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

Senior Q&As: Advice, accomplishments and what's next < Updated

Posted on May 02, 2016

LPS graduation ceremonies for class of 2016

The Lincoln Public Schools class of 2016 will celebrate graduation ceremonies on Sunday, May 22 – for all six high schools.

LPS high school graduation ceremonies for 2016 are scheduled as follows:

  • Lincoln East High School, noon, Pinnacle Bank Arena
  • Lincoln North Star High School, 1:30 p.m., Bob Devaney Sports Center
  • Lincoln Southeast High School, 3 p.m. Pinnacle
  • Lincoln High School, 4:30 p.m., Devaney
  • Lincoln Northeast High School, 6 p.m., Pinnacle
  • Lincoln Southwest High School, 7:30 p.m., Devaney

The Bryan Community Focus Program will hold graduation ceremonies at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at Lincoln East High School.

Posted on April 29, 2016

Live from the Met: Opera Curriculum in our Schools

(Full video of the program is at the bottom of this page.)

Lincoln Public Schools District Office swayed and wafted with waltzes and opera music on Tuesday at the final LPS Learning Lunch of the school year, a program that featured: Live from the Met: Opera Curriculum in our Schools. 

Students from Fredstrom Elementary School and Lincoln North Star High School came together to sing, dance and demonstrate what they had learned in a unique curriculum this year.

  •  Myah Figueroa, Fredstrom fifth-grader: “I really liked going to see operas, it’s not something I see everyday…I think I learned that you can get more out of life…when you don’t waste your time doing just one thing.”
  •  Dylan Penate, Fredstrom fifth-grader: “When you go to an opera you can see your friends, eat snacks, it’s a combo thing.”
  •  Kaylee Swartz, 11th grader from North Star: “I feel like it has been a privilege to have this great experience, not only for myself, but also for the elementary kids – kids who may never have had the opportunity to see an opera.”

Fredstrom music teacher Judy Bush explained the project started with an invitation from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. “That’s where the adventure began. It sounded like a really exciting project, and we already know that the graduation rate is higher for students involved in music.” 

LPS was one of 37 schools in the country that was involved in the initial MET project, in which the Metropolitan Opera provided free tickets to local opera experiences, as well as a complete curriculum guide. 

Joni Osborn, a music teacher at North Star, explained that the elementary and high school teachers and students came together to add a high school perspective to the experience. 

“Our vision is that someday we share this curriculum with all the music teachers in the school district,” Bush said. 

Elements of the curriculum experience included:

  •  Learning the history, music and themes of various operas.
  •  Relevant cultural/historical references often tied to other academic areas.
  •  Acting out operas to help learn the stories.
  •  Learning and performing the music.
  •  Learning appropriate dress and etiquette for attending operas (“You don’t crunch popcorn during a really quiet aria”).

Students also learned how to dance the waltz, a common element in opera productions, Bush said. “They now know that the proper way for a gentleman to ask a lady to dance is to extend his hand and say, ‘May I please have this dance? And the lady places her hand on his and answers, ‘With pleasure.’”


** Stay tuned for details: LPS Learning Lunch programs will return for the 2016-17 school year.

Posted on April 27, 2016

Highlights of 4/26 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools:  Highlights of 4/26 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, April 26 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.

Highlights of Board Meeting

Transportation Plan

Students attending the Lincoln Public Schools Science Focus Program (Zoo School) and the Arts and Humanities Focus Program would be offered free transportation next year – from high school to the focus programs and back – under the proposed LPS transportation plan for 2016-17.

“This is something we’ve hoped for as a Board for a very long time,” Board member Barb Baier noted. “I would encourage anyone watching or listening to look at those focus programs as an opportunity for their students now that transportation is available.”

Board member Lanny Boswell agreed: “I think lots of families will be excited about this opportunity.”

Board member Don Mayhew thanked his Board colleague, Annie Mumgaard “who has been a champion for getting transportation to the focus programs.”

The estimated cost for transportation for students to focus programs would be $34,640. In addition, other proposed transportation increases next year are: adding one bus route to Adams Elementary School ($18,440); one route for students with special education needs to the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School ($33,070); and transportation for Humann Elementary School students to an alternate location while the school is under renovation ($108,186).

LPS transportation will provide transportation for students under the following guidelines:

  • 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 plans require transportation as essential to learning.
  • Students who have been moved for the benefit of the school 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.

Wellness Update

An annual “Wellness Update” for the school year was presented at the Tuesday Board meeting – with general reported improvements for fitness levels in the school district.

Presenters included Dr. Bob Rauner, a Lincoln physician and wellness champion; Matt Avey, curriculum specialist for Health and Physical Education; Michelle Welch, Wellness coordinator; Edith Zumwalt, director of Nutrition Services; and Marge Theel, supervisor of Health Services.

Highlights from the year included:

  • In general, LPS students who are determined “fit” score higher on NeSA tests – in reading, math and science – when compared to students who are “not at fitness goal.”
  • LPS students in fourth through eighth grades taking what is called the Fitnessgram PACER have improved in the past year: 71 percent passed the PACER in in 2011-2 compared to 77.7 percent this school year.
  • LPS reports lower levels of obesity in kindergarten and first grade – a level below 12 percent for the first time. Possible explanations include: Impact of Early Childhood efforts; impact of LPS efforts with other siblings; impact of community initiatives such as healthy beverages and nutrition marketing.
  • LPS participates in the Smarter Lunchroom movement that results in serving healthier school meals. Related initiatives include: Colorful banners to welcome children to the cafeteria; bright bowls and baskets full of fresh fruit; seasonal decorations for serving lines; posters to encourage healthy eating; identifying food with unique names that appeal to students.

LPS Policies approved

The Board approved changes in several LPS policies:

  • Age of attendance, more clearly defining the start and end of the school year for the purpose of providing services to students approaching and reaching their 21st birthday.
  • Option students, clarifying conditions for which option students can be assigned to a building closed to transfer – related to siblings.
  • Technology resources and Internet safety, updating language.
  • Parental involvement, related to a minor change that came with the new national Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
  • Controversial issues, changes meant to reinforce the purpose of teaching controversial issues, express the importance of working with families, and expressing how the policy applies to unplanned conversations that occur in classrooms.

The Board looked at proposed changes in policy related to student fees and will vote final approval at the May 10 meeting.

Speaking to the “controversial issues” policy change, Board member Don Mayhew noted a community question that asked if the Board was representing parents or LPS? “The answer is yes. We represent parents, students, staff, taxpayers, the community…So much of our work is finding a balancing act between a very difficult issue.”

Mayhew said the point of the policy is to express the will of the Board that ensures that “ teachers should provide reasonable advance notice in anticipation of a planned controversial subject, and if something should come up controversial in class, then parents would be notified after…In the interest of serving parental notification and parental control, I think this policy does a very good job of that.”

Board member Annie Mumgaard continued: “We want graduates to be ready for life…so we have to allow a space for controversy in our classrooms. This allows for that space…with the professional judgment of our teachers and with the active participation of our parents…We need to have a citizenry that can handle that kind of discussion.”

Grant applications

The Board approved application for an $80,000 EducationQuest Foundation’s College Access Grant with the goal of increasing the percentage of Lincoln Northeast High School graduates who enroll in post-secondary programs after high school.

The Board discussed submission of the required application for year three of the Indian Education grant to the U.S. Department of Education for $146,179. The original four-year grant was approved by the Board of Education in May 2014. No district-funding match is required. The Board will determine final approval at the May 10 meeting.

Celebration of Success

A new regular Board of Education segment was introduced Tuesday: On the second meeting of each month LPS will feature something called a “Student Celebration,” highlighting LPS students involved in the wide breadth of classroom assignments, activities and achievements. Tuesday featured McPhee Elementary School teacher Jennifer Thomas and second graders who described their delightful animal research projects.

Posted on April 26, 2016

Groundbreaking for Park Middle School addition

The warm sunshine and a light breeze embraced the crowd from Lincoln Public Schools and the Boys and Girls Club gathered outside of Park Middle School Monday morning for a ground breaking ceremony.

A total construction project at Park Middle School will add 10,000 square feet to the southwest corner of the building - with the the addition of classrooms, a commons area with separate secured entrance, and another gym to benefit Park students.  The addition will also benefit the Boys and Girls Club, which provides Community Learning Centers (CLC) afterschool and summer activities for Park students.

“Park Middle School and the Boys and Girls Club, along with the CLC initiative, are focused on making Park a full service community school,” commented Ryan Zabawa, Park principal. “The club already boasts the highest enrollment of any CLC in the city. The Boys and Girls Club has been a great partner for Park Middle School over the last eight years and we are very excited about our future endeavors.”

Park Middle School has 903 students this school year, and expects enrollment to reach 930 next year. In addition, Park also hosts the Welcome Center - a place for English Language Learner Families at LPS to get the assistance they need in getting their children enrolled in school and programs. Park currently has students from 30 different countries that speak 25 different languages.

Connie Duncan, LPS Board of Education member, said, “Working together, educators, families, community organizations, businesses and volunteers can extend the school day with opportunities for our students to learn and play in a positive, supportive and safe environment. Park Middle School and the Boys and Girls Club are a perfect example of a community school where everyone belongs, works together, and thrives.”

Construction on the project could begin as early as next week, with the project being completed in January 2017.

Posted on April 26, 2016

Christie honored with local 'Human Rights' award

Thomas Christie has been honored with the Gerald Henderson Human Rights Award given by the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights. Christie was nominated, then voted by the commission to receive the award.

Here is a description of the honor given to Christie, and his bio is below:

Outstanding achievements in human rights, for the purposes of this award, are understood to result from activities that:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to improving cooperation and understanding among people of different racial, ethnic, religious, and other backgrounds
  • Use new and creative measures to fight discrimination, prejudice, and the effects of past discrimination
  • Foster positive intergroup relations by promoting mutual respect, understanding, cultural awareness, and appreciation in business, education, government, health, housing, religion, and other areas of civic endeavor
  • Demonstrate a commitment to human/civil rights activities
  • Use new and creative measures to fight discrimination, prejudice and the effects of past discrimination


Thomas Christie is currently the Multicultural/Community Administrator (Office of the Superintendent) for the Lincoln Public Schools. He is responsible for directing the district’s Multicultural Program, Cultural Proficiency and works in Human Resources, Administrator for TeamMates and the District Office Building Principal.

He is President of the Clyde Malone Center Board, Vice – Chair of the Mayor’s Multicultural Committee, member of Lincoln Public Schools Foundation, Chair of the Education Committee of the NAACP, University of Nebraska President Advisory Council (PAC) and on the MLK Freedom Breakfast Committee since the inception. Pass board Severest on the City Recreation Committee, Lighthouse, UNL Teachers College Alumni Board, Lancaster Women’s Commission, Lincoln Indian Education committee and Child Advocacy Center.

Thomas has 40 year’s experience in the classroom and administration. Thomas was a building administrator for four years and taught Sociology, History and coached wrestling and football for 18 years. He is the administrator directing the cultural proficiency efforts, co-developer of the Racial Response Team project and played a key role in developing the district’s Multicultural focus.

Thomas has a Bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Master’s degree in Administration from the University of Nebraska.

Thomas is a Lincoln High Distinguished Alumni and a member of the Lincoln High Athletic Hall of Fame. 

He is married to Brenda Christie for 40 years, and they have two children, Fayola Christie, and Yohance Christie.


Posted on April 22, 2016

CERTIFICATED STAFF: Summer and Fall Tuition Credit Info

Tuition credit statements, for certified staff who have tuition credit points, will be arriving at your schools within the next couple of days.  These forms should be completed and returned to Human Resources (LPSDO - Box 33) byFridayApril 29th, 2016.  Your statement will tell you how many points you have and when they expire. If you do not have any tuition credit points, you will not receive a statement.

If you do not have tuition credit points, or not enough points to pay for a UNL course, you may complete and submit an Application to the District Tuition Credit Bank For Tuition Credit Points Form (aka PEF2 Form). The deadline for submitting PEF2 Forms, for summer AND fall 2016 classes at UNL, is 4:30pm on FridayApril 29th, 2016.   Completed PEF2 forms should be mailed to Human Resources (LPSDO - Box 33).  PEF2 forms received in HR after the deadline will not be considered.

  • Points may be used towards one UNL course per semester.  If requesting points for both summer and fall, you may enter your requests for both semesters on the same PEF2 Form.
  • Each UNL credit hour costs 9 tuition credit points. No more than 27 points (3 credit hours) may be used in any one semester.
  • When applying to the district bank, you must use the two-part PEF2 form, and send both copies to Human Resources. The forms are available from your school office. Photocopied / emailed copies of PEF2 and PEF3 forms will not be accepted. If you are using older forms, that ask for your Social Security Number, please enter your LPS employee ID in place of your Social Security Number.
  • All actions at this time are for the summer and fall 2016 semesters only. Please do not submit forms for next spring at this time.
  • When submitting a PEF3 form, for PEF reimbursement, please note that tuition credit points may only be used for reimbursement towards an approved activity.  They cannot just be "cashed in". Further details are available in your Tuition Credit Handbook.
  • For your convenience, the Tuition Credit / PEF Handbook is available at (under "Departments", then "Human Resources", and "Handbooks/Agreements").  This easy-to-read handbook will answer many of the questions you may have.
  • Tuition credit points may only be earned and used by certificated LPS employees.  Classified staff do not qualify to use tuition credit points.
Further Questions should be directed to Darbi Umholtz via e-mail ( or phone (402-436-1589).


Posted on April 20, 2016

Making a difference...Thank you, Paras!

Modifying wheelchairs to help students become independent, going with a student to the eye doctor to help him get glasses, helping parents who are overwhelmed get support...these are just some of the amazing stories submitted this week about our paras at Lincoln Public Schools.

April 15 is Paraeducators Recognition Day, and LPS would like to take a moment to thank all our paras for the outstanding work they do every day to make a difference in children’s lives.

Below are their stories, and these are just some examples of the many wonderful things our paras do across LPS - symbolizing the work of each and every para in our schools. 

Changing lives through innovation...

For over 20 years, these four paraeducators have been serving students at Lincoln Public Schools, but in very unique ways. After reading the recognition submissions from special education supervisor Mary Phillips and all of the occupational and physical therapists, it’s clear that these women have touched so many students’ lives - a ripple that can be felt for generations. 

Pam Thorfinnson, Christine Bernt, Angie Smith, and Grayson Spomer are all district motor activity paras (MAPs). Most times they are out in various buildings working with students under the direction of occupational and physical therapists to assist students in learning skills they need to succeed - not only in school, but in life. These skills can include tying shoes, penmanship, walking, moving around, motor skills, and even zipping jackets.   

The therapy team writes in their nominations, “Christine takes the time to understand student’s potential needs throughout the school day, and not just during the time she sees them.  As a result, she frequently has ideas and suggestions to try to help the student be successful beyond just the program she follows for the student.  She collaborates with supervising staff to share these ideas and suggestions for increased student success.” 

It’s hard to believe that work doesn’t keep them busy enough, but these paras do so much more. Inventors, engineers, or even “tinkers” might be the best way to describe these paras as they are tasked with crude drawings and rough ideas to modify existing equipment and furniture and adapting them to meet special education students’ needs, or creating something new to aid the students. 

“Angie is able to look at things that seem impossible and find solutions for our students to be successful,” writes Molly Kouba. “Most recently, Angie fabricated a rolling cart that allowed a student at a VOICE site to be more independent in her work. The cart attaches to the student’s wheelchair or walker.  The student is now able to move boxes from one place to another safely and efficiently.” 

As Smith and Bernt use various tools and lots of cardboard, wood and styrofoam to craft devices to help students, Spomer puts her sewing skills to work to make harnesses and other items to help students. 

Jodi Rust writes, “Grayson also completes many sewing projects for students ranging from making weighted blankets, adapted shirts, bibs, dressing boards and personal bags for the students to put items in on their walkers and wheelchairs.” 

Thorfinnson keeps it all organized and is an invaluable member to the therapy team. No easy task with their workshop being moved twice in a school year due to construction projects. 

“Not only has Pam assisted with moving the department twice within this school year (a monumental task), but she has saved countless hours for staff by maintaining and transporting equipment and supplies to various sites throughout the school year.  She has even gone to student’s homes to bring large pieces of equipment to schools when families have not been able to transport the equipment themselves,” writes Lisa Wieman-Schulz.

When asked about what moment in their career was most memorable in their lives, they shared these stories:

  • Smith said: “I had a little girl years ago that had only use of one hand, and when she tied her shoes for the first time she cried. I had another little girl that had two prosthetic legs, and when she stood up and had tights on she said, ‘I look like the other girls.’ Teaching her to walk and helping her to walk with those was my most memorable moment. Because she so many things against her, but she didn’t let it get her down she didn’t let it get in her way and she is in college now. Just her determination, that’s the way she was.”

  • Bernt said: “I had a student and her joints were fused, so she couldn’t move like we do. I had to teach her how to go up the steps. She’d ride her bike, nothing stopped her. She was just an inspiration to me.”

  • Spomer said: “So many of the kids, Angie would have them in preschool, and maybe Christine would have them in elementary, and maybe I would get them in high school, so we would be able to say, ‘remember when you were doing this with so-in-so, they can do that now!’ It’s like ‘YES!’ It’s the things we’ve worked on for so long.”

  • Thorfinnson said: “I worked with a little guy in preschool that came from a family where there was some neglect. By the time he came to us, he had been adopted by a new family. I worked with him in preschool, and then I saw him again in high school. He had grown so much intellectually, and it just made my heart feel good that he was impacted so much by people in school. He made it. That always stands out for me.”

The full recognition submissions for all four of these paras, and the other paras within Lincoln Public Schools, can be found below.

Angie Smith

District Motor Activity Para

Angie makes a difference in the lives of many students in our LPS community.  She is able to adapt or make anything we need for student with special needs.  With Angie's handy work, children have been able to do simple things like get up to the faucet to wash their hands to more complex things such as to being able to be in their wheelchair but still be able to move a stack of boxes at a work site.

Most recently, Angie fabricated a rolling cart that allowed a student at a VOICE site to be more independent in her work. The cart attaches to the student’s wheelchair or walker.  The student is now able to move boxes from one place to another safely and efficiently.

Angie is able to look at things that seem impossible and find solutions for our students to be successful.

Submitted by: Molly Kouba

Christine Bernt

District Motor Activity Para

Our MAPs have to travel to several different buildings, which requires them to be very organized and build relationships with a variety of students and staff.  Christine has been seeing a student for half of this year and has done a great job of building a relationship with a student that has trouble in this area and often has a difficult time working for new adults.

Christine works with a variety of students that struggle with focus and academics.  She knows how to bring each and every student out of their shell and to get the best work possible out of them.  She helps one student in particular by doing a fun activity at the beginning of the session to put him in a positive mood.  This helps him to put forth his best effort on the classroom work he works on with her.  His spelling grades are going up because of the work they are doing together.  She takes the time to understand student’s potential needs throughout the school day, and not just during the time she sees them.  As a result, she frequently has ideas and suggestions to try to help the student be successful beyond just the program she follows for the student.  She collaborates with supervising staff to share these ideas and suggestions for increased student success.

It is apparent that Christine loves working with all students.  She often states, “Give me another student.  I could squeeze in another one for 15 minutes.”  The occupational therapists appreciate this because we always manage to find more students to keep her schedule extremely full.

Christine also spends her own resources on motivators for students.  The students look forward to her special trinkets or stickers after working with her.  Students frequently tell me that I forgot to give them their sticker.  I have to remind them that those special items come from Ms. Christine.

Christine also helps with equipment needs in the schools.  One student had an adapted chair that was used daily, and a screw came out, so the student could not use it.  Christine was able to take the chair to the workshop, repair it, and bring it back out to the school the same day, so that the student would be without it as short a time as possible.

Submitted by: Holli Longe, Jill Lavene, Carla Crist, Laurie Miller, Chris Neuman, Missy Sears

Pam Thorfinnson

District Motor Activity Para

Pam Thorfinnson goes above and beyond her job duties.  To help enable students to go on field trips,  she has gone out to the student's school, picked up the equipment necessary for bathrooming, taken the piece of equipment to the field trip site, stayed and helped staff members use the equipment for transfers, and then brought the equipment back to the assigned school.  Pam also donates her own personal items for students to use.  She brought in her own dust mop to have it adapted for a student so that the student could help sweep at school.  I don't know what OT/PT staff would do without Pam Thorfinnson!

Submitted by: Jennifer Goddard, PT

Motor activity paraeducator Pam Thorfinson is invaluable to the Occupational and Physical therapy staff and our students!  Not only has Pam assisted with moving the department twice within this school year (a monumental task), but she has saved countless hours for staff by maintaining and transporting equipment and supplies to various sites throughout the school year.  She has even gone to student’s homes to bring large pieces of equipment to schools when families have not been able to transport the equipment themselves.  Our students benefit daily from her hard work and dedication.  Thank you Pam!!!

Submitted by: Lisa Wieman-Schulz

Grayson Spomer

District Motor Activity Para

The Occupational and Physical Therapy Staff would like to recognize and thank Grayson Spomer for her work and dedication to the students at Lincoln Public Schools. Grayson is currently a Motor Activity Para that works directly with students; meeting their individual needs in a variety of ways. Grayson also completes many sewing projects for students ranging from making weighted blankets, adapted shirts, bibs, dressing boards and personal bags for the students to put items in on their walkers and wheelchairs. Anyone that knows Grayson knows that she sincerely cares about the students that she works with and is always able to make a connection with them; ranging from talking about Comic Books, Star Wars, dinosaurs or bugs. Thank you for your service to the students at Lincoln Public Schools!

Submitted by: Jodi Rust

Angie Beach

Kooser Elementary

When paraeducator Angie Beach found out that one of her students at Kooser Elementary needed glasses, but was having a hard time at the doctor's office, she went above and beyond. Angie accompanied the student and his mother to the eye doctor to assist with the appointment, ensuring he was able to get the tools he needed to succeed in school.

Submitted by: Mason Burbach

Vicki Brinkman

Belmont Elementary

Vicki has an amazing relationship with each and every student she works with here at Belmont.  She supervises the Lexia interventions with our primary students and is always encouraging them to try their best, take on challenges, and maintains high standards for their behavior.  Her voice is always even tempered and students love to come to her group.  She also does our DIBELs assessments, and each student is greeted warmly, tested, then given feedback on what they did well, how their scores compare, and what they could improve.  She is a treasure here at Belmont!

Submitted by: Deb Watchorn

Kendall Krzycki

Calvert Elementary

My son Greysen has a huge smile and a busy brain. He needs extra support getting his day started right and Mrs. K is tuned in to help him each morning! She understands what helps and has good stories to share. As his mother, I am grateful that she greets him with a smile and a hug each day!

Submitted by: Becky Tegeler

Nancy Kreber

Calvert Elementary

My son Greysen learns differently and needs lots of special adult support to find success in school. Mrs. K understands how to help him, partners with him and collaborates with other school staff to make the school environment safe and fun! As a mother, I am grateful for the care she shows to my child!

Submitted by: Becky Tegeler

Judy Wasserman

Fredstrom Elementary

Judy volunteers her time in the evening for special events like music concerts to make sure her students are successful. She has also made photo albums for her students to take home in the summer to help them transition.

Submitted by: Ashley Lammers

Helen Hassebroek

Kooser Elementary

Each day, Helen has an amazing way of balancing kindness, no-nonsense, empathy, fun, and patience to support and encourage our students. She truly makes an impact in many lives at Kooser.

Submitted by: Mason Burbach

Pam Shumacher

Lakeview Elementary

Pam is an AMAZING early childhood special education para.  She goes above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis for the students in our classrooms. When students have come to school without coats or properly fitting shoes, Pam will bring what is needed the next day.  She also finds books and toys for students that are developmentally appropriate and in their interest areas for students to take home.  

When students are having a difficult day, Pam takes the time to tell the students why she believes they are special and why she believes they can achieve their goals.  

I am a better teacher because I have Pam on my team.

Submitted by: Sarah Lefferdink

Laura Altman

McPhee Elementary

Introducing our students to Take5 and really taking time to process with students when it is needed.

Submitted by: Meg Sloup

Rene Longoria

McPhee Elementary

Rene is the sweetest most supportive adult we have in our school. His calm demeanor helps students calm down when they are having a tough time. Rene is always wanting what is best for our students and will do anything to make that happen. He has an amazing gift when it comes to working with our students at McPhee and we are so very lucky to have him.

Submitted by: Meg Sloup

Lezlee Williams

Non-Public Special Education Department

Para-educator Lezlee Williams supports the Non-Public Special Education team. For two years, she has dedicated energy and passion into making this LPS program function, supporting a team of fifteen special education teachers, SLPs, psychologists, as well as occupational and physical therapists, who serve over 200 students in Lincoln's parochial schools. She helps track IEP and MDT reports and related paperwork, coordinates meetings, organizes and maintains student files. Administrators and teachers throughout the public and non-public schools recognize Lezlee’s sincere relationship building strategies as she connects with them on a weekly basis. In addition, her true passion is in the area of supporting Autism awareness and building the awareness of how each one of us has an important role to play.

Submitted by: Cami Prochnow

Nichole Oberheu

Park Middle School

Ms. O, has aided numerous students in being their best academically and behaviorally.  One student, who had difficulty testing and often refused to test, remarked "I need her to guide me to the answer".  She consistently encourages students to do their best and they respond by putting forth their best effort.  She will listen to students who are resistant and then patiently explain to them why they need to complete a task.  She has suggested engaging books to students who refused to read independently and encouraged follow up discussions.

Submitted by: Adeline MIckens

Jacci Reddick

Rousseau Elementary

I am in the Specialist rotation each day and I have students return their books to the library each morning during my plan time.  Jacci comes to  the media center each morning when she can,  to help checking and shelve books. This makes my day go so much better, because I can then focus on planning for students.  I would not be able to do what is best for kids without her daily help!  Thank you, Jacci!

Submitted by: Carol Hughes

Katherine Stewart

Rousseau Elementary

She goes above and beyond after school to help my student with Down's Syndrome who comes from a single parent home. She helps by giving support and finding programs in the community that can assist with care. Katherine is one amazing para who is making a difference in a student's life.

Submitted by: Michelle McClure

Wendy Rodney

Rousseau Elementary

Wendy comes to  the media center whenever she has time during the day to help check-out students or check-in books. I would not be able to do what is best for kids without her daily help!  Thank you, Wendy!!

Submitted by: Carol Hughes

Stacie Swanson, Katherine Stewart, Courtney Anderson

Rousseau Elementary

We have so many wonderful paras at Rousseau that go above and beyond for our students and families each and everyday. Although it is difficult to pick just one story to share, there is one that definitely stands out in our minds. Stacie Swanson, Katherine Stewart, and Courtney Anderson, work daily with a young girl who has some significant needs. This child's mother was struggling at home and beginning to become overwhelmed with her daughter’s care and needs. These ladies quickly volunteered, without hesitation or question, to clean, organize, and childproof their home. They spent a Saturday afternoon with her and were her angels for the day. Since then they have also gone to help this child celebrate her birthday and give mom a break for a little “me” time that was so desperately needed by spending a few hours with the child. These ladies are amazing and performed these acts of kindness without being asked or for any recognition. Our staff, students, and school families appreciate the hard work that all of our paraeducators do for us!

Submitted by: Paula Smith 

Carol Coleman

Saratoga Elementary

Carol always goes above and beyond to help not only the students but the teachers in our building.  During the holiday season the Kindergarten team does a unit on The Gingerbread Man.  Carol bakes authentic gingerbread cookies.  We also had a homework celebration at the end of last year and she helped me with the celebration.  Carol was a one-on-one para for a Kindergarten student and she was always making things to help this student be successful.  It does not matter which room she is in or which student she is responsible for she always gives 100%!

She is our building's para rep for the district.  She takes this responsibility very seriously as she wants to make sure that each para has everything they need to be the best they can be.  Carol is not only a para but I am very proud to call her my friend!

Submitted by: Kris Jenkins

Deidre Bergman

West Lincoln Elementary

Deidre is an amazing member of our para team! She is always ready and willing to work with any student and provide any support that we ask her to. Deidre works with a group of 1st graders on their high frequency words, she is always coming up with new and exciting ways to help these students practice their words. When one of our students moved to a different school across town, Deidre was more than happy to help out by going to the school with him for his first few days. I believe that because of her willingness to do this, the student was able to transition much faster. Thank you Deidre for your compassion and dedication to the students at West Lincoln.

Submitted by: Megan Riggert

Jamie Dejonge

West Lincoln Elementary

Jamie works hard at not only meeting her regular duties within the classroom, but also provides extra support to a student that needs assistance in our classroom with learning appropriate social skills. She has worked hard at learning how to balance the demands of her normal duties and supporting him to be successful in our classroom as well!  She has done a great job of helping to make a significant impact in this student's life. We have seen this student's behavior change significantly in a positive way! It is amazing!

Submitted by: Brittany Brown

Lindsey Bowman

West Lincoln Elementary

The whole preschool class loves Miss Lindsey.  She does so many things for us.  She is really good at building relationships and individualizing those relationships for the students needs.  Everyday at outside time you can usually hear children asking Miss Lindsey if she can play with them.  We love the smiles she brings to our faces everyday.

Submitted by: Brandi

Maria Pagan

West Lincoln Elementary

Maria is very outgoing and proactive in our classroom! I love how she thinks of the small details and is very observant about the needs of the class! She is very friendly and helpful with all the students!

Submitted by: Brittany Brown

Ryan Lorchick

West Lincoln Elementary

Ryan joined our team in the middle of the year but you would have thought he had been hear from the beginning. He jumped right in and was always willing to help. Ryan helps one of my students start each day on a positive note. Since Ryan has started working with this student, he has had fewer behaviors throughout the day, is happier, and is completing more work. Ryan gives 110% all day long and we are so blessed to have him at West Lincoln!

Submitted by: Megan Riggert

Sue Long

West Lincoln Elementary

Sue Long has worked many years at West Lincoln, and knows the families well. She cares deeply for students. Last year, Sue purchased a student’s class photos for his family. She does such a great job implementing lesson plans that she helped a student make progress in math for for several years.

Submitted by: Delia Michalski

Angel Manzo

West Lincoln Elementary

Angel has a place in her heart for working with nonverbal students who have severe needs. She has done amazing things for a few different students over the past few years helping them learn and communicate their wants and needs. She does a great job at setting expectations for kids and following those expectations.  There are times where students will display behavior problems because they don't want to do what is asked. When this happens Angel is really good at waiting the student out until the student follows through with the original direction. We are extremely thankful for the knowledge and expertise that Angel brings into our building.

Submitted by: Jamie Wobig

Cora Corning

West Lincoln Elementary

Cora has been working with school age children for over 25 years.  She has a special place in her heart  for students who have severe needs. She does a great job teaching children how to do tasks. Cora can be enthusiastic with kids when they need it most. We have a little boy with down syndrome who really enjoys spending time with Cora. He gets really happy and excited when he sees her. Cora has also done an amazing job at helping potty train a student who has been in diapers all his life until the age of 8. She has had determination and consistency  the past few years to help him learn to use the toilet and it was accomplished this year. I really appreciate Cora's dedication to doing her job responsibilities every day.

Submitted by: Jamie Wobig

Kathyna Butcher

West Lincoln Elementary

Kat works with a student who is nonverbal and has very limited communication skills.  Through her loving and patient attitude, she has been able to help him utilize his PECS book and determine his needs, even when he isn't able to share them on his own.

Submitted by: Alexandria Baruth

Lois Watson

West Lincoln Elementary

Lois has done an amazing job helping us with a student who came to our school last year who really struggled being in the classroom. Lois spent a lot of time teaching this student to be ok in the classroom without being disruptive. She worked really hard on helping her understand what an inside voice was and also that it wasn't ok to run inside the building. This student went from being included in the classroom activities 50% of the time to now 100% of the time. Lois' verbal and nonverbal actions are always calm which in return has helped our students remain calm at times they might be escalated. We really appreciate the different skill sets that Lois brings to our building here at West Lincoln.

Submitted by: Jamie Wobig

Lynn Fischer

West Lincoln Elementary

Lynn Fischer has worked at West Lincoln for 9 years. She anticipates needs for a variety of students. Lynn fades scaffolding in a way that allows students to struggle productively, while avoiding frustration as much as possible. Her ultimate goal is always self-determination for students. Lynn is one of the most flexible Para educators I have ever worked with. Her schedule changes on sometimes a daily basis, yet she supports all students with ease. Lynn uses her sewing talents to help students, including a time that she made a princess dress for a student on Halloween.

Submitted by: Delia Michalski

Sherri Dreeszen

Sheridan Elementary

I would like to recognize Sherri Dreeszen, who is a paraeducator at Sheridan Elementary. She is amazing at what she does.

I have the privilege of working with Sherri on a daily basis, and she always goes above and beyond for her kids and coworkers. She shows up every day with a smile on her face ready to teach and take care of her student. She started working with him when he was in Kindergarten and he is now in fifth grade. He has grown so much and I’m not surprised due to the high expectations she has for him. She has built such a strong relationship with him as well as his family. She steps in at times to personally help when basic needs are not being met. She is starting to worry about his transition to middle school, and will be a part of making sure things are in place for him for sixth grade.

Sherri also fills in where ever she is needed. You will find her on the playground, in the cafeteria covering lunchtime, at indoor recess, before school supervisor, covering lunches for other paraeducators, and many more jobs. She is an amazing teammate.

Thank you for everything that you do, Sherri! We all appreciate you!

Submitted by: Karen Schur

Posted on April 20, 2016

Virtual field trip, engaging journey and fruit fly karaoke

A couple of Irving Middle School teachers and two seventh-grade classes piloted the evolution virtual field trip offered through Morrill Hall, ‘Evolution Explored.’

Teachers Lindsey Reinieri and Molly Hoffmann partnered with Linda Dickeson, Lincoln Public Schools distance learning coordinator; Annie Mumgaard virtual learning coordinator at Morrill Hall (and also an LPS board member), and Tory Petz, also of Morrill Hall. The trio helped bring an enriching experience into the classroom.

They explored the evolution exhibit, highlighting Peter and Rosmary Grant's research on the Galapagos Islands, a UNL student's diatom research, fruit fly research, and the world of mutating viruses.

The session included interactive and engaging experiences for the students. They were able to deliberate possible causes for the finches on the Galapagos Islands changing over a 30-year period, explore how viruses are able to survive through mutation, and were even challenged to simulate the courtship songs of fruit flies with a little fruit fly karaoke activity.

Posted on April 19, 2016

LPS BackPack Walk raises $1.3 million and climbing – filling family fridges

Thousands of walkers streamed around Lincoln East High School on a brisk spring morningSaturday, all wearing bright turquoise t-shirts that proclaimed their cause: “BackPack Extra Mile Walk, Helping to Feed Families One BackPack at a Time.”

The ninth annual BackPack Walk – a partnership initiative of Lincoln Public Schools and the Food Bank of Lincoln – raised more than $145,000 this year and donations are still climbing. That means the annual walk has raised more than $1.3 million since it began – with the goal of “Filling the Fridge” for the children of our community.

Shari Styskal, director of Budget at LPS and the woman who coordinates the BackPack Walk: “Thanks to everyone for all their hard work and another fantastic BackPack Extra Mile Walk.”

Alynn Sampson, director of Youth and Family Programs for the Food Bank: “This is remarkable that we keep getting this many people coming out – after all these years – to help feed the kids of Lincoln. It means a lot to the Food Bank, to our kids, to our community.”

Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs at LPS: “Thank you so much for helping address hunger in our community as we raise money to send more BackPacks home every Friday with our students – as we work to fill the fridge for all the families in our community.”

Schools with the most donations in their category were:

  •  Maxey Elementary School
  •  Lux Middle School
  •  Lincoln East High School

The annual event is not only a fund-raiser, but also an educational opportunity. So please continue to help spread the word about the BackPack program.

  •  The BackPack Program provides food-filled backpacks that are sent home each Friday to many LPS families in need – to help them get through the weekends.
  •  The Food Bank of Lincoln launched the BackPack Program during the 2004-05 school year at Clinton Elementary School, sending home backpacks on Friday afternoons with 50 kids.Currently 2,582 students at 38 LPS schools receive weekly food-filled backpacks. The program now also includes students from private and parochial schools in Lincoln, as well as from 29 rural communities.
  •  During the first three months of the 2015-16 school year, a record 43,092 food-filled backpacks were distributed. At the conservative estimate of five meals per backpack, that means this year the BackPack program has provided 215,460 meals.
  •  The need continues to grow dramatically: This school year 16,413 of LPS students – 42.7 percent of our student population – qualify for free and reduced lunch.
  •  Children who live in poverty face tougher odds for achievement than do other children. Children who live in poverty for at least half their childhoods are 90 percent more likely to leave high school without a diploma and four times more likely to be an unwed teen parent when compared with people who were never poor as a child.
Thanks to the BackPack Extra Mile Steering Committee:
Shari Styskal, Zachary Baehr, Mindy Burbach, Sue Cassata, De Ann Currin, Gary Czapla, Pat Hunter-Pirtle, Mary Kay Roth, Cindy Schwaninger, John Neal, Liz Standish and Greg Tebo from Lincoln Public Schools – and John Mabry, Michaella Kumke, Alynn Sampson, and Scott Young from the Food Bank.

Posted on April 16, 2016

LPS announced two positions filled

Lincoln Public Schools Friday announced two positions have been filled:  The new director of Transportation and the new curriculum specialist for Social Studies. 
The new Transportation director is: Ryan Robley.
Ryan is currently the coordinator of Transportation for Durango School District in Durango, Colorado. Prior to that, Ryan was Transportation supervisor for Burlington Community Schools in Burlington, Iowa, and also director of Transportation for Sergeant Bluff-Lutton Schools in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

The new curriculum specialist for Social Studies is: Jaci Kellison.
Jaci is currently a Social Studies teacher at Lincoln Southeast High School. She has taught at Southeast since 2010 and has been with Lincoln Public Schools since 2008. Her Bachelor of Science degree is from the University of Kansas and she holds two Master degrees. Her Master of Science Education is from the University of Kansas and her Master of Arts in Historical Studies is from Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Posted on April 15, 2016

Highlights of 4/12 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 4/12 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, April 12 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.


Highlights of Board Meeting

LPS Policies

The Board discussed changes in several LPS policies:

  • Age of attendance, more clearly defining the start and end of the school year for the purpose of providing services to students approaching and reaching their 21st
  • Option students, clarifying conditions for which option students can be assigned to a building closed to transfer – related to siblings.
  • Technology resources and Internet safety, updating language.
  • Parental involvement, related to a minor change that came with the new national Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
  • Controversial issues, changes meant to reinforce the purpose of teaching controversial issues, express the importance of working with families, and expressing how the policy applies to unplanned conversations that occur in classrooms.

Speaking to the “controversial issues” proposed policy change, John Neal – assistant to the Superintendent for Administration and Governmental Relations – stressed that this policy only addresses one of many ways the school district communicates with parents.


Neal explained there were several specific areas to highlight in the proposed controversial issues policy:


“We wanted to emphasize that we value the opportunity for students to develop and practice critical thinking skills,” he said. “The goal is developing those skills, not to make a decision for the child about any particular issue.”


Neal also underlined the recommendation to retain the broader the scope of the policy, and not narrow the focus to one or two issues.


The policy also looks at required parental notification when a controversial issue will be included in a classroom, making sure that students and families receive notification far enough in advance to request alternative activities.


Finally, Neal said, the policy refers to those “teachable moments” in a classroom when a student might ask a teacher something that is outside the curriculum. “We are allowing a teacher to answer that question using professional judgment…Again, we are focusing on developing those critical thinking skills.”


Board of Education member Don Mayhew said they had worked hard to capture the appropriate spirit of the policy. “We wanted to make sure we had clear language about parental notification, making sure parents can protect and are in control of their kids’ education, but also making sure there was nothing punitive for teachers if something came up organically in the classroom. We needed to find the sweet spot for everyone we serve and provide a sound educational environment.”


Board member Matt Schulte agreed: “I think we ended up in a good place with clarity on strengthening parental notification to make sure parents are empowered and can be involved in their kids’ education.”


Board members will vote final approval on these proposals at the April 26 Board meeting.


For more information:


Grant application

The Board discussed application for an $80,000 EducationQuest Foundation’s College Access Grant with the goal of increasing the percentage of Lincoln Northeast High School graduates who enroll in post-secondary programs after high school.


School construction projects

Tuesday the Board approved several construction projects funded through the 2014 bond issue:

  • West Lincoln Elementary School, $4.3 million, classroom addition, security entrance, restrooms, expansion of geothermal wellfield, pavement and more.
  • Humann Elementary School, $8.9 million, significant renovation and additions for building, extensive interior and exterior work, and more.
  • Park Middle School, $3.1 million, new gymnasium, classrooms, commons area, secure entrance and misc. renovations and support space.

All three projects will be completed by the summer of 2017.


Resilient Firewall and threat management

The Board of Education also discussed and approved replacing and updating the school district’s current firewall and threat management system with a purchase from Sirius for Cisco Firewall equipment.


BACKGROUND: A traditional Firewall is a cybersecurity device that provides the first line of defense against electronic threats, serving as a gatekeeper between the district’s servers and the Internet.  In addition to fulfilling this function, the current generation of Firewall equipment is capable of managing more advanced threats from outside and inside the network by employing intrusion detection/prevention software and providing control over applications that increase the vulnerability of the district network to inappropriate use.  The existing Firewall equipment at LPS is five years old and does not provide the support for the expected future volume of Internet traffic or inspection capabilities necessary to properly secure the district network and data.


The total cost of the proposed equipment that includes Firewall equipment for each of the district data centers is $703,093, but the district will seek partial reimbursement of 60 percent based on the current E-Rate formula for Category Two services – through the Federal E-Rate Program.  That would bring the cost down to $346,575.69.  


Newly annexed property

The city of Lincoln has annexed two parcels of land, which automatically brings these properties into the LPS District.  These properties need to be assigned attendance centers so that potential purchasers of homes in this area will know which schools they will be attending.


Approved attendance areas are:

  • Shadow Creek, Annexation Ordinance #20280, for 2015-16 school year:  Pyrtle Elementary School, Lux Middle School and Lincoln East High School.
  • Woodlands at Yankee Hill, Annexation Ordinance #20284, for 2015-16 school year:  Maxey Elementary School, Pound Middle School and Lincoln Southeast High School.

Celebrations of Success

The Board recognized:

  • Jason Rushing, a computer science teacher at Humann Elementary School, who won the Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA).

Posted on April 12, 2016

LPS DECA students qualify for international competition

Lincoln Public Schools had 15 high school students qualify for international competition by placing in the top three of their events during the 59th annual State DECA Conference held in March.

DECA competitive events are designed to evaluate the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for career success in a wide array of professions. Over 900 Nebraska students participated in more than 45 competitive events, professional development seminars and elected state officers in March.

Alex Hughes from Southeast High School was elected as Vice President on the 2016–17 state officer action team.

Students placing in the top three, and continuing on to international competition in Nashville, TN include:

Professional Selling Events
Hospitality and Tourism Professional Selling Event
TIE for First Place: Sydney Long, Lincoln Southeast High School

Individual Series Events
Principles of Business Management and Administration
Second Place: Mili Samal, Lincoln Southwest High School

Principles of Finance
First Place: David Petersen, Lincoln Southwest High School
Second Place: Harley Edic, Lincoln East High School

Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
Third Place: Halle Hamilton, Lincoln Southwest High School

Principles of Marketing
First Place: Peyton Bash, Lincoln East High School
Second Place: Ben Weber, Lincoln East High School

Hotel and Lodging Management
Second Place: Qismat Niazi, Lincoln Southwest High School

Human Resources Management
First Place: Emma Vertin, Lincoln Southwest High School

Marketing Management Series
First Place: Dallas Jones, Lincoln Southeast High School

Personal Financial Literacy
Second Place: Emilee Shostrom, Lincoln East High School

Management Team Decision Making Events
Business Law and Ethics
Third Place: Maya Samals, Jacob Shiers, Lincoln Southwest High School

Sports and Entertainment
Second Place: Madie Otte, Grace Pugh, Lincoln Southeast High School

Posted on April 12, 2016

Students learn core values through Link N Leaders

Wide-eyed and eager to work with Husker student-athletes, over 200 Lincoln Public School students and their parents entered the Hawks Championship Center on Sunday afternoon for the third annual Link N Leaders.

Link N Leaders is a program aligned with the Lincoln Public Schools PBIS initiative and the core values of the UNL Athletic Department. Each elementary and middle school nominated six students between 3–6 grades who exhibit core values of loyalty, trust, teamwork, respect, and integrity.

UNL life skills coordinator, Stacey Burling, worked with the LPS Special Education Department to set up the event.

“The goal is to connect our student athlete leaders with student leaders in Lincoln Public Schools,” Burling said. “We decided to base all the activities on Nebraska’s core values— respect, loyalty, integrity, teamwork, and trust.”

As the students worked through the stations, they were able to meet UNL student-athletes from all sports. Activities included a blindfolded sock throw, copying brick formations without speaking, and other fun activities.

Here is what the students said they learned during the event:

  • Autumn, a Beattie Elementary fifth grader: “I learned that being in leadership, you can always stand up and be yourself, you don’t have to hide anything. It made me feel way better about myself, and about my friends.”
  • Itai, a Sheridan Elementary fourth grader: “Today I learned what being a leader is. It’s giving respect, integrity, courtesy, kindness, love, and teamwork, trustworthiness and citizenship. The best part was doing a handstand with football players holding my feet.”
  • Zoe, a sixth grader at Lefler Middle School: “To be nicer, and to do things that other people aren’t doing, and just do the right thing. So other people will do the right thing and we’ll have a better world.”
  • Corinne, Prescott Elementary third grader: “I liked the teamwork. We got to building things and we had to work together.”

While the students participated in the activity stations, parents were taken on a tour of the Husker facilities and were given an opportunity to hear from a UNL student-athlete panel.

At the end of the afternoon, students stood in the middle of the field with their parents and UNL athletes around them as they repeated and signed the Leadership pledge.

Posted on April 11, 2016

McPhee celebrates half a century

Right down the street from the State Capitol, McPhee Elementary School celebrated a 50th year anniversary on a gorgeous Sunday April afternoon with music and memories.

Current and former students, current and former teachers and administrators, and an assortment of families and friends strolled the hallways, pondered the historic displays and paused in the library media center to look through current and former McPhee yearbooks. 

Lincoln High School’s drum line musicians were poised outdoors, just across the street from McPhee, performing for visitors – but also giving elementary kids a chance to try their chops at drum sticks.

And inside a rolling video showed McPhee English Language Learner students interviewing Ed Zimmer, the city’s Historic Preservation Planner, asking him about the history of their school.

Posted on April 10, 2016

A peek inside Wysong Elementary School

Standing in what will be a future kindergarten classroom, local news reporters Friday got a first look at the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School set to open in southeast Lincoln in the fall of 2016.

“We believe in investing in the longevity of our school buildings,” said Scott Wieskamp, director of Facilities and Maintenance at LPS. “We build them to last 50, 60, 70, 80 years.”

Randy Oltman, principal of the new elementary school, said he is honored to serve as the leader of Wysong, explaining he is now hiring staff, reaching out to parents, establishing procedures for the new school.  “It’s a beautiful facility,” he said, specifically noting the small group spaces and natural lighting.

Friday tour included future classrooms, gymnasium, multipurpose room, library media center, as well as art and music classrooms. Wieskamp pointed out the secure entrances, technology throughout the school and explained that “LPS buildings adapt and change to meet the changing needs of teachers and students.”

Quick Facts:

  •  School will be more than 75,000 square feet
  •  Site is 20.43 acres
  •  Four-section: four classrooms per grade
  •  Preschool-fifth grade
  •  Student capacity of 525

The $20 million Wysong Elementary is funded through the 2014 LPS bond issue, which also financed school additions, renovations, technology and security updates throughout the community, as well as a new middle school (opening fall of 2017) and a renovated facility to house middle school students with behavior issues (opening fall of 2016).

“All of the 2014 bond issue projects will be finished by the end of the summer of 2017,” Wieskamp said, explaining that projects are estimated to be under budget with enough savings to fund additional construction projects to be determined in coming months.

*Sally G. Wysong: Sally G. Wysong was a long-time early childhood advocate who ran the Meadowlane Nursery School, and later served on the Lincoln Board of Education.

Posted on April 10, 2016

McPhee Elementary celebrates 50 Sunday, April 10

McPhee Elementary School, 820 Goodhue Blvd., celebrates 50 years of service to the children of Lincoln with festivities set for 2-4 p.m. Sunday, April 10.
The school anniversary celebration will feature tours of the building, historic displays and more.

Posted on April 09, 2016

Art club students portray beauty, perseverance in Memory Project

The LSE Art Master's Club took part in the Memory Project this year.

The Memory Project is a nonprofit organization that invites art students to create portraits of children from around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents and extreme poverty. The organization sent photos of children from Ethiopia.

Some of the members from the club created a painting of that child. They sent the painting back to the organization along with a photo of the artist. Then the organization will deliver the paintings to the children and send a video of them receiving the artwork. 

Participating students included

  • Ally Hall
  • Hannah Yohman 
  • Molly Cummings
  • Rebecca Terry
  • Yasmine Sayre
  • Katy Krejci

Posted on April 08, 2016

LPS names new Curriculum Specialist for Career and Technical Education

Lincoln Public Schools announced Wednesday the new Curriculum Specialist for Career and Technical Education: Cindy Baum, currently curriculum director and assistant high school principal at Aurora Public Schools in Aurora.
Prior to the past two years at Aurora, Baum's leadership experience includes high school principal and assistant elementary principal at Elm Creek (Nebraska) Public Schools; professional development coordinator at ESU #10 in Kearney; and director at Northeast Nebraska Career Academy and High School Transitions, Northeast Community College in Norfolk. 
She has Master's degrees in Curriculum and Instruction and in Educational Administratio, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and from Wayne State College respectively.  


Posted on April 06, 2016

LPS's Morehouse elected to top spot of national organization

Lisa Morehouse has been elected as president-elect of the National Association of Educational Office Professionals (NAEOP). She has been a member since 1996 and has previously served on the board of directors as administrative council chairman, area director, and is currently serving as vice president. She will be installed as president-elect this July, and as president in July of 2017.

1 - What made you interested in being the president of the NAEOP?

I have always had a passion for personal and professional growth, which I believe was started as a child spending time with a dad who is a lifelong learner. I believe it is my responsibility to continue to grow and to improve myself. This belief is coupled with a strong desire to help others in this same endeavor of attaining opportunities for growth.

Although I received my Bachelors in Elementary Education from Nebraska Wesleyan in 1981, I ended up taking a different career path into the world of retail management. Eventually I found my way back into education in 1992 when I began my career with LPS in the Purchasing department. At that time, I also became a member of the Lincoln Public Schools Association of Office Professionals (LPSAOP).

Through LPSAOP and the Nebraska Educational Office Professionals Association (NEOPA), I was introduced to many opportunities to develop myself professionally. I served in multiple positions on the local and state board of directors, eventually serving as President in both associations.

In 1996 I attended my first national conference in Chicago where I saw how networking, leadership skills and professional development can change an office professional. I remember listening to the national President emphasize the importance of continuing our education and pursing professional growth. This conference reignited my desire to encourage and assist other office professionals with their professional growth. This is also where my desire to become national president started.

2 - What kind of impact does this group have on you and how does that benefit LPS?

I believe there are two areas the association impacts our office professionals and the district. First; the opportunity to be involved and start networking within LPS; getting to know other office professionals in similar positions opens communication lines. This enables a new office professional to reach out to a veteran office professional as they settle into their job. I have seen how networking within our district leads to improved leadership skills. Many times this leads to career growth for the individual. The district benefits from having experienced office professionals on staff.  My own involvement allowed me growth with LPS as I attained the skills and confidence to pursue positions with more responsibility moving from a Secretary II in Purchasing to a Secretary IV/Office Manager in Human Resources.

The second area that has a major impact on LPS office professionals stems from participation in the NAEOP Professional Standards Program (PSP).

This nationally recognized program provides the opportunity for members to enhance their professional growth and competencies through academic programs, conferences and institutes. After receiving my Bachelors, CEOE, PSP certification, I became the PSP Director for LPSAOP and have been actively involved in promoting the PSP program for LPS office professionals since 1999. I was also appointed to serve as the national PSP Director for two years.  I strongly believe the continuing education of our educational office professionals is essential to aid them in adapting to the rapidly changing world in which we work.

Lincoln Public Schools recognizes the strength and benefits of the PSP program and supports our office professionals in this endeavor by offering staff development, academic opportunities, and PSP stipends based on the certification level they achieve. We currently have approximately 85 LPS office professionals that have received PSP certification and approximately 20 additional members working towards certification. This means LPS has over one third of our office professionals continuing their professional development.

3 - What issues or projects is the group working on to help its members?

In addition to continue to offer conferences and workshops for education credit and professional development at the local, state and national levels, our members also work to provide funds for a variety of student scholarships. Our local association, LPSAOP, gives an annual $1,300 scholarship to an LPS student pursing higher education. We have awarded such scholarships to LPS students for over 30 years.

4 - How has the role of office professionals changed over the last few decades, and what do you foresee for the future roles?

The many changes in our world over the past two decades have caused a ripple effect into the role of the educational office professional. From terminology and technology, from our responses to our attitudes, we are constantly changing. When I started in Purchasing 23 years ago, we were called secretaries. Now we are office professionals and administrative assistants. At that time, secretaries did most of the typing for the administrators. Now the administrators tend to do much of it on their own. We relied heavily on the typewriter and the fax machine; now we use computers and scanners. In the schools we still continue to answer the phone and direct traffic but now we tend to have a wider set of roles, touching a little bit on nurse, counselor and computer tech. Another positive and exciting change has been with the culture and diversity in our schools.  

As I peer into the future, I see a strong need for the office professional to continue to develop themselves professionally through staff development, workshops and conferences. Technology is going to continue to change, new policies and programs are going to continue to be implemented on a regular basis.  The office professional needs to recognize this and continue to grow in order to support their administrators and staff. And more importantly, to be able to give our students and families the best skills and services we are capable of.

Posted on April 06, 2016

3D studies in one class lead to 3D model in another

What do you do if you learn about the Menger sponge (a 3 dimensional fractal) in one class and you are learning about 3 dimensional software in another class? 

You build an actual Menger sponge, of course. 

Cameron Smith, a senior at Lincoln North Star High School, was assigned a project in Cory Free’s Introduction to Engineering and Design 2 class that required students to design, draw and then 3D print an object that correlates with the curriculum in another class.  

“I thought it was cool that a single 3D pattern can consist of multiple 2D patterns," Cameron said, "many of which are only revealed when the 3D pattern is sliced in a specific way.”

Free said, “I love this project because it helps students connect what they learn in my class with what they are learning in another class.  After all, learning is not isolated; it’s synergistic. I’m also particularly impressed with Cameron because what you can’t see is that his drawing used algebraic equations in his parametric modeling in order to size or resize the entire object by changing only one dimension.”

The Menger sponge that Cameron designed is 3-inch cubed and took 10.5 hours to print.

“That’s the problem with current 3D printer technology  it’s very slow," Free said. "However, I predict this technology will evolve much like the desktop printer you have at home – every year they get a little more precise and a whole lot faster.”

Posted on April 06, 2016

Maxey student council donate to Backpack Program

Maxey Elementary student council raised $1,500 to give to the Backpack Program. Ahead of this year's Backpack Extra Mile Walk, the Maxey student council presented a check to the Food Bank during a special student rally on Tuesday.

In addition to the check presentation, students were also treated to a special presentation and songs by the team that created Puddin' and the Grumble.

The musical which was recently produced by the Lied Center for the Performing Arts is a story told through the eyes of a fifth grader, and tells of her struggles with hunger. It was written by Becky Boesen and David Von Kampen in cooperation with students from Clinton Elementary Creative Club.

This year's Backpack Extra Mile Walk will be held April 16, starting at 10:00 a.m. at Lincoln East High School. There will be plenty of activities for families before the walk starts. (What to expect on the day of the walk)

In eight years of walking, LPS employees and students have raised over $1.1 million for the Food Bank of Lincoln’s BackPack program, which provides Friday food-filled backpacks to children who need help with nourishment over the weekends.


Posted on March 31, 2016

Mathematics: setting the record straight

The first thing Matt Larson wanted to do at the Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch was set the record straight about mathematics education today.

“The issues raised with mathematics today are not new, they are historical,” said Larson, curriculum specialist for Mathematics at LPS.  “Americans have long complained about the quality of mathematics instruction and mathematics education.”

Larson went on to show the tug of war throughout history, beginning in 1788, between teaching students procedures and rules versus teaching students the reasoning and understanding of concepts.

“Someone gave us a rule, they showed us an example, and we practiced problems that looked exactly like the problem we were shown. It’s when we change that approach to teaching we become uncomfortable with it.”

At LPS, the focus is now a more balanced approach with students not only learning the rules and procedures in mathematics, but also gaining a conceptual understanding of how and when to use concepts to solve the problem.

Larson emphasized the only thing we are doing differently today is to teach the why. Students today are learning the same as parents, but they are learning more. They are learning how it works and when to apply it.

The National Research Council says this balanced approach is what the workforce is asking for: teaching students important reasoning skills and learning more deeply.

“We owe it to our students to emphasize why and when, in addition to the how. We have to prepare kids for the jobs they don’t know. We have to give them reasoning skills for those jobs of tomorrow.”

Larson said that as new strategies are found for teaching an understanding of mathematical concepts, we should expect teachers to implement those learning strategies to help students gain better understanding.

He compared it to when people go to get medical treatment: “Let’s say we’re ill, we go to our doctor, she does some tests to diagnose what’s wrong with us. And she says, ‘I know what’s wrong with you, and we have this great new researched, informed treatment protocol that will cure what is wrong with you.’ Very few of us push back on our doctor and say ‘It’s great that you’ve got all this data that says this really works and will cure me. I don’t want you to use that treatment. I want you to treat me with leeches, because that’s the way they treated this 300 years ago.’ We do not do that!”

Larson also wants parents to stop saying that some people are just born better at math than others. He says it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand any mathematics at all. The most important thing is to be positive and supportive with your child and put the emphasis on the fact that math takes effort and practice just like anything else does.

“We all expect our children can become great musicians or great athletes, and how will they do that? They’ll get good coaching. They’ll get corrective feedback. They’ll take action on that feedback. They’ll practice, and they’ll work hard, and they’ll get better and better and better. And the message is learning mathematics is no different. You become a great math student the same way you become a great athlete or a great piano player.”

Posted on March 31, 2016

LPS Learning Lunch March 29: Guide to Math Education

LPS Learning Lunch March 29: Guide to Math Education


A Guide to Mathematics Education Today – that’s the title of the March 29 Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch, scheduled for 12:15 p.m. at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.


The program will be presented by Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for Mathematics at LPS. Larson will discuss the focus of mathematics education today and why it is important, and examine some of the concerns raised about mathematics education in social media.


Doors to the Board Room will open at noon on March 29, the program will begin at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers will happen at 12:45 p.m.  ** We will serve free cookies - bring your own lunch!

This year’s Learning Lunch series is called, “Untold Stories of LPS,” an annual series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations open to the community.


The remaining Learning Lunch in the 2015-16 school year is:

  • Tuesday, April 26. Live from the Met:  Opera Curriculum in our Schools, Fredstrom Elementary, teacher Judy Bush and Lincoln North Star, teacher Joni Osborne.

Posted on March 28, 2016

LPS fifth graders learn about earth wellness

Close to 3,500 fifth grade students from Lancaster County attended the 22nd annual earth wellness festival March 22-23, at Southeast Community College.  

During the festival, students experienced a multitude of creative and "hands-on" lessons during 25-minute sessions in each area of water, land, air and living resources. 

As in years past, students were able to see animals from the World Bird Sanctuary located near St. Louis, and Lincoln Children's zoo.This year, the students also got to meet Johnny - the new serval at Lincoln Children’s Zoo. A serval is a medium-sized African wild cat native to sub-Saharan Africa. 

The earth wellness festival organizers work closely with local schools to ensure the activities and materials correspond with their fifth-grade curriculum. Educators, environmentalists and government representatives are utilized as the 300 presenters and volunteers for earth wellness festival

This environmental education program was conceived in 1994 as the result of a petition request of 325+ local teachers who wanted an environmental festival in their own community. Todayearth wellness festivalhas impacted over 63,000 youth. 

The earth wellness festival steering committee is comprised of representatives from local educational resource agencies. The outstanding collaboration and cooperation of the committee is one reason for thefestival's continued success. The partners in this project are:

Posted on March 23, 2016

Highlights of 3/22 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 3/22 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, March 22 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, April 12, 2016.


Highlights of Board Meeting

Update on LPS Summer School 20016

Summer school at Lincoln Public Schools – with opportunities that have grown over the past four years – will happen at many grade levels across the school district in a variety of ways.


LPS will again hold a six-week high school summer session at Lincoln North Star High School with classes from May 25 through July 7. The classes are open to current high school students for general education, English Language Learners and special education. Classes will go online on April 4; registration opens April 18.


In addition, e-learning opportunities for students will be held at several other high school locations.


Other LPS summer school opportunities:

  • Special Education summer programs will focus on meeting the individual needs of identified students. In addition, high school courses will include English 9 and 10, co-taught English Comp, integrated curriculum, VOICE and special education support in summer school courses.  
  • Early childhood services will be offered to children with special education needs. Early childhood services will be available at selected sites during June and July. 
  • Summer elementary literacy/numeracy programs funded by a Flexible Funding Grant from the Nebraska Department of Education will be offered at multiple sites in the district.
  • Middle school instrumental and vocal music camps for middle school students and an elementary vocal music camp for fifth grade students.
A limited summer technology program for upper elementary and middle school students.

Two-year salary package approved for LPS educators

A two-year contract for Lincoln Public Schools educators for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years has been approved by the Lincoln Board of Education.


Board of Education member Don Mayhew noted: “I want to say thank you to our staff and to LEA (Lincoln Education Association) for getting a negotiated agreement which recognizes how much we value our staff…. as well as something that is fiscally sound…wins all the way around.”


The contract was passed 7-0.


The agreement – also voted on and approved by LEA membership – provides a total package increase of 3.18 percent for the 2016-17 school year, which includes salary increases; increased health insurance premiums of 4.9 percent; and increases in Social Security and retirement costs. Each full-time employee will receive a $1,600 salary increase.  For that school year, the average total salary will increase 2.88 percent, and the base salary for a new teacher with a B.A. Degree will increase $1,100 to $42,831.


The total package will increase 3.19 percent for the 2017-18 school year, which includes salary increases; increased health insurance premiums of 4.9 percent and increases in Social Security and retirement costs. Each full-time employee will receive a $1,650 salary increase. For that school year, the average total salary will increase 2.89 percent and the base salary for a new teacher with a B.A. Degree will increase $1,150 to $43,981.


Classroom sound amplification systems

Classroom sound amplification systems for LPS schools were approved by the Board of Education Tuesday, a project that will be gradually added throughout LPS.


Board member Matt Schulte said: “This will impact every single learning environment in the school district…This is going to make it easier and better for our students to interact directly with our teachers…I’m really excited about this. I’m going to give this a whole-hearted yes.”

The Connected Classroom component of the instructional technology plan included sound amplification as an important element to ensure that both the teacher’s voice and digital sound content is uniformly distributed throughout the learning space.  Classroom sound amplification systems were piloted at Culler Middle School during the 2014-15 school year.  Educational research and the experience of teachers at Culler support the positive effects related to improved student outcomes.  These effects include improved accommodation of hearing impaired learners, increases in student engagement, and perception of teacher proximity and a reduction in teacher fatigue.


School construction projects

Tuesday the Board discussed several construction projects funded through the 2014 bond issue.


Projects approved:

  • Randolph Elementary School, $3.7 million, classroom additions, geothermal well field, replacing pavement, renovations and changes in gymnasium, cafeteria and media center.

Projects discussed:

  • West Lincoln Elementary School, $4.3 million, classroom addition, security entrance, restrooms, expansion of geothermal wellfield, pavement and more.
  • Humann Elementary School, $8.9 million, significant renovation and additions for building, extensive interior and exterior work, and more.
  • Park Middle School, $3.1 million, new gymnasium, classrooms, commons area, secure entrance and misc. renovations and support space.

Newly annexed property

The city of Lincoln has annexed two parcels of land, which automatically brings these properties into the LPS District.  These properties need to be assigned attendance centers so that potential purchasers of homes in this area will know which schools they will be attending.


Proposed attendance areas are:

  • Shadow Creek, Annexation Ordinance #20280, for 2015-16 school year:  Pyrtle Elementary School, Lux Middle School and Lincoln East High School.
  • Woodlands at Yankee Hill, Annexation Ordinance #20284, for 2015-16 school year:  Maxey Elementary School, Pound Middle School and Lincoln Southeast High School.


The Board approved two grant applications:

  • Partnership for Innovation Grant for approximately $15,000, focused on building a better statewide system of Career and Technical Education to improve student learning and better meet economic development priorities.
  • Lancaster County Human Services Administrator for $12,150.00 to support a contract with Blue Valley Behavioral Health for therapy services across middle and high schools within the district.

Technology purchases

The Board also approved several purchases related to technology:


SOPHOS EMAIL CONTENT/ANTIVIRUS FILTER: The Board award $53,270.00 to JourneyED (Plano, Texas) for a three-year licensing renewal of the Sophos email content/antivirus filtering software. The purchase price includes a comprehensive three-year licensing and maintenance plan that provides the daily updates necessary to ensure immediate responses to new virus threats as well as management of IP lists designed to identify networks that propagate unsolicited email messages known as SPAM. For the past 6 years, LPS has successfully filtered incoming email using Sophos software.


The Sophos solution currently filters out over 85 percent of all incoming messages while maintaining a near zero false-positive rate. As part of a standard due diligence process, Computing Services reviewed a number of alternative filtering products and tested four of the solutions. In the end, none of the competitors provided better protection and the Sophos solution remains the best value.


WEB FILTERING SOLUTION: The Board entered into a three-year agreement with ContentKeeper Technologies (Anaheim, California) for server and load balancing hardware, software, and installation and warranty services comprising the Web Filter Pro, a turnkey web-filtering, decryption, reporting and high-availability solution. Web filtering is used by the district to manage access to the Internet and ensure compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) as required for E-rate participation. The award of $189,111.95 includes $56,111.95 in hardware and $133,000.00 in software licensing. In addition to CIPA compliance, schools have come to rely upon reliable web filtering to focus student access on educationally appropriate information. The implementation of Chromebooks on a 1:1 ratio for students in grades 3-12 creates both quantitative and qualitative filtering challenges beyond the capacity of the current web filtering solution that has been in place for nearly three years.


First, as the number of connected devices increases, so the does the amount of traffic that must be filtered. The current web filtering solution would require a substantial hardware upgrade to meet the growth in demand that will come with the implementation of approximately 7,000 Chromebooks this coming fall. Prior to investing further in the existing solution, staff reviewed alternative offerings and performed extensive proof-of-concept testing of the ContentKeeper solution over the past 4 months.


Second, the challenge for web filters is increasingly qualitative in that they must be capable of permitting selective access to sites such as YouTube that have a mix of educationally valuable and inappropriate content. This now requires the ability to actively decrypt web requests to determine the content that is being requested. Further, as students move off-network with their Chromebooks, the web filtering solution must be capable of managing this traffic as well.


INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: The Board entered into a five-year agreement with Follett Corporation (Westchester, Illinois) for the Destiny Library Manager and Destiny Resource Manager enterprise system software. The Destiny Library Management system will replace the current library management system that has been in place for the past seven years and is up for renewal in July 2016. The Destiny Resource Management system is a system for managing print and digital textbooks and instructional materials such as science kits, band instruments, document cameras and other classroom resources. The award of $456,473.00 includes $175,397.00 for software licensing and implementation fees the first year and annual software licensing costs of $70,134 in the second through fifth years.


Despite a very large investment in print and digital textbooks and a variety of other instructional resources, there is no district-wide system to manage these resources. Consideration of such systems has been ongoing for more than a decade. During this time, numerous factors associated with district growth, student mobility, increasing adoption of digital textbook resources and limited availability of some print textbooks, have made the effective management of instructional resources a critical need beyond the capacity of manual efforts.


Celebrations of Success

The Board recognized:

  • Pat Janike, a math teacher at Lincoln High School, who attained National Board Certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
  • Lincoln Northeast High School, earning recognition as a model program by the American School Counselor Association – for the second time.

Posted on March 22, 2016

LPS names three program principals

Lincoln Public Schools has named three new program principals for the school district’s three education centers for students with needs in behavior skills. 

The new principals are:

  •  Donald D. Sherrill Education Center (330 N. 56th St., for elementary students): Cindy Vodicka, current assistant principal at Cavett Elementary School.  In addition to serving as assistant principal this past year, Vodicka's leadership experience includes special education coordinator at Lux Middle School and instructional coordinator at Prescott Elementary School. Vodicka has Master's degrees in Curriculum and Instruction and in Educational Leadership, both from Doane College.

  •  Bill Nuernberger Education Center (1801 S. 40th St., renovated LPS facility for middle school students opening in the fall of 2016): Jaime Boedeker, current supervisor in Student Services.  Prior to the past eight years as supervisor, Boedeker served as a teacher at the Expelled Student Middle School Program as well as a special education coordinator and teacher at Mickle Middle School.  He has a Master's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Behavior Disordered K-12, and Learning Disabilities K-12.

  •  Yankee Hill Program (865 Burnham, for high school students): Erik Witt, current associate principal at Lincoln Southeast High School. Witt has been associate principal at Southeast since 2006 and previously served as instructional coordinator and special education coordinator at Lincoln North Star High School.  Witt has a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from Doane and is currently enrolled in their Ed.S program. 

Posted on March 18, 2016

LPS names five new principals for 2016-17 school year

Lincoln Public Schools has named five new principals for the school district: four elementary principals and one middle school principal. 

“We are pleased to welcome these talented leaders to their new posts for the 2016-17 school year,” said Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS. “They have an incredible commitment to our mission of serving students and families in Lincoln Public Schools.”  

The new principals are:

  • Clinton Elementary School: Angela Luedtke, current assistant principal at Clinton. Luedtke has served in many teaching positions at Clinton and has been assistant principal since 2010. She has a Master’s degree from Doane College.

  • Everett Elementary School: Michael Long, current principal in Palm Springs, California. Long has also served as a principal in Desert Hot Springs, California, as well as assistant principal and teacher in California. He has a Master’s degree from California State University.

  • Hill Elementary School: Amy Carnie, current associate principal at Schoo Middle School. Carnie has been assistant principal at Schoo since 2012 and previously served as instructional coordinator at Schoo. Carnie has Master’s degrees from Northern Illinois University and from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is currently enrolled in Doane College’s Ed.S/Ed.D program.

  • Kloefkorn Elementary School: Tonya Jolley, current assistant principal at Hartley Elementary School. Jolley has been assistant principal at Hartley since 2014, and was also coordinator at Beattie Elementary School. She has a Master’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is currently enrolled in the Doctoral Educational Leadership program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

  • Irving Middle School: Jason Shanahan, current associate principal at Irving Middle School. Shanahan has been associate principal at Irving since 2014, and previously was instructional coordinator at Schoo Middle School. He has a Master’s degree from Doane College.

The current principals at these schools have all announced their retirement.

Posted on March 17, 2016

Families can now check on future school attendance areas

Families curious about where their students will attend school now have a new web-based tool to aid their search that can check both current and future attendance areas.  Lincoln Public Schools is pleased to announce the launch of a new home school lookup service.
This new service, available to anyone with a web browser, identifies the home elementary, middle and high school corresponding to the address entered in the form.  When you visit the page it defaults to the current school year.  However, there are links that allow you to perform the same search for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years that reflect Board approved boundary changes associated with the additions of Wysong Elementary and Moore Middle. 
To access the new page, go to


Posted on March 16, 2016

Nanoscience: Harry Potter Style

Join Southeast Community College for a fun evening about the magic of Hogwarts that exists in our own world (aka science and technology).

J.K. Rowling’s series of Harry Potter books has captured the imaginations of millions of readers of all ages, including many engineers and scientists. Although Rowling did not major in chemistry or physics in college, she has knowledge of alchemy and has incorporated many science concepts into her books, in particular, the first book titled “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Learn and experience hands-on more about the alchemical concepts in the Harry Potter books as we look at gold and silver nanoparticles, invisible ink, invisible objects and more!  

If registering as a family, only one family member needs to register and pay the fee. However, please indicate how many will be attending on the registration form or email the information to

Click here to register

Keyword: Nanoscience
May 10 T 6:30-8 p.m. $10/Single
Lincoln, CEC, 302 LLLX-2266-CESA

May 10 T 6:30-8 p.m. $25/family
Lincoln, CEC, 302 LLLX-2266-CESB

Posted on March 16, 2016

Beattie volunteer receives award for garden work

Beattie Elementary volunteer Karen Creswell received an award for the  work she has done with students and staff on the school's garden.

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum has worked with Beattie Elementary School for sixteen years creating a sustainable schoolyard through grants, planning and supervision. Creswell worked with Beattie through the Sustainable Schoolyard Partnership. Although one person receives this award, thousands have given volunteer hours in the Beattie garden.

"When the Beattie Community thinks of the ideal volunteer, they think of self-less service and sacrifice combined with knowledge, skills, and the passion for serving others. When the Beattie Community thinks of the ideal volunteer, they think of Karen Creswell," said principal Sean Bailey. "Her leadership, vision, and dedication to our outdoor garden project have provided this community with place for children and our community to learn, grow, and appreciate the outdoors."


Posted on March 16, 2016

Thinking about a career in School Libraries? Funding for coursework now available at UNO

Do you love teaching children and/or young adults?   Do you engage your students in research and inquiry? Do you love sharing books and literature with your students? Do you love technology and social media?
If so – school libraries could be in your future!
The University of Nebraska Omaha has funds from the Nebraska Dept of Education's 2016-2017 Enhancing Excellence in Teaching (EETP) award to support your journey towards a school library endorsement in its Nationally Recognized graduate School Library Endorsement program.  
The award would pay for classes during Fall 2016/Spring 2017/Summer 2017 academic year. UNO courses are offered in a family and work friendly format that combines online experiences with on-campus sessions which allows students from all over Nebraska and the Midwest to join our profession.  
For more information, contact Dr. Becky Pasco at or at 402-580-5480.

Posted on March 16, 2016

2015/16 State Sports Update


Boys Basketball

State Qualifier: Lincoln Northeast

Girls Basketball

State Champion - Lincoln East

Swimming & Diving

Team State Champion - Southwest Girls

200 Freestyle - Alana Palmer, Southwest

200 IM - Dannie Dilsaver, Southwest

50 Free - Olivia Calegan, Southwest

100 Freetyle - Olivia Calegan, Southwest

500 Freestyle - Alana Palmer, Southwest

200 Free Relay - Southwest (Clara Walstad, Dannie Dilsaver, Kaitlyn Witt, Olivia Calegan) 

100 Breaststroke - Dannie Dilsaver, Southwest

400 Freestyle Relay - Southwest (Olivia Calegan, Alana Palmer, Shelby Mullendore, Dannie Dilsaver)

Medalists - Girls

Diving - 5. Abbi Rouse, East; 7. Katie Haeffner, Northeast; 7. Payton Prall, Lincoln High

200 Freestyle - 4. Anna Heinrich, Southwest

200 IM - 2. Emma Vertin, Southwest

50 Free - 2. Clara Walstad, Southwest

100 Butterfly - 4. Kaitlyn Witt, Southwest; 7. Sydney Schneider, Southwest; 8. Alexa Goldenstein, Southeast

100 Freetyle - 2. Shelby Mullendore, Southwest

500 Freestyle - 3. Emma Vertin, Southwest; 7. Anna Heinrich, Southwest

200 Free Relay - 6. Southeast

100 Backstroke - 2. Clara Walstad, Southwest; 3. Shelby Mullendore, Southwest; 5. Sydney Schneider, Southwest; 6. Alexa Goldenstein, Southeast; 7. Josie Ford, Southwest

100 Breaststroke - 3. Kaitlyn Witt, Southwest; 8. Madison Beal, Southeast

Medalists - Boys

Diving - 2. Austin Alexander, Northeast; 4. Aaron Haeffner, Northeast

200 Free - 3. Joshua Roh, East

200 IM - 5. Chase Larson, Northeast

50 Free - 6. Braly Keller, Northeast

100 Butterfly - 2. Nolan Reid, Southwest

500 Freestyle - 3. Joshua Roh, East; 8. Jackson Pope, Southwest

100 Backstroke - 6. Nolan Reid, Southwest

400 Freestyle Relay - 4. Southeast (Cody McNeese, Trevor Holland, Chase Searcy, Alex Sokolov); 5. East (Brandon LaPointe, Alex Chmelka, Jared Murrary, Joshua Roh); 7. Southwest (Jackson Pope, Michael Ayars, Chas Nolte, Nolan Reid)



120 - Wesley Dawkins, Lincoln High


138 - 2. Jonathan Killingsworth, Southeast

170 - 2. Isaac Odell, East

106 - 3. Adam Kinnman, Southeast

195 - 3. Kyson Schnell, Southwest

220 - 3. Connor Clanton, Southwest

113 - 4. Chance Fry, Southeast

132 - 4. Aidan Arnold, Lincoln High

138 - 4. Jake Oltman, Southwest

152 - 5. Nathan Hunt, Southeast

170 - 5. Justin Shaw, Southwest

220 - 6. Terry Jones, Lincoln High  


State Cross Country

Girls State Medalists

2. Diana Lado Andrea, Lincoln North Star High School

4. Elsa Forsberg, Lincoln Southeast High School

Girls Team Finishes

12. Lincoln East High School

Boys State Medalists

4. Wyatt McLeod, Lincoln Northeast High School

9. Abram Turner, Southeast

10. Evan Johnson, Southeast

Boys Team Finishes

5. Southeast

10. North Star

11. Lincoln Southwest High School

Girls State Qualifiers
  • East: Alana Sesow, Alexis Rouse,
  • Southeast: Elsa Forsberg, Laura Ebers
  • Northeast: Jocelyn Towers
  • Lincoln High: Johanna Schubert, Nancy Flores
  • North Star: Diana Lado Andrea, Tasneem Ali, Miriam Kluck
  • Southwest: Marissa Czapla, Alexandra Schwartz
Girls Team Qualifiers
  • East
Boys Individual Qualifiers
  • Northeast: McLeod
  • East: Corbin Hubbell
  • Southeast: Turner, Johnson, Tyler Labudda
  • Southwest: Masen Louviere, Luke Nolley
  • North Star: Nathan Pierce, Andru Hansen
Boys Team Qualifiers
  • Southeast
  • Southwest
  • North Star

State Girls Golf

State Medalists

2. Lidia Jons, Southwest

T-9. Tess Meyer, Northeast

T-9. Shelby Glenn, East

15. Gillian Dean, Southwest

Team Results

Champion: Southwest (Team members include Jons, Dean, Alexis Thomas, Anne Wiltfong, Adrian Pilkington; Coach Jim Danson)

Individual State Qualifiers
  • East: Caroline Startzer, Glenn
  • Northeast: Meyer
  • Southeast: Madeline Whitehead, Brooke Romjue
  • Southwest: Jons, Dean, Alexis Thomas
Team State Qualifiers
  • East
  • Southwest


State Qualifiers
  • North Star
  • Southwest

Boys Tennis

Boys Individual Results

#1 Singles: 1. Will Gleason, Southwest

#2 Singles: 1. Mason Williams, East

#2 Singles: 4. William Everett, Southeast

#1 Doubles: 2. Lucas Dionisopoulos / Duncan Works, Southwest

#2 Doubles: 3. Ethan Reid / Christopher Stoehr, East

#2 Doubles: 4: Caleb Martin / Alexander Hamann, Lincoln High

Boys Team Results

2. Southwest

4. East

6. Southeast

10. Lincoln High

11. North Star


State Qualifiers
  • Northeast
  • North Star


State Qualifiers
  • Southeast
  • Southwest


Posted on March 08, 2016

Rushing wins 'Excellence' award from state group

See Jason Rushing in action in an archived video below

Jason Rushing, a computer science teacher at Humann Elementary School has won the Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA).

Rushing will be honored at the spring NETA Conference April 21-22, 2016, at the CenturyLink Center Omaha Convention Center.

Here’s what three co-workers and fellow educators had to say about Rushing in their nomination letters:

“Our students are engaged in meaningful, challenging instruction related to technology and computer science. All students have had experience with coding, critical thinking skills, and problem solving,” his principal Gena Licata said. She added: “The staff looks to him as a resource, and he strives to collaborate with teachers to ensure all students have opportunities to engage in technology.”

“He is continually developing and trying out new learning experiences for his students,” said Kent Steen, the curriculum specialist for computer science in Lincoln Public Schools. “Jason is an integral member of the computer science curriculum committee, helping shape the curriculum and assessment for the district. Jason is one of our two lead computer science teachers at the elementary level, providing guidance and support to thirty-eight elementary school computer science teachers.”

“Jason is quick to share his cutting edge experiences and lessons using technology as a tool for learning,” said Pam Krambeck, a Nebraska educator. “I have personally attended Jason’s Google sessions where he has shared folders full of materials jam packed with ideas to overflow crowds always taking time to explain the organization of the lesson, what worked with different ages, how he adapted lessons for different curricular areas and grades.” 

NETA is a grassroots organization open to everyone interested in sharing information about using technology in the educational process. It exists for the purpose of providing leadership and promoting the application of technology to the educational process. Its span of interest includes all levels and aspects of education. NETA has approximately 2,900 members representing members from around the country. To find out more about the NETA contests, go to the web site at

Posted on March 08, 2016

LPS Learning Lunch March 29: Guide to Math Education

LPS Learning Lunch March 29: Guide to Math Education


A Guide to Mathematics Education Today – that’s the title of the March 29 Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch, scheduled for 12:15 p.m. at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.


The program will be presented by Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for Mathematics at LPS. Larson will discuss the focus of mathematics education today and why it is important, and examine some of the concerns raised about mathematics education in social media.


Doors to the Board Room will open at noon on March 29, the program will begin at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers will happen at 12:45 p.m.

This year’s Learning Lunch series is called, “Untold Stories of LPS,” an annual series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations open to the community.


The remaining Learning Lunch in the 2015-16 school year is:   Tuesday, April 26. The Rhythm of Music in our Schools, LPS student musicians and Lance Nielsen, supervisor of Music for LPS.



Posted on March 08, 2016

Jablonski named National Distinguished Principal

The Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals recently announced that Ann Jablonski, Principal at Kooser Elementary within the Lincoln Public Schools, has been named the 2015 National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska.  

Jablonski has been a principal at LPS for 17 years, and has been the administrator in three elementary buildings before selected to open Kooser Elementary in 2009. 

Being active and passionate in her role as an administrator, Jablonski intentionally focuses on influencing and motivating her staff to find the best learning experiences that benefit the students at Kooser Elementary.  She is rooted in developing a positive culture, and focused on highlighting information on student achievement, data, as well as, educational research.   

According to Cindy Schwaninger, Director of Elementary Education in Lincoln Public Schools,  “Ann is highly organized due to her strong work ethic.  She works until the job is done right and puts in many hours needed to reflect an effective school principal.  In a recent survey, 100 percent of classified and certificated Kooser staff agreed they believed in the integrity of their principal.  These same high ratings held for questions regarding trust and reliability.” 

Breanne Trumble, a parent at Kooser Elementary states,  “While Mrs. Jablonski completes all the ongoing requirements behind the door of her office, she can also tell you whose sister Lisa is, or what Timmy and Becca will be for Halloween, those are the little things that fill her days and make her job worthwhile.  The students, the stories, the families, and the partnerships, that’s what our large school that feels like a small community, is built upon.” 

Jablonski will represent Nebraska in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2016.  

Posted on March 07, 2016

Roping a win for Junior Achievement

Lincoln Public Schools administrators and employees came together with 24 bowling teams on the last Saturday in February to participate in the annual LPS/Junior Achievement Bowl-A-Thon.
Lincoln Public Schools raised a total of $7,864.30 for the local Junior Achievement - while having a pretty good time with a variety of costumes and ugly bowling shirts. 
  • The plaque for the top LPS high-scoring team went to Facilities and Maintenance with a score of 2062. 
  • The top five fundraising teams from LPS were led by: Lea Ann Johnson, Dawn Mazzie, Russ Uhing, Tim Muggy and Liz Standish.
Thanks to everyone.

Posted on March 07, 2016

Mold, volcanoes, discovery: LPS Science Fair!

Rousseau Elementary School fifth grader Linh Ha wanted to know what kind of container would keep warm beverages – warm – for the longest time: paper, plastic, glass or styrofoam? 

So Linh “put it to the test” for the 2016 Zoetis-LPS-GSK (Glaxo-Smith-Klien) Science Fair held Thursday at the Lancaster Event Center. 

One of more than 700 students signed up to participate – fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders – Linh said her hypothesis that styrofoam would be best was absolutely correct. 

“I used a measuring cup to make sure I had the same amounts – and placed a cup of hot water in the four different materials for 15 minutes, then 30 minutes,” she explained. “I think anyone trying to keep anything warm this winter should pay attention and get styrofoam.” 

Record student numbers were registered for the 21st annual LPS Science Fair this month, an optional event for elementary and middle school students to experiment, stir, build, create, discover. 

This year, Riley Elementary School fifth graders Blair Bourne and Kyle Kurtz decided to find out which cleaning solution could best get rid of bacteria and germs. After rubbing an unflavored gelatin solution over four flat areas – previously rinsed with four different cleansing solutions – they discovered that Clorox Bleach was the run-away winner. 

“It was amazing how much mold grew on the other three, and how little mold grew on the Clorox,” Blair said. 


Naomi McKibbin, an eighth grader at Irving Middle School, took on a fascinating study of how boys and girls reaction differently to what they see. Showing various colors, directional arrows and shapes to her classmates, she discovered that girls are drawn to cooler colors (blues, purples, greens), while boys remember the warmer colors (reds, oranges and yellows). 



Meadow Lane Elementary School fifth grader Giselle DeLeon investigated what foods would grow molds the quickest: No. 1, tomatoes, and No. 2, celery – followed by cheese, hamburger buns, bagels and crackers. 

“I love the different colors of molds,” Giselle said. “I don’t think it’s gross, I think it’s pretty.” 



And John Sump, a sixth grader at Lefler Middle School, took a close look at Newton’s Three Laws of Motion: “Just because I love physics and it’s so cool what Newton figured out about gravity and motion.” 


The Science Fair is presented thanks to many community volunteers, sponsors and donors, as well as Meadow Lane Elementary School science teacher Curt Mann, and James Blake, science curriculum specialist for LPS.


Posted on March 07, 2016

Thank You Teacher! 2016

This year, we were able to follow three of the five students as they told the winning teachers they were nominated and won.


Amy Judd — First Grade at Sheridan Elementary, nominated by Hugh Skretta

Sheridan Elementary School first grader Hugh Skrettas says his teacher — Amy Judd — is kind "because she only sends students to the safe seat — a place where kids think about their behaviors —if they interrupt too many times or are being disruptive or hurtful … She makes me feel special because she is excited to see me in the morning and tells me I'm smart…Whenever she talks to people she looks them straight in the eyes …She always has her best effort, like when she ran in a marathon and felt like her feet were on fire but she kept going." 

Judd said she was bursting with pride and excitement. "This is the greatest honor, and I'm thrilled to be standing next to my first grade student who has honored me today. Thank you, Hugh, you are amazing…I feel so fortunate to be doing what I love everyday. I wake up excited to be with my students and watch them learn and grow…I want to thank my principal Dr. De Ann Currin, and all the Sheridan staff who always lead by example and focus on building these positive relationships…I am very blessed to be a part of this vibrant community of Lincoln Public Schools. I will remember this moment forever."



Ed Aken — Fifth Grade at Cavett Elementary, nominated by Will Jesske

Cavett Elementary School teacher Ed Aken was honored by his student, Will Jesske, a fifth grader who wrote: “School started in August and the adventure began. Mr. Aken knew that I struggled with reading and he knew that he could help me find ways to discover the joys of reading. He takes the time to understand why things can be hard for children and how to make learning fun. He never makes you feel dumb or stupid…He is an inspiration and has helped me find joy in reading which I wasn’t sure would ever happen to me.” 

Aken said his dream is that one day each of his students will be smarter than him oneday. "That is my dream...When they are 18, I want them to give me a call, or when they finish college, and say ‘Mr. Aken, I’m smarter than you.’ And I’m going to be like good, because you are going to make our world a better place...It is the children, your children, that makes our world the most perfect, beautiful harmonious place...It is my job, it is all of our jobs, but most specifically, their job as they grow up, to continue to make our world so harmonious as special citizens. And we only do that by looking into their minds and promoting their intelligence through reading writing and math. It is an honor, it is a humbling honor, and it is a great privilege to be a teacher... We are only here for one reason, and that is for children."



Jai Burks — Music Instructor at Park Middle School, nominated by Vanskiver and Velicity Sundling

Vanskiver Sundling, a student at Lincoln Southeast High School, and his sister, Velicity Sundling, a Park Middle School student, nominated Park middle school teacher Jai Burks: “Mr. Burks is one of the most patient teachers we both know (you have to be when you give a group of middle students something that makes a lot of noise and at times may not sound the best)….We believe he is deserving of this recognition as he treats his students like they are his own kids.”


Burks said he was lucky to be a part of Lincoln Public Schools. "I’m here with my fearless leader, Mr. Ryan Zabawa...He has been a staunch supporter of the arts, and of me, and of our music program at Park. Without his leadership, we couldn’t do what we do. I wouldn’t be here. He gives me everything I need to do my job and touch the lives of these students. So thank you Mr. Z. And the staff at Park, they are not here, and I wish they could be here. I am here, but I represent that whole building. I work in a building full of staunch professionals who are passionate, who give their all every day to service that community and those students. I learn so much by watching them and having them mentor me. I’m here, but I’m also accepting this on behalf of all those deserving teachers at Park Middle School."


Elizabeth Okereke — English Language Learning teacher at Lincoln High School, nominated by Han Le

Han Le, a student at Lincoln High School, said that her English Language Learning teacher Elizabeth Okereke was one of the first people to ever ask her about her hopes and dreams. “She asked about my goals, about my family, about my story…I clearly remember how she admired my dream although many people thought that was not realistic…Ms. Okereke, there’s nothing I can say more than thank you so much for everything you have been giving to me. Thank you for coming into my life.”


Okereke siad that teaching ELL high school students is like a race against the clock, but that is what makes the students eager to learn. "Nothing is better for me than seeing a level 1 student start by learning their alphabet and sounds. Their words slowly become sentences, their sentences slowly become paragraphs, and paragraphs become essays. Before you know it, you’re watching in awe as they are walking across the stage and receive their diploma. It’s a remarkable feeling knowing you played a pivotal part in their story...The stories, I learn something from every student. You wouldn’t believe the stories I’ve heard. All of my students face one common obstacle, English. But before they’ve made it to Nebraska they’ve been on journeys. These are the kinds of journeys you read about in books and see in movies. And I get to work in that movie and that book everyday. These stories are humbling and inspirational for different reasons and no two stories are alike. A new story just walked through my door yesterday, and with a little English, I’ll get to hear it too."



Marcia Benner — retired counselor from Lincoln High School, nominated by Joy Nagengast

Former Lincoln High student Joy Nagengast nominated the winning educator in the retired category, former Lincoln High counselor Marcia Benner: “I didn’t talk to a lot of people and if I couldn’t talk to my mom I knew I could always go to Ms. Benner for help…Whether it was just to visit, help with class, or that I forgot my lunch money she never let me down. She was never judging me, just supportive and caring.”


Benner said she was honored and humbled. "Sometimes I have to remember who is the teacher and who is the learner...Teaching is hard work. After 35 years, retirement sounded pretty darn good...Joy and the teachers have reminded us this morning, that sometimes being a student is hard work. They have their own unique challenges that they have to contend with and navigate through to get there. Lincoln Schools are filled with amazing students...We want them to graduate, we want them to go on to careers, to go on to college if that is a choice, and to become productive members of society... There is no greater compliment to an educator, than to know that a former student has found her definition of happiness, and her own definition of success in her life. Joy has been able to find both. Thank you, Joy."


Posted on March 07, 2016

Museum Day Live

The University of Nebraska State Museum – Morrill Hall will participate in a special edition of Smithsonian Intuition’s “Museum Day Live!” on Saturday, March 12 offering free admission to visitors presenting a “Museum Day Live!” ticket. 

Taking place during Women’s History Month, the special event is meant for all visitors but is specially themed toward inspiring women and girls.  The museum will host a variety of hands-on science activities the day of the event.  Inclusive by design, the event represents Smithsonian's commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone, giving museums across all 50 states the opportunity to emulate the admission policy of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. 

The "Museum Day Live!” ticket is available to download online at Visitors who present the “Museum Day Live!” ticket will gain free entrance for two at Morrill Hall for Saturday, March 12. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. For more information on the program go to


Posted on March 02, 2016

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