The Lincoln Public Schools behavioral program used at the Don Sherrill, Nuernberger and Yankee Hill Education Centers was the subject of the latest LPS Learning Lunch, "A Great Year of Achievement," held Tuesday at the district office.
The program is for students, grades K-12, who cannot manage their behaviors at their home schools and require more structure and support systems to succeed. Most of the students are verified special education. Each education center’s ultimate goal is for students to return to their home schools.
LPS began implementing this program about five years ago and it’s based on nationally recognized best practices. It came at a time when LPS, led by Superintendent Steve Joel, was examining its approach to educating this small but challenged population of students.
“We started really taking a closer look at the ‘how’ of what we were doing for students who needed this level of support for behavior,” said LPS Associate Superintendent for Instruction Jane Stavem, who kicked off the Learning Lunch by offering a brief history of this program at LPS.
Each education center has a full-time principal: Cindy Vodicka at Don Sherrill, which is for grades K-5; Jaime Boedeker at Nuernberger, for grades 6-8; and Erik Witt at Yankee Hill, for high school students. On Tuesday, they each explained different aspects of their shared program.
Boedeker highlighted the program’s six goals:
“Our buildings are very structured and very consistent,” he said, “but not robotic. We work hard to establish relationships with students, as well as their families, their guardians, the people who are involved with their lives outside of school.”
The curriculum at these education centers mirror the curriculum at the students’ home schools. “We try to mirror what a home attendance school would like as much as possible,” Vodicka said - with some additional components. Aside from class, the students’ days also include a dress code; an assembly, when the day’s schedule is reviewed; and sessions with mental health practitioners at least once a week.
The students are evaluated - in great detail - on their behavioral progress on a daily basis. They each have a specific action plan for improvement.
“It’s not just saying, ‘You’re struggling,’ it’s saying, ‘You’re struggling, how can we help you improve that?’” Witt said.
The ultimate goal is for students to return to their home schools, Witt added, but it’s also to develop young leaders.
“It’s not adult driven, it’s peer driven. It’s kids learning that the power is their ability to influence others by making good decisions and helping coach and support their peers. That’s the power of how kids progress through our program.”
LPS Learning Lunches, open to the Lincoln community, 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. You bring your lunch, we provide dessert.
The final Learning Lunch of the 2017-18 season is Tuesday, May 15: “Making Music, UKE can do it!” Come try your musical talents with ukuleles, led by Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for Music at LPS.
Published: April 26, 2018, Updated: April 26, 2018