Registration for students beginning Kindergarten in August 2023 is now open. Students must turn 5 years old on or before July 31, 2023, to begin school next August.
Step 1: To enroll, parents will need to establish a login with the PowerSchool Enrollment Portal.
Step 2: Once logged onto PowerSchool, click on the New Student Registration 2023-2024 form to begin the registration process.
The following items are needed for registration:
Step 3: Register for an in-person Kindergarten appointment the week of March 20-23. Sign up for a time from the elementary school list below using SignUpGenius. Each school has a designated day.
Prairie Branch Elementary sign up - March 20
Sni-A-Bar Elementary sign up - March 21
Matthews Elementary sign up - March 22
Stony Point Elementary sign up - March 23
To determine which elementary your student will attend, click on the Enrollment/Boundary Information under the For Families tab on the district's website to determine your child’s school based on your address.
Education has been at the cornerstone of Jan Reding’s life, and the main focus of a life in service to the community.
“Education has been an important part of my life. My father was in education, and I live by his words: ‘The more you learn, and the more you give, the better you’re going to be,” Reding said.
Jan Reding is serving her twenty-third year on the Grain Valley school board. She has one son who is a 1990 graduate of Grain Valley High School and has three granddaughters. She received a BS in Business Administration from Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri) and served as building manager of the Power & Light Building in Kansas City from 1961 until her retirement in 1998. She holds a master’s certification from the Missouri School Boards Association.
Reding serves on the Grain Valley Education Foundation Board, is a Director Emeritus of the University of Central Missouri Foundation Board, and serves on numerous community and nonprofit boards, including the Grain Valley Assistance Council, United Methodist Women of Faith UMC, Grain Valley Historical Society, and is treasurer of FOCUS of Grain Valley, treasurer of the Oakland Cemetery Association, and secretary of the board of the William Chrisman Class of 1953. She also creates a quarterly newsletter to help keep her classmates in touch.
As Reding looks to serve another term, two focus areas are top in her mind. First, Reding said, is the challenge of wisely growing and maintaining the district’s facilities to accommodate the more than 4,400 students attending K-12.
“We continue to be such a growing community. We need to put our resources to work in the best way we possibly can,” Reding said. Reding is also focused on equipping teachers with the resources and support needed in their roles.
“We have an excellent teaching staff, and our focus should be on attracting and retaining quality people with the resources they need to be successful.”
As for the board’s role in supporting these focus areas, Reding says their role is clear.
“It is our role to not bring an agenda to the table, to represent every student, and be willing to participate in active discussions in all areas. We must also work to make sure the public understands the reasoning behind the decisions we make and to be responsible and trustworthy. Our main role is to ensure we are effectively educating every student, every day, and that we are making decisions that are good for all kids.
Grain Valley School Board incumbent Jan Reding is running for re-election. Photo credit: Grain Valley Schools
The Board of Education met January 19th and began the meeting by recognizing All-State band and orchestra students, and the state champion high school cheer team.
Denise Holmberg, RN, Director of Health Services, gave an update on the health program. Holmberg reported that each building in the district is supplied with Narcan (brand name for Naloxone), which is used to treat narcotic overdose in an emergency. Holmberg also highlighted a partnership with Giving the Basics, a local nonprofit which supplies personal care items that are not covered by government assistance programs. Approximately 150 students benefit from participation in the program.
A review of the administrative dashboard noted student attendance at 84.9%, dipping below the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) 90% standard.
A trap shooting club for high school students, to meet at Lake Lotawana Sportsmen’s Club, plans to begin meeting as early as March.
Safety bollards being installed at front entrance of all schools. The high school’s bollard will be stone, matching the current stone elements at the entrance.
The timeline for the 2023-24 budget planning process were reviewed. First estimates of revenues for 2023-24 are expected in March. Priorities for the next budget year include maintaining class sizes within district standards, addressing the “increasing costs of meeting the academic and behavioral needs of all students”, and providing competitive pay for staff.
The Board also discussed the video broadcasting of school board meetings. Superintendent Brad Welle indicated the opportunity to broadcast meetings for online viewing by patrons may be possible as early as June 2023 when the Board begins meeting in the district’s new central office building.
The next meeting of the Board of Education will be held February 16th.
We are in the middle of Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s (THCF) scholarship season, with the February 24 due date for most of our scholarships coming up fast. We hope that you will encourage any graduating high school seniors or current undergraduate and graduate students in your life to apply by visiting www.thcf.org/scholarships.
Many of our scholarships utilize the General Application. Students complete one basic application and are automatically matched to more than 50 scholarships they might be eligible for. By reviewing the matches and submitting the requested supplemental information, such as essays or letters of recommendation, students can apply for multiple scholarships with one application.
There is no limit on how many scholarships a student can apply for, but both the General Application and all the supplemental information for each scholarship the applicants are matched to must be submitted by the February 24 deadline. We recommend that students get started on the application process soon to ensure they have enough time to complete all the requirements for each scholarship they are matched with.
There has been tremendous growth in scholarship funds at the Foundation over the years. Between 2018 and 2022, scholarship awards increased more than 157% to a record-setting high of more than $740,000 last year. With the addition of 18 new scholarship funds in 2022, we anticipate another record-setting year for scholarships in 2023.
I find the growth in our scholarship program remarkable but not surprising. In a time when extreme polarization of opinions on many different topics has become the norm in our society, we find that many different people from a variety of walks of life care deeply about supporting students and their educational and career aspirations. Earning a college degree opens many doors, but students often take on enormous debt to reach their goals.
Scholarships offer students a way to offset some costs, making students’ educational dreams an attainable reality. We are grateful to be able to help fundholders make meaningful gifts and help local students meet their educational goals—it truly is a win for everyone.
Rachael Watkins is our Director of Scholarships, and she can be reached at 816-912-4185 or email@example.com if students have any questions about applying for our scholarships. Contact Vice President of Advancement Cole Eason at 816-912-4182 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about establishing a scholarship fund with THCF.
Avila University recently announced its Fall 2022 Dean’s List recipients, recognizing the academic excellence of the more than 330 undergraduate students who earned the distinction.
The dean’s list comprises undergraduate students who meet requirements in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Professional Schools. All full-time admitted undergraduate students are eligible for the dean’s list. To be included on the dean’s list, students must have successfully completed at least 12 credit hours with at least a 3.5-grade point average for the semester.
Five students from Grain Valley were included in the Fall 2022 Dean's List:
Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City, has announced the Dean's List for the Fall 2022 semester. The 2,887 students who received Dean's List recognition earned a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher while being enrolled in six or more credit hours.
Gabby Marie Aber
Hannah Gail Alexander
Oakley Dale Barham
Triston Scott Barnett
James W Bassett
Alexander Martin Brooks
Isaac D Burd
Jessica Lynn Clarkson
Carter Michael Compton
Kade T. Compton
Morgan C Darling
Cole Matthew Doolin
Annalynn Jean Earley
Erika L Evans
Emily Alena Everhart
Makenna Michelle Ferman
Dominic M Ferrante
Clare Marie Fleischmann
Vanessa Jacqueline Gonzalez
Justin Ross Groover
Ian Joseph Hawks
Shelby Elise Henry
Tanner Tanner Heuser
Jillian Claire Hight
Keely Ryann Hill
Ean Riley Jarvis
Emily Lorraine Knowles
Taylor Nicole Lackey
Gracie Lauren Malicoat
Jaden Cameron Mason
Katelyn M Mitchell
Kyra Frances Maria Mueller
Hannah Elaine Newberry
Emma C Oerly
Mary B Phipps
Carlos Portillo Barahona
Kira Marie Potter
Teran Michelle Potter
Megan Elizabeth Prier
Nikolas Shae Rowland
Alexandra V Salinas
Abby Mae Schinstock
Micah A Siems
Micah A Siems
Angela G. Strandburg
Justin Andrew Strickland
Dylan Joseph Welch
by Cole Arndorfer
On December 6, nearly six months after stepping away from teaching at Grain Valley High School, Dr. Julie Taylor announced that she would be running for Grain Valley School Board. In a Facebook post announcing her candidacy, Taylor shared that she has spent 22 years working in Missouri schools. Seven of those years have come at Grain Valley High School, where she served as English teacher, National Honor Society sponsor, and cheer coach.
Taylor has been a part of the Grain Valley community since 2009, and said the decision to run comes out of her love for the community and the schools within it.
“I love everything about Grain Valley, and I want to give back to the district and community that has given me so much,” Taylor said.
Taylor shared her belief that there are always multiple paths to student achievement.
“Success, like education, is not one-size-fits-all, we owe it to each student to meet them where they are, academically, culturally, emotionally and physically. I am committed to understanding what academic excellence means for every student, every day."
Taylor said that her goal, if she were to be elected, is to create a collaborative, safe, inclusive learning environment that adequately prepares students for life in an ever-changing society by providing inspiration, and mentorship to each student.
In addition to understanding the classroom, Dr. Taylor says that she understands the school board’s responsibilities for the district.
"As an accountability body, we must reflect on previous decision-making and ensure we implement school board governance best practices, initially focusing on strengthening communication with the community.”
“I promise to take time to understand the connectedness and consequences of each decision. For me, it’s not just a line item, it’s not just a number; a paragraph in a policy is more than just words. These decisions affect the success of our students, our teachers, our schools, our district, and the legacy that they will leave for the future of Grain Valley and each person they impact throughout their lives,” Taylor said.
Taylor is one of seven candidates running for Grain Valley School Board, just one of several issues for voters on the April 4, 2023 municipal election ballot. For voter registration information, visit www.jcebmo.org.
Grain Valley Schools Director of Technology JaMere Waddy was getting ready for church the first Sunday of last October when a call came in from a church that rents space at one of the district’s elementary schools, reporting that the Wi-Fi appeared to be down in the building.
“I ran up to the high school, took a look around, and discovered some things were down and having trouble coming back up,” Waddy said.
It was not exactly an ideal weekend for work trouble, as his church was celebrating an anniversary event and his daughter was celebrating a birthday the same day.
“So we went home after church, cut the cake and all that, and then I headed back up to the school for a couple hours to begin troubleshooting.”
It became clear in the proceeding hours that the district had been hit with a ransomware attack in the early morning hours on Sunday. As Waddy explains, the point is to disrupt systems and data in the hopes the company or organization will pay a ransom for the tools to resume operations. It was later determined the attack came from Russia, and ground zero was a simple click on a website that otherwise appeared innocuous.
“They hit you in the off hours. No one is here, and it is harder to follow alerts.”
“If they can get into your system, they will encrypt everything, and what they ask for is payment to send you the decrypter. What we were able to do is restore all of our data from copies of backups that we had. That is something that they are hoping you can’t do, but we were fortunate enough through just planning, that we had multiple copies of our data in different formats. So, they were able to decrypt some things, but not everything. Because of the size and the amount of data, it just takes some time and some shuffling.”
According to Emsisoft, a cybersecurity company which tracks ransomware attacks and publishes an annual report on their impacts on government, education, and health-care organizations, 89 education sector organizations were impacted by ransomware in 2022. Of the 89, 45 were school districts and 44 were colleges and universities.
According to the report, at least three organizations paid a demand, including the Glenn County Education Office in California, which paid $400,000.
Dr. Nick Gooch, Assistant Superintendent, Support Services, said the district’s cybersecurity insurance and the district’s team, led by Waddy, ensured the district did not incur any additional costs and did not need to consider paying the ransom.
“Thankfully, we have cybersecurity insurance. We notified our insurance agent, and they got us the support we needed through their various vendors for cybersecurity, and the cost was covered by our insurance,” Gooch said.
Avoiding the cost of restoring systems or paying out a ransom is one thing, but the cost in terms of productivity lost is real for impacted businesses and organizations. Attackers are betting that by crippling computers, phones, and printers, they can get businesses or organizations to pay.
“School districts are a prime target. They tend to be understaffed or lacking the tools in place. They are hoping they (school districts) don’t have a team able to restore what they have encrypted,” Waddy said.
“They’re hoping you press the “easy” button, fork over the cash, and say we don’t want to deal with this. Just give us the keys to fork over what you’ve encrypted and bring it back up.”
“When I made the initial phone call to our insurance group, I didn’t know what to expect, and the advice is to not expect anything for 10-14 days. We were ready in five. This team did miraculous things in a short period of time,” Gooch said.
Starting that Sunday, Waddy and his team pulled a couple of all-nighters in a row, restoring internet and going through the tedious processing of restoring all systems and data.
Waddy’s team included Network Administrator Tamarah Fisher, Systems Administrator Cory Williams, and Data Systems Administrator Courtney Lutes, along with a team of technicians that Waddy described as the “boots on the ground”, getting everything back up and running at each of the district’s buildings.
“We spent the next few days bringing as many systems back online as we could. It took phones and printers a couple of days,” Waddy said.
“Over the past few years, we’ve spent a great deal of time moving systems to the Cloud. Those things were fully functional. It was mainly just having teachers adjust on the fly.”
Waddy and his team pulled all-nighters that week, working through the process of restoring and rebuilding overnight so students and staff were not impacted.
“It’s interesting with tech. It’s almost like a house of cards, as in there are so many different pieces that have to work together. And when one thing changes or one things break, you have to identify the dozen other things it is tied to. At the same time, school is still in session, teachers are still teaching, students are still learning. So, it’s rebuilding the ship while still floating,” Waddy said.
“That’s really the bulk of the work. Until you shut something off, or until you change a password, there’s really no way to know what all something is tied to, because that was put in place well before any of us worked here. In a perfect world, there would be documentation as people leave and transition to other positions, but that’s not always the reality.”
Now that the long nights are through, Waddy can focus on the positives of the experience.
“It’s not ideal to do in the middle of a school year, but there are some changes that you would like to make but they are difficult to do because you don’t know what all they are tied to. In a situation like this, you have no choice but to intentionally break things and then fix them. So, a positive aspect of the experience is that if everything is down, that gives you an opportunity to change a lot of things you planned on changing anyway.”
“This was an opportunity, when the environment was brought down, to rebuild it with additional fortification. We have really been able to beef up overall security and protection. That is because of his (Waddy’s) work and some support we got along the way,” Gooch said.
Waddy was modest about his efforts, but quick to praise his team.
“My own kids go to this district. That’s the job. Technology never sleeps. If me staying up until 4:00am to fix something means that the doors will stay open the next day, that’s a no brainer.”
“I can say, and I know I am at risk of sounding like I am patting myself and my department on the back, but I can say that everything that we need to do to make sure this is our last attack, was already in place or in the works.”
“Technology is something that is constantly changing and there is never a point where we get something set up, and we can brush our hands and kick our feet up. However, there are so many things that you can do. As a decision maker, the focus becomes which ones are most important and which should we do first. Because we can do anything, but we can’t do everything. Something like this just puts everything into clear view and provides clarity of how to prioritize what projects we tackle and also the reassurance that we are heading in the right direction,” Waddy said.
The department’s work to fend off attacks extends beyond tech tools. Ongoing training with district staff and students is also key. Striking the balance between access to information and resources and ensuring security requires communication and tools in the hands of teachers to help mitigate risks.
“It’s a constant balancing act, to not allow too much, but to also not be too restrictive. One of the things we’ve done in the last few years, for instance, is a tool called GoGuardian that filters the students but also gives the teachers a level of control before it gets to the (technology) department,” Waddy said.
Teachers can test links to resources to ensure students can access materials safely. If a site they would like to access is blocked, there are internal processes in place for the technology department to review and grant access to links that are blocked by filters.
Waddy offers a few tips for staff, students, and parents:
Director of Technology JaMere Waddy and his team pulled many all-nighters to restore the district's systems following a ransomware attack in early October. Photo credit: Valley News staff
by Maria Benevento, The Kansas City Beacon
(2023 Missouri higher education bills to watch – The Beacon (kcbeacon.org))
Expanding loan repayment programs, exempting students from hazing charges if they assist during an emergency, and making school IDs valid for voting are some of the higher education bills being proposed in the Missouri legislature.
The next legislative session starts Jan. 4, but representatives and senators are already filing the proposed laws that they will debate during the first months of 2023.
As of Dec. 16, the Missouri House categorized 10 bills as related to either higher education or the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, excluding duplicates that appear in both categories. The Missouri Senate indexed 13 bills in those categories, excluding duplicates.
There’s no guarantee that any of these bills will receive an initial hearing, much less be discussed by the full House or Senate or signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson. Legislation can also be amended, sometimes dramatically, at several stages in the process.
The Beacon has compiled a list of some of the higher education proposals that have already been filed so you can get a sense of what’s on legislators’ minds.
Elementary and secondary education is an even more popular topic this year, with more than 100 bills filed in the legislature. Keep an eye out for roundups of K-12 education bills coming soon.
If you have strong opinions on these issues, you can contact your representative or senator.
Restricting transgender athletes from playing on teams that match their gender identity
One of the most popular education topics in both houses for the upcoming session is requiring student athletes to play on sports teams that match their gender assigned at birth. Many of the bills are branded as the Save Women’s Sports Act.
Some versions of the proposal would require students (or the parents of minor students) to sign affidavits regarding their sex assigned at birth and would allow lawsuits against schools that break the law. For more detail, see our earlier reporting.
Version of the proposal that apply to higher education include:
Several proposals are focused on help with tuition or loan repayment to encourage new professionals to work in underserved regions or roles.
Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, filed legislation to modify the Advantage Missouri Program to apply to teachers who work in high-need public or charter schools. Advantage Missouri provides loans and loan forgiveness for workers in high-demand areas.
This story was originally published by The Kansas City Beacon, an online news outlet focused on local, in-depth journalism in the public interest.
MCPL and the Sylvan Learning Center have partnered to provide free practice ACT tests, including a free practice test sesson on Saturday, January 14th at the Grain Valley branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library.
Advance registration is required for the session to be held January 14th from 10:00am - 2:00pm. Registrants will need to bring a #2 pencil, a calculator, a watch, and a valid email address to receive your results.
This is a full version of the ACT and will last about four hours. The test will begin right at the program start time, and no late arrivals will be allowed to participate after the test begins.
For more information and to register, visit Free Full-Length, Diagnostic Practice ACT Test | Mid-Continent Public Library (mymcpl.org).