January 11, 2016
Issue No: 



Freedom and Respect for All

One week from today is the day we set aside as a nation to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK). As you know, King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement. He believed in civil rights for all, peaceful means of protest and service to one’s community. The latter is also the reason the day is set aside as the MLK Day of Service in our country. For those of you who take advantage of the day off to serve others, I thank you. There will be opportunities within our community to celebrate both his legacy and his commitment to service.

Dr. King’s legacy can teach us so much. He believed in the common good, faith in fellow man, the need to speak up against tyranny, and that justice, democracy and human kindness would surely prevail over cruelty and prejudice. This one day set aside to celebrate his legacy is not enough. His widow noted in the Washington Post in 1983, "The holiday must be substantive as well as symbolic. It must be more than a day of celebration. Let this holiday be a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day of getting involved in nonviolent action for social and economic progress." I encourage you to check out this link from the Teaching Tolerance Project. It sets forth a plethora of ideas to make her wish come true:

MLK left our world a better place, albeit not a perfect place. Even after all these years, we seek to fulfill his dream where all people are respected regardless of skin color, wealth, gender, abilities or disabilities, and any other characteristics that make us individuals. Freedom and respect for all. As a nation, we have work yet to do. As individuals, we seek to be culturally proficient. As educators, we model and teach these important principles to future generations. Thank you for sharing Dr. King’s messages this week, next week and every day of the year.

Take care. Be safe. Stay well.




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.


Lesley University Graduate Program

Lesley University Graduate Program in Great Falls

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

This Program will be starting in the spring of 2016. Hurry to reserve yourself a spot!

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
ckuntz [at] lesley [dot] edu




Beginning January 12, 2016 – GFHS Pool
Tuesdays & Thursdays (except not on January 14, 2016)
7pm – 8pm
Class is FREE to all GFPS faculty and staff and open to the public at a cost of $60 for each session. GFPS faculty and staff need to register with Kim Fadrhonc at 268-6051.

OPEN SWIMMING Open Swimming and Lap Swimming at GFHS Pool is FREE to all GFPS employees! To get a pool pass, click here for the electronic application or contact Center Reception at 268-6054. Attendance for a non-employee adult is $3 and a child is $2 per visit.



GFPS and the CARE Program would like to thank all of those who donated towards the annual Giving Campaign, once again making it a great success!  The campaign was able to raise over $53,000 for United Way and Montana Shares this year.  Our goal was to increase the number of employees that participate through GFPS, and we were successful!  42% of our own GFPS employees contribute through the district!  Thank you for your support!!  A special thanks goes out to each of the building coordinators who gave generously of their time and to the supporters behind the scenes that helped get everything printed, organized, distributed collected, and totaled for this campaign:
Bobby Ingalls, CJ                                         Lauren Trovatten, VV
Michelle Yoder & Sandy Brown, LC                 Amber Peterson, WT
Elizabeth Wallen-Pipinich, WH                        Miwa Combs, LN
Rochelle Johnson, LF                                    Ryan Beam, ELF
Jeanne Bily & Suzie Doughty, LY                    Jennifer Weir, EMS
Amy Hollenback & Susan Dolan, ML               Clinton Topel, NMS
Gary Jenkins, MS                                         Sara Buley, CMR
Kevin Udovich, MV                                       Meagan Potter, GFH
Leann Svir, RV                                             Jodi Hicks, PGEC
Riki Johnson, RS                                          Tammie Ulstad, B&G
Kristin McDermott, SAC                                Lisa Hogan, GFC-MSU
Todd Currey, SS                                          Bob McGregor, DOB
Erica Harp, School Nurses                             Danielle Funseth, CARE
Jeff Rieger, ECS                                           Jody Murray, CARE
Miranda Murray, Elementary Art                    Warehouse
Rachelle Broughton, DOB                             Annex


ELL Corner

Culture Shock


If you have traveled, either internationally or simply out of your comfort zone, you may have experienced culture shock. But what does culture shock look like in immigrant children? Or for children with limited English who are moving from place to place around our nation or state? Most English Learners go through the following stages of culture shock before they become comfortable with their new environment.

1. Honeymoon Stage. During this stage newcomers are excited about their new lives and they are having a great time learning about their environment.
2. Rejection stage. At this stage differences between the old culture and the new one become apparent and ELLs can feel overwhelmed, uninterested, irritated or depressed. Students may refuse to learn the new language and act out.
3. Regression stage. English Language Learners are frustrated because they cannot communicate and are bombarded with unreadable social signals. This is when a student can say "I did not chose to come here."
4. Integration stage. At this stage newcomers start to deal with differences in culture and begin to find ways to exist in both. However their family members may be worried about the loss of native culture.
5. Acceptance stage. Newcomers are able to enter the mainstream culture and combine both cultures into their lives. Talking to the students’ parents or visiting their home will allow teachers to see how the student navigates both cultures.

Where does your student fit? How does this impact the classroom environment? How can we help the student overcome the challenge of assimilation into the new culture?

If you would like more information or strategies to help English Learners new to GFPS, contact:
Irina Payne (x6059) or
Lisa Jahraus (x6028)


Ferst Foundation Update

Do you have or know a child between the ages of 0-5? Would you like to provide them with a book every month for a year? How about providing them with a book every month until they’re 5 years old? Now you can! Great Falls and the Early Childhood Coalition has partnered with the Ferst Foundation to promote literacy in young children. Signing a child up to receive books for one year costs $40. Signing a baby up to receive books for 5 years is $200. Brand-new, age-appropriate books, along with information on how to use and expand on the books, are mailed to the child each month at no extra charge. To register a child, contact Betsy Amy Meyer, Carol Paul, or Lisa Jahraus at the District Office Building. If you don’t know any young children, you can always pay it forward and sign up an anonymous child! You can also get more information by visiting our Facebook page at or searching for Great Falls Ferst Foundation. Be sure to give us a “Like”!


Currently Enrolled in a Master’s Program?


Click here to view application

Please send completed application to:
Kim Sangray
Chief Joseph Elementary
Kim_sangray [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us

Mileage Rate Change January 1, 2016

Beginning January 1, 2016 the new mileage rate for reimbursement will be 54 cents per mile ($.54). Anyone that has not already turned in 2015 mileage should please turn in their August through December mileage reimbursement requests by Jan 13th, 2016.


2016 Wellness Challenges

The Challenge details are listed below! Take a look to see if one of these challenges will work for you. Look for bright orange fliers in your building with this information or go to the GFPS Employee Wellness website.


STEAM Expo 2016!