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

LPS to host Community Budget Forums < Updated

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 May 29, 2015

Takako Olson awarded 2015 Leola Bullock Multicultural Award < New

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 < Updated

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

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:

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

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 May 14, 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.


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.


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 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 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

Teacher's Perspective: Science with Rochelle Settles

Science supports all subject areas and teaches students how to ask questions. Follow science instructor Rochelle Settles as she integrates Trout in the Classroom for all grade levels at Fredstrom Elementary.

Posted on May 05, 2015

Fleming honored for work in developing writing skills among staff, students

Read the nomination letter from her staff below.

Kathy Fleming, principal at Saratoga Elementary School, was honored by the Nebraska Writing Project as an administrator for supporting staff development in writing curriculum.

Saratoga has been participating in an Embedded Writing Institute this year for over twenty of their teachers since late September 2014.

"It is an honor that the teachers nominated me but I want to state that I have a very dedicated staff who works hard each and every day to support our students," Fleming said.

When the idea was mentioned to Fleming, 14 staff members immediately signed up, knowing it would a yearlong commitment, Fleming said.

Her own experiences as a writer, and a desire to role model for her own staff, Fleming took on this endeavor.

"As far as my love of writing, well, I had bad experiences with writing as an elementary student so I never would say I loved writing," she said. "Being able to help young children learn to express themselves through writing was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. By having the staff participate in this grant, my hope was that our young students wouldn't have those negative experiences."

The biggest benefit of the program, she said, was how the staff came together during the year.

"The benefit of participating in this program was that I experienced first hand the different strategies that we could use to help young writers," Fleming said. "During the day when I went into classrooms and when I observed teachers, I saw the different strategies being implemented. I saw how these strategies helped students become better writers.

"I also got to know my staff in a different light. For example, I never realized one teacher had such a funny wit about her, which came out through her writing. Another teacher wrote beautiful poetry while another wrote about her father in such a tender way. Also, through my writing, my staff saw a more emotional side of me. I wrote about things close to my heart that I probably would have never spoke to them about. I feel it made us closer as a staff."

Nomination letter

Please accept this letter of nomination requesting that Kathy Fleming receive the 2015 Nebraska Writing Project Administrator Certificate of Recognition Award. Kathy is the building principal at Saratoga Elementary, which is a high need school in Lincoln, NE that serves a very diverse student population. There are several reasons we feel passionate that she deserves this recognition.

Kathy models lifelong learning. She encourages her staff to continue their learning through professional development. She is willing to learn right along with the staff. Because of Kathy’s leadership, the Saratoga staff pilot curriculum, write curriculum, and are represented on Lincoln Public Schools curriculum selection committees. They are also the first Lincoln elementary school to participate in a NeWP Embedded Institute. One teacher writes, “Kathy is a wonderful administrator who really pushed to get this writing professional development in place.” Kathy believes that in order to raise achievement in students, teachers need to be highly skilled. Applying for Saratoga to be part of an Embedded NeWP Institute was one way that she supported that belief for the 2014-15 school year. 

Kathy’s staff have always felt her support. She always advocates for her teachers and her school. One teacher writes, “What I love about working with Kathy is she really is a teacher at heart. She carried her experiences as a classroom teacher into her role as an administrator.” Another writes, “Kathy showed through participation in the Saratoga Writing Institute that she cares about her teachers and students ability to become stronger writers. She has a better appreciation of what we all do each day in regards to writing.” 

Kathy realizes how important it is for students to develop as writers—that writing is vital to student learning. She works with staff on ways to develop a better writing curriculum for teachers and students. She is willing to go through the writing experience with the staff, supporting their efforts to develop their own writing skills. Kathy realizes that if staff develop as writers, they will become better writing teachers of the Saratoga students. 

The success of the institute was ensured when Kathy made the commitment to participate fully in the first such institute in a Lincoln elementary school. She attended almost every meeting with engagement and support. She participated actively and modeled positive behavior by attending meetings with integrity. Kathy wrote regularly and participated in discussions about her own writing and the writing of others in her small writing group. She also provided written feedback on the writing of other participants. It would be easy for a principal to choose not to be part of the institute and a small writing group due to the other demands on their time, but Kathy chose to participate fully.

Kathy expects the staff will implement what they have learned through participation in the institute. Kathy takes information learned as a result of each EQUIP presented and incorporates this information into the teacher observation process. This follow-up provides participants with encouragement and support to incorporate what they’ve learned into their classroom writing instruction. She holds teachers accountable and expects that staff will use this professional development opportunity to learn and grow.

Because of the commitment and support shown of the NeWP and the Saratoga Writing Institute, we hope you consider Kathy Fleming as your choice to receive the 2015 NeWP Administrator Certificate of Recognition Award. We know she is deserving of this honor.


Saratoga Writing Institute Participants


Posted on May 05, 2015

Ed Center namesake – Nuernberger – champion for all children

Full video of the event is below. Watch clips from the groundbreaking at the bottom of this page.

Judge Bill Nuernberger would have been proud to have the new Lincoln Public Schools Nuernberger Education Center bearing his name, according to his wife, Marian, who spoke at the center’s groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning.

“This new center would have true meaning for Bill, it is a great match,” she said, “for this Bill Nuernberger Education Center will serve those children he cared so much about in his courtroom – those children, for whatever reason, were having a difficult time in their life…Our family sees this center as a place where children will have their attitudes and behavior changed, with positive reinforcement…a place where students will develop pride in their accomplishments.”

The new center involves the renovation of a current LPS facility on South 40th Street – and will serve middle school students who need special behavior skills. The building renovation is funded through money from the 2014 LPS bond issue, and the program is expected to open in the fall of 2016.

“On this first day of May we break ground on a brand new Education Center for Lincoln Public Schools, a special program that will go far in helping our middle school students to do better in school – overcome challenges – and transition smoothly as they prepare to move onto their high school years,” said LPS Superintendent Steve Joel.

“Bill Nuernberger was the very first judge to serve on a separate Juvenile Court in Lancaster County, a position that fit him perfectly – a position that makes his name just right for this facility,” Joel continued. “This remarkable man truly cared for all children and encouraged them to be the very best they could be. He believed in second chances, and third chances and fourth chances for our young people.”

Bill Janike, former chief juvenile probation officer for Lancaster County – and a man who worked with the judge for years – said he “was a man who worked tirelessly, a man ahead of his time in his work with juvenile proceedings. He was a champion for children. He was a champion for all children.”

Richard Meginnis, president of the Lincoln Board of Education, listed local and national accolades for Nuernberger, noting: “And now we add one more honor to this list: We name this special Education Center after Judge Nuernberger.”

Because the new Education Center will host a program to offer behavior skills to middle school students, the ceremony also featured several students and family members who have personally experienced the benefits of these kinds of programs in the school district.

“I used to get bad grades, but now I get As and Bs since I came to Sherrill,” said Jonathan, a seventh grader at the LPS Don D. Sherrill Education Center.

Seventh grader Tanner, also a student at Sherrill, agreed: “I’m glad you’re building this new building, because it will help more students who are like me.”

Tanner’s dad, Craig, said these kinds of education centers provide success for students. “The kid you see here today is a different kid since he has been at Sherrill…You have basically given us our son back. It’s working with kids’ lives and families’ lives. I believe Judge Nuernberger would have been happy with this program.”

 Full video of the groundbreaking

Marian Nuernberger, wife of Judge Bill Nuernberger

Bill Janike, former chief juvenile probation officer for Lancaster County

Sherrill students Tanner and Jonathan, and Tanner's father, Craig

Posted on May 05, 2015

Northeast honored for student achievement in personal finance coursework

Lincoln Northeast High School ranked among the top 30 high schools within its network as one of the top performing high schools in w!se’s national network. The 100 Best w!se High Schools Teaching Personal Finance ranking seeks to shine the spotlight on the importance of personal finance education.

"In the course, College Personal Finance, students utilize their personal finance foundation from Take Charge and build from it with more advanced topics," said Deb Wolken, business department chair at Northeast. "These specific topics are critical when making responsible financial decisions as adults including purchasing insurance, managing credit, and determining the best mortgage option to name a few topics. Students at LNE have mastered the material and have displayed their expertise by excelling with the Financial Literacy Certification Test."

Only 17 states require personal finance instruction in high school.  The level of financial literacy is particularly acute among people with no post-secondary education and with incomes below $25,000. 

The Financial Literacy Certification Program now includes more than 3.5 million hours of instruction in participating high schools annually. The average passing rate was 77 percent in 2014 for students at schools participating in the certification program. All schools participating in the Financial Literacy Certification Program have an opportunity to earn a place on the “100 Best” list each year.

Posted on May 04, 2015

Groundbreaking set 11 a.m. Friday for new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School

A reminder:
The third and final Lincoln Public Schools groundbreaking of the season is set for 11 a.m. Friday, May 8, for the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School at 7901 Blanchard Blvd. in southeast Lincoln.

** The Wysong Elementary Schools - which will open in the fall of 2016 - is funded through the Lincoln Public Schools bond issue approved by the community in February, 2014


Posted on May 04, 2015

Paint brushes, the periodic table and ceiling tiles

Teachers of all subjects aim to connect the classroom experience with the outside world. At Lincoln Southwest High School, science and art classes are doing just that with the periodic table.

Art students in Julie Walstrom's classes choose an element, research it, create a two-by-two foot piece of art on a ceiling tile.

Those tiles, with about 15 more to come, form the ceiling of the classroom of Greg Cooper, Southwest science teacher. Now students can gaze at the ceiling and wonder about the elements and the artist's viewpiont at the same time. 

It's been a two-year project since Cooper first mentioned it to Walstrom: the idea, the planning, the how-to, the approval and the art.

"Part of art is learning about what it is you have to portray, so that other people can get the message of it," Walstrom said. "That's my job, to teach them that, show them other examples, how art tells a story, we're telling the story of these elements in the world."

The artwork for each element relates directly to the element's role in life, such as Berylium ('Be' on the periodic table, for the curious minds), which is found in airplanes, so the art depicts an airplane flying amid a blue sky.

More examples include:

  • At - Astatine, a radioactive element used in treaing cancers;
  • Gd - Gaddinium makes the colors on a television;
  • PM- Promethium is used in car parts because it turns harmful exhaust gasses into less harmful ones.

Some elements are in cell phones, computers, and nature, so relating it to teenagers wasn't always difficult, Walstrom noted.

"I think anytime artists connect with the otuside world, kids find it a lot more meaningful," Walstrom said.

That sounds a lot like what a science teacher would say.

“Lots of times they will ask me uses of things, and it can be hard for me to remember, so I have a periodic table that lists uses,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he had the idea in college while watching a documentary on an art teacher who had the ceiling painted. He added the science aspect to it, and is happy to see it fully carried out.

One student learned about newly discovered elements, some so new they hadn't even been officially named yet.

It all fit in with Walstrom's observation: students using art to explore other curriculum areas.

"Once they find meaning with it, they seem to get more interested in it," Walstrom said. "Once they found items they use everyday, that show up in their own lives, they seem to think about it differently."

Posted on May 03, 2015

Workshop inspires future educators

“If you choose our profession, we want you to be the best. We want you to be people who changes lives every single day, regardless of what challenges you face in your daily personal lives,” Steve Joel, superintendent of Lincoln Public Schools, said Thursday as he addressed 80 high school students at the LPS District Office. “Remember, teaching is the profession that makes all other professions possible.”

The LPS Future Multicultural Teachers Workshop encourages current culturally diverse LPS high school students to pursue teaching as a career, and introduces students to the positive attributes of teaching. The program was also developed to increase the number of culturally diverse teachers in the district.

“We are working hard on growing our own teachers,” Joel said.  “You have an idea of what a good teacher is in your own mind. Those are the teachers that make a difference in the lives of students today.”

The workshop was created approximately 15 years ago by Thomas Christie, Multicultural School/Community Administrator for LPS. Throughout Thursday, students heard from administration, faculty and LPS alums currently studying to become educators; in addition they participated in activities encouraging them to plan, and how what they do now will affect their future.

“Build your resume now,” said Christie. “What you are doing now will follow you for the rest of your life. You are creating a record and that record will follow you for the rest of your life. Start thinking now, what do I want people to say about me?”

Lincoln North Star Principal, Vann Price told the students the right person will come along at the right time to inspire them:  “I remember people like Willie Banks at Clinton Elementary. He was one of my first practicum teachers. It validated the fact that I was in the right profession. There will be people that will see something in you and they will take you under their wings and they will make that journey easier. That is the neat thing about this profession.”

Students who were on the fence about teaching before left at the end of the day with a clearer vision. Korpo Sawo, a sophomore at Lincoln High School said, “I really liked this and I am inspired. Sometimes I thought about it, but now I really want to be a teacher.”

Lincoln High School sophomore Rahma Abuzaho added, “I personally think if someone like me becomes a teacher, I think the kids would be more comfortable and more relatable.”

A North Star student was so inspired by the day, he made a plan to help motivate others. “We want to start a future multicultural teachers club at my high school. There is so much to becoming a teacher, they really do care about their students. I want to help make the next generation better,” commented junior Tommy Casarez.

Price ended the educator panel by telling the students: “With all of the distractions that are happening in our world right now, don’t get defeated by that.  That is why we need you to get into education. We need you, we need your ideas, we need your educated minds to make changes. I hope you realize, ‘wow this is why I need to become an educated member of society’!”

Joel told the students they were the way for LPS to achieve district goals. “You are here for a reason, and the reason is you expressed an interest to learn about the teaching profession. Lincoln is poised for greatness. We are not going to get there unless students have teachers that can relate to them. The work is hard, but it is very, very, very rewarding.”

Posted on May 01, 2015

Groundbreaking set 11 a.m. Friday for new Bill Nuernberger Education Center

A reminder:
Lincoln Public Schools will hold the second of three spring groundbreaking ceremonies at 11 a.m. Friday, May 1 for the Bill Nuernberger Education Center, a renovation of the former Bryan facility at 1801 S. 40th St.  Please take the south entrance off South 40th street - to the back of the building/west side. 
The new facility is expected to open in the fall of 2017, and will host a program that provides behavior skills to middle school students.

Posted on April 30, 2015

Saratoga's Fleming to be honored by Nebraska Writing Project

Kathy Fleming, prinipal at Saratoga Elementary School, will be honored as part of Nebraska Writing Project's recognition of administrators who support their teachers by providing meaningful curriculum. Saratoga has been participating in an Embedded Writing Institute this year for over twenty of their teachers since late September 2014.

The most amazing and satisfying piece of this investment in our children's writing future is the commitment of Kathy. Not only has she encouraged, supported, enhanced, and celebrated her staff's writing, but she has consistently and always been beside her teachers, learning, sharing, and writing with them every other Monday after school throughout this year.

The Spring Gathering is Friday, May 1 at the Jackie Gaughin Center (3rd floor).

For more information, contact Robert Brooke, director of the program, at or 402-472-1807.

Posted on April 29, 2015

Lemons, LPS graphic designer, has artwork on display in governor's mansion

Julie Lemons, a designer in the Lincoln Public Schools graphics and communications department, has her art on display at the Nebraska Governor's Mansion now through June 12.

The Nebraska Arts Council partners with the Nebraska Governor’s Residence each year to display the artwork of Nebraska artists on the walls of the building’s main conference room. This unique space allows civic leaders, citizens, school children and other visitors the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the diversity of statewide artistic talent.

Artwork by Lemons will be on display in the residence through Friday, June 12, with public hours on Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. To request an appointment (recommended for groups of 10 or more), contact Residence Director Leisa Ausdemore at (402) 471-3466.

About the artist:

Julie Ann Hubbard Lemons was born in Wichita, Kansas, and grew up in rural Dearborn, Missouri. She received a B.A. in Graphic Design from Doane College (Lincoln campus) in 2012, and has been a graphic designer for Lincoln Public Schools for 17 years. Julie's artwork may be found at Noyes Art Gallery, Lincoln Artists’ Guild shows/gallery, White or Wheat Sandwich Shoppe, Association of Nebraska Art Clubs State art exhibitions and various other venues throughout Nebraska. She has been awarded several Best of Show and People’s Choice awards, and the City of Nebraska City has purchased two of her pastel paintings. Julie is a past president of the Lincoln Artists’ Guild, the Association of Nebraska Art Clubs and Nebraska Mothers Association (2010 Nebraska Mother of the Year, National Merit Mother). She has also donated time and art to various charitable organizations for fundraisers.

About the Nebraska Arts Council

The Nebraska Arts Council (NAC), a state agency, provides numerous grants, services and special initiatives that help sustain and promote the arts throughout Nebraska. NAC is supported by the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Nebraska Legislature and National Endowment for the Arts.

Posted on April 29, 2015

Superintendent plays surprise violin solo

A surprise violinist joined the Sheridan and Kahoa elementary school orchestras when they performed at Lincoln Public Schools District Office Wednesday morning.

The performance was a surprise to LPS Superintendent Steve Joel as well.

At the close of the student concert, orchestra director and LPS string specialist Rhonda Neely asked Joel to come up to perform with the students. So Joel - who has not likely played a violin before - came up and played a number with the combined orchestras.

Lance Nielsen, supervisor of Music at LPS, also was called up as a surprise performer.

It was a draw - as to who received more applause.

Watch Nielsen at 17:40, and Joel at 29:05

Posted on April 29, 2015

Book-spine poetry, in honor of National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Book spine poetry is a quick, simple and yet intriguing way to create poetry. The only rules ... line up the titles of books by stacking them one on top of the other to create your poem. Here are four examples from a few staff members at Lincoln Public Schools.

Posted on April 29, 2015

Healthier students at LPS

Highlights of April 28 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a regular Board meeting on Tuesday, April 28 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The next Board meeting is set for Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

Healthier students

Lincoln Public Schools students are generally more fit and less obese compared to five years ago – during a time period in which many health and fitness initiatives were implemented in the school district – according to a health and wellness update presented Tuesday for the Lincoln Board of Education.

“LPS has a long history of wellness for students and staff,” Marybell Avery, curriculum specialist for Health Education and Physical Education at LPS, told the Board.

“We are literally changing the number of healthy kids in our school district,” said Lincoln physician and wellness champion Dr. Bob Rauner, who also underlined research that increasingly indicates a direct connection between

improved fitness and improved academics.

A few statistics:

  • 17.22 percent of LPS K-8 graders were classified as obese in 2010-11, compared to 15.36 percent last school year.

  • 70.96 percent of 4-8th graders passed the Fitnessgram PACER fitness test in 2011-12, compared to 77.37 percent last school year.

  • Improvements cross demographic and socio-economic lines.

More than 40 different wellness practices are monitored to help set goals and understand progress, according to Michelle Welch, wellness coordinator at LPS.   Practices put into place in the last few years include:

  • Wellness champions in each building.

  • Walking tracks at significantly more schools.

  • Quarterly challenges involving nutrition, fitness and healthy habits.

Board of Education approves attendance area proposals

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday approved proposed new attendance area boundary changes for specified elementary, middle and high schools in southeast Lincoln.

“The adoption of boundaries is often one of our most contentious issues,” said Board member Kathy Danek.

“I believe we did an exceptional job…From where we started, we know there were people who would have felt disenfranchised and we helped everyone feel part of their neighborhood school. That’s such a valuable part of the quality of life in Lincoln….That’s really the gift that Lincoln has in its public schools and how we keep that neighborhood connection.”

The Board approved attendance areas for:

  • Elementary schools: Recommended attendance areas – starting in 2016-17 – for the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School, as well as Cavett, Humann, Maxey and Zeman elementary schools.

  • Middle schools: Recommended attendance areas – starting in 2017-18 – for the new Marilyn Moore Middle School as well as Lux, Pound and Scott middle schools. In addition, it is recommended that staff manage the student enrollment process, including option and transfer requests, in a manner that limits new enrollment growth for Scott Middle School.  

  • High schools: Recommended attendance areas – starting in 2017-18 – for Lincoln East and Lincoln Southeast high schools.

For more information:

LPS policies

The Board of Education discussed proposed policy changes for:

  • Technology resources and internet safety.

  • Extracurricular activities code of conduct.

The Board will take a final vote on these proposed changes at the May 12 Board meeting.


The Board approved grant applications for:

  • School improvement grant (for a program at Lincoln High School).

  • Sixpence Early Learning Fund: Nebraska's Early Childhood Education Endowment Grant for Birth to Three.

Celebrations of success

The Board of Education recognized Susie Mahoney and Randolph Elementary School, honored by the American School Counselor Association for providing an Exemplary Counseling Program.

The Board also recognized top fund-raisers in the eighth annual BackPack Extra Mile Walk:

  • Lux Middle School took the middle school honors, raising $9,000.  Duane Dohmen is the principal and team captain is Brent Burch. 

  • Lincoln East High School took high school honors, raising $11,400.   The principal at East is Sue Cassata and team captain is Jenifer Dugdale. 

  • Maxey Elementary School took the elementary school honors, raising $18,000. Suzanne Reimers is the principal and team captains are Sheri Christen and Greg Tebo. 

Scott Young, executive director of the Food Bank of Lincoln, thanked LPS for the fund-raising efforts and particularly honored Shari Styskal, director of Budget for LPS – and the person who started and has coordinated the Extra Mile Walk since it began.

This year’s Walk raised $166,500, and has now raised $1.16 million over the eight years.

Farewell to Richard Meginnis

The Tuesday Board meeting was the last for Richard Meginnis. He chose not to run again – and will be on vacation early in May. Meginnis served for two terms, a total of eight years on the Board.

“We are saying good bye to a dedicated public servant and we want to acknowledge Richard’s great work,” LPS Superintendent Steve Joel said of Meginnis. “Speaking on behalf of 8,000 employees and 39,000 students,

you gave it your all. We’re a better school district because of your service.”

Meginnis said: “I’m just proud to be associated with a great district like LPS…thank you.”

Praise from fellow Board members:

  • Don Mayhew: “I especially appreciate your knowledge of business and real estate…Like a chess player, you are always thinking a couple plays ahead: W…what if this happens, what if that happens…You’re always looking out for the best in Lincoln’s children.”

·      Katie McLeese Stephenson: “You have a great inquisitive mind…I think of you as a teddy bear with a heart of gold….Thank you for your work, your friendship…for giving all students a sense of place.”

  • Kathy Danek: “What we’ve learned with and from you…is that no matter where we come from, as long as we remember our goal is to make sure every child in this school district has the best education…we’ll make sure the money is there and the money is appropriately spent…then we can find consensus as a team.”

  • Lanny Boswell: “Good Board members ask good questions, and you’re a great Board member…We’re a better school district because of the questions you’ve asked.”

  • Barb Baier: “I’m going to really miss your questions on the financial report… You’re a wonderful person to work with…I hope you come back frequently and ask questions.”

Meginnis was presented with an honorary gavel – and a limerick from fellow School Board member and resident poet Ed Zimmer:

8 Years in 11 Lines:

Three Couplets and a Limerick

for Richard Meginnis

Meginnis has schools in his family line.

Grandpa Harry designed many, strong and fine:

Handsome Hartley, Clinton and Whittier,

Elliott and Prescott—who can say which is prettier?

And where Richard’s been serving,

Architect Grandpa made Irving.


Richard asks questions at every turn,

But has willingness to listen and learn.

He’s sturdy, hardly fragile

And has proven himself agile

Our thanks and our respect to earn.




Posted on April 28, 2015

Calvert principal, coordinator go Gru, Lucy at students' request

Calvert Elementary principal Sandi Carrington-Robertson and Coordinator Karen Shelton dressed as Gru and Lucy from Despicable Me. Students earned the right to choose because students and staff met their goal for the BackPack Walk.

Posted on April 28, 2015

Focus on academics yields national honor for Southwest swimmers

For a guy who wasn't the best student, Bob Calegan sure does emphasize academics. In addition to his coaching duties at Lincoln Southwest High School, Calegan keeps a high-accomplishing team of swimmers accountable for the school work, as well.

It has led to national recognition.

Academic focus is a part of his philosophy because he didn't get into the colleges he initially wanted because his grades weren't as top-notch as his running ability.

"I wasn't the greatest student, I didn't have a lot of motivation, I didn't see the reasons why I needed to do so well on the academic side," said Calegan, in his third year at Southwest. "(Colleges) wanted me to run, but they didn't want to take a chance on my because of my grades."

Calegan's grades in college turned out just fine, but only because he realized the connection. He tries to help Southwest swimmers and divers reach that realization, only sooner.

The girls team won the Gold level designation for the national Scholar Team Award, with a team GPA cumulative of 3.763 for 19 athletes, and the boys earned the Bronze level designation, with a 3.463 GPA for 20 athletes. The designations are through the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association.

When students need extra time to study, prepare for a test, or catch-up on school work, Calegan will have them sit out part of or even all of a practice. To help his student-athletes, he has:

  • students study poolside during the dry-land portion of their workout;
  • tutors from the school's national honor society help tutor poolside;
  • withheld students from competition if necessary to help them academically;
  • followed students' grades year-round so no one is surprised when the season starts in November;
  • students visit with their teachers during practice time to ensure they are on track.

"High school kids put so much on themselves. Swimming is already one of the most demanding sports - throw in the homework and it can become very stressful. Any time I can help with the stress on the homework side of things, it helps them to train better in the pool," he said.

Posted on April 28, 2015

Connections, humor, partnership highlight Moore MS groundbreaking

Learn more about it at

Dirt flew on Friday morning as ground was officially broken at the official launch of construction for the new Marilyn Moore Middle School and Copple Family YMCA - located on the southeastern edge of Lincoln at 84th Street and Yankee Hill Road. 

“This moment marks the beginning of a fantastic new school and the continuation of a fantastic partnership,” Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel said. “What a great milestone moment to come together to honor the spirit of growth and community, the first of three LPS groundbreakings this spring…

“Today we gather for a groundbreaking, but we also gather for a celebration. When you build a new school, you build a place where young people will grow and flourish – a place where families will come – a place where educators will help students discover a love of learning.”

Marilyn Moore – former associate superintendent for Instruction at Lincoln Public Schools, currently president of Bryan College of Health Science and the person sharing her name for this new middle school – related the story of her own mother, who was a rural school teacher in Nebraska.

She said that the new Moore Middle School would obviously be different than the rural schools of past years: “We know so much more about teaching and learning today, and we are stronger and better for it.”

But she said there also are similarities, noting the school will be built with the same commitment this country has to invest in what we hold most precious: our children. “Finally, and what is most important, this school is a school for all of the children, for all of the people.”

Others on the Friday agenda included :

  • Mayor Chris Beutler stressed the value of community partnerships – the city, YMCA and school district.
  • Richard Meginnis, president of the Lincoln Board of Education: “I am happy to be here today at the site of the new Marilyn Middle School and Copple Family YMCA to celebrate one of the most important milestones for a school district: The beginning of a brand new school.”
  • Ed Zimmer, a member of the Lincoln Board of Education: “So today, on this site of the future Marilyn Moore Middle School, I believe that fortunate students and an inspired staff will teach and learn and work and grow together because of the name and the legacy and the visits of Dr. Marilyn Moore.”
  • Barb Bettin, president and CEO of the YMCA of Lincoln, said the powerful partnership emphasizes the priorities of health and well being in our community.
  • Ed Copple, lead donor, said he hoped we would build another school that partnered with the YMCA. “If there were more YMCAs in the country we could have a better world.” Copple is a former member of the Board of Education and his wife, Mary, worked in the school district for six years as a kindergarten teacher.
  • Tom Huston, chair of the YMCA Board, said that Copple has been a member of the YMCA for 82 years now – and probably deserves a free membership.

Joel described the groundbreaking as a celebration of many parts, including a moment to honor “a special woman and a special educator, my friend, Dr. Marilyn Moore. I can’t think of a more appropriate name for this exceptional place: Marilyn Moore Middle School. Marilyn is a woman of integrity, a woman who has dedicated her professional life to the power of public education. She stands as a testament to our core mission – and a belief that educators have the power, the responsibility, to change lives….Marilyn – by sharing your name with this new school you honor us at LPS.”

He stressed the importance of community in the milestone event, noting the school will be funded thanks to overwhelming voter support for the 2014 bond issue.

A little Marilyn Moore Middle School humor

A Moore/Copple Connection from 1972

Full comments from Marilyn Moore

Posted on April 24, 2015

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