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Blended Learning Basics NCSA Honors Retirees Nebraska Council of School Administrators

Summer 2015


2 Blended Learning Basics BY DAWN FERREYRA


8 Retirements

Chair . . . . . . . . . . . .Dr. Mike Teahon Vice Chair . . . . . . . . . .Brian Tonniges Immed. Past Chair . . .Dr. Chris Stogdill


NASA Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mike Apple President-Elect . . . . . . .Kyle McGowen Past President . . . . . .Dr. Mike Teahon

EHA Wellness—A Healthy Staff Makes for a Healthy School BY LINDA KENEDY and HOWIE HALPRIN


NCSA to Hold Charity Walk for the Team Jack Foundation


It’s an Amazing Time to be in Special Education BY SALLY GIITTINGER


Statewide Systems Thinking: Student Learning BY DAVID M. LUDWIG


EHA Inflation Again Below National Average! BY GREG LONG


NAESP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rod Engel President-Elect . . . . . . .Mark Johnson Past President . . . . . . . .Mike Janssen

AQuESTT Systems of Support BY DR. DEAN FOLKERS


NASBO Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rick Haney President-Elect . . . . . . .Jeff Schneider Past President . . . . . . .Kelli Ackerman


NASES Representatives President . . . . . . . . . .Sally Giittinger President-Elect . . Wendy Kemling-Horner Past President . . . . . .Dr. Brenda Tracy NSASSP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . .Ryan Ricenbaw President-Elect . . . . . . . . . .Troy Lurz Past President . . . . . . .Brian Tonniges NARSA Representative President . . . . . . . . . .Dr. Larry Sweley NCSA STAFF

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Calendar of Events and National Convention Dates 2015 Administrators’ Days

Dr. Michael S. Dulaney Executive Director/Lobbyist Dr. Dan E. Ernst Associate Executive Director/Lobbyist Megan Hillabrand Event Coordinator Amy Poggenklass Finance and Membership Director Carol Young Executive Administrative Assistant

NCSA Mission

Michelle Smith Administrative Assistant

The mission of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA) is to be an effective leader for quality education and to enhance the professionalism of its members.

Dr. Virginia Moon Consultant, Lobbyist

NCSA Today is a benefit of membership in the Nebraska Council of School Administrators, 455 South 11th Street, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68508. Telephone 402.476.8055 or 800.793.6272. Fax 402.476.7740. Annual membership dues are $335 (active members), $125 (associate members), or $40 (student members). NCSA Today is published quarterly. Send address changes to NCSA, Membership, 455 South 11th Street, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68508. Copyright ©2015 by NCSA. All rights reserved.

The opinions expressed in NCSA Today or by its authors do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. SUMMER 2015 NCSA TODAY 1


Blended Learning Basics BY DAWN FERREYRA, eLearning and Distance Education Supervisor, Omaha Public Schools and Educational Service Unit #19



lended Learning, the blending of online and in-class instruction, is a much-discussed instructional model with great promise. When implemented well, blended learning has shown to have a greater impact on student achievement than traditional classroom instruction (Means et al., 2010; Schulte, 2011). Blended learning teachers also report that students are more engaged in their learning with fewer absences. But what exactly is blended learning? The Clayton Christensen Institute defines blended learning as a “a formal education program in which a student learns: (1) at least in part through online learning with some element of control over time, place, path, and/or pace; (2) at least in part in a supervised brickand-mortar location away from home; (3) and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience” (Christensen, 2014). In simpler terms, blended learning is a mix of internet-based and face-toface teaching that allows the learner to have a personalized, teacher-directed learning experience through enhanced choice, customization, and communication. Choice Choice, whether it is time, place, or path, is the key to blended learning. Time and place limitations are no longer a factor in the blended learning classroom. Because instruction is delivered online as well as within the traditional classroom walls, students, using internet access, have access to instruction at any time of the day or night—anywhere they want. Learning can happen beyond the bell, with students reviewing modeled lessons, researching and investigating, discussing, and submitting work. Be it snow day or sick day, learning can continue with little interruption. Often in a blended learning environment, students are given choice in activity or lesson selection. Learning does not need to be linear; rather students are presented with several options and may choose the path they take throughout the lesson or unit. While planning for this type of differentiation is time intensive, teachers find that the right technology tools allows them to save time in the long run.

Customization Students working in a blended learning environment may also have flexibility in their learning path. Teachers can quickly and easily customize learning by differentiating for learning level, style, and/or interest. Carol Tomlinson states that differentiation is the teacher’s response to the learner’s needs (2008). The use of online tools allows teachers to instantly assess and track student progress through online checks for understanding and leveled learning activities, and then customize learning progressions that can assist in remediation or acceleration. Customization still happens in the traditional classroom environment, yet it can be enhanced through online differentiation strategies. Teachers can direct the learning path, or the teacher can rely on computerized programs that assess student learning and recommend learning progressions. The goal is for all students to receive a personalized instructional plan that focuses on increasing student achievement and mastery of standards. Communication The blended learning classroom is dependent upon teacher-student communication, including timely instructional feedback—the instructional strategy that shows the greatest impact on student achievement. Teachers must regularly interact with students both in the face-to-face environment and online in order to increase student success and engagement. Blended Learning is often seen as just adding technology to the classroom. More technology does not equate increased achievement, and, while technology should be present in every 21st Century classroom, all too often it becomes a tool for productivity rather than driving innovative teaching and learning strategies. True blended learning focuses on student needs and leverages the available technology to create a relevant engaging classroom. Blended learning bridges the gap between pedagogy and technology. What It Isn’t Technology Rich Classrooms (TRCs) are sometimes mistaken for blended learning classrooms. In a technol(continued on next page)


ED UCATIO N TRENDS Blended Learning Basics…(continued) ogy rich classroom, the teacher has several technology tools to choose from when delivering instruction. It might be the use of an interactive whiteboard or document camera for lesson delivery, a list of websites for students to use during centers, or a digital dropbox for student work. There are so many tools being used in a TRC, so why isn’t it considered blended learning? A blended learning classroom must have the three C’s: choice, customization, and communication— which are not present in a technology rich classroom. Though technology is being used in many different ways, the teacher is maintaining sole control over its use. It is the teacher who delivers the lessons using the interactive whiteboard (hopefully with some engagement with students), the teacher who determines which websites to use, and the teacher who controls the dropbox for student work. Students have little say in the digital environment or the selection of tools. Little space is created for choice, and, because the teacher is in control of the technology, there is also little room for customization. All students get the same, and while the materials may be differentiated for student reading or skill level, materials aren’t customized for learning style, modality, pace, or learning path. Technology rich classrooms make up the majority of the classrooms in the United States. Technology is used in these classrooms at very specific times- teachers use tech tools throughout direct instruction, and students are directed to technology activities during independent work times. When technology is incorporated into projects, the tools are taught directly with specific outcomes- such as create a PowerPoint about your topic. Teachers in TRCs are often experts in their content area who have substituted traditional classroom tools for technology-based tools. While some teachers are comfortable staying in a TRC and are unwilling to change their teaching environment, many teachers are ready to move beyond the tools and look at new ways to engage students in learning- that is where blended learning comes in. Moving Beyond Technology Rich To successfully implement blended learning, you must first decide on technology systems that will support your online environment. Many schools select a learning management system as the online classroom space in which students and teachers interact. A learning management system or LMS is a software application designed to deliver online courses. A strong LMS allows a school district to create, distribute, and implement standardsbased, asynchronous instruction to provide guaranteed learning experiences for students in non-traditional or blended learning environments. In addition to a learning management system, schools may

choose to use Google or Microsoft classroom tools, teacher-created websites, or social tools such as Edmodo or Collaborize Classroom. Online tools such as Blendspace or EDpuzzle can also assist in building a blended learning space. It is important to select the right tool for your building’s needs as the technology selected will determine how teaching and learning will impact students. The chosen online system should be flexible to work with any device, any learning object (documents, videos, presentations, etc), and easy enough for both teachers and students to use that it will become an essential part of the classroom. Students do not need one-to-one technologies, but they do need access to online resources for some portion of their learning. Choosing a learning model for blended learning implementation is vital. Four models are typically used when describing blended learning: Rotation, Flex, A La Carte, and Enriched Virtual. The rotation model is most used when teachers begin blending. Classrooms with a few computers or laptops can easily implement a rotation model in which students move from station to station (teacher station, computer station, independent or small group work station). Teachers may also decide to flip their learning so students are accessing teaching videos at home, or work in a lab rotation in which some of the learning happens in a traditional classroom, and then students move to a computer lab for their online learning station. Whatever the model, it is essential that clear procedures are in place and students are familiar with all classroom routines that support the blended learning model. Teachers must be ready to teach in a blended learning environment, as it takes time to prepare or find digital content and create engaging learning paths. Teachers are managing both a physical and digital classroom, so professional development is essential. Understanding how to structure learning opportunities, how to assess and monitor student progress, and how to talk with families about a blended classroom are all important topics to cover before beginning. Administrators must also consider teacher evaluation, the costs of technology and professional support, and how effectiveness will be evaluated. Blended learning may not be right for all teachers, so having a strong implementation plan is essential for success. The path to blended learning can be especially rewarding for both students and teachers. Nebraska’s Educational Service Units support the Nebraska BlendEd initiative, and can assist with blended learning planning and implementation. iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, and the Clayton Christensen Institute are both expert sources for research and blended learning models, and you can find a wealth of resources at that will help you start your blended learning journey. n



EHA Wellness—A Healthy Staff Makes for a Healthy School BY LINDA KENEDY and HOWIE HALPRIN, EHA Wellness Coordinators




ow are you? Depending on the day, you may hear that question multiple times. And the answer given is generally, “I’m doing pretty well, how about you?” For as many times as we exchange this information, we probably don’t stop to think about how we really are doing…and if we should be doing something different in regard to our health. Being well is a relative term—it can mean anything from not being sick to eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Sometimes we’re also not exactly sure how to go from “doing pretty well” to “doing very well” which is where the EHA Wellness Program can help. Over 240 EHA schools and groups are currently participating in the EHA Wellness Program in an effort to help their employees lead healthier lifestyles. The program, which just completed its fourth school year of programming, encourages educators to learn more about taking care of themselves and make changes through easy to access online challenges, health assessments and screening opportunities. There are currently over 40,000 educators across the state who have access to this program. One EHA group, ESU 8 in Neligh, has experienced positive changes in their staff and culture by encouraging consistent participation in the EHA Wellness Program. ESU 8 Assistant Administrator Jill Bates affirms that EHA wellness programs encourage employees to think about their health behaviors. Jill states, “Employees report an increased awareness of personal sleep habits, exercise, and food choices—and our staff really enjoys the incentive gifts that reinforce the month-long programs.” Because of the EHA wellness programs, employees at their four Learning Centers reinforce daily exercise practices with their Level III students and participate in the annual Blue Cross/Blue Shield Walk at Lunch Day. In addition, annual absenteeism decreased significantly and 30 employees used fewer sick leave days during the 201415 school year. ESU 8 is one of 45 EHA groups who have earned the Governor’s Excellence in Wellness Award due to their dedication to staff wellness and engagement of employees. Participation is key to encouraging employees to adopt healthy behaviors and ESU 8 consistently has over 70


percent of their staff participate in the challenges and almost 80 percent completed their annual health assessment this past school year. A staff wellness program not only helps improve the health of the individual employees, but it can also impact the culture of your buildings. For example, after participating in the wellness program for a year, one school principal now brings fruit and bagels to morning meetings instead of donuts. Other EHA groups have found that less junk food is brought in to share with other staff. Additionally, since the program addresses all areas of wellness, staff participating in programs such as Attitude of Gratitude or Laughter, the Best Medicine are finding themselves sharing jokes with each other and being more grateful for those around them—which all adds up to increased morale and a positive environment. Additionally, some groups choose to add their own challenges throughout the year—from encouraging employees to add extra activity in the winter to giving time to others through volunteer activities in their communities. An extra bonus of a staff wellness program for educators is that, when teachers are working on their own health habits, they are most likely sharing those experiences with their students. One classroom teacher incorporated nutrition into a math lesson on fractions by showing elementary students how much of their plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Another teacher had her class set out on the Mission to Mars challenge with her so they could encourage each other to eat healthy, sleep well and exercise to add up miles to land on Mars—along with a few fun activities added in about planets. The EHA Wellness Program is provided as a benefit for all EHA groups and their employees. The Personal Health Assessment, offered to each employee one time each school year, provides an excellent report of overall health status and each participant receives a $25 VISA gift card. The online challenges kick off in October each school year. In October, the 2015 school year will start with Snack Attack which will encourage you to enjoy healthy snacks; in December, you’ll be reminded to choose water as the Perfect Beverage. February kicks off with (continued on next page)


NCSA to Hold Charity Walk for the Team Jack Foundation


CSA will be hosting Administrators in Action, a charity walk during Administrators’ Days to benefit The Team Jack Foundation. On Thursday, July 30, each participant who walks will have $25 donated to The Team Jack Foundation by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska. The Team Jack Foundation was formed out of a grassroots movement which started in Atkinson, Nebraska. The predecessors to the Team Jack Foundation were the family and friends of Jack Hoffman. The Team Jack Foundation raises money to fund impactful pediatric brain cancer research and works to create national awareness for the disease. Through working collaboratively with families impacted by pediatric brain tumors, and other childhood cancer foundations, Team Jack’s involvement in the pediatric brain cancer fight is causing a worldwide ripple effect. Team Jack squeezes as much impact out of every dollar raised as possible. Impact now, not tomorrow. Team Jack’s objective is to fund research at the top research centers in the world—fast. Outside review is essential for maintaining the highest standards of excellence. The Team Jack Foundation is fortunate to have a Scientific Advisory Board that serves this role. The Board is comprised of distinguished physicians, each nationally and internationally recognized for excellence in his or her field of research. The sole responsibility of this Board is to solicit, review, and select research projects to receive grant funding directly from the Foundation.

To date, the Foundation has committed $2.6 million to pediatric brain cancer research. These projects include: • $275,000 investment in laboratory research in January 2013 at world renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School. • $300,000 commitment to a national clinical trial in October 2013. • $500,000 commitment for the development of a revolutionary neurosurgical instrument—a flexible handheld tool that will help neurosurgeons see into the deepest, darkest recesses of the brain. • $25,000 commitment to University of California, San Francisco to help fund medulloblastoma research. • $1,500,000 commitment to Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Society, University of Nebraska Medical Center, for the development of a pediatric brain tumor program which will include recruitment of a pediatric neuro-oncologist. Project approved in May 2015 by Nebraska State Legislature for additional $1.5 million for a total project grant of $3 million. For additional information about Administrators in Action on Thursday, July 30, and to register, visit n

EHA Wellness – A Healthy Staff Makes for a Healthy School… (continued from page 4) Supremely Happy when all you have to do is engage in something that makes you happy each day. April’s fitness challenge is Le Tour de France—a virtual race to Paris, June ‘s program will encourage you to Brighten Your Smile, and in August you’ll be challenged to get five servings of fruits and vegetables in along with limiting processed foods. Incentives for participating are also included and can also provide ways to encourage staff to participate together. Last October, during the Soup of the Day challenge, staff at several EHA groups brought healthy soup to share with each other while using their reusable soup mug they earned from participating in the program to enjoy the soup. The benefits to your staff from participating in the EHA Wellness Program are endless. ESU 8 paraeducator Jolene Brummels states that participation in the EHA wellness programs causes her to purposefully choose healthier food options and reports

losing ten pounds. An increased awareness of exercise and the steps she takes are also a result of EHA wellness program participation. Jolene said, “I don’t just jump in the pickup or on the four-wheeler when doing chores on the farm anymore. Now I walk whenever I can. Joining an EHA wellness program is like a ‘mental note’ that keeps me on track to live a healthier lifestyle.” If your school or group isn’t currently participating in the EHA Wellness Program, this may be the time to get started. If your group is participating, but you personally haven’t signed up for one of the challenges, make this your year to make some changes. And, the next time someone asks you in the hallway, “How are you?” you can honestly answer back, “I’m doing VERY well…thanks to the EHA Wellness Program!” n



It’s an Amazing Time to be in Special Education BY SALLY GIITTINGER, NASES President


his is an amazing time to be in special education,” said Dr. Melody Musgrove, Director of the Federal Office of Special Education Programs, Washington, DC. As I sat down to write this article during the summer, I reflected over last school year and my term as NASES president. Dr. Musgrove’s quote is spot-on. It truly was an amazing year as we had the honor of having her in Nebraska to speak at our annual legislative conference in Giittinger Lincoln. Dr. Musgrove started her presentation, Leadership for Improving Results, with this, “I’m a teacher. I’m an administrator. We have shared classroom and administrative experiences.” She immediately found common ground with those of us in the field taking on the daily challenges. What she didn’t say is that she is a special education teacher or special education administrator. She spent the morning with us giving us updates from the federal level, information regarding expectations and improving results for students with disabilities. But in order to do this, we have to continue to think of students with disabilities as “our” students—not just special education but the responsibility of all teachers and administrators. As Administrator of the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Visually Impaired (NCECBVI), I travel the state and meet many students, teachers of the visually impaired, administrators, and parents. We are proud to serve as partners with many local teams who are truly embracing the student and including them in numerous ways to promote success. During the last school year, NCECBVI and Nebraska City Lourdes Central Catholic High School formed a partnership. Laura Barrett with Dr. Melody Musgrove Their high school students 6 NCSA TODAY SUMMER 2015

come to NCECBVI monthly to complete activities with our students. Every visit brings awesome stories of inclusion, success, and new friendships. This has been a win-win for both schools, and the students and educators. From this partnership came two experiences which carried a strong impact on many. One of our students, Emily, was invited to sing the National Anthem at a Lourdes basketball game. She also had a music lesson from Lesley Gould, Lourdes music teacher. When the performance time approached, I asked Emily if Ms. Gould had any tips for her. “Nope. She just said I was awesome.” One of our staff members did tell me that Ms. Gould recommended that Emily not start on too high of a note on the anthem as it only goes higher. As Emily took the microphone on the gym floor in front of a large audience, she started singing. She quickly stopped, lowered her head and her voice, and started over. Obviously, Ms. Gould’s advice paid off as she belted the anthem and sang it with great confidence and strength. At the same basketball game, another one of our stu(continued on next page)

AF F IL IATE LEADERS HIP It’s an Amazing Time to be in Special Education…(continued from page 6) dents, Eli, was asked to join the boys on the bench to provide support for the team. The Lourdes coaches and students included Eli and explained what was happening during each play. From across the gym, we could see a big smile as Lourdes went on to win. After the game, the boys gathered around Eli for a photo shoot and many high fives. That was one of those nights when you sit back as an educator and know what you teach in the classroom is very important, but those lessons learned outside the classroom are just as important. Not only for the student with disabilities, but the other students and adults involved. That night an entire gym of parents, teachers, students and community members observed something exceptional. I realized it was an amazing time to be in special education. There are undoubtedly numerous stories similar to these across Nebraska. But I do have to recognize another school and community for making a difference in one young man’s life. Many in the NASES organization knew Jackson Murphy. Jackson was often seen at NASES events in Kearney with his Aunt Jane Moody. Over the years, we observed Jackson in many activities with Kearney Public Schools. All of the students and staff members provided countless amazing moments for him and his fam-

ily. Jackson passed away in March at the age of 16. The Kearney wrestling coaches, team members, and students from Kearney and surrounding area school districts all came together to pay tribute to their friend. Of course, the services are touching and remarkable at any young person’s funeral. Jackson’s was no exception. But what I want to point out is the tributes, actions, friendships, inclusion, and genuine love that were given to this student while he was living. Again, Jackson’s education with special and general educators was quality. But the life lessons taught to Jackson by this community as well as the lessons Jackson taught others goes way beyond textbook material and special education. Kudos and thank you goes to Kearney Public Schools, their coaches, staff members, students and community for making Jackson “our” student. Again, this experience reminded me that this is an amazing time to be in the world of education. As we venture into another school year, regardless of your title or role, know that your daily actions lead to those exceptional moments like these shared. As Dr. Musgrove also said, “it’s about ALL teachers and ALL kids, and the mature definition of fair is when everybody gets what they need.” So here is to another successful year in this amazing time. n



NCSA Honors Retirees


ach year NCSA is sad to lose but happy to congratulate those educators who are leaving the profession due to their longdeserved retirement. We are honored to share with you a glimpse of their future plans or just a bit of advice that only those who have worked with children and parents for so long can give!

Randy Anderson Superintendent Crofton-Hartington-Newcastle Schools During my thirty-six years as a superintendent, I never once regretted my decision to become a school leader. I enjoyed going to work each and every day of my career, and I know how deeply I will miss my staff, students, and colleagues. My advice to newly aspiring administrators: Be a good listener. Make decisions based on fact. Keep your Board of Education well informed. As I enter this new phase of my life’s journey, I am so grateful for the friends I have made and the memories that I shall carry with me always. “It has been a wonderful journey!” Ken Babcock Director of Employee Relations Lincoln Public Schools As you accomplish the myriad of vital tasks for your school district, always remember that your family and faith must top your priority list.

Ted Classen Superintendent Creek Valley Public Schools Don’t ever underestimate the impact you are having on your staff, and the students in your school!


Mike Davis Superintendent Sterling Public Schools I am retiring again after 38 total years in education. I have been superintendent of Sterling Public Schools for the past two years, Anselmo-Merna Public School for three years, and Hyannis Area Schools for six years. I was the Ag teacher and FFA Advisor at Chappell (now Creek Valley) for 27 years. My wife Glenda and I reside in Lincoln. We have five children and fourteen grandkids! We plan to travel and attend the grandkid’s events. Rich Einspahr Superintendent Elwood Public Schools It has been a fun ride. Thanks to all for their support and to the NCSA for all it has done for all administrators.

Deb Harder Elementary Teaching & Learning Director Grand Island Public Schools “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams.

Frank Hebenstreit Director of Special Education Norfolk Public Schools Education is such a valuable, a challenging, and a rewarding career. Very few careers offer so much opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others – students and adults. Throughout my career I have valued the support, the knowledge, and mostly – the fellowship of my fellow SPED Administrators through NASES – and all of NCSA, as we strive to make lives better for students. Fred Helmink Superintendent Fairbury Public Schools I have been blessed to be associated with great stu-dents, staff, teachers and principals during my career as a school administrator. I also enjoy and value the many personal relationships I have with NCSA staff and other administrators across the state. It has been a privilege! Ted Hillman Superintendent Ewing/Lynch Public Schools Three things in life really matter, 1st is to be Kind; 2nd to BE Kind; 3rd To Be Kind. Over 45 years…. Many to thank – starts with confidant #1 Mrs. Hillman and includes many more, many more indeed. To all, Thank You. As for retirement, it starts with being bittersweet, will take it from there.

RETIREMENT Kevin Johnson Superintendent Yutan Public Schools Twenty-five years ago, I was told that to survive as a superintendent in a district, make sure to take care of the 3-Bs (buses, buildings, and budgets). I would say that has changed to the 3-Ps (preschoolers, parents, and politics). Pat Larsen 7-12 Principal/Athletic Director Fullerton Public Schools Having a dad as a superintendent, I knew what I was getting into and I would do it all over again! I will certainly miss the friends and colleagues in our profession and most of all the daily interaction with students. Good luck to all of you and keep up the good work! Mary Lieske Elementary Principal/K-12 Special Education Director Minden Public Schools I would like to thank NCSA and all of my Region IV colleagues, as well as my colleagues at Minden Public Schools for your support and the opportunity to network with those that have similar goals for children and education! I am going to miss the humor, sincerity, genuine love, and all of the hugs that you experience with elementary children! However, I felt that it was time to give up the late nights and the mounds of paperwork! I am looking forward to spending extra time with my grandchildren, sleeping in, and traveling with my husband. My advice to new administrators is to remember that “Wherever you go and whatever you do…leave it better than you found it!” Enjoy the journey!

Dr. Mike Moody Superintendent Friend Public Schools To my fellow educators: Thanks for the support, the camaraderie, the laughs, the patience, and the understanding. Keep the faith and fight the good fight— we’ve had a great run. Merrell Nelsen Superintendent Gordon-Rushville Schools A sincere thank you to my friends and colleagues for your assistance over the years. I thank you for continuing to care for our children moving forward.

JoEllen Nugent Principal, Dakota Elementary South Sioux City Community Schools What a joy to be a part of the Nebraska educational system!

Pat Osmond Superintendent Callaway Public Schools I have had a terrific 41-year career as a teacher and administrator in both public and private schools in Nebraska. When I became an administrator 37 years ago, I also joined NCSA. If I could give only one piece of advice to an aspiring administrator, it would be to become an active member of NCSA. The professional development opportunities are outstanding, the leadership is second to none, and you will be a part of one of the most respected educational organizations in the State!

Joe Peitzmeier Superintendent Oakland Craig Public Schools I am grateful for the mentors and supportive people that I have worked with and for the past 37 years. Thanks to NCSA for all you do. I will sincerely miss the camaraderie with colleagues! Thanks. Dr. Dennis Pool Assistant Superintendent of General Finance & Administration Omaha Public Schools To serve with you in Public Education these past fortyfive years has been an honor. What we have done for our students has been invaluable to them personally and in their lives…in many cases, their children’s lives. My goal of working in Education is not done. Retirement from the Omaha Public Schools was only the next step. I continue to dream about what can be done for the education of Nebraska’s children. How that dream will evolve is still in front of me. Best regards. Russ Reckewey Principal, Kahoa Elementary Lincoln Public Schools

Nick Schafer Superintendent Morrill Public Schools Please accept my sincere gratitude for the help and support I have received from many of you. Your expertise and professionalism has made my tour at Morrill not only a great learning experience but also an enjoyable one. I will always have fond memories of NCSA. It is truly an excellent organization, and one that offers support and hope for its members. My goal is to sell my farm in near Morrill and relocate to Cody, WY, the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Anyone traveling that way will always be welcome at the Schafer home.


RETIREMENT Barry Stark (retired December 2014) Principal University of Nebraska High School Not a better profession to be a part of. Read a great quote several years ago about decision-making. As leaders, we ARE defined by the decisions we make. When one bites you in the ***, the way you respond to it either makes or breaks you! Enjoy the ride!! Kevin Thomas Superintendent Potter-Dix Public Schools The years have gone by quickly. I have enjoyed the collegiality. Dwaine Uttecht Superintendent Ravenna Public Schools Always make decisions based on what is best for the kids.

Jack Waite Secondary Principal Deshler Public School In the past 38 years, there have always been colleagues, teachers, students and parents who have made being a teacher and a principal a truly enjoyable experience. To all of these I wish to express my most sincere gratitude.

Brad Wentzlaff Principal, Lincoln Elementary Grand Island Public Schools In the blink of an eye, it was just 36 years ago when I began my career teaching at Conestoga Public Schools for four years. Then it was off to Grand Island where I taught six more years in the elementary setting. For the past 26 years, I have had the privilege of being a principal for Grand Island Public Schools. I consider it an honor and blessing to have spent a lifetime guiding children along their educational pathways. Dr. Mike Wortman Principal, Lincoln High School Lincoln Public Schools To have been a high school principal for 40 years and at Lincoln High for the past 20 of those years, I can only say what Yankee Lou Gehrig said. “I consider myself the luckiest person on the face of the earth.”

Pat Zeimet Principal Tara Heights Elementary School Papillion-La Vista Public Schools As I reflect on my 37 years in education, as a teacher and the last 25 as an administrator, I will always value the relationships with colleagues, staff, students and families that I have had the opportunity to meet and work with. I truly value the memories of each. It has been a privilege and I wish you the best.

Please note: The NCSA staff made every effort to include all those individuals who responded to our request for information on retirements.

Vic Young Principal Wilcox-Hildreth Public School Be proud of what you do for kids each day. Being an administrator is a difficult job but Nebraska adminis-trators always “step up to the plate” and deliver for their students, schools and communities. I am proud to have been a member of NCSA during my tenure and appreciate all of the support NCSA and my colleagues have given me. Best of luck to all administrators as you continue to serve Nebraska students.

Not pictured, but also retiring: Dr. Wendy Bonaiuto; Principal, Randolph Elementary; Lincoln Public Schools Sandi Carrington-Robertson; Principal, Calvert Elementary; Lincoln Public Schools Steve Dennis; Superintendent; Wilcox-Hildreth Public Schools Mimi Goings; Director of Human Resources; Papillion-LaVista Public Schools Clint Kimbrough; Superintendent; HTRS Public Schools Marcia Kratke; Business Manager; Wakefield Public Schools Dr. Bess Scott; Director of Continuous Improvement & Professional Learning; Lincoln Public Schools Dan Van Dyke; Superintendent; Mullen Public Schools Dianne Young; Student Services Director; Ralston Public Schools



AQuESTT Systems of Support BY DR. DEAN FOLKERS, NDE Senior Administrator



t the recent AQuESTT (Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow) emPOWERED by Data conference, Nebraska’s next-generation accountability system was unveiled to an audience of nearly 800 educators. The focus of AQuESTT is where it matters most – with every student, every day. By integrating components of accountability, assessment, accreditation, career education, and data into a system of school improvement and support, we build a broader, bolder, and better education system for all Nebraska students. AQuESTT Systems of Support are being designed to provide Nebraska educators with easy-to-access information to support continuous improvement for every child, and every school. They are both systemic and sustainable. They are rooted in what Commissioner Blomstedt often refers to as “the things that we get to do” in support of schools. AQuESTT Systems of Support are being implemented in accordance with the recommendations identified in the Nebraska Education Data Systems Legislative Study developed in response to LR 264. The specific recommendations of the study (see the Fall 2014 issue of NCSA Today) include three primary themes: reduce burden through efficiencies, and increase data efficacy all while enhancing the privacy and security of education records. The following are brief descriptions of several AQuESTT Systems of Support either currently available to Nebraska educators, or will be made so in the coming weeks.

ADVISER Data Dashboard The ADVISER data dashboard project has required a monumental, statewide effort to coordinate disThe ubiquitous nature of parate data sources to data has infiltrated many provide educators with parts of our lives. From the a near real-time display of key performance infrequent user club card dicators and metrics for that promises discounts, to student learning. Taronline shopping sites that geting teachers and administrators as the provide recommendations primary users, the ADfor purchase, data VISER data dashboard includes an early warnpermeates our personal ing system indicating and professional lives. In students most at risk of many ways, education data dropping out, as well as an intervention catalog is no exception. that allows educators to

recommend strategies for supporting the student. Nine pilot districts started the development journey with ADVISER and are poised to implement ADVISER in their schools this fall. The data dashboard project was funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. For more information about ADVISER, please see the Nebraska Department of Education website. ADVISER Early Adopter Program (EAP) Nearly 40 school districts, along with their respective ESU, have volunteered to join the ADVISER data dashboard via the Early Adopter Program (EAP) this coming year. As part of the EAP, school districts will test and refine the tools and resources created to support implementation of ADVISER statewide. EAP districts will gain access to the system during the 2015-16 school year. The EAP process is intended to provide insight as additional school districts prepare to access the system. Nebraska Cloud Portal and Single Sign-On Working collaboratively with the Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council (ESUCC) and individual ESUs, the Nebraska Department of Education continues to seek opportunities to increase data security, while at the same time increasing access to educational resources and tools to support continuous improvement. Implementation of the Nebraska Cloud portal and single sign-on process allows users to access a variety of digital systems of support using a single log-in and password. Critical identity information is managed locally (closest to the users), and provides an opportunity to leverage the capacity of a statewide system to increase access among smaller school districts. Rule 6 Implementation Directed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2013 through LB 252, the Nebraska State Board of Education promulgated a rule concerning data sharing – Rule 6. The rule was signed by the Governor in October, 2014 and has initial impact on Nebraska school districts beginning this fall with the annual declaration of directory information for parents. More information about Rule 6 can be obtained via the Nebraska Department of Education website. Data Privacy and Security The ubiquitous nature of data has infiltrated many parts of our lives. From the frequent user club card that (continued on page 13) SUMMER 2015 NCSA TODAY 11

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Statewide Systems Thinking: Student Learning BY DAVID M. LUDWIG, Executive Director, Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council



or the past 32 years, I have been given the distinct opportunity of having obtained the title “educator” within the state of Nebraska. Within this period of time, I have been employed as a Special Education Teacher, a Special Education Administrator, an Elementary/Middle School Principal, an ESU Chief Administrator, and currently serving as the Executive Director for the Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council. As with many other veteran educators, we have experienced tremendous change locally, statewide and nationwide resulting from individual and collective ideas, thoughts, dialogue, innovative programs and projects, grants, legislative action, and funding. As we know and completely understand, change occurs on a daily basis within each educational community. The number-one constant within this ongoing change is student learning. The question specific to ongoing change is how do we as a state create a collaborative environment that collectively responds to change with a cooperative focus on student learning. I know there are a few ‘c’ words listed above but all have meaning resulting within a fundamental ‘c’hange process within the Nebraska Statewide Educational Community. Reflective of the change that has occurred within our educational careers, improvement focused on student learning is based upon the system(s) involved within the fundamental ‘change’ process. Based upon the work of W. Edward Deming, Paul Batalden, Dartmouth Medical School Director, stated, “Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results it gets.” If an educational system is designed within a systems thinking process, the end result will create an environment of focus and improvement year after year. Within the past several years, that collective

statewide systems approach for student learning has created a network of support responsible for the BlendED Learning Initiative, the development and implementation of AQuESTT (Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow), ADVISER (Advanced Data Views Improving Student Educational Response) Dashboard and educator effectiveness through the Teacher/Principal Evaluation initiative. In addition to the six tenets provided within AQuESTT and the continuous improvement process, single-sign-on (through the cooperative effort of NDE and ESUCC) is in the implementation phase for the data dashboard, Learning Management Systems are provided within the marketplace, and the development of a statewide Learning Object Repository are a few of the independent components designed within the system to support student learning. In his book, “From Systems Thinking to Systemic Action”, Lee Jenkins’ work is focused on the design of an educational environment operating as a system rather than as a network of independent components. This perhaps is the greatest fundamental change I have observed most recently within my career as an educator. Is the system completely developed and in operation? I think we all know that answer, but as we work within the continuous improvement process as a state, the system designed for student learning will be enhanced for every student, every day. In my opinion, the most current snapshot of education is more focused on student learning today than yesterday because of the network of support provided through NDE, ESUCC, the 17 ESUs and the 245 School Districts within the State of Nebraska. Within this system of support, we have been provided many opportunities and I am confident many more are yet to come! n

AQuESTT Systems of Support (continued from page 11) promises discounts, to online shopping sites that provide recommendations for purchase, data permeates our personal and professional lives. In many ways, education data is no exception. However, it requires a heightened level of vigilance to protect individual’s privacy and ensure security, yet balancing these responsibilities with the need to use data to inform policy, practice, and continuous improvement efforts of schools. In the coming months, the Nebraska State Board of Education will be finalizing a student data privacy policy. Likewise, the Nebraska Department

of Education will be providing resources and tools to support schools in managing and supporting data privacy. AQuESTT Systems of Support are primarily focused on those things the Nebraska Department of Education “gets to do” in support of schools. Through these systems of support, there are opportunities to reduce the burdens associated with the “have to dos,” increase efficient and effective uses of information, all while ensuring privacy and security. n


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EHA Inflation Again Below National Average! BY GREG LONG, EHA Field Representative

A Long

recent national survey of 65 insurers conducted by Wells Fargo indicates rising health care claim trends in 2015 and 2016 that will result in a surge in premium rates in 2015 and 2016. The Wells Fargo Health Care Trend Survey measures the rate of inflation in health care costs in 2015 and expected in 2016. This survey indicates an average trend of 7.9% in 2015 and a projected trend of 8.7% for 2016, for plans similar to the EHA (PPO plans). These health care cost trends are the primary driver of health insurance premium increases.

The EHA is projecting 5.0% trend for 2015 and 2016 in the development of EHA premium rates. Even more positive for EHA members, relative to the national numbers, is the 1.9% premium increase for all EHA benefit plans for the 2015-16 Plan Year. The continued favorable experience of the EHA plan is why EHA is able to have such a low premium increase and again this year have premium rate stability for its members. You can access the Wells Fargo Survey online in the Wells Fargo Newsroom under Press Releases. n

2015 Administrators’ Days Social Events Thursday, July 30, 2015

Administrators in Action

4:30 pm, Betty’s Trail

Did you know walking helps prevent many issues from dementia to osteoporosis, not to mention that it’s an easy way to improve your mood? Get moving after a day indoors and donate to The Team Jack Fundation all at the same time by signing up for the Charity Fun Walk. Blue Cross Blue Shield will sponsor $25 for every person that walks Betty’s Trail, from Younes to Yanny and back with all proceeds going to fund research for pediatric brain cancer. Sign up and get walking!

Thunderhead Brewery

6:30 pm, Downtown Kearney - Travel by Trolley

Thunderhead Brewing Company are purveyors of fine ales and lagers since 1999. Hop on the 6:30 trolley at the Holiday Inn and ride downtown to enjoy 5 beer tastings and pizza. Remember the fun when you get home with your commemorative beer mug.

Family Fun Night!

6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, Big Apple Fun Center

NCSA Trivia Night

8:00 pm to 11:30 pm, Holiday Inn Ballroom

You’ve had fun all day, so why not share some fun with the family?! The Big Apple is the perfect place for everyone to have a good time. Head over at 6:30 to bowl, play miniature golf, billiards, go-karts, and laser tag. You also receive a ticket for a large single topping pizza and drinks for the family. You’re kids will still be talking about the fun they had when they head back to school! Do you race home after work to catch Jeopardy? Do you pull out Trivial Pursuit every time company is over? Well then, we have the perfect activity for you! You don’t need to be a trivia buff to join in and have fun in this first ever NCSA Trivia Night. With a bar in the room and our very own Mark Johnson and Sam Stecher hosting, you’re sure to have a great time, even if your table doesn’t win the grand prize. The game will kickoff at 8:30, so don’t be late! SUMMER 2015 NCSA TODAY 15


NCSA Election Results BY DR. MIKE DULANEY, Executive Director; and DR. DAN ERNST, Associate Executive Director





he Nebraska Council of School Administrators is pleased to recognize our new president-elects for the 2015-2016 year. Each affiliate president-elect is selected by their peers through the affiliate election process. We thank you for taking the time to vote and encourage you to always participate in election process of your affiliate. It is a great honor to have been voted into office by your professional colleagues. We are very fortunate to have highly qualified and successful school administrators that are willing to run for leadership positions within their affiliates. We salute all those individuals that were willing to accept a nomination to have their name on a ballot. Your affiliates remain strong because of quality administrators willing to lead. In addition to the new role within their affiliate associations, we would also like to welcome the president-elects to membership on the NCSA Executive Board, our organization’s governing body. The new executive board members are well qualified to serve and begin their official term on the NCSA Executive Board on September 1, 2015. We look forward to their participation on the board and guidance of the organization.




We congratulate and welcome our new President-Elects: NASA—Mike Sieh, Stanton NAESP—Jim Widdifield, Gothenburg NSASSP—Steve Adkisson, Fillmore Central NASBO—John Brazell, Beatrice NASES—Missy Dobish, Kearney NARSA—Dave Kaslon, Blair In addition, at the June 10, 2015 NCSA Board Meeting, elections were held for the 2015-2016 board leadership positions. We are excited to announce the 2015-2016 Chair and Vice Chair of the NCSA Executive Board: Chair—Mr. Ryan Ricenbaw, Waverly Vice Chair—Mr. Mike Apple, Hitchcock County n



CAL ENDAR O F EVENTS JULY 29-31 Administrators’ Days—Younes Conf. Center, Kearney


NASES Workshop—Cornhusker Marriott, Lincoln

SEPTEMBER 2-3 5 23

Labor Relations—Embassy Suites, Lincoln NCSA Tailgate—NCSA, Lincoln School Law Update—Holiday Inn, Kearney *UPDATED DATE*

OCTOBER 1-2 13 7-8 21

NACIA Fall Retreat—Lied Lodge, Nebraska City Facility Directors Workshop—Elkhorn Public Schools, Elkhorn NE Fall Ed Tech Conference—Younes Conf Center, Kearney Emerging Superintendents Workshop—NCSA Offices, Lincoln


NATIONAL CONVENTION DATES ASBO – October 23-26, 2015 – Grapevine, TX CASE – October 26-31, 2015 – Atlanta, GA AASA – February 11-13, 2016 – Phoenix, AZ NASSP – February 25-27, 2016 – Orlando, FL ASCD – April 2-4, 2016 – Atlanta, GA

Gold Sponsorships Ameritas Investment Corp. ESUCC Dallas Watkins 5900 O Street, 1st Floor Lincoln, NE 68510 800-700-2362

Dave Ludwig 6949 S. 110th St. Omaha, NE 68128 402-597-4866

Boyd Jones Construction

First National Capital Markets

Mark Pfister 333 South 9th Street Lincoln, NE 68508 402-318-4794

D.A. Davidson & Co. Paul Grieger 1111 N 102nd Ct., Ste. 300 Omaha, NE 68114 800-942-7557

DLR Group Curtis Johnson 6457 Frances St., Ste 200 Omaha, NE 68106 402-393-4100

EHA Wellness Howie Halperin 256 N 115 St, Ste. 7 Omaha, NE 68154 402-614-0491

Craig Jones 1620 Dodge St., Ste. 1104 Omaha, NE 68197 402-598-1218

Great Plains Safety and Health Organization Mick Anderson Rm 220E WSTC â&#x20AC;&#x201C; UNK Campus 1917 W. 24th St. Kearney, NE 68849 308-865-8258

Horace Mann Cindy Dornbush 10612 Monroe St., No. 4 Omaha, NE 68127 402-680-9382

Humanex Ventures Katie Lechner katie.lechner@ 2900 S 70th St., Ste. 100 Lincoln, NE 68506 402-486-1102

Insuring Success Family Heritage Product Provider Ty Christensen 12117 Grover Street Omaha, NE 68144 402-960-5387

National Planning Corporation Brian Luther 500 Central Park Dr., Ste. 204 Lincoln, NE 68504 402-467-0531

Nebraska Liquid Asset Fund Barry Ballou 455 S 11th St. Lincoln, NE 68508 402-705-0350

John Baylor Test Prep

Nebraska Public Agency Investment Trust

John Baylor P.O. Box 30792 Lincoln, NE 68503 402-475-7737

Becky Ferguson P.O. Box 82529 Lincoln, NE 68501 402-323-1334

Modern Images

Nebraska Safety Center

Bradley Cooper 13436 S. 217th St. Gretna, NE 68028 402-991-7786

Mick Anderson West Center, 220E Kearney, NE 68849 308-865-9393 safety_center

National Insurance Steve Ott 9202 W. Dodge Rd., Ste. 302 Omaha, NE 68114 800-627-3660

Silver Sponsorships

TRANE Dave Raymond 5720 South 77th St. Ralston, NE 68127 402-452-7762


Awards Unlimited

Bes-Tech, Inc.

Software Unlimited, Inc.

Larry King 1935 O Street | Lincoln, NE 68510 402-474-0815

Tony Zimmerman 4640 So. 59th St. | Omaha, NE 68117 402-502-2340

Corey Atkinson 5015 S. Broadband Lane Sioux Falls, SD 57108 605-361-2073

Bronze Sponsorships Kearney Visitors Bureau

University of Nebraska High School

Sarah Focke | PO Box 607 | Kearney, NE 68848 800-652-9435 |

Charlotte Seewald | 1520 N. 20th Cr. | Lincoln, NE 68588 402-472-1922 |

Will Hays 8600 Executive Woods, Ste. 300 Lincoln, NE 68512 402-423-5447

Wells Fargo Heather Kudron heather.h.kudron@ 1919 Douglas St. Omaha, NE 68102 402-536-2090


Nebraska Council of School Administrators 455 So. 11th Street, Suite A • Lincoln, NE 68508-2105 RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED

Plan to attend the

2015 ADMINISTRATORS’ DAYS July 29-31, 2015 Younes Conference Center | Kearney, Nebraska For more information and to register online: Featured Speakers:

Dr. Adolph Brown

Angela Maiers

Michael C. Anthony

Summer 2015  
Summer 2015