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Administrators’ Days July 29-31, 2009 Holiday Inn – Kearney, NE

800-348-7537 or 402-471-4597

Season’s Greetings from the NCSA Staff

Mike, Dan, Kelly, Cami, Angie, Carol, & Bill


2 Vision for the Future BY ROGER BREED, Elkhorn Public Schools

3 Looking Ahead to Future of Education BY GOVERNOR DAVE HEINEMAN

4 Shifting Toward Shared Leadership and Accountability BY GAIL CONNELLY, National Association of Elementary School Principals


Dr. Keith Lutz Named Nebraska 2008 Superintendent of the Year


NASES Distinguished Service Award to Linda Chatelain


New Special Education Administrator of the Year— Kelly Bartling-Ballinger


Gering Public Schools Closes the Achievement Gap with Direct Instruction

NCSA EXECUTIVE BOARD 2008-09 Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . .John Osgood Vice Chair . . . . . . . . . . .Jon Habben NASA Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . .Matt Fisher President-elect . . . . . .Bill Mowinkel Past President . . . . . . . .Jon Habben NASBO Representatives President . . . . . . .Sandy Rosenboom President-elect . . . . . . . .Rick Feauto Past President . . . . . . . .Doug Lewis NAESP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mary Yilk President-elect . . . . . .Sarah Williams Past President . . . . . . .Mark Wragge NASES Representatives President . . . . . . . .Ellen Stokebrand President-elect . . . . . . . .Jane Byers Past President . . . . . . . .John Street

BY DON HAGUE, Superintendent, Gering Public Schools


Early Childhood BY MARY YILK, NAESP President 2008-2009


Defining Your School Culture BY RYAN RUHL, NSASSP President 2008-2009


Nebraska Superintendents, Old and New


Book Review: Hot, Flat, and Crowded:Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America

BY DR. JAMES OSSIAN, Wayne State College

BY RON JOEKEL, University of Nebraska–Lincoln


NCSA: Hard Work Pays Off BY MIKE DULANEY, Executive Director and DAN ERNST, Associate Executive Director

3 14 16

NSASSP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . .Ryan Ruhl President-elect . . . . . . . .Kent Mann Past President . . . . . . .John Osgood


NCSA Mission 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. 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 $325 (active members) or $100 (associate members). NCSA Today is published quarterly. Send address changes to NCSA, Membership, 455 South 11th Street, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68508. Copyright 2008 by NCSA. All rights reserved.

NARSA Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . .Kay Gordon NCSA STAFF – 2008-2009 Michael S. Dulaney Executive Director/Lobbyist Dan E. Ernst Associate Executive Director/Lobbyist Kelly Coash-Johnson Training and Development Director Cami Cumblidge Finance and Membership Coordinator Bill Kenagy NCSA Principal Liaison Angie Carman Executive Administrative Assistant Carol Young Administrative Assistant The opinions expressed in NCSA Today or by its authors do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. DECEMBER 2008




Vision for the Future BY ROGER BREED, Superintendent, Elkhorn Public Schools



irst, a disclaimer. While I have been appointed the Nebraska Commissioner of Education by the State Board of Education, I do not officially start that position until March 30, 2009. Until then, as the Elkhorn school board president reminds me, I belong to Elkhorn. So, since I have not started working at NDE, I want everyone to know I do not and cannot, at this time, speak for the department or the state board. What follows, however, are some ruminations about some of the priorities I might have as your Commissioner. It is fair game to ask me what I will value as Commissioner. A value is a principle, standard or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. Said another way, a statement of values is a statement of one’s judgment of what is important in life, or in this case what is important in my role as Commissioner. So, what is my statement of values? First and foremost, I value student learning. This, in my opinion, is the reason we have schools, school boards, the Nebraska Department of Education and the Commissioner’s position —to provide free public instruction in the things that students will need to know or be able to do to become productive citizens. Second, I value the work of teachers, administrators and support staff members who daily work hard to carry out our mission of student learning. I have been fortunate in my career to work in four very different communities—Lincoln, York, Axtell and Elkhorn—and have developed a great appreciation for the rich and varied fabric of our state, our educators, and our students. Third, I value the input and support of parents, guardians, community members and political leaders. Traveling across the state, I have witnessed first hand the pride and commitment that communities of all sizes have for their children and their schools. I have learned that the schools belong to the people and that the people, if given the chance, generally want their schools to reflect their best hopes and dreams. Finally, I value perseverance—an attitude and a lead-

My father long ago taught me to not take myself so seriously that I miss the insight of others, or fail to listen to the brutal realities that sometimes need to be admitted, confronted and dealt with.




ership style that says we can and will improve student learning if we work collaboratively, base our efforts on credible data, seek to constantly improve and give ourselves time. As a young teacher long ago, student achievement discussions with other teachers were rare and, if they occurred at all, the conversations dealt with content, class activities or teaching techniques. Rarely, if ever, did we engage in serious and focused discussions of student learning. Even more rarely, did we have timely student achievement data upon which to make instructional decisions. The conversations have changed. Today, due to improved teacher and administrator assessment literacy, and less isolation of classroom teachers, there are increasingly thoughtful and well-informed discussions about what students should learn, how best to teach what students should learn, and how best can we tell if students really are learning what we teach. So, how will these values play out in my role as your Commissioner? Being widely visible in the state and always accessible will be essential for me to get a sense of what is and what is not wanted or needed. A wide spectrum of Nebraskans will be involved to help clarify needs and priorities. I look forward to working with colleagues, citizens and groups from border to border to seek higher levels of learning for all students. Regular dialogue with students, parents, educators, the Governor, the Unicameral (especially the senators on the Education Committee), and key business leaders throughout the state will be part of my monthly agenda. My father long ago taught me to not take myself so seriously that I miss the insight of others, or fail to listen to the brutal realities that sometimes need to be admitted, confronted and dealt with. We will likely argue about resources and funding; we have in the past and will likely do so in the future. We will likely argue about the extent and purpose of assessments; we have in the past and will likely do so in the future. And we will likely argue about the content and relevance of what should be learned; we have in the past and we will in the future. But when all is said and done, it is my firm belief, my ultimate value, that we will build a consensus and direct the resources necessary so that every Nebraska child reflects the best of whatever we are and whatever we hope to be. I


Looking Ahead to Future of Education BY GOVERNOR DAVE HEINEMAN, State of Nebraska



ith a new Commissioner of Education preparing to lead the Nebraska Department of Education and new educational opportunities on the horizon, the coming year holds great promise for greater collaboration and partnership at the state level. Roger Breed was named by the State Board of Education to be the next Commissioner of Education. I have known Roger for several years. He is an outstanding leader, an effective communicator and he will be a strong advocate for students and schools across our state. I look forward to working closely with him and other policy leaders in the education arena to help teachers, administrators, schools, and parents meet the challenges we face today in education. This cooperation and collaboration is important as we strengthen the education we provide to students in this 21st century. Our schools are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist. In our rapidly changing knowledge based and technology focused, free market economy the driving force is change and innovation. To be fully prepared for this kind of environment, students need at least two years, and preferably four years, of college. While Nebraska has one of the nation’s highest high school graduation rates, our collegegoing rate is just slightly above average. That must change.

Increasing academic rigor in our schools and closing the academic achievement gap are high on my list of priorities that we must address as a state.

In a world where a high school diploma and a college education are critical to an individual’s future success, Nebraska’s K-12 schools have an increasingly important role in helping students get ready for the transition to college, ideally at one of Nebraska’s higher education institutions. My vision for a successful future is to ensure that every child in Nebraska receives a quality K-12 education, has the opportunity to attend college at an affordable price, and goes on to enter the workforce with a quality job in Nebraska. Achieving that vision will require closer collaboration between educators and the business community. Increasing academic rigor in our schools and closing the academic achievement gap are high on my list of priorities that we must address as a state. There is also work to be done to implement statewide assessments, address the need for stable, sustainable funding for Nebraska schools, and encouraging even greater parental involvement. I look forward to talking regularly with Commissioner Breed and others about our state’s key education issues. And I look forward to greater collaboration with members of the State Board of Education, the Legislature, teachers, administrators, and others to address these challenges. Stronger relationships among policy leaders and those on the frontlines in our schools and classrooms are essential to ensuring a brighter future for each Nebraska student in the years ahead. I

National Convention Dates AASA – February 19-21, 2009 – San Francisco, CA NASSP – February 27-March 1, 2009 – San Diego, CA ASBO – March 19-23, 2009 – Pittsburgh, PA NAESP – April 2-6, 2009 – New Orleans, LA CASE – July 9-11, 2009 – San Francisco, CA





Shifting Toward Shared Leadership and Accountability BY GAIL CONNELLY, Executive Director, National Association of Elementary School Principals



ecuring the economic and democratic future of our nation depends on educating all children to be highly adaptive learners in a rapidly changing world. This means understanding that creating and sustaining good schools where children excel in many ways is about more than academic performance as currently mandated for measurement by the federal government. Our schools need to equip today’s students with the abilities they need to be successful in tomorrow’s economy. In an increasingly diverse and global society, educated children must be creative, curious, and imaginative as well as academically proficient. Students must be afforded learning opportunities that help them become increasingly multilingual, multicultural and multidisciplinary in order to flourish in the workforce of tomorrow. This requires a dramatic shift away from school accountability based solely on standardized testing that often thwarts creative teaching and learning toward a model of shared leadership and accountability that in effect can lead to enhanced student learning. A majority of principals reported in NAESP’s 2008 ten-year study of the K-8 school principalship that although No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has positively impacted the focus on instruction and attention to the needs of all students, it has impacted a number of key areas negatively, including: School morale; pressure on staff; nontested subject areas (such as art and music); and addressing the needs of the whole child. Principals contend that student success cannot be measured effectively by a singly standardized test score and should be based on multiple measures. Further, principals are strong advocates for meeting the social, emotional, and physical needs of all children as important contributors to student academic success, believing a focus on the whole child is essential for realizing each child’s fullest potential.

It is imperative that principals be afforded ample time and opportunities to participate in well-designed, fully-funded professional development that supports their work developing and sustaining high-achieving schools.




NAESP applauds President-elect Obama’s education agenda that suggests a dramatic shift forward for our nation’s schools. The Obama administration should work with principals to create sound and effective federal education policies, especially regarding the whole child and school leadership. We will encourage the new administration to pay heed to research-based resources developed by and for principals including, Vision 2021: Transformations in Leading, Learning, and Community and Leading Learning Communities: Standards for What Principals Should Know and Be Able To Do, as well as other NAESP publications on leading exemplary early childhood education and after-school programs, as excellent sources to inform and even transform President Obama’s public education agenda. School leaders who are expected to meet the challenges that transformations in leadership, society and education create for student and adult learning, necessarily will need stronger preparation, enhanced professional development and additional resources at a number of levels. A majority of K-8 principals recently reported spending most of their time leading staff and teachers and engaging with students while only 1.8% percent counted their own professional development as an area they spend the most time. It is imperative that principals be afforded ample time and opportunities to participate in well-designed, fully-funded professional development that supports their work developing and sustaining highachieving schools. These supports demand shared leadership and accountability not just in schools—but also in the federal government, states and districts, as well as in post-secondary institutions, school systems and communities. Together with principals, these agencies and organizations share responsibility for student learning and development. Collectively, they must be accountable for the success of all students. NAESP’s landmark publication, Leading Learning Communities, identifies ten ways that school districts, the federal government and universities can share leadership and accountability with principals: School districts can: Build principals’ capacity to provide instructional leadership. Principals must have time and resources to develop the knowledge and skills they need to lead


NATIO NAL PERSP ECTIVE high-performance schools, as well as the resources to function effectively as instructional leaders in their buildings. Time for professional development can help equip school leaders with additional knowledge, and professional learning support directed at their instructional needs can enhance their knowledge and skills. At the same time, principals need professional development to help them understand how to lead, manage and support learning communities—such as interaction with peers at state and national conferences and technological resources to stay connected with their peers—to enable them to form networks with other schools and disseminate information within the school community. Such support should begin on the first day of the job, with a skilled mentor to guide a principal through a successful transition into his or her new position, and should continue with coaching throughout a principal’s tenure. Provide support, funding and flexibility for alternative leadership arrangements. For principals to perform their instructional leadership functions effectively, they need to share the management functions of the school. In some places, schools and districts are creating new positions to take on some of those responsibilities. But assistant principals, lead teachers and guidance counselors can also lead functions that can enable principals to focus on instructional leadership. More research is needed in defining how these alternative management structures might work. And districts can model these arrangements by creating leadership teams in the central office that enable “chief academic officers” to focus on instructional leadership and “chief management officers” to focus on operations. Improve working conditions. One of the most serious challenges facing the profession is a shortage of applicants. Fewer people are seeking to become principals, in part because many fear that principals are increasingly held account-



able for school results without the authority and support they need to produce results. Principals need autonomy over budgets and hiring to create and maintain school programs that match school goals, and financial support from districts to serve their student populations effectively. Improve salaries and pay structures. School leaders deserve salaries commensurate with other professionals with similar responsibilities. And, like other professionals, they should earn financial rewards for effectiveness and should be able to advance in their careers. States and districts should establish incentives for principals to meet standards and should provide rewards, such as sabbaticals, advanced training and international exchanges, for successful leaders. Assess principals fairly. Principals are—and should be—accountable for improving student achievement, but evaluations of principals should consider a range of measures of their performance, not just standardized test scores. Progress toward school performance targets and the standards included in Leading Learning Communities should be measured as well. Principals do have expertise and skills that can be measured. However, these measurements can be highly subjective and easily misinterpreted. Attention must be paid to defining and disseminating what we know to be effective in the profession and championing the “whole school leader.”



States can: Refine and strengthen data collection. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, districts can replace principals of schools in restructuring status. While principals are rightly accountable for their school’s performance, accountability should be more than an all-or-nothing proposition. Accountability should come with additional resources that enable schools to build the capacity needed to meet agreedupon goals. An accurate grasp of the current situa-


tion in American public schools is possible only with the use of longitudinal data. Data that tracks students from elementary school to college allows researchers to analyze trends in education, both good and bad. Only by increasing the type of data collected over time will policymakers ever have the accurate information they need to address educational issues in a timely fashion. Build learning opportunities and networks of principals. To enable principals to build learning communities, and to end their traditional isolation, states and districts should create opportunities for principals to meet and collaborate with their peers in other schools and districts. These opportunities can include conferences, electronic networks and Listservs, and coaching and mentoring.


The federal government can: Support a voluntary advanced certification system for principals. Principals should be recognized and rewarded for their excellence in the profession and commitment to their own growth and development. NAESP has advocated for a comprehensive review process in which principals demonstrate their skills, expertise and the art of the profession. A national certification process, similar to the one developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, would not only reward effective principals, but it would also set a target for improvement for all principals and provide a guide for professional development. The certification system should include the Leading Learning Communities standards and other benchmarks as defined by practitioners and other leaders in the field. The federal government should fund it. Develop federal programs that strengthen principals’ ability to serve all students. The No Child Left Behind Act placed too little emphasis on the critical role of principals in enhancing student achievement. While the law rightly focontinued on page 11







Millard School Superintendent Dr. Keith Lutz Named 2008 Nebraska Superintendent of the Year



r. Keith Lutz, superintendent of the Millard Public Schools has been named the 2008 Nebraska Superintendent of the Year. Lutz was honored November 20th at the Nebraska Association of School Administrators/Nebraska Association of School Boards State Education Conference. Lutz will represent Nebraska in the National Superintendent of the Year Program, which is sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and ARAMARK Education. In February 2009 the National Superintendent of the Year will be announced and recognized along with the four state finalists at the AASA National Conference on Education in San Francisco, CA. Nebraska Council of School Administrators Executive Director Dr. Michael Dulaney said, “The high honor bestowed upon Dr. Keith Lutz through this award recognizes an entire body of service and dedication along with his commitment to the profession and to the students, staff, and Board of Education of the Millard Public Schools.” Superintendent of Douglas County West School District, Dr. George Conrad, said, “Dr. Lutz understands first hand the challenges and responsibilities required of ed-

ucators to provide quality educational experiences for students with limited district resources.” Lutz has served as superintendent since 1995 and began service to the Millard Public Schools in 1989 as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. In addition to being a former teacher, principal and holding superintendent assignments in North Dakota, he has additional administrative experiences at East Texas State University and Western Illinois University. Special accomplishments include, President of the National Federation of Urban School Districts, Board of Directors for the National Safety and Health Council of Greater Omaha, and a member of the Century 21 Task Force for the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Located on the southwestern edge of Omaha, the Millard School District has grown into the third largest school district in the state with over 22,000 students. Through the leadership of Dr. Lutz, Millard has Nebraska’s only K-12 International Baccalaureate program. I

NASES Distinguished Service Award to Linda Chatelain




inda Chatelain, of Rising City, Nebraska, was presented the 2008 NASES Distinguished Service Award by the Nebraska Association of Special Education Supervisors (NASES), at their fall conference in Nebraska City on September 18, 2008. Linda served as the Director of Special Education at ESU 7 in Columbus until her retirement at the end of the 2007-2008 school year. In his nomination, Stuart Clark of ESU 1, wrote that “when a new director starts, he or she can count on Linda as an outstanding source of information and support. She models hard work by putting in long hours, even working nights and weekends to see that the people who depend on her won’t be let down.” Linda’s impact on her peers across the state was evidenced by the



number of passionate letters of support her nomination received from across the state. Though unable to attend the Nebraska City conference, Linda accepted the honor with sincere gratitude. In accepting the award, Linda wrote that “this award provides the ‘icing on the cake’ to my career as a special education administrator in Nebraska. I cherish it because of the respect that I have for the members who selected me as the recipient of such an award. When a career means being involved with the incredible families of children with special needs in our state, these children and families, and all those dedicated to improving programs for them hold a very special place in one’s heart forever.” Linda and her husband, Paul, reside in Rising City. I


New Special Education Administrator of the Year — Kelly Bartling-Ballinger



elly Bartling-Ballinger of Pender, Nebraska was awarded the NEW SpEd ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR 2007-2008 designation by the Nebraska Association of Special Education Supervisors (NASES), at their fall conference in Nebraska City on September 18th. Presenting the award was Stuart Clark, ESU 1 Special Education Director. This was the inaugural presentation of the award, which recognizes outstanding new (in their first five years) supervisors in the field. During the presentation, Clark spoke of BartlingBallinger’s dedication to her students and their families, stating “she has been a tireless advocate for students with disabilities.” He went on to note that she has been an inspiration to other teachers, someone that instills trust and respect. “From her start at Wayne State Col-

lege, where she served as the President of the Nebraska State Student Council for Exceptional Children, to her efforts today, Kelly has been a leader and a friend,” said Clark. “To be eligible for the award, a candidate must be nominated by a co-worker, an administrator and a parent of a child with a disability. With Kelly’s ability to build relationships and work hard to ensure students get what they need to succeed, that wasn’t difficult.” Bartling-Ballinger has taught at Walthill (’94-’98), Sioux City (’98-’00) and West Point (’00-’05). She was Special Education Director for the Wayne Public Schools (’05-’08) and is currently serving the Pender Community School District as Special Education Director/instructor. She and her husband, Larry, reside in Pender, Nebraska with their two daughters. I

Gering Public Schools Closes the Achievement Gap with Direct Instruction BY DON HAGUE, Superintendent, Gering Public Schools



ering Public Schools had an achievement problem when I first took over the reins as superintendent of the district. Some students were learning well, but many others were not. Large numbers of students were not acquiring fundamental skills in reading and language, and this was reflected in their writing performance. Only 57 percent of Gering’s fourth graders scored proficient on the Statewide Writing Assessment in 2005, which put Gering in last place among the largest 25 districts in Nebraska. Moreover, several subgroups of students were performing even lower. For example, only 39 percent of Hispanic students scored proficient on the Writing Assessment in 2005. As in many other communities in Nebraska, the Hispanic population was expanding year by year, which made these low scores a particular concern for the future. We decided to see what type of approaches to learning and teaching could improve overall student performance while closing the performance gap between subgroups. We wanted to do both. We wanted to address the needs of our lower performing students as well as those already performing well. We wanted all students to achieve at higher levels. And we wanted something

that could be used comprehensively. We didn’t want an approach that would be used for just some of the students or an approach that would be used just for part of the year. We wanted to find a core approach that would address the needs of the full range of learners in Gering. After much research, the district selected Direct Instruction (DI), a powerful, scripted program for teaching and learning that has been used successfully for years in a wide variety of settings. DI started out as DISTAR at the University of Illinois, and it has more evidence of effectiveness than any other program we investigated. It was designed to help students in high poverty areas succeed, but it has provisions for meeting the needs of higher performers. Students are placed at their performance level, not their grade level, and they can be skipped through the lessons at a faster rate if they can demonstrate that they’re ready for it. We wanted to see the program in action. A team of teachers and administrators visited Park Elementary in Great Bend, Kansas where they had been implementing DI schoolwide for several years. The team was impressed with what they saw: students performing above grade continued on page 13 DECEMBER 2008




Early Childhood BY MARY YILK; Principal, Doniphan; NAESP President 2008-2009



f you know me, you know that I am passionate about children, their success at school and in life, and how adults treat children. I have so many issues that I would like resolved within the educational realm and it is very difficult to narrow the topic and yet write something that might interest you as a reader. As an elementary principal, I feel I need to write about Kindergarten and the entrance age for students to begin their school career. Gosh, I wish I had all the answers in regards to Kindergarten’s entrance age but I do have my early ed endorsement and lots of experience and observations over the last 23 years in education with the last 16 years of being an elementary principal. The Nebraska elementary principals have been talking for years about the impact and importance of a positive Kindergarten experience and what this does or does not do for the rest of their school life. Year after year, it seems that age is an important factor of success. I am not only talking about academic but also the social and emotional success of students. When elementary principals meet, discussions usually will involve the negative and positive effects of school age entrance. Elementary principals have such strong opinions in what is best for our children entering school and not always the same opinion. The kindergarten teachers in Nebraska have their early education endorsement. They do understand that the curriculum and teaching strategies must be developmentally appropriate. With that in mind, I will discuss the entrance age suggested by me. I believe that children must be five years old by June 1 before they may enter Kindergarten. The Kindergarten that we know today has evolved to teach students that are ready to learn more than their phone number and tying shoes. All the infant and toddler toys/games that are offered begins the teaching process almost the day they are born. Many of the games children are exposed due to technology has already taught children shapes, colors, letter recognition, and cause and effect before they enter the school doors. It amazes me that our chil-

Our school system’s grade levels were developed in the late 1800s. How many businesses have kept their hierarchy schematic the same since the 1800s and remained successful?




dren today can learn at the rate that they do and all through play. United States’ schools are not at the top in the world, we all know that. I am sure you know that New Zealand academic scores very high globally. Did you know that they have Kindergarten for two years preceding primary school? Students start first grade at age 6. I am guessing this gets students ready for the regiment of vigorous learning. Singapore scores well in math as we all know. Singapore’s Kindergartens provide an environment for children to learn how to communicate, play, and interact with others, and to prepare them for the start of formal education in primary schools. Activities include learning of language and numbers, development of personal and social skills, games, music, outdoor play. Children learn two languages, English and their official mother tongue (Chinese, Malay, or Tamil). Singapore also has two to three years of Kindergarten before starting primary grades at age six. Why am I bringing up New Zealand and Singapore vs. Nebraska schools? Partly because of the global outlook we have on everything we do and because we need to look at what we offer for our younger students and then ask can we do better? I realize research on the entrance age in the United States is not reliable but I consider every Kindergarten teacher that I have been in contact with throughout the 23 years in the field tells me that age is a factor. Their observations, anecdotal notes and conclusions have been the same. A child that is a solid five-six year old in the class comes with confidence, is usually the leader, is able to grasp the world around them and above all toilet trained! The older students are also 18 years of age when leaving high school and can transition to college and the work place easier than a 17 year old. Our school system’s grade levels were developed in the late 1800s. How many businesses have kept their hierarchy schematic the same since the 1800s and remained successful? Children don’t fit in certain grade levels just because they are a certain chronological age; that was the belief back then. We have so much more brain and educational research now. We know that schools look very different from the 1800’s. We have not changed the inner structure or grade step levels at all. It boggles my mind that we don’t change in the slightest. continued on page 11


Nebraska Superintendents, Old and New BY DR. JAMES OSSIAN, Wayne State College


n article in the December 2, 2007 edition of The Chicago Tribune, authored by Mary Ann Fergus, detailed the stressful circumstances of school superintendents in the state of Illinois.¹ At the start of the 2007-2008 school year, 25 school districts had an interim superintendent and 159 of a total 871 (18.3%) had a new school executive. A decade earlier there had been only 80 new school superintendents. Noting that the average age of a U.S. public school superintendent was 55, Fergus continued to cite a familiar litany of issues besieging today’s school leaders: a ton of e-mails, harassing phone calls, 60 to 80 hour work weeks, demands for community involvement, increased state and federal regulations, and, of course, NCLB. In consequence, there are fewer candidates for suOssian perintendent openings, and search firms report that they are becoming more aggressive and creative in the recruitment of school executives. One could easily predict Sound familiar? Despite the differences in scale, Nebraska that the larger school school chiefs can empathize districts in the state will with the challenges faced by their counterparts in Illinois and always have an ample throughout the country. Howsupply of qualified ever, I imagine that most of candidates for them, were they to read this arsuperintendent openings, ticle, would shrug their shoulders and say, “Tell me something ample meaning 20 or so I don’t know.” I have known personally most rather than the 80 to 100 of the Nebraska school superinof years gone by. It is a tendents who have served over the past 30 years, and I would different scenario for submit that those who have surNebraska’s smaller rural vived in the post for at least a few years have some characterschools. istics in common. • They have tough hides and can deal with criticism and other adversity. • They have healthy egos, but are humble enough to know when and where to seek help. • They have a clear vision of what their districts can become, yet they have a firm grasp on current reality. • They are successful at prioritizing their time and important tasks. • They are not immune to stress, but they have developed effective coping strategies.

• They develop an effective working relationship with at least a majority of their board members. The list could be longer, but the message is that, all in all, the Nebraska corps of superintendents is a pretty competent lot, and the quality performance of the state’s public schools bears witness to that assertion. Nonetheless, organizations such as NCSA and NASB should devote more attention to the issue of increasing superintendent turnover rates, particularly as it pertains to the state’s smaller school districts. The New Year At the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, there will be 48 school districts that have a new executive leader, three more than a year ago. Nine superintendents, one less than last fall, will serve more than one district, and Dan Hoesing, the only one with more than two, will again be the lead educator for four Northeast Nebraska school districts. There have been 45 and 48 new superintendents respectively in the past two years, somewhat above the 30-year average of 41.3. However, these numbers have accompanying turnover percentages of 18.1 and 18.9, which are the two highest rates within that time span. The median and average tenure-in-position figures, predictably, have dropped from 3.82 to 3.58 years and from 5.84 to 5.63 years respectively. Depending upon which research one accesses, those numbers are comparable to current national averages. Of the 41 individuals who left a Nebraska superintendency last year, 23 retired, 12 moved to another superintendent position, 3 accepted superintendencies out of state, and 3 left education, at least for the time being. Twenty-three of the superintendents in year one are assuming the top executive post for the first time, and 114 of 254 (45%) will have three years or less tenure in the same district, including the 2008-2009 school year. The Veterans Last fall there were six Nebraska school superintendents who had accumulated 20 years or more in the same position. For 2008, there are again six with tenure at or beyond the 20-year mark. Randall Anderson, with 30 continued on page 10 ¹ Article initially received via e-mail from colleague and UNK professor Tom Jacobson. DECEMBER 2008



STATEWIDE PERSP ECTIVE experienced administrators in the candiNebraska female superintendents in the years at Crofton, is at the top of the list, date pool. fall of 2008 are: Virginia Moon, Ralston and Keith Fagot, with 29 years at Loomis, Nebraska colleges and universities con(11 yrs.); Gayla Fredrickson, Elgin (8 yrs.); follows closely behind. Norm Yoder is tinue to produce several graduates in their Amy Malander, Cedar Rapids (7 yrs.); Joan counting 24 years at Henderson; Doug superintendent preparation programs, and Reznicek, Red Cloud (6 yrs.); Susan GourAckles has logged 22 years at St. Paul; the majority of these graduates have ley, Lincoln, Jamie Isom, Valentine, Lana Craig Pease has 21 years of experience at proven track records as successful adminSides, Banner County, and Caroline WinAshland-Greenwood; and Larry Turnquist is istrators at the building level. However, chester, Loup City (5 yrs.); Cindy Wendell, starting his 20th year at Harvard. Over the the question remains: Are there enough Holdrege (4 yrs.); Holly Herzberg, Hamppast 30 years, the all-time high for 20of them? ton, Margaret Sandoz, Niobrara, Amy plus veterans was 28 in 1991. One could easily predict that the larger Shane, O’Neill, and Paula Sissel, Garden Superintendents who have persisted school districts in the state will always County (3 yrs.); Cindy Huff, Wood River, between 16 and 19 years in the same dishave an ample supply of qualified candiJoyce Huffman, Brady, Susan McNeil, trict include: Ed Kasl, Louisville, and Daldates for superintendent openings, ample Anselmo-Merna, Kate Repass, Hayes Cenlas Watkins, Dundy County (19); Fred meaning 20 or so rather than the 80 to ter, and Marlene Uhing, Norfolk (2 yrs.) Boelter, Creighton, Roger Breed, Elkhorn, 100 of years gone by. It is a different sceAnd, although not all are rookies, those in George Robertson, Mead, and Tom Sandnario for Nebraska’s smaller rural berg, Axtell (18); and John Cerny, schools. Their candidates usuBancroft-Rosalie (16). Figures for Nebraska Public School Districts ally fall into one of two general other superintendents with doubleSuperintendent Data, categories: aspiring and reladigit tenure are three with 14 years, tively inexperienced individuals six with 13 years, eight with 12 Fall 1979, 1994, 2008 looking for an entry position or years, nine with 11 years, and eight veterans who may be starting with 10 years. Item 1979 1994 2008 another retirement account. In There are several once-retired School Districts 317 289 254 either case, the small district veterans who are in their second Number of Superintendents 317 283 243 will probably have competent year or more in a new district. Median Tenure in Position 3.97 4.50 3.58 leadership, but they most likely Those returnees beginning a new Average Tenure in Position 6.16 7.48 5.63 will be looking for another sustint in 2008 include Bill Hakonson Supt. with 1-Year Tenure 56 45 48 perintendent within three years. at Leyton and Ted Hillman at Lynch. Percent Turnover 17.7 15.6 18.9 My predictions for the next Two other returning old-hands in Supt. with 20+ Years Tenure 10 26 6 few years, as always, are safe year one, after administrative tours Women Superintendents 2 4 25 and not all that unpredictable. in Iowa, include Terry Hazard at There will be more female suCody-Kilgore and Tom McMahon at perintendents and fewer school districts, year one include: Trudy Clark, BruningHowells. although many smaller Nebraska commuDavenport, Candace Conradt, Central City, nities have been remarkably tenacious in Jacque Estee, Omaha Westside, Beth Women Superintendents maintaining their local schools. Two years Johnsen, Friend, Katherine Meink, Allen Despite some turnover in their ranks, of data do not constitute a trend, but the and Ewing, Melissa Wheelock, Minden, and the number of women school superintendrecent, unusually high turnover in the suDana Wiseman, Sutton. ents in Nebraska made a modest leap forperintendent ranks may continue. The job ward from 21 a year ago to 25 for the fall isn’t getting any easier. Looking Ahead of 2008. The new total represents 10.3% It brings to mind my first superintenOne of the more persistent questions of the total public school superintendents dency in Bladen, Nebraska in the fall of over the past decade is whether Nebraska in the state. Nationally, the estimated per1967. That year 109 of the state’s 350 school districts will run out of qualified centage of female, school-district leaders school chiefs were in year one, a 31.1% superintendent candidates to replace is 13%, even though women constitute turnover rate. Yes, those were the good old those who are retiring. So far, so good. approximately 75% of the nation’s publicdays. Once again, this fall, every Nebraska school professionals. Moreover, recent data school board that was seeking a new indicates that women account for 52% of “Through strife all things arise and then school leader managed to find one, even students enrolled in the nations’ school pass away.”—Heraclitus I though there may not have been a lot of administration preparation programs. 10



Early Childhood—Yilk (continued from page 8) I feel that the schools need to offer another grade level. We do need to have our younger five and four year olds in the school setting. We all know that early intervention and early learning is necessary. This would be the time that we work on social, emotional and building on a foundation for vigorous learning. Maybe we would want to have a formal grade before Kindergarten for this age group. I don’t know what name you would call it, how about it be called “Mary” grade? What do you think about this? Kindergarten would then be for the solid five year olds that are preparing for first grade. The State Department of Education, our

State Legislature, and local communities need to start listening to the experts in the field, begin strong discussions, and be the visionaries of the nation to change the dynamics and expectations of Kindergarten because our students deserve more. I realize that the discussion I am having would have a ripple effect in many educational venues. I realize that some students do not have the advantages in their beginning years, but starting earlier would help alleviate this factor. Head Start/Early Head Start may have to start serving younger children that have the at risk indicators. Private preschools, day cares and other private agencies would also be affected. There would be a need for coordination like we have never seen,

but it can be done. Kindergarten children have changed but so has the world. We need to change our thinking about Kindergarten entrance age and the way we educate this age group. Why have we not seen changes? Have we all been satisfied with status quo or because that is the way we have always done it? I don’t agree, I am never satisfied with just maintaining; I always want to work harder and adjust to the times so students learning at my school will excel and be ready for the world they will live…not mine. I do hope your year is going well and that all students in your Kindergarten program are advancing at a rate to keep up with our fast-paced world. I

National Perspective—Connelly (continued from page 5) cused on highly qualified teachers, it did little to create incentives or provide support for recruiting and retaining effective principals. In addition, funding for the law has never matched authorized levels, leaving schools with too few resources to meet the challenging standards it sets. Nor has Congress ever come close to funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) at the level originally authorized. By increasing funding for these and other programs, the federal government can help districts support principals through mentoring and other professional development efforts, while holding them accountable for results. Colleges and universities can: Redesign principal and teacher preparation programs. Principal and teacher preparation increasingly takes place in diverse settings—in universities, in district-run programs, in programs created by private organizations —and learning takes place in a variety of ways. Regardless of the setting or format, principal preparation programs should be


guided by the Leading Learning Communities standards. However principals get to their jobs, they will be leading learning communities. Preparation programs have not kept pace with changes in schools, and too often do not adequately equip future principals with the knowledge and skills they need. And few programs are designed to prepare principals for the challenges they will face in the coming decade. Principals need programs that focus on instructional leadership; knowledge and use of technology; understanding of collaborative learning environments; collaborative and distributed leadership skills; cultural competence; ability to work with multiple data sources and accountability measures; and understanding of the complex needs of children— academic and social, physical and emotional—if they are to succeed in the 21st century. Teacher and administrative preparation programs should also be redesigned to support building the capacity of everyone to work effectively in learning communities and align their efforts to schoolwide

improvement goals. These programs should also address the skills that students need in the new century and the diversity of the student population. Teacher and administrator preparation programs should collect information from graduates and their supervisors to monitor their effectiveness in increasing student and adult learning. Principals are willing to lead the way for educational transformation that puts children at the center of teaching and learning, that sets high standards for school leaders, and that values and supports the critical role of principals in the education of our nation’s children. But, they can’t do it alone. Shifting toward shared leadership and accountability means that everyone—superintendents, principals, teachers, school districts, states, the federal government, and colleges and universities—assumes responsibility and works together to transform a flawed monolithic educational system into dynamic learning communities where children learn what they need to know to flourish in an ever-changing and complex world. I DECEMBER 2008




Defining Your School Culture BY RYAN RUHL; Principal, Norris High School; NSASSP President 2008-2009



itting in your office, you wonder if you have been successful in your attempt to lead your school district. You daydream about all the things implemented into the program through curriculum, instructional strategies, discipline, etc… You are feeling really good about yourself and thinking you have selected the best profession in the world—then the phone rings; reality sets in. On the other end of the line comes a question, “What is the one thing that defines your school culture?” I believe the answer could be derived by perception, research or personal beliefs. A Culture or the “IT” that defines a school can be produced from a number of things. These affect how schools are perceived, thus affecting what specific culture is portrayed by your school: Are extracurricular activities heavily promoted in your school? What might visitors perceive when they first walk into the school? Do you stop and pick up trash while walking the hallways to model it for students? The level of concern about school cleanliness—from administration to staff to parents—will affect the priority level of the custodial staff. How old is your building? The newer the building or how well it has been maintained can affect the level of positive culture. Remember that new car smell? How visible are the administration and teachers in the school community? The more the staff is seen outside of the school day affects the level of caring taking place with students and the community. How does caring affect the culture of the school? Does your school make the state writing assessment a priority? Some schools have testing pep rallies and some promote positive test taking skills by practicing the testing mode weeks in advance. How does this affect the culture of the school? These and many more perceptions are taking place within schools every day. Should a school have something to fall back on when working through or defining the events? Does the decision of how the situations are dealt with relate to the “IT” of the school? I was thinking about all the challenges we face as school districts today. I called colleagues and inter-

I am the crazy Principal who stands not beside but with the student body to help lead cheers, change cheers that are not appropriate, and SHOW them how to have fun even if we are not winning.




viewed students, teachers and administrators to collect what information I could about the “IT” of their school. To prove my point, consider this: a principal was interviewing one of his coaches (basketball coach) and asked him, “What is your philosophy on defense?” The coach scratched his chin, looked up at the ceiling, and offered the following reply, “We play man to man and go zone during out of bounds plays.” I don’t know about you, but this coach not only didn’t have a philosophy but didn’t ever think about that “ONE THING” that will always define his coaching style or philosophy. What do you think Tom Osborne would have answered if you asked the same question about his offense? Didn’t his “IT” define football for a whole state over several years? In my research of collecting the one thing that defines schools I received the following examples/explanations. Community—this is where everyone comes to be together and that is how we do business here. Family—we believe we are a family in everything we do. We do what is best for kids. Is it good for kids? This is a poster I have seen in at least two school board rooms. Whenever a decision is being made and the board is struggling with the final answer, they look to this poster and make the final vote. Relationships—we build lifelong relationships using caring, responsibility, and trust. By now, you might understand my philosophy on school climate. Any of the above can be used to define a school community. If every decision and consideration falls back on the belief, then everyone should be aware of how the school will run. Personally, I believe there is a standing culture in every district, but the culture can be altered. This can be done by starting from the outside and working in. The one “IT” I hold on to is “SHOW.” I utilize my “ONE THING” in many different ways; for example, I am very enthusiastic about school spirit. I believe if you get the kids to come together for one common theme (such as cheering at a football game) where they can have fun together, they will transfer that back into the hallways and classrooms. This helps us unite to develop a better sense of community or family. I first must be able to SHOW the students and faculty what it looks like and how it works. I am the crazy Principal who stands not beside but with the student body to help lead cheers, change cheers that are not appropriate, and SHOW them how to have fun even if we are not winning. SHOW them continued on page 16

STATEW IDE AWA RDS Gering Public Schools—Hague (continued from page 7) level in reading and language, and a system that could be replicated. Park Elementary was getting the results we were looking for: higher performance for all students and a narrowing of the achievement gap. If they could do it, we felt we could do it, too. We decided to implement the program in grades K-3 initially as part of our Reading The first year was a First program. Most teachers were excited. A few were conchallenge. So much was cerned. Would the program be new to the staff.The able to serve all our students? Would teachers lose their creschedule had to be ativity by having to follow a changed to accommodate script? From the beginning we untwo reading periods a day derstood that we wanted the highest quality professional for most students. development available—proTeachers didn’t have the fessional development that same students all day but would allow us to implement the program effectively. We shared them through also wanted to build our cato maintain the implecross-class grouping.This pacity mentation of DI at a high level required closer monitoring of fidelity into the future. We knew that we could simply buy of the halls to cut down on the Direct Instruction materials commercially and try to imtransition time. plement them without training and support. But we wanted to provide our teachers and administrators the same level of support that had led to success in Park Elementary and other places. We chose the National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI) to provide support services. NIFDI was founded by the creators of DI, and they have been involved in hundreds of successful implementations of DI. They have a comprehensive support program involving training teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and coaches. NIFDI was the service provider for Park Elementary, which gave NIFDI a high recommendation. Expectations for staff members changed as part of the DI implementation. Teachers had to follow the scripts in the programs, submit student performance data weekly and be receptive to expert advice. Principals needed to support the model fully and participate in weekly problem solving sessions. Reading coordinators needed to accompany NIFDI consultants in classrooms, collect data from teachers and become the lead on-site coach for the

schools. I felt that everyone knew they were part of a district-wide effort, and that everyone had an important part to play. The first year was a challenge. So much was new to the staff. The schedule had to be changed to accommodate two reading periods a day for most students. Teachers didn’t have the same students all day but shared them through cross-class grouping. This required closer monitoring of the halls to cut down on transition time. Most teachers had not received extensive in-class support before, and some took a while to get used to the observations and feedback. They seemed to get used to the scripts pretty quickly, though, as they realized that they didn’t have to invent examples or wording and could concentrate much more on student responses—what students already understood and what students needed to practice more. Even though the implementation was tough at times, we could see the success after the first year. So we expanded the program into fourth through sixth grades at the elementary schools and all grades at the junior high. Now it is 2008 and we can look back to see how successful the DI implementation has been. Students overall are reading and writing at much higher levels. The percent of all fourth grade students scoring proficient on the Statewide Writing Assessment increased to 95 percent in 2008, moving Gering to third place among the largest 25 districts in Nebraska. Performance of student subgroups has also increased dramatically. The percent of Free and Reduced Lunch students scoring proficient increased by 37 percent from 2005 to 2008, and the percent of Gering Special Education students scoring proficient has increased by 60 percent over the same time period. Ninety-three percent of Hispanic students scored proficient on the Writing Assessment in 2008, virtually closing the achievement gap. The program was so successful at the junior high that it went from a schoolwide implementation to being used by just a couple of teachers remedially. NIFDI was so impressed by our success that they made a film about our experience and put it on their web site ( The film, Closing the Performance Gap: The Gering Story, describes the changes we went through as a district, from one that met the needs of some students, to one that meets the needs of all students. It is a story that has pointed us in a positive direction, one we hope to build on in future years. I





Hot, Flat & Crowded BOOK REVIEW BY DR. RON JOEKEL, University of Nebraska–Lincoln


hree-time Pulitzer Prize journalist winner Thomas Friedman, author of the best-selling The World is Flat, has followed up with another “must read” book. Friedman makes a case of how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization has created a world that is hot, flat, and crowded. America has a problem and the world has a problem according to Friedman. America’s problem is that it has lost its way in recent years, partly because of 9/11 and partly because of bad habits that have weakened our society’s ability and willingness to take on big challenges. The world has a problem as it is getting hot, Author: Thomas Friedman flat, and crowded. He proNew York: poses that America needs to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2008) take the lead in solving the world’s big problem of being ISBN_13: 978 0 374 16685 4 hot, flat and crowded and in the process will also help solve America’s problem. Friedman claims this an opportunity for America to rise to the level of leadership, innovation, and collaboration that is required. For this new project Friedman has coined the term “Code Green” which means making America the world leader in innovative clean power and energy efficiency systems and inspiring an ethic of conservation toward the natural world. Friedman explains that America cannot afford to miss this challenge to provide the leadership to the healing of the earth. Thomas Friedman identifies five key problems that a hot, flat, and crowded world is dramatically intensifying: • Growing demand for scarcer energy supplies and natural resources. • Massive transfer of wealth to oil-rich countries and their petrodictators. • Disruptive climate change • Energy Poverty • Rapidly accelerating biodiversity loss as plants and animals go extinct at record rates. The first half of the book is a vivid description of the unique energy, climate, and biodiversity challenges the world faces. In the second half of the book, Friedman

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America




presents an argument about how we can meet those challenges. His major points are: • The battle over green (energy) will define the first part of the 21st century, just like over red (communism) defined the last half of the 20th century. • Everyone needs to accept that oil will never again be cheap. • Off-shore drilling may be a temporary fix, but it’s not the long-term solution. • The fossil-fuel age will end only when we invent our way out of it. • The last big innovation in energy production was nuclear power half a century ago. • It’s not just about saving the polar bears or saving three generations from climate change. It’s also about rising to the greatest economic opportunity that’s come along in a long, long time. Examples and conversations with business and political leaders make the book interesting reading. Although you may not agree with the author on every issue and point that he makes regarding global warming and the world’s addiction to oil, he certainly has increased our awareness with this thought-provoking book. It should be required reading for politicians and leaders at all levels. I highly recommend the book as Thomas Friedman has taken “head on” significant problems facing America and the world. I

MEMBER NEW S Our Sincere Sympathies to • Angie Carman, Executive Administrative Assistant, NCSA, whose father passed away • Michael Rotherham, Elementary Principal at Dundy County, whose father passed away • Sandy Peterson, retired SpEd Director at ESU #3, whose mother passed away


NCSA – Hard Work Pays Off BY DR. MIKE DULANEY, Executive Director; and DR. DAN ERNST, Associate Executive Director State of the Association t is with great pride we announce that your professional association is strong, vibrant and financially sound. In accordance with the NCSA Constitution, we are happy to report that the recently completed review of accounts of the NCSA show a net total revenue in excess of $153,000 over expenses this past fiscal year. We had a great year financially, which helped us to keep dues expectations at current rates for the third straight year.

I Dulaney


Educators Health Alliance The NCSA delegation to the EHA has made substantial progress in promoting positive change in the healthcare system serving the vast majority of all educators in the State of Nebraska. The NCSA has instigated steps to bring about real transparency into the affairs of the EHA Board of Directors and the EHA Healthcare Plan generally. We hope to soon announce the hiring of an EHA Plan Advocate, who will serve alongside our valued BC/BS representatives in serving Nebraska schools and ESUs. We have great appreciation for the strides made within the EHA, but more work remains to be done. As always, we will need you, our members, to help provide the necessary guidance, observation and input. Nebraska Leadership Initiative On March 25, 2008 NCSA partnered with the Nebraska ESUs and NDE to provide the initial program and overview of the Nebraska Leadership Initiative (NLI). Following recent statewide in-depth training in Gering, Kearney, Omaha, and Norfolk during the months of September and October, it is our desire to provide an update on progress to date of the leadership initiative. The four training sessions were led by Ms. Jan Hoegh, NDE, Dr. Toby Boss, ESU #6, and our own Dr. Dan Ernst, NCSA. In addition ESU Staff Developers helped to facilitate the sessions and present on selected modules in their respective ESU regions. The training to date has included 76 separate school districts, 10 ESUs, and a total of 261 individuals. We are

“It is with great

pride we announce that your professional association is strong, vibrant and financially sound.”

currently assessing feedback from the training and want to share some brief key concepts and comments from participant evaluations: • “Schools have a need for more sessions to allow additional participants to participate from their schools.” • “The hours seemed like minutes due to the level of organization and presentation techniques. Administrators are a tough group to keep on task and this was great.” • “I truly hope you will continue this emphasis with a Nebraska Leadership Initiative ‘Part II.’” • “This is tremendous work! I applaud NCSA for taking the lead in this extremely important set of tasks.” • “It was one of the best workshops that I ever attended. I went away with new ideas and a focus of improving my role as an administrator.” • “A follow-up is requested from the presenters or service units to help plan staff development once we have identified needs according to the rubrics and modules.” Needless to say we are extremely pleased with the response to date and are committed to continue this cooperative venture with NDE, ESUs, and NCSA. Please stay tuned for “next steps” and more information regarding the Nebraska Leadership Initiative. Legislative Website We are pleased to announce the launching of a new NCSA Legislative Information website (http://legislative. The NCSA takes pride in providing accurate and useful information to our members on legislation important to schools and ESUs. It is vitally necessary, therefore, that we keep pace with technological advances in web design and format. We hope you will take a “browse” at our latest offering. It is interesting to note that, as our global society goes, this new site was developed with the assistance of an employee of one of our corporate sponsors, New Digital Group of Lincoln, who happens to reside in Cardiff, Wales, UK. Even with a six-hour time zone difference, everything is possible.






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School Culture—Ruhl (continued from page 12) an atmosphere they will tell their friends about and then more students will come and participate. Remember, if you build it they will come. The same is true about kids. Is an administrator hiding in his or her office during passing periods? I hope not. I assume he or she is out in the hallway, meeting and greeting students while encouraging teachers to get out and do the same. Is the leader in the school leaving his kids at home during school events, or does he use the school as a place where all of his family comes together for a game or concert? To be a successful leader and help define culture, “SHOW” or lead by example. 16



To be a successful instructional leader, you have to be able to define what it is you do and why you do it. Modeling the commitment to excellence is tough and takes time. Do you want to be miserable in your job, or do you want to be a part of your school culture? The school culture has been passed over by political leaders wanting us to compare things rather than defining who we are and allowing our students to define themselves. According to the Gallup Strength Finders, I have WOO. I use this to my full advantage as an educational leader to help define the culture of our school district. The one thing that defines me as a Principal is that I “SHOW” everything I implement, believe in, and want to accomplish. I look at the wall in

our School Board room and see “What is best for kids?” and know that is our “IT” factor. The whole district knows it and supports it, proving we believe in the “ONE THING”—Community. How I factor into that equation will be accomplished through “SHOW.” I have a long way to go to master it being in my first year, but if I remember that “ONE THING,” I will be successful. I challenge each of you to pinpoint “the one thing that defines your school culture” and determine if that is the perception. You may see a need for change, you may be doing pretty well, or you may be master of your domain…but you will be doing it for kids. I

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Union Bank and Trust Charity Kuehn PO Box 82535 Lincoln, NE 68501 402-323-1460 fax: 402-323-1195

Awards Unlimited Larry King 1935 O St. Lincoln, NE 68510 402-474-0815

LifeTrack Services, Inc. Cassie Dunn 1271 Port Dr. Clarkston, WA 99403 800-738-6466 fax: 509-758-2162

US Bank Tim Schlegelmilch 233 S. 13th St. Lincoln, NE 68508 402-434-1134 fax: 402-434-1007

Nebraska Public Agency Investment Trust Becky Ferguson PO Box 82529 Lincoln, NE 68501 402-323-1334 fax: 402-323-1286

Virco, Inc. Matt Kirkland PO Box 6356 Lincoln, NE 68506 402-328-8031 fax: 402-328-8162

Cannon Moss Brygger & Associates, P.C. Bradley Kissler 2535 Carleton Ave., Ste A Grand Island, NE 68803 308-384-4444 fax: 308-384-0971 D.A. Davidson & Co. Paul Grieger 1111 N. 102nd Ct., Ste 300 Omaha, NE 68114 402-392-7986 fax: 402-392-7908


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

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NCSA Today Magazine, Winter 2009  

NCSA Today Magazine, Winter 2009

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