News

EdNotes Express

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

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

Cultural Proficiency Leadership Workshop < New

A two-day Cultural Proficiency Leadership Workshop for certified and classified administrative teams will be held September 24-25, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sheridan Lutheran Church. To participate, the building principal and at least one other member of their leadership team must participate in the entire 2-day workshop. The workshop will focus on applying the lens of cultural proficiency to all the work we do in the district.

 

Workshop objectives include:

  1. Strengthen our culturally proficient practices (skills and techniques).
  2. Examine our states of mind (thinking habits) and evaluate their usefulness to move us along the Cultural Proficiency Continuum.
  3. Develop individual and building-wide strategies for coping with resistance to change (in self and others) arising from diversity-related issues.
  4. Evaluate practices in our workplace that impact cross-cultural relationships and engagement (with students, community, colleagues).
  5. Practice the use of the Cultural Proficiency lens in all our work.

You can review and register by going to the Staff Development websites: http://www.solutionwhere.com/staffdevlps/cw/main.asp

Please be reminded that if you are a certified or classified leader (Administrators, Coordinators and Supervisors) and have not taken the Cultural Proficiency Leadership Workshop, you can register for any of the sessions below.

  • September 24 and 25
  • February 4 and 5
  • June 1 and 2
  • June 14 and 15
For questions, please contact Thomas Christie at 1604 or christt@lps.org or Lameakia Collier at 1605 or lcollie@lps.org

Posted on September 03, 2015


Annual LPS/Saltdogs game creates lessons in character, sportsmanship < Updated

Piling off school buses in the bright September sunshine, almost 3,000 Lincoln Public Schools fifth graders arrived at Haymarket Park Wednesday with sunglasses, sunscreen and baseball mitts – ready for the annual LPS-Saltdogs field trip of early fall. 

It is an annual ritual of lessons in character, sportsmanship and good fun 

Buses began arriving at the Park at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday; first pitch was at 11.

“But preparation for this event begins way before the game starts,” said Matt Avey, LPS curriculum specialist for Health and Physical Fitness – and the guy who threw the game’s first pitch. “We talk about good character and good behavior that should be displayed at a baseball game.”

These are behaviors that will also serve our students well in life, he said. 

“And you should have seen them today, getting off those buses – all the smiles,” Avey said.

He pointed out that the very first group of fifth graders who attended a Saltdog game event are now LPS seniors. “And if you ask them to think back on all their years at LPS, this is one of the highlights they remember.”

Posted on September 02, 2015


International Dance Fest < New

The Nebraska Folklife Network’s autumn festival, International Dance Fest is on Saturday, September 19th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at Auld Pavilion in Lincoln’s Antelope Park (1650 Memorial Dr.) The event features performances by four Nebraska ethnic dance groups and opportunities for those in attendance to learn some of the traditional dance movements from each culture. International Dance Fest is free of charge, family-friendly and open to the public. For more information, go to their website: www.nebraskafolklife.org.

Schedule of Performances:

  • At 12:00 noon, the Lincoln Irish Dancers will present a spirited 30 minute dance performance, followed by a fifteen minute interactive session for anyone who would like to learn some Irish steps.
  • At 1:00 pm, the Karen Dancers will display colorful and hauntingly beautiful dancing and singing accompanied by traditional instruments of Myanmar (Burma).
  • At 2:00 pm, Auld will be filled with the sound of a powwow as the Omaha Society Dancers from Macy, Nebraska introduce and perform tribal dances to the heartbeat of a traditional drum group.
  • At 3:00 pm, the African Culture Connection will showcase the beauty of African cultures through both traditional drumming and dance. In addition, craft activities for kids, displays of cultural objects, and food from vendors will be available throughout the event.

Posted on September 02, 2015


LSW music collecting electronics for fundraiser < New

The Lincoln Southwest Music Department's bi-annual Electronics Recycling Fundraising Drive is Saturday, Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Anything that uses (or once used) electricity can be recycled. The company used is called Secure Recyclers. Residents can bring their old computers or laptops without worrying about their files or electronic information. Bring the items to the Southwest parking lot.

Some examples of things to save:

  • Desktop computers 
  • medical equipment 
  • refrigerators* 
  • laptop computers 
  • keyboards 
  • washers* 
  • bar coders 
  • modems 
  • dryers* 
  • circuit boards 
  • printers 
  • microwaves* 
  • hand held devices 
  • routers 
  • servers
  • small appliances 
  • telephones 
  • monitors*
  • cd/dvd drives 
  • scanners 
  • batteries
  • dvd/vcr players 
  • fax machines 
  • copiers 
  • ink jet cartridges 
  • old christmas lights
  • flat screen monitors-free

* Because this is a “recycle” event, & the goal is to keep toxic items out of the landfills, there is a fee for all televisions, monitors & appliances.

$10.00 for screens 19” or less,
$20.00 for screens 20-30”,
$35.00 for screens larger than 30” &
$10.00 for large appliances & microwaves.

For more information, contact Alyssa Wilhelm, director of Bands at Southwest, at (402) 436-1306 x66507.

Posted on September 02, 2015


Toalson recognized with Ron Joekel Leadership Award < Updated

Lincoln Southeast Principal Brent Toalson received the Ron Joekel Leadership Award Sunday night at Launch Leadership’s Fire and Fuzzies banquet. The award recognizes an educator who is a champion of youth leadership development in the classroom and community.

Toalson was nominated and selected to receive the award based on his long-time dedication to promoting youth leadership during his 15-year tenure as the student council sponsor at Lincoln Southeast and as an administrator at Lincoln High and Southeast. During his time teaching at LSE, Toalson developed leadership curriculum that allowed students to take a leadership class. He’s helped shape the lives of countless students and gave them the opportunity to unlock their leadership skills and use their talents to make their schools and communities a better place.

“When I became a teacher at LSE about 25 years ago, I knew that I wanted to ‘pay it forward’ and help students develop their leadership talents, just like others had helped me when I was a student,” Toalson said during his acceptance speech. “I have great respect for Dr. Joekel and his vision for youth leadership development. I also have great respect for the work Launch does to help our youth develop into confident, positive and reflective leaders.”

The award is named for Ron Joekel, a long-time educator who taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for more than 40 years and was instrumental in the development and growth of Launch’s Summer Leadership Workshop. He served as the director of the Nebraska Association of Student Council for 20 years, the national president of Phi Delta Kappa and on the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators.

Launch Leadership originated as a volunteer organization back in 1976. It promotes and develops youth leadership through an annual five-day summer workshop in Wayne, Neb., and dozens of year-round services all over Nebraska. Launch is based in Lincoln with more than 200 members across the United States.

Posted on September 02, 2015


September 2015 Community News Online Edition

 

Posted on August 26, 2015


LPS Teacher Bulletin Boards

Some teachers love the well-designed and user-friendly bulletin board. Here are a few submitted from teachers around Lincoln Public Schools. Want to share yours? Email zbaehr@lps.org. 

Posted on August 26, 2015


Students travel 440 miles in a matter of minutes for field trip

How can you take 570 Lincoln elementary students on a field trip to a paleontology dig 440 miles across the state of Nebraska for free?  With a virtual field trip set up between Lincoln Public Schools and other organizations across the state, the hassle and costs of these learning experiences are minimal.

"National parks and other places in our state offer these opportunities to our students free or at little cost, without needing to get parent permissions slips signed, buses scheduled, lunches packed. It's a great opportunity for our students to get out of the classroom and experience the world around them," commented LPS distance learning coordinator, Linda Dickeson.

The virtual field trips are done using a two-way interactive videoconferencing system set up between the schools and the host organization. The most recent of these virtual field trips was conducted with Agate Fossil Beds in the Panhandle of Nebraska and Prescott Elementary. Park rangers gave tours of their facility, showcased fossils and displayed artists' renderings of prehistoric animals found at the national park.

"I'm going to tell you about some animals we have," said Park Ranger Ann to the 102 kindergartners sitting around the projector screen. "Right behind me is the beardog. Looking at his head, what can we tell about what he eats?"

The experience was set up as part of Prescott's Expressive Arts Day.  Prescott principal Ruth Ann Wylie challenged the school’s specialists to find creative and engaging ways to make the most of shortened PLC days.

“They did a great job developing what we call Expressive Arts Day. They plan physical activities, arts events and other things that relate to what we are doing and expand what students are learning in the classroom,” Wylie said. “Today our students can make the connection to our newly created fossil dig out back in our outdoor classroom.”

The tour of Agate Fossil Beds is just one of the 37 field trips offered to Nebraska educators through the Nebraska Virtual Instruction Source. Schools interested in setting up a virtual field trip can go to http://nvis.esucc.org/ at the Field Trip link to choose a location and topic that fits into their lessons. Topics and organizations range from NASA to national parks, art museums, and how food gets from the farm to our tables.

For more information about distance learning opportunities, contact Lincoln Public Schools distance learning coordinator Linda Dickeson at ldickes@class.lps.org.

Posted on August 26, 2015


Morley adds life to outdoor classroom

Morley Elementary School planted several trees and plans in its outdoor classroom as part of its Student Serve project.All students and several parent volunteers were involved in various activities throughout the day.

StudentServe is an annual project of students in Lincoln Public Schools, and consists of various volunteer projects in schools and around the community. Schools can complete tasks at any time, and the official week is September 14-19. For more information, visit http://wp.lps.org/studentserve/.

Posted on August 26, 2015


Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 9/25 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 9/25 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 25 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, September 8, 2015.

 

Budget adoption

The Lincoln Board of Education officially adopted the 2015-16 Lincoln Public School budget Tuesday, a budget that will include funding for appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment – as well as retain a flat tax levy with no increase over last year.

 

The vote was 6 to 1 with Board member Matt Schulte voting against adoption.

 

Only two Board of Education members commented on the budget on Tuesday:

  • Board President Kathy Danek began discussion by expressing appreciation to Lincoln citizens: “I say thank you to our community for the long-standing support they have given us over the years.”
  • Matt Schulte: “I am going to vote no on this budget, based on two of my values…First, I believe in keeping the maximum tax dollars in the hands of those who earn it…And my second value…I am director of a non-profit in town…and we spend wisely and cut back on the programs that don’t work.”

Highlights of 2015-16 Budget

The LPS budget is set through a process of open meetings and public conversations throughout the summer months.

 

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

  • Providing appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment. LPS estimates an increase of 800-plus more students for 2015-16 – following the past year’s increase of 1,200 students – growth that means LPS would teach almost 40,000 students in 2015-16.
  • Addressing the growing complexity and needs of LPS students.
  • The changing landscape of how we provide quality education.
  • The 2015-16 proposed budget for Lincoln Public Schools totals $385.5 million – a 6 percent increase over the previous year.   The budget proposal includes a flat tax levy with no increase over last year. Any tax increase to property owners would be the result of increases in property value.
A few highlights of possible additional funding provided under the proposed budget:
  • Additional support in classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); added school social workers, treatment nurses, health technicians and computer support positions.
  • Resources allocated to opening The Career Academy, and early start-up costs for the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuernberger Education Center.
  • Continuation of the technology plan.
  • Phasing in the audio enhancement systems to all schools over the next three years.
  • Funding to accommodate increases related to more schools and more students – for instance, increases in utilities, facilities and maintenance, custodial services and more.
According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 234th out of 249 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,297 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,365.
 
The 2015-16 proposed budget predicts a revenue of about $396 million – of which about $10 million would be placed in cash flow to fund budget growth over the next two school years. Lancaster County revalues property once every three years. This is a revaluation year when valuations generally increase more than usual – and that means LPS will not see similar property valuation increases in the next two years. As a growing school district, LPS wisely projects multiple years ahead to foresee funds available to staff student growth, open new schools and accommodate increases in salaries and benefits. The overarching goal is to provide stability for students and staff in a variable funding climate.
 
High quality public schools at a reasonable price bring tremendous value to the Lincoln community.
 
Information on the LPS budget is available online at http://home.lps.org/budget/.
 

Revised LPS policies

The following policies have been revised or added to the online LPS policies and regulations.  They will be available on the LPS Board agenda (https://meeting.nasbonline.org/Public/Meeting.aspx?PublicAgencyID=4365&PublicMeetingID=10481&AgencyTypeID=) for immediate review and on the Policy online omnibus (http://docshare2.lps.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1874244/Omnibus.pdf) by August 27, 2015.

  • Policy 1370-Community Relations - Allows third party photographers be approved for photography services for extracurricular activities.
  • Policy 3640-Privacy-Related Terms of Service - Provides the authority to set guidelines for protecting the private information of staff, students, and families when contracting with a third-party.
  • Policies 3961, 4210, 4300, 4770, 4880 - Employment Protection - As a result of recent legislation, adds protection from employment discrimination for pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions.
  • Policy 5508-Return to Learn - Established protocols to assist students who are returning to school after pediatric cancer treatment.
  • Policy 6700-Extracurricular Activities - Updates the list of extracurricular activities for high school students
  • Policy 7000-Special Education - Adds a statement outlining a step that should be taken if parents refuse services for their child.
  • Policy 8443-Board Operating Procedures - Provides the options to archive minutes in electronic form.

Posted on August 25, 2015


LPS sees solid improvement in state assessment scores

Lincoln Public Schools continues to generally see solid, significant improvement in achievement – scores above state averages in most grades and subject areas – based on release Tuesday of the 2014-15 Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) scores, the piece of the achievement picture based on state standards.

“Our school district scores are staying strong with some of the highest numbers ever at some of our schools,” according to Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS. “We have established the foundation and are ready to move ahead as we continue to use these scores to dig deep and examine why we’re getting good results – and develop strategies when we do not see the results we expect.”

Stavem particularly pointed to noteworthy LPS reading scores: “Some of these scores are quite remarkable – 86 percent of our third graders are reading at or above grade level, an increase from 76 percent just five years ago.”

In addition: 84 percent of LPS fourth graders are reading at or above grade level; 85 percent of fifth graders; 84 percent of sixth graders; 85 percent of seventh graders (up from 74 percent in 2010) – and 82 percent of eighth graders.

“There are solid indicators that we are seeing good scores as a result of some of the changes we’ve employed: strong procedures and rigorous expectations,” Stavem said, specifically pointing to recent implementation of the new “McGraw-Hill Reading Wonders” curriculum.

Lisa Oltman, curriculum specialist for K-6 Reading and Language Arts, agreed, pointing to a deeper comprehension emerging from the new and stronger curriculum – with kids learning at higher levels as teachers continue to further fine-tune instruction.

Stavem said this year’s results include some all-time high scores, while there are also schools where they have already identified areas of improvement. “Our principals are studying these results, and are setting strategies where they would like to see improvement.”

The new NeSA scores also indicated LPS math holding steady with scores meeting or exceeding the state average in every grade but 11, and science scores continue to climb: 72 percent of fifth graders are at or above proficient in science – compared to 57 percent just three years ago.

Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for mathematics, said there has been significant impact from something the LPS Curriculum Department developed called “math lesson treatments,” aimed at: Helping students master skills; helping students understand why skills and concepts work the way they do; and helping students draw upon skills and understanding to solve problems they have never seen before.

Summary of highlights

Reading grades 3-6

  • In all grades, the percent of LPS students proficient in reading exceeds the state average.
  • In grades 3, 5 and 6, the percent of students proficient was at an all-time high in 2015.
  • The percent of students proficient in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 remains stable.
  • Grade 6 has shown an upward trend over the last four years.
  • Continued use and refinement of rigorous instruction in McGraw-Hill Wonders curriculum has led to increases in reading scores.

Reading grades 7, 8 and 11

  • In all grades tested, the percent of LPS students proficient in reading meets or exceeds the state average.
  • The percent of LPS students proficient in reading in grades 7, 8 and 11 remained relatively stable.
  • In grade 8, the percent of students proficient remained steady at all-time high.

Writing, grade 4

  • The percent of LPS fourth grade students proficient in writing exceeds the state average.
  • The percent of LPS fourth grade students proficient in writing is the highest score in three years.

Writing, grades 8 and 11

  • In grade 8, the percent of LPS students proficient in writing was at an all-time high in 2015.
  • In grade 8, the percent of LPS students proficient is 5 percentage points higher than the state average.
  • In grades 8 and 11, the percent of students proficient in writing has shown increases in each of the last three years.

Science:

  • Elementary curriculum enhancements showed evidence of effectiveness in grade 5 during the 2014-15 school year, achieving the all-time highest score for elementary science.
  • In grades 8 and 11, the percent of LPS students proficient in science rose steadily from 2012 to 2014 and then become relatively stable in 2014-2015.

Math:

  • In all grades except grade 11, the percent of LPS students proficient in math exceeds the state average.
  • In grades 5 and 7 the percent of LPS students proficient in math was at an all-time high in 2015.
  • The percent of LPS students proficient in math in grades 3, 4, 6, 8 and 11 is relatively stable.
  • Elementary curriculum enhancements continued to show evidence of effectiveness in grade 5 during the 2014-15 school year.
  • High school proficiency among eleventh grade students enrolled in advanced algebra, or a course beyond advanced algebra, was 82 percent.

The scores are based on assessments administered in Nebraska public schools last spring to all students in grades 3 through 8, and grade 11. This is the sixth year Nebraska students have taken the NeSA reading exam, the fifth year they have take math, and the fourth year for science.   

Posted on August 25, 2015


TCA students gain valuable experience

High school students participating in the first Career Academy health services pathway received hands-on experience in working with needles.

During class time, instructor Amy Holst, along with two EMT volunteers from Kawasaki, worked with students on drawing blood, giving injections and starting IVs.

“This should take a little edge off of being nervous, as far as working with needles,” said Holst. “At least they get introduced to it and learn how to use them, hold them correctly.”

Students of the class see the experience as a way to get a jumpstart on their future.

“I think it's going to help me because I'm learning right now, practicing, so when I get into the real future, I'll know what to do. It’s really exciting,” commented Khadiya Mengelkamp.

Another student Carolyn Hopkins added, “It's made me more confident in things I'm going to be doing in my career in the future. Even though I'm just starting, I know I can do it.”

Holst said thanks to community support, this experience was possible for students. “For Kawasaki to send these EMT's out, there is no way I could watch 25 students with needles and run four different lab stations. It's huge that Kawasaki and the community itself, lends a hand and comes out to help us.”

Posted on August 25, 2015


Irving and Sheridan win school recycling award

Irving Middle School and Sheridan Elementary were honored with the School Recycling Award from the Keep Nebraska Beautiful organization. Sheridan was given the second place award, and Irving was given the first place award and a $50 check.

Both schools acitively recycled and composted during the 2014-15 school year. Iriving recycled over 30,800 pounds of materials and composted over 66,400 pounds during last year.  Sheridan recycled over 12,100 pounds and started composting in March with a total of 6,670 pounds of organic waste.

In addition to lessening the schools' environmental footprint, both programs helped students learn about keeping our environment beautiful.

“Composting is putting things that decompose like food scraps and paper into a bin or pile, and letting it decompose and become rich soil that helps the earth, and is also better than putting it in landfills.” – 5th Grader

“Composting is taking biodegradable material, breaking it down, and putting it back in the system.” – 4th Grader

“It helps by not being put into landfills because food scraps turn into bad chemicals when they are in the landfill and this hurts the earth. Also, when compost becomes dirt, it's very rich and full of nutrients, so it helps the environment.” – 5th Grader

“Compost nutrifies the plants and the plants help you eat, breathe, and stay healthy.” – 4th Grader

“Instead of polluting the Earth in landfills, it puts nutrients in the soil.” -4th Grader

Accepting the awards were assistant custodial supervisor Bob Mounce from Sheridan and principal Dr. Susette Taylor from Irving.

Posted on August 21, 2015


Q&A: Mollie Leisinger named state's novice art educator of the year

Mollie Leisinger has been honored by the Nebraska Art Teachers Association as the Novice Art Educator of the Year.

First, how long have you been teaching, and how long at Lincoln North Star?
I student taught at North Star High and Humann Elementary in the Spring of 2013 and began my position as an Art Specialist at North Star in the Fall of 2013 and will be going into my third year of teaching.
 
Where did you attend elementary, middle and high school, and college?
I moved around a lot as a child so attended many elementary schools including: Twombly Elementary (Fort Lupton, CO), Gates Elementary (Grand Island, NE), Seedling Mile Elementary (Grand Island, NE), North Loup Elementary (North Loup, NE).  I attended 6th, 7th and 8th grade at Barr Middle School (Grand Island, NE) and then traveled on to Northwest High School in Grand Island for my 9th through 12th grade years.  As for my college experience, I graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art.  After that I worked as an AmeriCorps member for the Lincoln Arts Council for three years and then re-enrolled at UNL as a Graduate student, receiving my K-12 Art Education Certification in 2013.
 
When did you realize (either as a K-12 student or later) that high school art was a great spot for you as a teacher?
I remember having a conversation with my mom when I was in high school about being a teacher but the realization that I really wanted to teach didn't come to me until I was working for the Lincoln Arts Council after I graduated from college.  I absolutely love being an artist and working in all mediums with my favorite aspect of being an artist being to learn new technical skills.  While working for the Lincoln Arts Council I wrote several grants for local working artists, through the Nebraska Art Council's (NAC) Artists in Schools and Communities program (AiSC) to do special art projects in Lincoln Public Schools. When these artists worked in classrooms, I worked alongside them and the teachers to help to teach students new art techniques and this is what made me realize that I wanted to be an art teacher.  It was my student teaching experience that made me realize that I wanted to teach high school art.  I student taught at North Star High, which is now where I teach, with Lynette Fast.  It was because of her mentorship, my experiences with the students and all of the staff of North Star that I figured out that not only did I want to teach this age group, but that I wanted to teach at North Star.
 
What is it about the high school age group that piques your interest as a teacher?
Seeing my students grow intellectually is what piques my interest as a teacher.  In my first two years, I have taught Level 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 pottery classes and would say that what is most rewarding is ability to observe students build a strong technical foundation and understanding of the materials we use in class and then transforming their ideas into reality.
 
There is a lot of talk about using more technology appropriately within a curriculum. How does, or how do see, that technology impacting your classroom?

The new Nebraska Visual Arts Standards were adopted by the Nebraska State Board of Education last year (2014).  In the art department across the LPS district, art teachers K-12 have been working to be sure our unit and lesson plans are in line with these standards.  The four core ideas in the new visual arts standards are: Create, Present, Connect, and Respond.  

Reflection is such an important part of being a teacher and over this summer I spent a lot of time reflecting on my curriculum and how it falls under the new state standards.  Not only was I reflecting on this, but with the district moving to all students eventually having their own electronic devices I decided this summer that I wanted to start this year with technology being a part of my curriculum.  This semester, my classes will be using Google Classroom to do writing and reflection in connection with the standards of Respond, Connect and Present.  Students will submit assignments in our Google Classroom through Google Docs that demonstrate understanding of how art conveys meaning and how they are able to relate their own artistic ideas to the work of others.  Students will also Present their work using their Google accounts through building online portfolios.

Posted on August 19, 2015


Seacrest’s fan-friendly updates ready for fans, football

Seacrest Activities Complex, the most used sports complex for football and soccer in Lincoln Public Schools, will reopen this month with upgrades for fans.

LPS will have special events before the first football games of the season:

  • Thursday, Aug. 27: Lincoln High vs. Lincoln Northeast, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 28: Bellevue East vs. Lincoln East, 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 28: Lincoln Southeast vs. Lincoln Southwest, 8 p.m.

Special Seacrest programs will be distributed at those three games, as well as for the first Lincoln North Star High School game at Seacrest: 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, when North Star plays Lincoln East.

Improvements include:

  • Stadium replacement with new accommodations for all fans, including those with disabilities.
    • Hand railings
    • Ramps
    • Seating
  • Paved parking in east and west lots
  • New press box with expanded capacity
  • New video board
  • New scoreboard, play clocks, locker room clocks
  • Enlarged play surface to accommodate soccer in spring 2016
  • Safety and structural improvements
  • Landscaping and fencing enhancements

Upgrades to Seacrest were paid with bonds approved by the Lincoln community in February of 2014. The scoreboard upgrade and video board addition were paid for in part by a donation from the Seacrest family.

For more information, contact Kathi Wieskamp at 402-436-1610 or kwieskamp@lps.org.

Posted on August 19, 2015


Free Screening: 'Consider the Alternative'

 In the education reform debate, school choice options – namely charter schools – are among the most buzzed about topics. "Considering the Alternative" provides viewers with a balanced understanding of publicly-funded charter schools from those who can speak about it best: some of the most influential voices in Nebraska education.

A free screening will take place Thursday, September 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ross Media Arts Theatre.  Lincoln Public Schools and the Lincoln Education Association invites everyone to the screening, then stay afterwards for discussion and reception.

Posted on August 19, 2015


Using LPS Print Center

Training materials for submitting to the print center can be found here:   http://home.lps.org/training/printing-copying-scanning-faxing/

When requesting jobs, please provide as much lead-time as possible.  The first few weeks of school is not only an important part of the school year, it is also a time that requires large volumes of copies for students and staff.  Please help the print center by providing due dates consistent with your immediate needs. 

When scanning jobs via the MFD to the print center, please change the “School Days-From-Now…” number to “5” or more school days if possible.

When submitting jobs via the LPS Print Shop driver, please select the appropriate number of school days you will allow for printing prior to receiving your job.   

We will prioritize all jobs based upon the due date so please use realistic dates. 

Please submit only one file per order whenever possible with NO Special Instructions unless necessary. 

If you must submit multiple files, please keep your multi-file orders to 10 or less files per order and NO Special Instructions unless necessary.

Printing Hints

  • To look up information on WEBCRD, go to the LPS.org home page, type “Print Center” in the search box. Log into WEBCRD at http://printcenter.lps.org/, look in “Orders” or update your “My Profile”.
  • If you changed schools since last year, don't forget to update your “My Profile”.  Simply modify your contact information, shipping information and billing information. The delivery location should be the name of your school or building.
  • We do not delete any pages in your files. You can select a page range in your printing choices before you click on the LPS print site.
  • Please choose “Custom” for stocks not listed and type in the “Special Instructions” the name of the stock needed.
  • Again, this year the Print Center is not cutting the notebooks with wire in half or bound books as it has been too hard on our cutters.

District Mail Instructions

With the District Departments at several locations please remember to label Interoffice mail with Name, Department, Location and Box numbers.

Posted on August 19, 2015


Deadline approaching: Employee Benefit Enrollment

All new and current Lincoln Public Schools employees must enroll online for benefits during the period August 12 through August 24, 2015.  (This does not pertain to substitute employees or hourly employees such as mentors.)
 
You must go through the enrollment site even if you wish to elect no benefits or have no changes to your current benefits.  The enrollment process can be completed on any computer at any time day or night.
 

Annual Enrollment Dates/Instructions:

  • August 12-24:  The enrollment will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, August 12 and will end at midnight on Monday, August 24.  You will not have access to the enrollment site before August 12.  You can re-enter the enrollment system to make changes any time during the enrollment period.
  • Instructions:  To access the online enrollment system:
    • Go to the Lincoln Public Schools website, www.lps.org;
    • Click on "Staff Center";
    • Under "Popular Pages" on the left side of the screen are the Benefit Enrollment link and Instructions. 
    • You will see enhancements to the enrollment site, and the instructions are slightly different this year. 
    • Once you confirm your entire enrollment, you will be able to print your enrollment confirmation.
  • Your login is your Social Security Number (no dashes or spaces), and the PIN is the last four digits of your Social Security Number and last two of your birth year.  (For example, for SSN 123-45-6789 and a birth year of 1974, you would type in 678974.) 
 
Effective Dates:
  • Any benefits added during this period will begin September 1.  (New employees may have a different effective date -- more information in your Benefit Orientation session.)  Premiums are deducted from your September 30 paycheck for September coverage.
  • If you do not go through the online enrollment system, your benefits will end August 31, 2015Don't miss the deadline!  No exceptions!
  • If you drop any benefits they will end August 31, 2015
 
What's New:
  • There is an open enrollment for health and dental insurance for employees, spouses and dependents.  Employees may also enroll within 30 days of a qualifying event under HIPAA which includes marriage, divorce, birth/adoption, or losing coverage through a spouse changing jobs, retiring, etc.  Health Care Reform eliminated the pre-existing condition requirements.
  • You will need the Social Security Number(s) and date(s) of birth for spouse and dependent(s).  Please enter this information carefully or it could delay claims being paid.
  • Details on the various benefit plans can be found on the LPS home page.  Type in Benefits in Keyword Search (upper right-hand corner of the screen).
  • The district pays a contribution for health insurance based on your employee group.  Your portion of the monthly premium for a single health plan ranges between $31 and $62 depending on your employee group; or employees pay $352.92 for employee/spouse, $311.69 for employee/child(ren) or $481.75 for family (employee, spouse and dependents).  Dental, vision, life, etc. premiums are fully paid by the employee, and the premiums are shown on the Benefits webpage (type in Benefits in Keyword Search).  Premiums will also be shown when you go through the enrollment process.  Please note:  For Paraeducators, negotiations are not yet finalized for 2015-16.  When you go through the enrollment process, last year's contribution for health insurance will be shown.
  • The term life and disability insurance rates will increase starting September 1.  The term life insurance rate will increase from $1.90 per $10,000 of coverage to $2.22 per $10,000.  This means an employee with a $100,000 term life policy, currently paying $19.00 per month will pay $22.20 per month.  There is also an increase for spouse life which is based on spouse's age.  The premium for child life stays the same.
  • For disability insurance, the overall rate increase is 11.8%.  The current average monthly premium for disability insurance is $26 per month.  With the increase the average premium will be $29 per month.   While this is not good news, we have features that are unique to our term life and disability plans.  Type in Benefits in Keyword Search for more information on the disability and term life insurance plans.
 
Be careful when you go through the online enrollment! 
  • Please pay attention to the coverage(s) you select.  If you are declining the coverage, you will need to select the appropriate button. 
  • You will want to print your enrollment confirmation when you complete the enrollment. 
  • If you are adding disability or term life insurance (and aren't a new employee) you will need to fill out a health questionnaire which will be shown at the end of your enrollment.  It is your responsibility to complete the form and send to Lincoln Financial Group (LFG) by September 30.  The coverage will start if/when the application is approved by LFG.
 
Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Information
  • For employees who are currently participating in the flexible benefit plan for medical reimbursement and/or dependent care, the plan year ends August 31, 2015.  Employees have 90 days after August 31 to turn in receipts.  More information, including claim forms, can be found on the LPS website -- click on Human Resources and Benefits, under the PayFlex Information section or go to the PayFlex website, www.healthhub.com.
  • For Maintenance employees and Administrators considering the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and an HSA starting January 1:  You are not able to be enrolled in an HSA if enrolled in our FSA.  Contact the Benefits Office for more information.  And you should consult with your personal tax adviser to determine whether you are eligible to contribute to an HSA and the limit of the contributions.
 
Your Benefits Team:
 
Kyla R. Jensby, CEBS
Employee Benefits Specialist
kjensby@lps.org
Phone: 402-436-1593

Laurie Oxley, PHR, GBA
Employee Benefits Specialist loxley@lps.org
Phone:  402-436-1595

Nancy Harter, CEOE
Employee Benefits Secretary
nharter@lps.org
Phone: 402-436-1578

Posted on August 19, 2015


Online suicide awareness training

Online training is now available for all Lincoln Public Schools employee groups required to take the new suicide awareness/prevention training as required by school personnel law approved by the Nebraska State Legislature .  Those required to take the online training include: nurses, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, administrators, social workers, health technicians, treatment nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, sign language interpreters, service coordinators, SLPs, Bilingual Liaisons, Youth Development Team members and para educators.  All groups are expected to have the training completed by October 19, 2015.
 
A software program by Kognito has been chosen by the Nebraska Department of Education as the training tool that will cover this new requirement for all school districts in Nebraska.  Employees will take this training individually online. Please note that the Kognito software is not part of LPS system, so our LPS credentials will not work.  Before you do the training, please go to the following link for instructions on how to sign in, establish a new ID and password, and information on how to turn off pop-up blockers (which may come up when you try to use Kognito): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_2gb9qfrLSeVTfyiitznTIKpjM0qL1CTVQbd3lGcXko/edit
 
To access the training go to:  http://www.kognito.com/nebraska
 
Other necessary information:
  • When you finish the training, you will be able to download a certificate - this is for your benefit.  Your principals and supervisors will receive a weekly report on who has completed the training.
  • Staff assigned to multiple buildings should choose the level and school where they have the greatest number of students. District itinerant staff will be assigned to LPSDO and not a school.  If you have questions, please check with your direct supervisor.  Classified staff are to participate in the training during normal work hours when classes are not in session.  We know other employees of our district would benefit from this training and if you are interested please contact your supervisor.
  • For additional technical support go to: support@kognito.com .
  • Or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Russ Uhing, duhing@lps.org, (402)436-1650.

Posted on August 19, 2015


Discounted athletic passes for employees

All Lincoln Public Schools employees are eligible to purchase an All-Season Athletic Pass for the discounted price of $65 (half off the regular price).

This pass will admit the person to all LPS-hosted athletic events - EXCEPT for conference, district or state events (NSAA Championships). Employees are also entitled to one additional pass (for a spouse or friend) for the same discounted price. The employee must purchase a pass for themselves before an additional pass can be purchased.

  • Passes can be purchased in person at any LPS High School or the District Office on the third floor.
  • Passes can also be purchased by sending your requests through school mail to: ATHLETIC DEPT., LPSDO – Box 39. Please include a check (no cash) made payable to LPS. Please include your name, guest name, check and where you work – so passes can be sent back through school mail.
  • Passes can also be purchased with a credit/debit card by calling the District Athletic office at 436-1610. Purchased passes will then be mailed back to you through school mail.

For more information contact The LPS Department of Athletics at 436-1610.

Posted on August 19, 2015


Run to Overcome

The fifth annual Bryan Health Run to Overcome will be Saturday, September 19. The race proceeds will be used to raise awareness and provide educaiton on topics of mental health.

The looped course route begins and ends at Bryan Pine Lake Campus at 40th and Pine Lake Road. All ages and experience levels are welcome.

More information, and event registration can be found here.

Posted on August 19, 2015


Library Media Services featured on education talk radio

Library media services director, Mary Reiman, was featured on an education talk radio show this week discussing filling the curriculum gap with new digital content delivery systems.

You can listen to the full program here.

Posted on August 19, 2015


Q&A: Shelley Speidell named state's middle school art teacher of year

Shelley Speidell of Goodrich Middle School has been honored by the Nebraska Art Teachers Association as the Middle Level Art Educator of the Year. 

First, how long have you been teaching, and how long at Goodrich?

This is my 13th year at Goodrich. I taught 15 years at Pound M.S. before Goodrich, and three years at East Butler Public before Pound. That totals 31 years of doing what I love.

Where did you attend elementary, middle and high school, and college?

I attended Eastridge Elementary, Lefler Jr. High, East High, and UNL. All schools from here in Lincoln.

When did you realize (either as a K-12 student or later) that middle school art was a great spot for you as a teacher?

I knew from third grade on that I wanted to be an art teacher. I won a couple local art shows and my dad was an artist, plus I loved working with kids when I was in high school and volunteered at Eastridge Elementary. When I applied to LPS after teaching for East Butler, Pound M.S. had an art teacher opening. When I heard my old principal (Bob Knaub) from Jr. High was now the principal at Pound, I wanted to work for him and decided middle school was the place to be! Luckily this choice proved perfect for me and I have “stayed” in middle school ever since.

How have you seen art have an impact on someone outside your classroom (perhaps socially, academically or some other way)?

I’ve seen art impact people in every way. Emotionally art “speaks” to each viewer in totally individual ways, socially it impacts our beliefs, it’s the common thread between past and present and it can unite and inspire people around the world. Awareness can be raised by the use of symbols and images and our students are alive and learning in a very visual, progressive world that our ancestors could not have imagined. Every week of every school year I get to see the pride in a students eyes as they show me their artwork, or they give me an artwork from home to display, or beg me to take their project home soon, or ask to take a photo of their artwork-in-progress so they can show their family, or recently use the iPads in the classroom to record with time-lapse the steps they use to create art. Art is so personal that being able to share it with my students forms a bond that many past students still have with me and we stay in touch. I still talk to an art student from my years at East Butler 30 years ago and I now have an art teacher colleague at Goodrich who I taught 20 years ago, what better proof that art matters and teaching touches lives.

What is it about the middle school age group that piques your interest as a teacher?

I love the age group in middle school because they are part child and part emerging adult, they can reason and synthesize and express, but are still open to new experiences and possibilities. Problem-solving is often associated with right or wrong answers and in the art classroom, that concept is dissolved and rearranged in to multiple, unique right answers.  Middle school kids are finding their social footing and exploring friendships and interests, it’s fun to watch and encourage and I wouldn’t want to teach in any other level!

There is a lot of talk about using more technology appropriately within a curriculum. How does, or how do see, that technology impacting your classroom? 

The most notable impact so far is that the students are exposed to a wide world of images and ideas, and can find information that they are curious about instantly. As digital art programs and apps become available to the middle level art-rooms, I see it enhancing and expanding what we currently teach, but I also see art as a tactile, hands-on experience that students need to immerse themselves in to fully enjoy. The look on my students faces the day we start a clay sculpture unit is so inspiring that I never want art education to lose that.

Posted on August 17, 2015


What our teachers did this summer

Teachers were asked to talk about how they spent their summer. Below are some of their responses:

Alyse Krejdl, Lincoln Public Schools, Hearing Resource Teacher

This summer I traveled to Baltimore Maryland with two colleagues. While there we attended the Listening and Spoken Language Symposium. The symposium provided us with lots of great information on best practices when working with students with hearing loss who are utilizing listening and spoken language as their mode of communication. I also very much enjoyed all the fresh sea food and beautiful ocean views.

Kim Hovendick, Lincoln High School Project SEARCH, VOICE Program

I attended the 4 day Project SEARCH Convention in Glensdale, Arizona in July. While at the Convention, our program received an award for having 60-69% of our interns employed during the 2014/2015 school year. The Convention also has workshops to attend to learn from other Project SEARCH sites to better our program and to learn new techniques to assist our students with learning skills.

Shaunna Meyer, World History/Religions/Geography teacher, Lincoln High School

I went on a two week long retreat (ah, silence, stillness, solitude) in a hermitage in the high desert of Colorado's San Luis Valley: an absolute necessity for this introvert in this line of work. I spent a little over two weeks in Bahrain and Dubai with a Palestinian college friend of mine who works and lives in the Gulf: an always welcome activity for this World History/Religions/Geography teacher.

Megan Colbeth, school psychologist, Hartley Elementary

This summer I enjoyed Anita Archer, Success Schools, and PBIS professional development. I'm most excited to develop Hartley's PBIS Tier 2 interventions to support students' social-emotional needs.

Kim Pickering, Business Teacher, Mickle Middle School

I presented workshops at national conferences on youth entrepreneurship. I presented at the Mountain Plains Business Education Conference in Albuquerque New Mexico in June and then at the National Academy Foundation NAF Next Conference in Anaheim California.

Annette Carmer, School Psychologist

I presented and participated in LPS staff development; was blessed by learning directly from Anita Archer and her excellent work in academic engagement; "manned" a booth at the local Farmer's Market in the Haymarket; enjoyed "staycations" out of our home because my very senior parents live with us.

Allyn Gonsor, STS Instructor, East High School

Completed 3 day Robotics, Engineering, and Mechanisms (REM) course. Completed 2 week Project Lead The Way (PLTW) training course.

Megan O'Brien, music teacher, Zeman Elementary.

This summer I spent time at a rural school in Panama teaching English! I am actually returning next summer to complete practicum hours for my ELL Endorsement at the same elementary! The most important thing I learned was that kids are kids everywhere- no matter where they are on the map. This will be very beneficial seeing as Zeman is now an ELL cluster school in the district. I cannot wait to apply my new skill set and begin the school year!

Deb McGinn, English teacher, Lincoln High School

Every summer I choose a class or conference to attend. Last year it was Chadron State and this summer, a writing class at UNL. It was pure pleasure to write, revise, play with my pup, enjoy family, travel to see old friends and find a Scrabble art project to indulge in.

Kandace Garwood, Special Education Coordinator, Mickle Middle School

This summer I spend numerous hours on the first two Chapters of my doctoral dissertation for my degree in Educational Administration. I read lots of journal articles and attempted to coordinate those into a cohesive document. I did get a chance to visit my sister in Florida and we went scalloping! This was new and fun for us. We even cleaned them ourselves!

Stephanie Antholz, Special education, Lincoln Northeast High School

I'm the LNE School Improvement Committee co-chair and our SIP team met several times to review 2014-2015 data and make a plan for the 2015-2016 school year. I planned for building staff development which focused on the 2nd Edition of Classroom Instruction that Works. I will be presenting this information to staff on Aug 6th. I also taught special education professional development flex sessions on Meaningful Resource Instruction. I cleaned and organized my garage, storage room and closets. Packed three children up to attend college and I got engaged on July 4th.

Megan Sloup, second-grade teacher, McPhee Elementary School

This summer I got married, moved to Lincoln, went on a honeymoon and now have a husband who loves to come and help me in my new classroom!

Theresa Thompson, Social Studies Teacher, Lincoln Northeast High School

I attended 3 classes through LPS for salary advancement; additionally, 1 flex session for advanced Reading Like a Historian, 1 flex training on google classroom, and the Multicultural Institute as to cultural proficiency. I met with another social studies teacher to exchange resources and worked to put my classroom together for the fall semester.

For fun...

I extended my patio and planted flowers galore/home improvements. I spent a couple of days on Johnson Lake where I caught a large Northern Pike and some bass. I spent lots of time gathering with friends and sleeping-in for about 3 weeks! Oh, and made several types of homemade ice cream.

Allison Hunter-Frederick, Resource Teacher, Meadow Lane Elementary

Travel, teach, write, and rescue. That summarizes my summer! My husband and I travel annually to visit my family in Newfoundland. This year, I had July left open for other commitments. Much of that month, I spent involved with two Community Learning Clubs: Writers to the Rescue and Crafty Writers. For the former, I invited special guests from The Cat House and from Second-Chance Pups to talk with students. Writers to the Rescue was even featured on KLKN-TV news. Exciting to see creative writing promoted! http://www.klkntv.com/story/29563367/students-help-local-animal-shelter# The rest of my time I split between personal writing projects and rescue projects. My own writing included maintaining a review blog and continuing to work on a novel for young people. When I teach writing to my students, I draw on what I know firsthand about the drafting, revising, and publishing process! My rescue projects included writing articles for a local animal welfare group, as well as becoming a pet foster parent. The former allows me to make meaningful use of writing. That's a good practice to also bring into the classroom.

Erika Bruening, K-12 Education Pathway Instructor, The Career Academy

I am new to LPS and new to The Career Academy. I spent my summer designing curriculum for my pathway at TCA, and teaching a graduate course on diversity education to students at UNL.

Megan Baker, fifth-grade, Brownell Elementary

This summer I spent 5 weeks living in Mongolia. While I was there I taught English to kids ages 9-12 that knew very limited English. I had about 25-30 students in my class each day and I quickly learned that students in Mongolia are about the same as students in America. I also worked out on a farm and helped build a food cellar for the family that lived there. We laid cement and block and then helped put a roof over the top. This summer I learned so much on how to teach English as a second language. But I also learned what it is like sitting through things not knowing the language and how hard it is. I was able to put myself into some of my students' shoes and how they feel in the classroom when they don't know the language. I learned so much about a different culture that I am now able to share with my students, as well as how to interact with students when there is a language barrier. It was such an incredible experience that I hope to share with as many as possible. I was fortunate to have a 5th grade girl be my translator for these classes. She has been taking English lessons for the last two years and was really fluent in both Mongolian and English. She is going to be a pen pal for my class which will be such a cool experience for them.

Before and after returning from Mongolia, I attended professional development and was also able to present for the new 3rd grade teachers during New Teacher Orientation. It was a summer filled with teaching and learning and I am just as excited to get back to school and meet my new students!

Brittany Hying, eighth-grade English/Drama, Mickle Middle School

This summer I performed in 42nd Street at Pinewood Bowl. I played Phyllis Dale and enjoyed being on stage after a 5 year break. Previously, I was in three other productions at Pinewood Bowl.

Sarah Ashelford, third-grade teacher, Fredstrom Elementary

Taught summer school for 2nd and 3rd graders, went on vacation with my family and took several classes and workshops to further my education.

Dottie Ladman, Orchestra Teacher, Maxey, Kloefkorn, Lux

Two weeks teaching at SAIL Music Camp Two weeks visiting my daughters and their families out of state Entered the data from one family tree branch, including pictures and documents, to Family Search website Dug lots of daylilies and iris to divide and share Knitted one afghan, one baby blanket, and a dozen stocking hats Attended daytime Bible Study at church, which I can't do during the school year Mostly just kicked back and refreshed so I can start the new year with energy and enthusiasm. That's the best for me and my students all around!

Kathy L'Heureux, School Counselor, Prescott Elementary

I moved here to Lincoln four weeks ago from Wisconsin. I have been busy unpacking and getting settled in our new home, new schools, and new Lincoln community. I have been busy this summer finishing up a doctoral class highlighting Cultural Proficiency and College and Career preparedness for high school students. This class will certainly help me as I will be implementing a Comprehensive Counseling Program at Prescott Elementary where 80% of my job will be teaching developmental guidance lessons. I have immersed myself in workshops the past couple of weeks emphasizing the B.I.S.T. program and our Tier 2 Interventions which I will be helping to facilitate and deliver at Prescott. I am excited to be a part of a wonderful staff and a wonderful community!

Kevin Rippe, Social Studies Teacher, Lincoln East High School

Spent eight days in Louisville, KY, grading Advanced Placement US History exams to help learn the new grading rubric so that I can help my students score better on their exams. Also spent a couple of days developing guidelines for teaching strategies for Government and Politics and then presenting at four flex sessions for GoPo teachers.

Lori Luedtke, Park Middle School, Business/Computer Teacher

What I did this summer: - Taught Econ camp - Attended a Leadership Academy - Re-wrote curriculum for two subjects w/co-workers - Updated our basement (a work in progress) - Helped care for my aging father (a lot) - Hung out at our cabin when possible (not as much as I would have liked)

Amy Chittenden, Computer Science Teacher, Everett Elementary School

This summer, I took two classes toward my Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and took my children to the local Lincoln public pools. I also went to Chicago to help my teacher sister organize her classroom materials. I learned new ideas from her!

Sharon Holliday, Family & Consumer Sciences Dept. Chair, Northeast High, Culinary Arts teacher

A summer trip to Orvieto, Padova, Venice and the Cinque Terre’s in Italy was a cultural high light for me. In addition to visiting architectural ruins, art museums, cathedrals and hiking the coastal cities, I participated in a “Cooking Class” by Chef Nicholas under “Umbria In Tour” program director, Lucianna Coppola. The class, was held near Orvieto at a Casa Colonica (villa) among the olive trees, orchards and grapevines. This year, students in Northeast’s Culinary Arts Program will learn about Italian culture and will prepare in their food labs, Italian cuisine including hot and cold appetizers and the many types of homemade pasta (as mastered by the chef who shared his family secret recipes with me).

Laura Graulty, Family Consumer Sciences and Social Studies, Lincoln East High

I traveled to a working dairy farm to see how they produce milk, then had a presentation from a restaurant in regards to "Farm to Table", which taught us where locally, the restaurant got their foods - very informative and timely subject for a Family Consumer Science teacher!

Kimberly Zetterman, Kindergarten - Team Leader, Adams Elementary

I spent most of my summer at the ball field watching "ReMax" aka Lincoln Southwest Freshman compete in the Nebraska Reserve Baseball League. The LSW team won the Class A State Championship in July! Great group of boys, coaches and fans!

Sarah Kroenke, seventh-grade English teacher, Irving Middle School

Co-facilitating the Nebraska Writing Project Summer Institute (NeWP SI) for four weeks was inspiring and fun! NeWP SI is a six credit hour UNL graduate class for teachers to become better teachers of writing by practicing being writers themselves. We traveled to Valentine, Neb., and Kansas City, Mo., too.

Sylvia Bailey, music teacher, Maxey Elementary

This summer my husband and I celebrated our 29th anniversary and he surprised me with a ukulele! I guess you could say this summer was a strummer and a real hummerdinger!

Singin'
" I don't wanna work...I just wanna strum the ukulele all day!"

I took a class in music technology at UNL, I took piano lessons and attended some flex sessions as well. I also read the "One Book One Lincoln Selections" from our local public library.

Can't wait to strum the ukulele in music classes this year at Maxey Elementary!

Gina Vercellino, fourth grade, Lakeview Elementary School

This summer, I traveled to Las Vegas with my best friend and to Chicago for a wedding. I worked in a day care and got things ready for my classroom and first year of being a teacher!

Amy Neemann, ELL teacher, Beattie and Sheridan elementary

I spent my summer in graduate school working toward my masters in Educational Administration.

Renee Kovar, fourth grade teacher, Morley Elementary

In addition to going to 8 days of workshops and flex sessions and working on plans for the 2015-2016 school year, I spent most of my summer fulfilling two roles in which I feel very blessed to have been a part of. FIrst of all I got to spend lots of time with my one and a half-year old grandson, watching him several days a week, and some over night stays, while my daughter worked her photography business. What a joy it was watching him grow and experience many firsts such as watering grandma's flowers and learning how to get a drink from the garden hose. I also got the inside track on enriching his intellectual abilities as well. My other role as daughter sent me on weekly visits to David City to spend time with my aging father. In June, my dad, brothers and I signed papers to sale our family business of 61 years, and since then I have become the official historian, putting my research and interview skills to work, writing the history of the business, searching for pictures, and putting them all together into an 88 page book. It was an educationally rewarding summer filled with fun times and new family memories.

Lindsey Hinzmann, Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Hearing Impaired Team Leader

This summer I attended Listen Up: It's 2015! Symposium in Lincoln and the Listening and Spoken Language Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. Both of these symposiums furthered my knowledge of the principles of the listening and spoken language for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The skills I gain through these staff development opportunities will help me support the students, families, and other professionals of Lincoln Public School and will be help me as I obtain my Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certification.

Cory Hachiya, Hartley Elementary, Fifth-Grade Teacher

I couldn’t help but reminisce on what will be one of the most memorable summers of my life. In the last five years or so, I have had the opportunity to work in our community’s classrooms as a paraeducator, a student teacher, and ultimately a classroom teacher. Thus, I have always had an appreciation for summer!

This year will mark my second year as a classroom teacher for Lincoln Public Schools. Along with the excitement and anxieties that came with my first year of leading my own classroom, I had the added pressures of helping to plan my wedding.

This summer, I was lucky enough to marry my best friend. We had the amazing opportunity to return to the Hawaiian island of Kauai for our honeymoon, and were even able to revisit the location that I proposed to her. Of course as a teacher, that eye for things that I can use in the classroom is always scanning my surroundings!

I have been an avid fish/aquarium hobbyist for over 10 years, so of course the islands are a paradise for me! As hard as I tried to ignore my work email, I received a message from our interim CLC manager requesting club leaders. I immediately envisioned a multitude of possibilities for lessons and crafts that are close to my own personal hobbies and passions! This year I will be leading a Marine Biology club for the upper elementary students of Hartley, and I couldn’t be more excited to utilize the shells, posters, and artifacts I had accumulated over the course of this summer!

As a teacher, I can’t even begin to count how many times I have heard how great it must be to have the summer off. And while I typically joke it off as simply, “livin’ the dream!” The truth is, teachers don’t truly take the summer off. While we do get a nice stretch of vacation time, if we are not furthering our education or sitting through district flex sessions and workshops, our eyes are constantly scanning for ways to make this year even better than the last, and I am beyond excited to bring on this next year!

Kelsey Heideman, Fourth grade, Belmont Elementary

This summer I was able to teach CLC clubs at Arnold Elementary and attend some great conferences provided by LPS like Anita Archer and BIST. I was also able to travel to Chicago with a group of teacher friends! I can not wait to share these experiences with my kiddos and to hear about their exciting summers!

Jeff McCabe, Industrial Technology teacher, East High School

I attended the international AWFS (Association of Woodworking and Furniture Suppliers) Fair 2015 in Las Vegas. We had two student made contest pieces at the show. We were one of 43 finalists selected to attend from 164 North American entries both collegiate and secondary. We received one of only three Honorable Mention awards given this year and a student cash prize of $250. The other contest piece was purchased by a national vendor to use in a promotional capacity. Another vendor awarded us a major piece of power equipment as a recognition of our work and contribution to their show presence.

I participated in the Nebraska State Games of America in Waterskiing Trick and Slalom events. Earned a Gold in Tricks and a Silver in Slalom.

Erin Fisher, Kindergarten Teacher, Huntington Elementary

I spent the summer attending classes on writing curriculum updates, second steps, and reading updates. I also purchased new, fun and exciting things for my classroom.

Chris Schefdore, Principal, Brownell Elementary

We were fortunate to be able to send a team to Eric Jensen. Learning about poverty and the brain - how we can retrain the brain where ALL students can learn!

Thomas Harmon, Seventh Grade Science, Schoo Middle School

I went on a huge road trip with another teacher. We drove about 7,000 miles, 17 days, 11 national parks including: Yellowstone, Craters of the Moon, Crater Lake, Redwood, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, and Arches.

Sondra Kahler, speech/language pathologist at East/VOICE

I received my 2nd total knee replacement over the summer. My summer was spent recovering, and in physical therapy.

John Wiedeman, fourth grade teacher, Fredstrom Elementary

This summer I spent time re-writing the fourth grade writing curriculum, taking graduate classes at Doane, remodeling our kitchen, fly fishing in Colorado, playing softball, and hanging out with my wonderful family.

Mindy Rabbe-Miller, special education teacher, Northeast High School

I travelled to Jawornik, Poland this summer on a mission trip through my church. We ran a youth sports camp who's focus was to share God's love through the fun of physical activity and teamwork, as well as teaching the youth English, and some basic information about American culture, & the many diverse racial & ethnic groups that make up our country.

While in Poland, we also visited the Auschwitz-Bernikau concentration camp, where I gained a deeper understanding of the atrocities that occurred during WW2, and brought back with me some pictures & resources to enhance my Holicaust unit (we read the diary of Anne Frank, & Number the Stars).

This trip was no less than life changing, & I can't wait to share my re-shaped perspective & new knowledge with my students from my time spent in Poland.

Holly Flanagan-Matzen, Itinerant Hearing Resource Teacher

I was able to attend a conference in Baltimore, Maryland about Listen and Spoken Language hosted by AG Bell. It was a very interesting conference where we were able to learn new ways to help our deaf and hard of hearing students and families obtain strategies to implement listening and spoken language in the classroom and home. Since me and three other hearing resource teachers in LPS are pursuing certification to be a specialist in this area, this conference allowed a great way to make contacts with people all around the world who are doing our job and pursuing this certification as well.

Jan Nash, teacher, Pound Middle School

On our way to a Holy Land tour, we stopped in Amsterdam. I visited Anne Frank's Secret Annex. Since I teach 8th grade Holocaust literature, that experience took my breath away!

Will West, Lincoln High School - French

This summer was one of my busiest as a teacher. I spent several days in Albuquerque training for my new position at Lincoln High teaching IB French. The training was in-depth on the requirements and expectations of the IB Program, which we're lucky enough to have at Lincoln High. Then, I spent seven days in Orlando as a delegate to the National Education Association (NEA)'s Representative Assembly. It's the largest democratic decision making body in the world. There were thousands of educators there, making decisions about policy that governs our association, and helps to guide legislation on both a national and state level.

Of course, I did spend many days at LHS preparing, because I'm teaching some brand-new stuff this upcoming year! That took up a lot of time. I did, however, have some time to watch some Netflix. I also went tubing on the Elkhorn River with some friends, which was a lot of fun! But, I'm ready now to start the new school year, and welcome back some of my favorite people in the world, my students!

Adam Wuerfele, fifth grade, Pyrtle Elemnetary

I started earning credits towards my Instructional Technology Masters at UNK, read a lot of great books, and built up my PLN on Twitter!

Heather Post (Smutny), School Psychologist, Maxey/Early Childhood

This summer was a busy one to say the least. I spent the beginning of my summer preparing for a wedding in June, which went as smooth as it possibly could . Then throughout the summer I participated in PBIS trainings, mental health sessions, Anita Archer, and many other sessions that involved how I will become a more well diverse School Psychologist. I also spent time working with the Nebraska School Psychologist Association Advocacy committee on how to reach out to the Nebraska School Psychologist and how to advocate for our profession within our schools. I spent some of the summer reviewing Rule 51 and Rule 52 law to be able to best advocate for our students.

Lt Col Terence Plumb, USAF, Ret, Lincoln JROTC

To prepare for my JROTC class this year on aviation history, I read several books and watched a few movies to give me better background info. One of the books was "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough. I didn't realize how much time they spent in Europe and what rock stars they were there. Also I had no idea how many hours they spent in the air. 1,000s! One of the videos I watched was "A Walk in the Sun." It was recommended by my co-worker Leland Jacobs. It is about a group of U.S. soldiers in WWII that are on a mission to take back an objective. It is considered one of the most accurate portrayals of what it is actually like to be in the confusion of battle with your comrades.

Elise Anderson, sixth-grade teacher, Schoo Middle School

Three week trip to work with kids and do a Vacation Bible School in South Africa and visited friends in Colorado & Tennessee! I love my job so much and I love that I have my summers to travel. I'm so thankful!

Eric Snyder, Instrumental Music Instructor, Northeast High School

During the month of June of 2015, my wife, Kim and I were able to travel Europe with almost 200 band, choir and orchestra students from across the state of Nebraska. As staff members with the Nebraska Ambassadors of Music, we were honored to work with other directors from Nebraska in helping develop these strangers, who love music, into life long friends while touring seven different countries in Europe and giving 6 concerts in places like London, the Swiss Alps, San Marco Cathedral in Venice Italy, plus others. After starting our journey in London, we traveled to Paris, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Venice, Italy and many of us then ended our visit in Germany while others flew to Greece for an extended tour. Traveling with so many students and learning how to perform with each other is a huge challenge, but to watch the world unfold through the eyes of these young people and see them be inspired to openly learn other cultures and traditions was truly a blessing. During those 3 weeks in June, it became evident to me that teaching never stops. Our children are always learning, not just at school and not only from teachers, but from all those around them.

Kay Duncan, School Nurse, LPS

Twenty-three school nurses attended the Nebraska School Nurse Conference in Kearney. Two of the school nurses are on the planning committee and for the third year in a row an LPS nurse is the president of the Nebraska School Nurse Association. In addition one school nurse is the organization treasurer and one is the State Director for the National Association of School Nurses.

Posted on August 17, 2015


LPS Learning Lunches for 2015-16: Untold stories…

The 2015-16 lineup for the Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunches series offers more “Untold Stories” of our schools with Learning Lunches open to LPS staff and the Lincoln community – beginning with a program on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

For all lunches: Lunches are held on the last Tuesday of the month in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. Doors to the Board Room open at noon, the program begins at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers happen at 12:45 p.m. Please bring your own lunch.

This year’s schedule:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 29. Race, gender and role models: A brief history of diversity among LPS educators, Ed Zimmer, Lincoln’s historic preservation planner and former member of the Lincoln Board of Education.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 27. Homeless Students and Families: Building Stability, Bryan Seck, homeless outreach specialist, Lincoln Public Schools.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 24. Makerspaces and Other Wonders of LPS Libraries, Mary Reiman and Chris Haeffner of Library Media Services for LPS.
  • Tuesday, Jan 26. Dogs, a school’s best friend, stories about the value of canine companions in our schools (with appearances from two-legged and four-legged critters).
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23. One in Five: Students Facing Mental Health Challenges, Brenda Leggiadro, coordinator for LPS Counselors and School Social Workers.
  • Tuesday, March 29: A Guide to Mathematics Education Today, Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for Mathematics at LPS.
  • Tuesday, April 26. The Rhythm of Music in our Schools, LPS student musicians and Lance Nielsen, supervisor of Music for LPS.

 

 

Posted on August 17, 2015


LPS launches Citizens Academy: monthly series to learn ABCs of our schools

Lincoln Public Schools is launching a brand new initiative for the 2015-16 school year: the LPS Citizens Education Academy. Citizens are invited to apply to participate in a series of monthly classes that include hands-on interactive experiences depicting a true, behind-the-scenes sense of LPS – opening up insight and conversation about the school district’s purpose, strengths and challenges.

Participants are asked to attend two-hour monthly meetings – generally the second Monday evening of each month, but also several day meetings – hosted at schools across the school district, featuring a wide variety of information and activities. Participants will have conversations with high school seniors, visit a Family Literacy class, sample an ACT test, spend time in LPS classrooms, tour the new Career Academy, and much more.

LPS will accept applicants for this no-charge public outreach program on a first-come, first-served basis – however, participants are asked to be willing and able to commit the time needed (see schedule is below). If you would like to participate, please register by August 31 and send the following information to Jodi Cale, jcale@lps.org:

  • Your name, street address, email address and phone number.
  • The answer to: Are you willing and able to commit the time needed?
  • A brief explanation of why you are interested in attending the Academy (just a couple sentences).

Academy Schedule:

  • Sept. 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 9, morning hours (vary slightly depending on school selection)
  • Dec. 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 11, 9-11 a.m.
  • Feb. 8, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • March 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • April 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • May 9, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

 For more information: Mary Kay Roth, LPS Communications, 402-436-1609, mkroth@lps.org

Posted on August 13, 2015


Lincoln Public Schools:Highlights of 8/11 Board of Education Meeting, Hearing

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 8/11 public hearing, meeting Board of Education

The Lincoln Board of Education held a public hearing on the proposed budget for 2015-16 as well as a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 11 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, August 25, 2015.

Public Hearing and Board Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a public hearing Tuesday on the proposed 2015-16 Lincoln Public School budget – inviting members of the public to come and speak – followed by Board discussion. A final vote on the budget will happen at the August 25 Board meeting.

Board member comments:

  • Board President Kathy Danek said this budget “makes sure the needs of our students come first…This is a budget that is forward thinking.”
  • Barb Baier: “I support this budget…we need to be aware that we have real needs in this community…Education is the key to ending the cycle to poverty… If we don’t take that responsibility seriously, we will do a disservice to each child, but also to our community…When we don’t educate, when we don’t go and let children chase their dreams, we end up transferring those costs to our jails and prisons, to our welfare rolls.”
  • Annie Mumgaard applauded the two-year plan with a forecast for a third year: “This is rainy day savings, and it’s raining kids, and it’s raining a lot of them. If we are not looking forward, we are not doing our responsibility as adults.”
  • Lanny Boswell noted a budget focused on our strategic goals: priorities built around students.
  • Connie Duncan: “I feel very strongly that this budget is a very sound and realistic budget for a district with 40,000 students and 8,000 employees.”
  • Don Mayhew clarified that the budget proposed keeping the tax levy rate flat, as opposed to some people who use language to indicate this would be a tax increase. “I think this budget is responsible and does a good job of balancing the needs of taxpayers while taking care of our kids.”

Highlights of Proposed 2015-16 Budget

The LPS budget is set through a process of open meetings and public conversations throughout the summer months.

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

o   Providing appropriate staffing, services, supplies and resources to address significant growth in LPS student enrollment. LPS estimates an increase of 800-plus more students for 2015-16 – following the past year’s increase of 1,200 students – growth that means LPS would teach almost 40,000 students in 2015-16.

o   Addressing the growing complexity and needs of LPS students.

o   The changing landscape of how we provide quality education.

  • The budget proposal includes a flat tax levy with no increase over last year. Any tax increase to property owners would be the result of increases in property value.
  • A few highlights of possible additional funding provided under the proposed budget:

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

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

o   Continuation of the technology plan.

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

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

  • The 2015-16 proposed budget for Lincoln Public Schools totals $385.5 million – a 6 percent increase over the previous year.
  • According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 234th out of 249 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,297 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,365.
  • The 2015-16 proposed budget is funded by several revenue streams including: property taxes (LPS estimates property tax valuation will increase about 6.5 percent this year), and state aid to education (anticipated at $127.9 million this coming year, $17 million more than last year).
  • The 2015-16 proposed budget predicts a revenue of about $396 million – of which about $10 million would be placed in cash flow to fund budget growth over the next two school years. Lancaster County revalues property once every three years. This is a revaluation year when valuations generally increase more than usual – and that means LPS will not see similar property valuation increases in the next two years. As a growing school district, LPS wisely projects multiple years ahead to foresee funds available to staff student growth, open new schools and accommodate increases in salaries and benefits. The overarching goal is to provide stability for students and staff in a variable funding climate.
  • Recently, a national group called Americans for Prosperity conducted a poll in our community. Respondents included 1,224 registered voters, of which 64 percent believe LPS provides a quality education at a reasonable price to taxpayers; 17 percent were unsure. In addition, 52 percent of respondents believe LPS spending per student at just over $10,000 is “about right” and 17 percent believe LPS is not spending enough = 69 percent.
  • High quality public schools at a reasonable price bring tremendous value to the Lincoln community.
  • Information on the LPS budget is available online at http://home.lps.org/budget/.

Goals and priorities for Board/Superintendent

The Board Tuesday approved priorities and goals for the 2015-16 school year:

  • By 2019, develop, implement, and sustain district initiatives that result in an increased graduation rate, with a goal of 90 percent of on-time graduates that are career and college ready.
  • By June 1, 2017, develop and adopt benchmarks that ensure high-quality, sustainable, full-service community schools and communicate a strong vision for current and future partnerships.
  • By June 1, 2016, identify components and develop implementation strategies for the district's ongoing and evolving technology needs.
  • Initiate the following comprehensive reviews of programing designed to meet the unique needs of students, ensuring access and success for ALL:

o   By June 1, 2016, Special Education Programs

o   By June 1, 2017, Alternative Education Programs

o   By June 1, 2018, Enrichment Programs

Proposed ongoing priorities:

  • Keep our focus on learning to meet the unique needs of all students.
  • Continue to evolve The Career Academy to meet the needs of students.
  • Legislative advocacy.
  • Effective alignment of fiscal resources.
  • Effective stakeholder engagement.
  • Regular reporting to the Board on all strategic priorities.

Newly annexed property

The Board assigned school attendance areas to property newly annexed to the city of Lincoln, establishing attendance areas prior to the sale of residential lots and allowing purchasers to know what schools their children will attend. Approved attendance areas for these properties are now:

  • South 84th Street & Van Dorn Street: Pyrtle Elementary School, Lux Middle School, and East High School  
  • South 95th Street & O Street: Pyrtle Elementary School, Lux Middle School, and East High School  
  • South 70th Street & Rokeby Road: Maxey Elementary School, Pound Middle School, and Southeast High School  (and after new construction will shift to Sally G. Wysong Elementary School, Marilyn Moore Middle School and East High School)
  • Fallbrook Town Homes: Kooser Elementary School, Schoo Middle School, and North Star High School  
  • North 90th Street & Adams Street: Pershing Elementary School, Mickle Middle School, and Northeast High School  

Superintendent Update

Superintendent Steve Joel talked about the momentum going into the first day of school on Wednesday: “And we are now estimating 900 more kids this year…Just over the summer, we’ve had kids show up from 36 states and 27 countries…We are hearing from principals that they are seeing more kids than anticipated.”

Celebrations of success

The Board of Education celebrated the Lincoln Public Schools Communications department and team, honored for various communication strategies by the National School for Public Relations Association, a national organization for school public relations professionals.

 

 

Posted on August 11, 2015


Two LSW students, staff among record crowd at FCCLA event in D.C.

Two Lincoln Southwest High School students and co-sponsors for the school's Family, Career and Community Leaders of Amercia (FCCLA) attended the organization's national conference this year in Washington, D.C.

LSW graduate Jessica McCloy completed a one-day leadership training on goal setting and networking skills, and senior Samantha Payant received a Gold in her Job Interview event. 

Mrs. Tracy Way and Mrs. Brittany Knudsen, co-sponsors of Lincoln Southwest’s FCCLA, were pleased that their chapter qualified to attend this year.

In addition to the many learning and networking experiences offered at the conference, more than 30 Family and Consumer Sciences related events, also known as STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) Events were offered, providing competitions in such areas as Culinary Arts, Knowledge Bowl, Career Investigation, and Fashion Construction for more than 4,000 event participants.  

The theme of this year’s conference was “Together We Are Healthy” and attendees were challenged to explore the fitness of body, mind and spirit that is a product of healthy attitudes and habits; and to pursue this whole health through the conference’s great learning and networking opportunities. 

A definite highlight of the conference was a youth rally held on Capitol Hill for the dual purpose of celebrating the organization’s 70th anniversary and advocating for strong Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) education in schools. Themed, “70 Years Strong,” the event drew more than 3,000 FCCLA members and bathed the Capitol grounds in a sea of FCCLA red. After the rally, members moved into the Capitol to meet personally with their Congressional representatives to share their stories of how FACS education has impacted them.

About FCCLA

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), is a dynamic and effective national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA has 200,000 members and more than 5,500 chapters from 49 state associations, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The organization has involved more than ten million youth since its founding in 1945. 

FCCLA: The Ultimate Leadership Experience is unique among youth organizations because its programs are planned and run by members.  It is the only career and technical in-school student organization with the family as its central focus.  Participation in national programs and chapter activities helps members become strong leaders in their families, careers, and communities.    

Posted on August 11, 2015


LPS educators among those exhibiting art at state art event

Each fall, the Nebraska Art Teachers Association (NATA) sponsors a juried art exhibit for art educators from across the state. 

This year's exhibit is at the University of Nebraska-Omaha in conjunction with the NATA Fall Conference, September 28-29.  The show opens August 28 with a reception from 4:30p-6:30p on the first floor of the Weber Fine Arts Building on UNO’s Dodge Campus and closes October 1

LPS educators who are exhibiting include Yvonne Meyer, Lincoln High; Lynette Fast, North Star; Mollie Leisinger, North Star; Chad Petska, Southwest; Andrea Jenkins, Everett; and Bob Reeker, Eastridge. 

Along with 48 works by 31 Nebraska art educators, the centerpiece of the showcase is a collection of four photographs by Sandy Skoglund, a surrealist artist who uses photographs to document her work. 

Posted on August 11, 2015


Ribbons cut, speeches made: LPS/SCC Career Academy is game changer, difference maker

High school students will arrive this week on Wednesday, but on Monday at The Career Academy – a partnership of Lincoln Public Schools, Southeast Community College and local business and industry – the community cut ribbons, gave speeches and celebrated a great new facility on the SCC campus that will offer career pathways for high school and college students.

 

LPS Academy student Anthony Marks helped offer tours of the new school and also spoke on the official program, thanking the audience for providing him the opportunity to follow his dream of engineering: “I’m ready to get started, I’m excited about getting started.”

 

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel proclaimed “there is no career academy model like this in America….We have partnered academic institutions, brought in business organizations and industry that had needs, but also had a willingness to support this Academy with resources, mentorships and internships. We wouldn’t be here today if they weren’t willing to roll up their sleeves and imagine this dream…This will be a game changer and a difference maker in the lives of our kids.”

 

Dan Hohensee, director of The Career Academy, said: “This will serve as a connection between academics and the real world.”

 

Great comments from the morning:

  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts: “This is a wonderful celebration of a variety of things…helping make sure we have the 21st century work force in Nebraska…But ultimately the best thing about this new Academy is what it’s going to do for our kids: Give them an opportunity to have that great career.”
  • U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer: “This is an innovative, entrepreneurial program, and we can only imagine what it will be like in a few more years.”
  • Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler: “This Academy represents one more instance, an example of where public democratic institutions work with private sector forces – to make great things happen.”
  • Paul Illich, president of Southeast Community College: “This will not just change Lincoln, it will charge the entire area of southeast Nebraska.”
  • Lanny Boswell, a member of the Lincoln Board of Education and a member of the joint LPS-SCC Career Academy Board, said research indicates that students who have personal meaningful connections to school are more likely to graduate on time, “and The Career Academy provides a new way for students to connect with school.”
  • Dale Kruse, a member of the SCC Board and joint LPS-SCC Board: “I believe this also contributes to keeping our young people here in Nebraska.”
  • Kevin Keller, Union Bank: “Today we celebrate the beginning of a student’s journey into a new career….They have a spark and it is our job to help them…to help fuel the fire they have within…. The Career Academy represents the best of our community…all joining their hands together…to help students into their future.”
  • Nick Cusick, co-founder and CEO of IMSCORP – and one of the first to suggest a notion for the Academy – stressed that the success of the community and country depends on the success of every student – and every student has unique learning needs: “I applaud LPS and SCC for their vision to make this possible….I applaud students and families who have made the choice to attend this Academy...I applaud my fellow businesses who have stepped forward.”
  • Wendy Van, president of the Foundation for LPS, noted that Monday’s audience was filled with “noble men and women…Each of you believe in the children of Lincoln, NE…and what they are capable of…and we thank you.”

Posted on August 10, 2015


Employee Benefit Enrollment

All new and current Lincoln Public Schools employees must enroll online for benefits during the period August 12 through August 24, 2015.  (This does not pertain to substitute employees or hourly employees such as mentors.)
 
You must go through the enrollment site even if you wish to elect no benefits or have no changes to your current benefits.  The enrollment process can be completed on any computer at any time day or night.
 

Annual Enrollment Dates/Instructions:

  • August 12-24:  The enrollment will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, August 12 and will end at midnight on Monday, August 24.  You will not have access to the enrollment site before August 12.  You can re-enter the enrollment system to make changes any time during the enrollment period.
  • Instructions:  To access the online enrollment system:
    • Go to the Lincoln Public Schools website, www.lps.org;
    • Click on "Staff Center";
    • Under "Popular Pages" on the left side of the screen are the Benefit Enrollment link and Instructions. 
    • You will see enhancements to the enrollment site, and the instructions are slightly different this year. 
    • Once you confirm your entire enrollment, you will be able to print your enrollment confirmation.
  • Your login is your Social Security Number (no dashes or spaces), and the PIN is the last four digits of your Social Security Number and last two of your birth year.  (For example, for SSN 123-45-6789 and a birth year of 1974, you would type in 678974.) 
 
Help Sessions Available:
  • Location:   District Office, 5905 ‘O’ St., Lower Level, Lab A
  • Time:   3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
  • When:
    • Wednesday, August 12
    • Thursday, August 13
    • Tuesday, August 18
    • Wednesday, August 19
 
Effective Dates:
  • Any benefits added during this period will begin September 1.  (New employees may have a different effective date -- more information in your Benefit Orientation session.)  Premiums are deducted from your September 30 paycheck for September coverage.
  • If you do not go through the online enrollment system, your benefits will end August 31, 2015Don't miss the deadline!  No exceptions!
  • If you drop any benefits they will end August 31, 2015
 
What's New:
  • There is an open enrollment for health and dental insurance for employees, spouses and dependents.  Employees may also enroll within 30 days of a qualifying event under HIPAA which includes marriage, divorce, birth/adoption, or losing coverage through a spouse changing jobs, retiring, etc.  Health Care Reform eliminated the pre-existing condition requirements.
  • You will need the Social Security Number(s) and date(s) of birth for spouse and dependent(s).  Please enter this information carefully or it could delay claims being paid.
  • Details on the various benefit plans can be found on the LPS home page.  Type in Benefits in Keyword Search (upper right-hand corner of the screen).
  • The district pays a contribution for health insurance based on your employee group.  Your portion of the monthly premium for a single health plan ranges between $31 and $62 depending on your employee group; or employees pay $352.92 for employee/spouse, $311.69 for employee/child(ren) or $481.75 for family (employee, spouse and dependents).  Dental, vision, life, etc. premiums are fully paid by the employee, and the premiums are shown on the Benefits webpage (type in Benefits in Keyword Search).  Premiums will also be shown when you go through the enrollment process.  Please note:  For Paraeducators, negotiations are not yet finalized for 2015-16.  When you go through the enrollment process, last year's contribution for health insurance will be shown.
  • The term life and disability insurance rates will increase starting September 1.  The term life insurance rate will increase from $1.90 per $10,000 of coverage to $2.22 per $10,000.  This means an employee with a $100,000 term life policy, currently paying $19.00 per month will pay $22.20 per month.  There is also an increase for spouse life which is based on spouse's age.  The premium for child life stays the same.
  • For disability insurance, the overall rate increase is 11.8%.  The current average monthly premium for disability insurance is $26 per month.  With the increase the average premium will be $29 per month.   While this is not good news, we have features that are unique to our term life and disability plans.  Type in Benefits in Keyword Search for more information on the disability and term life insurance plans.
 
Be careful when you go through the online enrollment! 
  • Please pay attention to the coverage(s) you select.  If you are declining the coverage, you will need to select the appropriate button. 
  • You will want to print your enrollment confirmation when you complete the enrollment. 
  • If you are adding disability or term life insurance (and aren't a new employee) you will need to fill out a health questionnaire which will be shown at the end of your enrollment.  It is your responsibility to complete the form and send to Lincoln Financial Group (LFG) by September 30.  The coverage will start if/when the application is approved by LFG.
 
Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Information
  • For employees who are currently participating in the flexible benefit plan for medical reimbursement and/or dependent care, the plan year ends August 31, 2015.  Employees have 90 days after August 31 to turn in receipts.  More information, including claim forms, can be found on the LPS website -- click on Human Resources and Benefits, under the PayFlex Information section or go to the PayFlex website, www.healthhub.com.
  • For Maintenance employees and Administrators considering the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and an HSA starting January 1:  You are not able to be enrolled in an HSA if enrolled in our FSA.  Contact the Benefits Office for more information.  And you should consult with your personal tax adviser to determine whether you are eligible to contribute to an HSA and the limit of the contributions.
 
Your Benefits Team:
 
Kyla R. Jensby, CEBS
Employee Benefits Specialist
kjensby@lps.org
Phone: 402-436-1593

Laurie Oxley, PHR, GBA
Employee Benefits Specialistloxley@lps.org
Phone:  402-436-1595

Nancy Harter, CEOE
Employee Benefits Secretary
nharter@lps.org
Phone: 402-436-1578

Posted on August 06, 2015


Suicide awareness and prevention training

As members of the school community, we are on the front lines with students every day. This means we may notice worrisome behavior and appearance exhibited by students, and since we have already built relationships with these students, we are able to take small steps that will make a huge difference in students’ lives.

In 2014, the suicide awareness/prevention training for school personnel law was approved by the Nebraska State Legislature and it went into effect January 1, 2015. Since school personnel are identified as a critical component to suicide prevention, this law aims to equip school staff with information that could save the life of a student. Late this summer Lincoln Public Schools will begin to provide annual training to assist staff members with recognizing the signs and symptoms of suicidal behaviors, and give them methods on how to respond to students in crisis.

Employee groups required to take the training are: nurses, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, administrators, social workers, health technicians, treatment nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, sign language interpreters, service coordinators, SLPs, Bilingual Liaisons, Youth Development Team members, and para educators.  All groups are expected to have the training completed by October 19, 2015.

A software program by Kognito has been chosen by the Nebraska Department of Education as the training tool that will cover this new requirement for all school districts in Nebraska.  Employees will take this training individually online. Staff assigned to multiple buildings should choose the level and school where they have the greatest number of students. District itinerant staff will be assigned to LPSDO and not a school.  If you have questions, please check with your direct supervisor.  Classified staff are encouraged to participate in the training during normal work hours when classes are not in session.

Training opportunities will begin August 1, 2015 and can be found here: www.kognito.com/nebraska

We know other employees of our district would benefit from this training and if you are interested please contact your supervisor.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact director of student services Russ Uhing at duhing@lps.org, or by calling (402)436-1650.

Thank you for your continued work and dedication in making Lincoln Public Schools a safe and welcoming place for the students of our community.

Posted on August 06, 2015


LPS Kickoff Welcome Celebration

Photos from staff members at the Welcome Celebration at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Posted on August 05, 2015


Making hope happen

Last spring, the principals of Belmont, Campbell, Fredstrom, and Kooser Elementary started talking about ways their staff could inspire their students about their futures.

"We read the book, 'Make Hope Happen' by Dr. Shane J. Lopez," said Campbell Elementary principal Julie Lawler. "And that got us thinking about ways our staff could give the elementary students in northwest Lincoln hope about what their future may hold."

The teachers from all four elementary schools gathered for an afternoon of brainstorming and learning concepts from Lopez.

Lopez, a senior scientist at Gallup, used the four elementary schools' data from the annual Hope, Engagement, and Well-being Gallup poll given to fifth graders last fall. His goal was to assist staff in building a "hope map".

"He shared specific data from the Gallup polls from our schools' fifth graders last October, and we found commonalities in the data points in our area," added Vicki Schulenberg, Fredstrom Elementary principal. "The data showed all of us that we need to do a better job of allowing kids to be better problem solvers."

By building a "hope map", the educators were able to illustrate obstacles and pathways to get to a goal, and ways they can work as a team to help kids reach their goals.

"Lopez helped our staff envision what does a good job great life look like, and how do we share that with our kids," said Lawler.

Posted on August 04, 2015


First-Day Videos from the past

To help us get ready for the first day of the 2015/16 school year, here are some shortened first-day video from the past four years.

 






Posted on August 04, 2015


LPS Superintendent tells school district leaders: ‘You make miracles happen’ 

“You inspire me, you make miracles happen,” Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel told school district’s administrators Monday at the 2015 Lincoln Public Schools Leadership conference.

“This year is our time,” he said. “This is our legacy…We all must continue to embrace what we do…We have the most important job in Lincoln and America…Never lose sight of all means all….Make sure this year is purposeful.”

Joel talked about his own granddaughter’s birthday party this past weekend, and all the ongoing love and support that surrounds her: “She is programmed for success.”

On the other hand, he asked: What about all the other children who don’t have as much? What do their birthday parties look like? Do they have food, holidays, a place to sleep at night?

“Every day more children are disenfranchised, living in poverty,” Joel said. “What I’m so proud about in Lincoln Public Schools is that we acknowledge this reality and recognize that if these children don’t make it, society fails…To reach a 90 percent high school graduation rate we will need to reach all children…And I guarantee you this is the hardest work any of us will ever do.”

Joel titled his remarks MondayReality, Rhetoric and Responsibility – and put up a chart that proclaimed: “Love all of it! Love the struggle, love challenges, love competition, love negative people, love those who have hurt you, love fear. 

Reality: District on the move: The Career Academy, the Technology Plan, District of Distinction, Resources (people and dollars), Green Ribbon Schools, Tools to support 90 percent graduation and community support.

Rhetoric: Public education under attack, negativity sensationalized, too easy to be labeled by one opinion, fear mongering/profiteering.

Responsibility: “At the end of the day, we’re responsible for kids, that’s our job.”

Finally, Joel stressed: “Behind every school district is a really good Board of Education” – giving a nod to School Board President Kathy Danek and all the LPS Board members.

Danek told the audience: “We are very proud of the work that you do each and every day…We are all inspired leaders…We must create an intentional path, walk it with intensity and cultivate the inquiring minds of our students.”

Danek underlined the Board’s top priorities for the school year:

  •  By 2019, develop, implement, and sustain district initiatives that result in an increased graduation rate, with a goal of 90 percent of on-time graduates that are career and college ready.
  •  By June 1, 2017, develop and adopt benchmarks that ensure high-quality, sustainable, full-service community schools and communicate a strong vision for current and future partnerships.
  •  By June 1, 2016, identify components and develop implementation strategies for the district's ongoing and evolving technology needs.
  •  Initiate the following comprehensive reviews of programing designed to meet the unique needs of students, ensuring access and success for ALL: By June 1, 2016, Special Education Programs; By June 1, 2017, Alternative Education Programs; By June 1, 2018, Enrichment Programs.

Ongoing priorities: Keep our focus on learning to meet the unique needs of all students; Continue to evolve The Career Academy to meet the needs of students; Legislative advocacy; Effective alignment of fiscal resources; Effective stakeholder engagement; Regular reporting to the Board on all strategic priorities.

Posted on August 03, 2015


Student volunteer group ups the goals, adds new award

StudentServe 2015 is back for another year, with loftier goals and a new chance to honor volunteer service.

The week-long event will be Sept. 14-19, with elementary schools encouraged to seek out opportunities in or near their school, and secondary students encouraged to sign up on the newly-launched volunteer form. The new form shows the organization, time and number of volunteers requested, as well as the expected list of volunteer tasks. The group's organizers — all students — developed the new form to make it easy for students to sign up with their friends, and organizations to see who is signed up to help.

The group has also announced the new Spotlight on Volunteerism Award, in which StudentServe members choose a volunteer group to spotlight based on their hours served, efforts towards inclusiveness, and incorporation of innovative techniques. Two groups will be honored, one in the fall and one in the spring.

Anyone can follow the group on Twitter or Facebook, or visit their website, or contact student executive director Ojus Jain at  ojusj7@gmail.com.

Posted on August 03, 2015


New teachers begin school year

Over 400 teachers, new to Lincoln Public Schools, began their school year with oreintation and work sessions during the week of July 27-31. The sessions began with computer checkout and orientation, followed by a welcome breakfast at the Embassy Suites on Wednesday along with a full day of sessions. The week finished with breakout sessions throughout the district according to teaching assignments for the upcoming year.

During the welcome breakfast, teachers were welcomed by several administrators and board members. "Welcome. Truly you are part of an organization that is on the move in a very positive way," said Steve Joel, superintendent. "We have the finest talent in the state, and probably in most parts of the country, that are working with our kids every single day and producing miracles."

School board president, Kathy Danek also welcomed the new teachers, thanking them for answering the call to become teachers.

"To teach, according to the dictionary, is to transfer skills and ideas to another person. But it's so much more. It's about inspiration, imagination, inquisition and ideas. It's about fact finding, creativity and accomplishment. It's about every child turning their dreams into reality," Danek said.

Joel also added, "Our job as educators is to find what it is that motivates students to learn, and to meet them where they are and then take them where they need to go. And that's the power of Lincoln Public Schools."

Returning teachers will start their year August 5, when LPS will hold its first all-staff Welcome Celebration with an inspirational speaker, school shout-outs and a message from Superintendent Steve Joel. The school year for students begins a week later on Aug. 12.

Posted on July 30, 2015


“Hands down, the best”: Randolph teacher attends Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute

The American Revolution came to life in July for Randolph Elementary fifth-grade teacher Laura Parks as she was selected to attend a six-day teacher institute at Colonial Williamsburg, Va.

“My first visit to Colonial Williamsburg was through the Masters of Historical Studies program through Nebraska Wesleyan,” she said. “I fell in love with this unique town and hoped to be able to one day apply to attend,” Parks said.

Parks had the opportunity to exchange ideas with historians, meet character interpreters, and become part of the story in The Revolutionary City.

“We saw the power of historical interpretation and were privileged to have a peek behind the scenes,” she said.

Throughout each day, Parks worked collaboratively with Colonial Williamsburg staff and master teachers to examine interactive teaching techniques and develop instructional materials that bring history to life in the classroom.

Parks added, “Collaborating with teachers from Hawaii to Maine was an exciting way to learn. We share a passion for teaching America’s complex story with our students.”

Important historical sites included the first settlement in Jamestown as well as the site of the British surrender in Yorktown. Parks received an educational grant to attend the workshop with 24 elementary school teachers from across the country. The elementary session focused on the daily life of colonial Virginians and the transition from subject to citizen that occurs during the revolutionary period.

“I hope other LPS teachers apply for a teacher institute grant and take advantage of this incredible experience,” Parks said. “Hands down, this was the best professional development I have had in my career.”

Posted on July 30, 2015


“Hands down, the best”: Randolph teacher attends Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute

The American Revolution came to life in July for Randolph Elementary fifth-grade teacher Laura Parks as she was selected to attend a six-day teacher institute at Colonial Williamsburg, Va.

“My first visit to Colonial Williamsburg was through the Masters of Historical Studies program through Nebraska Wesleyan,” she said. “I fell in love with this unique town and hoped to be able to one day apply to attend,” Parks said.

Parks had the opportunity to exchange ideas with historians, meet character interpreters, and become part of the story in The Revolutionary City.

“We saw the power of historical interpretation and were privileged to have a peek behind the scenes,” she said.

Throughout each day, Parks worked collaboratively with Colonial Williamsburg staff and master teachers to examine interactive teaching techniques and develop instructional materials that bring history to life in the classroom.

Parks added, “Collaborating with teachers from Hawaii to Maine was an exciting way to learn. We share a passion for teaching America’s complex story with our students.”

Important historical sites included the first settlement in Jamestown as well as the site of the British surrender in Yorktown. Parks received an educational grant to attend the workshop with 24 elementary school teachers from across the country. The elementary session focused on the daily life of colonial Virginians and the transition from subject to citizen that occurs during the revolutionary period.

“I hope other LPS teachers apply for a teacher institute grant and take advantage of this incredible experience,” Parks said. “Hands down, this was the best professional development I have had in my career.”

Posted on July 30, 2015


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