Get to Know Jahantab Siddiqui, HCPSS Chief Administrative Officer

The Get To Know series was created to help staff learn more about HCPSS leaders in schools and offices with whom they may not typically interact. HCPSS leaders answer a mix of personal and professional questions in an effort to let all employees get to know them better. 

black and white headshot of Jahantab Siddiqui. Blue and gray frame graphic in background with white text stating, Get to Know Jahantab Siddiqui HCPSS Chief Administrative Officer

Why did you choose to work in education?
As a student at University of Maryland, I led lobbying efforts to improve access to education and that fueled my passion to get involved in public service. That led to a career in public policy at the federal, state and local levels and in each of those roles, the most rewarding work I did was around education initiatives and I believe I have now come full circle.

While I'm not an educator, my job is to ensure that our educators, support staff, administrators, and students have the resources, services and access they need to ensure a high quality of education and supports. Whether it's enhancing existing programs or supporting a new program, opening a new building, or even navigating an emergency situation, I get to see the positive impact of our work every single day. 

What is the best professional advice you've ever received?
Senator Barbara Mikulski had some of the best guiding principles and I continue to use at least three of them on a regular basis:

  • Always be clear about "What is the objective we seek?"
  • We cannot always guarantee an outcome but we must guarantee an effort.
  • Do not explain an abstraction with an abstraction.

What is something you like a lot that would surprise people?
Ketchup on pasta. I will probably regret putting this in writing. 

What is on your bucket list?
I love music and would love to learn to play the guitar.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever been?
Rio de Janeiro. Beautiful city with a lot of culture, history and amazing food. I would love to go back and spend some more time there.

Calling All Singers!

The HCPSS Employee Chorus is a unique opportunity to use your voice and connect with colleagues from across the county. It is open to current and retired HCPSS employees, their spouses and significant others, and their adult family members. Singers of all experience levels are encouraged to join! 

See the links below for details.

Get to Know Vanya Jackson, Principal, Longfellow Elementary School

photo of Vanya Jackson. Text around photo reads, Get to Know Vanya Jackson, Principal, Longfellow Elementary School

Why did you choose to work in education?
Originally, I wanted to go into the field of Criminal Justice to eventually become an FBI agent, while somehow being an obstetrician. Go figure! While studying at Alabama State University, I had a few field assignments. One was to go to an elementary classroom to observe children learning. I will never forget that day! When I walked into the classroom at that moment, I knew that the classroom was where I was meant to be! My passion for foundational education began right there. Because of that experience, upon returning to campus that day, I went to my advisor and changed my major to Elementary Education.

What is the best professional advice you've ever received?
"Be the educator you needed when you were in elementary school."

What is something you like a lot that would surprise people?
I really love dinosaurs! I am sure this will surprise many that know me! I thoroughly enjoy watching movies with dinosaurs in them and find time to watch a particular movie series each week.

What is on your bucket list?
1. Learn to speak Spanish fluently
2. Educate aspiring teachers at the collegiate level
3. Take a mission trip to Africa with my husband
4. Take a religious trip to Jerusalem with my husband and three sons
5. Open a few restaurants in Alaska
6. Learn Sign Language
7. Have my own clothing line
8. Attain a sizable dinosaur statue/sculpture at home

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever been?
I am originally from Anchorage, Alaska. I was blessed to be born and raised in such an amazing place. I recommend that you visit at least once in your lifetime. It is a beautiful, mountainous and majestic state. I am still amazed by its beauty when I go back to visit my parents and family members.

What is something you are proud of? 
I have been an HCPSS educator for 18 of my 21 years in public education. I am truly blessed, honored and proud to be a part of a public school system that prioritizes the humanness of its students and staff members. I appreciate the investment into the “whole person” and the value of what each individual brings to the table. Not only am I a proud employee of HCPSS, I am a proud HCPSS parent. I am so proud of the fact that by the end of this school year, I will have had the unique privilege of handing all three of my sons their high school diplomas. I am #HCPSSProud.

Last Chance for Benefits Open Enrollment!

Final notice! These are the last two days for benefits open enrollment! 

Reminder that employees with FSA elections MUST make a new election each year. 2023 FSA elections will not carry over to next year. See below for details

The annual benefits open enrollment period is Oct. 16-Nov. 3, and will not be extended. This is the annual time period when employees can make any changes or new elections to their benefits plan for the upcoming Plan Year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2024). Employees should review their personal information, the benefits being offered by HCPSS, and the plans that they are enrolled in to determine if they would like to make any changes.

Review the information below as it contains important information and details on virtual benefits fairs.

Benefits Information
Details regarding Open Enrollment are posted online:

Benefits Selections
All benefit selections must be made in Workday. Each benefit category will have its own benefit tile, making it easier for employees to navigate and enroll/make changes to benefit elections.
Employees can review, enroll and/or make changes in Workday by completing the following steps:

  1. Log in to Workday using your Active Directory username and password.
  2. Go to your Workday inbox and select the Open Enrollment task.
  3. Select “Let’s get Started” and follow the prompts to proceed with your enrollment.
  4. Upon making changes, you must click ”submit” for the changes to take effect beginning Jan. 1.
  5. Print a copy of your benefits confirmation page for your records.

Additional Information

  • Open enrollment will not be extended beyond Friday, Nov. 3.
  • If you do not make any changes to current your medical, dental, vision, short-term disability, long-term disability, supplemental life, critical illness, accident and /or whole life insurance benefits, those benefits elections will continue for Plan Year 2024.
  • You must make a new election for the following benefits, if you elect to use them. Your 2023 FSA election(s) will not carry over to Plan Year 2024.
    • Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) - New FSA annual maximum is $3050
    • Dependent Care FSA - Annual maximum is $5000 per household

The HCPSS Benefits Call Center is open Monday-Friday, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. by calling 410-313-7333, Option 1. You also may email questions to In-person office hours are available by appointment only Tuesday-Thursday by calling (410) 313-7333 Option 1.

Lightspeed Classroom available for teachers Oct. 30

Lightspeed Classroom will be available to all teachers starting Monday, Oct. 30. Teachers who wish to use the tool must complete the required Classroom Management professional learning module to learn how to comply with student data privacy policies and access and use the application. 

What is it?
Lightspeed Classroom is a software application that allows teachers, during specified timeframes, to control how a student uses their HCPSS-issued Chromebook, including viewing student screens, sharing resources, locking devices, reviewing class activity, and restricting some non-instructional sites.

New cybersecurity resources added to your KnowB4 account

Thank you all for your active participation during Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Remember to stay vigilant year-round, protecting our organization is an ongoing effort. Two new resources from KnowBe4 have been added to your library:

  1. Business Email Compromise (~4 mins): Cybercriminals have wised up and are adapting their tricks and techniques to target employees using spoofed or hoax email accounts.
  2. QR Codes: Safe Scanning (~4 mins): Staff should maintain a heightened state of awareness and caution when receiving email messages containing hyperlinks, including QR codes, and attachments.

There has been an increase of QR phishing emails in our environment, example below: 

screenshot of QR phishing email

To continue improving our cybersecurity awareness, we encourage all staff members to explore these new resources at their earliest opportunity. You can access them by navigating to the Staff Hub > Services > KnowBe4 Cybersecurity Resources > Library.

Employees are encouraged to forward any suspected phishing emails to, and then delete the email. If assistance is still needed, contact the Technology Support at

New O365 Login Window Starting Wed., Nov. 1

The login process for Office 365, including Outlook email, OneDrive, Teams and others, will be updated on Wednesday, November 1 and will impact the way both staff and students authenticate to the system. 

Read below to learn what username or Sign in needs to be entered in order to authenticate to the O365 system. Note, users will continue to use their Active Directory passwords and passwords will not be changed with this update. 

  • Staff Login: Staff have two options 
    • Enter their username followed by in the Sign in field. For example, if the staff member’s username is jdoe, their sign in name would be 
    • Enter their email address in the Sign in field. For example, 
  • Student Login
    • Students will need to enter their username followed by in the Sign in field. For secondary students this is their O365 email address. For example, if the student’s username is "ssmith1234," their login would be "" 

Note: Staff will continue to be required to approve the successful authentication to O365 via Duo MFA. 

These changes are being implemented to improve security and reliability. We appreciate your cooperation as we work to enhance the security and efficiency of our information systems. Staff can direct their questions to 

Please see below for screenshots of the old and new login/Sign in interface. 

Old O365 login window - This page will be discontinued starting on Wednesday, November 1.

Old O365 login window

New O365 Sign in/Login Window - Enter updated username/sign in or email address, followed by your normal Active Directory password.

 New O365 Sign in/Login Window

New O365 Sign in/Login Window

SIngle Sign-in Login Page - This change does not affect the login process for Canvas, Google, Workday, Synergy and other services that use the blue authentication page that includes the Digital Citizenship Pledge.

SIngle Sign-in Login Page

Get to Know Stephen Cowles, General Counsel

photo of HCPSS General Counsel Stephen Cowles

Why did you choose to work in education?
I wanted to assist in ensuring students received the appropriate services under the law. Working within a school system appeared to be the more effective route to support students and ensure required services were provided as opposed to suing school systems on behalf of individual students. Also, my father served on the school board throughout my education and handed me my diploma as his last act as a Board member.

What is the best professional advice you've ever received?
Always keep the interest of the students at the forefront of any discussions as the business of the school system is to educate the students.

What is something you like a lot that would surprise people?
Rooting for Tottenham Hotspur, English Premier League, and playing Premier League Fantasy Football.

What is on your bucket list?
To visit presidential birthplaces and libraries throughout the United States.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever been?
The Cathedral of Bones in Evora, Portugal. The country is beautiful; the Cathedral is a bit creepy, but extremely interesting to see.

Staff Completion of Vector Trainings

All staff are expected to complete assigned Vector Training modules by the applicable due dates. These online training modules provide valuable information that staff must know related to student and staff health and well-being, and how to properly and legally navigate a number of circumstances that could arise on any given day. 

All staff receive email reminders of overdue and upcoming Vector trainings. You also can access them anytime via the Staff Hub > Services drop-down > Vector Training. Please note, hourly employees should only access and complete the trainings during their duty day.

Please contact HCPSS Technology Support at if you require technical assistance with the modules.