Parent Notes

This site provides the most current information of interest to parents: services, resources, data and news from around the School District.

For information specific to the school your children attend, please review the school's newsletter and Web site.   Links to all LPS schools can be accessed from www.lps.org.

If you have children in elementary and middle level schools, please watch for your monthly issue of "Community News" and "FreeTimes."  It includes information about Lincoln Public Schools and activities sponsored by Lincoln organizations.

If you have comments or questions about ParentNotes, please contact Mary Kay Roth, Communications Coordinator, at 436-1609 or mkroth@lps.org.

NETA announces student contest winners

The Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) will host their annual educational technology conference at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha April 23-24, 2015. Lincoln Public Schools has five students' projects choosen to be honored during the conference.

Congratulations to the following:

NETA Conference Logo Contest
6th-8th Winner: Anthony Pautz, sponsored by Adam Schwaninger, Schoo Middle School
9th-12th Winner & Overall Winner: Danielle Shefke, sponsored by Steve Carr, LPS Information Technology Focus Program

Graphic Imagery Contest
6th-8th: 3rd Place - Kaden Berge, sponsored by Heather Steiner, Schoo Middle School

Open Class Contest
Animation 9th-12th Winner: Jake Mangels, sponsored by Brent Jarosz, LPS Information Technology Focus Program

Infographics Contest
PK-5th Winners: Miguel Pesina, sponsored by Barb Smith, Riley Elementary School

Megan Jorgensen, teacher at Schoo Middle School, will receive a free registration to the NETA conference.  Susan Prabulos at Meadow Lane Elementary will also receive a technology grant for her "Kids, Coding, & Robots, OH MY!" project.

Posted on April 15, 2015

Children's day, Cinco de Mayo Fiesta set for April 25 at LHS

El Centro is hosting a Children's Day and Cinco De Mayo Fiesta 2015 Saturday, April 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Lincoln High School, 2229 J St. In case of poor weather, the event will be held in the LHS gymnasium.

Activities include kid games, bounce house, food, booths, music and more. For more information, call 402-474-3950.

Posted on April 14, 2015

Visiting artist inspires Prescott students

Traveling and United States and telling the stories of complete strangers through photographs is Wing Young Huie's passion.  Huie is a professional photographer from Minneapolis, and he is spending the week with Prescott Elementary students teaching them about photography and inspiring them to tell other's stories through pictures.

On Friday, April 10, there will be a presentation from Huie, and a public viewing of the students' project in the Prescott Auditorium starting at 6:30 p.m.

Posted on April 09, 2015

Meadow Lane computer teacher’s wish granted

Thanks to the vision of Susan Prabulos, Meadow Lane Elementary computer instructor, students will be able to bring computer coding to life.

The Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) notified Prabulos her school would be awarded a grant for $1,533.96 for her project “Kids, Coding, and Robots, OH MY!”

The project allows students to see a physical representation of coding through a robot, helping students better grasp the visual and spatial aspects of coding. The grant will assist in purchasing the iPad Minis, cases, and Dash robot.

Prabulos wrote in her application, “My goal is to bring coding off the screen and into a 3 dimensional setting. Controlling and coding a robot with an iPad takes learning to a whole new level. Students are interacting with the object they are coding and are able to visually grasp coding ideas.”

Through this project, students will learn and practice coding skills, computational thinking, and problem solving. Students will use the iPads with coding apps, and document their work with Dash and Dot, the robots.

“A major goal is to help students be in charge of their own learning,” added Prabulos. “I love how I can hand pairs or small groups of students an iPad and a robot and see their collaborative learning take off. I, as the teacher, am there to support, coach, and encourage. The students are the drivers, taking the lead in their learning.”

In addition to the grant, Prabulos is invited to attend the NETA Spring Conference in Omaha in April. Both Prabulos’ conference registration and the substitute teacher for the school day will be covered by NETA.

NETA’s purpose is to encourage the linking of technology to the curriculum. They encourage projects that directly integrate different types of technology into different subject areas (including across the curriculum) and different grade levels.

Posted on April 07, 2015

How one school flipped 100% trash into 90% compost

Sheridan Elementary School started composting the food waste in their cafeteria after Spring Break. So far, they are composting an average of 90% of the waste leftover from their lunches.

This means, a measly 10% is now being sent to the landfill instead of the 100% from before. The daily total of compost is approximately 158 lbs, and the trash is less than 20lbs. Sheridan is the fifth school in the district to implement the food waste compost program in their cafeteria. Saratoga and Beattie Elementary, and Irving Middle School and Lincoln Southwest High School are the others. Rousseau Elementary School will being on April 22 (Earth Day).

Sheridan Principal De Ann Currin has encouraged students to be problem solvers and figure out ways to eliminate trash from their lunch. While straws are available, students are encouraged to ask themselves, “Do I really need to take a plastic straw that will just end up in the landfill?”

More and more students are electing to drink their milk out of the carton instead of using a straw. Students are also taking the initiative to make other envi-ronmentally responsible choices as they go through the lunch line. When presented with the choice of compostable or noncompostable packaging, they are choosing as many compostable items as possible. Many of the students are excited to declare that everything on their tray can go into the compost container.

There are many students at Sheridan who bring a lunch from home, and they have also found ways to reduce their waste. They are making easy changes like reusing their empty bags instead of throwing them away after one use, or taking leftover food home instead of throwing it away.

The compost program is a team effort, said LPS Sustainability Coordinator Brittney Albin, and it takes the work of the principal, kitchen and custodial staff, and teachers and students to make it work.

The expansion of the composting program is possible thanks to a grant from the Solid Waste Department of the City of Lincoln. LPS is hoping to work with new vendors coming to Lincoln.


Posted on April 02, 2015

Huntington second grader catalyst for change

It all started with a book – Tiffany, a second grader at Huntington Elementary School, was reading about the freedom marches and wanted to be a catalyst for change at her school.

So she went to her teacher who helped her approach Principal Devney about the idea. Together Tiffany and Devney developed the Anti-bullying Rally at Huntington on Friday, March 27th.

“I read a book about freedom walks,” said Tiffany. “I wanted the whole school to do it.”

With the help of her fifth grade ambassador friends, Tiffany led all 475 students and 69 staff members on a march around the school.

Devney added: “Our kids have bought into it. It is also something that has been lead and enhanced by our student leaders.”

Posted on April 02, 2015

Cans4Books: Helping the earth and our libraries one can at a time

National School Library Month and Earth Day happen in April, so what better way to honor both than participating in the 15th Annual Cans4Books drive taking place April 1-30.


Students and their families can bring their aluminum cans to A-Can Recycling (3255 S. 10th Street) or A & J Recycling (3250 N. 20th Street) and the money raised from the cans will go to their school’s media center. The top three schools with the most earnings per capita will receive gift certificates to the SouthPointe Barnes & Noble.


For more information, contact Brittney Albin or Marti Franti at (402)436-1072 extension 82006.


Posted on April 01, 2015

Meet and greet new LPS high school principals

Lincoln Public Schools families – as well as Lincoln community members – are invited to attend welcome events to meet and greet the two new high school principals who will officially take over duties this summer.

Mike Gillotti, who will become principal at Lincoln Southwest High School, will meet and greet visitors from 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, at Southwest, 7001 S. 14th St. Gillotti is currently associate principal at Lincoln North Star High School. Current Southwest Principal Hugh McDermott is retiring.

Mark Larson, who will become principal at Lincoln High School, will meet and greet visitors from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at Lincoln High, 2229 J St. Larson is currently associate principal at Lincoln High. Current Lincoln High Principal Mike Wortman is also retiring.

Posted on March 31, 2015

2015 Graduation Dates

Thursday, May 21

7:00 PM - Bryan Community (At Lincoln East High School Auditorium)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

PBA: Pinnacle Bank Arena (Map)
BDSC: Bob Devaney Sports Center (Map)

12:00 PM - North Star (PBA)
1:30 PM - Southeast (BDSC)
3:00 PM - Lincoln High (PBA)
4:30 PM - Northeast (BDSC)
6:00 PM - Southwest (PBA)
7:30 PM - East (BDSC)

Posted on March 26, 2015

Elliott's YMCA-based CLC program receives grant to serve students

The Lincoln YMCA received a generous grant from Cargill AgHorizons US to support its Community Learning Center at Elliott Elementary School. The $3,750 grant will help fund afterschool and summer programs that are provided free of charge to the families at Elliott.

The YMCA Community Learning Center (CLC) at Elliott Elementary School is a partnership between Lincoln Public Schools and the YMCA of Lincoln. Elliott has 425 students in Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade. Of these students, 79% are minority, 29% are English Language Learners, and 95% qualify for free or reduced priced lunch. 135 at-risk students will benefit from this program funding on a daily basis, with an additional 50 students enrolled in optional clubs. During the Summer Program 75-100 students participate, depending on the funding that is available to support the program.

“We are so grateful for Cargill’s support of our Elliott CLC,” said Barbara Bettin, President/CEO of the Lincoln YMCA. "Afterschool programming bridges the evening gap and benefits the entire community by keeping children engaged in positive activities. We so appreciate Cargill’s participation in keeping these students safe, healthy and active.”

Thhe evidence-based programs improve all students’ educational readiness, engagement and graduation outcomes, while helping them grow emotionally and physically as well. Funding for these programs offer youth “catch up time” and added support, project based learning, and opportunities to build leadership, academic and study skills that are designed to put students on the right track.

About the Lincoln Y

The Lincoln Y has long been a leader in wellness, youth and family programming. All Y programs, initiatives and events are categorized into three areas of focus: Youth Development, nurturing the potential of every child and teen; Healthy Living, improving the community’s health and well-being; and Social Responsibility, giving back and providing support to our community.

In 2014, through its Annual Campaign-Strong Kids, the Lincoln YMCA provided $1,076,632 in financial assistance and services to children, families and individuals in our community.

The YMCA of Lincoln has four facility branches: Downtown, Northeast, Cooper and Fallbrook, as well as two program branches, Youth Sports and Camp Kitaki, and an Administrative Office. More information about each location, how to become a member of the Y and program opportunities can be found on our website, www.ymcalincoln.org.

Posted on March 26, 2015

Rockets and Comets soar together as pals

We caught up with the Lincoln Northeast Students and their Pershing Pals during a recent Rec Rally to learn more about the program.

Posted on March 25, 2015

More than just a game, but rosters full of stories

See our Athletes Edition of Community News | See the full talk below

This classroom looks vastly different, but the students are learning and the ‘teachers’ are teaching. In this ‘classroom,’ the students are very engaged, while teacher-coaches are building relationships, directing students and correcting mistakes in an area where it’s ok to fail. 

Kathi Wieskamp, athletics director for Lincoln Public Schools, talked about how athletics are ‘More Than Just a Game,’ at a recent Learning Lunch held monthly at LPS District Office.

“On the outside, it looks like a game, but there is much more to it,” Wieskamp said.

One big difference from the athletics classroom and the traditional classroom is the public performance aspect that student-athletes experience. The four pillars LPS Athletics Department strives for are: academic achievement, skill development, life skills and citizenship. 

Wieskamp said that athletics fit within the education environment, providing educationally-based opportunities to extend the learning experience outside the classroom. 

The term student-athlete is well known, but the teacher-coach role is less well defined. “The teaching piece is a critical part of that,” she said. 

More than 3,300 students participated in athletics for Lincoln Public Schools in 2013-14, nearly one-third of all high school students. High school seniors involved in athletics at LPS have a graduation rate of 98.7 percent, and 46 percent have a grade-point-average of 3.5 or higher (27 percent of non-athletes achieve the same benchmark), whereas only 6.8 percent of athletes have lower than a 2.0 GPA. 

All six LPS high schools have an academic support program in place to help student-athletes stay accountable, and help them find tutoring, study time or simply walking with a student-athlete to talk with a teacher. This is an important pro-active measure, Wieskamp said, to help students stay eligible to compete in an athletics event, rather than waiting for a student-athlete to lose their eligibility status.

Coaches play a key role because they often see a student-athlete as much as a mom or dad, Wieskamp said, so coaches build relationships to ensure students know they are partnering with them.

The skill development aspect of athletics includes actual sports skills but also skills that push their teammates to get better in practice or training. 

All that said, achieving success on the court or field or pool is important, she said.

“We want a state champion in each sport,” Wieskamp said. “We have teams getting close and we have individuals achieving great things.”

LPS Athletics have worked to create professional learning opportunities specifically for coaches, focusing on body, mind and spirit:

  • Body: physical skills
  • Mind: motivation, confidence and focus
  • Spirit: the soul and spirit of the athlete

This summer the professional learning opportunity for LPS coaches will focus on why we play, why we coach, and other similar questions.

Life skills don’t just happen, Wieskamp stressed, because it takes intentional teaching. Just being involved is key, but developing leaders takes time and effort on the part of student-athletes and coaches.

“We are going to end our athletics career at some point,” she said. But the impact of discipline, healthy living and relationship building last far beyond a ball game.

Today’s high school student athletes are developing skills to pass on to elementary and middle school students through presentations and camps. They are also active in community service.

Some of the challenges for high school athletics today include getting kids involved, societal pressures for proper behavior, finding ways to attract all potential student-athletes to compete for their high school, and re-engaging the community to attend sporting events.

“If you knew all the stories of our student-athletes, and what they are doing, you would be proud,” Wieskamp said.

Posted on March 18, 2015

'Thank You Teacher' honorees have impact in, out of class

Five teachers in Lincoln Public Schools were honored Tuesday as part of a Thank You Teacher contest held annually by Lincoln Public Schools.

Rachel Sweeney remembers her teacher Jan Erickson (then Ms. Jacobsen) at Kahoa Elementary School as kind-hearted and supportive:

“Going into third grade my parents were worried because I wasn't a strong reader, but they say after Ms. Jacobsen's guidance I became a very efficient reader and writer.”

Taylor Kramer is a kindergarten student at Kooser Elementary School. Her mother said Taylor’s teacher, Tiffany Reynolds, went out of her way to check in on the student while mom was away for military school.

“There was one particular day while I was away that Taylor wasn't acting herself and Mrs. Reynolds asked her if she was ok,” Taylor’s mom wrote. “Taylor broke out in tears.  Crying, stating she was lonely.  Mrs. Reynolds was able to get Taylor to open up to her that day. Mrs. Reynolds proved to me she truly cares about her students and their well-being. She easily identified that one of her students was having troubles. She acted on it and she cared."

Jenna Beecham knew before school even started this year that Deb Coyle would be a great teacher for her third-grade year at Sheridan Elementary.

“When my slip came over the summer telling me that Mrs. Coyle was going to be my teacher, I told my big sister who had her a few years ago.  She said, ‘You're lucky.  She's awesome.’ I think so too.”

Angelina Nahorny, an eighth-grade student at Dawes Middle School, stated in her nomination letter that Mr. Nate Miller was “arguably the most favored teacher” at the school thanks in part to the stories he tells.

“With these fables Mr. Miller tells people, he makes the world and students better by introducing young minds to important things we might not hear elsewhere,” Nahorny said. “As well as his stories being inspiring, they are entertaining.”

Bruce Chapman is clear that he hopes to be at Lincoln Northeast High School until the school’s centennial … in 27 years! That’d be fine with Anthony Anderson, the Rocket student who nominated Chapman, and other future Rockets.

“I don't know what type of person I would be without Mr. Chapman,” Anderson wrote. “He has become like a second father to me, and I look up to him as a role model for how I want my life to go. I am not the only student who has been affected by him in this way. I know of several actors from my time in high school whose lives have changed because of Bruce Chapman.”

The recipients were honored at a breakfast at the Nebraska Governor’s Mansion.

This year’s Thank You Teacher awards went to:

Preschool-Grade 2: Tiffany Reynolds, Kooser Elementary School, nominated by Taylor Kramer and Taylor’s mother

Grades 3-5:  Deb Coyle, Sheridan Elementary School, nominated by Jenna Beecham

Middle School: Nate Miller, Dawes Middle School, nominated by Angelina Nahorny

High School: Bruce Chapman, Lincoln Northeast High School, nominated by Anthony Anderson

Retired: Jan Ericson, retired teacher at Kahoa Elementary School, nominated by Rachel Sweeney

Posted on March 03, 2015

Pathfinder focuses on education for detained youth

Randall Farmer didn’t plan to go to college.

He thought he wanted to be a small engine mechanic, then decided to go to college on a whim, spent six years doing archeology with the National Park Service, then thought to try teaching because, after all, they get summers off.

He ended up helping at a psychiatric hospital his first ‘summer’ and began working with Lincoln Public Schools, specifically with the Behavioral Skills Program. After a decade of work in Pennsylvania working with primarily inner city youth, he began working at the Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster County, and was totally unprepared.

“One, these were the most challenging kids I have ever seen, and two, they were the most amazing and brilliant kids I have ever seen,” Farmer said. “So how do you get the kids excited about learning?”

Today Farmer is the supervisor of the Pathfinder Education Program in LPS. He acknowledged that the Pathfinder program needed outside help, and it came in the form of a national collaboration of National Partnership for Juvenile Services. There were very few places to go for help eight years ago, he said, but that has changed.

Students at Pathfinder typically have a law violation, or violation of probation or parole. They attend Pathfinder for their own safety, the community’s safety and to limit flight risk. The program is housed at 1200 Radcliff St. When the building was designed, LPS had a key role. The building itself, is designed around the classrooms.

The goals are credit recovery, filling gaps in knowledge and skills, and inspiring students to learn. 

He says the ones we hear about in the news, are the kids he knows. And, he says, “Yes, they are still kids.”

Later he added, “Remember this, juveniles are not adults.”

They do not think like adults, they still lack impulse control, logical reasoning, and predictive skills. And this is due to a brain that is still developing, Farmer said. 

The Pathfinder program had 639 student enrollments last year – though average daily attendance is in the 50s - and every one of the student stories is different. 

“The key is helping them understand that the struggles they are going through have an explanation,” Farmer said.

Helping youth understand how they reached this point in their life is critical for their maturation.

“That’s the way it is …” is a common statement, he said. They aren’t just justifications. “What we have to do is show them there is a different way.”

Most students have lived life one way for 14 years, and that’s what they know. It takes time and repetition and caring to understand the same social contract that makes most people follow traffic signals.

It can come down to the right moment, the right phrase from a guest speaker or just the right person.

One young man had been struggling at the program multiple times, Farmer said. One day he approached Farmer to say, “I have a baby I need to take care of, I have to graduate and today is the day it starts.”

Some students are former student-athletes with bright futures, others are kids who have lived through horrendous situations.

When students are at Pathfinder, they:

  • get three meals a day and a snack;
  • are sleeping safely;
  • are not using any substances;
  • are 10- to 19-years-old, with an average of 15.8;
  • come from various schools across the city;
  • are males and females, two-to-one;
  • stay on average 26 days, though most come in for a few days or a few months;
  • attend based on security needs, not academic level, thus there is one general classroom for all ages;
  • attend school 92 percent of the time.

Students in special education and youth of color are over-represented in attendees (which Farmer said is a national issue).

Farmer said it’s state law that students cannot be punished academically for their problems with the law. The program is not treatment, and is just one available path for students. 

A life of incarceration costs $3-$5 million for one person, Farmer said, so every positive outcome for Pathfinder saves taxpayer money.

The program is funded by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and coordinated with Lancaster County. Staff are certified, and the program earns approval by the Nebraska Department of Education.

Kids take math, science, English, social studies and the same core classes - including P.E., which is new this year - for six periods a day. Life skills classes are taught in the evenings and weekends. 

Kids are resilient. Teachers are too, Farmer said. One student told an LPS administrator that they just needed a chance. Then two other kids admitted on the spot that it will also take more than one chance, because they will likely make more mistakes.

“They don’t need to be punished anymore,” Farmer said. “They are amazing, amazing intelligent - I would argue genius - if you see their creativity.”

“This is my passion; this is what I love to do.”

Posted on January 20, 2015

McDermott to retire as Southwest principal

Hugh McDermott, who has been serving as Interim Principal at Southwest High School for these last two years has announced his retirement effective at the end of this school year (2014-15). 

Mr. McDermott came to Southwest from Irving Middle School, where he was principal for 9 years.  Previous to that, Mr. McDermott served as principal at Lefler Middle School for 14 years.  Mr. McDermott is finishing his 40th year in the education business; 33 of those years with LPS, 4 years as assistant principal for Papillion-La Vista Schools, and three years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an audiovisuals instructor.

McDermott always stated that as long as he could stay ahead of the students mentally and physically he would continue this type of work but that when the students would begin to “catch up” with him, it would be time to step down from this position of responsibility. 

He is pleased with the work he has contributed to at LPS.  He informed his leadership team late last week and his faculty on Tuesday, Jan. 20th at the end of the day.  Mr. McDermott is unclear about his future plans other than he knows he will have to stay busy at something and that he will greatly miss the outstanding LPS teachers, administrators, students, and parents he has worked with over these many years.  

1975-1981---Teacher at Goodrich Junior High (6 years)

1981-1984----Instructor at UNL, teaching Audiovisuals 359, working on doctorate (3 years)

1984-1988---Assistant Principal, Papillion-La Vista (4 years)

1988-1990---Assistant Principal, Irving Junior High (2 years)

1990-2004---Principal, Lefler Middle School (14 years)

2004-2013---Principal, Irving Middle School (9 years)

2013-2015---Interim Principal, Southwest High School (2 years) 

Posted on January 20, 2015