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 Mindy Burbach at mburbach@lps.org.

Meeting notice for the Lincoln Board of Education Regular Meeting - April 23, 2024 < Updated

The Lincoln Board of Education will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 23, located in the Boardroom at Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. 

Members of the public and media may access the meetings via live video streaming or by physically attending the meetings, which are subject to all national, state and local limitations on public gatherings associated with COVID-19. Overflow accommodations may need to be implemented to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance. 

The agenda for all meetings can be found here: lps.org/board.

There are multiple ways to view the livestream of all meetings:

Participation by citizens in the Regular Board Meeting

The Board believes public attendance and participation, when appropriate to the business at hand, is beneficial to the work of the Board and models the importance of civic engagement and civil discourse to the community’s children, but it cannot impede the Board from completing the business of the meeting. 

In keeping with Board Policy 8420 and Neb Statute 84-1412(3), the Lincoln Board of Education has established these reasonable regulations to conduct Public Comment:

  1. Persons speaking during Public Comment will be called forward individually by the Board Chair to the location identified for such purpose.
  1. A time limit of three minutes will be allotted for any speaker unless prior to the beginning of the Public Comment agenda item, the chair sets a different reasonable time frame to be allotted for speakers in order to accommodate the number of persons who have submitted "Record of Appearance" cards. The time limit is per speaker, per meeting and may not be transferred or assigned to other speakers.
  1. The chair may endeavor to organize public comment by what agenda items or other issues have been identified as topics by public speakers, adjust for the age of speakers, and/or split the Public Comment agenda item to be conducted in different positions within the Board’s Order of Business. At the discretion of the chair, the speaker may be allotted additional time. Board members may share, address or consider comments from the public during public comment, at the end of public comment or when related business is on the agenda.
  1. In order to be called forward to address the Board during Public Comment, each person wishing to speak must obtain a "Record of Appearance" card from staff at the meeting in which they wish to speak. "Record of Appearance" cards are available beginning 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the meeting. Those wishing to speak must accurately complete the required sections of the card, and submit it to the appropriate staff member by 15 minutes after the start of the meeting.
  1. Individuals will be called forward to speak by name, organization being represented, if applicable, and address. Each individual speaking to the Board will be required to identify himself or herself prior to giving public comment by stating their first and last name and, if applicable, any organization they represent.
  1. In cases where more than one person wishes to speak on the same topic, their presentations to the Board may, at the discretion of the chair, be grouped together by topic.
  1. If the number of people wishing to speak under the public comment portions of the agenda is large, the chair may rule that a public hearing be scheduled.
  1. Persons speaking to the Board during public comment may make printed materials (paper no larger than 8.5 x 11 inches) available to the Board but may not use any other form of media. Public speakers are asked to provide 10 copies of any copies of printed materials presented to the Board.

Persons attending Board meetings and/or speaking to the Board during Public Comment or during a public hearing must follow all requirements established by the Board, as well as all Board, chair and staff directions in order to help maintain the order, proper decorum, safety and security, and the non-disruptive functioning of the Board meeting. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Abiding by time limits;
  • Refraining from applauding, cheering, jeering, or engaging in speech that defames any individual(s), or stymies or blocks meeting progress;
  • Refraining from the use of audio recordings, video recordings, or any digital still images, posters, signs, costumes, other props and/or photographs;
  • Refraining from abusive, disruptive or threatening language or gestures; and
  • Staying in the areas identified by the Board as reserved for the public.

If at any time persons appearing before the Board do not comply with these or any other Board requirements, it shall be the responsibility of the chair to declare that person or persons out of order and require a change in behavior, delay or recess the meeting, or refuse permission to continue to address the Board, and ultimately may require the person or persons to leave the premises of the Board meeting.

Posted on April 19, 2024


LPS to host Learning Lunch to discuss legislative changes and next year’s budget planning < Updated

Lincoln Public Schools invites the community to a special Learning Lunch on Thursday, April 25, starting at noon. Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish will present “Legislative Changes and the LPS Budget” in the boardroom at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center. The community is invited to bring their lunch and attend the presentation in person, or join virtually on the LPS website: lps.org. 

The Nebraska Legislature just finished their 108th second session, and LPS can now move forward with a framework for developing the 2024-2025 Budget.

“As we begin our annual budget process, we want to help the community understand how bills passed last year in the school finance reform package will impact our work,” said Standish. “This will be the first of many opportunities for our community to learn more about our process and provide input.”

Learning Lunch: Legislative Changes and the LPS Budget
Thursday, April 25, 12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m.
In person at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center (district office - 5905 O Street) in the Boardroom
Or join virtually here.

Posted on April 19, 2024


Meadow Lane wins 2024 Inspire School of the Year Award

Meadow Lane Elementary School students had an inspiring reason to sing their school song during a special assembly Thursday afternoon.
 
The Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools surprised Meadow Lane with the 2024 Inspire School of the Year Award on April 18. The prestigious award recognizes one LPS building each year for fostering a strong sense of community, leadership and consistency. It also celebrates the positive and productive learning environment that is present in the school.
 
Principal Daniele Schulzkump said she was thrilled to receive the award for everyone at Meadow Lane.
 
“We are incredibly honored to be recognized as the Inspire School of the Year,” Schulzkump said. “This award is a testament to the dedication of our entire school community – students, staff and parents – who have worked tirelessly to create a supportive and positive learning environment for all.”
 
LPS Foundation Marketing Director Kayla Jacox said it was exciting to watch students and staff beam with pride when they heard the announcement. Committee members selected Meadow Lane after reviewing applications earlier this year.
 
“It was really awesome to see the application from Meadow Lane come through this year, because they are really deserving of the award,” Jacox said. “One of the perks of this job is to come and celebrate an entire school for doing just awesome work and really working on pieces of life that are part of education.”
 
Jacox presented a check for $5,000 to Schulzkump in the school gym. A team of Meadow Lane administrators, students and staff will meet to determine how the money will be spent. Schulzkump said it will certainly be used on a school project to reinforce the positive steps Meadow Lane has taken over the past year.
 
Students actively contribute to the school in many ways. Meadow Lane staff have developed programs for math and reading buddies, line walkers and preschool helpers. There is a dedicated time during the school day for students to voice concerns and celebrate successes, and the school has developed a goal of increasing leadership skills in all students.
 
Staff created a new Mustang Mentors program last year that has paid significant dividends. The program pairs students across grade levels in many positive academic and community activities. Schulzkump said it has caused many smiles to happen throughout the school building.
 
“Mustang Mentors fosters a sense of belonging in students, leading to a more positive learning environment,” Schulzkump said.
 
Data has also shown tangible results from Meadow Lane’s dedication to creating a strong school community. Meadow Lane staff have seen an increase in positive behavior among students, and the number of minor behavior incidents has remained relatively consistent between both years.
 
“It’s amazing to see the results our educators can foster in their learning environments with the support of an amazing staff and buy-in from the community,” Foundation President Wendy Van said. “We are honored to recognize Meadow Lane for their hard work on the positive improvements they implemented last year to become a better version of themselves.”
 
To be considered for the Inspire School of the Year Award, principals must detail all of the initiatives that have led to progress in their buildings. A selection committee comprised of the Foundation Board of Directors, LPS district staff and community members reviewed each application. They selected the school they felt made the most significant impact on students, staff, faculty and community.
 
“We are so proud of Daniele and her staff, because they put in a lot of work on that application to make sure they were able to highlight the successes that they’ve had,” Jacox said.
 
Jacox said Meadow Lane students and staff were inspiring everyone in Lincoln with their tremendous accomplishments in their school community.
 
“We are so proud at the Foundation to be able to support all of our students and staff, and today, specifically Meadow Lane for doing awesome work over the past several years,” Jacox said.

Learn about the foundation’s 2024 Inspire Award winners on its website at https://www.foundationforlps.org/scholarshipsandawards/inspire-awards/.

Posted on April 18, 2024


Register to Attend Our Educator Interview Fair - May 10

Are you or someone you know interested in a career as an educator at Lincoln Public schools? Certificated candidates interested in becoming a teacher (general, special education, early childhood), counselor, school psychologist, speech-language pathologist, social worker or school nurse within Lincoln Public Schools are eligible to participate in our Educator Interview Fair.

Educator Interview Fair

Friday, May 10, 2024
8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
In-person or over Zoom at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center (the district office at 5905 O St.).

All interested candidates must reserve their spot by filling out the form: lps.org/go/M8YP

Please register by May 8. If you are not available on May 10, or have questions, please contact Erik Witt, director of recruitment, at ewitt@lps.org.

You must fill out an application for the 2024-2025 Certified Pool to move forward. HR will contact you for an interview time, if you’ve been selected. Walk-in interviews are not available.

Posted on April 17, 2024


New fashion and design class helps LPS students craft their path to success

Emily is designing a successful future this semester through a new class that is teaching her about everything from textiles to paint textures.
 
The Southwest High School sophomore is joining dozens of her Lincoln Public Schools classmates in a course called Intro to Fashion and Interior Design. LPS added the class this year to give students at all eight high schools the chance to continue pursuing the career pathways. They are learning about the elements and principles of design, the materials and products used in both fashion and interior design and the skills needed for both industries.
 
Emily said she was happy when she learned the course would be available this year. She said it will provide a major boost to her future prospects.
 
“I’d like to go into interior design for a career, so I think this course is going to help me,” Emily said. “I like being creative and figuring out solutions to problems, so it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed it so far.”
 
Fellow Southwest sophomore Sydney also gave a glowing review about the course. Sydney took the class during the first semester after hearing it would be available. She said learning about the scientific aspects of fashion and interior design – analyzing synthetic and natural fibers, testing durability of floor covers and studying how fabrics absorb dyes – was valuable.
 
“It was interesting to learn how much science goes into these careers,” Sydney said. “It was really eye-opening. We got to see how fabrics have different properties and how different materials react when they’re put under pressure. I thought that part was really important.”

Kristin Vest is curriculum coordinator of family and consumer sciences (FCS) and health sciences at LPS. She said many students had expressed interest in taking more FCS courses once they reached high school. They had positive experiences in their middle school classes and wanted to continue learning about the subjects.
 
“We didn’t have this type of class available at our high schools before this year, which was something that we knew needed to be addressed,” Vest said. “We had students that were saying, ‘I don’t see my class that I had in eighth grade.’ Offering this class now gets them connected with great teachers and great ideas in high school, which is wonderful.”
 
Vest said the interactive setup of the fashion and interior design class mirrored the creative energy found in both of those fields. She said those types of lesson plans would motivate more students in the future.
 
“It’s absolutely key,” Vest said. “They look at classes like this, where we’re providing a lot of great introductory content about a number of careers, and they say, ‘This is something I might be interested in doing.’ It’s really good for students.”

Vest said older students have also been good role models for those in the class. 

Funds from the 2020 bond issue allowed Southwest High School to renovate one of its instructional spaces into a new FCS classroom to better fit the needs for the new courses. FCS courses had previously taken place in one half of the culinary arts classroom, which meant a small amount of space for activities like textile dyeing and fabric inspection. The current room features long worktables with plenty of room for all types of projects and lessons.
 
Several of those life lessons took place during a two-day activity called a materials lab. FCS teacher McKenzie Geier led students as they rotated through six stations in small groups.
 
Students in the first station dyed six different types of fabric to see how they absorbed the stains. They burned small patches of six synthetic and natural fibers to compare qualities such as odor and flammability, and they dyed fabric using a wax-dripping method called Batik. They also learned about ways to remove wrinkles from fabric, compared durability levels of six solid floor covers and evaluated paint finishes such as high-gloss and matte.
 
Emily and her friends talked with excitement as they moved through each project. She said it was helpful to have hands-on activities in class.
 
“It’s good,” Emily said. “I like that more than just taking notes. Getting to experiment and seeing how things turn out in real life is something that’s a lot of fun. I learn better by doing lessons that way.”
 
After they finished all six stations at Southwest, students reassembled in the full class to talk about their findings. They learned that linen is made from fibers of the flax plant, which are light, loosely-woven and moisture-wicking. This meant clothes made from linen would be good choices to wear in the summer. This contrasts with the strong nature of wool, which would be a better fabric to wear in the winter.
 
Geier then pointed to the classroom walls as they discussed various types of paints. She said high-traffic buildings such as schools and hospitals often use high-gloss paints because they are both durable and easy to clean. Matte paints would be a better option for a quieter area such as a home office, because they are sensitive to scratching and rubbing.
 
Sydney said that type of practical information would help students make good choices in everything from clothes selection to career pathways.
 
“I learned a lot about design from taking the course,” Sydney said. “It was fun to learn about all of the different things that go into it.”

Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on April 17, 2024


Thinking about it differently: LPS supports future teachers at apprenticeship program event

Abbey Traynowicz and Tanner Hilzer are planning to create the same type of excitement for their students that they experienced this spring.
 
Traynowicz and Hilzer became members of the inaugural Nebraska Teacher Apprenticeship Program (NTAP) class at a special ceremony. Lincoln Public Schools, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) leaders celebrated with them as they signed letters of intent. They will earn special education endorsements and become teachers after completing an eight-week class at UNL and a yearlong apprenticeship program at LPS.
 
Traynowicz is an executive secretary at Southwest High School and Hilzer is a behavior technician at Park Middle School. Both felt the new NTAP initiative would help everyone at LPS for many years to come.
 
“I’m so excited,” Traynowicz said. “I just think it’s a genius way to get people into the profession of teaching. When you’re in the classroom and you’re learning with students, you’re learning by actually helping the students instead of just being told how to do it. You’re getting to do it in the moment, so I’m very excited to see education moving this way.”
 
“I’m just excited about the opportunity for people who have worked in the field and work directly with the students to have that opportunity to take the next step,” Hilzer said. “Personally, I want to use this as a bridge to become an administrator at some point. I just really want to keep the journey going.”
 
Traynowicz and Hilzer will be two of eight LPS employees participating in the program. Other class members include Rachawadee Maungkya-Taveepanpun, a migrant education specialist for grades K-6; Isaiah Collier, an in-school suspension program technician for grades 9-12 at Bryan Community Focus Program; Megan Nicholls, a paraprofessional at Huntington Elementary School; Rhiannon Jurgens, a paraprofessional at Clinton Elementary School; Desa Ihde, a behavior interventionist at Campbell Elementary School; and Lisa Fagler, a substitute teacher for grades K-6.
 
Nebraska legislators approved $1 million last year for the NTAP initiative. The National Center for Grow Your Own, NDE, LPS, UNL, Midland University, Chadron State College and Westside Community Schools are partners in the program, which is designed to address a shortage of teachers in Nebraska.

All eight members of the initial class have earned bachelor’s degrees, but one of the program’s goals is that future groups will include educators with associate’s degrees. They could then earn a bachelor’s degree and special education endorsement through the initiative.
 
LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman and NDE Commissioner Brian Maher both said the eight LPS employees would use their work ethic and dedication to help special education students.
 
“Becoming an educator is not merely a career choice, it is a calling,” Gausman said. “A calling to make a difference, to shape the future, to inspire greatness in others. To those who will embark on this new chapter in your professional journey, we have confidence that you will excel and thrive, just as you have done in your current roles in our district.”
 
“We think this will be the start of a tremendous opportunity for our schools, for our paraprofessionals across the state who are working to become teachers, and ultimately for the students in Nebraska schools,” Maher said.
 
Sue Kemp, a professor of practice and special education coordinator at UNL’s College of Education and Human Sciences, will lead this summer’s initial class. She will prepare the eight students for their apprenticeship program with lessons on many education topics. They will then work directly with veteran teachers at LPS buildings throughout the 2024-25 school year.
 
“They’re going to be on the job, they’re going to be learning from amazing mentor teachers, and it really is taking our whole department to really be invested, really believe that education can be done differently,” Kemp said. “We don’t have to do the same thing that we’ve always done to put out really great teachers.”
 
Traynowicz said she has been inspired by watching the unified activities program at Southwest for the past five years. Students from the school team up with their classmates receiving special education services to participate in everything from bowling to track and field. The program has generated positivity for a large number of Silver Hawks.
 
“Just seeing the way that students and teachers make a big difference in the lives of our special education population, I just want to be a bigger part of that,” Traynowicz said. “I want to make a difference in those students’ lives.”
 
Hilzer previously worked in horticulture and was a landscape manager at UNL before becoming a paraprofessional. He said switching to the education field has given him a greater sense of purpose in his life.
 
“For me, I’ve always felt comfortable with my job. It’s never really felt like work,” Hilzer said. “I love doing it every day.”
 
Traynowicz said having a built-in support system with the eight-person class will be beneficial in many ways.
 
“I think it’s going to be great to be able to collaborate with each other and work off each other,” Traynowicz said. “There’s going to be troubles, there’s going to be learning curves for us all, so we can go through those together, and there’s also going to be wins that we can celebrate together. I think it’s just going to take that experience to the next level.”
 
Gausman said he feels the future is bright for everyone in the apprenticeship program.
 
“Your commitment to excellence, your dedication to our students and your passion for education are an inspiration to us all,” Gausman said. “I’m confident you will continue to make us proud in all you do.”
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on April 17, 2024


Northeast senior writes story of resilience during time in school hallways

Yelaniya is proof that how a chapter of someone’s life begins doesn’t necessarily dictate how the chapter is going to end.
 
The Northeast High School senior has overcome several obstacles to become a beacon of hope for students within the building. She has written a life script that now includes words such as Student Council member, peer mediator, elementary school mentor and treasured friend.
 
Yelaniya said she has gained more confidence and self-esteem since arriving on campus as a sophomore. She said it is meaningful to support her fellow Rockets with kind and encouraging actions.


 
“It’s been nice to know that I’m trusted, that people can come to me and I can help them work through their problems,” Yelaniya said. “I feel like that’s really important to have someone at school who you know can be trusted and who you can trust. That’s really special to me. To know that people think of me as one of those students is a good feeling.”
 
Northeast mentors Keri Applebee and Ellie Blume both said Yelaniya’s never-give-up mentality has allowed her to become a positive role model. Applebee is the school’s principal and Blume is a school counselor.
 
“She is a pretty awesome young lady,” Applebee said. “I would describe her as a quiet leader. She is a leader in a variety of settings, from the classroom to clubs and activities such as Equity Cadre and Emerging Educators to simply the way she carries herself in the hallway. She is kind, funny and cares about others.”
 
“She’s just exceptional in every way,” Blume said. “No matter what difficulties come her way, she overcomes them. She strives to do better. There are a lot of good things that she’s doing.”


 
Life wasn’t as bright for Yelaniya several years ago. She missed six weeks of her freshman year after contracting both pneumonia and influenza. She wondered if she would be healthy enough to play basketball again.
 
Yelaniya then transferred to Northeast the following August. She had to overcome a period of social adjustment and conflict early in her sophomore year before blossoming.

“I did a lot of self-reflecting about the people I was around and the decisions I was making,” Yelaniya said. “I feel that was big for me to be able to go through that situation and grow rather than stay in that spot.”


 
Yelaniya immediately began taking steps to make improvements. She deleted her social media accounts, became more involved in school activities and boosted her grades in every class. She also began viewing others with more empathy and compassion.
 
“It definitely made me look at people a lot differently,” Yelaniya said. “Some people can do negative things, but that may not be them in that moment. Going through that made me think, ‘Do I judge people on the first look or judging books by the cover?’ It really made me look at people differently and made me give them opportunities regardless of what they have been through.
 
“I feel that’s something good to learn at a young age. It gave me the capability to give people second chances, because everybody has a story they can grow from.”
  
Today, Yelaniya is a Student Council member, serves on Northeast’s student ambassador team, works as a peer mediator and has earned conference basketball awards. She suffered knee and concussion injuries during her athletic career but relied on her determination and strength throughout those times. She played a key role this year on a Northeast team that finished 18-7 and advanced to the District A-7 championship game.


 
Yelaniya also visits Clinton Elementary School every Wednesday for a volunteer outreach program. Blume said she has been impressed with her choice to inspire younger students with helpful words.
 
“It was completely Yelaniya’s initiative to do that,” Blume said. “No one prompted her. She just had the drive to go and teach to children. It’s just awesome to see that.”
 
Yelaniya said it is personally significant to be an elementary mentor. She sat in the same desks at Clinton years ago and cherishes the chance to help today’s Comets succeed.
 
“I feel like that’s important for them to see that in school,” Yelaniya said. “Seeing someone that went to your elementary school, I probably went to the middle school you’re going to go to, and now I’m going to the high school that you may go to. I feel it’s important to show that representation to them that you’re going to go somewhere in life.”


 
Yelaniya will continue her journey next year at Peru State College. She earned a full-ride scholarship for both academics and athletics and is planning to become a teacher. Her time with Clinton students has planted the seed of possibly leading elementary classes in the future. She is also considering the option of teaching high school students, as one of her favorite subjects at Northeast is history.
 
“Education fascinates me,” Yelaniya said. “Being able to learn different things and teach people different things. I’m really interested in that.”
 
Blume told Yelaniya she was proud of the positive story she was writing for the entire Northeast community.
 
“You had to discover who you are and rebuild yourself socially, so that’s resilience, and then academically you just kept it up,” Blume said. “It’s amazing. I admire that.”

 

Congratulations, Yelaniya!

We wish you the best in your future endeavors.

We are thankful our educators could help you Launch at LPS!

 

Looking for LPS graduation information? Check out our graduation page at https://home.lps.org/graduation/ to get the details on celebrating your favorite high school grad. 
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

 



 

Posted on April 16, 2024


Signing day: LHS seniors commit to be future educators

Lifelong dreams are one step closer to becoming a reality for six Lincoln High School seniors this spring after they officially promised to continue their education towards a career in teaching.
 
Sofia, Nazo, Jeremiah, Janely, Asraa and Ali made commitments to lead new generations of students during a signing ceremony in Lincoln High’s library. The event was a milestone for the new Project RAICES initiative. The six seniors at Lincoln High will receive full-tuition scholarships to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and join 10 other seniors from Columbus, Schuyler, South Sioux City and Wakefield.
 
Asraa beamed as she talked about the importance of the scholarship prior to the ceremony. She wrote down in kindergarten that she wanted to someday become a teacher. This past summer, her work in the Community Learning Centers (CLC) program at Pershing Elementary School reinforced that goal.
 
“Honestly, I’m beyond excited,” Asraa said. “This is probably the biggest opportunity I’ve ever gotten. This is going to change my entire life and it’s really setting everything down for my future.”
 
Adan Martinez, an instructional coordinator at Lincoln High and a member of the school’s Reimagining Education 4 Liberation (R.E.4.L.) Club leadership team, told the audience he was happy to see the six Links choose the education field. He felt it was important to build a strong pipeline of future teachers today.
 
“We need to grow our own,” Martinez said. “We need to start with us.”
 
Project RAICES stands for Re-envisioning Action and Innovation through Community Collaborations for Equity across Systems. The three-year venture is a joint effort between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Education and Human Sciences and the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy at Kansas State University. The mission is to recruit and develop a more diverse group of teachers.
 
Asraa said it was essential to have teachers from a wide array of backgrounds leading classes at elementary, middle and high schools. She felt it would benefit students to see a multicultural mosaic of people in front of classrooms.
 
“I’ve never had a teacher look anything like me, or even closely represented me, so I think it’s important to have teachers that are like me,” Asraa said. “Being able to be a part of that journey where we are going to be able to actually put new teachers who look like me and any of my peers who are also getting this scholarship partway into the education world is such a huge step, because kids who look like me or look like any of my peers are going to be able to say, ‘Yes, I can do education’ as well.”
 
The first part of the project was developing Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) programs for students at each school district. Lincoln High’s R.E.4.L. Club provides members opportunities to explore education pathways. Students study various topics within the education field and come up with ways to help their schools and communities.
 
Martinez said Sofia, Nazo, Jeremiah, Janely, Asraa and Ali have impressed him with their enthusiasm and work ethic. He said that was a positive indication of things to come in their lives.
 
“You guys have been amazing to work with,” Martinez said.
 
A second aim of the YPAR phase of the project is to help students create mentor networks both inside their schools and across Nebraska. Asraa said she has seen this happen with the group of six Links.
 
“I’ve always known them, but I honestly never got connected to them at this level,” Asraa said. “Knowing I have a support system and people who are going to take the next steps throughout this is such a big help.”
 
Students will take part in a summer bridge program before their first semesters at UNL. They will join a learning community in the fall and will receive mentoring and advising support.
 
Project RAICES will feature many professional development opportunities for new teachers at each high school. They will also have chances to take graduate-level courses at UNL after they secure their first teaching jobs.
 
UNL faculty members in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education (TLTE) have worked with YPAR liaisons across Nebraska. They have helped students develop research projects about their individual schools.
 
TLTE Department Chair Loukia Sarroub told the audience she was looking forward to welcoming Sofia, Nazo, Jeremiah, Janely, Asraa and Ali to campus. She worked on academic research projects at Lincoln High from 2002-09 when she was an assistant and associate professor at UNL. She said LPS students like the new scholarship recipients have built a positive reputation in the college community for many years.
 
“I’m very proud of the fact you’ll be joining this dynamic scholarship,” Sarroub said.

Amanda Morales, an associate professor in the TLTE Department, was also enthusiastic about having the Links begin their UNL classes. She has watched many students become school and community leaders through their involvement with the program.

“We can’t wait for them to be on our campus,” Morales said.
 
Family, friends and teachers applauded as the six Links signed their names to scholarship letters. They then shared hugs, smiles and words of encouragement after the ceremony.
 
LHS Principal Mark Larson told UNL representatives he was proud to see the students launch their education careers. He said they would strengthen the teaching profession for many decades to come.
 
“We are passing along six of our best to you,” Larson said.
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on April 15, 2024


Irving teacher Mike Robb named 2024 Scottish Rite Educator of the Year

Irving Middle School vocal music teacher Mike Robb is the 2024 Scottish Rite Educator of the Year


His family, Lincoln Public Schools leaders and local Scottish Rite Organization chapter members surprised Robb during a school assembly in Irving’s auditorium on April 12.


“There are so many teachers that are deserving of this award and to be one of the ones that have received it is a huge honor,” Robb said. “I'm very grateful and thankful.”


In 1964, the local chapter of Scottish Rite developed an education committee to recognize excellent classroom teachers and help make the public aware of the vital role a classroom teacher plays in educating youth. The award recipient also receives a check for $10,000 from the organization.


“We welcome opportunities to recognize excellence among teachers and make the public aware of the vital role a teacher plays in molding today’s youth for a better tomorrow,” LPS Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Vann Price said. 


Robb has been an educator for more than two decades, teaching most of his career at LPS. He started teaching at Irving in 2001 and has been there ever since.


“Mike Robb is a phenomenal educator and community builder and promotes equitable

opportunities for all students,” Irving Principal Rachael Kluck-Spann said. “Mike’s passion for music, for teaching students to find their voices and to participate in the joy of singing is extraordinary. Mike believes in all students and the importance of inclusivity.”


“Music is something that has meant so much to me, so much to my family and to be able to share that gift every day with students is an honor,” Robb said. “It's definitely a passion of mine. It's part of who I am and I love doing it every day.”


Robb will be formally honored during a special ceremony on Friday, May 10, starting at 4:15 p.m. at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center (formerly known as the LPS district office), where he’ll be featured along with past winners on an interactive display outside the boardroom.


Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

 

Posted on April 15, 2024


Humann students soar into happy worlds at new art show

Humann Elementary School students created a galaxy-sized amount of smiles with artwork that featured everything from comets to constellations.
 
Hundreds of Huskies displayed their imagination at the inaugural Humann Glow Art Show. Students, parents, guardians and friends packed one section of the school to see glow-in-the-dark artwork. They watched animated clay figures on a video board in the gym, walked past the control panel of a space shuttle and gave many compliments to all of the happy artists.
 
Fifth graders Quincy and Josie said they were excited about the schoolwide project. All 500-plus students at Humann made at least one piece of art for the outer-space-themed show, and many created four or more entries.
 
“It’s been really fun,” Quincy said. “I’ve had a good time making the artwork. It’s been something where you can have a lot of fun thinking about what to do.”
 
“We did all of this in four months, so we got a lot done,” Josie said. “It’s our first time ever doing this, so I think it’s turned out really well.”
 
Tabi Zimmerman smiled as she talked about the project minutes before the front doors opened. Zimmerman teaches art at Humann and led all of the preparations for the three-hour show. She was glad to guide students as they formed pictures of planets, pinwheel galaxies and popular space creatures.
 
“It’s truly been an all-year project,” Zimmerman said. “The kids are so excited about this. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited they are.”
 
Zimmerman first told students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade about the “Outer Space in Art” idea in November. They learned about many astronomy concepts such as planets, stars, asteroids and comets. They then made artwork to display in three “solar system” sections of school.
 
Fifth graders created animated objects for the first area. Zimmerman asked them to design clay-based characters that could move, had a face and lived in outer space. They then attached their characters to a wire framework and videotaped them in action. People watched orange foxes, top-hatted penguins and multi-armed lobsters come to life on a giant screen on the gym wall.
 
Students in grades PreK-4 titled the second area “Our Universe” because it focused on art that could be in outer space. They spent time studying science-based ideas and used those to make drawings, sculptures and paper-mache pieces. The “Our Universe” hallway and classroom included lunar rovers, faces of smiling astronauts and a giant pink, red and yellow sun.
 
The third solar system was an area called “Wonderland.” Everyone at school “discovered” Wonderland during their classroom research and voted on what the new planet would look like. They then tailored their artwork to show Wonderland’s environment and the animals and creatures that lived there.
 
Students said Wonderland’s environment included floating land, spiral trees, giant flowers, red clouds, rainbows and people-transporting bubbles. They said dragons, walking bananas, unicorns and mixed-up animals lived on the planet. All of the creatures had castles as their homes and used spaceships to travel from city to city.
 
“That’s a pretty neat room,” Josie said. “The walking bananas turned out to be pretty cool. We did a vote on that in our whole school.”
 
Zimmerman said students experimented with fluorescent and neon materials to make their artwork glow in the dark. They formed hundreds of tiny stars from scrap paper and worked together on larger projects such as standing-up sculptures and replicas of Earth.
 
“A lot of them were individual projects, but there were a lot of group projects too,” Zimmerman said. “It was really neat to see them work together.”
 
Quincy and Josie were among 24 fifth graders who helped Zimmerman curate the show. They placed artwork on tables and cardboard walls, set up black lights to make their drawings shine and created signs for each solar system. They then guided visitors on their tours of outer space throughout the show.
 
“They’ve done an awesome job,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a lot of work, but they’ve handled it all really well.”
 
“It’s been exciting to help put this together,” Quincy said. “I think everyone’s been happy to see it all come together like this.”
 
The event blasted far beyond the original art show idea as students told family and friends about it. Humann Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) members secured donations, bought necessary art materials and promoted the show to neighborhood residents. A large book fair took place in the front hallway during the night, and students wore neon bracelets and fluorescent-styled clothes during their journeys through space.
 
Zimmerman said the art show has taught students about problem solving, teamwork, creativity, organization and responsibility this year. She said it has been a positive out-of-this-world experience for everyone.
 
“I’m very happy with how the students have worked on this, especially since we’ve never done it before,” Zimmerman said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
 
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Posted on April 10, 2024


Metteer receives prestigious music award for Southeast teaching career

Southeast High School music students have recorded thousands of positive moments in their lives thanks to the noteworthy leadership of R.J. Metteer.
 
Metteer was recently recognized with the 2024 Duane Johnson Distinguished Service Award. He received the honor at the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association’s annual convention.
 
Hundreds of Knights have learned how to play skillful melodies under Metteer’s guidance for nearly three decades. A trumpet player by trade, he oversees a program that includes marching band, concert band, jazz band and pep band ensembles. He is also chair of Southeast’s performing arts department.


 
University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior Gabi Lawrey said Metteer was a positive mentor for her at Southeast. Lawrey was a two-time All-State Band selection and was principal oboe in the All-State Orchestra in high school.
 
“My journey as a musician was largely influenced by Mr. Metteer,” Lawrey said. “He was always the one to push me to try new things and take the leap in auditioning for honor bands or the Lincoln Youth Symphony. As a young musician, growing your confidence is one of the most important skills, and Mr. Metteer was one of my biggest supporters on my musical journey.”
 
Metteer said guiding music students each day has been a privilege.
 
“Music touches the heart, mind and soul of every kid and every human being,” Metteer said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny little kid who’s dancing around or the music you hear at a loved one’s funeral. It moves you. Music is what makes us human. I love teaching music because it touches every part of our emotional lives.”


 
Metteer owns a bachelor’s degree in education from Wayne State College and a master’s degree in music education from UNL. He spent four years teaching instrumental music in Lenox, Iowa, before becoming a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He began working at Southeast in August 1995.
 
Lawrey said Metteer’s leadership style has inspired students to aim for excellence in every situation. In addition to their musical accomplishments, Southeast students also earned the NSBA Excellence in Academic Achievement Award this year. Band programs whose members have an average cumulative grade point average of 3.50 or higher received the honor.
 
“If there was one thing Mr. Metteer was known for when I was in high school, it was pushing his musicians to be the best that they could be,” Lawrey said. “His leadership created an environment in which students are encouraged to expand their musical horizons and strive for their greatest potential. Whether it’s providing opportunities for solos, mentoring students through auditions or motivating the marching band to leave it all on the field, Mr. Metteer’s dedication has been instrumental to the success of Southeast’s band program.”
 
The NSBA Board of Directors selected Metteer for the award. Members took into consideration his longevity of teaching, his impact on students and the musical success of Southeast’s band program.


 
Steve Steager said Metteer’s dedication to the state marching band festival also played a key role in his selection. Steager, a longtime music teacher and former NSBA president, said people were always impressed when they visited Seacrest Field each October.
 
“The best way to describe the Seacrest site is a well-oiled machine,” Steager said. “From meeting with the judges, to hosting and escorting each band, to a well-stocked concession stand, there is not a detail that is overlooked. Everyone does their part to ensure the site is run smoothly. R.J. always has the best interest of NSBA in mind, making sure to communicate with the NSBA representatives throughout the day.”
 
Metteer said Southeast community volunteers deserved the bulk of the spotlight for Steager’s compliments.
 
“You can never do that without the band boosters,” Metteer said. “It takes literally thousands of invested hours from hundreds of people to do it. It comes from the dedication of all the volunteers and teachers. I might be there on site, but I play a very small role in it. This is an award for the work of many, many people.”
 
Metteer’s legacy has spread to numerous band rooms across the school district. Former students or student teachers of his are now leading music classes at every LPS high school except newly-opened Standing Bear. His teaching tree’s roots have also extended into multiple LPS elementary and middle schools.
 
“That’s the thing I’m probably the most proud of, is the number of kids who have gone on in music and music education,” Metteer said. “I’m really proud of them, because that means, theoretically, that we had a positive impact on them and they want to share that with other people.”
 
Lawrey said she and hundreds of current and former students owed debts of gratitude to Metteer for helping them record positive notes in their lives.
 
“Starting from my freshman year, Mr. Metteer believed in my abilities and gave me opportunities to flourish, from giving me solos to encouraging me to audition for a senior solo with the Lincoln Youth Symphony,” Lawrey said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gone on to continue to study music in college and earn my music minor. I am incredibly grateful for everything that Mr. Metteer has done for me, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his support.”
 
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Posted on April 10, 2024


Highlights of the April 9, 2024 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 9, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. 

First reading

Title VI, Indian Education Program grant

Native American students are enrolled in all Lincoln Public Schools representing about 60 tribes as designated by the parent. 

The U.S. Department of Education, through Title VI of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides funds to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to the Indian people for the education of Indian children. These funds support LPS efforts in creating and executing educational programs and culturally relevant activities to empower every American Indian student to achieve their highest academic potential.

Lincoln Public Schools has received federal funds for services for Native American students since the mid-1980’s. Grant award amounts vary by year according to the total amount of Indian Education funds available at the federal level and are not based only on the number of students per program.

Estimated funding from Title VI for 2024-25 is approximately $191,755, based on the current student count of 713. Decisions regarding the use of these funds are made in consultation with the Native American Advisory Committee.

Director of Federal Programs Marco Pedroza and Youth Development Team Coordinator Joe Rousseau provided an update on the program to the Board. The Board will hold a second reading on the grant application and vote at the next meeting. 

Juvenile Justice Prevention Fund grant

LPS Student Services is asking the Board to consider a grant application to help start a more comprehensive re-entry transition program for youth returning from the Lancaster County Youth Services Center. 

The Lancaster County Board of Commissioners annually sets aside prevention funding for services to youth at risk of entering or reentering the juvenile justice system. 

Often, youth are released from detention and return back home and school with little to no notice. This can result in the student, family and school being unprepared for this transition. If awarded, LPS would create a school social worker position that would help such students and their families to identify and secure needed supports while including and preparing the school so that all parties are better prepared for a successful and seamless transition. 

The LPS Student Support Program will house the new position and serve as the first step for students returning from detention before they transition back to their home school.

The Board will hold a second reading and vote on the grant application at the next meeting.

Strategic Plan with measurable goals

The Board directed the superintendent to bring forward measurable goals by April 2024 for each priority that was outlined in the 2024-2029 Strategic Plan adopted by the Board on February 27, 2024. 

As part of its goals for the 2022–2023 school year, the Board agreed to work with consulting firm District Management Group to gather community input and draft the 2024–2029 LPS Strategic Plan. The All Means All Action Plan and the Superintendent’s Transition Plan are the core of the 2024-2029 LPS Strategic Plan and represent the district’s commitment to community input and equitable outcomes.

The following measurable goals were presented to the Board by LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman (all goals with an * asterisk represent goals from the LPS All Means All Action Plan):

Student Wellbeing and Outcomes

  • Challenging and appropriate instruction with a strong foundation in literacy and diverse pathways to graduation.
    • By June 2029, raise the LPS district on-time graduation rate to 87.0%, with a focus on reducing existing differentials between student groups.*
    • By June 2029, LPS will see a 3% increase in percentile rank in both Math and ELA for ALL student groups on nationally normed assessments.
    • By June 2029, increase district enrollment in honors courses for all students with additional emphasis on historically underrepresented student groups by reducing disproportionality in course enrollment by 50%.*
    • By June 2029, increase the percentage of early childhood students who meet or exceed age expectations by 5% in each developmental area (social emotional, cognitive, physical, language, literacy, and mathematics) as measured on the nationally normed GOLD assessment.

      Note:  The GOLD assessment is a comprehensive assessment system for children from birth through kindergarten that blends ongoing, authentic assessment in all areas of development and learning with intentional, focused performance assessment tasks for selected predictors of school readiness in the areas of literacy and numeracy.
  • Intentional supports and relationships for ALL students focused on positive behavior to build strong and safe school communities.
    • By June 2029, reduce total suspensions for ALL students by 20%*.
    • By June 2029, reduce suspension disproportionality ratios to 1.2 or less for all student groups.*
    • By June 2029, students who report feeling that they have a sense of belonging at school will increase 10% from the baseline measure taken in 2024, and the gaps in positive belonging perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.

Staff Wellbeing and Outcomes

  • Support and empowerment for diverse staff who meet the changing needs of ALL students.
    • By June 2029, increase the percentage of all employee groups from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to at least 8.5% of the total staff.*
    • By June 2029, increase the retention rate for LPS certified staff positions by 2%.
    • By June 2029, ensure that the average compensation and benefits of LPS classified staff will be competitive with similar positions based on market analysis.
    • By June 2029, increase the proportion of staff members who report feeling a sense of belonging by 2%.

Family and Community Engagement

  • Outreach that welcomes families and community members as partners in supporting the success of ALL students.
    • By June 2029, parents and families who report having opportunities to be involved in school activities will increase 2%, and the gap in positive perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.
    • By June 2029, parents and families who report that staff builds positive relationships will increase 2%, and the gap in positive perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.
    • By June 2029, community members who report having opportunities to be involved in school activities or partnerships will increase 10%, and the gap in positive perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.
    • By June 2029, community members who report that district staff build positive relationships with them will increase by 10%, and the gap in positive perception reported by demographic groups will narrow by 5%.

District Systems and Operations

  • District systems that continue to direct resources based on student needs.
    • By June 2029, review, analyze, and verify that 100% of schools have resources aligned to identified student need, based on available funding.
    • By June 2029, increase the percentage of staff and families who feel that district systems and operations are transparent.
    • By June 2029, adopt an updated 10-Year Facilities and Infrastructure Plan and identify available resources for implementation.

Read the draft of the plan with measurable goals here. The Board will hold a second reading on the measurable goals and vote at the next regular meeting.

Elementary and high school classroom projection projects

In 2014 under the direction of the Board, LPS developed and implemented a technology plan called Connected Learning for the Achievement of Students & Staff (CLASS) to address the school district’s technology infrastructure needs. As part of that plan, projection devices were installed in high school classrooms during the 2015-16 school year, and in the elementary classrooms during the 2017-18 school year. Those devices have reached the end of their life cycles and need to be replaced.

Staff recommend the Board approves the lowest bid from GovConnection for the purchase of 1,560 Epson projectors for the total cost of $2,110,258.80.

Due to the short timeline, the Board waived second reading and voted to approve the purchase.

Second reading

Fresh milk products

Proposals were requested from interested vendors to provide fresh milk and dairy products for use by LPS Nutrition Services for all locations. The contract prices are for the period of July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025. There are four optional one-year renewal periods.

Staff recommended that the Board approve the contract with Kemps Dairy for $1,152,515. 

The Board voted to approve the contract.

Fresh bakery products

Proposals were requested from interested vendors to provide fresh bakery products for use by LPS Nutrition Services for all locations. The contract prices are for the period of July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025. There are four optional one-year renewal periods.

Staff recommended that the Board approve the contract with Pan-O-Gold Baking Company for $251,368. 
The Board voted to approve the contract.

Informational items and reports

Superintendent update

Gausman celebrated many student accomplishments during his update. He congratulated  East High School Senior Hannah Tang for being selected to represent Nebraska by the Nebraska Department of Education as part of the United States Senate Youth Program. Gausman also recognized the DECA and HOSA students who placed and state and earned a spot at national competitions.

Gausman also applauded the 350 ninth grade students who voluntarily came to Wesleyan University last Saturday morning and participated in AP exam prep workshops for Human Geography. There will also be an opportunity for AP government and AP U.S. history students in April. This opportunity was made possible because of the PROMISES grant awarded last fall. 

He also celebrated the six Lincoln High School seniors who signed commitments to the University of Nebraska - Lincoln College of Education and Human Sciences to become educators. In a partnership between UNL and the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy at Kansas State University, the goal of the Project RAICES initiative is to recruit and develop a more diverse group of educators. This project fits in with the LPS Strategic Plan and All Means All plan goals of increasing the percentage of all employee groups from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Gausman wrapped his report inviting the community to the a special open house this Friday, April 12, from 5:30 -7 p.m. as the Arts and Humanities Focus Program celebrates 25 years. The building will be remodeled next year, so this is one of the last chances to see the original space.

The open house at Arts and Humanities Focus Program will include tours and refreshments with a short program starting at 6:00 p.m. The community is invited to attend in person or watch the program livestream on the Lincoln Public Schools website. 

Public comment

There was one individual that addressed the Board during public comment. You can watch the public comment as part of the full meeting video here.

Glimpses of LPS

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights Lincoln Public Schools. Tuesday’s Glimpses featured a new series Classroom Calling and the work by Ben Lytle, a teacher for students who are visually impaired. 

Posted on April 09, 2024


Arts and Humanities 25th anniversary celebration on April 12, 5:30 - 7 p.m.

Lincoln Public Schools invites the community to a special open house on Friday, April 12, from 5:30 -7 p.m. as the Arts and Humanities Focus Program celebrates 25 years.  The building will be remodeled next year. This is one of the last chances to see the original space.

Arts and Humanities began during the 1999-2000 school year. Over the course of 25 years, A&H impacted over 2,000 former and current students.  

The open house at Arts and Humanities Focus Program will include tours and refreshments from 5:30-7 p.m. with a short program starting at 6 p.m.

The community is invited to attend in person or watch the program livestream on the Lincoln Public Schools website at lps.org

Posted on April 09, 2024


LPS students shine at state DECA, HOSA conferences

Lincoln Public Schools students recently turned their business and health knowledge into bright results at a pair of state conferences.

Students took part in the Nebraska DECA State Career Development Conference (SCDC) and the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) State Leadership Conference. DECA events were held in Lincoln and the HOSA conference took place at Creighton University.

LPS Career and Technical Education Curriculum Specialist Jason Thomsen said students were involved in a full slate of positive activities at both sites. They participated in competitive events and leadership workshops and met fellow DECA and HOSA members from across Nebraska. Many LPS students also won awards for their business and health skills.

“It is always wonderful to see our students not only compete in these types of extracurricular events, but perform well compared to their peers throughout the state,” Thomsen said. “This reflects positively on the hard work and talents of the students, but is also a reflection of the hard work and dedication put into these organizations from the teachers and sponsors.”

Nebraska DECA

DECA is a career and technical organization that helps students prepare for dozens of business-related jobs. Some of the careers include marketing, finance, management, hospitality, entrepreneurship and human resources.

“As students participate in DECA and attend various leadership conferences throughout the year, they develop real-world skills by competing in challenges that simulate real business scenarios, which allow all students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” Thomsen said.

Southwest High School teacher Allie Thompson said she was happy with the achievements of her students. Thompson guided a group of ten Silver Hawks at the state conference as chapter advisor.

“I’m very proud of our chapter’s performance at SCDC this year,” Thompson said. “Our chapter has dedicated so much time to preparing for these events, and to see them be recognized for their accomplishments is rewarding. We have been a close-knit group this year and I am especially proud of how supportive our chapter is of each other when we compete. It’s fulfilling to see this group represent themselves and their school so well.”

Thomsen said many LPS students have developed career readiness knowledge through DECA. They have learned how to create resumes, prepare for interviews and search for jobs within their future career fields. They have also built networks with business professionals across the state.

Southwest junior Brandon Hansen is one of those career-constructing students. He will be one of three vice presidents of Nebraska DECA for the 2024-25 year.

“Brandon has played an integral role in our chapter’s success this year as our chapter president,” Thompson said. “He’s a passionate, driven leader who exemplifies exactly what it means to be a part of DECA – academically prepared, community oriented and professionally responsible. Some of our chapter’s best moments from this year were a direct result of Brandon’s dedication to our chapter.”

East High School earned a Thrive Level Award in the DECA Chapter Campaign national program. The Spartans were honored for their community service and promotional events during the school year.

East’s chapter, led by business department chair Matt Maw, will receive a pennant, flag and plaque for reaching Thrive Level status. The Spartans will also be able to send two members to the Thrive Academy at this year’s DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC).

“We were very satisfied with our chapter’s success at State DECA and were able to meet both individual and chapter goals,” Maw said. “DECA has allowed students to apply the content learned in business classes to real-world scenarios through competition. In addition, students benefited from the networking opportunities and leadership opportunities.”

Students who placed in the top three spots of their competitive events will continue their seasons later this spring. The ICDC will happen April 27-May 1 in Anaheim, Calif.

The following LPS students earned state medals:

Human Resources Management: Aadhav Krishna – East – Junior – Second Place Overall, Third Place Role Play 1
Principles of Finance: Konnor Garrett – East – Freshman – First Place Exam, Top Eight Overall
Principles of Marketing: Rikhil Jasti – East – Sophomore – First Place Role Play 2, Top Eight Overall
Quick Serve Restaurant: Sandarika Warjri – Southwest – Junior – Second Place Overall
Retail Merchandising Series: Jake Schuller – East – Junior – First Place Overall, First Place Exam, First Place Role Play 2
Sports and Entertainment Marketing: Spencer Krenk – Southwest – Junior – Second Place Overall
Sports and Entertainment Marketing: Alex Shaeffer – Southwest – Sophomore – Third Place Overall

Nebraska HOSA

HOSA teaches lessons about a wide range of health-related careers. The state conference featured more than 30 competitive events in subjects ranging from behavioral health to pathophysiology.

Students earned recognition for placing in the top five spots of their competitive events. Students who finished first, second or third automatically qualified for the HOSA International Leadership Conference (ILC). The ILC will happen June 26-29 in Houston, Texas.

Four LPS students played key roles at the conference. Southeast High School senior Kenna Morgan, Lincoln High junior Lina Dvorak and East High School seniors Callie Dreibelbis and Juliet Schoemaker are serving on the HOSA State Officer Team this year. Morgan is state secretary, Dvorak is state vice president of competitive events, Dreibelbis is state vice president of membership and Schoemaker is state vice president of media.

The following LPS students finished in the top five places at state:

Behavioral Health: Lina Dvorak – Lincoln High – First Place – Junior
Creative Problem Solving: Garrett Amundsen (Junior) and Alyssa Beetem (Junior) – Southeast – Fifth Place
Dental Science: Brice Neale – The Career Academy – Fourth Place – Senior
Emergency Medical Technician: Ryan Dao (Senior) and Mikyah Venhaus (Senior) – The Career Academy – Fourth Place
Health Career Photography: Mara Scott – Southeast – Fourth Place – Junior
Health Career Photography: Sophia Timm – The Career Academy – Fifth Place – Junior
Human Growth and Development: Kenna Morgan – Southeast – Second Place – Senior
Medical Reading: Jade Sindelar – The Career Academy – Third Place – Senior
Medical Reading: Emma Cleaver – The Career Academy – Fourth Place – Junior
Mental Health Promotion: Molly Leyden (Junior) and Maleah Ehlers (Junior) – Southeast – First Place
Nursing Assisting: Caitlyn Klems – Southeast – Third Place – Junior
Nutrition: Emma Yin – East – Third Place – Junior

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Posted on April 08, 2024


LPS girls wrestling programs see growth in second year

A larger number of Lincoln Public Schools girls used the words takedown, reversal and pin in their everyday conversations this winter.
 
LPS saw a significant increase in the number of girls who joined wrestling teams this season. A total of 45 girls wrestled during the 2022-23 campaign, which was the first time the school district offered girls wrestling as a separate sport.
 
That number rose to 76 this winter. All eight LPS high schools had at least one girl take part in wrestling, and four teams – Lincoln High, East, North Star and Southeast – had double-digit-sized rosters.
 
East juniors Mileena and Carson said they were happy to see their team grow. Both said that was a major reason why the Spartans had a good year both on team and individual levels. Mileena finished second at 105 pounds at the state tournament and Carson placed sixth at 170 pounds. East captured tenth place in the team race with 39 points.
 
“I have had more practice partners and more people to teach and even learn from,” Mileena said. “This benefits everyone on the team. We get different looks from each other and understand different styles of wrestling. This also just makes the environment even better to be around, including practices, bus rides, going out to eat, competitions or just bonding activities.”
 
“Wrestling this year was a lot more fun for me, just because I actually understood what I was doing this year, and was getting better in the process with more people to practice with and everyone in my corner supporting me,” Carson said.
 
Lincoln High had the largest LPS roster this winter with 22 athletes. Sophomores Jazleen and Isabel said they enjoyed the season. Both Links qualified for state and became friends with their new teammates.
 
“Wrestling was very fun this season,” Jazleen said. “I think it was pretty cool to have a lot more girls this year. The bus rides, meets and practices were entertaining this year because of the amount of people who joined.”
 
“It was nice knowing we had so many teammates cheering us on and supporting everyone to get better, not just in the (practice) room, but also at the meets,” Isabel said.
 
Mileena, Carson, Jazleen and Isabel are participating in one of the fastest-growing high school sports in the country. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) said there were 49,127 girls who went out for wrestling in 2022-23. That marked a 55-percent increase – 17,473 students – from the previous year. A total of 1,746 girls wrestled in Nebraska this season.
 
East Activities Director Zach Limbach said it has been encouraging to see LPS teams follow that national trend. He felt the sport has positively influenced many local students.
 
“The opportunities provided by adding girls wrestling gives those participating a sense of inclusion and purpose that aligns perfectly with the other educational-based athletics we offer,” Limbach said. “It was very clear from the start, when given the chance, these pioneers of girls high school wrestling are up for the challenge and continue to seize the moment. It has been so fun to watch them compete and grow as student-athletes.”
 
North Star head coach Tyler Nelson said he was extremely happy with the growth of the school’s program. The team’s roster rose from six to 11 wrestlers over the past year.
 
“With girls wrestling being so new to the state, and even newer to Lincoln, the majority of our wrestlers are athletes that coaches and peers have influenced to come try for the first time,” Nelson said. “Of our 11 girls, none of them had experience prior to high school. Although this is most likely a common theme around the city and state, it is a testament to their courage and competitive drive to engage in a completely new sport.”
 
Seven LPS high schools fielded teams in 2022-23. East had ten girls finish the season and Lincoln High had eight complete the campaign. Athletes from Southeast (seven), North Star (six), Southwest (five), Northwest (five) and Northeast (four) also competed on wrestling mats.
 
Lincoln High (22), East (14), North Star (11) and Southeast (10) had the largest LPS rosters this winter. Southwest (eight), Northeast (six), Northwest (four) and Standing Bear (one) all had girls finish the season.
 
Mileena said the 14 Spartans helped each other throughout the year. She said a larger team meant a larger amount of encouragement to go around.
 
“My team has been the best support system I could ask for,” Mileena said. “Anytime I am wrestling I can look up and see my team in my corner yelling and cheering me on. I am super thankful for this team and the way we all support each other. When one of my teammates wins a match, or even the tournament, I am happy for their success.”
 
Mileena said she and other girls would continue to expand their wrestling vocabularies in years to come.
 
“I had a ton of fun wrestling this season,” Mileena said. “The more years I wrestle, the more fun I have. Last season was definitely the best by a long shot. I was able to bond with my teammates better than ever. Wrestling is a tough sport and it isn’t made for everyone, so being able to wrestle and have a bunch of fun is something I am happy to experience.”

Click here for more information about athletics at LPS middle and high schools. The link includes information about student participation, season schedules and school athletic programs.
 
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Posted on April 08, 2024


Meeting notice for the Lincoln Board of Education Regular Meeting - April 9, 2024

The Lincoln Board of Education will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 9, located in the Boardroom at Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. 

Members of the public and media may access the meetings via live video streaming or by physically attending the meetings, which are subject to all national, state and local limitations on public gatherings associated with COVID-19. Overflow accommodations may need to be implemented to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance. 

The agenda for all meetings can be found here: lps.org/board.

There are multiple ways to view the livestream of all meetings:

Participation by citizens in the Regular Board Meeting

The Board believes public attendance and participation, when appropriate to the business at hand, is beneficial to the work of the Board and models the importance of civic engagement and civil discourse to the community’s children, but it cannot impede the Board from completing the business of the meeting. 

In keeping with Board Policy 8420 and Neb Statute 84-1412(3), the Lincoln Board of Education has established these reasonable regulations to conduct Public Comment:

  1. Persons speaking during Public Comment will be called forward individually by the Board Chair to the location identified for such purpose.
  1. A time limit of three minutes will be allotted for any speaker unless prior to the beginning of the Public Comment agenda item, the chair sets a different reasonable time frame to be allotted for speakers in order to accommodate the number of persons who have submitted "Record of Appearance" cards. The time limit is per speaker, per meeting and may not be transferred or assigned to other speakers.
  1. The chair may endeavor to organize public comment by what agenda items or other issues have been identified as topics by public speakers, adjust for the age of speakers, and/or split the Public Comment agenda item to be conducted in different positions within the Board’s Order of Business. At the discretion of the chair, the speaker may be allotted additional time. Board members may share, address or consider comments from the public during public comment, at the end of public comment or when related business is on the agenda.
  1. In order to be called forward to address the Board during Public Comment, each person wishing to speak must obtain a "Record of Appearance" card from staff at the meeting in which they wish to speak. "Record of Appearance" cards are available beginning 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the meeting. Those wishing to speak must accurately complete the required sections of the card, and submit it to the appropriate staff member by 15 minutes after the start of the meeting.
  1. Individuals will be called forward to speak by name, organization being represented, if applicable, and address. Each individual speaking to the Board will be required to identify himself or herself prior to giving public comment by stating their first and last name and, if applicable, any organization they represent.
  1. In cases where more than one person wishes to speak on the same topic, their presentations to the Board may, at the discretion of the chair, be grouped together by topic.
  1. If the number of people wishing to speak under the public comment portions of the agenda is large, the chair may rule that a public hearing be scheduled.
  1. Persons speaking to the Board during public comment may make printed materials (paper no larger than 8.5 x 11 inches) available to the Board but may not use any other form of media. Public speakers are asked to provide 10 copies of any copies of printed materials presented to the Board.

Persons attending Board meetings and/or speaking to the Board during Public Comment or during a public hearing must follow all requirements established by the Board, as well as all Board, chair and staff directions in order to help maintain the order, proper decorum, safety and security, and the non-disruptive functioning of the Board meeting. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Abiding by time limits;
  • Refraining from applauding, cheering, jeering, or engaging in speech that defames any individual(s), or stymies or blocks meeting progress;
  • Refraining from the use of audio recordings, video recordings, or any digital still images, posters, signs, costumes, other props and/or photographs;
  • Refraining from abusive, disruptive or threatening language or gestures; and
  • Staying in the areas identified by the Board as reserved for the public.

If at any time persons appearing before the Board do not comply with these or any other Board requirements, it shall be the responsibility of the chair to declare that person or persons out of order and require a change in behavior, delay or recess the meeting, or refuse permission to continue to address the Board, and ultimately may require the person or persons to leave the premises of the Board meeting.

Posted on April 05, 2024


TCA workshop inspires future leaders in education

East High School junior Emily Bender beamed this spring as she recalled how much she enjoyed playing school in her family’s home when she was little.
 
She took the next step toward working in a school as a teacher during a special event at The Career Academy.
 
Bender joined more than 80 high school students from across the Lincoln area at TCA’s education workshop and career fair. They heard lessons from a pair of Nebraska Teacher of the Year Award recipients, listened to several keynote speakers and spoke with people from many education-related fields.
 
Bender said it has been her lifelong dream to lead students in a classroom. Both of her parents are former teachers and her sister is also in education, which has sparked her interest in having her own classroom someday. She said it was encouraging to learn how many of her classmates shared her passion for teaching.
 
“Being here and seeing all these people that chose to come away from school to learn more about being a teacher and being with children is really cool to see,” Bender said.


 
Barbara Miller and Josh Jones said they were happy to hear those types of enthusiastic stories. Miller is the emerging educators empowerment specialist at Lincoln Public Schools and Jones is director of The Career Academy. Both said they hope the event would help students solidify their love of teaching and highlight the benefits of one day working at LPS.
 
“Having students get an opportunity to take a look at the potential of education as a career, and to hear from those who have been in the positions they’re in, is really valuable,” Miller said. “It is an opportunity for them. Hopefully, it will build that connection with them so they can come back and be a part of our district.”
 
“I think it is extremely important for students interested in going into education to attend these events,” Jones said. “It makes a difference for students to see that there are other students with similar career aspirations as them. It is a day to see that the career is one full of great opportunities, people and fun.”
 
Jones, Miller and other LPS leaders organized the workshop and career fair as a way to inspire students to join the education field. LPS is building a broad-based initiative to attract people to the profession. The effort includes an early childhood education pathway at TCA, the annual Educators of Color Summit, future teacher workshops and additional education fairs. These opportunities also relate to the school district’s strategic vision with its “Grow Your Own” goal and developing diverse educators with the All Means All action plan.
 
Sydney Jensen and Scott Phillips both gave enthusiastic thumbs up when they were asked to participate in the program. Jensen received the Nebraska Teacher of the Year Award in 2019 and Phillips is the 2024 Nebraska Teacher of the Year. Both led breakout sessions for students in classrooms on TCA’s campus.
 
Phillips, a seventh-grade math teacher at Aurora Middle School, told students that his own middle school math teacher had motivated him to follow in those footsteps. Phillips had originally gone to college to become a television broadcaster, but he switched to an education major after one year. 
 
“We have some wonderful teachers in our state,” Phillips said.


 
Jensen shared those sentiments in her breakout room. Jensen is a ninth-grade English teacher at Lincoln High who has become a well-regarded motivational speaker across the country. She has talked about education topics with current and future educators, administrators and policymakers.
 
Jensen asked students in one of her sessions to decide whether a rope that was curled up on a table had a pre-tied knot in it. They then tried to persuade others to adopt their point of view before finding out the answer.
 
Jensen said the activity was meant to show them the value of being thoughtful and understanding in their future classrooms. Literature students might read the same words and interpret them differently, and history students might view the same events and dates through separate lenses.
 
“It’s all about perspective,” Jensen said. “Let that be something that you consider in your teaching.”


 
Bender soaked in all of those positive lessons at the workshop. She has become friends with many students in LPS buildings who have special needs. She would like to become an elementary special education teacher after her high school and college graduations.
 
“That would be something I would love to do,” Bender said. “I’ve always loved working with kids, and I’ve always loved working in special education.”
 
Miller said she was filled with hope after hearing dozens of similar comments. She felt the workshop was encouraging many students to continue pursuing their teaching dreams.
 
“It is quite exciting to see how many students are interested in becoming teachers,” Miller said. “In six or seven years, this is who we’ll be able to hire.”

Click here to learn more about becoming a member of the LPS team. The strategic plan for LPS is available here. It talks about the future vision for the school district and how LPS will support teachers.
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on April 05, 2024


East senior selected for United States Youth Senate Program

Ask anyone in the East High School community how they would describe senior Hannah Tang, and all of their answers include the same word: impressive.
 
Tang recently added a trip to the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) to her list of A-plus achievements. She was one of two Nebraska high school seniors to travel to Washington, D.C. She spoke with high-ranking federal officials from all three branches of government, visited with the nation’s top diplomat and met fellow delegates from across the country.
 
Tang said the weeklong trip was full of memorable highlights.
 
“It was such an incredible experience,” Tang said. “It was one of the most unique opportunities I’ve ever been a part of, so I’m really grateful and blessed to have gotten to go.”


 
East teachers Josie Gilligan and Nick Herink said they were happy when Tang was selected. Gilligan coaches the school’s Science Bowl and Science Olympiad teams and has worked with Tang for four years. Herink is head speech coach and has watched Tang become a respected and admired team leader.
 
“Hannah always has an upbeat attitude and is involved in practically everything we offer at East,” Gilligan said. “She’s intelligent, outgoing, empathetic, thorough and is an excellent role model for her peers. I’m constantly in awe of how much she balances and the way she maintains a positive outlook.”
 
“Hannah is a great role model for Lincoln East because she takes advantage of the many opportunities East has to offer,” Herink said. “She is involved in and leads numerous extracurriculars, enrolls in challenging coursework and gives her all to the school community. High school is short and Hannah has always tried to get everything she can out of the experience.”
 
Teachers and principals from each state nominated students for the 2024 USSYP. Nominees had to be actively serving in leadership positions of student government or civic organizations at their school. They also had to have a strong academic background.
 
Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner Brian Maher selected Tang and Boone Central senior Isabella Meyer to be Nebraska’s two delegates. Southeast High School senior Amelia-Michelle Nangatie Forlemu and West Point-Beemer senior Jacob Eduardo Dominguez were selected as alternates.
 
Tang said she was excited when she learned she was picked for the USSYP.
 
“I was just really shocked, in the best way possible,” Tang said. “It was just such a surreal time, I can’t even explain it. I’ve been involved in speech and debate where I’ve had a political and economics focus, so to be able to go to a program and have that opportunity to meet fellow people who are so passionate about the same things that I am was such a big honor.”


 
Tang and other delegates toured many federal buildings and historical landmarks. They also met U.S. Senators Pete Ricketts, Mitt Romney, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, talked with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and posed questions to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
 
“It was really amazing to hear their perspectives,” Tang said.
 
Tang has helped the entire Lincoln community with a resume that includes the titles of cancer researcher, science coach, speech leader and friendly senior. She is founder and president of Nebraska’s first American Cancer Society high school chapter, where she began an initiative to deliver dozens of encouraging letters to patients at local hospitals. She is a member of East’s National Honor Society Advisory Board, is a two-year captain of the Science Olympiad team and is a volunteer coach for Lux Middle School’s Science Bowl program.
 
Tang has helped many speech teammates by developing a lecture series about politics and economics. She has earned multiple state medals for her work in the extemporaneous speaking category, and she has earned Nebraska Seals of Biliteracy for becoming fluent in both French and Mandarin.
 
Tang has also been active away from East’s campus. She applied to the Young Nebraska Scientists Program as a sophomore and began working at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that summer. She conducted biology research in the agronomy and horticulture department before moving to a pancreatic cancer research lab.
 
Tang’s work has been published in “Cancers,” a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and she has presented at the International Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers BigData Conference. She is planning to double major in public health and political science before pursuing graduate and doctorate degrees.
 
“I want to pursue medicine someday and see how that intersects with policy in our entire government system as a whole,” Tang said. “Being able to research is being able to inquire and seek answers and open doors to new questions, and it’s also being able to see the mechanisms that drive healthcare and medicine firsthand.”


 
Tang said she has especially treasured her time working with younger Lux scientists. She said it was important to try to give a helping hand to others.
 
“I really think Science Bowl has changed me a lot as a person and as a scholar,” Tang said. “I wanted to give back to Lux in that way and mentor the future generation.”
 
Herink said that selfless attitude is why Tang will continue making an impressive difference in the world.
 
“Hannah really is a great kid, and I think it’s great that she is getting this type of recognition,” Herink said.
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on April 05, 2024


Lux students generate recognition with 2024 Future City competition

If you wanted to build a renewable-energy-based city on a peninsula in Iceland, how would you go about doing that?
 
Lux Middle School students answered that question in successful style during their appearance in a national city-creating contest.
 
Members of the Future City after-school club competed against students from the United States, Canada and China at the DiscoverE 2024 Future City Competition. The eighth-grade team of Alex, Chloe, Luigi, Vasya, Evan, Kellen and Isaiah secured the trip to Washington, D.C., by winning the state contest.


 
Chloe, Alex, Vasya and Luigi flew to the East Coast for the international event. Chloe said it was exciting to represent Lincoln Public Schools in the nation’s capital. Students constructed a model of their city and shared a detailed project plan, 1,500-word essay and seven-minute presentation with judges.
 
“Competing in general was really fun,” Chloe said. “I thought it was kind of cool seeing all of the other models and other people’s presentations and how they competed in different ways.”
 
Lori Feldman and Christy Eichorn both helped the team as mentors. Feldman teaches computer science and technology at Lux and is the club’s LPS staff sponsor, and Eichorn has been mentoring Lux Future City groups since 2019. Both said the program provides a wealth of lessons for future engineers, scientists and designers in grades 6-8.


 
“Now that they’ve seen and been to state and national competitions, I feel like there are kids who are thinking, ‘Wow, this would be a cool career,’” Feldman said. “It could be model building for artistic sets. It could be architecture. It could be urban design. It can be anything they want it to be. It’s really such a great program for their futures.”
 
“I have seen kids grow to become civically engaged, enhance their planning and engineering skills and flourish as speakers and presenters,” Eichorn said. “I am proud of this team’s achievement. I want everyone to know that this is an opportunity for all children to imagine, explore and build robust, sustainable cities of the future.”
 
Students in this year’s contest followed the theme of Electrify Your Future. They had to forecast 100 years from now and build a fictional city powered entirely by electricity generated from renewable energy.
 
Lux students began brainstorming ideas in August and created a comprehensive plan for a town they named Nyfloa. They determined how Nyfloa would provide safe stormwater and sewage collection systems, clean drinking and bathing water, reliable public transportation and a modernized electric power grid. They also explained their city-building strategy and how their plan complied with safety codes and technical standards.


 
Feldman said it was inspiring to watch students work together to meet their goals.
 
“It was a total independent group,” Feldman said. “I was here for support and our mentor was here for support, but they had to decide.”
 
Alex and Chloe said the Future City experience helped the Lightning improve teamwork and time management talents. The group had to meet strict project deadlines to qualify for state and international contests.
 
“It develops a lot of life skills like teamwork,” Alex said. “We had to work together, because we only had a certain time period to do everything. We definitely did a better job of that this year.”
 
“We definitely learned a lot of time management,” Chloe said. “Getting stuff done on time and doing what you’re asked to do is really, really important in this project.”
 
Lux’s team researched potential city locations based on future sea level projections, availability of energy supplies and possible tourism opportunities. They felt Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik checked all of those boxes and decided to build Nyfloa on an Atlantic Ocean peninsula.


 
The group relied on proven energy sources such as offshore wind and geothermal electricity from Iceland’s active volcanoes. They also discovered an emerging technology called a waveline magnet, which floats on water and converts wave energy into electricity.
 
“Because of the Gulf Stream, we found that Iceland had consistent winds, which is great for wind power,” Alex said. “And a new source of energy that we figured out was ocean currents, ocean waves, to generate power.”
 
The Lightning also followed rules when building the physical city model. The budget could not exceed $100 and many items had to be made from recycled materials.


 
“You had to be very creative,” Feldman said. “Custard cups could become skyscrapers, or water bottles could be a pole to hold something up. They used a lot of different engineering skills.”
 
Sixth-grade students Millie, Phoebe, Evan, Rhys, Nolan and Liam also competed at state. Feldman said her goal is to have at least one team in each grade represent Lux next year.
 
Feldman said many Lux students have noticed several large trophies that are displayed in her classroom. She felt this year’s achievements will inspire more Future City groups at school.
 
“Now, kids in every class are looking at those trophies and asking, ‘What is this Future City thing?’ Then they’re saying, ‘I so want to do this next year,’” Feldman said. “We have all of these kids who want to do this. It’s fantastic. It means kids are thinking beyond video games or whatnot. They’re thinking about how can we make our world better in the future.”
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on April 03, 2024


LPS students learn tips about writing trade from state authors

Lincoln Public Schools students made paragraphs, poems and pencils all part of their day during the 30th anniversary of a prestigious writing program.
 
Sixty-two eighth-grade students from across the school district took part in the Writers Write Workshop. They traveled to Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln for a full morning of educational activities. They met six published authors from Nebraska, produced their own writing pieces and shared their creations with fellow students.
 
Schoo Middle School student Alexis said she was excited to attend the workshop. LPS teachers selected students who have displayed exceptional writing skills in their classes for the program.
 
“I’ve done quite a bit of writing in school, but nothing like this before,” Alexis said as she arrived at the library. “I’m really looking forward to it. I think I’ll be able to take a lot of good things from the whole day.”
 
Nebraska poet Rex Walton was part of the panel of published authors who led the workshop. Walton shared his poem about watching the ocean in California during the day’s first session. He then helped Hayden, Brooklynn, Tesni, Jazzy, Isabella, Grayson, Kaleigh, Jilliana, Jesse and Nick develop their own successful sentences in a small group.
 
“It’s so much fun doing this,” Walton said. “I always get my hopes up about the world after I talk with the kids. When you see what they’re capable of, it’s something that always makes you feel better about things.”
 
Sara Danielson, curriculum specialist for secondary English and language arts at LPS, said it was important to help students expand their literature portfolios. She said the process of writing – generating an idea, searching for ways to express it and crafting the final product – helps build organizational talents, creativity, self-confidence and language arts knowledge.
 
“Writing is thinking, and this event allows students to explore their thinking in new and creative dimensions with a guide who understands the process,” Danielson said. “Of course, students receive strong writing instruction in their ELA courses. Writers Write lets students take those skills a step further with the benefit of a writing community made up of their peers and a knowledgeable practitioner to offer support and immediate feedback.”
 
Nebraska Literary Heritage Association (NLHA) members worked with LPS leaders in 1992 to pen the first edition of the Writers Write Workshop. They created the program to give eighth graders a chance to learn writing techniques from established authors. Many of the top novelists, poets and essayists in the state have participated with students.
 
The workshop was stopped for several years due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it has returned in full force. Co-organizer Becky Faber told a full crowd on the library’s fourth floor that she was thrilled to see everyone there. She asked them to continue filling their reservoirs of writing knowledge for the rest of their lives.
 
“Once that love of language and writing is a part of you, it doesn’t stop,” Faber said. “This is not a one-stop experience today.”
 
Faber said more than 1,500 students have taken part in the workshop since its inception. The 2024 class began the day with breakfast before listening to presentations from all six writers in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors. They read works about playing pianos of happiness, experiencing the migration of Sandhill cranes and reliving memories of their favorite childhood movies.
 
This year’s leadership team included Walton, a published poet who received the 2017 Nebraska Arts Council Artistic Achievement Award; Twyla Hansen, who served as Nebraska State Poet from 2013-19; Sandra Mathews-Benham, a Nebraska Wesleyan University professor who has published five books; Mary Hickman, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop who is a published essayist and NWU assistant professor; Lucy Adkins, a widely-published poet and author who has also written folk songs; and Nick Salestrom, a Southeast Community College instructor who earned the 2023 Nebraska Community College Association Outstanding Faculty Member Award.
 
Students tapped into that professional knowledge when they started writing. Each author shared the strategies they use for creating pieces of literature. They then watched as new works unfolded in front of their eyes. Students discussed their poems and stories in their small sections before returning to the entire 62-person group. Many then read their pieces aloud to everyone.
 
Danielson said the partnerships between students and professionals are beneficial for everybody.
 
“Creating something out of nothing is hard work, and our students get a glimpse into how seasoned writers push forward to make a piece better and better,” Danielson said. “Along the way, while working with students, the authors always end up invigorated and impressed by the work emerging from these young writers.”
 
Faber said it was exciting to watch students build their confidence through the Writers Write Workshop. She said the large number of graduates confirmed that the power of the pen is alive and well in Lincoln.
 
“I take that as a huge accomplishment,” Faber said. “This is obviously a successful program.”
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on April 03, 2024


TeamMates of the Month: Vann and Brooklynn

Creating a noteworthy friendship 

Vann remembers her first meeting with her mentee Brooklynn, a stellar student.

“She was wearing pink, because pink is her favorite color and one of mine, so we connected right away. She showed me her locker and all of her gadgets. It was like an apartment.”

Brooklynn laughs, remembering the school where they started meeting.

“I had a little chair. I had a pillow. It was a lot.”

When Brooklynn moved to a new school, Vann watched closely, wanting to make sure Brooklynn didn’t lose her “sparkle,” one of the words Vann chose to describe her energetic mentee.

“I don’t ever want anybody to dull her sparkle. At her old school, you could hear Brooklynn coming down the hall…now, she’s blossomed in a different kind of way. She’s holding her own.”

Excellence is another word Vann chose.

“Brooklynn sets such high standards for herself. She always wants to bring her ‘A’ game.” 

That includes choosing a one-of-a kind, iridescent, white cello.

“Everyone always looks at me when we have a performance because ‘What in the world?’”

Brooklynn is clear-eyed about her future and her mentor, Vann, using two words to describe her.

“‘Future’ because that’s who I want to be like when I’m older, and ‘classy’ because she is a pretty woman who does all her stuff right.”

That future will no doubt include acting, music and writing, all passions for Brooklynn. That’s why they’ve been talking about the Arts and Humanities Focus Program, which Brooklynn has applied for. Vann knows she has what it takes.

“This young lady is an amazing writer. She reads her stories to me and puts all the inflections in. If I was not looking at her, I would think an adult had written it.”

The glow of their initial connection lingers for Brooklynn, along with discovering that TeamMates is different than she expected.

“I thought it would be more of a work-based thing, like meeting with a teacher or a therapist. So it has surprised me the way things have turned out. It’s still exciting every time she comes.” 

For Vann, the biggest surprise has been the extent of Brooklynn’s drive.

“I think about when I was an eighth grader, ‘Was I that driven?’ She knows what she wants. She knows where she wants to be. I’m trying to get her to realize that sometimes it’s okay just to hang out on the couch and be average.”

 

You can learn more about Lincoln TeamMates at https://lincolnteammates.org/.

Posted on April 02, 2024


LPS students secure state awards for stellar artwork

Lincoln Public Schools students turned their artistic dreams into prize-winning reality at the 2024 Scholastic Art Awards of Nebraska contest.
 
More than three dozen LPS teenagers earned awards in the annual program, which features all types of artistic mediums. High school students from Arts and Humanities Focus Program, Lincoln High, East, North Star, Northwest and Southwest captured honors this year.

Lorinda Rice, visual art curriculum specialist at LPS, said she was happy to have a large number of students receive applause for their abilities.

“Scholastic has been compared to going to state in a sport and winning the championship,” Rice said. “It is always a good feeling to see LPS students being recognized for their creative and artistic talents. Gold and Silver Keys are a moment when our students are on the podium of excellence in the region.”
 
The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers (AYAW) oversees the national contest each year. The program's first round takes place in various regions worldwide. Participants had to be in grades 7-12 and live in the United States, Canada or U.S. territories or on U.S. military bases.
 
Students from across the state submitted entries to Nebraska Art Region judges this winter. Judges could present artists with Gold Key, Silver Key and Honorable Mention awards and American Visions Award nominations. They evaluated each entry without knowing any personal details about the young artists like their name or hometown.
 
There were no predefined contest themes for students to follow. This allowed their creative energy to come alive in categories such as photography, comic art, digital art, ceramics and glass, sculpture, drawing and illustration, media photography, portfolio, painting and mixed media.
 
Judges considered the AYAW’s core values of originality, skills and “emergence of a personal voice or vision” when they looked at each piece of art. They also considered elements that showcased talent and diversity of artistic media, viewpoints and backgrounds during the selection process.
 
Lincoln High sophomore Gabriella Johnson was one of a select few Nebraska students to be nominated for the American Visions Award. Nebraska Art Region judges could select up to five nominees for the award. Johnson entered a sculpture entitled “fatigue” in the contest. Judges gave her high marks for her artistic abilities with the sculpture.
 
AYAW leaders said all Gold Key artworks will automatically advance to national judging. AYAW will ask creative professionals who are based in New York City to review Gold Key winners from across the country. They will select recipients of national awards based on the same three criteria as regionals: skills, originality and emergence of a personal voice or vision.
 
Johnson and other students who earned American Visions Award nominations also advanced to national judging. AYAW leaders will announce national award recipients on June 14.

Rice said being recognized with state awards is a major achievement for all of the LPS recipients. She said it has been a key milestone in the lives of many current artists and professionals.

“Recognition by Scholastic goes back more than 100 years,” Rice said. “It is important for our students’ success in college applications and a demonstration of creative thinking and perseverance to a goal. Many talented students who have been recognized by Scholastic in high school have gone on to become some of the leaders in the fields of cinema, illustration, fashion and the fine arts communities.”
 
Omaha Public Schools is exhibiting artwork from Nebraska students who earned regional awards. Their artwork will be on display through April 19. Many LPS students also took part in a ceremony honoring regional winners this spring.

Click here to see artwork from all of this year’s LPS recipients.

Gold Key Recipients

Arts and Humanities Focus Program
Ethan Dudney – Comic Art – “Roaches vs Rats” – Freshman
Selah Pultz – Photography – “Ghost Gus” – Sophomore
 
East High School
Nicholas Li – Media Photography – “What Dreams Are Made Of” – Junior
Nicholas Li – Media Photography – “Burning Memories” – Junior
Nicholas Li – Media Painting – “Unwilling Lawyers” – Junior
Cheryl Zeng – Drawing and Illustration – “One Word Resolution” – Junior
 
Lincoln High
Gabriella Johnson – Sculpture – “fatigue” – Freshman (Gabriella also earned an American Visions Award nomination for her work)
Lane Hansen – Photography – “Flying Lights” – Freshman
 
North Star High School
Genesis Pompa-Ramirez – Photography – “Double Exposure Self Portrait” – Senior
Genesis Pompa-Ramirez – Photography – “Immigration: Bound” – Senior
Genesis Pompa-Ramirez – Photography – “Immigration: Missing Family” – Senior
Chase Strohmyer – Photography – “I Have the Power” – Junior
Chase Strohmyer – Photography – “Oreo Splash” – Junior
 
Southwest High School
Lily Huynh – Digital Art – “Mess of Death” – Sophomore
Lily Huynh – Digital Art – “Red String” – Sophomore
Tasa Nguyen – Digital Art – “Irremediable” – Junior

Silver Key Recipients

Arts and Humanities Focus Program
Adilynn Sonthana-Barak – Sculpture – “Fusion Ramen” – Senior
Milo Hintz – Digital Art – “Charged Spaces 1” – Senior
Anara McClure – Mixed Media – “Sea Nettle” – Senior
Natalia Velarde – Sculpture – “Achievement” – Sophomore
 
East High School
Elaine Yu – Painting – “Grandparent’s Village” – Junior
 
Lincoln High
Aurora Schroeder – Sculpture – “Fernando Pessoa” – Freshman
Hannah Chism – Ceramics and Glass – “ScareCrowCat” – Sophomore
Lane Hansen – Photography – “Departure” – Freshman
Lane Hansen – Photography – “Nature’s Reflection” – Freshman

North Star High School
Emma Covert – Photography – “Morning Rain” – Junior
Ryanna De La Cruz – Photography – “Looking Glass” – Senior
Genesis Pompa-Ramirez – Photography – “My Passions” – Senior
Chase Strohmyer – Photography – “Time Slice” – Junior
 
Southwest High School
Valerie Thulin – Photography – “Feelings” – Junior
Kyrie Wagner – Photography – “Cat Eye” – Junior

Honorable Mention Recipients

Arts and Humanities Focus Program
Anara McClure – Ceramics and Glass – “Do All Fairies Have Wings?” – Senior
Natalia Velarde – Sculpture – “Sorrow” – Sophomore
 
East High School
Elaine Yu – Painting – “Thinking With My Heart” – Junior
 
Lincoln High
Ramzi Abrahim – Portfolio – “Purpose” – Senior
Eli Larson – Portfolio – “Expressive Play” – Senior
Jaelynn Kelly – Ceramics and Glass – “Penguin” – Sophomore
 
North Star High School
Emma Covert – Photography – “Gold Fleur” – Junior
Chase Strohmyer – Photography – “Red/White I-80” – Junior
 
Northwest High School
Hajar Musawi – Drawing and Illustration – “If the Stars Align: The Story of the Large, Blank Canvas” – Senior
 
Southwest High School
Em Carel – Digital Art – “WET Cat” – Sophomore
Ava Pearson – Digital Art – “Magic of Destruction” – Senior
Ava Pearson – Drawing and Illustration – “What Dreams Are Made Of” – Senior

Posted on April 01, 2024


LPS students ignited their creative minds at 2024 Science and Engineering Fair

Curiosity and creativity collided at the 2024 Lincoln Public Schools Science and Engineering Fair. 

More than 170 LPS students in grades 5-8 participated in the fair at the Sandhills Global Event Center in March. 

“I wanted to be a part of the science fair because I'm really interested in science,” Mickle seventh grade student Nova said. “I thought that it would just be a really good opportunity to expand my learning on all this.” 

This is the second time Nova has entered the event. Her project explaining the effects of acid rain was one of more than 110 science projects submitted this year. Organizers gave the annual fair a new twist – engineering. Students designed 21 engineering works. LPS Science Curriculum Specialist Betsy Barent said adding this component was a logical fit. 

“We saw this as an opportunity to expand student opportunities to share their curiosities and sensemaking,” Barent said. “Science and engineering are two fields that are intertwined. Science builds knowledge which informs engineering and the development of technology.” 

Organizers also encouraged the young scientists and engineers to incorporate a sustainability theme into their entries. They honored those submissions with a “Going Green” ribbon.  

Eighth grade Schoo student Jason used this opportunity to combine his passion for the environment and saving it by creating a presentation focused on solar renewable energy. 

“I care a lot about the environment and what might happen to us if we don't fix our current problems that we have,” Jason said. “So, I wanted to pick a presentation that has helped with that.” 

The fair also provides a way for the community to connect with LPS students. It’s largely run by volunteers and sponsored by several local businesses like Lincoln Electric System, Zoetis and Haleon. 

“Community partnerships are what make the fair go,” Barent said. 

More than 100 volunteers helped with the event serving in roles ranging from setting up booths to judging student projects. There were also 26 exhibits including a solar car race track from LES.

Volunteers Jim Sandbulte and Nolan Greenberg both work for Zoetis. They wanted to get involved to encourage more students to explore their career fields. 

“I've done it several times. So it's fun for me to see what they're curious about,” Sandbulte said.  

“I think it's good to do science projects like this. Kind of maybe gives you a little taste of when you get into the real world or like science and engineering,” Greenberg said. “I guess like a taste of actually putting together projects and seeing if it works or if it doesn't, and troubleshooting things that go wrong.”

The skills participants gain from the science and engineering fair also connect back to what they’re learning in the classroom. Lessons like asking questions, planning and conducting investigations and identifying patterns are direct ties to the LPS science curriculum. The fair creates another outlet for students to deepen their understanding.

“Science and engineering projects give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned to a question or topic they are genuinely curious about just as scientists and engineers do,” Barent said. 

Students agree the event is a great way for their peers to further science and engineering knowledge and practice it. 

“It's a great opportunity,” Jason said. “I feel like it could prepare you for a lot of future opportunities that might come up.” 

“I think that all students should join the science fair because you never know, you don't just learn off your own project,” Nova said. “There are many others that you can look at and learn more about.”


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Posted on March 27, 2024


Students mark 75th LPS music festival with scores of successful notes

Lincoln Public Schools students made the words staccato, crescendo and countermelody come to life at a special celebration of music in March.
 
Sixth-grade students from across the school district took part in the 75th annual All-City Music Festival. The weeklong event allows young orchestra and band musicians to rehearse and play songs together with students from other LPS buildings each year. LPS high school students also mentor sixth graders.
 
The happiness for Solomon and Grace was on a mountaintop level as they practiced scales before their rehearsal at Southeast High School. Both said they were excited to meet students from other schools throughout the day. Dozens of musicians from Lux, Mickle and Pound middle schools came together to practice pieces for a public concert that night.
 
“I like that there are a lot of people here,” Solomon said. “It’s fun to play music with other people who like it too.”
 
“You get to hear what everyone else is doing with music,” Grace said. “It’s cool to hear what they’re doing, because it might be something you want to do too.”
 
Grace plays cello in Lux’s orchestra and Solomon plays trumpet in Pound’s band. Both said they have enjoyed learning about their instruments over the past several years.
 
“I like it,” Solomon said. “I like the higher tones of the brass instruments, so trumpet is fun to play.”
 
“It sounds really cool, and I like how many tones you can make with it,” Grace said. “It’s fun.”
 
Musicians from Dawes, Goodrich and Schoo practiced two days earlier at Northwest High School, and students from Moore and Scott played their notes at Southwest. Students from Culler, Irving, Lefler and Park wrapped up the week of activities with their rehearsals and concerts.
 
The All-City Music Festival takes place each year during Music in Our Schools Month. The nationwide celebration highlights the vital roles that instrumental and vocal music classes play in school districts. LPS includes music courses, events and presentations in its curriculum at all grade levels.
 
LPS Music Supervisor Amy Holloman said the festival has many benefits.
 
“Students and staff alike look forward to this annual event,” Holloman said. “With the tradition carrying on for 75 years, members of the community and families have the connection of a shared experience through performing. Bringing students together from multiple schools allows them to participate in one of the largest ensembles they will experience, to provide an extended learning opportunity beyond what is typically experienced in the classroom and create a larger sense of community.”
 
Thousands of LPS students have taken part in the All-City Music Festival over the past 75 years. In addition to providing younger musicians with a chance to learn from each other, the event also helps high school students. Band and orchestra players who once looked up to older mentors when they were sixth graders are now able to serve in their own leadership spots.
 
Pound music teachers Ian Wright and Amy Gammel began the afternoon rehearsal by walking students through the first run-throughs of their songs. Wright guided orchestra members and Gammel gave directions to band students. Music teachers from both Lux and Mickle assisted them as they worked on songs such as “Bach Country Fiddle” and “Do-Si-Do.”
 
“It is great to see so many people,” Wright told students at the beginning of practice. “Look at this great group. This is fantastic.”
 
Grace and Solomon were members of ensembles that filled one full half of Southeast’s gym. Holloman said those numbers were the source of many good lessons for students. She said changing the size and makeup of the groups flexed their musical and social skills.
 
“Students must also adjust their personal playing based on the size of their section to maintain balance as a whole,” Holloman said. “For example, at one of our sites we had 29 percussionists. While in their own building, these students may be one of three to four members of their section, and they need to play out to be heard.
 
“When combining with so many other percussionists, the students may need to play at half the dynamic level since there are physically more players in the section. Students must experience the change in balance of instrumentation to learn the skills needed to analyze and adjust for a successful performance.”
 
The larger numbers also meant all groups could create a rich range of sounds. Smiling students at Southeast plucked their stringed instruments in one section of a song, and band musicians relied on different instruments to take center stage throughout their concert.
 
Holloman felt the festival provided a firm foundation for everyone’s future musical careers. She said students like Grace and Solomon would be able to play successful notes for many years to come.
 
“As students continue in their music programs, their prospects for honors groups and participation in the larger music community increases,” Holloman said. “Our sixth-grade festival is the first time our students experience this large sense of community and challenge their skill set to adjust within such a large ensemble.”

Click here to learn more about the positive impact of music in the LPS curriculum. A list of upcoming performances at all grade levels is available on the district music calendar.
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on March 27, 2024


Highlights of the March 26, 2024 Lincoln Board of Education regular meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 26, at the Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. 

Special reports, presentations and celebrations of success

Tammy Lamprecht - Southwest High School Teacher

Tammy Lamprecht teaches Japanese language classes at Southwest High School and was recently awarded the Outstanding World Language Teacher Award by the Nebraska International Languages Association (NILA).

Lamprecht facilitates conversations with a sister school in Japan that allows students to have pen pals and a student exchange program. In addition to classes and learning opportunities, she also sponsors a Japanese club at Southwest High School where all interested students are welcome to attend.

The nomination letter for the award states:
"First of all, I must commend Mrs. Lamprecht (or as her students call her, Lamprecht-Sensei) for being the only Japanese teacher in our school district of 40,000+ students. This in itself could be intimidating and isolating for any educator. However, Lamprecht-Sensei consistently finds ways to collaborate and keep the Japanese program alive and thriving at Lincoln Public Schools."

Student Behavior Comprehensive Framework

During LPS Superintendent Paul Gausman's first year, he presented a Superintendent Transition Plan that outlined five areas of focus. One of those areas was student behavior supports.

This year, the Board set a goal that by April 9, 2024, a comprehensive framework to address student behavior needed to be developed and presented. This comprehensive framework should include prevention, accountability and restorative practices. 

Associate Superintendent for Educational Services Matt Larson presented to the Board district-wide initiatives that were implemented during the 2023-2024 school year while the Behavior Framework was developed. Those initiatives included uniform cell phone restrictions at all grade levels, a digital hall pass system at the high school, piloting vape detectors at one high school, piloting digital hall pass system at two middle schools, installing cameras in common spaces at middle schools,and providing professional learning on restorative practices.

Larson and the team of instructional directors worked through the first semester to gather input from staff and students asking “what can the district do to provide a better learning environment in your building?”. There were five emerging themes: consistency within the building and between buildings on how to respond, consequences and accountability for inappropriate behavior, explicit expectations and time to teach it, more support for teachers and especially new teachers and better follow-up communication after an incident.

Larson introduced LPS Student Services Supervisor Karmin Pedroza to share an overview of the district Behavior Framework that was developed and highlight key elements. 

There are three components: Prevention, Accountability and Restorative (PAR). The agreed-upon definitions for these three components serve as a foundation for the rest of the framework. 

LPS staff will receive professional learning during the fourth quarter that will provide an overview of this Behavior Framework. In addition, the School Improvement Plan workshops over the summer and professional learning the first week staff are back in August will also focus on the framework. There will be regular opportunities for feedback on the framework so appropriate adjustments can be made.

Behavior initiatives for the 2024-2025 school year will include implementing the PreK-12 district-wide Behavior Framework, digital hall pass implementation at all middle schools, vape detection systems installed at all high schools, and dedicated time at elementary schools during the first two weeks of school to teach expectations, routines and procedures.

Larson wrapped up the report by saying, “I am proud of the work that Karmin and our team has done and of the input students and staff have made. It’s not perfect, but what I can assure you of is that next year our leaders will work to improve it day after day. It is a great start to improving our teaching and learning environment in schools. I hope everyone gives the system time to make an impact. Every time we implement anything new, it takes time to make adjustments.”

First reading

Fresh milk products

Proposals were requested from interested vendors to provide fresh milk and dairy products for use by LPS Nutrition Services for all locations. The contract prices are for the period of July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025. There are four optional one-year renewal periods.

Staff recommended that the Board approve the contract with Kemps Dairy for $1,152,515. The Board will hold a second reading and vote to approve the contract at the next meeting.

Fresh bakery products

Proposals were requested from interested vendors to provide fresh bakery products for use by LPS Nutrition Services for all locations. The contract prices are for the period of July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025. There are four optional one-year renewal periods.

Staff recommended that the Board approve the contract with Pan-O-Gold Baking Company for $251,368. The Board will hold a second reading and vote to approve the contract at the next meeting.

Lincoln High School tennis court renovation project

The Board considered bids for a tennis court renovation project at Lincoln High School. Staff recommend approving the contract with Nemaha Sports Construction for $652,931.00.

Due to construction timelines, the Board waved second reading and voted to approve the contract.

Southeast High School track renovation project

The Board considered bids for a track renovation project at Southeast High School. Staff recommend approving the contract with M E Collins Contracting Co. Inc. for $833,166.90.

Due to construction timelines, the Board waved second reading and voted to approve the contract.

Second reading

Newly annexed property to the City of Lincoln

The Board of Education assigns school attendance areas to property newly annexed to the City of Lincoln. This action establishes school attendance areas prior to the sale of residential lots, allowing purchasers to know what schools their children will attend.
 
The proposal assigns the newly annexed area of Northbank Junction to Norwood Park Elementary School, Dawes Middle School and Northeast High School. It also assigns the newly annexed area of Highland View to Kooser Elementary School, Schoo Middle School and North Star High School.

The Board voted to approve the assignment.

Update to Policy 3530

LPS Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish brought forth a proposed revision to Policy 3530 and district procedures around student school lunch debt. The Board had asked for staff to review current policies and procedures in light of LB 855 being introduced by the Nebraska Legislature this session. 

The proposed revision to Policy 3530 adds the following language:
“The Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs is not authorized to utilize an outside collection agency for an uncollected or uncollectible accounts in which the negative balance is accumulated from the purchase of student meals.”

LPS announced the previous week it has suspended referring additional families to collections effective immediately, and will recall current accounts with the collection agency. In addition, the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools will continue to work with LPS Nutrition Services to use donations designated for meal debt to address delinquent accounts.

More information about the changes can be found on the LPS website.

The Board voted to approve the revisions to Policy 3530.

Informational items and reports

From Board Committees

Finance Committee
Board policy 3100 states that a budget calendar will be presented to the Board by April 1 of each year. This presentation will include timelines for when a preliminary list of budgetary goals and budget priorities will be available, a preliminary budget to meet the needs of the school system for the next fiscal year will be presented, a projection based upon the latest enrollment and revenue estimates for the succeeding fiscal year will be available, and tentative dates for necessary publications, public hearings and budget adoption.

Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish presented the budget development calendar and also an update on legislation that could impact the LPS budget and budget process.

Key dates in the development of the LPS budget shared during the presentation includes:

  • June 25: presentation of the preliminary proposed budget during the Board of Education budget work session at 4:30 p.m. 
  • June 25: Public comment time available at the Board of Education regular meeting
  • June 26: online input window opens
  • June 26: Public Forums for community input and questions
    • Virtual at noon
    • In-person at 6:00 p.m.
  • June 27: Public Forum for community input and questions virtually at 6:00 p.m.
  • June 30: Deadline for Nebraska homeowners to file for the Nebraska Homestead Exemption program.
  • July 12: online input window closes so it can be compiled and shared with the Board
  • July 23: presentation of the proposed budget during the Board of Education budget work session at 4:30 p.m. 
  • July 23: Public comment time available at the Board of Education regular meeting
  • August 13: Public comment time available at the Board of Education regular meeting
  • August 26: Public comment time available at the Board of Education Budget Hearing
  • August 27: Public comment time available at the Board of Education regular meeting
  • September 10: Board of Education regular meeting to hold first reading on budget adoption, base growth limitation and property tax request
  • September 16-19: County-wide pink postcard hearing
  • September 24: Board of Education regular meeting to hold second reading and vote on budget adoption, base growth limitation and property tax request
  • September 30: Budget filing deadline

Standish also shared information about the Nebraska Homestead Exemption program. The Nebraska Homestead Exemption program is a property tax relief program that reduces all or a portion of taxes for homeowners in Nebraska who occupy a home, used as their primary residence that meet the criteria. More information about that program can be found here. The filing deadline for the program is June 30, 2024.

As part of the presentation, Standish reviewed the 2023 Governor’s Education Finance Package. This package was carefully crafted in collaboration with educators and state senators from across Nebraska. Included in the package was a continued focus on local control - allowing locally elected school boards to make decisions based on their community’s feedback and input on priorities. 

On Monday, March 25, the Nebraska Department of Education released a model based on a possible proposed property tax reduction package. That model showed the result would remove the 3% soft cap and make it a hard 3% cap on the property tax request by school districts, taking away local board authority. Exact bill language has not yet been released by the state legislature.

Standish said that LPS staff have been having conversations with state senators to help them understand the impact of a hard cap at 3% as outlined in the NDE model. In the long-term, Standish told the Board this reduction in revenue would result in LPS’s inability to recruit and retain a quality workforce during a nation-wide labor shortage. This would result in unfilled teaching positions, larger class sizes and classes taught by staff outside of their endorsement areas. It would also lead to even more unfilled support staff positions (paraeducators, transportation, custodial) that serve students and schools. This would make it difficult for the local Board of Education to add programming and services based on community identified priorities, and the school district would have a diminishing ability to address ongoing or new student needs because of program and service cuts due to the drop in revenue.

Standish told the Board that an amendment filed earlier Tuesday afternoon did not include the concept that would impose a 3% hard cap as outlined in the NDE model.

“A huge thank you to the senators that were listening as we were trying to explain how problematic that concept was,” added Standish.

Superintendent update

LPS Superintendent Paul Guasman provided an update to the Board where he congratulated state speech and state debate competitors, and students who participated in the UNL Math Day. During his update he also introduced the next Associate Superintendent for Civic Engagement, John Skretta. Skretta currently serves as the Chief Administrator for Educational Service Unit 6.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Skretta back to Lincoln Public Schools,” said Gausman. “His demonstrated passion and dedication to serving all students in Nebraska fits within our mission. Dr. Skretta’s vast experience and the relationships he has built across the state will greatly benefit LPS.”

Public comment

There was one individual that addressed the Board during public comment. You can watch the public comment as part of the full meeting video here.

Glimpses of LPS

We open every Board meeting with a video that highlights Lincoln Public Schools. Tuesday’s Glimpses featured the LPS Science Fair. 

Posted on March 27, 2024


LPS students excel at state debate contest

Students from five Lincoln Public Schools debate teams formed winning arguments at the Nebraska Speech Communication and Theatre Association (NSCTA) state championships.

Southwest High School hosted debate presenters from across the state March 22-23. High school students from Lincoln High, East, North Star, Southeast and Southwest took part in the event.

Debate students could reach several stages as they advanced through the contest. The octofinals represented the elimination round between the top 16 debaters in a tournament, and the quarterfinals marked the elimination round between the top eight debaters. Students who reached the semifinals earned spots in the top four places of the tournament.

Judges awarded speaker points to students for constructing and presenting their arguments effectively on stage. Debaters with the largest number of speaker points in a state category received a Speaker Award. This was calculated independently of the debater’s overall won-loss record at the tournament.

Students took part in policy debate, Lincoln-Douglas debate, public forum debate and congressional debate categories. East had 26 students who competed in 18 events and Southwest had 18 students in 14 events. Ten Southeast students took part in nine events, North Star had three students in two events and Lincoln High had two students in two events.

East claimed the team championship after the final stages of the two-day tournament. Southwest captured third place and Southeast collected fourth place.

East’s Elaine Suh and Sarah Cai were state champions in the policy debate category, and East’s Benjamin Hoover pocketed a state title in Lincoln-Douglas debate. East’s Yakub Islamov and Christina Xu posted a state championship in public forum debate.

The following are LPS medal-winning results from the tournament:

State Policy Debate Results

Speaker Awards

1) Sarah Cai – Lincoln East, 2) Elaine Yu – Lincoln East, 3) Emma Yin – Lincoln East, 4) Elaine Suh – Lincoln East

Placements

Champion: Elaine Suh and Sarah Cai – Lincoln East

Semifinalists: Cheryl Zeng and Jeff Shen – Lincoln East, Elaine Yu and Emma Yin – Lincoln East

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Results

Speaker Awards

2) Jeremy Moussoli – Lincoln East, 3) Hudson Witte – Lincoln Southeast, 4) Benjamin Hoover – Lincoln East, 5) Corban Barnacle – Lincoln North Star

Placements

Champion: Benjamin Hoover – Lincoln East

Quarterfinalists: Jeremy Moussoli – Lincoln East, Hudson Witte – Lincoln Southeast, Corban Barnacle – Lincoln North Star

Octofinalists: Krithik Pondicherry – Lincoln East, Noah Hoover – Lincoln East

Public Forum Debate Results

Speaker Awards

1) Yakub Islamov – Lincoln East, 2) Christina Xu – Lincoln East, 4) Ronav Ganesh – Lincoln East, 5) Isabel Loriaux – Lincoln Southwest, 6) Kai Sasaki – Lincoln Southwest

Placements

Champion: Yakub Islamov and Christina Xu – Lincoln East

Semifinalists: Isabel Loriaux and Carly Wieseler – Lincoln Southwest, Kyzz Azucena and Kai Sasaki – Lincoln Southwest

Quarterfinalists: Sukruth Jangala and Shriish Sathish – Lincoln East, Arnav Agarwal and Ronav Ganesh – Lincoln East

Congressional Debate Results

Top Presiding Officer: Grant Jungers – Lincoln Southwest

Super Congress Finalists: Kashish Nangia – Lincoln East, Sara Bilew – Lincoln High, Elizabeth Falcone – Lincoln Southwest, Alex Hamric – Lincoln East, Emerson Trompke – Lincoln East, Jack Watermolen – Lincoln Southwest, Henry Cline – Lincoln Southwest

Placements

2) Lexi Velgersdyk – Lincoln Southeast, 4) Grant Jungers – Lincoln Southwest, 6) Spencer Krenk – Lincoln Southwest, 7) Rawan Al-Ajeel – Lincoln Southwest, 8) Andrea Hu – Lincoln East

Posted on March 26, 2024


Meeting notice for the Lincoln Board of Education Regular Meeting - March 26, 2024

The Lincoln Board of Education will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 26, located in the Boardroom at Lincoln Public Schools Steve Joel District Leadership Center, 5905 O Street. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. 

Members of the public and media may access the meetings via live video streaming or by physically attending the meetings, which are subject to all national, state and local limitations on public gatherings associated with COVID-19. Overflow accommodations may need to be implemented to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance. 

The agenda for all meetings can be found here: lps.org/board.

There are multiple ways to view the livestream of all meetings:

Participation by citizens in the Regular Board Meeting

The Board believes public attendance and participation, when appropriate to the business at hand, is beneficial to the work of the Board and models the importance of civic engagement and civil discourse to the community’s children, but it cannot impede the Board from completing the business of the meeting. 

In keeping with Board Policy 8420 and Neb Statute 84-1412(3), the Lincoln Board of Education has established these reasonable regulations to conduct Public Comment:

  1. Persons speaking during Public Comment will be called forward individually by the Board Chair to the location identified for such purpose.
  1. A time limit of three minutes will be allotted for any speaker unless prior to the beginning of the Public Comment agenda item, the chair sets a different reasonable time frame to be allotted for speakers in order to accommodate the number of persons who have submitted "Record of Appearance" cards. The time limit is per speaker, per meeting and may not be transferred or assigned to other speakers.
  1. The chair may endeavor to organize public comment by what agenda items or other issues have been identified as topics by public speakers, adjust for the age of speakers, and/or split the Public Comment agenda item to be conducted in different positions within the Board’s Order of Business. At the discretion of the chair, the speaker may be allotted additional time. Board members may share, address or consider comments from the public during public comment, at the end of public comment or when related business is on the agenda.
  1. In order to be called forward to address the Board during Public Comment, each person wishing to speak must obtain a "Record of Appearance" card from staff at the meeting in which they wish to speak. "Record of Appearance" cards are available beginning 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the meeting. Those wishing to speak must accurately complete the required sections of the card, and submit it to the appropriate staff member by 15 minutes after the start of the meeting.
  1. Individuals will be called forward to speak by name, organization being represented, if applicable, and address. Each individual speaking to the Board will be required to identify himself or herself prior to giving public comment by stating their first and last name and, if applicable, any organization they represent.
  1. In cases where more than one person wishes to speak on the same topic, their presentations to the Board may, at the discretion of the chair, be grouped together by topic.
  1. If the number of people wishing to speak under the public comment portions of the agenda is large, the chair may rule that a public hearing be scheduled.
  1. Persons speaking to the Board during public comment may make printed materials (paper no larger than 8.5 x 11 inches) available to the Board but may not use any other form of media. Public speakers are asked to provide 10 copies of any copies of printed materials presented to the Board.

Persons attending Board meetings and/or speaking to the Board during Public Comment or during a public hearing must follow all requirements established by the Board, as well as all Board, chair and staff directions in order to help maintain the order, proper decorum, safety and security, and the non-disruptive functioning of the Board meeting. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Abiding by time limits;
  • Refraining from applauding, cheering, jeering, or engaging in speech that defames any individual(s), or stymies or blocks meeting progress;
  • Refraining from the use of audio recordings, video recordings, or any digital still images, posters, signs, costumes, other props and/or photographs;
  • Refraining from abusive, disruptive or threatening language or gestures; and
  • Staying in the areas identified by the Board as reserved for the public.

If at any time persons appearing before the Board do not comply with these or any other Board requirements, it shall be the responsibility of the chair to declare that person or persons out of order and require a change in behavior, delay or recess the meeting, or refuse permission to continue to address the Board, and ultimately may require the person or persons to leave the premises of the Board meeting.

Posted on March 25, 2024


Irving interweaves families’ stories through “One Book, One Family” club

Irving Middle School is connecting its students and families one book at a time. 


The school’s “One Book, One Family” book club meets monthly in the evening allowing the Aardvarks to build bonds inside and outside the classroom through literature. Irving parent and co-president of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) Nichole Palmer and her eighth-grade daughter Edie have been involved for three years. 


“I love meeting the other families,” Palmer said. “I love that Edie and I are able to have a connection of sharing this book and reading it, and we do discuss it at home as well as discussing it here in the group. I just think it's a great way to stay connected with my student.” 


Irving librarian Jenn Cejda helps lead the club. It's been a longstanding Irving tradition, but she’s been organizing it since she joined the school in 2011. Each month, Cejda picks a new title for the families to dive into, which equals six different books a year.  


The club is open to all Irving families from grades 6 to 8. Cejda believes that this inclusion is essential to the positive experience, which helps students make friends throughout the school. 


“I feel like it's just bringing us closer together and we're making more friendships,”  Edie said. 


So far this year, the club has covered topics such as sustainability, body image, book censorship and the Holocaust. Cejda said she strives to choose books that would create good discussion and encourage exploration of various genres.


“It helps me understand more of what I do like to read and what I don’t like to read,” Irving seventh-grade student Koen said. 


He and his mom Lori Von Scheliha participate in the club. The family got involved when the oldest child attended Irving. Koen and Lori said the experience helped bring them together in a new way. 


“It has allowed me to spend some one-on-one time and share with them being big readers,” Von Scheliha said. 


“Parents don't always get the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities with their students,” Cejda said. “This club gives parents and students the opportunity to participate together by reading the same book. This leads to a sharing of thoughts, opinions and conversations because they are having the same experience through literature.” 


Cejda also tries to bring the books to life with unique presentations. Some past examples include her inviting fencers to discuss the world of fencing and a speaker from a local Indigenous group to share Native American heritage. Participants mentioned how much they appreciate the diversity of books that they read during the club, widening their literary tastes and understanding of different topics. 


“Another thing that I love about Mrs. Cejda and this club in general is it's very inclusive,” Palmer said. “She wants us to read books that people can see themselves in the book, and I think that's pretty awesome.” 


“It doesn’t seem like any topic is off limits,” Von Scheliha said. “It’s like just a safe environment now to share ideas and encourages kids to be challenged in their thinking, but feel safe to share their own ideas.” 


Community is one of the biggest aspects of Irving’s “One Book, One Family” club. Cejda aims to create a family atmosphere with each gathering by providing dinner. Irving Principal Rachael Kluck-Spann said she believes these relationships forged through the club are key to the school’s culture. 


“These connections to school are pivotal because the more adults students have in their lives to provide guidance, support and care equates to a caring school community,” Kluck-Spann said.


“I really hope that both students and parents gain a new love of reading for pleasure by having this time to explore different types of literature,” Cejda said. “I hope they gain a greater understanding of each other as they listen to discussions and diversity of opinions offered. Mostly, I just want to give them time together.” 


Irving provides the books for the families through donations from the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. The families are welcome to keep the novels or donate them to the school’s library.

 


Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on March 22, 2024


Schoo students secure national recognition for literary magazine

Schoo Middle School students have used their writing talents to create literature as refreshing as a cool glass of lemonade.
 
Students earned national recognition for the 2023 edition of the “Philography” literary magazine. The school publication, entitled “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade,” features 81 pages of poetry, non-fiction and fiction writing and two artwork pieces.
 
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) honored Schoo students this winter through the Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines (REALM) contest. They earned a Distinguished Award for their work. Student editors Maarib, Zoryana, Abiyo, Ren, Amalia, Madi, Maya, Shelby and Marianna oversaw the project as eighth graders.


 
Abiyo said all of the student editors were proud of what the team accomplished at Schoo. Abiyo is a freshman at Northwest High School this year and is enjoying success in both academics and activities.
 
“Working on the literary magazine at Schoo was a lot of fun,” Abiyo said. “I learned a lot about how to edit others’ work and help organize a literary magazine, which is something I never did until last school year.”
 
Eighth-grade English teacher Amanda Petersen said she was thrilled when REALM judges unveiled the national awards. Petersen has worked at Schoo for seven years and submitted the Philography edition to the contest. She and former Schoo teacher Mackenzie Santos were co-advisors of the magazine, but the student team edited and arranged all of the content.
 
“I was really pleased because we had never used student editors before, so to see students fully earn some recognition is really exciting,” Petersen said. “It was great to see that even though teachers were a little less hands-on, it was still able to do pretty well.”


 
Philography began in 2022 when Lincoln Public Schools included more creative writing in the middle school English curriculum. Former Schoo teacher Maggie Deschaine Wiehn, who now leads Northwest’s English department, created a literary magazine unit for students. She and Petersen did all of the editing for the inaugural magazine, which earned an Excellent Award in that year’s REALM contest.
 
Petersen and Santos began the 2023 magazine journey by teaching their classes how to identify and create poetry, non-fiction and fiction plots. Students made suggestions for the overall magazine theme before voting for the “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade” plan. They spent several class periods coming up with ideas for their individual projects before completing their submissions.
 
“My really big push is that I want every student to have a voice and express themselves, so we publish pretty much everything the students submit,” Petersen said. “Even if there are students who are like, ‘I don’t really want to submit,’ we ask them to do so, so they can get the feeling of what it’s like to see your work in a magazine. They can feel like it has purpose beyond just getting a grade.”


 
The 2023 Philography pieces tackled a wide variety of subjects. Some explored upbeat topics such as summer plans and creating artwork, but others focused on serious issues such as broken relationships, anxiety, acceptance and loneliness. Many students also incorporated the lemons-to-lemonade theme in their submissions.
 
“They’re stuck in a really big moment of transition in their life, and that is just heavy,” Petersen said. “The fact that they have exhausted feelings and emotions about it in one way or another is not surprising.”
 
Petersen and Santos asked Maarib, Zoryana, Abiyo, Ren, Amalia, Madi, Maya, Shelby and Marianna if they would be willing to be student editors. The nine Skyhawks stayed after school for several days reviewing every submission from their classmates.
 
“Our student editors did a fantastic job,” Petersen said. “There were quite a few of them and they all had to work together, they’re all from different classes and they’re not necessarily friends, so they did a really nice job coming together and being collaborative. Watching them piece it together and decide which pieces go where was very impressive.”
 
Abiyo said being a member of the student editor team was a rewarding experience.
 
“I learned a lot about the people who sent pieces to be in the magazine,” Abiyo said. “When I worked with the other student editors I wasn’t close with them at first, but with more meetings I started to learn more about people I thought I didn’t have anything in common with. It was cool to work together on the magazine.”

REALM judges used a scoring rubric to evaluate magazines from across the United States. They reviewed submissions from middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities.


 
North Star High School captured a Superior Award in the REALM contest. Student editors Aubrie and Gabby and faculty editor Katherine Hill guided the 2023 “Istoria” publication. Omaha Marian High School was the only other Nebraska award recipient.
 
Schoo students will learn the theme for the 2024 magazine at the start of the fourth quarter. They will vote on options for the cover-page illustration before submitting their pieces. Petersen said she is confident they will match the refreshing quality of the lemons-to-lemonade content.
 
“We’ll see what our students have this year when we start writing,” Petersen said. “I’m sure it will be something good.”

Click here to read more of the students' award-winning literary works. 
 
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Posted on March 20, 2024


LPS empowers student civic engagement with voter registration drives

Dozens of Northwest High School students exercised their civic rights during the school’s first-ever student voter registration in early March.

A handful of Falcons helped their peers sign up to vote or walked them through how to change their previous registration. Any student turning 18 before the General Election on Nov. 5 could register.

Northwest junior Brigitte was one of the students who stopped by the booth and was surprised by the ease of the process. 

“It's really easy,” she said. “So, if you think it's like a difficult, long, tedious process, it's not. I thought it was. It really was not – it took me like less than two minutes.”

The Lancaster County Commissioner helps deputize each Lincoln Public Schools high school student who volunteers to help with their school’s voter registration drives. The deputized students not only assist with the registration process but also give them updated information about Nebraska and Lancaster elections, including the state’s new Voter ID law. 

Northwest seniors Alex and Logan were eager to volunteer their time to help mobilize the next generation of voters. 

“It's awesome seeing kids coming up to the booth excited,” Alex said. “I mean, a lot of kids not knowing that they'll even be able to vote, and just seeing them happy and smiling as they get to know they're making a change in this country is so good to see.” 

“It’s like a very rare opportunity to be able to do this,” Logan said. “So I'm taking advantage of it while we have the chance to. I feel like it's really important.” 

LPS has hosted student voter registration drives each spring for more than two decades. This year, seven high schools and the Bryan Community Focus Program organized them to get students signed up for the upcoming elections. LPS K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Specialist  Jaci Kellison said the timing intentionally encourages more young voters to participate. 

“The upcoming local elections help add momentum to voter registration drives because students know that they will have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in just a couple months, which will in turn increase the likelihood that they will continue to exercise their right to vote over time,” Kellison said. 

“Everyone has a point in life when they begin to realize how policy decisions directly affect their lives, and many of those policy decisions that have accumulated over the last few decades have certainly affected recent generations in unprecedented ways,” Northwest social studies teacher Edgar Torres said.  “We have already seen young people vote in record numbers during the last two election cycles!”

The educator also led the organization of  Northwest’s student voter registration event. He and Kellison said these events are a great curriculum tie to what LPS seniors are learning about the U.S. government in the classroom. 

“These drives, as well as any other hands-on experiences, are important because it helps students realize that the things we talk about in class are not some made-up fantasy,” Torres said. “These drives help them feel like they have a vital role to play within our democracy. They feel official!”

The future young voters are making the connections as well. 

“If they want to see a change in how politics is run, that they are the change,” Brigitte said. “Our opinions matter because we are going to be the new adults. So, for them to know they can make a change.”  

About 40 students registered at Northwest during its drive. Educators encouraged eligible student voters to sign up online if they can’t make it to the booth during the school day. Last year, more than 700 LPS high school students registered to vote. 


 
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Posted on March 19, 2024


Intramurals help LPS students coin success stories over past 40 years

Smiles were the currency of choice at Southeast High School during a recent celebration of the Lincoln Public Schools middle school intramurals program.
 
Dozens of LPS middle school students marked the 40th anniversary of valuable activities such as speech, debate and creative drama. They listened to former and current LPS students and teachers testify about the importance of intramurals in their lives. They then exchanged storylines, debate arguments and poetry presentations in classrooms.
 
Moore Middle School seventh-grade student Leah and Lux Middle School eighth-grade student Cora said they were happy to be in intramurals. Both said they would encourage other students to join in future years.
 
“It’s a lot of fun and there’s no harm learning about something like this,” Leah said.
 
“I think it’s really cool to be able to get a preview of these intramurals before you enter an actual team in high school,” Cora said. “It’s definitely why I joined.”
 
LPS alum Rhett Bothwell is a speech instructor with the program. Bothwell attended classes at Pershing Elementary School and Mickle Middle School before graduating from East High School in 2021. He said watching current students coin their success stories was rewarding.
 
“You can see exactly when you watch them what happens when they put their all into it, because they do, and that’s something a lot of teachers benefit from,” Bothwell said. “They get more of these kids’ all, because they know what it means to put their all in.”
 
Former Lincoln High teacher and theater director John Heineman and Ruth Kay, a former teacher at both Irving and Lefler middle schools, felt intramurals would benefit many seventh- and eighth-grade students. They approached Lincoln Board of Education members with a proposal for speech and debate activities on May 24, 1983. Board members enthusiastically green-lighted the request for the upcoming school year.
 
Intramurals initially took place after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the fall. In 1987, the school district moved the program to Saturday mornings of January and February and it has remained in that time slot ever since. Board members approved adding creative drama activities for sixth-grade students in 2003.
 
Sara Danielson, curriculum specialist for secondary English and language arts at LPS, said the eight-week program is open each year to all students enrolled at a LPS middle school. Some participate in solo speech categories such as informative, entertainment and humorous prose, and others take part in group activities.
 
Students from different schools work together to write skits and participate in speech and debate sessions. Family members watch them showcase their hard work during a public performance day.
 
Southeast High School paraeducator Michelle Stewart has been involved with intramurals for many years as both a facilitator and instructor. She felt the activities have paid a vast sum of educational dividends.
 
Smith said composure has been one of the most noticeable benefits she has seen. Students learn how to handle unexpected moments in all of their activities successfully. This teaches them how to turn life’s curveballs into home runs as adults.
 
“When something doesn’t go as planned, they can still swing with it and carry on without anyone noticing,” Stewart said.
 
Stewart said the middle school intramurals program is structured to help students collect different sets of skills. Sixth-grade participants learn about improvisation, teamwork, poise and public speaking through creative drama. Older students build more organized presentations with their formal speeches, and they improve their analytical abilities in their debate sessions. All of them gain friendships, confidence and critical thinking skills.
 
Cora and Leah said that has been true for them in debate this year. Ten students examined the topic of “Preschool should be mandatory for all children.” They didn’t know before the debate which side they would be assigned to present, which meant they might have to overcome personal preferences during the event.
 
Cora said that stretched their persuasive abilities and helped them grow.
 
“It’s one of those things that they encouraged us about too, kind of before,” Cora said. “That ability to argue something you don’t believe in.”
 
Bothwell said his time in intramurals opened many new doors in his life. He relied on his speech experiences in middle school to become a state qualifier on East’s speech and one-act play teams.
 
“If I hadn’t done that I would not have even attempted to go into speech. I was totally dead set on going into theater, and theater alone,” Bothwell said. “And then I didn’t make it into my first audition at theater, and speech was right there, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I should try it out.’ As soon as I tried out speech, the next year I was in every play and from then on, every play, every musical.”
 
Bothwell said he believed intramurals would continue to provide a large amount of educational income for every LPS participant.
 
“This is a great program,” Bothwell said. “I’m glad I’ve been a part of it for as long as I have, including when I was a student performing.”

Learn more about the Middle School Drama, Speech, Debate Intramurals Program on our website at https://home.lps.org/english/intramural-drama-speech-and-debate/.
 
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Posted on March 15, 2024


Southeast woodworking project turns old plastics into new picnic table

Southeast High School students are proving that plastic forks, knives and spoons don’t have to see their lifespans end once families use them at picnic sites.
 
Members of Aaron Svik’s skilled and technical sciences (STS) class are creating a picnic table from plastic-generated recycled lumber. Omaha-based First Star Recycling donated lumber made from hard-to-recycle plastics to Lincoln Public Schools this semester. Southeast is the first LPS site to use the material through the Project School Board initiative.
 
Sam is a senior in Svik’s woodworking class and has taken a leading role in the venture. He has finished many construction projects at both home and school with natural lumber, but this is his first time moving recycled wood under a table saw. He was enthusiastic about having a chance to work with the material at school.
 
“I just think it’s a good idea to reuse the plastic,” Sam said. “We waste a lot of it, so it’s nice to have another use for it.”
 
Svik said he was intrigued when LPS Sustainability Coordinator Brittney Wees told him about the possibility of using recycled lumber. Svik provided project specifications to First Star Recycling earlier this school year, and he picked up all of the donated lumber and blueprints in mid-February. He said it has been a good learning experience for his students.
 
“It works just like regular lumber, so there was really no difference there other than there’s a few times we had to remind ourselves that we’re not quickly able to just get more, so we had to double check: measure twice, cut once,” Svik said.
 
Svik’s construction knowledge has played a key role in the project. He has taught STS classes at Southeast for 26 years and has helped students build wooden picnic tables for Prescott Elementary School and a local outdoor business. He has also used similar recycled products before on personal projects.
 
Wees was thrilled when Svik said he was on board with the project. The final location for the picnic table is still to be determined, but Wees said it is highly likely it will be placed at one of the LPS elementary schools.
 
“Manufactured materials like this are not something new, so there’s a lot of examples out there,” Wees said. “It’s really something that’s been vetted as stable and sturdy that’s safe to use for something like a picnic table.”
 
The project came about after Wees and other LPS sustainability team members began a pilot program with special orange recycling bags. Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy helped LPS purchase the bags through a waste reduction and recycling grant.
 
People can place hard-to-recycle materials such as granola bar wrappers, Styrofoam cups, plastic film and plastic cutlery in the orange bags. First Star Recycling can turn all of those items into a material that looks like large strands of carpet or insulation. Those can then be merged into bigger products such as lumber.
 
Wees said the emergence of new recycling technology has been energizing. She displayed a plastic spoon, fork and knife in Southeast’s woodshop as she talked about the environmental advantages of the new lumber.
 
“These are all types of materials that previously would have had to end up in our landfill, and now they have a place to be recycled and turned into something new,” Wees said.
 
Wees said using recycled lumber reduces the number of trees that are harvested. There is also long-term value for building recycled picnic tables in Nebraska. Unlike natural wood, lumber made from recycled plastics will not rot or splinter.
 
“The wooden ones will break down eventually, but this is something that won’t rot,” Wees said. “It’s really exciting from that standpoint.”
 
Sam said he began the project with the same mindset as working with natural lumber. He took measurements and used a table saw to cut boards into either angles or straight lines. He then drilled holes in the pieces and installed bolts to connect them together.
 
“It’s not too different,” Sam said. “It’s basically the same stuff. It’s maybe just a little heavier.”
 
Wees said the picnic table project symbolizes how the district is teaching environmental skills to students. She was happy to see the Knights combine their STS talents with sustainability goals.
 
“Students obviously in these types of classes are gaining real skills, whether they’re going to go on to use them in a career or just in their personal life,” Wees said. “Having this opportunity for them to get their hands on this recycled plastic lumber is just one more way they can start seeing, ‘This is a viable product for me to use, I can be purchasing something that is better for the environment, I can be mindful of how I’m impacting my natural resources.’”
 
Wees said the LPS Operations Department has asked her about potentially building sheds and cabinetry with recycled lumber. She said STS students at other district schools would also have chances to create future projects.
 
“Really, the whole district is excited to start working with this locally-manufactured material,” Wees said.
 
That includes Sam, who is happy to know many generations will enjoy meals on his picnic table.
 
“I think it will be pretty cool to have this be around,” Sam said.
 
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Posted on March 14, 2024


LPS students chart their course through Rock the Trades Career Fair

Gabby, Julio, Faythe and Natalie are using skilled trade compasses to point their futures in a positive direction at North Star High School.
 
The four Navigators joined more than 180 students in North Star’s new aviation hangar for the Rock the Trades Career Fair. Representatives from 26 businesses, community colleges and trade organizations spoke with potential future employees during the event.
 
Gabby, a junior, said it has been fun to watch Rock the Trades grow since its inception three years ago. The first fair included 80 students and ten organizations. The 2024 event featured a wide array of professions such as agriculture, aviation and automotive technology. It was co-sponsored by North Star’s counseling center and the Aviation and Technical Education Focus Program.
 
“This is really nice because you can experience so much all in one spot,” Gabby said. “If you have questions, everybody is more than happy to answer them, and there are a ton of good careers for people to choose from. It’s pretty awesome.”
 
While Gabby was speaking with a representative from one of the organizations, Natalie was working with her fellow SkillsUSA members in another section of the hangar. SkillsUSA students helped businesses set up their booths prior to the fair and answered questions from their classmates. The sophomore said the ability to speak face-to-face with career professionals was a major drawing point.
 
“This gives you a chance to learn about everything that’s out there,” Natalie said. “It’s really cool to meet people who are in their fields and hear what it’s like to work at their jobs. Talking with them makes a big difference. It really helps prepare you for your future.”
 
Allison Brown met students from both North Star and Northeast High School as they entered the fair. This was the first year that Rockets were invited to join the fair. Brown, who serves as secretary of North Star’s counseling center, said educators saw the need for Rock the Trades several years ago. They wanted to ensure students who were not on a four-year-college track received the same type of opportunities.
 
“We have robust college fairs, but there wasn’t an equivalent for students who did not want to choose that path,” Brown said. “Rock the Trades has been purposefully curated to best serve a population of students who are interested in getting to work quickly after high school graduation. Our mission is to connect every student with a pathway to a rewarding, financially-stable career.”
 
Skilled and technical sciences teacher Amanda Woodward and lead counselor Sherri Svoboda have been two of the driving forces behind the event. Both have been passionate about helping students who are looking to head into trade schools, apprenticeships or on-the-job careers. They were thrilled with the large attendance this year.
 
“There are more options than kids realize,” Woodward said. “There’s automotive trades, construction trades, aviation, electrician, the list goes on and on. There are thousands of different options for them, and so many of them are available right here in Lincoln. I think this gives them a chance to realize how many opportunities there are.”
 
“Not every student is planning to go to a four-year college after they graduate,” Svoboda said. “We want to show them that there are other routes to go. There are a lot of high-paying, in-demand jobs that are available to them, and these are good jobs that can become lifelong careers.”
 
Julio is charting one of those courses. The senior is planning to attend a local flight school next year to become a commercial flight mechanic. He is currently participating in an aviation internship and has learned many aspects of the trade.
 
“It takes a lot of technology and mechanical systems to be able to have a plane work,” Julio said. “It’s really interesting to see everything that goes into it. This is something I definitely want to do for a career.”
 
Many organizations provided hands-on activities and short presentations. For example, students who visited one booth could operate an excavator simulator near the hangar’s main door. Students at other tables examined tools, worked with circuit boards and looked over detailed brochures and pamphlets.
 
Faythe, a junior, said she was impressed with all of the positive conversations she was overhearing at the fair.
 
“It’s so much fun to see other students figure out what they might want to do for a career,” Faythe said. “You can see it in their faces when they’re talking with someone and you hear how excited they are about what they can do. The fair really helps a lot of people.”
 
Gabby, a future aviation mechanic, said Rock the Trades has been one of the many activities she has enjoyed at North Star. She felt the academic avenues at Lincoln Public Schools have pointed her future in a positive direction.
 
“These skills are helpful for just about anything,” Gabby said. “I want to be able to fix my own car. I want to be able to change the oil by myself. I’ve really liked it here at school, because I’m learning the type of problem-solving skills that I’m going to need in life.”
 
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Posted on March 11, 2024


Meet LPS Focus Program Scholar: Anya, International Baccalaureate (IB)

Lincoln Public Schools Focus Programs are a customized high school experience rooted in connection and opportunities. 


LPS offers almost a dozen focus programs for our scholars, like Lincoln High School senior Anya, to choose their journeys. Anya learned about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Lincoln High when her family moved to Lincoln in 2019. Believing it would be a great stepping stone for college, she joined the program allowing her to explore her interests like music and math more in-depth. 

Read more about Anya’s IB experience in this Q&A as she is one of March’s featured Focus Program Scholars


Name: Anya

Home High School: Lincoln High School

Grade: 12

Focus Program: International Baccalaureate (IB) at Lincoln High 


Why did you choose the IB Focus Program?

I chose the IB Program because I wanted a challenging education with college preparation. 


What do you like most about the IB Focus Program?

What I liked most about the IB Program was the challenging, unique and interesting material, along with the skill-building and the helpful staff. We learn about real-world and current local and global situations.


What makes the IB Focus Program different?

The material, the smaller  – but not completely cut-off  –  community, and the emphasis on writing essays distinguish the IB Program.

How do you get to explore your passions or interests at the IB Program?

The IB courses dive deep into many different subject areas.  

I play the piano, so I joined the IB music class, which taught me about music all over the globe along with how to compose and analyze music effectively. There are other art classes such as IB art and IB theater. 

I also love mathematics, so I took the IB high-level math course, which allowed me to view math in another lens beyond just memorizing formulas. There are three IB math classes to choose from, along with multiple science courses. 


How has attending the IB Focus Program empowered you as a student?

The IB Program empowered me as a student by making me more confident in my academic and social ability by improving problem-solving skills, showing me what college life and organization may feel like, learning to improve my time management, articulating my thoughts, understanding epistemological thought and learning to write powerful essays. 


What are your relationships with other students and staff like at the IB Program?

My relationships with other students are fulfilling. There are students who are willing to help and/or collaborate with material.  


How has being a part of a LPS Focus Program added to your high school experience?

Everyone’s high school experience and goals are different. I wanted to learn about real-world ideas and problems, practice higher-level thinking and have a social community. The IB Program allowed me to meet these goals, as they are strongly encouraged. 


How has the IB Program prepared you for the future?

The IB Program prepared me for the future by showing me what college may look like. As difficult as the program was at times, I’m grateful that I overcame those challenges and acquired some skills now instead of my freshman year of college. That way when challenges appear in college, I am far more prepared. 


While the IB Program is very useful for college preparation, if a student decides that they don’t want to go to college after high school, they will be able to think in creative ways and have structure in their time.

  

Why are focus programs like the IB Focus Program important to high school students?

You can’t get these programs everywhere. It’s another opportunity for teenagers to improve their education and make them strong candidates for college. 


What is the greatest thing you’ve learned since attending the IB Focus Program? 

Some of the greatest things I’ve learned in the IB Program are learning to understand and synthesize cause and effect, absolutely broadening my perspective of the world that many grow up with, the causes of events in early human history and synthesizing and hypothesizing my own ideas. The IB history courses are very comprehensive. I wasn’t really a “history person” until I took pre-IB and IB history courses. 

Choose your passion. Choose your community. Choose your future with LPS Focus Programs. 

Learn more about the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Lincoln High by visiting its website at https://home.lps.org/ib/.

Don’t forget to also explore LPS Focus Programs by looking at upcoming events at home.lps.org/focus

Posted on March 08, 2024


LPS announces principal changes for the 2024-25 school year

Lincoln Public Schools announced several school principal changes for the 2024-2025 school year.

“We are proud to have such qualified leaders who put students and staff at the center of their mission,” said Sarah Salem, Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. “We know they will build upon the strengths and traditions already in place and will share their expertise and passion to help each school thrive.”

These position changes will start on July 1:

Culler Middle School

Current associate principal Daniel Church will be the next principal at Culler Middle School. Culler Middle School Principal Michaela Hahn announced in February that she will not be returning to Culler next school year as she pursues another career opportunity. 

Church joined Culler as a teacher in 2022 and was named associate principal last fall. He started his career in education in Colorado in 2008. Church was a teacher at Strive Preparatory Charter School until 2014 when he was named assistant principal. He also served as a dean of culture at Goldrick Elementary School in Denver for two years, and dean of culture and instruction at Omar D. Blair Charter School for two years after that. Church was also a principal at Ricardo Flores Magon Academy, and at KIPP Colorado at Sunshine Peak Academy until he moved back to Lincoln. 

Church earned his Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences degree from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership degree from Regis University.

Schoo Middle School

Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Vann Price announced on March 4 that current Schoo Middle School principal Ryan Escamilla will be the next Supervisor of Secondary Education and Director of Recruitment. 

Escamilla has served as Schoo’s principal since 2021. Prior to that he was an associate principal at Lincoln High School for four years. Escamilla was also a coordinator at Park Middle School from 2015-17, and a teacher at both Lefler and Pound middle schools from 2005-15. 

Escamilla has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, a master’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan, and a master’s degree from Concordia University.

Escamilla will start his new duties on July 1, and current Schoo associate principal Allysa Diehl will start her new duties as the next principal then.

Diehl started as a teacher at Schoo in 2009 before moving to the district position of middle school English Language Arts coordinator for one year in 2017. She returned to Schoo in 2018 as an instructional coordinator, and then assistant principal in 2021.

Diehl obtained her Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades Education from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln; and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and an Education Specialist degree all from Doane University.

Scott Middle School

Jesse Tvrdy has been selected to be the next principal at Scott Middle School. Mike Gillotti was named the next Associate Superintendent for Educational Services in February. 

Tvrdy comes to Scott from Council Bluffs, Iowa where she serves as the field director for Green Hills Area Education Agency. Prior to her role there, she was a principal at Ralston High School for six years. Tvrdy also served as principal at Kanesville Alternative Learning Center for three years, and assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for four years. Tvrdy was also an assistant principal at East High School in Des Moines, Iowa, and as a resident principal at Leadership High School in Oakland, California after completing urban school leadership training through New Leaders For New Schools at Boston University. Tvrdy began her educational career as a teacher in 2002 in Los Angeles. She also served in the US Armed Forces - Army from 1997-2003.

Tvrdy earned her Bachelor of Science in Education degree from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, a Master of Science in Education degree from Azusa Pacific University, and Master of Science in School Leadership degree from California State University.

Calvert Elementary School

Lynnelle Giddings will be the next principal at Calvert Elementary School. Calvert principal Jeff Brehm announced he was retiring at the end of the school year.

Giddings currently serves as a leader associate supporting Culler Middle School and Huntington Elementary School. She moved to Lincoln Public Schools last fall from Moorhead, Minnesota where she was an elementary principal since 2017. Prior to her principal role, Giddings was an assistant principal from 2014-2017 and elementary dean of students from 2011-2014. She began teaching in 2005. 

Giddings earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Sioux Falls, a Master of Arts degree from the University of South Dakota, and a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Fredstrom Elementary School

Brandi Luber will be the next principal at Fredstrom Elementary School. She currently serves as an instructional coordinator and eighth grade administrator at Lux Middle School. Prior to joining Lux in 2023, Luber was an instructional coach at Everett Elementary for two years. She began teaching at Pershing Elementary in 2016 before moving to Everett in 2021.

Luber earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Minor in Early Childhood degree from Northwest Missouri State University, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership degree from Doane University.

Hill Elementary School

Current Assistant Principal Emily Wiebeck will be the next principal at Hill. Wiebeck follows Amy Carnie who announced she was returning to a critical position as a school psychologist within LPS. 

Wiebeck has served as the Hill assistant principal since 2021. Prior to coming to Hill, she was at Clinton Elementary as a reading interventionist from 2020-2021, and a professional learning coach for the LPS Continuous Improvement and Professional Learning Department from 2019-2020. Wiebeck taught at Sheridan for four years, Roper for two years, and started at Elliott Elementary in 2012. 

Wiebeck earned her Bachelor of Education degree from Midland University, and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership both from Doane University.

Maxey Elementary School

Holly David currently serves as the assistant principal at McPhee Elementary School and has been named the next principal of Maxey Elementary. She follows Suzanne Reimers who announced her retirement earlier this year.

David has been the assistant principal at McPhee since 2021. Prior to that role, she was an instructional coordinator at Saratoga, a professional learning coach for the LPS Continuous Improvement and Professional Learning Department from 2019-2020 and an instructional technology coach from 2018-2019. She began teaching in 2014 at Lefler Middle School. David has also taught as an adjunct instructor at Doane University since 2020.

David earned a Bachelor of Elementary Education degree from University of Nebraska - Omaha, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Doane University.

Norwood Park Elementary School

Monique Ruiz has been the assistant principal at Clinton Elementary School since 2022. She will be the next principal at Norwood Park Elementary after the announcement by Pam Hale that she was retiring at the end of the year.

Prior to her time at Clinton, Ruiz was a teacher at McPhee from 2011-2022. 

Ruiz earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Doane University.

Sheridan Elementary School

Current Assistant Principal Ashley Sitzman has been named as the next principal at Sheridan Elementary. Principal Amy Clark was announced as the next Director of Continuous Improvement for LPS.

Sitzman has served as the assistant principal at Sheridan since 2018. Prior to her current role, she was a coordinator from 2017-2018, and began teaching at Sheridan in 2010.

Sitzman earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Finance, a Master of Arts emphasizing in Elementary Teaching degree, and Elementary Education Administrative Certification all from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Zeman Elementary School

Rudi Wolfe is currently the assistant principal at Elliott Elementary School, and next year she will be the principal at Zeman. Wolfe follows Rik Devney who is leaving LPS for a new position at Waverly Public Schools.

Prior to her role at Elliott, Wolfe served Lefler Middle School students as the Special Education coordinator from 2018-2022. Prior to working in Lincoln Public Schools, Wolfe was a teacher and behavior interventionist/coach in Jefferson City, Missouri, and a teacher at Omaha Westside. She has been in public education since 2008.

Wolfe earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education, a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership all from Doane University.

Salem added about all of the new principals, “Educational leadership is a special calling and we are honored that these individuals have decided to accept the call at Lincoln Public Schools.”

Posted on March 07, 2024


Ladd showcases important role of school social workers at LPS

Allen Ladd’s academic background may not be in structural engineering, but he is helping students at Lincoln Public Schools build bridges to positive futures.
 
Ladd is using his talent and experience to support many students at Bryan Community Focus Program. He has spent more than a decade in the social work profession, and he has been the site’s school social worker for the past four years. He said it was an honor to help students and families walk on successful academic, social and emotional pathways.
 
“I love everything about being a school social worker,” Ladd said. “It’s my passion. Having an opportunity to make a difference with kids and their families is really rewarding.”


 
Ladd and other LPS social workers are being recognized for their efforts during National School Social Work Week. The annual event is taking place March 3-9 across the country.
 
Bryan Principal Denise Craig said Ladd is a valuable member of the focus program’s team. She said his ability to make strong connections with everyone around him has led to many good outcomes at school.
 
“He’s awesome,” Craig said. “He contributes to a positive culture here with his work with staff and students. He builds relationships with kids even if he doesn’t work with them on a regular basis, which is really neat. He’s a supportive person for all of us.”
 
Craig said Ladd’s dedication to his profession has made a profound impact on many people. He has passed on his knowledge about mental health, social trauma and crisis intervention to his co-workers. That has helped Bryan teachers form their own durable bridges with students and families.
 
“I really appreciate how much of a positive presence he is at school,” Craig said. “He’s provided a lot of good information to people.”


 
Ladd moved to Lincoln with his family when he was ten years old and went to Elliott Elementary School and Dawes Middle School. He graduated from North Star High School in 2004 before earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Wayne State College. He later secured a master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America.
 
Ladd came to LPS with a wealth of social work knowledge. He helped families in areas such as foster care, housing services, homelessness outreach, teen parenting and restorative practices prior to joining Bryan’s staff.
 
Bryan Community Focus Program helps students meet requirements for their LPS high school diploma. Approximately 170 students are currently enrolled in classes. They apply to the focus program each year and take a wide variety of general and elective courses.
 
Ladd said he wants to take a personalized approach to his job. Some students may be facing economic hardships at home, while others may be needing to work on behavior management skills in the classroom. Family dynamics, health issues and educational needs are all factors Ladd considers during his meetings and conversations.
 
“It’s important to make sure we have the proper support systems in place for each student,” Ladd said. “That means getting to know the students and the families and coming up with solutions together. That’s a really critical part of the job.”


 
School social workers like Ladd offer many services to LPS students, teachers, families and community members. They are trained mental health professionals who help people with social, emotional, academic and safety needs.
 
School social workers support students in a variety of ways. They arrange counseling sessions, provide crisis intervention and help them learn social interaction skills such as conflict resolution. They develop alternative academic programs for students who have had attendance concerns, and they participate in special education assessment meetings.
 
Ladd provides Bryan teachers with important information that can explain why a student may be acting a certain way in class. He develops in-service training programs, assists teachers with behavior situations and offers direct support to staff.
 
School social workers like Ladd support families through group and individual counseling sessions. They help families find and access important school and community resources for special needs, mental health and social services. They help strengthen communication ties between families and schools, and they advocate for community programs to help parents and guardians.
 
School social workers also identify and report child abuse and neglect, consult with district personnel about legal issues and meet with social and mental health agencies.
 
Ladd said communication skills are imperative for school social workers. He said learning about other people’s stories is one of the primary ingredients in any recipe for success.
 
“The biggest thing is being that bridge between the community and school,” Ladd said. “When people can talk to each other, then positive things can happen.”

To learn more about LPS Social Workers, visit our website at https://home.lps.org/socialworkers.
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on March 07, 2024


John Skretta named LPS Associate Superintendent for Civic Engagement

Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Paul Gausman announced on Wednesday that John Skretta will be the next Associate Superintendent for Civic Engagement starting July 1. Skretta will follow John Neal, who announced his retirement in January. 

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Skretta back to Lincoln Public Schools,” said Gausman. “His demonstrated passion and dedication to serving all students in Nebraska fits within our mission, and Skretta’s vast experience and relationships that he has built across the state will greatly benefit LPS.”

Skretta currently serves as the Chief Administrator for Educational Service Unit 6, a role he has been in since 2019. Part of his duties as administrator include being a member of the ESU Coordinating Council Legal Committee, which focuses on legislative advocacy and coordination of activities of non-staff lobbyists.

Skretta returns to Lincoln Public Schools where he started as an English and reading teacher at Northeast High School in 1995. In 2000, he became an instructional coordinator at Northeast High School and then associate principal in 2001. Skretta left Northeast in 2004 to be the principal at Norris High School. In 2008, he was named associate superintendent for Norris Public Schools for two years before becoming superintendent. During Skretta’s nine years as superintendent at Norris, he provided leadership and practical guidance to the Norris Board of Education for all school district needs, including strategic planning and policy development. 

Skretta earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, a Master of Arts degree in English, a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration, and a Doctorate in Educational Administration degree, all from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. 

Skretta will officially begin his new duties at Lincoln Public Schools on July 1. 

Posted on March 06, 2024


Information on LB 1316 and LB 1241 and the potential impact on Lincoln Public Schools

Lincoln Public School Associate Superintendent for Business Affairs Liz Standish provided an informational update on proposed Nebraska Legislative Bills 1316 and 1241 during the regular Lincoln Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

During the 2023 legislative session, three bills were introduced on behalf of Governor Jim Pillen that created a school finance package. This package was carefully crafted in collaboration with educators and state senators from across Nebraska. Included in the package was a continued focus on local control - allowing locally elected school boards to make decisions based on their community’s feedback and input on priorities. 

During the 2023-2024 budget process, the Lincoln Board of Education adopted a 14 cent drop in the total levy from $1.21 to $1.07 per 100 of valuation in response to the new school finance package approved by the state.

Standish told the Board that the way LB1316 is currently written would have short and long-term implications on the LPS budget and operations. 

The short-term impact would be approximately a three percent revenue loss for the 2024-2025 school year based on state models, coupled with an increase in the cost of labor and inflation. The new three percent hard cap calculation does not include the additional Special Education reimbursement, and won’t be included until the 2024-2025 cap calculation. This would decrease the revenue to LPS approximately $14 million from $541,254,913 to $527,401,376.

In the long-term, Standish told the Board this reduction in revenue would result in LPS’s inability to recruit and retain a quality workforce during a nation-wide labor shortage. This would result in unfilled teaching positions, larger class sizes and classes taught by staff outside of their endorsement areas. It would also lead to even more unfilled support staff positions (paraeducators, transportation, custodial) that serve students and schools. This would make it difficult for the local Board of Education to add programming and services based on community identified priorities, and the school district would have a diminishing ability to address ongoing or new student needs because of program and service cuts due to the drop in revenue.

LPS prudently builds its annual budget using a three-year forecast to minimize the negative impact of volatile swings in revenue. A hard three percent cap on revenue growth would make it difficult for LPS to manage these drastic fluctuations. One example is in Lancaster County where residential property is reassessed on a rotating basis. In the year that property valuation increases it is a year that LPS has higher state aid. The following year when the valuation doesn’t grow at all, the state aid drops because the valuation increased the previous year. For the 2024-25 school year, LPS expects the State Equalization Aid to drop in excess of $30 million dollars. 

Standish also informed the Board that LB 1241 introduced to the Nebraska Legislature this year would provide zero growth for a school district property tax request and does not take into account the role of the equalization aid in the Nebraska school finance system. Nebraska State Senator Brad von Gillern who introduced the bill recognized during the hearing that his bill would need changes.  

The community can find the proposed legislation on the Unicameral’s website. Anyone wishing to learn more about the impact of the proposed legislation on Lincoln Public Schools can reach out to Standish’s office at (402)436-1635.

Posted on March 05, 2024


TeamMates of the Month: Jada and Doug

That’s what friends do

Like many boys his age, third-grade student Jada was interested in planets and dinosaurs. His TeamMates mentor Doug noticed something else about Jada right away.


“He’s good at solving problems. I noticed that early, in third or fourth grade, that he was good at thinking things through and solving things.”


Jada uses those problem-solving skills when they play chess, a game his dad introduced him to. He says Doug has taught him a lot about the game, but he would change one rule.


“A pawn should be able to move backwards!”


Doug laughs.


“Sometimes we have to remind each other which way the pieces can move!”


Both TeamMates mark two years as about the time that things really shifted to being a true friendship. Doug explains.


“I could tell he was telling me more things about his life and so I shared more too. When we are at the TeamMates Recognition Banquet, my wife will meet him and I think that’s great.”


Jada describes Doug as funny, respectful and smart.


“He’s funny. Ha ha funny. He tries to put a two on a ‘Draw 2’ when we play UNO and that’s not how it works.”


Doug admits he does “mess with” Jada at times to get a laugh out of him. 


“That’s what friends do.”


Jada also appreciates the experience that Doug brings to their friendship.


“When we have a problem or something we need to do, Doug knows some stuff.”


They still play games of course, and spend time outside, but they also talk about football and other subjects like friends do. And Doug is someone Jada can depend on.


“I never wondered if Doug would keep coming when I went to middle school. When I go to high school, I think he’ll follow me there too. If I moved out of Lincoln, maybe then he wouldn’t.”


Doug chuckles. “Yeah. That might be tricky.”


Sometimes, a mentor is a connector. Last year, Doug saw an opportunity for Jada to get a bike. 


“My son worked at a bicycle shop where they repair bikes and donate them. I told Jada about it and he went down there and got a bike and a helmet.”


Doug sees something in Jada’s future that Jada probably hasn’t thought about as a seventh grader.


“I can see Jada being the mentor some day. I can see that in him.” 

 

You can learn more about Lincoln TeamMates at https://lincolnteammates.org/.

 

 

Posted on March 05, 2024


LPS students reap benefits of school breakfast program

Lincoln Public Schools employees like Tekela Bedford are ensuring breakfast is the most important meal of the day for local students.
 
Bedford is one of many LPS staff members who are providing nutritious meals for children every morning. She is in her second year managing Everett Elementary School’s kitchen and builds positive relationships with students in the breakfast line. She said it was fulfilling to help students get off to a good start academically, socially and emotionally at school.
 
“It’s amazing to see them each day,” Bedford said. “I always tell them that the first meal of the day is huge because it gets you moving. Food fuels your brain, and if you eat breakfast you’ll be able to do better in class.”
 
LPS Director of Nutrition Services Andrew Ashelford said scenes like the ones at Everett are playing out at every district school. LPS employees are serving an average of 9,000 breakfast meals each morning this year. That is a significant increase from the 2022-23 school year, which had a daily average of 8,300 breakfasts.
 
“It’s pretty awesome to see that number rise like that,” Ashelford said. “It means a lot of students are taking advantage of getting a good meal at the start of the day.”
 
LPS Nutrition Services employees are highlighting the benefits of breakfast March 4-8 during National School Breakfast Week. The district is celebrating the week by serving the top five breakfast entrees based on individual product sales.
 
Students will have mini maple waffles on March 4 and mini strawberry bagels, pancake sausage on a stick and honey buns the next three days. The most-popular product from this year – chocolate chip oatmeal bars – will be served on March 8.
 
Ashelford said National School Breakfast Week is a good time to emphasize the importance of the meal for everyone in grades K-12. All LPS sites offer breakfast every school day.
 
“There’s a lot of evidence out there about how much breakfast benefits students,” Ashelford said. “It’s pretty compelling stuff. It really shows that having breakfast makes a big difference for students.”
 
A 2013 report from the National Library of Medicine showed “suggestive evidence” that school breakfast programs have a positive effect on children’s academic performance. The report said students who regularly eat breakfast have 20-60 percent more vitamins such as iron, vitamin D, folate, riboflavin and niacin than those who do not have breakfast.
 
The report listed multiple studies that found students who ate breakfast displayed increased memory, attention span and on-task behavior. There was also more class participation in both elementary and middle schools from students who had school breakfast.
 
A separate study from the No Kid Hungry Center yielded similar results. It found that students who ate school breakfast had higher scores on standardized math tests and better attendance rates.
 
Bedford said it has been exciting to watch those positive impacts play out at Everett this fall and winter. The school is averaging 300 students in the breakfast line each morning. That has risen from an average of 250 last year. Each meal includes milk, fruits and grains and options of warm and cold entrees.
 
“It’s gone up a lot from last year,” Bedford said. “The word’s definitely getting out about breakfast.”
 
Bedford and fellow food service workers Luisa Talavera and Ann Middagh were in Everett’s kitchen one morning as students filed in. They picked up a carton of milk before choosing either cereal or a breakfast pizza bagel. They also took containers of juicy pear slices before heading to the cafeteria.
 
Bedford asked students how their morning was going, gave encouraging words to them and provided a full menu of compliments. She hoped those breakfast conversations would boost their confidence throughout the day.
 
“I love them,” Bedford said. “I know them all. I want to make sure they always start the day with someone smiling at them.”
 
LPS began implementing breakfast service in the early 1990s. Ashelford said those morning meal efforts have been a vital component in the fight against food insecurity.
 
United States Department of Agriculture officials define food insecurity as lacking consistent and reliable access to enough food to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Statistics from Food Bank of Lincoln show that nearly 50,000 people in southeast Nebraska are currently food insecure. That total includes nearly 15,000 children.
 
“Our breakfast program is really important when you talk about food insecurity,” Ashelford said. “There are a lot of families who benefit from this service.”
 
LPS families can use the MealViewer tool to see current information about their local school’s breakfast each day. The online tool is available through the What’s 4 Lunch quick link on the nutrition services menu page.
 
Ashelford said he hopes to see breakfast participation continue to grow in future weeks, months and years at LPS.
 
“We want to continue to spread the message about breakfast,” Ashelford said. “We have a good, nutritious program at LPS, and we want as many people as possible to be aware of that.”
 
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Posted on March 04, 2024


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