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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.

Annual LPS Saltdogs game brings excitement, creates memories < Updated

Haymarket Park filled with voices of excitement and laughter, music and cheers as approximately 3,000 Lincoln Public School fifth grade students attended the annual Saltdogs Game field trip.

“The biggest thing is we actually have an opportunity this year to bring every single school to the ballpark,”  said Matt Avey, LPS curriculum specialist for Health and Physical Fitness. “We’ve done this for nine years, but it’s nice to finally get every fifth grader on the same page - all 39 schools out here enjoying the day at Haymarket Park.”

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

“Obviously we want the kids to have fun, but there’s some teachable moments here. We’re really trying to get the kids to understand not only the importance of physical activity, but how to participate in a positive manner as a spectator. That’s a component of the character education piece we teach our kids,” Avey commented.

The students played a big part in the day’s activities. Prescott Elementary performed the Star Spangled Banner. Each school had a student representative serve as “Watchdogs” - students who get to follow players onto the field during introductions. Leo from Norwood park was chosen as the mini-manager, providing the line up to the umpires and start the game with the traditional “Let’s play ball!” Students also became junior professional announcers and participated in the between inning games on the field.

Avey added, "I’m excited to see all these smiling faces on our kids today. This has become a great tradition for Lincoln Public Schools - something kids look forward to from the time they start kindergarten and one of their greatest memories at graduation time.”

Highlights from the day: 

Facebook LIVE broadcast at the beginning of the game:

Posted on August 25, 2016


ACT scores continue strong with all LPS juniors taking test < Updated

August 24, 2016

For immediate release

ACT scores for Lincoln Public Schools continued strong and steady with results from the fifth year of a pilot program in which all LPS high school juniors now take the college-ready test for free.

“Taking the ACT has become part of the culture in our school district,” according to Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS, noting that these scores mark a record for the most LPS students taking the test. “And we are holding firm in our scores with a population of students that continues to grow and change.”

As LPS student enrollment increases, more high school juniors take the test every year – 2,351 took the test last year – while the composite test score has remained steady with the same composite score over the past three years. In fact, of the states in the top third for participation in the ACT, Nebraska is first in composite scores by almost a full point.

Jadi Miller, director of Curriculum at LPS, said she is especially proud that LPS juniors take this test seriously. “The day we administer the ACT is one of the highest attendance days of the school year for high school juniors…Our kids are really invested in this, they see this as an opportunity.”

Before the pilot program began, only about 65 percent of LPS graduates took the ACT, but now virtually 100 percent take the test, one of the most common standardized college entrance examinations, according to Leslie Eastman, director of Assessment and Evaluation for LPS.

In April of 2012, LPS started participation in the pilot of what is called the District Choice in-School Testing (DCST) program for the state of Nebraska in which all LPS juniors take the ACT at no cost on a regularly scheduled school day (as opposed to the previous process of paying for the test and taking it on a Saturday morning).

Eastman said that each year, high school counselors share stories about kids who took the ACT – who would not have taken it if the test were not administered free at school – and who have obtained scholarships and are heading for college.

“I think of the realization that certain states only test 20 percent of their juniors…and there’s the possibility for missing a kid who is potentially ready to go to college,” said Sarah Salem, director of Continuous Improvement and Professional Learning. “Our school district is finding the potential in every single kid.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on August 24, 2016


Highlights of 8/23 Lincoln Board of Education meeting < New

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 8/23 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 23 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next meeting Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.

 

BOARD MEETING Highlights

Budget approved for 2016-17

The Lincoln Board of Education approved the 2016-17 budget Tuesday evening – a budget that slightly lowers the tax levy and provides the educational needs for significant growth in the school district.

 

Board member comments:

  • Annie Mumgaard noted she sometimes hears comments about a lack of discussion or commentary about the budget – and she disagreed with that characterization. “I want you to know I have been in a lot of discussion about this budget…with people who care deeply about our schools…We’ve had such a range of discussions on how we use the funds we have toward the best good and the best end…. The discussions have been very deep and very sincere.”
  • Lanny Boswell: “I look forward to voting for this budget…I think it’s a budget that focuses on classrooms…the priorities are in the right place.”
  • Matt Schulte said he was especially satisfied that the General Fund tax levy was going down.
  • Board President Don Mayhew: “We do a very good job of making sure we have the funding necessary to meet the core mission of educating children…and taking care of the needs of our kids.”

Highlights of 2016-17 Budget

The LPS budget is set through a process of staff research, analysis and discussion; as well as open meetings and public conversations.

 
 
Over the last ten years, from 2005-2006 to 2015-2016, LPS reduced the total tax levy over seven cents – from $1.3142 to $1.2429. For 2016-17, the school district will see an even slightly lower levy of $1.2392 for 2016-2017, the lowest levy in our records dating back to 1967-1968. The average homeowner paid $2,148 in property tax to LPS in 2005-2006 and will pay an estimated $2,026 in the 2016-2017 budget (a difference of $122, based on $163,457 average home).

 

The 2016-17 budget for Lincoln Public Schools 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 900 or more students for 2016-17 – following a growth of 7,500 students in the past ten years – growth that means LPS would teach well over 40,000 students in the coming school year.
  • Addressing the growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students.
  • Serving our students in a changing landscape of providing the highest quality education.

The budget continues to focus on providing continued quality education – recognizing that a quality education system is a long-term investment, not simply an expenditure – and our community, our businesses, our families, our students deserve a great school system.

 

A few highlights of additional funding provided under the budget:

  • Providing help to classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); added school social workers, health care workers and high school security; added staffing for middle school math and reading intervention; added staff for intervention assistance for after-school hours.
  • Resources allocated for opening the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuernberger Education Center; and early start-up costs for Marilyn Moore Middle School (which opens in the fall of 2017).
  • Continuation of phasing in the LPS instructional technology plan.
  • Funding to accommodate increases related to more schools and more students – for instance, increases in utilities, facilities and maintenance, custodial services and more.

 The 2016-17 expenditures for the LPS General Fund total $402 million – a 5.95 percent increase over the previous year.

 According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 227th out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,576 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,619.

 

Update on staff diversity

LPS Human Resources gave an update to the Board on one of the LPS strategic goals: Continually expand efforts to recruit staff reflective of the diverse demographics of our students.

 

The U.S. teaching force continues to fall short of reflecting the demographics of the student body, and Lincoln Public Schools teachers are still about 95 percent white, according to Eric Weber, associate superintendent for Human Resources at LPS. Weber noted an increase in diversity of students – while the diversity of new educators has not kept up, “so the gap continues to widen.”

 

Current research about minority teacher recruitment indicates:

  • Effective teacher recruitment efforts begin at an early age.
  • Adopt aggressive recruiting practices in colleges and universities.
  • Close partnerships with community colleges and universities.
  • Actively seek candidates with alternative certifications.
  • Regional recruitment efforts appear to be more successful than out of state or out of region strategies.

Current research about minority teacher recruitment indicates:

  • Teacher autonomy and collaboration with administrators.
  • Access to effective professional development and leadership opportunities.
  • Financial incentives for teacher retention – research and conclusions are mixed and not reliable.
  • Culture and climate help create an environment welcoming to diverse educators.

LPS has ongoing strategies to increase teacher diversity including:

  • Early hires.
  • Student teacher pipeline: Placed in LPS, Student Teacher Boot
  • Camp, LPS interview fairs, cooperating teacher feedback.
  • LPS high school students attend Future Multicultural Teachers Workshop at LPS District Office – hearing about possible future in education.
  • Multicultural Dinner/Reception - Matching college students with
  • district administrators of diversity, discussions about application
  • process, resumes, etc.
  • Local Job fairs - SCC, Journal Star job fairs, discuss careers in
  • Education.
  • Assisting with H1B visas - securing extensions of visas and
  • permanent residence for employees.
  • Career Academy - Future K-12 students in LPS.
  • Recruiting – Reaching out to LPS administrators for names and numbers of diverse practicum students and student teachers.
  • Informal Transition to Teaching Program Cadre - Potential
  • educators, Transition to Teaching Program UNK.
  • Relationships with programs - Peter Kiewit Foundation
  • Educators Opportunity Scholarship.
  • Advertising -Teachers of Color Magazine, HBCU.
  • Recruiting - Attendance at National Alliance of Black School
  • Educators (NABSE), District leaders.
  • Local Subs - Seniors in teacher education to be hired early.

Computer Laptops recommended for educators

LPS certificated staff use Macbook Air computers to create lesson plans to assist with the education of their students – and the Board is considering the $2.9 million purchase of 3,500 Macbook Air computers to replace the current certificated staff computers.

 

The proposed computers will replace computers purchased for certificated staff three years ago, allowing those 3-year-old computers to be placed in elementary and middle school computer labs.   Intel-based Apple computers support both the Macintosh and Windows operating systems, allowing the district to maintain a single hardware platform while also providing teachers the opportunity to select the platform that best meets their productivity and instructional needs.

 

The Board will vote final approval at the Sept. 13 Board meeting.

 

Permission for proposed additional compensation for health technicians – and memo of understanding with Lincoln paras

The Lincoln Board of Education has prioritized recruitment and retention of employees in hard to fill positions.  The school district has identified that health technician positions as well as paraprofessional positions are currently hard to fill based on recruiting and hiring data collected. 

 

As a result the district is recommending that recruitment and retention funds be allocated to enhance the previously approved salary increase for health technicians and increase compensation by $2 per hour.

 

The district is also recommending that recruitment and retention funds be allocated to enhance the previously negotiated salary agreement with the paraprofessional employee group: Increasing all para compensation by 16 cents per hour. When the 16 cents is added to the 34-cent increase – already included in the new contract – paras would see a 50-cent increase per hour in the 2016-17 school year.

 

The Board will vote final approval at the Sept. 13 Board meeting.

 

Attendance assignments for newly annexed property

The Board of Education assigned school attendance areas to property newly annexed to the City of Lincoln or newly platted: Pemberly Place, Annexation Ordinance #20347 – are Maxey Elementary School, Pound Middle School and Lincoln Southeast High School.

Student Celebration

The Board of Education recognized the student leaders of LPS Student Serve: Ajus Jain and Faith Irvine, both seniors at Lincoln East High School.

Student Serve is a student-led, district-wide initiative committed to instilling civic responsibility in our students by promoting behaviors of good citizenship and volunteerism in our community.

 

Posted on August 23, 2016


LNE raises the rocket once again

(Full video of the LIVE broadcast below)

Students, past and present, along with staff and other local dignitaries gathered on the front lawn of Lincoln Northeast High School at 8:00 a.m. under the glistening new black and silver rocket sculpture.

Replacing what was lost 26 years ago, principal Kurt Glathar said when people think of Northeast they think of rockets.

“I hope you will remember this day that we have created...When you come back in ten years, in 20 years and 30 years from now, I fully believe this rocket will be standing proud - welcoming new students and alumni alike,” said Glathar. “Today take pride in being a rocket, it’s a symbol that will live on for a long time and we’ll be very proud of it and I appreciate all of you being here today to help us dedicate it.”

Jim Campbell, retired teacher and LNE alumni spoke to the crowd about what being a rocket was all about.

“Rocket starts with the letter R, and the R in rocket stands for respect...The second letter is O, opportunity...C is a letter that becomes community...K, I think for us as we talk about it is kinship...E is for education...T is for the teachers and teamwork...S is the most important thing, students. It’s the students who make this school,” said Campbell.

Nebraska state senator Matt Hansen read legislative resolution 620 which officially recognized Northeast High School for celebrating their 75 years.

Other dignitaries who spoke talked about the symbol of the rocket and what it means to Northeast:

  • Don Mayhew, school board president: “Today, this high school stands tall and strong, and how fitting for it’s symbol to be a rocket. Named after the famous local train the Rock Island Rocket. You think of the power of those engines, of the modern technology behind those engines, and you think of the power of public education in our lives.”

  • John Neal, LNE alumni and assistant to the superintendent: “As an alumnus, the rocket symbolizes the role the rocket played for me and will play for you - as the launching pad for your future. It will provide a stable foundation as you go off to college and a career.”

  • Jason Lemon, alumnus and raise the rocket committee chair: “The last time I got goosebumps this big, Marian Price was handing me my diploma back in 1990. Kurt, when we started this project, you were Principal Glathar to me. 216 emails, 113 phone calls, 6 text messages and 23 visits to your office later I’m now proud to call you my friend. Thank you. To every person who has worn the black and white before me, and those who will do so after...once a rocket, always a rocket!”

Glathar also wanted thanked the many community volunteers that made the project possible.

“We have many people to thank for this unselfish contribution. The planning and design committee Jason Lemon, Clayton Heath and his wife Wendy, Reed Stephenson and Doug Weatherholt. Ayars & Ayars, Inc. donated the labor in laying the pad, the arch and placing the rocket. Dan Leosing donated the labor and the paint. Rivers Metal Products, Inc. hand built the rocket. Mike Eisenbarth, engineer, donated his time designing the base and the supporting structures. U.S. Bank and LPS Foundation helped with donations to help kick off the project.”

Posted on August 22, 2016


Lux science teacher finds 'glowing' success

Our teachers don’t take the summer off, most are participating in classes and professional development. Lux Middle School science teacher Rich Powers participated in the Research Experiences for Teachers program at UNL. He describes what he did this summer below:

I was selected to participate in a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) with UNL's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The goal of the RET is to provide teachers experience working on a research program during the summer, gaining first-hand experience with cutting–edge research and modern technologies. 

I was working with Dr. Alex Sinitskii in Chemistry and Dr. Axel Enders in the Physics department. The initial goal of our project was to easily make an inexpensive glowing (photoluminescent) substance in the chemistry lab and then to apply that substance onto a conductive surface. We were very successful at making and applying the material. This research may one day be used to produce cheap flexible solar cells. 

For the last decade, science education has emphasized the move towards "three dimensional learning". (Three dimensional learning blends the subject content with scientific and engineering skills and the concepts that occur across all science domains). My RET experience provided valuable insights into scientific and engineering practices, as well as the conceptual connections between them. 

I will share and model these practices and connections with my students and require them to ask questions, solve problems, and design solutions in the classroom. I will also invite MRSEC members to visit my classes throughout the year, bringing hands–on science activities and showing examples of how materials research affects their lives. It will also be really beneficial to show students what real scientists and engineers do on a daily basis and encourage students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning pursuits and professions. 

Pictures: (Photo 1 - Powers in the lab making perovskite, Photo 2 - Perovskite photoluminescing, Photo 3 - Printed Nebraska N-shaped perovskite photoluminescing)

Posted on August 19, 2016


Donation to Eastridge turns into walk down memory lane

Before school kicked off, residents of the Country House at 70th and O street collected and donated 24 backpacks full of school supplies to Eastridge Elementary School. The backpacks will be given to students who qualify for the backpack food program to carry their food home each week.

When the Country House dropped of the donations, the residents were given a personal tour by principal Deb Dabbert. Come to find out, one of the visitors had made a big impact on Dabbert.

It was fun for me to recognize Ann Powers, a former LPS teacher, and share with her that she was an inspiration for me as a young teacher,” said Dabbert.

The school has invited the residents to join them for their afternoon winter and spring music concerts and student success assemblies.

Posted on August 19, 2016


Piano Lessons for Adults - the Lincoln Community Piano Experience

Have you always wanted to play the piano? Or have you forgotten how to play piano since you were a child? Join Lincoln's Community Piano Experience, a group piano class offered with the help of UNL’s School of Music Piano Pedagogy faculty and interns! Offering classes at beginning and intermediate levels! Date, time, location, and cost information can be found on our website https://sites.google.com/site/lincolncommunitypiano/. For additional information email lincoln.cpe@gmail.com or call Travis Worsham at 936-591-2116. Registration deadline: August 31, 2016. 

Posted on August 18, 2016


Update: Kognito Suicide training for staff, troubleshooting

If you have already successfully completed the Kognito Suicide training you can ignore this information below.  Please remember: Building principals and department supervisors will receive reports at the start of each month reporting staff members who have completed the training.

Overall, the Kognito training has gone well.  However, the Kognito website has been experiencing intermittent service interruptions that have been affecting the proper functioning of the training website (especially during times of peak usage).

Kognito is working to resolve these issues, but they wanted to provide some guidance in the event that you may experience any of the following issues:

Log In Issue - No Error Message (Page "re-sets")

If you are attempting to log in and are being dropped back to the log in page without seeing any errors (and it appears that the log in page has simply re-loaded), please be aware that your password and e-mail are most likely correct.   The issue is on the Kognito end, and they are working to resolve it as soon as possible. 

Try logging in a second time by entering your e-mail address, password and clicking "Sign In" again. It may take one or two additional attempts, but you should be able to log in after several tries. 

Log In Issue - Seeing a Message asking you to check your E-mail or Password

This message appears when a user's e-mail or password is entered incorrectly. This can result from a few issues:

1.) You may have made a typing error in either the e-mail or the password. Please do double-check that the e-mail is fully entered (including the "@domain.com" portion)

2.) You may have copied and pasted your e-mail or password into the fields, and accidentally included an additional space at the beginning or end of the entry. The system will read this as a character and return an error message.

3.) You may have re-set your password using the automated system, but the new password either did not arrive or does not seem to work. If you experience a delay in receipt of your password re-set e-mail, or if entering the password you received results in an error message asking you to check your username or password, please notify Kognito tech support  at support@kognito.com.   

Loading Issues - The Simulation will not load when you click "Launch."

In cases where the simulation fails to load, Kognito generally finds two types of common errors:

1. Pop-up Blockers Preventing the Simulation from Starting

If you have a pop-up blocker enabled on your web browser, it will prevent the training from loading properly. If you require assistance unblocking your pop-ups, please notify: support@kognito.com. 

2. Error Message on Launch (Memory Issues)

If you receive an Error upon launch that asks you to contact Kognito Technical Support (or in Chrome, an error page that says "Aw, Snap!"), then your web browser may be running out of memory when trying to load the graphics from our simulation. 

In cases like this, it's best to contact Technical Support at support@kognito.com.  They can determine the issue and tailor the response to your individual needs.

However, you can also try the following:

1.) Ensure that no other applications or web pages (besides the Kognito website and the training window) are open when you launch the simulation.

2.) Try opening the simulation in Internet Explorer - IE will give you the option to open the training in Standard Definition, which uses much less memory than the High Definition version used in Chrome or Firefox. The graphics will not be as crisp, but the content is the same.  

If you reset the simulation but your certificate still shows last year's date

If you accidentally complete the simulation as a review (re-launch instead of re-certify see instructions below), please contact Kognito Technical Support (support@kognito.com).

If you went through all the steps to re-certify and you still receive last year's certificate, then you may be experiencing a tracking error in the system that is preventing your status from properly updating to "complete." These issues are rare, but can prevent the updated certificate from appearing.  Please do not restart the training at this point. Instead, contact support@kognito.com and they'll be happy to handle the situation for you.

Reminders: 

If you took this training last year, please know you need to take it again this year.   You will need to utilize the Recertification feature by clicking on the "Need to Recertify?" link (it will appear on the left hand side of the "Re-Launch" button). To view an instructional video on this feature, please go to:

http://resources.kognito.com/videos/Recertify_with_Kognito.mp4

This will reset the course to the beginning. Simply "relaunching" the training will not generate an updated Certificate for this calendar year.

If you have not yet taken the training, please go to the following link for instructions on how to sign in, establish a new ID and password: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_2gb9qfrLSeVTfyiitznTIKpjM0qL1CTVQbd3lGcXko/edit. 

For everyone:

  • 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

 

 

Posted on August 18, 2016


Embracing all cultures at Culler

Teachers at Culler Middle School became students during a special presentation when staff reported back to work.

Parents participating in the family literacy program at Culler Middle School this summer were given an opportunity to speak with Culler teachers during staff development on August 9. The activity was coordinated by principal Gary Czapla and family involvement specialist Ever Preciado.

The presenters volunteered to share their holidays, dress codes, and facts about the education system in their countries. Families also prepared food from their countries for the educators to try.

“This is a one million dollar opportunity,” said Preciado. “When you can meet one on one with them and hear their stories, and what their dreams are for their children.”

Czapla said this information will help staff understand the students and families they serve every day.

“The thing that stuck out to me was when getting a phone call from the school, they think it’s because the school needs money,” added Czapla. “We need to rethink how we communicate. It is important to slow down and use translators to send home accurate information.”

After the presentation, staff agreed that it would be a challenge coming to a new country, not speaking the language or knowing the culture while trying to be successful.

“I think it really shows how we need to embrace the whole community. It shows how scary it is coming into the United States, and not knowing the school system. This is a way for them to know the expectations of the school system and become part of the Culler Middle School family,” said teacher Renee Bohaty.

This is the fourth year for the family literacy summer classes, and proves to be the most successful yet. With an 87% attendance rate, there were 34 families representing 16 countries and 11 different languages.

During the summer classes, students move through four levels learning about Nebraska and U.S. culture, different holidays that are celebrated and English.

Posted on August 18, 2016


Lefler staff learn how poverty impacts students, parents

Students can face a number of challenges before they even step foot in the classroom. In an effort to better understand what students and families may face daily, the Lefler School Improvement Planning (SIP) team reached out to The Food Bank and Leadership Lincoln to provide Bridges Out of Poverty Training for Lefler staff the week before school started.

“The last two years we have been focused on learning how trauma and poverty can impact students at school,” said principal Jessie Carlson. “The School Improvement team started to reach out to our community to see what resources were out there and who could provide this training.”

Staff spent the entire day at the Food Bank’s Child Hunger Center. In the morning they participated in a poverty simulation facilitated by Leadership Lincoln, enabling participants to look at poverty from a variety of angles and then to recognize and discuss the potential for change within their local communities.

During the simulation, participants role-played the lives of low-income families. Some were Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, some were disabled, and some were senior citizens on Social Security. They had the stressful task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.” They interacted with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and others.

“Each staff member had their own different experience. Afterwards, they realized as teachers we sometimes get frustrated students don’t have their homework done, but these families are just fighting to meet their basic needs each day and don’t have time to do many other things,” added Carlson.

Carlson credits SIP co-chair Dawn Holsten with creating the successful experience for the staff.

“It’s really important we integrate cultural proficiency and understand where our kids come from if we are going to help them be successful,” said Holsten. “We needed to break out of our comfort zones. You get so focused in your own world, sometimes you don’t see where everyone else comes from.”

In the afternoon, staff became students as they discussed their experiences and learned more about the hidden rules and mental models that exist within each economic class. Bridges Out of Poverty is a lesson in empathy, not sympathy, and understanding. All socioeconomic classes are called upon to view the same topics from perspectives different than their own as a step to address root causes of poverty.

Continuing with the theme through the school year, staff have been given a journal to write and share their experiences.

Holsten added, “The journal has two parts. We want staff to branch out into the community and learn more about the kids we serve and reflect about it in their journal. We also want them to keep a gratitude journal, shifting the perspective from ‘things that would be better if’ to ‘I’m thankful I have this’.”

Carlson thinks this really made an impact on her staff this year.

“They left with some powerful take aways. This evoked emotion, and when we have that, we learn in a different way.”

Posted on August 18, 2016


Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 8/9 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a public hearing on the proposed budget for 2016-17 as well as a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 9 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next meeting Tuesday, August 23 at 6 p.m.

 

BOARD MEETING Highlights

Proposed 2016-17 budget considered

The Lincoln Board of Education held a public hearing Tuesday on the proposed 2016-17 Lincoln Public Schools 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 23 Board meeting.

 

Board member comments:

  • Kathy Danek: “I am proud that our budgets have always been forward-thinking…and I would point out that we still always seem to have a list of needs we can’t fund.”
  • Barb Baier: “Overall I support this budget…I want to thank staff for their efforts. This is a lot of work and you do an excellent job…As we go forward I want to take a moment to go and be mindful of something that is really necessary…that we use evidence-based decisions on our programs.”
  • Don Mayhew noted this would mark the lowest levy rate in more than 40 years… “We do take opportunities when we can and when it’s appropriate to lower the property tax levy.”

Highlights of Proposed 2016-17 Budget

The LPS budget is set through a process of staff research, analysis and discussion; as well as open meetings and public conversations.

 

Over the last ten years, from 2005-2006 to 2015-2016, LPS reduced the total tax levy over seven cents – from $1.3142 to $1.2429. LPS proposes an even slightly lower levy of $1.2392 for 2016-2017, the lowest levy in our records dating back to 1967-1968. The average homeowner paid $2,148 in property tax to LPS in 2005-2006 and will pay an estimated $2,026 in the 2016-2017 proposed budget (a difference of $122, based on $163,457 average home).

 

The 2016-17 proposed budget for Lincoln Public Schools 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 900 or more students for 2016-17 – following a growth of 7,500 students in the past ten years – growth that means LPS would teach well over 40,000 students in the coming school year.
  • Addressing the growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students.
  • Serving our students in a changing landscape of providing the highest quality education.
The budget continues to focus on providing continued quality education – recognizing that a quality education system is a long-term investment, not simply an expenditure – and our community, our businesses, our families, our students deserve a great school system.
 
 
A few highlights of possible additional funding provided under the proposed budget:
  • Providing help to classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); added school social workers, health care workers and high school security; added staffing for middle school math and reading intervention; added staff for intervention assistance for after-school hours.
  • Resources allocated for opening the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuernberger Education Center; and early start-up costs for Marilyn Moore Middle School (which opens in the fall of 2017).
  • Continuation of phasing in the LPS instructional technology plan.
  • Funding to accommodate increases related to more schools and more students – for instance, increases in utilities, facilities and maintenance, custodial services and more.
The 2016-17 proposed expenditures for Lincoln Public Schools General Fund total $402 million – a 5.95 percent increase over the previous year.

 

According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 227th out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,576 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,619.

 

Board, superintendent goals/priorities approved

The Lincoln Board of Education approved goals and priorities for the 2016-17 school year for the superintendent and Board:

  • 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 February 1, 2017, develop plans and recommend action steps based on the results of the Special Education review.
  • By March 1, 2017, adopt benchmarks that ensure high-quality, sustainable, full-service community schools and communicate a strong vision for current and future partnerships.
  • By May 1, 2017, complete a community-wide strategic planning process to identify community priorities for the district’s next 5-year strategic plan.

Policy changes approved

The Board approved policy changes related to Prohibition on Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse, Request to Contact Students and Student Interviews by Non-School Personnel, Participation by Citizens, and updates for Policies 6283, 6421, 6570, 6742, and 8442.

 

Attendance assignments for newly annexed property

The Board of Education assigns school attendance areas to property newly annexed to the City of Lincoln or newly platted. Proposed school attendance areas for a newly annexed parcel of land – Pemberly Place, Annexation Ordinance #20347 – are Maxey Elementary School, Pound Middle School and Lincoln Southeast High School. The Board will vote vital approval at the August 23 meeting.

Staff Celebration

The Board of Education recognized the Lincoln Southeast High School counseling center for designation as a Recognized American School Counselor Association Model Program (also called RAMP) by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). The honor represents the culmination of a comprehensive approach to school counseling defined by best practices nationally and the unique needs of students locally.

Posted on August 09, 2016


LPS Learning Lunches for 2016-17, More Untold Stories…

The 2016-17 lineup for the annual 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. 27.

For all lunches: Lunches are generally 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 – we’ll provide dessert.


This year’s schedule:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 27. The Power of Education: Tales of two waiters: Ed Zimmer will tell the stories of two long-forgotten but remarkable individuals he has encountered in his research on Lincoln's past, Llewelyn L. ("Bud") Lindsey and Arthur B. Moss. Zimmer is Lincoln’s historic preservation planner and former member of the Lincoln Board of Education.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25. School choice alive and well at LPS: Pat Hunter-Pirtle describes the Science Focus Program (Zoo School) and Arts and Humanities Focus Program; J.P. Caruso, the International Baccalaureate Program housed at Lincoln High School; Dan Hohensee, The Career Academy, and MSgt (Ret.) Trent Woodruff, the Junior ROTC Program housed at Lincoln Northeast High School.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 29. The FIRST and LAST Class of the Day: Bill McCoy, director of LPS Transportation and Custodial Services, shares a wonderful primer on school buses and student transportation at Lincoln Public Schools
  • Monday, Dec. 5. Computer Science for All, Kent Steen, curriculum specialist for Computer Science, encourages everyone to come learn about what is happening at LPS in K-12 computer science. You can also try out some coding as part of Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week.
  • Tuesday, Jan 31. Building a Sports Performance Program, Jake Fincham and Matt Bertsch, LPS sports performance, describe the process of establishing a model sports performance program and how the program can help prepare kids for success in sports and life.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 21. A Guide for Science Education Today, James Blake, curriculum specialist for Science at LPS, will discuss the focus of science education today and how LPS is developing teacher and curriculum support to prepare the next generation of science students.
  • Tuesday, March 28: Visual Art: Enriching the Human Experience, Lorinda Rice, curriculum specialist for Visual Arts for LPS, invites you to learn how high-quality art education can prepare students for learning in a visual age and into the future.
  • Tuesday, April 25. All That Shines Isn’t Chrome, Kirk Langer, chief technology officer at LPS, invites you to come learn about why LPS decided to purchase Chromebooks for students – and how the Chromebooks are being used as a tool for learning.
  • Tuesday, May 16. World Drumming, a Cultural Experience, Lance Nielsen, supervisor of Music for LPS, notes this is the first year for a World Drumming class at Lincoln High School.  Come hear the learning outcomes from both the teacher and student perspective and experience the joy of a drum circle.

Posted on August 03, 2016


LPS launches second year of Citizens Academy to teach ABCs of our schools

Lincoln Public Schools is inviting Lincoln citizens to participate in the second year of an initiative called the LPS Citizens Education Academy: a series of monthly classes that include hands-on interactive experiences depicting a true, behind-the-scenes sense of LPS.
 
Participants are asked to attend 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 the new Wysong Elementary School, 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 below).

 

If you would like to participate, please register by August 26 and send the following information to Amy Segura, asegura@lps.org

  • Your name, street address, email address and phone number.
  • A brief explanation of why you are interested in attending the Academy (couple sentences).

Academy Schedule:

  • Sept. 12, 5-7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 10, 5-7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 7, morning hours (vary slightly depending on school selection)
  • Dec. 12, 5-7:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 9, 9-11 a.m.
  • Feb. 13, 5-7:30 p.m.
  • March 13, 5-7:30 p.m.
  • April 10, 5-7:30 p.m.
  • May 8, 5-7:30 p.m.
For more information: Mary Kay Roth, LPS Communications, 402-436-1609, mkroth@lps.org

Posted on August 02, 2016


New substitute solution adds features for teachers

A new substitute employee platform brought back memories of how finding a substitute used to happen. Recently, about 250 substitute teachers gathered at Lincoln East High School for their annual orientation and training sessions on various topics.

Prior to 2002, a staff member needing a substitute called a phone number and left a voicemail with key information. District office staff - three employees in the morning and two in the afternoon - would listen to the voicemails and enter all the information into another computer system and go to work in finding subs.

Then in 2002, when LPS switched to SubFinder - the most recent substitute platform - one new ‘cutting-edge’ feature was when the automated computer system would suggest a substitute to call based on the the length of time, the subject area and the school.

Also cutting edge in 2002, SubFinder required a touchtone phone, but not a computer to accept sub requests.

“I have since removed the language ‘touch tone’ because it was confusing the college students,” said Darbi Umholtz, who works with the substitute teacher process for LPS.

Now LPS will launch SmartFind an absence management and substitute placement system.

This change is nothing like the big change that occurred in 2002 as the old solution used some newer technology. And it is possible to use a traditional phone to enter information, but perhaps easier online.

(All staff members, full-time, part-time and substitutes will need to setup their account. More information will be shared with staff members via their LPS email.)

SmartFind allows more precise options for substitutes:

  • Establish a regular schedule of days/times you are able to sub;
  • More easily set times for when you are unavailable (vacation, sickness, etc.);
  • Create a do-not-call schedule (blocking calls during inconvenient times or during other scheduled activities);
  • To pick up an open spot if a staff member couldn’t teach in the afternoon because they became ill or hurt during the school day;
  • Receive an email reminder the day prior to your scheduled assignment.

Subs are still able to list the subject areas (called classifications) and locations that they wish to to teach.

Full-time teachers needing a sub still have the option to request a specific substitute teacher - perhaps a sub they are familiar with based on past experience. Then the automated calling system looks for subs who are certified in that specific subject area. Finally, it will contact local subs available for that school.

Therefore, the system gives preference to those substitute teachers certified in the specific subject area where a substitute is requested.

The SmartFind system also allows staff members to request absences for multiple, non-consecutive days, within one week - and subs can accept those assignments in group, as one job. For example, an absence can be entered for Monday, Wednesday and Friday of a week, and the sub will receive the request as one, three-day job.  In the past, the substitute would receive three separate phone calls, one for each of the days requested.

 

Posted on August 01, 2016


LPS Leadership Day opens official 2016-17 school year

Speaking to hundreds of Lincoln Public Schools leaders on Monday, Superintendent Steve Joel urged them to remember and proclaim the power of public education in our community.

“We continue to make a difference in the lives of children – that’s our work and that’s our legacy,” Joel said at the annual LPS Leadership Day event held at Lincoln Southeast High School this year. “This is hard work...But at the end of the day…this is the best investment that the Lincoln community can make.”

Joel stressed four important aspects of the power of public education:

  • Great public schools challenge students and staff to learn about themselves and others – ultimately making them career and college ready when they leave LPS.
  • Great public schools provide choices and options that connect learning to life. “We continue to look for new ways to connect kids to opportunities that are meaningful.”
  • Great public schools encourage staff and students to persevere through all types of challenges and never give up. “We never ever give up on kids.”
  • Great public schools embrace diversity and remind us: ALL MEANS ALL. “That’s what separates public education from everything else…We take all students every single day.”
  • Southeast Principal Brent Toalson also welcomed the leaders to Southeast, urging everyone to “take this year to inspire excellence in all of our students.”

Don Mayhew, president of the Board of Education, noted that there is unprecedented support of public education in the Lincoln community – support that is well earned: “Each day public educators have the chance to raise up our children – to open the door to their future – to provide a free opportunity for unique and innovative programs that make their lives richer. I wish you a great school year with meaningful experiences and opportunities. Please remember the greatness of your work.”

Posted on August 01, 2016


Highlights of 7/26 Lincoln Board of Education meeting, work session

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 7/26 Lincoln Board of Education meeting, work session

The Lincoln Board of Education held a work session and regular meeting on Tuesday, July 26 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St.  The Board will hold its next meeting Tuesday, August 9 at 6 p.m.

 

BOARD MEETING Highlights

Board, superintendent goals/priorities

The Lincoln Board of Education presented proposed goals and priorities for the 2016-17 school year for the superintendent and Board. They will vote final approval at the August 9 meeting.

 

Proposed goals and priorities:

  • 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 February 1, 2017, develop plans and recommend action steps based on the results of the Special Education review. (This goal may be revised to require a report update by Feb. 1.)
  • By March 1, 2017, adopt benchmarks that ensure high-quality, sustainable, full-service community schools and communicate a strong vision for current and future partnerships.
  • By May 1, 2017, complete a community-wide strategic planning process to identify community priorities for the district’s next 5-year strategic plan.

The Board evaluates the superintendent annually and develops Annual Priorities for the Superintendent for the coming school year.

 

Approved additional bond issue projects

The 15 priority Lincoln Public Schools construction projects financed through the 2014 LPS bond issue are underway, as well as extensive infrastructure additions throughout the school district – and now LPS estimates $14.5 million in funding is still available for additional construction projects.

 

Tuesday the Board approved a list of the next tier of recommended projects that prioritizes these initiatives as:

  • Belmont Elementary School – extensive indoor air quality renovation project.
  • Lincoln High School and Lincoln Northeast High School – repurposing under-utilized high school spaces, such as machine and auto shop, due to the opening of The Career Academy.
  • LPS Science Focus Program (Zoo School – permanent facilities at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo to accommodate more students).
  • Site acquisitions for potential new elementary, middle and high schools.

Final LPS employee agreements

The Board approved agreements for three employee groups for the coming school year:

  • Substitute educators and miscellaneous employees (such as mentors in the gifted program, interpreters and others): Salary increases for substitute teachers and miscellaneous employees range from no increase to a 7.7 percent increase, depending on the employee group.  The determination of what salary to recommend is made in conjunction with the supervisor of that employee group and an assessment of the availability of candidates for the positions.
  • Nutrition Workers: For 2016-17, a salary increase of 2.88 percent with a total package increase of 3.62 percent; and for 2017-18, a salary increase of 2.89 percent and a total package increase of 3.63 percent. Eliminate emergency leave and replace it with additional special leave.
  • Lincoln Paraeducator Association: The salary increase for 2016-2017 is 2.88 percent with a total package increase of 3.46 percent (compensated on a flat basis). The salary increase for 2017-2018 is 2.89 percent with a total package increase of 3.47 percent (compensated on a percentage basis). Service year stipend increase by $0.10 in the 2016-17 school year.

Policy change proposals

The Board was presented with proposed policy changes related to Prohibition on Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse, Request to Contact Students and Student Interviews by Non-School Personnel, Participation by Citizens, and updates for Policies 6283, 6421, 6570, 6742, and 8442. The Participation by Citizens policy was returned to committee; the other policy changes will be approved at the August 9 meeting.

 

Approved attendance assignments

The Board of Education approved school attendance assignments to land newly annexed to the city of Lincoln:

  • Highland View, Annexation Ordinance #20324, for 2016-17 school year:  Kooser Elementary School, Schoo Middle School and Lincoln North Star High School

Staff Celebration

The Board of Education recognized Bill McCoy, director of Custodial Services and Transportation for LPS, for earning the Art Keller Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nebraska School Transportation Association.

 

Student Celebration

The Board’s Student Celebration Tuesday featured the LPS Summer Middle School Strings Camp with remarks from Del Whitman, LPS music teacher, and a performance by a student quartet: Anna Cooper, violin, Lux Middle School; Lars Pedersen, violin, Scott Middle School; Josh Duhs, viola, Lux Middle School, and Lily Rippeteau, cello, Irving Middle School.

 

BOARD WORK SESSION Highlights

Monday, the Board was presented with results of a study – conducted by an outside consulting firm, District Management Council – implemented to gain a deeper understanding of services, best practices and resources LPS provides to “struggling students” (students provided additional services and support through Special and General Education).

 

Tuesday there was continued discussion on the issue with the understanding that LPS staff and the Board will move forward with a slow, thoughtful and deliberative process to analyze, discuss and develop potential changes.

 

The overriding question: What’s next?

 

Nate Levenson from District Management Council said the school district needs to proceed slowly and thoughtfully.

 

“There is nothing simple on this list,” he stressed. “As a superintendent or a Board, you can’t do this work alone…This touches an awful lot of people…This will take a collective effort…You need to get a lot of people to understand and process what we’ve shared – a sharing-out process – then to create some sort of cross-departmental team to work on this…And finally think about and put in place an organizational structure and plan to help lead this work and prioritize.”

 

He urged LPS to be patient and cautious in moving ahead: “Do not rush to start doing….before you have a large group of people who understand and are part of the planning, who are fervently behind it.”

 

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel continued: “This is the beginning of a conversation…an opportunity for us to have courageous conversations… We need time to digest and reflect…This will not happen in a year, not even three years…This will be systemic and deliberate…. to focus on what we can to change part of our culture to make sure our students are successful…within existing resources.”

 

Board member Lanny Boswell agreed: “This is not about the Board voting tonight to implement changes, it’s about starting a discussion…always based on a belief as a Board that all children can learn.”

 

Don Mayhew said he would like staff and parents to know that “this isn’t about playing gotcha, assigning blame…This is about getting better. This is a very healthy conversation for us to be having, a healthy process for us to be going through…To recap, it is clear to me that we have a lot of work in front of us, and this is a huge opportunity to move the district forward.”

 

Summary highlights: LPS is proud of this report – an analysis that concludes the school district does an excellent job providing struggling students with services to offer supports that will help them succeed socially, emotionally and academically. The school district’s programs and services for struggling students have many strengths – building from a very strong foundation – with passionate, caring and committed leadership, teachers and staff. The school district is well staffed, and serves and supports a diverse range of student needs within current resources.

 

The report also recognizes that systems can improve, providing a road map with a series of recommendations to be implemented over the next three to five years. The report suggests that LPS could: more tightly manage current staff, make sure all educators have the appropriate skills and training, provide extra time on task for struggling students and more proactively align activities to best practices.

 

For the full report go to: https://meeting.nasbonline.org/Public/Meeting.aspx?PublicAgencyID=4365&PublicMeetingID=13733&AgencyTypeID=

 

Goals:

  • To gain a deep understanding of the current status of services for “struggling students” (students who need additional supports – through special and general education)
  • Compare current LPS practices to best practices
  • Provide a short list of recommendations to improve student outcomes (cost effective and consistent with school district values)
 

Posted on July 26, 2016


Highlights of 7/25 Lincoln Board of Education work session: Deeper understanding of services for struggling students

Lincoln Public Schools: Highlights of 7/25 Lincoln Board of Education work session

The Lincoln Board of Education held a work session Monday, July 25 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next work session at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, followed by a regular meeting at 6 p.m.

 

Deeper understanding of services for struggling students

Don Mayhew, president of the Lincoln Board of Education, explained the nature of the work session: The Lincoln Board of Education determined to hire an outside consulting firm, District Management Council, to gain a deeper understanding of services, best practices and resources Lincoln Public Schools provides to “struggling students” – students provided additional services and support through Special and General Education

 

Mayhew said this work was very much in line with increasing the school district’s graduation rate. “The better we get, the harder it is to make gains. So we have to step up our game….We want to take a good hard look at our processes and look for opportunities for getting better.”

 

Mayhew also noted that there was a 90 percent response rate from parents for this study, “so this is informed by feedback by the vast majority of families that receive services.”

 

Nate Levenson from District Management Council summed up the report like this: “Let’s start with the headline. After more than six months of work: You guys are good...Many, many things are going well…But you’re not perfect. Nobody is. There’s nothing in here that anybody should feel embarrassed about. There is much to be proud here. There is also much work to be done.”

 

District Management Council reported its finding – named “Improving the Effectiveness and Equity of Services for Struggling Students” – at the Monday Board Work Session, and the Board will further discuss those findings at a 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 Work Session.

 

Summary: LPS is proud of this report – an analysis that concludes the school district does an excellent job providing struggling students with services to offer supports that will help them succeed socially, emotionally and academically. The school district’s programs and services for struggling students have many strengths – building from a very strong foundation – with passionate, caring and committed leadership, teachers and staff. The school district is well staffed, and serves and supports a diverse range of student needs within current resources.

 

The report also recognizes that systems can improve, providing a road map with a series of recommendations to be implemented over the next three to five years. LPS staff and the Lincoln Board of Education will move forward with a slow, thoughtful and deliberative process to analyze, discuss and develop potential changes. The report suggests that LPS could: more tightly manage current staff, make sure all educators have the appropriate skills and training, provide extra time on task for struggling students and more proactively align activities to best practices.

 

For the full report go to: https://meeting.nasbonline.org/Public/Meeting.aspx?PublicAgencyID=4365&PublicMeetingID=13733&AgencyTypeID=

 

Goals:

  • To gain a deep understanding of the current status of services for “struggling students” (students who need additional supports – through special and general education)
  • Compare current LPS practices to best practices
  • Provide a short list of recommendations to improve student outcomes (cost effective and consistent with school district values)

Commendations/areas of strength:

  • District staff have strong commitment and pride in ensuring all students succeed academically.
  • Special education leadership is passionate and highly invested in LPS programs.
  • School district serves and supports diverse range of student needs within current resources.
  • School district is well staffed to meet needs of struggling students.
  • Related services are effectively managed.
  • Overall, parents of students with disabilities feel positive about services and accommodations provided to their children (about 85 percent of those surveyed responded favorably).
  • School district serves almost all student needs within the school district.

Opportunities to improve:

  • Clarify role of regular education to take primary responsibility for delivery of core instruction and provide extra time on task for struggling students. Districts that have closed the achievement gap and significantly raised the achievement of all struggling students, provide them with extra instructional time each day – that does not occur during core instructional time.
  • Ensure instructional extra time is provided by a teacher with strong subject-specific training.
  • Establish district-wide guarantees for all students – developing a model plan that schools may choose to adopt.
  • Consider more clearly defining approach for providing social-emotional and behavioral supports, increasing a deeper investment in behavior management.
  • Consider increasing the amount of time for speech and language.
  • Consider refining the role of school-based special education coordinators.

Suggestions for moving forward:

  • Digest, question and understand the findings
  • Share the findings ore broadly and seek feedback
  • Prioritize key opportunities
  • Develop action plans, and assess needed tools and expertise
  • Implement and refine

Posted on July 26, 2016


Graduation a sign of endurance

For over 1,300 Lincoln Public School students, summer school provides them an opportunity to get one step closer to their goals. Approximately 95 of those students were able to obtain their high school diploma at the end of the six weeks.

Lincoln North Star Principal Vann Price told students during the ceremony when she thinks about summer school graduation, the word endurance comes to mind.

“Endurance in this instance might be defined as the ability of an individual to exert him or her self and remain active for a long period of time, as well as their ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to fatigue,” said Price.

She told them that success in any venture lies in holding on even when others let go. Price then remarked that some of the students have watched others let go, and as a result of that they are not at the summer graduation ceremony.

“Endurance is the price tag of achievement. There is always a process you must go through to enjoy the satisfaction that achievement brings. There can be no short cuts. You’ve got to pay full price. Endurance never really goes on sale. I applaud you today for your endurance.”

After Price’s address, 35 graduates walked across the stage to receive their diploma in front of friends and family.

Graduate Kelly Allsman from Lincoln High said: “It means a lot, just getting through the fight. I had to fight and getting through this day. I can move forward and do what I need to do. I want to be a vet and go into the military.”

Natalia Lewis, a graduate from Lincoln East High School said: “It means so much. I can start my future. It took a lot of hard work and focus to get here.”

Posted on July 20, 2016


Huston to perform with Lincoln Symphony Orchestra

Arnold Elementary Preschool Teacher Hannah Huston will be performing two special concerts with Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra at the Lied Center for Performing Arts on September 18

Tickets for the event will go on sale to the public Thursday, July 14, but LPS employees have an opportunity to participate in a special one day presale. On Wednesday, July 13, all LPS employees can go to http://www.liedcenter.org and type in the special pre-sale code sent via email. (Please email Mindy Burbach at mburbach@lps.org if you need the code again.)

Tickets cost $21 for adults and $11 for students, with a small section of prime seating available for $36.

During the concert, Huston is encouraging attendees to consider making a contribution to the LPS Early Childhood Fund for Excellence at the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. The fund provides special support for families in need. “I am looking forward to sharing this evening with you all and encourage you to join me in making a donation to the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools." For more information on making a donation, visit www.foundationforlps.org

Posted on July 11, 2016


‘Every person is fighting their own battle’

For sixth grade language arts teacher Kristen Mercier, her daughter helped her see the importance for creating a safe space for all students in her Irving Middle School classroom.

“I know how hard that road can be. I’ve seen it both as an educator and as a parent. I see it watching my own daughter struggle making friends at school,” Mercier said. ”I think it just takes that compassion you have and really ups it even more to make sure your own classroom is a safe space for kids and really inclusive. We see that we all have something to learn from each other.”

Mercier has taught at Irving for ten years - during a time she became the mother of her now seven-year-old daughter, Emery, who has Down syndrome and has undergone, two major heart surgeries, a spinal cord operation and multiple procedures for her ears.

“Emery has taught me that every person is fighting their own battle, you just might not see it. She wears her’s on her face, you can see her disability, but that doesn’t mean we all don’t have our own battles that we are fighting.”

With her co-teacher, Mercier said she has had an incredible experience with students from all abilities in their language arts class coming together to learn not only reading and writing, but empathy and patience with each other.

“They start to see the world as less of them at the center of the universe, and they start to spread out. They want to donate or volunteer somewhere, and those are the biggest lessons I could teach. Reading is important, and writing is important, but teaching them about being good people is the ultimate goal,” added Mercier.

Mercier was able to spread her message of advocating for others to a different audience when she headed to Washington, D.C. in June.

Mercier and her daughter Emery were invited by the Children's Hospital Association to participate in Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day. During the event, they spoke to the Nebraska representatives and senators about the importance of the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act of 2015. The ACE Kids Act would create pediatric-focused networks to coordinate and manage the highly specialized care children like Emery need in order to thrive.

During the breakfast with Nebraska representatives, Emery did something her mother never expected.

“I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but they asked Emery what she liked to do. She said she liked to sing. So, they asked her if she would like to sing for them.”

Mercier said Emery walked right up to the front of the room, grabbed the microphone from Congressman Fortenberry while he and Senator Sasse helped Emery up onto a chair.

“She stood right up there and sang ‘Let’s go fly a kite’. For a kiddo with anxiety issues, it was really nice to see her shine and leave an impression on those individuals.”

Posted on July 07, 2016


Highlights of 6/30 Lincoln Board of Education budget work session

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 6/30 Lincoln Board of Education budget work session

The Lincoln Board of Education held a work session Thursday, June 30, to discuss the proposed 2016-17 Lincoln Public Schools budget. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

 

Highlights of Board Meeting work session

The Lincoln Board of Education is working through the process of considering and finalizing the proposed 2016-17 budget, gathering feedback and input from the community over the next months, further discussing the budget and planning to approve the final LPS budget in August.

 

The Board held a work session Thursday to continue the conversation about the proposed budget.

 

Early Childhood

Board member Barb Baier said she was overall very supportive of the proposed budget, “that aligns resources to our strategic plan and our various goals.”

 

But she questioned the district proposal to change resources for early childhood – and retain the half-day program at LPS – due to new regulations that mandate Head Start money only fund all-day early childhood services. “I looked at the research that is pushing for full-day school care, and I believe that research shows half day early childhood care does not provide very many gains for a student. Half day is not enough time for staff to engage with little ones…to make sure they come prepared for kindergarten…I think we need to make our budget decisions evidence based…I would prefer to serve a smaller number of children effectively.”

 

Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs, explained that the new regulations for Head Start, mandating full-day early childhood, create a tough choice for LPS. “If we move to full day…with similar classrooms with similar funding sources…we would significantly lose the number of our early childhood seats.”

 

Board member Lanny Boswell agreed with the assessment that full day is preferred, but explained LPS is faced with the choice of serving 1,200 students in half day or 600 students with full day. “We don’t have the capacity to serve all of those students for a full day…If we went to a full day, we would be telling 600 students you are not going to have early childhood services with us.”  

 

Annie Mumgaard, another Board member, pointed out that as LPS releases Head Start funds to other community groups, they are able to offer additional early childhood care.

 

Standish suggested that LPS staff create a snapshot document for LPS early childhood: Number of students served, services provided, facility capacity, and more – “to create a baseline of knowledge for the continued conversation.”

 

Student support for technology

Baier supported proposed funding for extended support technology services for students at three high schools – and some middle schools – but said she would prefer such support at all six high schools.

 

Proposed tax levy

Board member Matt Schulte suggested that the school district use this language when describing the proposal for the tax levy: Lowering the General Fund tax levy, and putting money into the Building Fund to deal with growth.

 

Increased investment in fruit and vegetable program

Mumgaard said she supports this proposal, noting research indicates that better nutrition generally translates to better academics: “If we are looking to the whole child, and we are…with physical health and physical education…this is another small step in investing from a nutritional aspect.”

 

The proposed LPS budget 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 950 more students for 2016-17 – following a growth of 7,500 students in the past ten years – growth that means LPS will teach almost 41,000 students in the coming school year.
  • Addressing the growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students.
  • Serving our students in a changing landscape of providing the highest quality education, for instance, planning for specific increases in areas such as regular education, technology and special education.

Highlights of the proposed budget include:

  • Taking into consideration Lincoln’s taxpayers and the current economics of the community, the school district is estimating a very slight decrease in the total LPS tax levy.  That means the estimated property tax rate will remain almost flat – moving half a cent levy from the General Fund to the Building Fund.  The result is there will be almost no change in your property taxes if your house valuation remains the same.  (Building Fund money can be used for site acquisition and improvements, purchasing existing facilities for district use, and some modification and updating of existing facilities.)
  • The budget continues to focus on providing continued quality education – recognizing that a quality education system is a long-term investment, not simply an expenditure – and our community, our businesses, our families, our students deserve a great school system.
  • A few highlights of possible additional funding provided under the proposed budget:
  • Providing help to classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); added counselors and school social workers, healthcare workers and high school security; added staffing for middle school math and reading intervention; added staff for intervention assistance for after-school hours.
  • Resources allocated for opening the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuernberger Education Center, and early start-up costs for Marilyn Moore Middle School (which opens in the fall of 2017).
  • Resources for technology including continuation of phasing in the LPS instructional technology plan, funding for instructional technology coaches, digital access for students during extended hours and replacing an aging online system for Business Affairs and Human Resources.
  • Funding to accommodate increases related to more schools and more students – for instance, increases in utilities, facilities and maintenance, custodial services and more.
The 2016-17 expenditures for LPS will total about $402 million – a 5.95 percent increase over the previous year.
 
The 2016-17 proposed budget is funded by several revenue streams including these two major sources: property taxes (LPS estimates property tax valuation will increase about 2.3 percent this year), and state aid to education (anticipated at $126.4 million this coming year, $1.45 million less than last year).  The 2016-17 budget predicts a revenue of about $397 million and, in addition, LPS will use $5.4 million from cash flow funds.
 
According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 227th out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,576 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,619.
 

** Anyone interested in having information about the LPS budget presented to their community group is encouraged to contact LPS by calling (402) 436-1635, or emailing Liz Standish at lstandis@lps.org.

 

A public hearing for the 2016-17 LPS budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9, at LPS District Office.

Posted on June 30, 2016


LHS senior honored by state art group

Republished from Nebraskans for the Arts

James Yeu is a person who gives his artwork away to fellow students and teachers as a way to connect with others. Nebraskans for the Arts is giving back to Yeu by awarding him with the Student Spotlight in the Arts award for November.

Yeu, a Lincoln High School senior, is an extremely talented student in art. He excels in visual arts and makes incredible sketches of other students and teachers. What is unique about James is that he gives most of his artwork away to the people who sit as he sketches their likeness on paper. “I can’t remember a time when art was not a part of my life,” says Yeu. “It is a way for me to connect with others.”

His nominating teacher, Sam Russel, said: “James is an incredible artist. His artwork can be seen throughout Lincoln High, because he shares his passion for sketching with everyone.” “James has begun to explore sketching landscapes and is also an up-and- coming musician, playing the guitar,” Russel added.

Nebraskans for the Arts regularly recognizes “Student Spotlight” recipients in their communities and shares their successes with state legislators, principals and school boards. In its desire to underscore the importance of arts education across the state, Nebraskans for the Arts sincerely thanks each of these students’ arts educators for helping young adults develop their talents. Nominations for “Spotlight on Student Achievement in the Arts” are received through a survey found on the Nebraskans for the Arts website, www.nebraskansforthearts.org.

About Nebraskans for the Arts:

Nebraskans for the Arts is a non-profit membership organization. NFTA advocates for high- quality arts education, promotes arts-related policies, and supports adequate funding for the arts. NFTA is a member of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network and is an Americans for the Arts state affiliate. 

Posted on June 30, 2016


Highlights of 6/28 Lincoln Board of Education meeting, budget forum

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 6/28 Lincoln Board of Education meeting, budget forum

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting and a community budget forum on Tuesday, June 28 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next work session at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at District Office. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

 

Highlights of Board Meeting

Additional funding for LPS projects

As the planning and substantial bidding draws to a close on the 15 priority Lincoln Public Schools construction projects financed through the 2014 LPS bond issue, as well as extensive infrastructure additions throughout the school district, LPS estimates $14.5 million in funding is still available for additional construction projects.

 

“Getting to where we are today took a lot of work,” said Scott Wieskamp, director of Operations for LPS. “To get these major projects done, and still have money left, that’s a major accomplishment.”

 

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday reviewed a list of the next tier of recommended projects – a list from the Board’s Planning Committee – that prioritizes these initiatives as:

  • Belmont Elementary School, $10.8 million – extensive indoor air quality renovation project.
  • Lincoln High School and Lincoln Northeast High School, $1 million – repurposing under-utilized high school spaces, such as machine and auto shop, due to the opening of The Career Academy.
  • LPS Science Focus Program (Zoo School), $3 million – permanent facilities at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo to accommodate more Zoo School students (up to a total of 200-250 students).
  • Site acquisitions for potential new elementary, middle and high schools.

The Board will take a final vote on this proposal at the July 26 meeting.

 

New boundaries approved

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday approved an attendance area change that will move students at Clinton Elementary School from the Lincoln North Star High School to the Lincoln Northeast High School attendance area. This change will also move the majority of Culler Middle School into the Northeast district (except for a portion that would remain in the Lincoln East High School attendance area).  

 

The Board reviews attendance areas to make sure Lincoln Public Schools is best utilizing school district facilities, and often to determine if it is prudent to make adjustments in boundaries that would provide relief to schools that are serving at or over capacity. Currently North Star student enrollment totals almost 2,200 students, and is expected to continue increasing in coming years.  LPS officials believe this attendance area change will help maintain a more level enrollment over time.   

 

The change will become effective for the 2017-18 school year. Please note LPS would continue the practice of allowing ninth graders to attend the high school of their choice, provided they fill out the necessary paperwork by the mandatory deadline.

 

Contract to coordinate travel for Lincoln Southwest High School music program

The Board approved a contract with Explor to provide services in coordinating travel for approximately 250 Lincoln Southwest High School music students traveling to Hawaii as part of a performance opportunity in December 2017. Students and boosters will participate in fundraising to pay for the cost of the trip.

 

Annexed property

The Board of Education Tuesday considered proposed school attendance assignments to land newly annexed to the city of Lincoln:

  • Highland View, Annexation Ordinance #20324, for 2016-17 school year:  Kooser Elementary School, Schoo Middle School and Lincoln North Star High School

The Board will take a final vote on the issue at the July 26 meeting.

 

Contract proposed for nutrition services, substitute, misc. employees

The Board considered proposed 2016-17 pay rates for nutrition services workers, as well as for substitute teachers and what are called miscellaneous employees (mentors in the gifted program, interpreters and others).

 

For Nutrition Services, the proposal for 2016-17 includes a salary increase of 2.88 percent with a total package increase of 3.62 percent; and for 2017-18, a salary increase of 2.89 percent and a total package increase of 3.63 percent. The proposal for this group would eliminate emergency leave and replace it with additional special leave.

 

The recommended salary increases for substitute teachers and miscellaneous employees range from no increase to a 7.7 percent increase, depending on the employee group.  The determination of what salary to recommend is made in conjunction with the supervisor of that employee group and an assessment of the availability of candidates for the positions.

 

The Board will take a final vote on these contracts at the July 26 meeting.

 

Celebration of Success

The Lincoln Board of Education recognized a student celebration of the Lincoln Public Schools Summer Technology Program, featuring presentations from:

  • Brent Jarosz, a business teacher at the Bryan Community Focus Program – and during the summer, coordinator for the LPS Summer Technology Program
  • Conner Anderson and Alex Oltman, eighth graders, Scott Middle School
  • Jacob Wyant, fifth grader, Lakeview Elementary School
Highlights of Community Budget Forum
The Lincoln Board of Education held its first Community Budget Forum Tuesday, inviting community members to make comments and ask questions about the preliminary 2016-17 budget. A second Forum will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30, in the Media Center, Goodrich Middle School, 4600 Lewis Ave.
One Lincoln citizen made comments at the Forum.
 
The Board is working through the process of considering and finalizing the preliminary budget, gathering feedback and input from the community over the next months, further discussing the budget and planning to approve the final LPS budget in August.
 
The budget 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 950 more students for 2016-17 – following a growth of 7,500 students in the past ten years – growth that means LPS will teach almost 41,000 students in the coming school year.
  • Addressing the growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students.
  • Serving our students in a changing landscape of providing the highest quality education, for instance, planning for specific increases in areas such as regular education, technology and special education.
Highlights of the preliminary budget include:
  • Taking into consideration Lincoln’s taxpayers and the current economics of the community, the school district is estimating a very slight decrease in the total LPS tax levy.  That means the estimated property tax rate will remain almost flat – moving half a cent levy from the General Fund to the Building Fund.  The result is there will be almost no change in your property taxes if your house valuation remains the same.  (Building Fund money can be used for site acquisition and improvements, purchasing existing facilities for district use, and some modification and updating of existing facilities.)
  • The budget continues to focus on providing continued quality education – recognizing that a quality education system is a long-term investment, not simply an expenditure – and our community, our businesses, our families, our students deserve a great school system.
  • A few highlights of possible additional funding provided under the preliminary budget:
  • Providing help to classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); added counselors and school social workers, healthcare workers and high school security; added staffing for middle school math and reading intervention; added staff for intervention assistance for after-school hours.
  • Resources allocated for opening the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuernberger Education Center, and early start-up costs for Marilyn Moore Middle School (which opens in the fall of 2017).
  • Resources for technology including continuation of phasing in the LPS instructional technology plan, funding for instructional technology coaches, digital access for students during extended hours and replacing an aging online system for Business Affairs and Human Resources.
  • Funding to accommodate increases related to more schools and more students – for instance, increases in utilities, facilities and maintenance, custodial services and more.
  • The 2016-17 preliminary expenditures for Lincoln Public Schools total $402 million – a 5.95 percent increase over the previous year.
  • The 2016-17 preliminary budget is funded by several revenue streams including these two major sources: property taxes (LPS estimates property tax valuation will increase about 2.3 percent this year), and state aid to education (anticipated at $126.4 million this coming year, $1.45 million less than last year).  The 2016-17 budget predicts a revenue of about $397 million and, in addition, LPS will use $5.4 million from cash flow funds.
  • According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 227th out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,576 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,619.
  • Anyone interested in having information about the LPS budget presented to their community group is encouraged to contact Lincoln Public Schools by calling (402) 436-1635, or emailing Liz Standish at lstandis@lps.org.
  • The Lincoln Board of Education has one additional work session set for Board discussion about the budget at: 5 p.m. Thursday, June 30, LPS District Office. In addition, a public hearing for the 2016-17 LPS budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9, at LPS District Office.
 

Posted on June 28, 2016


6 stories of summer school students, staff and support

Summer School for high school students at Lincoln Public Schools will culminate with a graduation celebration on July 7 at Lincoln North Star High School, 5801 N. 33rd St.

About 100 students are on track to meet their graduation requirements by completing a class or two this summer. Eight have already finished their requirements this summer, including one who officially completed his high school requirements a day before leaving for basic training in the Army.

In all, about 1,450 high school students are currently enrolled throughout LPS, with most at North Star.

Juggling time, projects and budding talent

Summer school art teacher Jen Deets talks about the self portrait with one student, and the student’s early interest in art.

Then, with another student, she talks about another project, and different inspiration. Some students are spray painting designs, others sketching out ideas after researching shapes on their phones.

“We need the phones,” Deets said. “We need the kids to be able to look up those images, and research artists.”

The classroom, with high ceilings and large windows for natural light, provides space and inspiration.

The music in the classroom is upbeat, with a flair. Some students find their own beat, with their own headphones, matching their own art and personality with their own musical choice.

Deets can instantly shift gears, from project to project and student to student.

She mixes in student art and a famous artist, giving them a research task where they can use their phones for independent learning. She appears to carry on multiple conversations about different topics with different students, giving a student a chance to think about the teacher’s words - before she returns to get their reflection.

And each student comes to class in a different place, with a different background and interest.

“Some kids take the class because they need the credit but then there is a stencil or something else that inspires them, and they discover a talent,” Deets said.

What they also discover is how much they can grow as artists in a short time. Students will create and connect with art, respond to their own work with artist statements, then present their work at a show during the last week of summer school.

Teaching government, with emphasis on making a connection

The music is recognizable by many students. It’s a spin on ‘It’s Too Late To Apologize” by OneRepublic. So what is it doing in a Government and Politics Class at LPS summer school?

The actors in this music video are dressed as Founding Fathers debating aspects of independence.

Teacher Falla Halsey adds context.

“So in this letter to the King (of England), they are saying, ‘No, there have been too many transgressions against us, that we have to break away.’”

She loves to make the connections, though often times students see it for themselves.

“I think it’s fun to see that people are taking a really difficult concept and manipulating it in a way that becomes more accessible,” she said.

Falsey loves to teach and knows her subject area, so advancing her own professional knowledge through summer school fits her well. She’s a social studies teacher during the fall and spring semesters at North Star High School, also home to summer school for LPS.

She sees kids from across the school district in her classroom, which appeals to her as well. And some of those students just finished their senior year, but need to pass this required course in order to graduate in two weeks.

“It’s the same content, standards and objectives so that part isn’t different,” Halsey said. “But I can delve into current events each day because of the increased time. The pace is certainly faster, so some of those aspects are sometimes more difficult, and some of it is easier because it’s faster. It depends on the individual learner.”

From golf to summer school, teacher loves time with students

Jim Danson’s girls and boys golf teams at Lincoln Southwest High School both won the team state titles. He was recently named golf coach of the year by the state coaching association.

And with the spring semester wrapped up, he could have spent most of his days golfing, or at least some time off from the classroom.

But as he has for the past 19 years, Danson is teaching summer school.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t like teaching summer school,” he said. “I get to help kids, most of them really want to pass or get ahead, and most of them are willing to put in the time and dedicate themselves to the subject matter, and that really is refreshing.”

Danson teaches two sessions of U.S. History, both 110-minute periods. This block scheduling is similar to the period schedule at Southwest, so that part is similar.

But what Danson has enjoyed about summer school is seeing kids from all over Lincoln.

“I love teaching summer schools because I get to teach in a very diverse classroom,” he said. “Kids are from all over, and I get to teach the subject that i love, which is U.S. History.”

Five students, five individual pathways that lead through summer school

“Last year I came so I had a feel for it to get ahead this year,” said Teijah, a junior-to-be this fall at Lincoln North Star High School. She’s taking Advanced Algebra and an English course. She’s working to raise her grade-point-average to get prepared for college, where she hopes to compete in track and field and study to become a veterinarian.

“We see all different people from different schools, and the time is different. It’s hard to learn with everything going so fast and there are tests every week, but it stays in your brain.”

Carmen, a senior to be at Lincoln High School, wanted to clear up her schedule for her senior year, so she is taking Chemistry and American Government and Politics.

She hopes to study early education and special education in college.

Marquiha, a junior-to-be at North Star, is taking Biology and Geometry to improve her GPA. She enjoys the short time commitment over the summer even if the classes themselves are longer than classes in the fall and spring semesters.

Sterling, a senior-to-be at Lincoln Southeast High School, wants to play football in college, participate in ROTC and study criminal justice. To stay on that path, he’s taking Biology and Geometry this summer.

“It’s a lot faster,” he said of the course schedule, but he said teachers have different approaches to make it interesting.

LHS senior Sinai is taking Oral Communication and Pop Culture, two classes he needs to stay on track to graduate.

“I thought summer school was going to be easier because it’s only part of the summer,” Sinei said. And so far, he feels he’s right.

Partnership, emphasis on students builds uplifting support

Just getting the students to summer school is a huge battle. Once there, the structure of support from staff members of Lincoln Public Schools and community partners is impactful.

Savannah Hobbs has seen the impact.

“The reward is seeing the student get to class and getting the grades they are capable of,” said Hobbs, the educational program manager at Cedars. “These are some of the smartest and most capable kids I’ve worked with, and there just other things that get in the way.”

Those obstacles include problems they may have brought on themselves, such as making poor choices, or problems related to other people’s poor choices.

Hobbs works with students who might be in the foster care program, or in the homeless shelter, or on probation with tracker, a person assigned to a youth to ensure they meet certain goals.

Michael Hunter is new to Lincoln Public Schools as a transition specialist. It’s his job to help students adjust to their new school from out of town, detention centers or other places.

Victories are small, such as kids showing up, turning in assignments. But having this collaboration of community support actually at summer school, interacting with kids whether they need immediate help or not, is valuable.

“It’s important that they see us, and that they see we are trying for them,” Hunter said.

Counselors meet the needs of summer school students, too

Being a counselor at summer school has a different feel to it, counselor Susan Townsend said. Perhaps, because of the intense curriculum over a shorter period of time, it’s a bit more academic in nature.

But the key, she added, is still about developing a connection.

“You just have to meet the kid where they are,,” Townsend said. “Credit recovery or credit advancement, at either end of the spectrum, they are still motivated to get it done.”

There are also many aspects to summer school, including the traditional teacher-student-classroom structure. E-learning, where students learn through a variety of online activities and coursework - and at their own pace - is popular and available at five high schools in LPS.

There’s also a group of about 80 students who have yet to start their freshman year attending summer school at Lincoln North Star and Lincoln High School. They are taking an oral communication class and a fitness class.

Townsend said those are two areas where some kids struggle early or delay too long because not all kids enjoy public speaking, as one example.

“I love summer school,” Townsend said. “It has a whole different vibe. People say, ‘Oh, aren’t you tired?’ No, it is energetic.”

Posted on June 27, 2016


Assessing the assessments, teachers evaluate social studies questions

The classroom work of students from the past school year could be factored into future grading standards in years to come.

The work is really just beginning for a group of high school U.S. History teachers volunteering to review student work. They meet on this particular afternoon to review anonymous student work to identify exemplar work that show critical thinking skills from students.

From there, they can determine if the assessment properly captured student growth in critical thinking. In social studies, that means showcasing knowledge and historical thinking skills acquired from analyzing primary source documents, said Rob McEntarffer, assessment specialist for Lincoln Public Schools.

“Teachers discussing student work on these assessments helps us all define what we mean by historical thinking skills.” McEntarffer said. “It’s possible this work will lead to a district-wide scoring assessment for this subject area.”

During the last school year, social studies teachers created their own assessments for various time periods or documents in U.S. History. Now they are reviewing those assessments based on how well students responded.

In one particular unit on the Cold War, teachers agree the assessment does a good job of requiring close reading by the student, but could do a better job of requiring the student to explain how the evidence supports their answer.

If students weren’t familiar with one of these answers through previous classroom learning, they couldn’t be expected to know the answer with certainty. But the goal is to teach students historical thinking skills to use when examining primary documents so that they can think through these answers themselves, rather than having to only rely on memorized facts.

Also, the group talks about how to get students to provide evidence to support an answer without just repeating what they have read.

“I think there is value for a kid to be able to restate what they have read but in their own words,” said Leland Jacobs, social studies teacher at Lincoln Northeast High School.

Another question reviewed leads teachers to this concept: first think of the answer, the information students should know through classroom work, and develop a question that draws out that answer.

In creating a path toward a district-wide scoring guide, the group discusses how limiting or freeing lesson plans should be.

They agree a pacing guide that keeps all teachers on the same lesson plan on the same day is too rigid.

“You strike a balance between rigid, teaching this on this day, or on the flip side, I can teach whatever I want,” said LNE teacher Joel Cornwell.

In not dictating how the lesson is taught, but sticking with the information that is important to get across to students, each teacher has freedom to decide how they teacher a lesson.

For the moment, the group thinks having time markers - teach this lesson sometime during the first quarter, for example - provides teacher flexibility and common assessment opportunities.

And what to do with the information from assessments? Teachers, the social studies curriculum specialist, and McEntarffer will have to meet more to discuss how to best use these assessment data to support teaching and learning historical thinking skills.

Posted on June 24, 2016


LHS, Venable recognized nationally for strength training program

Lincoln High School has been awarded the 2016 Strength of America Award by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

This award recognizes the Lincoln High initiative - led by Lincoln High coach Stewart Venable - that represents the gold standard in strength and conditioning programs.

Matt Avey, LPS curriculum specialist for health and physical education, noted: “Stewart Venable has been instrumental in moving our Lincoln Public Schools Strength Training curriculum forward.  Over the past school year, he has worked tirelessly and collaboratively with all of our teachers to implement the most recent research-based programs and integrate curriculum concepts and instructional frameworks into the district’s strength and conditioning program.”

The Strength of America Award measures four major categories: supervision, education, program and facilities. Selected from hundreds of eligible schools, Lincoln High will receive the award during the NSCA’s National Conference Awards Banquet in July  in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“From day one at Lincoln High, Stewart has shown initiative to improve the program so that our students will benefit from the instruction that our teachers provide,” Avey said.  “His dedication to Lincoln High and our Physical Education program in the Lincoln Public Schools is very much appreciated, and our students will only continue to improve because of his passion for teaching.”

When the award was announced, Venable said: “I'd like to especially thank Coach Matt Bertsch for his hard work and dedication in working with me throughout this entire comprehensive process.  Matt, I couldn't have done it without you man. Also, a huge thank you to all of our LPS administrators - Mr. Gatzemeyer, Dr. Avey and Ms. Wieskamp - for your guidance and leadership regarding Strength and Conditioning in LPS.  It would not have been possible for us as a district to achieve as much as we have in such a short period of time had it not been for the vision of our administrators.”

With the increasing number of inconsistent gym conditions and strength programs across the country, the NSCA and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition are working together to provide all high schools concise guidelines.

“I am proud to have Lincoln High be part of our ongoing mission to improve the education and programs for all our youth,” says Coach Scott Caulfield, the NSCA’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Posted on June 22, 2016


LPS wins national awards for communication

The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) has announced the 2016 Publications and Electronic Media awards. These awards recognize outstanding education publications and materials (print and electronic), video/TV/radio programs, social media and websites.

Lincoln Public Schools received six awards, and the LPS Podcast created by Zachary Baehr was the only one in the nation to receive an award in that category.

The top award in each category is the Award of ExcellenceAwards of Merit and Honorable Mentions are also given in each category. 

Annual Report
Honorable Mention
LPS - The Power of Public Education, Inspiring Excellence
Mary Kay Roth, Communications Director

Excellence in Writing
Excellence
Courage and Resilience: Standing up for Public Education
Steve Joel, Superintendent

Podcasting/Audio
Merit
LPS Podcast
Zachary Baehr, Communications Technician

Social Media
Merit
Social Media – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram
Zachary Baehr, Communications Technician

Video (Produced In-house)
Honorable Mention
Glimpses: Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Mindy Burbach, Communication Specialist

Print Newsletter (External Audience)
Merit
Community News
Zachary Baehr, Communications Technician

Here is a list of all the award winners on the NSPRA website.

Posted on June 21, 2016


Spartan speakers reach nation's top 20

How do you celebrate winning your fifteenth consecutive state championship? How about having 17 students qualifying for national speech and debate competition? Or why not try placing in the nation’s top 20 teams?

The East High School speech and debate team did just that.  They received the School of Excellence Award at the National Speech and Debate Tournament held in Salt Lake City. The award, given to the top 20 schools in the nation, is based on the school’s performance at the tournament. This year there were 1,374 schools competing.

Helping the school win the distinction were seniors Michael Mason and Carla Seravalli. Mason placed twelfth out of 351 students in Original Oratory. Seravalli landed in the finals, placing fifth out of 482 students in Expository Speaking.

“These kids got an invaluable practicum in public speaking, research skills, argumentation, and literary analysis,” said EHS speech coach Nick Herink. “They brought prestige to the school and district and we can't begin to describe how proud we are of them.”

The National Speech and Debate Association is divided into regional districts, and Nebraska has three of these regional districts - one that is shared with parts of Wyoming. Each regional district has a qualifying tournament hosted in the late winter or early spring, and the top two medal-winners in each event at the regional district tournament qualify for the national tournament.

EHS qualified 10 of 16 speech entries and three of six debate entries in the Nebraska South Region. Additionally, each district fields one world schools debate team which is made of students from different schools across the district. This team then competes against other American teams and teams from around the world.

Students that qualified and competed in the national speech and debate competition in Salt Lake City included:

Speech
Madeline Dumler – Program Oral Interpretation
Nebraska Grayson – United State Extemporaneous Speaking
Emma Jewell – Program Oral Interpretation
Michael Mason – Original Oratory
Katrina Schleich – Humorous Interpretation
Jacob Schoening – Duo Interpretation
Carla Seravalli – Original Oratory
Turner Thompson – Humorous Interpretation
Jenna Tuckerman – Humorous Interpretation
Miles Wilkins – Dramatic Interpretation

Debate
Ina Bhoopalam – World Schools Debate
Felix Cui – Lincoln-Douglas Debate
Nathan Dombrowski – Lincoln-Douglas Debate
Ojus Jain – Policy Debate
Annie Jia – Policy Debate
Samuel Wismer – World Schools Debate
Andy Zhu – World Schools Debate

Posted on June 20, 2016


LSW grad shares the gift of reading

At 15, Ally Norris knew she wanted to do something to give back to the community. She saw an opportunity when thinking about her own school experience.

“When I was in kindergarten I was diagnosed with a reading disability,” Norris said. “Teachers and parents had to help me read all my books.”

Norris said she hadn’t really read a chapter book until her mom had a Kindle and found out it could read out loud. Not only could it read entire books to her while she followed along, but she could highlight words to help her learn spelling.

“It has helped tremendously with my spelling. I can pick out words, and I can write words better because I can see them and hear them.”

So Norris began planning. Her goal: to raise $1,600 by her sixteenth birthday, enough for six Kindles for other Lincoln Public School students who also struggle with reading.

“I met my goal halfway through the school year. My goal was six kindles...I have 30, and we still have money for cases and books.”

By selling crafts, t-shirts, and donations, Norris superseded her goal, raising over $8,000 for the A.N. Kindle Project. With those funds, the LPS Assistive Technology Department purchased 30 Kindle Fires for students to use.

“Ally has become more confident in her reading because of the Kindles,” commented Jessi Sandberg, special education teacher at Lincoln Southwest High School. “Ally currently uses her Kindle to help her excel in her coursework, as well as for personal reading. She would like to see students with reading difficulties benefit from the Kindle, just as she did.”

Norris graduated from LSW in May, but she plans to continue with the A.N. Kindle Project as she heads to the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in the fall majoring in elementary education and special education or assistive technology.

“I just want kids to have the opportunities as everyone else to be able to read, because that’s something I’ve struggled with and I’ve always wanted to read at a level that other people have. I think it’s great for others to be able to do that,” Norris added.

Students in elementary, middle school, and high school have benefited from the A.N. Kindle Project. Norris says that each student is excited when they receive their Kindle, and she gets to meet with each of them to share her success story.

“I tell them to keep trying, because it gets better. Continue to find ways to help, because if you find tricks that other people don’t use, but they help you, use them. It doesn’t matter if you stand out or be different because it’s helping you succeed.”

Posted on June 20, 2016


Highlights from the 6/15 Board of Education budget work session and regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a budget work session and a regular meeting on Wednesday, June 15, at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold a public budget forum and its next regular meeting on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.

Highlights of Board Meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education Wednesday began working through the process of considering and finalizing the 2016-17 preliminary budget for Lincoln Public Schools.

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

The budget 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 950 more students for 2016-17 – following a growth of 7,500 students in the past ten years – growth that means LPS will teach almost 41,000 students in the coming school year.
  • Addressing the growing complexity of the demographics and needs of LPS students.
  • Serving our students in a changing landscape of providing the highest quality education, for instance, planning for specific increases in areas such as regular education, technology and special education.

Highlights of the preliminary budget include:

  • Taking into consideration Lincoln’s taxpayers and the current economics of the community, the school district is estimating a very slight decrease in the total LPS tax levy.  That means the estimated property tax rate will remain almost flat – moving half a cent levy from the General Fund to the Building Fund.  The result is there will be almost no change in your property taxes if your house valuation remains the same.  (Building Fund money can be used for site acquisition and improvements, purchasing existing facilities for district use, and some modification and updating of existing facilities.)
  • The budget continues to focus on providing continued quality education – recognizing that a quality education system is a long-term investment, not simply an expenditure – and our community, our businesses, our families, our students deserve a great school system.
  • A few highlights of possible additional funding provided under the preliminary budget:
    • Providing help to classrooms and schools with: added teachers and staffing for regular education, special education, early childhood, English Language Learners (refugees and immigrants); added counselors and school social workers, healthcare workers and high school security; added staffing for middle school math and reading intervention; added staff for intervention assistance for after-school hours.
    • Resources allocated for opening the new Sally G. Wysong Elementary School and the Bill Nuernberger Education Center, and early start-up costs for Marilyn Moore Middle School (which opens in the fall of 2017).
    • Resources for technology including continuation of phasing in the LPS instructional technology plan, funding for instructional technology coaches, digital access for students during extended hours and replacing an aging online system for Business Affairs and Human Resources.
    • Funding to accommodate increases related to more schools and more students – for instance, increases in utilities, facilities and maintenance, custodial services and more.
  • The 2016-17 preliminary expenditures for Lincoln Public Schools total $402 million – a 5.95 percent increase over the previous year.
  • The 2016-17 preliminary budget is funded by several revenue streams including these two major sources: property taxes (LPS estimates property tax valuation will increase about 2.3 percent this year), and state aid to education (anticipated at $126.4 million this coming year, $1.45 million less than last year).  The 2016-17 budget predicts a revenue of about $397 million and, in addition, LPS will use $5.4 million from cash flow funds.
  • According to the most recent statistics, LPS ranked 227th out of 245 school districts in Nebraska in per pupil spending – LPS spent $10,576 per pupil compared to the state average of $11,619.
  • Your input is valued:  Two Community Budget Forums are scheduled in June, which will both include a budget presentation as well as opportunities for comments and questions:
    • Tuesday, June 28, 5 p.m., Board Room, LPS District Office, 5905 O St.
    • Thursday, June 30, 7 p.m., Media Center, Goodrich Middle School, 4600 Lewis Ave.
  • Anyone interested in having information about the LPS budget presented to their community group is encouraged to contact Lincoln Public Schools by calling (402)436-1635, or emailing Liz Standish at lstandis@lps.org.

The Lincoln Board of Education has one additional work session set for Board discussion about the budget at: 5 p.m. Thursday, June 30, LPS District Office. In addition, a public hearing for the 2016-17 LPS budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9, at LPS District Office.

******************

Highlights of Regular Board Meeting

First reading - boundary changes

The Lincoln Board of Education Wednesday discussed a proposed attendance area change that would move students at Clinton Elementary School from the Lincoln North Star High School to the Lincoln Northeast High School attendance area.

This proposal would also move the majority of Culler Middle School into the Northeast district (except for a portion that would remain in the Lincoln East High School attendance area).  The change would become effective for the 2017-18 school year.

The Board reviews attendance areas to make sure Lincoln Public Schools is best utilizing school district facilities, and often to determine if it is prudent to make adjustments in boundaries that would provide relief to schools that are serving at or over capacity.

Community members can go to an LPS online webpage – live through June 28 – offering a place to share comments, or ask questions.  Go to:  http://lps.org/go/boundaries16.  You can also access the webpage by going to the top of the LPS home page (www.lps.com) – and use “Boundaries 16” as the keyword.

Currently North Star student enrollment totals almost 2,200 students, and is expected to continue increasing in coming years.  LPS officials believe this attendance area change would help maintain a more level enrollment over time.   Please note LPS would continue the practice of allowing ninth graders to attend the high school of their choice, provided they fill out the necessary paperwork by the mandatory deadline.

The Board is responsible for establishing attendance areas and strives to make changes in attendance areas with thoughtful, prudent analysis and consideration. The Board will take a final vote on the issue at the June 28 meeting.

First Reading -  contract to coordinate travel for  Lincoln Southwest High School music program

The Board discussed a contract with Explor to provide services in coordinating travel for approximately 250 Lincoln Southwest High School music students traveling to Hawaii as part of a performance opportunity in December 2017. Students and boosters will participate in fundraising to pay for the cost of the trip. The proposal will be on the agenda for approval during the June 28 meeting.

Contract for superintendent

The Board approved the proposed evaluation and contract for Joel in the 2016-17 school year that was presented at the May 24 board meeting. Joel’s contract has a base salary of $313,239, a 1.56 percent increase over the previous year. His total package – including health insurance, retirement, Medicare and Social Security – will be $362,410.

Other LPS contracts

The Board also approved salary increases of 2.88 percent in 2016-17 and 2.89 percent in 2017-18 for additional employee groups at LPS presented at the May 24 board meeting: administrators, custodians, maintenance, office professionals, technicians and transportation.

In addition, the Board approved salary increases for the members of the superintendent’s Executive Committee at 2.85 percent, and an overall package increase of 2.9 percent for 2016-17.

The base salaries for the executive team will be:

  • Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction, $218,274.
  • Eric Weber, associate superintendent for Human Resources; and Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs, $205,359.
  • John Neal, assistant to the superintendent for General Administration and Government Affairs, $179,525.

Contract with First Student Inc. for transportation services

The Board approved a contract with First Student Inc. for transportation services and bus drivers, due to a shortage of local bus drivers. The contract presented at the May 24 board meeting provides for up to 15 drivers and 6 route buses.

Approved -  annual contracts with shelf-stable, refrigerated and frozen food vendors for 2016-17

Each year the Board approves contracts with vendors to provide shelf-stable, refrigerated, and frozen food products for use by Nutrition Services for all locations.  The contracts were awarded to the lowest responsible vendors meeting specifications, based on estimated expenditures:

Thompson Foods (Grand Island, Nebraska): $1,410,174.72
Sysco (Lincoln, Nebraska): 1,131,326.17
US Foods (Lenexa, Kansas): 258,499.76
Reinhart Foodservice (Omaha, Nebraska): 207,569.50
Cash-Wa Distributing (Kearney, Nebraska): 33,638.65
Tecumseh Poultry (Waverly, Nebraska): 21,780.00
Mrs. Clark’s Foods (Ankeny, Iowa): 19,409.20
American Bean Company (Edison, New Jersey): 6,740.25
Total: $3,089,138.25

The Career Academy Update

Board Member Lanny Boswell updated the Board from the TCA board meeting earlier in the day. He reported that 125 seniors graduated from TCA in the first year. There will be 112 students returning in the fall, and close to 315 new students already registered. TCA currently has 130 business partners and over 200 individuals that are involved as mentors or serving on the advisory committee for internships and curriculum development.

Celebration of Success

The Lincoln Board of Education recognized Lisa Morehouse, the Human Resources Office Manager for Lincoln Public Schools. She has been chosen as president-elect of the National Association of Educational Office Professionals (NAEOP). Morehouse has been a member of the organization since 1996, has previously served on the board of directors as administrative council chairman and area director, and is currently serving as vice president. She will be installed as president-elect this July and as president in July of 2017.

The Lincoln Board of Education also recognized David Beatty, the eLearning Instructor/Career and Technical Teacher at the Pathfinder Education Program in Lincoln Public Schools. He was recently honored as the Distinguished Educator of the Year by the National Partnership for Juvenile Services.

Posted on June 15, 2016


ARCHIBUS for facility use

ARCHIBUS is the Facility Use scheduling program for Lincoln Public Schools.

Currently staff members from all schools are entering reservations for their own school activities.  Please make sure you don’t enter any requests for outside users.  Outside users require a different process to ensure we have all of their personal data and insurance information necessary for using our facilities. 

If there is any usage in your buildings outside of the regular school day, a request must be made through ARCHIBUS.  This also includes itinerants who must schedule before and after school band, orchestra and chorus, as well as any staff meetings you may schedule. 

For LPS employees, your ARCHIBUS user name and password are the same as your email.

Once the requests are filed, the assigned approvers at each school will approve, edit or reject requests – and acknowledgement of the reservation will be emailed.  Those who make requests will be able to check your specific request online to see the status.

ARCHIBUS was made available to outside users on Sept. 1, 2012.  We contacted all known outside user groups, asking them to go through this same process (even if they have already submitted a paper request to the schools).  Please make sure you send all outside user facility requests to Jodi Cale so we can contact everyone. 

Instructions are available on the Facilities and Maintenance website regarding how to create an account and make a reservation with ARCHIBUS. 

If you have any questions contact Jodi Cale at jcale@lps.org or 436-1072 x 82036.

Posted on June 09, 2016


PE curriculum could be on the move with more emphasis in movement education

The movements that are important in lifetime sports and weightlifting at the high school level start in kindergarten.

But how do PE teachers in Lincoln Public Schools ensure that it happens at appropriate grade levels?

“Live-skill movement may transfer over not only to be better physically fit for athletics but for everyday purposes,” said Brad Rettig, PE teacher at Lincoln High School.

The movements his students are using - whether it’s on a climbing wall or weight training - can be applied in elementary school. Simply doing pushups and curl-ups in proper form helps the body learn that basic skill.

And like riding a bike, said Kahoa Elementary teacher Eric Vacek, once your body learns through correct repetition, it is far more likely to remember.

“Their body should be aligned and balanced, and that should be good for anything, not just sports,” he said. “It will help you sit at your computer properly, or work in your garden, and keep you out of a physical therapist's office.”

The approach at elementary level already emphasizes a whole-body approach, something that can run counter to students who specialize in one sport.

“Movement patterns and movement education is getting bigger now, because kids are getting sport-specific training are getting repetitive injuries,” said Matt Avey, LPS curriculum specialist. “So these movements benefit everybody by preventing injuries from overuse.”

The changes - which are still being developed and still could require a rollout through piloted schools - might be new to PE teachers, but they incorporate various philosophies. It also focuses on the variety of kids’ futures in healthy living.

“This would give them that knowledge and background to be able to do certain movements throughout their whole life, in addition to how to swing or throw a strike, for example,” said Alissa Cookston, a PE teacher at Riley Elementary School.

A big part of the challenge is finding activities to collect data so that teachers and schools can track progress over time to ensure skill development is balanced across socio-economic and lifestyle areas.

But not all movements are tracked at all grade levels. For example, only fourth- and fifth-grade students run pacers - a fitness test designed to capture a student’s aerobic progress.

Finding common and measurable skills will help a student see their own progress, and help the district identify which teachers have uncovered the most effective ways of teaching specific lessons.

Through Professional Learning Communities and work by the PE steering committee - like this group of educators - knowledge can be shared in a way that benefits all schools in LPS.

Vacek has taught various movement education already, even to the point where his school’s PTO group wanted to partake in an out-of-school learning session.

“So I had 20 parents that were there learning what the kids learn,” he said. “Now I have a student’s dad, who is a drywaller, who now goes through some of these activities every morning to get his body ready to work.”

Posted on June 01, 2016


Without words, but lots of heart

Northeast duo inspire each other, fellow classmates through friendship

Through the kindness of his own heart, Logan Kirk found his way into the heart of senior classmate Kaileb Webber.

Logan also discovered a passion, a future career, a friend and a unique ability to communicate with his new friend at Lincoln Northeast High School.

Who could never talk back to him.

Kaileb has a condition called complete agenesis of the corpus callosum, a congenital defect, which basically means a relay is missing between the two halves of his brain.

He can’t sit, walk or talk, but that’s not to say Kaileb cannot communicate back to Logan.

Teachers and paras have seen it.

Kaileb’s mom, Jodi Milligan, has witnessed it.

“As soon as he sees Logan, he lights up, you can read it all over him,” she said.

Logan started to see it, too.

“I wasn’t sure at first but then there were days when I would go to class and see him and then he would let out some laughs,” Logan said.

A key factor in all of this is the sincerity of Logan’s classmates in his American Government and Politics class, which has a required service learning project. Logan also has lots of friends, and if Logan is friends with Kaileb, then so is everyone else.

So every day second period, Logan and Kaileb started hanging out. But came seventh period, when Logan didn’t have class and was free to go hang with friends, he headed back to Kaileb’s classroom.

Kathryn Lloyd, special education coordinator at Northeast, said Logan and Addy Sellon approached the school about making this a permanent endeavor.

“This student initiated program was so successful at creating natural supports for students with disabilities, that Logan and Addy approached us to advocate for the program and to make ‘Friday Friends’ an ongoing project at Northeast High School.

Addy said her classmates thought about a one-time event, but quickly realized a bigger movement would further unite Northeast students and staff.

The classroom itself was an experience that Addy enjoyed.

“First of all, all the staff in the special education department was awesome,” she said. “It’s a different environment than a normal classroom. They really work on relationships and there is more talking.”

That means more students will get to make new friends, like Kaileb and Logan. When they meet, it’s laughter, Logan said, “and some big smiles.”

Now, take that smile, and multiply it by the hundreds of smiles from kids at Northeast’s prom: Logan and Kaileb’s senior prom.

“It was awesome!” Logan said. “That was probably one of the best moments this year, the highlight of my year. We wanted all these kids to go to prom, and I wanted Kaileb to go because he wouldn’t get the opportunity otherwise. I got him on the floor and danced.”

Being on the dance floor “opened a lot of other people’s eyes, seeing me there with him, and a lot of people came over to get to know him,” Logan said.

Logan’s mom and dad, Renee and Steve, are proud, biased and proud some more.

“He’s a great kid,” his mom, Renee said. “I’ve said it forever, and not just because he’s my kid, but him helping out in that class is just something that he absolutely loves.”

Now take all those hundreds of dancing smiles from prom - and multiply them once again, this time by thousands at Northeast’s graduation ceremony.

Kaileb’s mom, Jodi, had asked Logan if he would like to walk Kaileb across the stage to receive his diploma.

People cheered, clapped and teared up. Kaileb shook hands, got his diploma, and Logan wheeled him back to his seat.

“Never did I ever think I would see something like that," Jodi said. “Instant tears, of course.”

Then Logan had to get back in line. His diploma, his own applause, was still waiting.

“That was great to see there were so many people clapping for Kaileb,” Logan’s mom said. “Because they know Kaileb from Logan, Logan knows a lot of kids and has a lot of friends. It was really great.”

Addy really wanted her friend Matthew to enjoy the true once-in-a-lifetime moment, as well.

“I wanted to make sure he had a good experience, and I think he did,” she said. “He got on stage, jumping around and he was into the audience watching him.”

So now, high school graduates, different paths going forward, but criss-crossing paths with planned get-togethers this summer and beyond.

It’s a good thing Kaileb found a friend in Logan. Worked out well for Logan, too.

Last fall, entering his senior year, Logan wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after high school. Now, he’s found the college (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), the dual-major (elementary education and special education) and the passion.

“It was kind of a ‘Boom!;’ this is what I want to do,” Logan said “I was maybe thinking engineering, but wasn’t sure until this year. I got into this and then automatically it became a huge passion of mine.”

“I have said thank you to this young man I don’t know how many times, but I don’t think he truly realized how much it really meant, and how much it changed our lives,” Jodi said.

She admits it helps her keep faith in the compassion of young people, and she wants to make sure Logan’s parents understand what a terrific son they have raised.

“Logan never even looked at Kaileb’s disability, and the disability did not define him,” Milligan said.


“That was his friend Kaileb.”

Posted on May 27, 2016


Review of proposed attendance area changes at LPS

The Lincoln Board of Education periodically reviews attendance areas to make sure Lincoln Public Schools is best utilizing school district facilities, and often to determine if it is prudent to make adjustments in boundaries that would provide relief to schools that are serving at or over capacity.

LPS is proposing that the attendance area for Clinton Elementary School be moved from the Lincoln North Star High School to the Lincoln Northeast High School attendance area. That area is roughly bounded by 33rd Street to the east, X Street to the south and running along Salt Creek to Adams to the north. This proposal would also move the majority of Culler Middle School into the Northeast district (except for a portion that would remain in the Lincoln East High School attendance area). The change would become effective for the 2017-18 school year.

The Board is hosting an open house to present detailed information and maps about this proposed change, as well as to allow community members a chance to talk with LPS officials. The open house is set for 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, in the library media center at Culler Middle School, 5201 Vine St.

Community members can also go to an LPS online webpage – that will go live June 7 and be available through June 28 – offering a place to share comments, or ask questions. Go to: http://lps.org/go/boundaries16. You can also access the webpage by going to the top of the LPS home page (www.lps) – and use “Boundaries 16” as the keyword.

Currently North Star student enrollment totals almost 2,200 students, and is expected to continue increasing in coming years. LPS officials believe this attendance area change would help maintain a more level enrollment over time.   Please note LPS would continue the practice of allowing ninth graders to attend the high school of their choice, provided they fill out the necessary paperwork by the mandatory deadline.

The Lincoln Board of Education is responsible for establishing attendance areas and strives to make changes in attendance areas with thoughtful, prudent analysis and consideration. The Board will consider this proposed attendance area change at the Board meeting scheduled June 15, and will vote on the issue at the June 28 meeting.

For more information: Liz Standish, lstandis@lps.org



Posted on May 27, 2016


2015/16 State Sports Update

SPRING SPORTS


Baseball

State Qualifiers: Northeast, Southeast, Southwest

Boys Golf

State Champions: Southwest
Team State Qualifiers: Southwest, East
Individual State Qualifiers
  • Rourke Jensen, North Star
  • Tyler Crandon, Southeast
  • Bradley McClintick, Southeast
Team Finishes:

1. Southwest

4. East

Individual Finishes

3. Nathan Vontz, Southwest

6. Patrick Clare, East

7. Steven Strasheim, East

9. Kean Kontor, Southwest


Girls Tennis

State Champion - Southeast
Team Finishes

1. Southeast

3. East

T-7. North Star

Individual Finishes

No. 1 Singles - 1. Fidan Ibrahimova, Southeast; 3. Madison Kiani, East

No. 2 Singles - 1. Demi Tinnerstet, North Star; 3. Justine Linscott, East; 4. Sophie Miller, Southeast

No. 1 Doubles - 3. Alexandra Jensen / Elizabeth Rentfro, East; 4. Olivia Miller / Kate Dean, Southeast

No. 2 Doubles - 3. Abigail Peterson / Katherine Whitehead, Southeast; 4. Mikayla Dorff / Sydney Rau, East


Girls Soccer

State Qualifiers: Southwest, Southeast

Track & Field

Team State Finishes - 6. Lincoln North Star, 8. Lincoln Southwest, T-9. Lincoln East, T-9. Lincoln Southeast
Individual Champions

3,200-meter relay - 1. Southwest: Katie Hastings, Carson Fischer, Alexandra Schwartz, Taylor Els

Girls Medalists

Discus - 3. Emilee Shostrom, East

Pole Vault - T-4 Madeleine Tolly, East; T-6. Alicia Jessen, East; 8. Katelyn Nimic, Southeast

Triple Jumpe - 2. Nyabuony Gatluak, Lincoln High; 7. Nyajock Kong, Lincoln High; 9. Hailey Bartz, Southwest

High Jump - 2. Bailey Cowling, Southeast; 5. Sydney McAlister, Lincoln High, T-6. Caitlin Dirks, Southwest

3,200-meter relay - 1. Southwest: Katie Hastings, Carson Fischer, Alexandra Schwartz, Taylor Els; 3. North Star: Dina Lado Andrea, Tasneem Ali, Champayne Archie, Diana Lado Andrea; 4. East: Alana Sesow, Sophia Becker, Jadyn Agee, Rachel Dweikat

3,200-meter run - 2. Elsa Forsberg, Southeast; 3. Alana Sesow, East

800-meter run - 6. Elsa Forsberg, Southeast; 7. Taylor Els, Southwest; 8. Katie Hastings, Southwest

400-meter relay - 7. Lincoln Southwest: Amanda Christiansen, Olivia Badami, Hailey Bartz, Caelyn Christiancy,

100-meter hurdles - 2. Olivia Berks, North Star; 7. Caelyn Christiancy, Southwest

100-meter run - 8. Sydney McAlister, Lincoln High

400-meter run - 4. Katie Hastings, Lincoln Southwest; 5. Dina Lado Andrea, North Star; 8. Olivia Badami, Southwest

1,600-meter run - 2. Elsa Forsberg, Lincoln Southeast; 5. Alana Sesow, East

300-meter hurdles - 2 Olivia Berks, North Star; 8. Caelyn Christiancy, Southwest

200-meter run - 8. Sydney McAlister, Lincoln High

1,600-meter relay - 2. Southwest - Olivia Badami, Taylor Els, Carson Fischer, Katie Hastings; 5. North Star - Champayne Archie, Diana Lado Andrea, Tasneem Ali, Dina Lado Andrea

Boys Medalists

Shot put - 5. Nick Lenners, Southwest

High Jump - 6. Amiah Jackson, Lincoln High; 8. Chase Dederman, Southeast

Pole Vault - T-5. Rockdale Cauble, Southeast

Discus - 4. Terry Jones, Lincoln High

3,200-meter relay - 3. Lincoln Northeast: Brian Bentzinger, Leeaaron Berks, Adin Connatser, Wyatt McLeod

3,200-meter run - 6. Wyatt McLeod, Northeast

800-meter run - 5. Nathan Pierce, North Star

400-meter relay - 4. Lincoln High: Farrakhan Muhammad, Dauntavis Lawrence, Zion Perry, Elijah Mfinanga; 6. Southwest: Pierce Reinhardt, Noah Symonsbergen, Bo Els, Braeden Hartwig

110-meter hurdles - 2. Darius Luff, Lincoln High

100-meter run - 5. Braeden Hartwig, Southwest

1,600-meter run - 5. Nathan Pierce, Lincoln North Star; 6. Wyatt McLeod, Northeast

300-meter run - 4. Darius Luff, Lincoln High; 6. Trevin Ball, North Star

200-meter run - 5. Pierce Reinhardt, Southwest

1,600-meter relay - 5. Southwest: Noah Symonsbergen, Bo Els, Masen Louviere, Pierce Reinhardt; 8. Northeast: Brian Bentzinger, Leeaaron Berks, Adin Connatser, Wyatt McLeod


 WINTER SPORTS


Boys Basketball

State Qualifier: Lincoln Northeast

Girls Basketball

State Champion - Lincoln East

Swimming & Diving

Team State Champion - Southwest Girls
Champions

200 Freestyle - Alana Palmer, Southwest

200 IM - Dannie Dilsaver, Southwest

50 Free - Olivia Calegan, Southwest

100 Freetyle - Olivia Calegan, Southwest

500 Freestyle - Alana Palmer, Southwest

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

100 Breaststroke - Dannie Dilsaver, Southwest

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

Medalists - Girls

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

200 Freestyle - 4. Anna Heinrich, Southwest

200 IM - 2. Emma Vertin, Southwest

50 Free - 2. Clara Walstad, Southwest

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

100 Freetyle - 2. Shelby Mullendore, Southwest

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

200 Free Relay - 6. Southeast

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

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

Medalists - Boys

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

200 Free - 3. Joshua Roh, East

200 IM - 5. Chase Larson, Northeast

50 Free - 6. Braly Keller, Northeast

100 Butterfly - 2. Nolan Reid, Southwest

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

100 Backstroke - 6. Nolan Reid, Southwest

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


Wrestling

Champions

120 - Wesley Dawkins, Lincoln High

Medalists

138 - 2. Jonathan Killingsworth, Southeast

170 - 2. Isaac Odell, East

106 - 3. Adam Kinnman, Southeast

195 - 3. Kyson Schnell, Southwest

220 - 3. Connor Clanton, Southwest

113 - 4. Chance Fry, Southeast

132 - 4. Aidan Arnold, Lincoln High

138 - 4. Jake Oltman, Southwest

152 - 5. Nathan Hunt, Southeast

170 - 5. Justin Shaw, Southwest

220 - 6. Terry Jones, Lincoln High  


FALL SPORTS


State Cross Country

Girls State Medalists

2. Diana Lado Andrea, Lincoln North Star High School

4. Elsa Forsberg, Lincoln Southeast High School

Girls Team Finishes

12. Lincoln East High School

Boys State Medalists

4. Wyatt McLeod, Lincoln Northeast High School

9. Abram Turner, Southeast

10. Evan Johnson, Southeast

Boys Team Finishes

5. Southeast

10. North Star

11. Lincoln Southwest High School

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

State Girls Golf

State Medalists

2. Lidia Jons, Southwest

T-9. Tess Meyer, Northeast

T-9. Shelby Glenn, East

15. Gillian Dean, Southwest

Team Results

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

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

Softball

State Qualifiers
  • North Star
  • Southwest

Boys Tennis

Boys Individual Results

#1 Singles: 1. Will Gleason, Southwest

#2 Singles: 1. Mason Williams, East

#2 Singles: 4. William Everett, Southeast

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

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

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

Boys Team Results

2. Southwest

4. East

6. Southeast

10. Lincoln High

11. North Star


Football

State Qualifiers
  • Northeast
  • North Star

Volleyball

State Qualifiers
  • Southeast
  • Southwest

 

Posted on May 26, 2016


LPS teacher to appear as contestant on Ninja Warrior TV show

There’s another goal out there for people who are finished with high school or even college sports, says Fred Thorne.

The Industrial Tech/STS teacher and football coach at Lincoln Southeast High School will serve as a great role model by appearing on a future episode of American Ninja Warrior on the Esquire a channel, a part of the NBC network of channels.

“After you are done with your sports, in high school or college, you can still find a goal and do something,” Thorne said. “ It doesn’t have to be something on TV. There are hundreds of teachers in Lincoln Public Schools who ran in the marathon, and there are a lot of teachers who stay active.”

Thorne competed in the competition in Indianapolis, Ind., and that episode is scheduled to air on June 13.

The show’s website describes the experience like this:

The action-packed series follows competitors as they tackle a series of challenging obstacle courses in both city qualifying and city finals rounds across the country. Those that successfully complete the finals course in their designated region move on to the national finals round in Las Vegas, where they face a stunning four-stage course modeled after the famed Mt. Midoriyama course in Japan. The winner will take home a grand prize of $1,000,000. Although many have come close, no competitor has yet to achieve total victory and claim the prize.

“I have young kids, and a lot of the obstacles and training is stuff that is pretty conducive to playing around on the playground,” he said. “It’s a good mix of parkour, or free running, which is a more alternative style of urban play, and you have to have good upper body strength, and I still have that going for me, and I can still run. I am not that old yet.”

Thorne said he wants to stress that finding time each day to be active for 30 to 60 minutes leads to a healthy lifestyle, but it takes a commitment. 

Posted on May 25, 2016


Highlights of 5/24 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

Lincoln Public Schools:

Highlights of 5/24 Lincoln Board of Education meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education held a regular meeting on Tuesday May 24 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The Board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

 

Highlights of Board Meeting

Evaluation, contract for superintendent

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel received high marks from the Lincoln Board of Education in his annual evaluation and contract presented and proposed Tuesday.

 

Kathy Danek, a member of the Board and former president, explained that the “superintendent’s evaluation is some of the most important work the School Board does.”

 

Highlights of the evaluation:

“Dr. Joel received several positive comments from board members acknowledging his leadership in major initiatives. The Career Academy has completed its first year of operation and it is widely regarded as having made ‘impressive progress.’ Several Board members commented on the positive, collaborative aspects of the program as well as how it responds to the needs of our students and the community. Board members also noted the ‘consistent, effective and ongoing implementation’ of our Technology Plan and appreciated that the ‘comprehensive approach, including staff development, effective curriculum, policy updates and infrastructure, ensures the Technology Plan is about more than just devices.’

 

“Board members were pleased with Dr. Joel’s work as a strong leader and public face for the district. Observations included that we have received ‘good comments from the public’ regarding Dr. Joel’s positive image, and acknowledged that he is ‘well respected across the community and has many leadership opportunities within a variety of groups.’

 

“Board members also spoke to Dr. Joel’s ability to build strong relationships with the Board and with his staff. This year was the first year of service for three new Board members and Dr. Joel put in a great deal of effort to make information available and to provide Board access to staff, especially the Executive Committee. Regarding the Executive Committee, it is clear that Dr. Joel trusts his staff and empowers them to do their jobs. Dr. Joel ‘fosters a team spirit’ and embraces the team philosophy of Board and staff working together as a cohesive unit. This strength helps the district to establish goals, prioritize them, and help them come to fruition. Timelines are sometimes aggressive, but he never stops working towards achieving. Of particular note is Dr. Joel’s belief in providing ‘an education that allows every child to be successful’ and his embodiment of the idea that “all means all.”

 

The proposed contract for Joel in the 2016-17 school year calls for a base salary of $313,239, a 1.56 percent increase over the previous year. His total package – including health insurance, retirement, Medicare and Social Security – would be $362,410.

 

The Board will take a final vote on the contract June 15.

 

Other LPS contracts proposed

The Board also considered proposed salary increases of 2.88 percent in 2016-17 and 2.89 percent in 2017-18 for additional employee groups at LPS: administrators, custodians, maintenance, office professionals, technicians and transportation.

 

In addition, proposed salary increases for the members of the superintendent’s Executive Committee are 2.85 percent, and an overall package increase of 2.9 percent for 2016-17.

 

The proposed base salaries for the executive team are:

  • Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction, $218,274.
  • Eric Weber, associate superintendent for Human Resources; and Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs, $205,359.
  • John Neal, assistant to the superintendent for General Administration and Government Affairs, $179,525.

The Board will take a final vote on the contract June 15.

 

Transportation Plan approved

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday gave free transportation to students attending the LPS Science Focus Program (Zoo School) and the Arts and Humanities Focus Program – from high school to the focus programs and back – in approving the LPS transportation plan for 2016-17.

 

The vote was 6 to 1 with Board member Matt Schulte voting no.

 

Board member Connie Duncan was in favor of providing transportation to Focus Program students: “I think we need to stick with our saying, ‘All means all…’ Not everyone has Connie Duncan as a mother…I picked up my kids, packed a lunch, ate the lunch in the car.”

 

She said: “Our numbers tell us that the kids from farther away have a hard time getting to the Focus Programs. This tells me if we open it up we might get more kids to attend.”

 

Board member Annie Mumgaard agreed: “This is about accessibility…I believe it is our responsibility to make sure all our kids have access to all our programs….and this is making these programs accessible for all students.”

 

Board member Kathy Danek noted that “if we don’t give kids the opportunity, we might limit their potential success.”

 

Lanny Boswell, Board member, agreed this vote was about “access and equity…In addition to the benefit of opening access….we have crowding in our high schools…and everything we can do to increase enrollment at Focus Programs helps alleviate numbers at high schools.”

 

Board member Barb Baier called the free transportation an important investment. “This is something I have advocated for a long time…I don’t see enough diversity at Focus Programs…and I think that this is one piece of that puzzle… It is important that we allow kids in all areas of our town to benefit from these programs.”

 

She urged the Board to make sure they provide free transportation beyond one year, because “we need to give this some time to prove itself.”

 

Board President Don Mayhew said: “We like these programs, they speak to our graduation rate, they are very valuable, I think the transportation part is something integral to the programs and I think is overdue…As we are looking for relief in our existing high schools…bus routes are much cheaper than portables….This is part of a well thought-out, deliberate budgeting process…It will be money well spent.”

Schulte said he was concerned about the increased cost in the transportation plan with what he said came with no assurance it would increase student numbers at the Focus Programs. He asked for more research about how many students and families would use this kind of possible transportation.

 

Contract with First Student Inc. for transportation services

The Board considered a contract with First Student Inc. for transportation services and bus drivers, due to a shortage of local bus drivers. The contract provides for up to 15 drivers and 6 route buses.

 

The Board will vote on this contract June 15.

 

Grant applications approved

The Board approved submission of the required application for two grants:

  • LPS would add automated external defibrillators (AED) to 20 additional elementary schools with the submission of a Phase I proposal to the Community Health Endowment for up to $32,500 for the one-time purchase of AED equipment. Several years ago, LPS worked with the Lancaster County Medical Society and Community Health Endowment to purchase AEDs for all secondary schools. LPS will request Community Health Endowment support to help purchase AEDs for all elementary schools in the district, and the Endowment has agreed to consider support for the purchase in the 20 elementary schools that serve the highest proportion of low-income students – a cost of about $32,500. (Of this amount, $20,000 may be awarded to LPS without a match requirement.)   The remaining $12,500 must be matched dollar for dollar.  LPS and the Foundation for LPS are working to secure this match, as well as funding for an additional $32,500 to purchase AEDs for the remaining elementary schools and the new Marilyn Moore Middle School.
  • A Community Health Endowment Grant – for up to $100,000 per year for up to three years – would pilot a new service by contracting with a licensed therapist to become part of the Transition classroom team at Lincoln High School. LPS students returning to home and school from acute care or residential mental health programs receive little of the formal support or follow-up necessary to help them continue with recovery, which often results in lost school time, recidivism and, ultimately, dropping out of school. This will allow the district to pilot a broader scope of transition for students returning from acute or long-term mental health placements back into the school environment with mental health support. 

Annexed property

The Board of Education Tuesday assigned school attendance areas to two parcels of land newly annexed to the city of Lincoln:

  • Prairie Village North, Annexation Ordinance #20312, for 2015-16 school year:  Pershing Elementary School, Mickle Middle School and Lincoln Northeast High School.
  • Grandview Estates 1st Addition, Annexation Ordinance #20308, for 2015-16 school year:  Maxey Elementary School, Pound Middle School and Lincoln Southeast High School.

Policy change approved

The Board approved revisions to Policy 5520 – Student Fees – that reflect changes to fees and the fee waiver eligibility fees that address changes in cost while remaining in compliance with all applicable laws.

 

Celebration of Success

The Lincoln Board of Education recognized a student celebration of high school graduation, welcoming two high school seniors who shared part of their graduation speeches:

  • Hunter Sieckmeyer, a senior at Lincoln Southeast High School.
  • Haley Martin, a senior at Lincoln North Star High School.

The Board recognized members of Leadership LPS, a group that helps aspiring LPS administrators further develop their leadership potential and prepare for principalship through a variety of quality leadership experiences. The following LPS administrators have completed the 18-month course:

  • Kelly Apel
  • Fairouz Bishara-Rantisi
  • Jeff Brehm
  • Amy Carnie
  • Kristin Finley
  • Mike Gillotti
  • John Gloe
  • Betsy Gomez
  • Michaela Hahn
  • Tonya Jolley
  • Mark Larson
  • Gena Licata
  • Angee Luedtke
  • Liz Miller
  • Terri Nelson
  • Takako Olson
  • Cheryl Richter
  • Daniele Schulzkump
  • Erik Witt
 


Posted on May 24, 2016


Composing music with words, art, tech and voice

This story had rhythm, and Drake could feel it. 

Listening to each story with his hand around the storyteller’s shoulders or locked arm-in-arm with the narrator, this Fredstrom Elementary School second-grader took it all in.

“I liked the artwork, and I liked the music,” said Drake. Then he added, “I can hear the beat in the rhythm of it.”

Diana, a classmate of Drake’s, said: “I liked that all of the stories are fiction, and you could believe in them in your dreams.” 

But, she added, the artwork added another element. 

“Instead of just making you wonder, ‘OK, what does this look like or that look like?’ It just says ‘OK, this is what is happening.”

This feedback had to be a confidence builder for the storytellers who composed the music, wrote the story, created the artwork and published the entire piece in Keynote, a digital presentation tool.

The storytellers … were also students themselves, students in a music technology class at Lincoln North Star High School.

“I just hope that they will see themselves in my little character, and realize if they are different,  they don’t have to hate themselves for it,” said North Star sophomore Trinity Cox. “When I was younger, I was different and all, and I was never told it was OK to be different, so I think it’s important.”

Another book’s key message, delivered by a bird: Don’t talk to strangers.

“I figure that is one of the biggest rules in the books for children,” said senior Dylon George. “I know that was big for my parents when I was little.”

While George worried a bit about drawing, he does appreciate this experience could impact a career interest in computer science, perhaps in design games and having to “come up with ideas on the spot.”

This approach encourages use of all areas of the brain, and better shows how music can be one part of an entire story.

“This whole experience is to help kids become creative with music, composition or production,” said Brian Moore, an associate professor at Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and also a North Star teacher this semester.

“One aspect of sharing music is tying it with visual and stories and films. Sometimes you write a piece of music and it’s on its own. There is also a place for writing music to accompany a story.”

The project also helps students better understand the potential impact of music on people, such as changing one’s mood.

“The creative aspects are boundless, and they have really embraced the whole idea of telling their own story, and then being able to actually present it to real children,” said Joni Osborn, music teacher at North Star. “So we are making it real for them.”

Osborn has a knack for working with North Star’s so-called feeder schools, elementary buildings that have students most likely to attend North Star based on their attendance areas. Her choir students recently sang in a concert with Fredstrom students.

“I like to collaborate with feeder schools, for sure, just to let kids know what is going to be available to them,” she said. “Get them excited about continuing musically, but also, getting them familiar with what is going on academically, and presenting them with really good role models.”

Those role models developed their own confidence, from creating their own art, using technology to show movement and transitions, and eventually reading the story in front of younger students.

And these students, the second-graders in music class on this day at Fredstrom, were locked in on this project, too.

“The kids are so engaged, and they are asking great questions,” said Judy Bush, Fredstrom Elementary music teacher.

Posted on May 20, 2016


VOICE interns grow skills for both work and finding work

Taking the knowledge he has learned about himself and the skills he has gained, Jake Reffert thought about his future plans.  He is interested in finding a hands on job where he can move around a lot. 

With school coming to an end, the interns (students) are gearing up to find jobs.  It began in January with the writing of resumes and collecting names for references.  The interns learned that finding a job is not easy.  In fact, “this is really hard”, according to Whitney Gropp.

With resumes polished and references gathered, the interns traveled to LaVista in April to attend the Transition Job Fair.  The Embassy Suites LaVista-Project SEARCH Program hosted the Job Fair.   

All Project SEARCH Programs in the state of Nebraska were invited to attend as well as schools from the LaVista area.  The interns had an opportunity to take part in skills assessments, mock interviews, training sessions, and stopping at over 30 booths to inquire about job opportunities.  During the skills assessments and mock interviews, interns were provided feedback on how to improve on their skills and interviewing style. 

When the interns returned with their new information from the Job Fair, they began to get more excited about finding a job.  With the assistance of Nebraska VR, the interns began their quest to find the “perfect Job”.  

The interns began job hunting with Nebraska VR, checking business web sites and keeping a watchful eye for the “help wanted” sign.  It soon became apparent to them that job-hunting takes time to fill out applications and go to interviews.

This year eight interns will be completing the Project SEARCH Program.  The interns worked with associates of the Embassy Suites to learn skills in Banquets, Kitchen, Restaurant, and Housekeeping.  As the third rotation draws to an end, the interns’ look back at the experience they gained while working at the Embassy Suites.  Zach Kriz discovered that he enjoys working in Housekeeping.  Many friendships were made and it is hard to say good-bye. 

This month, the internships came to a close. The interns worked in their departments in the morning, but the afternoon was reserved for the Project SEARCH Celebration program.  Invitations were sent out to families, partners, and associates inviting them to come and celebrate our year of hard work.  Interns greeted guests and introduced various parts of the program. 

When school begins in August, 10 new interns will begin the 5th year of the Project SEARCH Program at Embassy Suites.

Posted on May 20, 2016


Hop SCIP Jump & Run

Hop SCIP Jump & Run is an event benefiting School Community Intervention and Prevention.  SCIP works with schools by providing tools and resources to address behavioral and emotional health issues that impact children, adolescents and their families.  The event is Saturday morning, May 28 at Haymarket Park in Lincoln.  The event includes a 1-mile fun and a 5k.  Runners and walkers are welcome! Before and after the race participants will have an opportunity to participate in games and activities sponsored by local community agencies and a chance to win some great prizes.  Tickets are $15 for the fun run and $25 for the 5k and may be purchased at www.scipnebraska.com   Register by May 18 to receive an event t-shirt!

Posted on May 18, 2016


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