News

EdNotes Express

Lincoln Public Schools Communication Services continues to look for the most effective way to provide you with information.  EdNotes is written and published specifically for the faculty and staff of Lincoln Public Schools.

If you have information you would like to include, please email Mary Kay Roth at mkroth@lps.org.

Surprise tunnel walk into retirement

Kahoa Elementary principal Russ Reckewey was surprised on his last day by a group of Kahoa Elementary staff and families as they escorted and cheered him into retirement. He was their principal for 16 years. Below is the video of the "tunnel walk".

 

Posted on July 03, 2015


Project allows students to observe behavior

A wide-eyed 2-year-old sucking on a slobbery cherry sucker was placed in a solitary desk in the hallway. In front of him on a plate is a large squishy marshmallow. He is told not to eat the marshmallow, and then his older cousin left him alone and stood in the classroom peeking out the doorway behind him. Will he leave the gooey temptation alone? 

Walking into room A101 at Lincoln North Star High School, there were 16 simlar stations scattered around the classroom. All of them are designed to assist students in John Clark's summer human behavior class in observing not just any human behavior, but the intricate workings of a child's reasoning.

During this activity, each student designed a station for children between the ages of 2-13 that could test their congitive skills, how they react to situations, and why. Questions ranged from math problems, to testing short-term memory, naming parts of the body, or to draw a house. At one station, the children were asked to tell the observer a story. This was set-up to test imagination, complexity and coherence.

During the moral reasoning station, students are told a story about a loved one being ill. The loved one needs a medicine at the drug store down the street, but can't afford it, nor can they ask friends for assistance. What does the child chose to do? After the child's answer is given, the story changes. The loved one will die without the medicine. Now what will the child do?

The high school students brought their younger siblings and family members to class, the students then watched and recorded results as the children rotated through each station and completed each task. Their findings are then compiled and written into a report and shared with the rest of the class.

 

Posted on July 02, 2015


LPS distance learning featured in national publication

Linda Dickeson's presentation on creative videoconferencing solutions during the Nebraska Distance Learning Association conference caught the attention of a national technology publication, which landed Lincoln Public Schools in the spotlight for two of the six ways videoconferencing is expanding the classroom. Dickeson is the distance learning manager for LPS.

T.H.E. Journal is a widely popular publication about technology in education. Writer David Raths contacted Dickeson after seeing her presentation slides in Slide Deck.  He also interviewed Marissa Wanamaker, German Teacher from Lincoln High School, about her work with students from rural communities. 

LPS was commended for making courses available to any student interested, no matter their location in Nebraska; and for finding unqiue ways to provide education to homebound students in our district.

Dickeson said, "The moral is, always upload your presenter handouts or slide decks...somebody just might run across them who wants to help you spread good news!"

The full feature in T.H.E. Journal can be found in the link below:

Posted on July 02, 2015


Wojtowicz awarded national fellowship

Lincoln Southeast High School teacher Zachary Wojtowicz has been awarded a James Madison Fellowship. The fellowship will cover up to $24,000 of course study towards a master's degree that includes a concentration of courses on the history and principles of the US Constitution.

The fellowship requires the recipient to teach American history or social studies in a secondary school for at least one year for each year of fellowship support. The award is intended to recognize promising and distringuished teachers, to strengthen their knowledge of the origins and development of American constitutional governmetn, and thus to expose the nation's secondary school students to accurate knowledge of the nation's constitutional heritage.

Wojtowicz was one of 51 total fellowships awarded; and he was in competition with applicants from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the nation's island and trust territories.

Posted on June 30, 2015


First faculty meeting, tour for teachers at The Career Academy

Learn more, including career pathways

Dan Hohensee has spent 31 years as a traditional teacher. In year 32, he's the director of The Career Academy, and last week he led the first faculty meeting of TCA.

Set for opening in two months, The Career Academy is a new venture of Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community College that offers specific career pathways for high school students across Lincoln.

As teachers introduced themselves to their new co-workers, it was evident the common theme of excitement involved immersing students in a curriculum on a topic they already enjoy.

These teachers possess a specific list of common traits: enjoy working with students, specifically at risk students; have a passion to help students find the career or college focus they want.

Students will take two hours of classes - in the morning or in the afternoon - in addition to classes at their home high school. Career pathways were chosen based on local business and industry needs, available resources and student interest.

“Education, employment and economic impact - both personally and for the community - are the guiding principles for The Career Academy,” Hohensee said.

“Students interested in TCA should focus on getting the right classes their freshman and sophomore year at the home high school,” Hohensee said. “Free transportation, technology and books will be provided for students. There are 399 students ready to enroll, and more juniors and seniors may be accepted based on previous courses taken and pathways availability.”

Businesses and industries have donated about $1.5 million dollars to support the students and teachers in their field, and will be able to interact with students in the classes and at their location.

Some teachers are familiar to LPS:

Name, TCA courses (previous position in LPS)

Carol Mathias, embedded economics (Lincoln Northeast High School)

Michelle Fonck, embedded English (Entrepreneurship Focus Program)

Jenni Benson, resource teacher (Lincoln Education Association)

Bob Freese, residential construction pathway (Northeast)

Erin Miles, agricultural / biosciences (Lincoln North Star High School)

Joe Schlegelmilch, embedded psychology (Lincoln Southeast High School)

Tracy Weise, health science: EMT focus (Lincoln Southwest High School)

Isau Metes, embedded English (Bryan Community Focus Program)

Other teachers bring experience from teaching at other K-12 schools, SCC and various community organizations, including industry experience.

A ribbon cutting will be held Aug. 10, and the first day of class will be Aug. 12.

Posted on June 30, 2015


Schools and staff honored for their support

Junior Achievement of Lincoln honored schools, volunteers, community partners and teachers who support their mission of providing students with real-world knowledge and experience.

Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for instruction, was among the five who recieved the top JA USA Bronze Leadership Award. "Dr. Stavem is a strong advocate of Junior Achievement curriculum in the classroom and has been a strong ally to JA in promoting the impact it has on students," commented Jessica States, JA senior program and events director. "During the 2014-2015 school year, JA of Lincoln reached more than 24,000 students. We are grateful for Jane and her continued support."

Two of the three Educator of the Year awards were also from LPS. Nick Madsen, a high school business and economics teacher at Lincoln High School, has been teaching for three and a half years. He has utilized JA Exploring Economics every semester in his business classes. Madsen was nominated by his JA volunteer, Dustin Lottman of Farm Bureau Financial Services.

Angela Pierson-Aerni is a fourth grade teacher at Campbell Elementary School. She was a JA classroom volunteer herself while attending UNL. Pierson-Aerni has been a teacher for 16 years and has used JA programs for eight of those years. She was nominated by her JA classroom volunteer, Jeff Markey of Great Western Bank. 

Thirteen Lincoln Public Schools were also given the "JA Super School Award" — a new award presented to schools and principals who go above and beyond to ensure every student in their building participates in Junior Achievement programs during the school year. Schools receiving the honor include:

  • Brownell Elementary
  • Eagle Elementary
  • Humann Elementary
  • Hill Elementary
  • Holmes Elementary
  • Kloefkorn Elementary
  • Kooser Elementary
  • Morley Elementary
  • Norwood Park Elementary
  • Riley Elementary
  • Pershing Elementary
  • Saratoga Elementary
  • Sheridan Elementary
  • Zeman Elementary

Schools awarded the

 

Posted on June 26, 2015


Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 6/23 Budget Forum, Meeting

Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 6/23 Budget Forum, Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education hosted a Budget Forum on the preliminary 2015-16 budget, as well as a regular Board meeting on Tuesday, June 23 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will meet for a Work Session on Tuesday, July 14, and hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.

Highlights of Budget Forum on 2015-16 Preliminary Budget

Community members were invited Tuesday to the first of two Community Budget Forums held to collect public input and questions about the preliminary 2015-16 budget for Lincoln Public Schools.

Only one person spoke at the Budget Forum, asking Board members questions about a variety of topics that included cost per pupil, The Career Academy funding and federally funded programs.

The Lincoln Board of Education will continue to gather feedback and input over the next months, further discuss the budget and aim to approve the final LPS budget in August.

** A second Budget Forum is set for Thursday, June 25, 7-8 p.m., at Lefler Middle School, 1100 S. 48th St.

Board President Kathy Danek emphasized the value and importance of “saving for the future” – pointing out that a reduced budget levy translates to reductions in staff, higher class size and reduced opportunities for students

Summary of preliminary 2015-16 LPS Budget:

  • The 2015-16 preliminary budget for LPS addresses a variety of factors:

o   Providing appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth (an estimated increase of 900 students for 2015-16; past year’s increase of 1,200 students), growth that means LPS would teach almost 40,000 students in the coming school year.

o   Addressing the growing complexity of student demographics and needs.

o   The changing landscape of how we provide quality education.

  • The school district will keep the total tax levy flat. That means the estimated property tax rate will remain flat – which means no change in your property taxes if your house valuation remains the same.
  • A few highlights of funding proposed for the preliminary budget:

o   Providing help to classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); school social workers, treatment nurses, health technicians and computer support positions.

o   Resources allocated to opening The Career Academy, and early start-up costs for the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuerenberger Education Center.

o   Continuation of the technology plan.

o   Phasing audio enhancement systems to all schools over three years.

o   Funding to accommodate increases related to more schools and more students (utilities, facilities and maintenance, custodial services and more).

  • The 2015-16 preliminary budget for Lincoln Public Schools totals $385.5 million – a 6 percent increase over the previous year. LPS ranks 234th out of 249 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,297 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,365.
  • The 2015-16 preliminary budget is funded by several revenue streams including: property taxes (LPS estimates property tax valuation will increase about 6.5 percent this year), and state aid to education (anticipated at $127.9 million this coming year, $17 million more than last year).
  • The 2015-16 budget predicts a revenue of about $396 million – of which about $10 million would be placed in cash reserve.
  • The Board of Education has a work session set for budget discussion at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, LPS District Office, 5905 O St. A public hearing for the budget is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 11, at District Office.

Highlights of June 23 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Transportation Plan

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday approved a Transportation Plan for 2015-16, a plan that includes more than $635,000 in additional funding.

The increases will fund:

  • The transportation of students to the new high school Career Academy – to and from their home high schools.
  • Creation of new runs to serve special needs 3-year-old students enrolled in the Early Childhood Program.
  • Transportation for Voice students to reach new job sites that include Lincoln East High School, the Career Academy, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Lincoln Journal Star. The Voice program provides job opportunities for older students with special education needs.
  • Continued transition to serving homeless students with LPS bus service.
  • Add a bus route for Scott Middle School students to decrease the average bus ride.

In general, LPS Transportation will transport only those students who qualify under provisions of state law, including:  

  • Elementary and middle school students residing more than four miles from the school in the attendance area within which they reside.
  • Special Education students whose individual education plan (IEP) require transportation as essential to learning.  
  • Students who have been moved for the benefit of the district to relieve overcrowding, due to major facility renovations, efficiency in use of buildings and/or staff.  

In addition, the Board, at its discretion, may approve other transportation areas based upon unique circumstances and for the purpose of equalizing school enrollments and facilitating programs.  

High schools selected for phase 2 of Technology Plan

As part of the regular update about the LPS Technology Plan, LPS officials announced the two high schools selected to receive Chromebooks in 2016-2017 (the second year of implementation): Lincoln Southeast and Lincoln Northeast high schools. Students in the other four high schools will receive devices in 2017-2018, the third year of the implementation.

The timing of the announcement this summer gives the high schools an entire school year to plan for the full implementation of student devices the following year.

Community Learning Center agreements

Lincoln Public Schools has continually worked with several local providers for services related to Community Learning Centers at various LPS locations – and the Board renewed agreements for the coming year. The Community Learning Center agreements involve the following organizations: Boys and Girls Club of Lincoln/Lancaster County; Cedars Youth Services; Clyde Malone Center; Family Service Association; Lincoln Housing Authority; Nebraskans for Civic Reform; Northeast Family Center; Willard Community Center; and the YMCA.

Celebrations of success

The Board of Education recognized Lincoln Public Schools as the recipient of the prestigious Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Award presented by the U.S. Department of Education – awarded to schools and school districts for work that includes environmental education, a focus on health and wellness improvement, and reducing environmental impact and costs. Those accepting the award were: James Blake, curriculum specialist for Science at LPS; Scott Wieskamp, director of Facilities and Maintenance at LPS; and Michelle Welch, LPS Wellness Coordinator.

Posted on June 23, 2015


LPS honored for communications efforts

Lincoln Public Schools earned five honors for its communications efforts from the National School Public Relations Association.

Awards are given a distinction of excellence, merit or honorable mention.

Social Media: LPS, excellence
Blogs: Supt. Steve Joel, merit
Publications: Community News, honorable mention
Video: Welcome Back 2014, honorable mention
Video: A first day with Gabe, honorable mention

Posted on June 17, 2015


LNS student wins 3 state championships in Microsoft Office competition

Lincoln North Star High School student, Brooke Lampe, placed first in three of the six events of the Certiport and Nebraska Department of Education's Microsoft Office Specialist competition held this spring. She won $250 for each 1st place honor, along with a Microsoft Surface, and free airfare for her and a chaperon to fly to Orlando for national competition. Since Lampe can only compete in one event at nationals, she will represent Nebraska in Word 2013 during the National Championships this week.

Lampe worked on her Microsoft Office Specialist certification through independent study at Lincoln North Star High School. "Besides the competition, Brooke also earned Microsoft Specialist certifications in Access and also took the MS Word Expert 1 & 2 and the MS Excel Expert 1 & 2, which wouldn't even be covered in our Advanced Information Technology class," commented Shannon Quible, instructor at LNS. "She's just a highly motivated and driven student, and this program let us differentiate the curriculum to meet her needs."

Thousands of Nebraska students age 13 to 22 were eligible to participate in one of six competition tracks by submitting a qualified, passing score on any of the following exams by May 20, 2015: Microsoft Office Specialist Word (2013 or 2010), Microsoft Office Specialist Excel (2013 or 2010), and Microsoft Office Specialist PowerPoint (2013 or 2010).

Invitations to the MOS U.S. National Championship were extended to the top champion in each exam track. During the 2015 MOS U.S. National Championship event, student competitors will take a unique competition exam in their track, further testing their knowledge of the applications. One winner per track will be named the 2015 MOS U.S. National Champion, and each will win an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the 2015 MOS World Championship in Dallas, Texas August 9-12, 2015.

 

Posted on June 16, 2015


Students use video to learn about each other

The deaf and hard of hearing students from Prescott Elementary will be attending Beattie Elementary next fall. We used video to introduce the students to their new classmates, and in return Beattie showed them around.  See the videos and the students' reactions.

 

Posted on June 10, 2015


Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of Preliminary Budget for 2015-16

Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 6/9 Work Session, Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a Work Session on the preliminary 2015-16 budget, as well as for a regular Board meeting on Tuesday, June 9 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The next regular Board meeting is set for Tuesday, June 23, 2015.

Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of Preliminary Budget for 2015-16

Here are highlights of the preliminary 2015-16 budget for Lincoln Public Schools. The Lincoln Board of Education will gather feedback and input over the next months, further discuss the budget and aim to approve the final LPS budget in August.

  • The 2015-16 preliminary budget for Lincoln Public Schools addresses a variety of factors:

o   Providing appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment. LPS estimates an increase of 900 more students for 2015-16 – following the past year’s increase of 1,200 students – growth that means LPS would teach almost 40,000 students in the coming school year.

o   Addressing the growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students.

o   The changing landscape of how we provide quality education.

  • Taking into consideration Lincoln’s taxpayers and the current economics of the community, the school district will keep the total tax levy flat. That means the estimated property tax rate will remain flat – which means no change in your property taxes if your house valuation remains the same.
  • The budget continues to focus on providing continued quality education. A quality education system is a long-term investment, not simply an expenditure – and our community, our businesses, our families, our students deserve a great school system.
  • A few highlights of possible additional funding provided under the preliminary budget:

o   Providing help to classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); added school social workers, treatment nurses, health technicians and computer support positions.

o   Resources allocated to opening The Career Academy, and early start-up costs for the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuerenberger Education Center.

o   Continuation of the technology plan.

o   Phasing in the audio enhancement systems to all schools over the next three years.

o   Funding to accommodate increases related to more schools and more students – for instance, increases in utilities, facilities and maintenance, custodial services and more.

  • The 2015-16 preliminary budget for Lincoln Public Schools totals $385.5 million – a 6 percent increase over the previous year.
  • According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 234th out of 249 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,297 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,365.
  • The 2015-16 preliminary budget is funded by several revenue streams including: property taxes (LPS estimates property tax valuation will increase about 6.5 percent this year), and state aid to education (anticipated at $127.9 million this coming year, $17 million more than last year).
  • The 2015-16 budget predicts a revenue of about $396 million – of which about $10 million would be placed in cash reserve.

Comments from Board members:

  • Barb Baier: In favor of placing money into the cash reserve for sustainability, and student growth, but suggested spending additional money on: HVAC mechanical systems, as well as providing more equalization of playground equipment at elementary schools. She was particularly supportive of phasing in audio systems for all schools, and adding social workers.
  • Kathy Danek: Wanted to ensure that enough teachers were added to English Language Learners. She asked for the exploration of someday adding counselors to elementary schools. “I like this budget…and I’m also glad about adding the audio.”
  • Matt Schulte: Asked about the loss of grant money that necessitates the addition of Early Childhood teachers.
  • Annie Mumgaard: Asked about the currently unfunded Information/Data Security system.
  • Lanny Boswell: Noted the many opportunities for community input into the LPS budget.

** Your input is valued: Two Community Budget Forums are scheduled in June, which will both include a budget presentation as well as opportunities for comments and questions:

  • Tuesday, June 23, 5-6 p.m., LPS District Office, 5905 O St.
  • Thursday, June 25, 7-8 p.m., Lefler Middle School, 1100 S. 48th St
  • The Lincoln Board of Education has two work sessions set for Board discussion about the budget at: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, and 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, both at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. In addition, a public hearing for the 2015-16 LPS budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11, at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.

Highlights of June 9 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Board approves Norwood Park construction project

The Board voted to move forward on a bid involving the renovation project at Norwood Park Elementary School, funded through the 2014 bond issue. The project involves Indoor Air Quality construction as well as additions that include the expansion of the administration area and new food service and cafeteria areas. 

Board approves grant application for homeless needs

The Board voted to submit a McKinney-Vento Grant application for approximately $45,000 to support children and youth experiencing homelessness. The LPS Homeless Outreach Advocate works with families experiencing homelessness to arrange transportation services for children to attend school, and works with families to provide other supports that create a more stable environment for children experiencing homelessness.

 

 

 

 

Posted on June 09, 2015


Miller receives Cornetet Award

Lou Anne Miller has received a Lucile Cornetet Individual Award for professional development from The Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation. This award will enable Miller to attend the International Society of Technology Education Conference in June.

The Educational Foundation supports and encourages intercultural understanding and educational excellence. A bequest to The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International from the Lucile Cornetet estate was the basis for establishing the Lucile Cornetet Professional Development Fund in 2005. Cornetet, a long-time educator and Society member in Ohio, died in 2001.

Posted on June 09, 2015


Multicultural students honored

The Lincoln Public Schools Multicultural Education Department, in partnership with several community organizations, honored graduating seniors and other district students achieving academic success. For a complete list of students honored, please click on the corresponding link below:

African American Students Honored

Asian Students Honored

Hispanic Students Honored

Native American Students Honored

Posted on June 08, 2015


Dashing into robotics

Approximately seventeen 5th - 7th graders participated in the first session of the Summer Technology Program. The goal of the program is to provide upper elementary and middle level students a fun, exciting, and challenging opportunity to explore their interest in computers and technology.

There are various topics presented through the month of June in five different sessions with classes in the morning and afternoon. During the "Dashing Into Robotics" session, students work with Dot and Dash to move beyond two dimensional coding into a more intense three dimensional atmosphere.

"It's awesome we get to work with robots and scratch more than just in school," commented Zoey, future Culler 6th grader. "My favorite part was a competition where we put Legos on the robots to make snowplows and see how many cotton balls we could clear."

Other sessions this summer include working with GarageBand, MineCraft, Stop Motion Animation, Photoshop, and After Efects. For more information, or to register, go to http://wp.lps.org/stp/schedule/.

Posted on June 08, 2015


LPS to host Community Budget Forums

Lincoln Public Schools invites the public into the discussion about the preliminary 2015-16 budget for the school district.

Two Community Budget Forums are scheduled in June, which will both include a budget presentation as well as opportunities for comments and questions:

  • Tuesday, June 23, 5-6 p.m., LPS District Office, 5905 O St.
  • Thursday, June 25, 7-8 p.m., Lefler Middle School, 1100 S. 48th St

Work Sessions

The Lincoln Board of Education has two work sessions set for Board discussion about the budget

  • 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, LPS District Office, 5905 O St
  • 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, LPS District Office, 5905 O St

Public Hearing

In addition, a public hearing for the 2015-16 LPS budget is scheduled for

  • 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11, at LPS District Office, 5905 O St

For more information contact Liz Standish, 402-436-1635.

 

Posted on June 05, 2015


Mac McCuisition inducted into Hall of Fame

Longtime East High School athletic trainer Mac McCuisition has been named one of the four athletic trainers to be inducted into the Nebraska State Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame.

McCuisition has been the athletic trainer at Lincoln East High School for 24 years caring for thousands of student athletes. He has also been influential in the legal system being called as an expert witness to the Nebraska Supreme Court over head injury litigation in 1995 and 1996. He has also helped with medical coverage for the NSAA State Championship events. McCuisition is a veteran of the US Navy serving prior to becoming an athletic trainer.

The Hall of Fame Banquet will be held June 5th in Columbus, Nebraska. The award is given to individuals who have represented the profession of athletic training well especially in the state of Nebraska.

Posted on June 05, 2015


Eastridge students become book illustrators, complete with book signing

A two-year collaboration with the Teach A Kid To Fish organization and Eastridge Elementary School came to fruition at Firespring in southwest Lincoln.  Ten student illustrators along with art teacher sponsor Bob Reeker were honored at a premier book signing. The book was written by Rick Helweg, former Eastridge parent and Teach A Kid To Fish staff member. 

Karla Lester, Teach A Kid To Fish Founder, and Deb Dabbert, Eastridge principal were key members of the team. Others who supported the book were Nelnet, Peterson's Publishing, and the Dunlap Family. 

The first book in a series of six — books two and three are being illustrated by Holmes Elementary and Beattie Elementary — focuses on eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Books are on sale at Eastridge for $15 a copy.  All proceed benefit the Eagles' Nest, an outdoor natural play space.

Posted on June 02, 2015


Lincoln Southeast announces two new coaches

Lincoln Southeast High School announced two head coaching positions have been filled, and meet and greet events have been scheduled this week for families to meet each of them.

Brett Ruoff has been named to replace retiring swimming and diving head coach Doug Wilnes. Ruoff is from Texas where he competed for Texas A&M. He then taught Social Studies and served as the head swimming and water polo coach for the Bryan Independent School District in Byran, Texas before moving to Nebraska. Ruoff coached for the Heartland Aquatics team from 2007 – 2012.

Families interested in meeting Ruoff can do so on Tuesday, June 2, at 6:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Southeast Lower Commons.

Wrestling families are invited to meet new head coach Zach Schnell on Wednesday, June 3, at 6:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Southeast Lower Commons. Schnell is a former Lincoln Northeast wrestler and he also wrestled for Concordia University. He served as the assistant wrestling coach at Lincoln High and coached with the Northeast Junior Rockets and Cornhusker Wrestling Club programs.

Schnell replaces Jeff Rutledge who was recently named Lincoln East High School’s head wrestling coach.

Posted on June 01, 2015


Takako Olson awarded 2015 Leola Bullock Multicultural Award

Takako Olson, associate principal at Lincoln Southeast High School, has been awarded the 2015 Leola Bullock Multicultural Award, bestowed this week at the annual Lincoln Public Schools Multicultural Institute.

 

The Leola Bullock Award is presented by the Foundation for LPS – to an LPS employee who has been an innovative leader and made a significant contribution to fostering understanding of our multicultural society through developing and implementing school district programs.  The award is named after a woman who worked to increase racial understanding in the Lincoln community.

 

Olson has also served as the educational coordinator at Southeast and, prior to that, an English Language Learner program team leader and teacher.

Posted on May 28, 2015


Multicultural Institute: LPS urged to practice racial literacy

Lincoln Public Schools employees told stories to one another on Wednesday at Lincoln Southwest High School.

  • Stories from a 57-year-old who still remembers when she was five, and the ice cream man made a racially inappropriate comment.
  • Stories from someone whose family immigrated to America and looked like other folks who lived in Nebraska, “but as soon as one of us spoke, we didn’t sound the same and were categorized in another way.”
  • Stories of mothers who feared what might happen as their children grow up.
  • Stories of teachers who have encountered powerful moments with their students.

We tell our stories, and we practice. We must have the knowledge. But we must also practice.

This is how you begin your journey of racial literacy, the keynote speakers explained at the annual Lincoln Public Schools Multicultural Institute Wednesday: “We tell our stories, and we practice. We must have the knowledge. But we must also practice.”

When that trauma hits you in the heart in a moment of racial stress: Do you have appropriate responses? Do you have a comeback for this moment? How do you take care of yourself in the moment? If someone is slighting you because of your difference, how do you avoid internalizing the comment?

Superintendent Steve Joel welcomed Institute participants and underlined the work of multicultural competency for the school district. “But we have to start with ourselves, how we’re creating that understanding, assuring that we go to great lengths to learn about all the various cultures our students represent…We must promote acceptance in all of our classrooms…That’s the only way we will eradicate the anger in our country. We have to stand true to what we believe in public education.”

And that racial literacy begins with our stories – and practice-practice-practice, according to Howard C. Stevenson (author of If Elephants Could Talk: Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools). “We will make mistakes, but we need to move through that, and we can change how we interact day to day….It is essential to have awareness of what is happening in the moment of a stressful situation, and story telling is a way go get to that…But you have to start with yourself. We all judge the world from our unique perspective.”

You have to start with yourself. We all judge the world from our unique perspective.

When people share their stories of racially stressful situations, Institute speakers urged, “they need to get in tune with what they are feeling and how they’re doing….When you tell and retell your stories, pause and assess your body. How do you feel? Are you breathing? Where are you holding stress?”

The speakers said they believed that teachers and educators have particular power and influence in a young person’s journey of racial literacy.

“Our schools are socialization jungles of avoidant racial coping,” Stevenson said. “We need to make sure young people have the engagement skills they need to know when racial conflict arises. We need to help them resolve racial stress in everyday life…We tend to focus more on large-scale events and politics, but we must consider and think about what people do when someone is right in front of them.”

He urged participants to talk directly to children about the world they are going to face, “because we live in a world where people get training but don’t use the training…It starts with knowing yourself. It starts with practice.”

Stevenson explained that racial literacy involves a series of skills: reading, recasting and resolving racially stressful encounters.

  • Reading: Decoding racial subtexts, subcodes and scripts, accurately interpreting the meaning of what is going on.
  • Recasting: Reducing stress using racial mindfulness – reduces, recasts and reframes the negative meaning of racial stress.
  • Resolving: Negotiating toward a healthy conclusion, assertively communicating affection, protection, correction and connection.

Bottom line, Stevenson stressed: “Racial literacy takes practice. Practice?  Practice, we’re talking about practice.”

The other two keynote speakers who shared the podium were:

Valerie Adams-Bass: University of California, Davis
Keisha Bentley-Edwards: University of Texas, Austin

Posted on May 27, 2015


Board approves contract for superintendent

Highlights of May 26 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular Board meeting on Tuesday, May 26 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St.

The next regular Board meeting is set for Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

Board approves contract for superintendent

The Lincoln Board of Education unanimously approved a contract for Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel at the Tuesday evening Board meeting.

“This was a journey that started when Dr. Joel came to the school district and we have created a very transparent contract…that I would say even a sixth grader could read,” said Kathy Danek, this year’s Board president.

Danek explained that the Board sets annual strategic goals for the superintendent, noting “huge gains in the past five years.”

A base salary of $308,439 was approved for the superintendent for the coming school year, a 2.88 percent salary increase (the same percentage as provided in the teacher contract for the coming year).

This was the first official Board meeting with new Board members Connie Duncan, Annie Mumgaard and Matt Schulte.

The Board also approved an official evaluation for the superintendent. Highlights of that document include:

  • Board members noted Joel’s unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality education for all LPS students.
  • In a year with significant challenges that could have distracted from this core mission, Joel kept the focus on teaching and learning.
  • Board members noted the adoption of a district-wide technology plan and substantial progress toward fulfilling the promises of the 2014 bond issue, including the Career Academy.
  • Board members noted Joel’s solid reputation in the community and strong communication skills.
  • The Board appreciated the sustained progress toward a 90 percent on-time graduation rate by 2019.

Transportation Plan

The Board of Education considered a Transportation Plan for 2015-16, a plan that must be approved annually and includes more than $635,000 in additional funding. The Board will vote final approval of the plan at the June 23 Board meeting.

The proposed increases would fund:

  • The transportation of students to the new high school Career Academy – to and from their home high schools.
  • Creation of new runs to serve special needs 3-year-old students enrolled in the Early Childhood Program.
  • Transportation for Voice students to reach new job sites that include Lincoln East High School, the Career Academy, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Lincoln Journal Star. The Voice program provides job opportunities for older students with special education needs.
  • Continued transition to serving homeless students with LPS bus service.
  • Add a bus route for Scott Middle School students to decrease the average bus ride.

In general, LPS Transportation will transport only those students who qualify under provisions of state law, including:  

  • Elementary and middle school students residing more than four miles from the school in the attendance area within which they reside.
  • Special Education students whose individual education plan (IEP) require transportation as essential to learning.  
  • Students who have been moved for the benefit of the district to relieve overcrowding, due to major facility renovations, efficiency in use of buildings and/or staff.  

In addition, the Board, at its discretion, may approve other transportation areas based upon unique circumstances and for the purpose of equalizing school enrollments and facilitating programs.  

Meadow Lane renovation project

The Board voted to move forward on a bid involving the renovation project at Meadow Lane Elementary School – to fund an addition to the new building with additional renovations that would include a new library media center and new classrooms.

Posted on May 26, 2015


Final Words, Roxi Sattler, Lincoln East High School

Roxi Sattler has seen as the school library's role ebb and flow throughout her time as a school librarian at Lincoln East High School. Here why it fits her in our last Final Words video.

Also featured this week:

Final Words, Andrey Naidenoff, Lincoln Southwest HS

Final Words, Russ Reckewey, Kahoa Elementary

Final Words, Tiauna Lewis, Lincoln High School

Posted on May 21, 2015


Scott Middle School students create education themed masterpiece

After months of planning, designing, and creating, the stained glass club at Scott Middle School installed their final project in the middle school.  Led by science teacher, Paul Sisk, the students incorporated the core subjects of education.

Posted on May 20, 2015


Lincoln Board of Education: Highlights of May 18 organizational meeting

Lincoln Board of Education:

Highlights of May 18 organizational meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met on May 18 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. for their annual organizational meeting. The next regular Board meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 26.

The Lincoln Board of Education on Monday elected Board member Kathy Danek as the next Board president, and Lanny Boswell as vice president.

Board member Connie Duncan was elected as the new president of Educational Service Unit (ESU) No. 18, and Annie Mumgaard, as vice president.

New members sworn into office Tuesday for Board service are:  Connie Duncan, Annie Mumgaard and Matt Schulte.

Posted on May 18, 2015


Final Words, Tiauna Lewis, Lincoln High School

Somewhere between middle school uncertainty and state SLAM Poetry champion, Tiauna Lewis found her self and her voice thanks to a strong support system at Lincoln High School. Here's Tiauna in the third video of our Final Words video series. 

Posted on May 18, 2015


Cleaning hundreds of string instruments

Orchestra teachers in Lincoln Public Schools are going through all of the wind instruments: to repair cases, clean cases, clean instruments, replace strings, straighten bridges, triage instruments for sending out for repair, etc. The district owns more than 650 violins for example, there isn't enough space to work on them at the district office. So the instruments are moved to the stage at Lefler Middle School, then repaired and cleaned. 

Posted on May 18, 2015


Final Words, Russ Reckewey, Kahoa Elementary

He started at a one-room school house, and through consistency and building relationships, worked his way to a teacher, administrator and principal. He is currently principal of Kahoa Elementary School. Here's Final Words with Russ Reckewey.

Posted on May 18, 2015


Truancy program diverts students from poor start to new heights

The Truancy Diversion Program began at Park Middle School in 2010 as a pilot project in collaboration with the Lancaster County Juvenile Justice Crime Commission. The diversion program was initiated with LPS, Lancaster County Judge Reggie Ryder, Defense Attorney Jon Braaten, and County Attorney Alicia Henderson.  Since it’s start the program has expanded to Goodrich, Culler, Lincoln High, North Star, and Northeast.

The program was created for students and their families as an alternative to traditional court proceedings for truancy. The short-term goals of the program are to improve school attendance, grades, and attitude toward school. The long-term goals are for the student to maintain consistent school attendance after completion of the program followed by graduation from high school.

Students in the program alongside the Truancy Diversion Program Coordinators from each school, Tina Bouma, Gabby Danner, Kate Eilers, and Ever Preciado, attended the UNL Challenge Course Field Trip. The Challenge Course is designed to offer activities that enhance leadership, communication, teamwork, confidence, and trust.

Taking students from the TDP programs at each school, gave them the opportunity to set goals, encourage one another, and work together as a team. Whether they were determined to climb to the first platform or the top of the Alpine Tower, students had the chance to persevere through obstacles. The objective of this trip was to help students recognize they can utilize these same strategies to help them be more successful in school.

For many students in the program, they are learning new habits; such as waking up earlier, collaborating with school staff and teachers, completing homework, and investing in school and their community. Students learned that they are capable of pushing through difficult times and being successful in achieving goals. The hope of this program is that students will utilize these skills to be more successful in school, graduate from high school, and achieve their highest potential. 

Posted on May 18, 2015


Middle school ELL students attend college for a day

More than 200 Lincoln Public School middle school English Language Learner (ELL) students spent the day on the UNL campus for UNL’s first ELL Day. The event celebrated the work ELL students have been doing in their classrooms all semester and gave elementary and secondary English education majors at UNL a chance to gain experience working with an underserved student population.

During the day, ELL students were able to present their digital stories to their peers. These stories were written by the students and put to video using iMovie and Movie Maker. Students were able to choose their own topic and do the research to support their ideas before putting it to video.

ELL Coach Anne Hubbell said there is tremendous value in doing the digital story project. “We wanted to incorporate technology with our writing project for this quarter, which was persuasive. Digital storytelling gives the ELL students the opportunity to work on their writing skills as well as their speaking skills and their technology skills.”

The student videos were divided into four different levels based on English language proficiency, and there were three winners awarded in each category. Winners included:

Level 1
Most persuasive: Thu Le, Park Middle School
Most creative: Tabarek Al Dulaimi, Goodrich Middle School
Best of level: Say Kay Paw, Park Middle School

Level 2
Most persuasive: Naw Eh Bue, Park Middle School
Most creative: Thi Hoang, Park Middle School
Best of level: Aras Ahmed, Culler Middle School

Level 3
Most persuasive: Jonathan Luna, Goodrich Middle School
Most creative: Shuaieb Abdullah, Culler Middle School
Best of level: Fatima Ayal, Culler Middle School

Level 4
Best of level (group story): Loughrist, Immigration Reform, Park Middle School
Best of level (individual story): Mohamed Ehaj, Goodrich Middle School

Students also voted for their favorite videos in each group. Student Choice Award winners are:

Level 1
Student Choice: Mumtaz Blaseeni

Level 2
Student Choice: Audrey Traore

Level 3
Student Choice: Jonathan Luna-Medina

Level 4
Student Choice: Sarah Hussein

The second part of the ELL day included breaking into small groups and creating Flat Herbie scavenger hunt videos with help from the UNL students. The middle school students roamed the campus, following clues, and taking video of Flat Herbie at the answer on campus.

Posted on May 18, 2015


Food Bank selling tickets for annual Empty Bowls luncheon

The Food Bank's 13th Annual Empty Bowls Luncheon is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 26th at Embassy Suites in Lincoln. Tickets are $25 and available online at www.lincolnfoodbank.org.

The event features soups from 15 of Lincoln's outstanding restaurants and St. Monica's, cookies from the Cookie Company, and another outstanding selection of hand-crafted bowls from the Official-Potter of the Food Bank of Lincoln, Down Under Pottery.

Posted on May 18, 2015


'Say What?' Communications Festival set for June 10

Say What 2015 - the LPS Communications Festival open to anyone interested in communications and engagement support - is scheduled for 8 a.m.-noon on Wednesday, June 10, at LPS District Office.

You can sign up through LPS staff development at: http://www.solutionwhere.com/staffdevlps/cw/showcourse.asp?13994

The Festival offers sessions in the following topics:

  • Communicating with hard-to-reach families,
  • Design basics,
  • Following the story of a school crisis,
  • Website S-O-S,
  • Video boot camp,
  • Pictures/video/updates and content,
  • Involving parents/thinking outside the box,
  • Public speaking,
  • Digital etiquette,
  • Creating your own communications plan,
  • Creative uses of videoconferencing,
  • Juggling too much technology.

Please come join us!

Posted on May 18, 2015


Contracts considered for superintendent, executive team

Highlights of May 12 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular Board meeting on Tuesday, May 12 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board has a special Organizational Meeting set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 18. The next regular Board meeting is set for Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Contracts considered for superintendent, executive team

The Lincoln Board of Education submitted a glowing evaluation for Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel at the Tuesday evening Board meeting, as well as considered an increased salary for the coming school year.

A few words of praise from the evaluation:

  • Board members noted Joel’s unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality education for all LPS students.
  • In a year with significant challenges that could have distracted from this core mission, Joel kept the focus on teaching and learning.
  • Board members noted the adoption of a district-wide technology plan and substantial progress toward fulfilling the promises of the 2014 bond issue, including the Career Academy.
  • Board members noted Joel’s solid reputation in the community and strong communication skills.
  • The Board appreciated the sustained progress toward a 90 percent on-time graduation rate by 2019.

A base salary of $308,439 was recommended for the superintendent for the coming school year, a 2.88 percent salary increase (the same percentage as provided in the teacher contract for the coming year). The final vote will take place at the May 26 Board meeting.

The Board also considered salaries for the Superintendent’s Executive Team in the coming school year — salaries for the 2015-16 school year that represent a 2.88 percent increase:

  • Associate Superintendent for Instruction, $213,474
  • Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs, $200,559
  • Associate Superintendent for Human Resources, $200,559
  • Assistant to the Superintendent for General Administration and Governmental Relations: $172,000

Purchase for Nutrition Services

The Board of Education Tuesday approved the purchase agreement for a warehouse/office building and adjacent land located at 710 Hill Street — for a facility that would house storage for LPS Nutrition Services — but pushed back the closing date to December to accommodate those who had reserved a banquet room in the facility for various events.

Lincoln Board of Education member Ed Zimmer noted: “This will allow — before we close on this purchase — those arrangements people made and have invested in to have events at that building…This isn’t something we have to do, this is something worth doing.”

The actual contract will come back to the Board for final approval when all the details are confirmed.

LPS will use the facility for food storage due to significant growth in the school district and the nutrition program. On an average day, LPS serves about 26,000 lunches — and 7,000 breakfasts.

Over the last six years, LPS has seen:

  • A 31 percent increase in school breakfast participation.
  • A 17 percent increase in school lunches.
  • A 33 percent increase in food purchases.
  • A 45 percent increase in commodities received for LPS Nutrition Services.

LPS policies

The Board discussed proposed policy changes for:

  • Student fees, reflecting the creation of the new Career Academy.
  • Order of Business for Board meetings.

The Board approved policy changes for:

  • Technology resources and Internet safety.
  • Extracurricular activities code of conduct.

Grants

The Board considered and approved an application for the second year of a U.S. Department of Education $148,000 grant for Indian Education.

Celebrations of success

The Board of Education recognized:

  • Maxey Elementary School teacher Linda Freye, honored with the Excellence Award from the Nebraska State Educator Association.
  • Reed Stephenson, from Lincoln Northeast High School, named the Assistant Activities Director of the Year by the Nebraska State Athletic Administrators Association.

Farewell to Katie McLeese Stephenson and Ed Zimmer

The Tuesday Board meeting was the last for Board members Katie McLeese Stephenson and Ed Zimmer.

McLeese Stephenson

Superintendent Steve Joel said: “We so appreciate your leadership, Katie…and the great things that have happened for 39.000 students…We so appreciate…a job well done…we are indebted to you…and will carry forth the spirit you brought to us.”

Praise from fellow Board members:

  • Barb Baier: “It has been a pleasure to serve with you…your courage has been an inspiration…your courage to particularly stand up for children in need.”
  • Kathy Danek: “Katie McLeese Stephenson continues to dedicate her life to the well being of children…not just for education, but to make sure every child is assured of success. Her impact will continue…her work on this Board has and will make LPS a better place where all children will learn.”
  • Don Mayhew: “Your four years on the Board…you’ve shone brightly…I’m so grateful to have been able to serve with you.”

Parting words from McLeese Stephenson: “It has been my immense honor to serve as the District 6 representative on your Board of Education…I’m so proud of all we have accomplished as a team in the last four years....

The depth and breadth of the work of this Board is truly amazing…. I know you will continue to advocate for those who desperately need your advocacy.”

A limerick written by Zimmer:

To Katie McLeese Stephenson
Katie's come to play a key part
Bringing knowledge and grace and heart.
She's sounded our call
To love and serve all--
This work's not an end but a start.

It's true we've no wages to spend
But as board terms draw to an end
I don't count myself poor
I have riches galore
If I've earned your respect as a friend.

Zimmer

Joel: “Dr. Zimmer, 19 years…not only is your work reflected in your tireless effort and commitment to all kids…it is reflected in Lincoln, in the state…and across the country.”

Praise from fellow Board members:

  • McLeese Stephenson: “You are one of the kindest, most gentle individuals I’ve known in my life.”
  • Baier: “I am forever thankful…you gave me the courage to serve on the Board…Your service on the Board is remarkable. Your shoes can never be filled.”
  • Danek: “Your background and personal work…have left an impact…Two decades…that means today’s graduates were not even in preschool when you began…that means thousands of children are successful today because of your dedication of service. Thank you for teaching all our Board members about being a better Board member.”

Parting words from Zimmer:  “Most people finish their time in school in 12 to 13 years…It’s taken me a bit longer…Sometimes it’s difficult work…but I hope we remember it’s also joyful, important work.”

A poem about Zimmer written and presented by Marilyn Moore, former associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS:

Edward F. Zimmer
Architect and historian,
Advocate, leader. 

Educator, writer,
Solver of complex problems,
Calming peacemaker.

Who says, “All means all,”
Culture, race, language, gender,
And identity. 

And, “all means each child,”
Ability and interest,
Unique and treasured. 

An architect’s eyes
Sees light and space for learning;
Space to learn and grow. 

A planner’s mind
Brings questions, logic, insight;
Suggests solutions. 

Students learn better,
Bond issues passed, new schools built,
Neighbors are engaged. 

Children at center,
He holds dear their hearts and minds
Closely to his own 

Wise, wry, and witty,
Renaissance man, a learner,
A biker, a poet.

Honoring 19 years,
This community salutes
Dr. Ed Zimmer. 

The board has been graced by Dr. Ed,
Who is soft-spoken, well-spoken, well-read.
It is not a mystery

That this wise man of history
Shall be remembered with gratitude by all he has led.

Posted on May 13, 2015


LHS honors thespians

Lincoln High School initiated 37 students into the International Thespian Society Troupe #3461 during their year end initiation and awards banquet on Tuesday, May 5. During the ceremony, other honors were announced and 48 students were awarded a letter in Theatre.

Congratulations to the following for their honors:

Technical Awards

  • Lighting Tech/Design – Josiah Morgan
  • Sound Engineering – Deanna Nelson
  • Sound Design – Cat Nyberg
  • Make-up Design – Megan Hamann
  • Costume Design – Jocelyn Ernst
  • Set Construction/Master Carpenter – Alexis Cruz
  • Run Crew – Alexis Cruz
  • Props Master – Paul Schack
  • Stage Management – Cecilia Burda

Acting Awards

Best Actor

  • Isabel Schneider – Cinderella
  • Tom Witzki - Cinderella
  • Rachele Merliss - These Shining Lives
  • Jocelyn Ernst – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Rachele Merliss – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Andrew Miller-Schell - A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Best Supporting Actor

  • Jocelyn Ernst – Cinderella
  • Noah Radcliffe - Cinderella
  • Cat Nyberg -These Shining Lives
  • Isabel Schneider -These Shining Lives
  • Katherine Stangle - These Shining Lives
  • Josh Lass - A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Directing Awards

Best Director(s)

  • Rachele Merliss - Melancholy Play
  • Cat Nyberg - Meloancholy Plan

Posted on May 12, 2015


Photos: ITFP and EFP hold final picnic

The Information Technology and Entrepreneurship focus programs will be closing their doors at the end of the 2014–2015 academic year after 13 and 10 years, respectively, of providing Lincoln Public Schools students advanced instruction and opportunities in technology fields. 

Beginning with the 2015–2016 academic year, Networking, Programming and Database subjects will be available at the new Career Academy jointly operated by Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community College. Both areas will have a presence at TCA through course offerings or curriculum.

The two programs held a joint picnic for students, staff, alumni and community supporters.

Posted on May 11, 2015


Reception for LHS Principal Mike Wortman

Staff are invited to attend a Retirement Reception for Lincoln High School Principal Mike Wortman on May 17 from 2-4 p.m. in the Media Center.  Stop in anytime during that time, wish Mike well and enjoy some Twizzlers, popcorn and cookies.

Posted on May 11, 2015


TEDxLincoln launches call for 2015 speakers

TEDxLincoln has launched its call for speakers for the 2015 event, with the theme Re:Think.

Students and staff are invited to pitch their speaking idea on the event's website.

TEDxLINCOLN, licensed by TED, this independently organized event is designed to foster the sharing of ideas and connecting people. The event will be hosted in Kimball Recital Hall on the University of Nebraska Lincoln Downtown Campus, plus it will be streamed live online.

Posted on May 11, 2015


Wysong carried out educational mission with youngest students

See video excerpts below

Lincoln Public Schools officially broke ground Friday on the Sally G. Wysong Elementary School, the third and final new facility celebrated this spring.

“An elementary school has special meaning for all of us at Lincoln Public Schools, because this is where children will come for their first day of class,” LPS Superintendent Steve Joel said. “This is where they will learn to read their first words, add their first numbers. This is where they will begin their journey in public education.”

Wysong was owner, director and teacher at the Meadowlane Nursery School in northeast Lincoln, served on the Lincoln Board of Education from 1991-1996, and was a local, state and national leader in early childhood education.

“She was a woman far ahead of her time,” Joel said, “understanding our belief at LPS that the early childhood years are critical and exciting times in children’s lives.”

Alex Svehla, a student teacher at Lincoln Northeast High School – and a new LPS teacher this fall at Lincoln High School – introduced himself as a proud 1998 graduate of Meadowlane Nursery School: “I had the privilege of being under the tutelage of Mrs. Wysong. And through the eyes of a 4-year-old at Meadowlane, I remember the acceptance and welcoming smiles.”

As a 22-year-old, Svehla continued, “I see the experience through different eyes. I see my time there as laying the foundation for a love of learning…for me and the hundreds of other children.”

Wendy Wysong, one of Sally Wysong’s daughters, talked about her mother’s laughter and humor “and love of the little ones…she loved the littles…This would have meant so much to our mother.”

Other comments included:

  •  Former Board member Keith Bartels: “Everywhere you went with Sally, children would gather around her…and then she would start singing songs with them.”
  •  Board member Katie McLeese Stephenson: “Sally understood the value of early childhood education… she championed all children…She was a woman of vision, grit…with unconditional positive regard for all children.”
  •  Chyre Mathers, former preschool teacher at Meadowlane: “She meant so much to our community, and I’m so proud and happy that this school will carry her name.”
  •  Sara Bevans, current owner of Meadowlane: “Two words come to mind when I think of Sally: steady…and family…and they were family at Meadowlane Nursery School.”
  •  Lynn Ford: “She was always so caring and compassionate to my children when they attended Meadowlane…and I credit her for giving them that important foundation of early childhood education.”
  •  Board President Richard Meginnis: “This morning we celebrate the creation of a new elementary building, a place where our students will grow and learn - for years to come.”

Alex Svehla, former student of Wysong, will be a first-year teacher for LPS next fall.

Former Board member Keith Bartels, who served with Wysong on the LPS Board.

Wendy Wysong, one of Sally's daughters, spoke lovingly of her mother.

Posted on May 08, 2015


Red Cross sets up two emergency shelters for families in need

The local American Red Cross has set up two shelters for any families in need who left their homes due to a voluntary evacuation ordered by the city due to flooding.  The city has opened shelters at the F Street Recreation Area, 1225 F St., and the Belmont Recreation Center, 1234 Judson. Those needing help with transportation can call 402-441-5530.

Posted on May 07, 2015


Spotlight Art Open House

Middle school and high school artists across Lincoln Public Schools will be featured in the annual Spotlight Art Open House, Thursday, May 14, from 5-7 p.m. Over 200 pieces of art will be displayed at the district office to honor the outstanding artists from the 2015-16 school year.

The event is free and open to the public. Those unable to attend will be able to view the art throughout the next year as it will be displayed in the district office until March 2016.

Posted on May 07, 2015


Campbell's Wilmot named Apple Distinguished Educator

Jason Wilmot, computer teacher at Campbell Elementary School, has been named a Apple Distinguished Educator. Wilmot talks about his application process, his goals going forward and the impact this will on on students in his classroom. He can be found on Twitter at @MrJasonWilmot.

What did you do to be considered for this award?

Last Wednesday night, my wife and I were just finishing up dinner when I received an email notification on my phone. I looked down to see “Congratulations! ADE Class of 2015” appear on my screen. My heart skipped a beat or two as I fumbled to punch in my code on my cracked iPhone screen.

Back in February, a colleague encouraged me to apply for the 2015 class of Apple Distinguished Educators. In all actuality, it wasn’t the best timing as I was trying to finish up the final course work for my degree in Educational Leadership. Nonetheless, after doing a bit of research about Apple Distinguished Educators, I realized that passing up the opportunity was not a choice I was willing to make.

The application, which only comes available every two years turned out to be extremely competitive. Applicants all over the world are required to answer four essay questions and create a 2-minute video featuring the educational highlights of their classrooms.

So, I got to work. I spent my days teaching at Campbell and came home to work on the application for hours every night for about two weeks. I wrote essays on how I have used technology to leverage learning, my philosophy on creating a positive classroom climate and how I have attempted to influence the broader educational community. 

It was within the writing portion of the application where I described how the experiences I’ve had thus far in life have helped to shape my understanding of the world around me. I wrote about how traveling to places like Central America, Israel, China and Pakistan have impacted my worldview and taught me a lot about what life can look like within cultures very different than my own. Additionally, I shared about my multiple ventures to India to labor with and train teachers working in highly impoverished areas. I explained how all of these experiences have impacted my understanding of education and have helped shape my ever-evolving paradigm of pedagogy.

I also noted my five-year involvement as a founding board member of The BAY, an ever-growing youth advocacy non-profit based here in Lincoln. I went on to highlight that I hold two master degrees, am a soon-to-be published author (on teaching with MinecraftEdu), a $10,000 Code.org grant recipient, and a contributor to our district’s new Computer Science curriculum. I shared how I seek to influence the local educational community through speaking in university classrooms, presenting at conferences like UNL Tech EDGE and NETA and blogging my thoughts about things like Flipping the classroom, programing with Logo, all the way down to insomnia-curing educational philosophy. 

In addition to the essay questions, I also got to create a film showcasing what the creative minds at Campbell were doing in the computer lab. Within this portion, I tried to weave in my own philosophy and pedagogic beliefs and how they find their way into my computer lab. I highlighted Campbell kids learning with MinecraftEdu, using web resources like Code.org and how the kids use our mini Makerspace to learn about robotics and engage within STEM activities.

More than anything I tried to convey my chief aim as a teacher: The more we listen to kids and let them have a say in their own education, the more we empower them for the encounters the face today. I explained that as an educator, it’s my responsibility to see all these kids as individual people with individual makeups.

To me, this means meeting kids where they are. It means getting to know what kids find interesting, what they find relevant, and what they find meaningful. I think the best way to do this is to treat them like people; listening to them and being authentic with them, talking with them and making an effort to recognize their humanity and individuality. 

So far, in my journey as an educator, I have surrounded myself or put myself within environments that have forced me to reflect and realign my understanding of what education can and should look like. All in all, the more I learn, the more I hesitate to lay claim that I have a corner on any of it. Nonetheless, it is my hope to continue down this path of investigating what learning looks like in such an exciting time of exponential change.

What does this mean to you personally?

Currently, I am the Computer Science teacher at Campbell Elementary and finishing up my eighth year within LPS. Prior to this position, I was fourth grade teacher at Saratoga Elementary for six years. Just like Saratoga, Campbell and every other building in this school district, there are loads of amazing educators advocating everyday for the children in our community.

So, to be singled out amongst this group is humbling to say the least. There are veteran teachers with whom I work alongside that have been serving this Lincoln community for decades longer than I have been walking. Much of the credit goes to these teacher leaders: the heartbeats of school culture, the giants of education. All real praise should go to them.

But more than anything, I think the lion’s share of the credit really goes to my kids. The good little souls that grace my classroom make me look good – real good, apparently. My role has been to create a space for that student creativity and infuse real world connections. When schools like Campbell set aside time for relevant and engaging learning environments, good things will inevitably take place.

All in all, I’m grateful, a little nervous, but all-around delighted for the honor. Opportunities like these seldom come our way, and I am overjoyed to get to represent all the good things happening here in Lincoln. It means a great deal to be recognized; it means even more getting to advocate for my neighbors and community.

How will this impact students that you teach?

For the 2015 class of Apple Distinguished Educators, Apple selected 646 individuals from 48 countries worldwide. Being a part of this group, I will have the opportunity to attend the ADE Institute this summer in Miami, Florida. At the gathering, I will be honored to be meet and work alongside some of the most influential and innovative teachers on this side of the globe.

Undoubtedly, I will have the opportunity to showcase what my Campbell kids are doing and share it with these top-shelf educators. To think that the goods and creative works my students have produced will actually spread more ideas than I could ever do alone is staggering. What I hope to convey to my students is that my role will be as an ambassador to highlight what they are doing and how we go about learning in our classroom.

Lastly, I am looking forward to Apple’s ADE Institute to simply learn, play and discover. A great deal of teachers use their summers to attend professional development, seminars and conferences. They do this because educators know the value of continual learning and the perpetual development of their practice. I am looking forward to the ADE Institute for this very reason. I will be able to grow my network of learning professionals, share my own experiences, and be able to display the amazing works of the wonderful kids at Campbell Elementary School. The platform I have been given is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I hope to represent Lincoln Public Schools, Campbell Elementary and the Lincoln community well.

About Apple Distinguished Educators, from Apple's website

ADEs are part of a global community of education leaders recognized for doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. They explore new ideas, seek new paths, and embrace new opportunities. That includes working with each other — and with Apple — to bring the freshest, most innovative ideas to students everywhere.

ADEs advise Apple on integrating technology into learning environments — and share their expertise with other educators and policy makers. They author original content about their work. They advocate the use of Apple products that help engage students in new ways. And they are ambassadors of innovation, participating in and presenting at education events around the world. Being part of the ADE community is much more than an honor — it’s an opportunity to make a difference.

There are now more than 2,000 ADEs worldwide, from the United States to China, New Zealand to Turkey. And they gather every year at ADE Institutes and education events around the world as well as online in the ADE community to collaborate on solutions to the global education challenges of today and tomorrow.

Posted on May 07, 2015


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