emphasize kindness. We do not tolerate bullying, we teach our students to be respectful in the classroom and on athletic fields, and we even coach our youngest students about what to do if they find themselves a bystander witnessing unkind acts between peers.

I am proud of the kindness-in-action you can find at any of our schools district-wide. At Complete High School Maize, the district's alternative high school, students are paired with a caring adult mentor through the Somebody's Someone program. They may share lunch occasionally, and in doing so, share life. They can grow a friendship that bridges generations and challenges and successes. This was among multiple strengths highlighted recently when the school was selected as a 2020 State School of Character. The award comes from  Character.org , a Washington, D.C.-based national organization that promotes character to inspire and empower compassionate people around the world. Complete is the only Kansas school to receive this designation this year and among only 81 schools and seven districts nationwide. Clearly, kindness matters.

At Pray-Woodman Elementary School, students and educators meet regularly with their Pride Families. "Pride" in this initiative stands for Promoting Relationships School-wide In the Direction of Excellence. Groups of students and educators from various classes and grade levels meet to build their Pride Families and perform service projects, such as decorating place mats for a local retirement home.

On Twitter, you can follow the hashtag #OneMa1zeCares to see countless additional examples of our students and community in acts of kindness.

These lessons serve our students and community well now and provide our students with tools and resources to navigate what can at times be an unkind world. Today and in the future, our students must navigate societal judgments that may be unfair, at-times charged political climates, and changing expectations and standards in our changing world.

Unfortunately, there are times when we fall short of kindness. A student may make a bad choice and bully a peer in a way that is difficult to prove or address. Sports activities often can bring out the worst in people, driving a constant state of vigilance. Even staff members, of course, can falter in our commitment to kindness. However, we embrace our opportunity and ability to learn and work to get better together as OneMa1ze.  
We want our students and our district to achieve every success and will push to obtain those that seem even outside our grasp. We aim to do so with decency and kindness in a way that reflects that what we do is great but the way we do it is even greater.


Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
Interview with Dr. Higgins

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools, was featured recently on One on One with Victor Hogstrom, KPTS President and Chief Executive. The public TV program features interviews with notable Kansans. During his interview, Dr. Higgins spoke about his career and his love for Kansas and education.
Mark Your Calendar
Important dates
  • 13: End of Term Three
  • 16-20: No school, Spring Break

  • 10: No school, Professional Development Day

  • 12: Last day for seniors
  • 14: Maize South High School graduation, 6:30 p.m., Century II
  • 17: Maize High School graduation, 6:30 p.m., Wichita State University's Koch Arena
  • 20: End of Term Four and last day of school
2019 Bond Project Update
Bond issue projects to include infrastructure, roadway improvements
Maize USD 266 has been meeting with the City of Maize, architects, and others related to infrastructure, roads, sewers, and similar improvements needed in connection with the new buildings planned as part of the current bond issue. Improvements, including a new turning lane and a traffic light, will be made to the intersection of 119th and 45th streets to support the north intermediate school and to the intersection of Academy Avenue and 119th Street to support the aquatorium pool-auditorium facility.

Improvements also will come to 45th Street North from 119th Street to 135th Street to accommodate increased traffic. This will include expanding 45th Street west of 119th Street to three lanes to the area south of the new intermediate school and paving 45th Street as a two-lane road until it reaches 135th Street.

The City of Maize and Maize USD 266 plan to share the costs of these projects, expected to total around $4.4 million, although the amount of each entity’s specific contributions have yet to be determined. The roadway construction will lead to summer road and/or lane closures later this year and in 2021.
Maize Board of Education Update
Maize USD 266 to contribute funding for traffic light near Maize South
Maize USD 266 will contribute $50,000 for the traffic light at 37th Street North and Tyler Road near Maize South High School. This has been an ongoing effort with the City of Wichita to improve safety and traffic flow in that area, affected by school-related traffic and challenges with the four-way stop. Traffic patterns thus far have not met a threshold for the City of Wichita numbers to budget those project improvement, prompting the collaborative approach between the various entities. During a past meeting, several Maize School Board members said such improvements are a necessity, not a luxury.
Calm Kits, Calm Corners a new tool to support student learning
Elementary school students across the district have new innovative tools this year to help them regulate their emotions so they can be better situated for classroom learning.

Student Support Specialist Eric Nachtigal, who works with other educators through Maize USD 266, received a Maize Education Foundation grant to create Calm Kits and Calm Corners in
225 learning spaces in the elementary schools. During the February Maize Board of Education meeting, he presented about that initiative and the success it has seen.
Next meeting: The Maize Board of Education's next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 9. The meeting will be at the Maize Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. Meetings are open to the public.
District News
New three-pronged approach to kindergarten next year positions Maize USD 266 to better meet the needs of some of its youngest students
Maize USD 266 has three changes for kindergarten beginning with the 2020-21 school year that will allow the district to better meet the needs of all students.

  • Purposeful play: The district is committing to a district-wide standardized kindergarten philosophy of purposeful play, which provides a balance of child-initiated play, teacher-directed activities, and daily time for playful, intentional learning activities. This supports and promotes age-appropriate social and educational behaviors and skills in a way that best encourages learning. The beginning of the kindergarten year will look and feel more like preschool, and students and educators will transition together through the school year. By springtime, their classrooms will look and feel more like first grade, preparing students for the following year. The district has implemented professional development for teachers, including a kindergarten teacher book study, and an inventory of play-based resources to support this plan. The learning objectives for kindergarten will remain the same. District leaders believe this is an improved pathway toward those goals.

  • Half-day kindergarten option: The district will be encouraging parents, including those whose children have summer birthdays and/or those who plan to give their children an “extra year” before starting kindergarten to consider enrolling their child in two years of kindergarten. This is opposed to the option of pursuing an extra year of preschool for the child before he or she starts elementary school. Beginning this fall, the Maize Early Childhood Center will serve 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, and elementary schools will welcome in kindergarten all students who turn 5 by Aug. 31, 2020. An option for parents electing to give their children an extra year could be one year of half-day kindergarten in 2020-21 followed by one year of full-day kindergarten in 2021-22. Currently, half-day kindergarten, which is available to all Maize USD 266 students, is housed only at Maize Elementary School. In this scenario, it would be the parents’ choice whether to retain their children in kindergarten for the second year. Currently, the preschool is serving 23 5-year-olds but maintains a waiting list of 4-year-olds, many who meet state at-risk criteria, who then are unable to access preschool services and education. It is critical that the district transition 5-year-old children into a kindergarten setting to provide the additional instruction and enrichment while younger students who also would benefit from preschool services before beginning elementary school are allowed access to our outstanding preschool experience.

  • Kindergarten Stars: The district is developing a specialized classroom called Kindergarten Stars for students who would benefit from additional social-emotional support in order to be successful in school. This classroom will address the dramatic increase Maize USD 266 has seen in recent years in young students with acute behavior needs beyond what a typical classroom can support. The class will be housed at Maize South Elementary School.
Shining Stars
Celebrating Excellence in Education Support Staff Awards
Congratulations to our second round of 2019-20 Celebrating Excellence in Education Support Staff Award winners! The award honors Maize USD 266 support staff members for the amazing work they do for the district and its mission of connecting, learning, and leading. Winners were nominated by their peers. This is the district's second year for the quarterly awards.

Special thanks to the Maize Education Foundation ! Executive Director Travis Bloom joined the recent surprises with a gift from the Foundation for each winner.
Maize South High School Paraeducator Nancy Bailey
Pictured from left: Maize South High School Principal Dave Hickerson; Maize Education Foundation Executive Director Travis Bloom; Sedgwick County Area Educational Services No. 618 Assistant Director of Special Education Dr. Christy Skelton; Maize South High Teacher Monica Spicer, who nominated Nancy for the award; Nancy Bailey, Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools; and Maize South High Assistant Principals Dave Nash and Alison Klock.
Maize High School Custodian Linda McCullough
Pictured from left: Maize High School  Head Custodian Garrett Wiebe; Maize High Athletic Director Eric Wolgast; Director of Custodial Services Bryant Wilks; Linda McCullough; Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools; Maize High Assistant Principals Sonya Tice and Morgan Marsh; Maize Education Foundation Executive Director Travis Bloom; and Maize High Assistant Principal Craig Broadbent.
Maize Central Elementary School Kitchen Manager Cindy Denning
Maize South Elementary School Secretary Debbie Stevens
Pictured from left: Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools; Food Service Substitute Debbie Halderman; Maize Central Elementary School Kitchen Assistants Kim Conway and Christine Wilson; Cindy Denning; Maize Central Elementary School Principal David Jennings; Director of Food Service Megan Barnard; Assistant Director of Food Service Lynette Drevo; Maize Central Teacher Stacy Wagner, who nominated Cindy; and Maize Education Foundation Executive Director Travis Bloom.
Pictured from left: Maize South Elementary School Teacher Lenora Biggs, who nominated Debbie; Principal Meg Thimmesch; Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools; Debbie Stevens; Counselor Jami Weston and Teacher Shelli Locke, who each nominated Debbie; and Maize Education Foundation Executive Director Travis Bloom.
Maize High School student wins volunteerism award

Congratulations to Maize High School junior Hannah Soderstrom, finalist in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, which recognize outstanding youth volunteers.

Hannah, pictured with her parents Heather and Scott Soderstrom, was nominated by the American Red Cross of South Central Kansas because of her passion for blood drives and blood donations after benefitting from them personally via blood transfusions after her leukemia diagnosis in 2016. Hannah, now a cancer survivor, is an advocate for blood donations and has hosted five blood donation drives, which collected more than 250 units of blood.

Earlier this school year, KWCH, Channel 12 surprised Hannah at school with a $1,200 donation to the nonprofit she started to help her fellow cancer survivors. Please click here to see the story .
Transportation Department names monthly contest winners

Congratulations to the Maize USD 266 Transportation Department's February bus driver and para of the month, driver  Teddie Smith, left, and para Clara Lefebvre. We appreciate the work they do to safely transport our students to and from school each day!
Super Kid

Congratulations to Pray-Woodman Elementary School second-grade student Brian Johnson , recognized as a recent Super Car Kid weekly winner. The program recognizes awesome kids doing amazing things in the community. Winners receive a $100 gift card and a classroom pizza party. Thanks to Super Car Guys, Power 93.5, and Papa John's Pizza!
Around School
Educators embrace empathy as they work to align curriculum
What are the knowledge and skills each Maize USD 266 student should have when he or she graduates? That is a question sixth- through twelfth-grade teachers across the district are working together to answer while they focus on curriculum alignment this school year .

The process has entailed observing and learning about various OneMa1ze perspectives, including those of other educators, employees, and students, who are the center of this initiative.

Learn more about the process by clicking here to watch a video that was featured for employees during their Professional Development Day earlier this month. It was produced by O neMa1ze Broadcasting students, with significant work by Maize High School senior Alex Pham and assistance from Student Support Specialist Megan Fowler .
U.S. Census count tied to federal dollars that support students
The 2020 Census count taking place this spring is the once-a-decade population count that leads to numbers used to distribute more than $6 billion in federal funds to Kansans every year.

Federal dollars at stake for the community include those tied to title programs, the National School Lunch Program, career and technical education grants, the Federal Pell Grant Program, and other programs that support our students and their families. Everyone can participate online, by phone, or by mail to ensure an accurate count and appropriate funding. Click here to learn more about the 2020 U.S. Census. Or click here to visit 2020census.gov.
Online Bulletin Board: Opportunities, fundraisers, and more
Learn about upcoming school, Parent-Teacher Organization, and partner organization events on our digital bulletin board.
Maize Education Foundation
Celebrate Legacy Honor winners Deb Elliott, Dr. Craig Elliott at Annual Spring Breakfast

The Maize Education Foundation is pleased to celebrate two wonderful former Maize USD 266 educators at this year's Spring Breakfast event. Deb Elliott and Dr. Craig Elliott will receive the 2020 Legacy Honor for their efforts, passion, and many contributions.

Deb Elliott was a teacher and counselor at Maize High School in her early years with the district. At retirement, she served as Director of Human Resources in a rapidly growing district. Many remember her for her instrumental role as Principal in the creation of Complete High School Maize , the district's alternative high school, since recognized as a National School of Character. 

Dr. Craig Elliott held a number of positions, most notably Superintendent of Schools. His leadership was pivotal during rapid growth, and he saw multiple bond elections that led to the addition of a number of schools. Dr. Elliott continues to impact education by mentoring school superintendents across Kansas.

Thank you, Deb and Dr. Craig Elliott, for your legacy and passion!

Celebrate them during the April 2 Spring Breakfast at Botanica in Wichita. Visit maizeeducationfoundation.org for more information and to purchase tickets
District Reminders
See something? Say something! Speak Up tip portal can help
Safety is a top priority for Maize USD 266, and Speak Up is a tool in conjunction with the Crime Stoppers in Schools program in Sedgwick County that accepts anonymous tips to help keep students and schools safe. Click here to check it out.
Snow day notifications: Update contact information now
In the event of school being dismissed or canceled because of inclement weather, the district will send out an e-mail, phone notification, and -- for those who have opted to receive them -- a text message to the primary contact associated with both Family 1 and Family 2, if applicable, for each student. Those phone notifications will go out as early as 5:30 a.m. on the day of the closure. If a decision is made the night before to call off school, calls and texts will go out no later than 10:30 p.m.

It is wise to verify that the district has correct family contact information on file. To do so, please log on to Skyward Family Access and click on "Student Info." If needed, parents can contact their child's school for assistance.

District officials will update the district's Web site (www.usd266.com), official Twitter account (@maize266), and official Facebook page (Facebook.com/MaizeUSD266) as soon as the decision is made to call off school. When in doubt, the district encourages parents to verify school closings by consulting multiple official Maize USD 266 district sources.
New! Improved salaries and benefits
Join our team!
Interested in joining our Maize Schools team?

The district currently is looking to fill the following openings:

Open positions also include bus drivers and bus paras. Many openings are part-time jobs with full-time benefits, including:
  • Group health insurance 
  • Summers off 
  • Fall, Winter, and Spring breaks off
  • No evenings or weekends 
  • Bonuses

Come and work in our OneMa1ze community, supported by parents, graduates, and Maize and Northwest Wichita. This would be a great opportunity to participate in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

The Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative has special education para positions open in Maize USD 266 schools, as well. Please click here to learn more.
#OneMa1ze www.usd266.co m

The mission of the Maize School District
is to inspire students to discover their potential through
connecting, learning, and leading.