New LPS teachers soak in knowledge about school system

Breakfast served as an important meal for new teachers Aug. 4 as they wrapped up their first full week at Lincoln Public Schools.
Members of the Lincoln Education Association (LEA) sponsored a breakfast at Lincoln Southwest High School for all teachers who are beginning their LPS careers. The breakfast was one of the final items for teachers to take part in during New Educator Week. LPS hosted many other New Educator Week activities at school district buildings July 31-Aug. 4.
Sarah Salem said she felt all of the staff members gained a great deal from their New Educator Week experiences. Salem is associate superintendent for teaching and learning at LPS and oversees many aspects of the instructional process.
“I would say the entire kickoff week is critical,” Salem said. “It is our first opportunity to welcome new colleagues and show them how excited we are to have them join us. We have teachers coming to us right out of college, some from out of state, others who have already taught for another district, and some returning back to LPS from being gone for a few years.
“We want to make sure that everyone starts strong with the same core information and that they feel a sense of connection to our school district.”
Salem said the school district hired approximately 400 teachers this summer. The average number of new staff each year at LPS is between 375 and 450, which puts 2023-24 on a normal level.
Tyson Burr joined hundreds of other smiling teachers sitting at 60 tables in Lincoln Southwest’s commons area on Aug. 4. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate will be teaching third grade at Adams Elementary School this year. He said he was excited to be starting his career in the LPS system.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to meet all of the other first-year teachers this week and learn about LPS,” Burr said. “It’s been a really good experience. It’s been fun to learn about the things we can do in a classroom to become better teachers.”
Megan Friedenbach will also be beginning her first year with LPS. She will be a speech-language pathologist at Kooser Elementary School and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from UNL. The Le Mars, Iowa, native said she was pleased to be in a school district that would provide support in both personal and professional ways.
“That’s something that’s really nice,” Friedenbach said. “I know there are a lot of resources and people here that I can get help from. That’s a big reason why I chose to apply to LPS.”
New LPS hires received district laptops and completed mandatory technology training on separate days during the week of July 24-28. They began New Educator Week on July 31 with activities at both Lincoln Southwest and their own schools. Teachers then spent a pair of eight-hour days at Lincoln Southwest Aug. 1-2 for meetings on school district curriculum and instructional topics.
New teachers returned to the LSW campus Aug. 3 for a series of lectures entitled “Teaching with Clarity.” The Aug. 4 calendar began with the LEA breakfast from 8-9:30 a.m. Staff members wrapped up New Educator Week by working in their classrooms the rest of the day.
LEA Board of Directors President Deb Rasmussen said she was excited about the opportunity to speak to new teachers.  

“I hope it does help with staff morale and gives new staff the chance to hear from district office staff, LPS board members, the LEA president, board and faculty representatives, the NSEA president and members of the NSEA staff,” Rasmussen said. “We also have vendors that endorse public schools and unions and give discounts to members.”
Rasmussen joined a list of speakers at the breakfast that included Lincoln Board of Education member Piyush Srivastav, LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman, Nebraska State Education Association President Jenni Benson, NSEA Associate Executive Director Isau Metes and Lincoln Southwest High School guidance counselor London Bercey. All of them welcomed the new teachers and said they would fully support them in every aspect of their job.
“You’re here in this room because you want to make a difference,” Benson said. “The way you take care of yourself is to take care of each other, and that’s what we do. We’re all here to take care of each other.”
“How can we focus on the interests of students if we’re not focused on the interests of you?” Gausman said. “It’s our job to help you become successful, because if you’re successful then our students will be too. We value you and everything you do to help students.”
Salem felt teachers and staff members had a successful week of learning and networking in schools. She said those positive first steps would be important as they move into their new LPS careers.
“They’ve been full of energy,” Salem said. “It’s exciting to see the new generation of teachers who are getting ready to help our kids. It’s been a great week.”

Published: August 11, 2023, Updated: August 11, 2023

New staff members at LPS smile as they enjoy talking with each other Aug. 4 at Lincoln Southwest High School. Approximately 400 people will begin their LPS careers this year.