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April 11, 2016
Volunteers honored at annual volunteer appreciation breakfast
On Tuesday, March 29, Joplin Schools honored the hundreds of volunteers from across our community who help support our students and the work of the district. Attendees at the super-hero themed event held at South Middle School enjoyed breakfast, performances by the JHS Jazz Ensemble and the South Middle School Choir, and an inspirational message from Joplin Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Norm Ridder. 

Since July 1 of this year, more than 361 volunteers have logged more than 6,334 hours throughout the district. These amazing "hero" volunteers perform a variety of services from reading to students to packing weekend snack packs for students in need to providing resources for students and staff and much more.  

President's Volunteer Service Awards
During the event, Joplin Schools recognized a few special heroes. Several volunteers qualified for the President's Volunteer Service Award, an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), administered by Points of Light, that recognizes hours of service. These volunteers receive presidential recognition, a personalized certificate, an official pin, and a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States. 

Bronze award recipients
100-249 hours in a 12-month period:
  • Nushrata Begum - Cecil Floyd - 101:54
  • Velta Elmore - Joplin High School - 105:57
  • Lynn Fields - Donation Center - 107:48
  • Lisa Ogden - Soaring Heights - 110:04
  • Jennifer Wardlow - Royal Heights - 126:23
  • Diane Thornton - Eastmorland, Jefferson, Soaring Heights - 128:35
  • Bill Bates - Eastmorland - 129:22
  • Andrea Schemet - Kelsey Norman - 162:12
  • Cindy Tignor - Stapleton - 201:48
  • Abdonna Capria - Beacon - 205:23
Silver award recipients
250-499 hours in a 12-month period:
  • Susan Peterson - Donation Center - 251:15
Gold award recipient
500+ hours in a 12-month period:
  • Joanne Wills - West Central - 692:57
Walgreens Manager Ryan Spriggs, Joplin Schools' Partner of the Year, and Bright Futures Joplin Chairperson Christie Barnhart
Joplin Schools Partner of the Year
This year's Joplin Schools Partner of the Year went to Walgreens on West 7th St., manager Ryan Spriggs. Walgreens is a Bright Futures Business Partner with Jefferson Elementary. Walgreens and its staff are involved in almost every aspect of life at Jefferson Elementary. Walgreens works with the school to honor its Students of the Month by printing a poster featuring the winning students. They frequently bring in Sonic drinks and goodies for the teachers. They helped coordinate a father/daughter dance where Walgreens took pictures of the dads and daughters 
together and printed them at no cost to the school. This past Christmas, Walgreens worked with the school on a penny drive to help raise funds to purchase toys for kids in need. These are just a few of the numerous examples of Walgreens' dedication to Jefferson Elementary students and staff. 

Joplin Schools' Volunteer of the Year Mrs. Abdonna Capria and Bright Futures Joplin Chairperson Christie Barnhart
Joplin Schools Volunteer of the Year
This year's Joplin Schools Volunteer of the Year went to Mrs. Abdonna Capria, a volunteer at Beacon School, which serves students with behavior challenges. Mrs. Capria has been a volunteer for over seven years at Beacon School. A retired teacher, she is devoted to the children at Beacon and religiously comes twice a week to work with individual students who need extra help. She is patient and kind with the students. If a student has trouble learning one way, she is quick to find another way to teach him or her. Mrs. Capria exemplifies service to kids. 

The Partner and Volunteer of the Year awards were graciously sponsored by Bright Futures Joplin.
Board of Education March 29 meeting update

Joplin Schools Board of Education met for its regular meeting at 7 p.m. March 29. Highlights from the meeting include:
  • Joplin Schools Chief Financial Officer Paul Barr gave an update on FEMA reimbursements. These reimbursements are part of the district's disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts. As of March 24, 2016, Joplin Schools has received $11,404,063 from FEMA. The approximate balance still to be collected from pledged grant receipts is $17,100,000. Find details here.
  • Mr. Barr also gave an update on the district's health and dental care insurance. An employee committee is evaluating the district's plans and will bring a recommendation to the board in April. 
  • Executive Director of Secondary Education Jason Cravens gave an update on improvements related to the recent safety review and on the work of the new Safety Committee. The committee includes staff, parents, a student, police and fire department representatives, and community members. During the committee's first meeting, they identified three key priorities for the district: 
    • Focus on safety prevention as much as reaction 
    • Implement clear, practical safety procedures and training for teachers and students
    • Have good communication around safety (before, during, and after situations, internally and among stakeholders)
  • The board approved the district's new five-year strategic plan. Find a copy of the plan and additional information here. The plan was developed in response to extensive feedback from students, parents, teachers, staff, and community members. The five-year plan is a working document that will be reviewed regularly to ensure that it reflects the needs of the district and responds to feedback from stakeholders. The next step is for district sites and departments to develop measurable action plans and scorecards to monitor progress toward strategic plan goals. Watch for more information regarding the strategic plan in the coming months.

Watch the meeting:

JHS Theatre Department to present "Guys and Dolls" spring musical April 14-16

Joplin Schools announces new principals for 2016-2017 school year

Last week, Dr. Norm Ridder announced several new principal positions for the 2016-2017 school year pending final Board of Education approval.
  • Brian Olivera has been named the new McKinley Elementary principal. Mr. Olivera currently serves as assistant principal at Irving Elementary School.
    Prior to joining Irving Elementary School, he spent 15 years teaching students in every grade from kindergarten through 12th grade in a variety of subject areas. This included more than two years teaching in the remote villages of Kodiak, Alaska. Mr. Olivera has a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in special education with an emphasis on behavior disorders from Pittsburg State University. He also has a master's degree in education leadership from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in education leadership and policy analysis through the University of Missouri.
  • Shally Lundien has been named the new Columbia Elementary School principal. Ms. Lundien currently serves as assistant principal at South Middle School, a position she has held for the last five years. Prior to joining South Middle School, she served as head softball coach and instructor at Pittsburg State University for five years and taught science and coached at several area middle and high schools. She holds bachelor's degrees in biology and teaching from Missouri Southern State University. She has master's degrees in exercise physiology from PSU and in administration from Arkansas State University and is currently working on her education specialist, also from ASU.
  • Chris Bozarth has been named the new principal for Cecil Floyd Elementary School. He currently serves as principal for Jay Middle School in Jay, Oklahoma. He spent six years as a teacher and federal grant director at Jay Elementary School. Prior to becoming principal at Jay Middle School, he served as an assistant principal at Jay High School. Mr. Bozarth has a bachelor's degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and a master's degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. 
In addition, new principals were named earlier this year for Irving Elementary School and East Middle School beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Sarah Mwangi has been named the new Irving Elementary School principal. Ms. Mwangi currently serves as principal for Columbia Elementary School. She graduated from Missouri Southern State University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and from Missouri State University with a master's degree in educational administration. Her teaching career started in the Kansas City, Missouri, school district. In 2008, she relocated to Joplin and taught at West Central Elementary for three years. She served as an instructional coach for Emerson Elementary School and Jefferson Elementary School for a year and has served as principal for Columbia Elementary School since 2012.
  • Jason Cravens has been named the new East Middle School principal. Mr. Cravens graduated from Missouri Southern State University with a bachelor's degree in education and earned his master's degree from Pittsburg State University. He taught for two years at College Heights Christian School and for five years at Joplin High School. In 2004, he became an assistant principal at JHS and served in that capacity for six years. In 2010, he moved to administration as director of instructional services and currently serves as executive director of secondary education for Joplin Schools.
Congratulations to our newest principals! 
Three new members and one incumbent elected to Joplin Schools Board of Education

Please join Joplin Schools in welcoming our newest Board of Education members:
  • Incumbent Jennifer Martucci, term expires April 2019
  • Sharrock Dermott, term expires April 2019
  • Lori Musser, term expires April 2018
  • Christopher Sloan, term expires April 2017
They will join current Board of Education members:
  • Jeff Koch, term expires April 2018
  • Lynda Banwart, term expires April 2017
  • Dr. Deb Fort, term expires April 2017
A special thank you goes out to current Board of Education members Sallie Beard, Ron Gatz, and Gary Nodler who have served the district and its children well during their time on the board. We appreciate their service and commitment to improving Joplin Schools. 

Our incoming board members will be sworn in at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 12 in the board room at Memorial Education Center.
Seven Joplin Schools' teachers named Golden Apple award finalists

Golden Apple
Congratulations to the following Joplin Schools' teachers who were recently named finalists for the Golden Apple Awards!
  • Monica Bay, Jefferson Elementary, grades K-2 category
  • Stephanie Reither, Cecil Floyd Elementary, grades K-2 category
  • Caryn Deckard, Stapleton Elementary, grades 3-5 category 
  • Abbie Durr, Columbia Elementary, grades 3-5 category
  • Kristopher Dishman, North Middle School, grades  6-8 category
  • Marcia Himes, North Middle School, grades 6-8 category
  • Christopher Young, Joplin High School, grades 9-12 category
The winners will be announced at the annual Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce banquet on April 21. The Golden Apple Awards recognize excellence in the teaching profession among Joplin public and private school educators.
Front Row: Berenice Urbina-Maturino, Jennifer Nguyen, Emma Dillon, Farhath Sulthana, Alli Cloyd, Maddie Campbell
Second Row: Jordyn Dillard, Addy Koch, Jessica Nguyen, Anna Nguyen, Yourong Tang, Ann Cole, Maggie Wampler, Ashtyn Turner
Third Row: Addie Siebenthal, Amy Walser, Tyler Kurtz, Tyler Gray, Diane Wagler, Megan Hickey, Hamza Kamran
Fourth Row: Ethan Brown, Ella Marshall, Megan Sparrow, Jacob Williams, Kyler Powell, Ashton Logan
Back Row: LaHeather Fisher, Phoebe Watkins, Kylee Burke, Angel Melchor, Kayce Tyler, Krusha Bhakta, Mark LaTurner

JHS Student Council receives Gold Award from state association

Joplin High School's Student Council recently earned a Gold Award from the Missouri Association of Student Councils. The state association recognized the JHS council for its comprehensive program promoting student activities and student leadership. These activities include school service and spirit, community service, student and teacher recognition, and leadership training activities. 

Congratulations to the JHS Student Council and Mark LaTurner and LaHeather Fisher, JHS teachers and student council advisors!

Freeman Sports Medicine to offer free physicals for students April 27

Freeman Sports Medicine is offering FREE physicals on Wednesday, April 27, at Joplin High School Kaminsky Gymnasium, 2104 Indiana Ave. The physicals are for athletes/students entering grades 7-12 for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • 6:00 p.m. Joplin High School athletes
  • 7:00 p.m. Joplin Middle School athletes
Please note: this will be the only designated time for Joplin students.

JHS students excel at annual science fair and qualify for national competition

Pictured left to right: Noah Chotrow, Farhath Sulthana, Jennifer Nguyen, Madeline Fichtner, Anum Ahmed
Photo credit: Gil Salgado, JHS Spyglass
Joplin High School science research students recently competed at the MSSU Regional Science Fair. There were 37 senior division entries from different schools located in 6 Kansas counties and 9 Missouri counties. In addition, in the afternoon, the Missouri Junior Academy of Science competition occurred, which involves a 12-minute presentation about their projects (supported with a PowerPoint presentation) and a question/answer session. All five Joplin students competed in this portion of the competition, and all five JHS students earned a 1 rating and were recommended to advance to the state level competition.

In total, the JHS Science Research team brought home 21 awards.

Awards earned by Anum Ahmed: 
1.  Senior Grand Prize - 1st Place - $75 (and will compete at the International ISEF Competition in Phoenix)
2.  Senior Human & Animal Sciences - 1st Place - $25 - $1,000 Scholarship
3.  Caduceus Excellence Achievement Award For Outstanding Project in Medical Science - Walmart Gift Card for $25
4.  Missouri Junior Academy of Science Senior Division Highly Superior - $2,000 Scholarship
5.  The Office of Naval Research Naval Science Award - Medal

Awards earned by Farhath Sulthana:
1.  Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award
2.  1st place in the Senior Division of Cellular, Molecular, and Microbiology ($25 cash prize)
3.  2nd place Grand Prize (2nd overall out of 37 entries)- $75 cash prize and also may attend as an observer
4. Missouri Junior Science Academy- earned a 1 rating and an advancement to the state competition

Awards earned by Noah Chotrow:  
1.  Second alternate (4th place) Grand Prize overall ($25 cash prize)
2.  3rd place in Senior Division of Cellular, Molecular, and Microbiology
3.  Mobile Game Furballs Originality and Ingenuity Award (iPad as prize)  
4.  Missouri Junior Science Academy- earned a 1 rating and an advancement to the state competition

Awards earned by Madeline Fichtner:
1.  MSSU Biology Club Award ($25 cash)
2.  1st place in Senior Division Plant Science/ Environmental Sciences ($1,000 scholarship to MSSU as well as $25 cash)
3.  Gateway Audubon Society Award ($50 award)

Awards earned by Jennifer Nguyen:  
1.  Office of Naval Research Naval Science Award ($50 gift card)
2.  Pro 100 Realtors Most Professional Presentation Award ($50)
3.  2nd place in Senior Division of Cellular, Molecular, and Microbiology
4.  MSSU Overall Grand Prize 1st Alternate ($25)
5.  Missouri Junior Science Academy- earned a 1 rating and an advancement to the state competition; also the alternate for the $1,000 scholarship recipient

Congratulations to the Science Research team and JHS teachers Karisa Boyer and Adam Bennett on an outstanding job and for representing Joplin Schools so well! 
Project Graduation presents Harlem Wizards vs. Joplin All-Stars

Enjoy an evening of family fun and support Project Graduation! Watch the Harlem Wizards take on the Joplin All-Stars basketball team at 7 p.m. April 20 in the Joplin High School main gymnasium. Order your tickets at or purchase them at Salon Brands, 3125 E 6th St, in Joplin. VIP courtside and reserved seating tickets are limited. Tickets start at $8 for students and $10 for adults.

Joplin Archery team heading to national competition

Congratulations to the Joplin Archery team! They recently competed against 576 Missouri schools and placed third at the state competition. This earned the team a spot at the national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, in May. This is the third year for the program and the third year the team has qualified for the national competition.

Joplin FFA to host annual spring plant sale - open to the public

Do you know someone who attended East Junior High?

Did you attend East Junior High School or East Middle School? Do you have a connection to those who may have attended in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond? Do you have any memorabilia from East? EMS staff and students, with help from alumni volunteers, are working on an exciting history project and would love to hear from you!

If you have information to share, please email

Meet Joplin Schools' Eagle of the Week

This weekly honor recognizes Joplin Schools' employees who demonstrate the qualities and behaviors that benefit the day-to-day operations of the district and promote student success. Joplin Schools' employees, parents, and community members can nominate a Joplin Schools' staff member for this recognition.  

Joplin Schools Eagle Minute brought to you by:

April 11-16
FFA Spring Plant Sale
8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (M-F), 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (S)
FTC Greenhouse

April 14-16
JHS Spring Musical - "Guys & Dolls"
7 p.m.
JHS Performing Arts Center

April 26
JHS Choir Spring Concert
7:30 p.m.
JHS Performing Arts Center

April 28
JHS Band Spring Concert
7 p.m.
JHS Performing Arts Center

May 11
Last day of school - half day

May 22
2 p.m.
Missouri Southern State University

We hope you enjoyed this issue of the Eagle Minute. If there are specific topics you would like to see covered, please email your suggestions to