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How To Build a Better Mousetrap —Dr. —Dr. Matt Matt Blomstedt Blomstedt

Nebraska Council of School Administrators


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2 How to Build a Better Mousetrap Lessons for all as we work to improve the Nebraska education system BY DR. MATTHEW L. BLOMSTEDT


Embrace Change BY RICK HANEY


NAESP National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska is Announced


NAESP Outstanding New Principal of the Year


NSASSP Announces 2014 New Principal of the Year


NSASSP Announces 2014 Assistant Principal of the Year


NSASSP Announces 2014 Distinguished Service Award


Improving Acoustics in Learning Spaces BY MICHAEL KROS


Why I Became a Principal BY MARK JOHNSON




NASA Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mike Apple President-Elect . . . . . . .Kyle McGowen Past President . . . . . .Dr. Mike Teahon NASBO Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rick Haney President-Elect . . . . . . .Jeff Schneider Past President . . . . . . .Kelli Ackerman NAESP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rod Engel President-Elect . . . . . . .Mark Johnson Past President . . . . . . . .Mike Janssen NASES Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . .Sally Gittinger 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

Westside Superintendent Among 100 Educators Chosen for White House Summit

Dr. Michael S. Dulaney Executive Director/Lobbyist


Dr. Dan E. Ernst Associate Executive Director/Lobbyist

NCSA Introduces Lobbyist Dr. Virginia Moon BY DR. MIKE DULANEY AND DR. DAN ERNST

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

What it Means to be a Member of the EHA BY GREG LONG



NASBO Conference National Convention Dates Calendar of Events

NCSA Mission

Megan Hillabrand Event Coordinator Amy Poggenklass Finance and Membership Director Carol Young Executive Administrative Assistant 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 Š2015 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. WINTER 2015 NCSA TODAY 1


How To Build a Better Mousetrap Lessons for all as we work to improve the Nebraska education system BY DR. MATTHEW L. BLOMSTEDT, Commissioner of Education



wish I could say: “Eureka! We figured it out! We now have the best model for school finance, accountability, school improvement, and a way to close the achievement gap.” I wish I could say: “The path is clear. We have organized the support for every student, every day in Nebraska.” I wish I could say: “Every student in Nebraska will graduate on time, ready for her or his ideal future.” The ebb and flow of time and the pressure of a constantly changing educational environment seems to conspire against us. Oh, I know it is not like it used to be back in the “good old days.” The “American Dream” was to go to school and then to go on to work, buy a home, retire, and enjoy the dream. This over-idealized time never really existed. Certainly many may have experienced the cycle, but that period of time was short-lived at best in the context of human history. I recently talked to a retired teacher who seemed to hit the nail on the head. She started teaching in the 1950s and continued to teach into the 1990s. She told me nothing has changed. She said: “It has always been about the student in front of you!” Yes, we’ve attached our focus to various “gadgets, gizmos, and traps” of a better way to teach. Policymakers from Lincoln to Washington, D.C., always contribute to the “better mousetrap” phenomenon, but I must concur: it most certainly is about the student in front of you. Lee Jenkins, someone I’ve become friends with over the past couple of years, wrote his seminal work, Permission to Forget, about a dozen or so years ago. The premise of the book is that we teach students strategies to learn and retain information in the short-term so they test well and can move on to the next lesson. We’ve always done that it seems. We’ve also always tested. We’ve always set standards or expectations. We’ve always tried to build a better mousetrap, so to speak. And, we should keep trying. Jenkins (probably citing Deming) states that “no one part of the system should sub-optimize any other part of the system.” Occasionally, we sub-optimize the student


in front of us. Not because that is our hope or goal, but because in building our better mousetrap we forgot the goal. The real goal is student learning, achievement… success. When you build a “better” mousetrap, what do you expect it to do? Perhaps you want it to look good on paper? Perhaps you seek to do no harm to the mouse? Perhaps your mousetrap never works but you convince yourself that it scared the mice away thus perfecting the ultimate goal of having no mice. Maybe your mousetrap is complex but beautiful in its own way. You’ve mastered the complexity of the machine, and you are proud because you can write journal articles about your effort. It is still worth trying. Imagine we genetically engineered mice that wanted to be caught―perhaps that was their sole purpose for being―then we would eventually catch all mice? I guess that is far-fetched…. Children―should I say humans?―are perfectly “engineered” to learn. It is a natural state for children. Yet, we work so hard to build a better trap rather than to facilitate and support their natural inclinations. I’ve joked that I would like to design a professional development series titled, “How to stop learning in the classroom.” I suspect we would do many things that policymakers, administrators, and even Commissioners do. We would start to fall in love with the policy, science, and even the art of teaching. We would perhaps forget that the most important part of the support system is about removing barriers from our students, teachers, classrooms, schools, districts, and even states. In our efforts to get better, we sometimes get lost in the machine. John Hattie, the author of Visible Learning, conducted his research and would appear to agree that “it is about the student in front of you.” Students who understand, are motivated by their own goals and can essentially track their own progress tend to do better than those who have goals handed to them. Certainly, there are and were students—students like me—who understood that pleasing teachers, parents, etc., was a path to success. But this motivation is different from achievement. Students can be limited by their surroundings unless we work to remove barriers to their achievement. (continued on next page)


What it Means to be a Member of the EHA BY GREGORY LONG, EHA Field Representative



s a member of the Educators Health Alliance, you are part of the largest insurance pool in the State of Nebraska. Our membership has over 72,000 participants and includes all but three school districts within the State. EHA’s board is comprised of 12 voting members—six members from the NSEA, three members from both the NCSA and NCSB. It takes at least seven votes for any motion dealing with health insurance policy changes to pass. This system was put in place to ensure all organizations were equally represented and instill a culture of cooperation. With the ever-changing health insurance industry, the EHA has been labeled as one of the most stable plans in Nebraska offering consistent coverage for over 47 years. First, the EHA has been offering a wide variety of health and welfare plans that meets the needs of not only school districts but also teachers and staffs throughout the State. Secondly, being part of such an organization as EHA provides a level of stability that only a large group can provide based on the basic principle of “Law of Large Numbers”—large claims can be absorbed with minimal impact to the overall group’s experience. Lastly, the EHA manages the well-being of our members prospectively rather than retrospectively with programs such as our first class wellness program. Because your school district is part of the EHA you are automatically eligible to be part of this program and continue to enjoy this benefit on into your retirement. The wellness program has assisted in keeping our annual renewals well below national trends.

Another very important aspect of the EHA is the continuation of health care coverage through retirement until Medicare eligibility. Retiree benefits include various plans with different plan design options to better meet the needs of our specific members. Your school’s membership insures the security of a plan that is supported by not only other active participants but also the retired participants within the state of Nebraska. In a world of uncertainty with health care coverage, the EHA can be counted on to be there to weather the storm of higher premiums and increased out-of-pocket costs. The EHA has sustained a period of stability in premiums for over 14 years and lower out-of-pocket costs as we move through the regulations of the Affordable Care Act. Previous rates increases from 2010 to 2015 are 4.5 percent (2010), 0 percent (2011), 2.99 percent (2012), 6.25 percent (2013), 2.3 percent (2014), 1.9 percent (2015). The EHA has developed and maintain an atmosphere to push against the tide of higher out-of-pocket costs and double digit increases to our health care premium rate. As a collective unit working together, we have beaten the national trend. The Educators Health Alliance is committed and proud to offer a health care policy that is the most stable product in Nebraska that values the members and school districts for which it serves. If you have any questions/ comments, please contact the Educators Health Alliance Field Representative, Greg Long at or 402-440-1358. n

How to Build a Better Mousetrap (continued from page 2) I think we are on to something with AQuESTT. The AQuESTT tenets are not simple yet they are what we always hoped to develop in accountability. When State Board President Rachel Wise and I met recently with Governor Ricketts, he reminded us that measuring quality is difficult…but absolutely necessary to improve what really matters and to make a difference. That being said, measurements are complex and not perfect. We need an appropriate balance of motivation and measurement to mark progress. Students need to be allowed to be intrinsically motivated. Teachers need to be motivated to attend to the students in front of them. Principals need support so they can support teachers. Policymakers―and Commissioners―need to be

thoughtful about a system that will support schools and ultimately students. We need to focus on building capacities as Michael Fullan has suggested for years in his writings about school improvement. The State Board of Education and the Nebraska Department of Education really do believe that AQuESTT will help us properly balance continuous improvement, successful school approaches, and supports for the school system at large. AQuESTT is a journey, but I hope―we hope―it is a path leading toward longterm stability and a focus on every student every day. I encourage your thoughts and feedback about AQuESTT and all that the Nebraska Department of Education does. n WINTER 2015 NCSA TODAY 3


Embrace Change BY RICK HANEY, McCook Public Schools, 2014 NASBO President



ecently I listened to a keynote speaker who emphasized that there is no such thing as a normal day at work anymore and that we should embrace the fact that what once was perceived as an ABNORMAL day is now the norm. He went further to explain the main reason for this is the never-ending changes in our workplace that have created a culture of instability and stress. Change has always existed, but the recent perception is that the workplace is experiencing top down changes that appear at warp speed and seem to be larger in scale. He emphasized that we need to embrace the challenges that change creates without dreaming of the “good old days” and letting things negatively affect us. As current discussions and planning will have it, there are many new “changes” out there that we will need to embrace at some point, if we have not already. Currently two that seem to be hot topics are: 1) school funding and the state aid formula; and 2) the Six Tenets of AQuESTT being developed by our State School Board and State Commissioner of Education. At this point there is little or no detail about what the future will hold for Nebraska’s property tax situation or the state aid formula. Those officials in control at the state level are aware that current practices have issues both on the revenue (resources) side and on the expenditure (needs) side. A consensus exists that needed changes will be coming that will attempt to create more financial equity among taxpayers and districts. Ideas and options are currently being studied by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee chaired by Senator Galen Hadley. The second change will involve the Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow


—AQuESTT. The AQuESTT framework is designed around six tenets: • College and Career Ready • Educator Effectiveness • Assessment • Transitions • Positive Partnerships, Relationships & Student Success • Educational Opportunities & Access Each tenet is further defined by areas of focus. For each area of focus, specific indicators, measures (data points), and timelines will be developed. The Nebraska Department of Education is currently working on the indicators, measures, and timelines. Linkages of the indicators to other state or federal requirements will also be incorporated into the framework. This framework will be used annually to classify schools into one of four performance areas: Excellent, Great, Good, and Needs Improvement/Priority. Excellent schools will serve as models in the state and Needs Improvement/Priority (3) schools will work with an NDE team to create an intervention plan of improvement for approval with the State Board of Education. Both of the initiatives described above are works in progress and will require voice and buy-in from each of us to be successful. As new rules and regulations are developed for these two situations, it will be important that all parties work together in a unified effort to create funding equity solutions and district/student measurement processes that are meaningful and sustainable. n


NAESP National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska is Announced


he Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals is pleased to announce that JoAnne Roberts, Principal at Grant and Lincoln Elementary in Norfolk has been named the 2014 National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska. JoAnne has been a Principal in the Norfolk Public School district since 1989 currently serving at Grant and Lincoln Elementary. Over the last 25 years as a principal in the Norfolk school district, JoAnne has been the administrator in multiple buildings. She was active in the development of the first Montessori program as a magnet school and being the first Montessori Principal. Being an instructional leader in the elementary, JoAnne along with her staff at Grant Elementary developed Data Binders to increase student achievement and empowering students in their learning. JoAnne was influential in developing the special education inclusion program for Norfolk Public Schools. The program had multiple programs including Integrated Team Approach, Neighborhood School Inclusion, Learning in Functional Environments, and Circle of Friends. This program was especially significant to her because one of her sons was able to access these programs and is now a participant in Project Search. According to Dr. Thompson, Superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools, “Jo has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of curriculum and instruction, and is a natural leader in

these areas. Jo has a sincere and genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of children. She truly enjoys being an educator, and her passion is obvious to all those around her.” JoAnne’s leadership has been obvious during her career as a Principal. She has received many honors from NAESP such as the Longevity award, Community Connect award, and Little Red Schoolhouse/Award of Excellence. She has given back Roberts to her association holding office in Region III as secretary and NAESP as Vice President. She has also been active within her community serving as a volunteer with the United Way, Northeast Community College instructor, and Lutheran Community Hospital Board member along with many other community activities. JoAnne will represent Nebraska in Washington, D.C. in the Fall of 2015. NAESP is extremely proud to have JoAnne represent our organization as NDP for 2014. She is very deserving of this recognition. Congratulations, JoAnne! n

NAESP Outstanding New Principal of the Year


helsea Feusner, Principal at Buffalo Hills Elementary of Kearney Public Schools, has been named Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals New Principal of the Year for 2014-2015. Chelsea began her administrative career in North Platte Public Schools in 2011. She moved to Kearney to be the elementary principal at Buffalo Hills in 2012. Dr. Brian Maher, Superintendent of Kearney Public Schools, writes, “Chelsea was hired and charged with developing a new culture at a new building. Mission Accomplished! Chelsea brought a number of personal and professional characteristics to the position that has made her a star and her building a colossal success.” One parent says, “Mrs. Feusner knows the direction she wants Buffalo Hills to go, and she knows that hard work is involved in the journey.” Chelsea has been involved in many organizations and activities, for example being part of the Kearney Area Children’s museum event committee and board member, board member of the

Kearney Area Junior Achievement, and part of the Alpha Delta Kappa, International Honorary Organization for Women in Education. Chelsea is also currently a member of NCSA, NAESP, and NAESP Region IV. She was also elected President Elect for Region IV. Congratulations to Chelsea Feusner for her outstanding start as an Elementary School Principal. We appreciate her early contributions to our proFeusner fession and are proud to name her New Principal of the Year. n WINTER 2015 NCSA TODAY 5


NSASSP Announces 2014 New Principal of the Year


he Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals has selected Christopher Prososki as the 2014 New Principal of the Year. This award is presented annually to a Principal who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in their school, their region, and at the state level. The winner will have demonstrated their enthusiasm for the Principalship by support from students, parents, teachers and peers. Christopher Prososki was selected as the NSASSP Outstanding New Principal for 2014. Mr. Prososki has been in education since 2008 and has been the Principal at Diller-Odell Public Schools since 2012. Chris has been a member of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA), the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (NSASSP), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) for three years. He is also a member of the Beatrice YMCA, the Diller Community Club, and the Odell Area Community Enrichment (OACE). During his brief tenure at Diller-Odell, Mr. Prososki has formed a technology committee, implemented a Marzano instructional model for the district, initiated a discipline intervention pyramid,

minimized top-down control to promote servant leadership, and started the Principal’s Advisory Committee to give students a voice in their district. Mike Meyerle, Superintendent of Diller-Odell Public Schools, praised Mr. Prososki, noting, “Mr. Prososki leads by Prososki example with behavior and character. He is open and honest, but in a direct and positive way. I find Mr. Prososki to be a wonderful educator and I am confident that he will continue to grow in the profession and continue a very successful career as a school administrator.” Congratulations to Christopher Prososki for his outstanding start as a Secondary School Principal. We appreciate his early contributions to our profession and are proud to name him New Principal of the Year. n

NSASSP Announces 2014 Assistant Principal of the Year


udrey Racek of Lexington has been recognized by the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals as the 2014 Assistant Principal of the Year. Audrey received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in K-6 Ed and 7-12 Special Ed from Kearney State College in 1981. She also received a Master’s Degree in K-6 Administration from UNK in 2010 and another Master’s Degree in 7-12 Administration from UNK in 2013. She has been involved in education since 1982 and for the past five years she has served as Assistant Principal at Lexington High School. Ms. Racek is a current member of the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (Region IV Member), the Nebraska Council of School Administrators, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She has been a former member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals as well as a member of teacher associations such as NSEA, NEA, and LEA. On the local level, Ms. Racek is a member of the Lexington Community Foundation Board, the United Methodist Church, and a Dawson County Foster Parent. She has also been a member of the Lexington United Way Board and helped with the Lexington Baseball Association. Ms. Racek is also involved as a member of the Lexington Business Education Community Board and is currently serving as the 6 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2015

Lexington High School Liaison with the Dawson County Probation Office. She helped initiate and coordinate parent/home contacts and visits to discuss hometo-school plans to enhance and raise student achievement and is the current director of the Lexington Public Schools Crisis Team. Racek Kyle Hoehner, Principal for Lexington High School commented, “Ms. Racek is an extremely motivated administrator; she is hard-working, knowledgeable, and conscientious. Her dedication, work ethic, and enthusiasm are easily identifiable. She is a loyal, trustworthy co-worker who places a premium on confidentiality and following the appropriate chain of command in regard to building and district issues and concerns. She understands diversity and is sensitive to the needs of both students and parents of varying ethnicity. Probably her greatest attribute is the fact that she is always cognizant of what is best for our students. This characteristic separates her from many of her peers and she is truly a champion for kids!” n


NSASSP Announces 2014 Distinguished Service Award


The Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals is proud to recognize Barry Stark, Principal of University of Nebraska High School, as the Distinguished Service Award winner for 2014. Barry Stark has been selected as the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. Barry received his education from Tarkio College (Bachelor’s of Arts in Physical Education and French) ’67; Master’s Degree from UNO in Secondary Administration ’71; and Specialist degree in Secondary Administration from UNO ’80). Mr. Stark is currently in his sixth year as the Principal for the University of Nebraska High School. Barry has been active in many professional organizations such as the Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA) and serving on the NCSA Legislative Committee from 1994 to 2000. He is also a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) where he served on the Board of Directors from 2002 to 2006 and president for 2007-08. He is also a member of the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (NSASSP) where he served as president for 2001-02. Mr. Stark was also a previous member of National Middle School Association (NMSA) serving on the Board of Directors from 1982-84. Mr. Stark’s other honors include being selected as the Nebraska

Outstanding Young Educator in 1976, the NSASSP Middle Level Principal of the Year in 2002, the NCSA Distinguished Service Award in 2008, and he was inducted into the Elkhorn Public Schools Hall of Fame in 2010. Barbara Wolf Shousha, the Associate Director and University of Nebraska Online World- Stark wide Director for the University of Nebraska High School states, “Barry Stark is very plainly a man who will turn up his sleeves and engage in the hard work of leadership. He is a man you can depend on to always do the right thing and he challenges our team to do things in the right way and for the right reasons. This dedication to professionalism in his work is a model for others.” Ray Henning, Academic Adviser for University of Nebraska High School noted, “A quality that sets Barry apart is his ability to make the journey fun for his staff and students. Because he is very relational, he connects with almost everyone he encounters and with those interactions he makes it enjoyable for all involved.” n

Improving Acoustics in Learning Spaces BY MICHAEL KROS, DLR Group



’ve been thinking about sound a lot in my work lately, and exploring how we can improve acoustics in our schools. Environment directly impacts student learning. Most conversations along these lines often center on lighting, indoor air quality, even color, but the less-discussed topic of acoustics has significant impacts on a student’s health, behavior, and productivity. This study highlights research findings about the impacts in great detail, although for a quicker introduction to this idea I’d recommend Julian Treasure’s 2012 Ted Talk: let’s design for the ear. Improvement in this area starts with an entire project team, because it’s not just a design issue. It hinges on decisions made by diverse stakeholder parties, and at all stages of the process. For example, during construction standard acoustic panels in gymnasiums are easy prey when costs need to be reduced. While removing them from your scope can help right-align a project with

a budget, it reduces the ability of students and teachers being able to hear one another in what is essentially a very large learning space. If, though, thinking about sound quality is a part of all decision-making, the entire team might find other solutions. That being said, as a designer I still want to see just how much we can improve on current design best practices and tools. To that end, DLR Group recently partnered with a graduate student mastering in acoustics to evaluate the performance of several U.S. schools. In this study, we measured actual acoustic performance and compared those results to the design intent of those spaces. We looked specifically at the following criteria: • Reverberation time (RT): How long does it take a sound to bounce back to its source? Construction materials for ceiling, walls and flooring have significant impact on RT. For this study, we measured performance by setting up a room with a source placed in two (continued on page 11) WINTER 2015 NCSA TODAY 7


Why I Became a Principal BY MARK JOHNSON, Principal, Bryant Elementary School, Kearney, Nebraska

I Johnson

’ll be honest with you right from the start. The initial reason I became a principal was because of the money. Yes, the money. When I taught fifth grade, I loved my job. I mean, I absolutely loved it. Going to work felt like going to my second home. If I wasn’t at home, I wanted to be at school. I didn’t like the long breaks because it meant I had to take a break from seeing the kids and doing what I felt I was called to do. But as you and I both know, being a teacher doesn’t equate with raking in the money. And as a father with two small children at the time, I was doing my best to make ends meet. But the problem is, I could never get those ends together. So I worked full time as a teacher, worked part-time as a trainer in the Cabela’s phone center, and worked part-part time as a wedding DJ on the weekends. It allowed me to pay the bills and provide for my family and continue to do what I loved (teaching), all the while never getting to be home to see the family for which I was providing. Quite the conundrum. So I did what I felt was right in my situation. I turned in my resignation letter. It was time for me to find another career. I heard about some teachers who got into pharmaceutical sales. Others had become insurance agents. While both prospects sounded like a slow death, what other options did I have? As it turns out, my principal had another option in mind. He suggested I get my Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. He said even if I didn’t use my degree, I would learn a lot about the bigger picture of running a school, and having a master’s degree meant I would move up on the pay scale. And becoming a principal? That would mean almost doubling my salary. The best part...I could stay in education, doing what I loved. (Thank you, Mr. Gloystein, for keeping me in the business of education.) Fast forward. I’ve been a principal now for eight years and I’ve never been happier. Now granted, this is the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life. It is extremely demanding and if I saw a list of all the things I had to do during the interview, I would have run out of the room and never looked back. The list contains things like being an instructional leader, guiding staff toward the mission of the school, analyzing and managing data to make building-wide decisions, fulfilling NDE requirements for Title I status, conducting walk-throughs and formal evaluations, staying on top of attendance issues, hearing a student confess something to you and then calling HHS

immediately afterward, carrying screaming students out of a classroom, having difficult meetings with parents about student behavior, trying not to show my stress level about making AYP every year, really trying not to show my stress level at being a “Needs Improvement” school, attending district meetings, IEP/MDT meetings, SAT meetings…and the list goes on and on. However, I would have stopped running and turned back around if they also showed me this list of things I would get to do: I get to start my day off welcoming students to school. I get to have a kindergarten student eat breakfast in my office every morning. I get to do morning announcements and tell jokes on the intercom. Really, really bad jokes. I get to visit classrooms and watch teachers do amazing things with kids. I get to brainstorm ideas about how to reach the seemingly unreachable students. I get to listen to excited teachers tell me about the growth they are seeing in their classrooms, and have them show off their MAPs data. I get to wear a Star Wars apron and scrape lunchroom trays. I get to high five students in the hallways. I get to give the students a weekly mission that helps build a positive climate and a family atmosphere in the school. I get to listen to kids tell me how they feel safe at school, and how it’s their favorite place in the whole world. I get to encourage teachers and students to give their very best each and every day, and learn something about them and myself in the process. So, did I get into this job for the money? Yes. But my perception has changed. The first list are the things I get paid to do. But the second list? That’s the real payment. Those are the reasons I became a principal. And I wouldn’t change a thing. n

NATIONAL CONVENTION DATES ASCD – March 21-23, 2015 – Houston,TX NAESP – June 30-July 2, 2015 – Long Beach, CA 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



A Banick


dministrators, counselors, and teachers are often asked by students if the dual credit class they are taking or plan to take will transfer among postsecondary institutions. Now there is a tool to help find this information. A new website developed by the University of Nebraska in collaboration with the Nebraska State College System and Nebraska Community College Association provides students in the state with a convenient “one-stop shop” for researching course transferability between Nebraska’s public higher education institutions. Transfer Nebraska, which went live at the end of January, aims to help Nebraska students better understand their options, plan for their future, and stay on the path to a college degree so they can be successful in the workforce. The site’s searchable database offers information on 64,500 course equivalences among the four NU campuses, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, the three state colleges, and eight community and tribal colleges. Susan Fritz, University of Nebraska executive vice president and provost, said that Transfer Nebraska opens doors for students who want to blend their college education. Nebraska’s public higher education institutions are committed to increasing access and affordability and informing students about their transfer opportunities in a consistent and collaborative way is one step toward that goal. “Nebraska’s economic success depends on our ability to produce a highly skilled, highly educated workforce. The University of Nebraska, state colleges and community colleges all play a critical role in increasing educational attainment in our state,” Fritz said. “Transfer Nebraska is an important tool that will help students earn the degree that is right for them. We’ve moved from 16 different mechanisms for informing students about transfer options to a single system that gives current and consistent information. The university is proud to collaborate with our public higher education partners in bringing this resource to Nebraska students.” Fritz noted that given high mobility rates among college students today, there is a clear need for Nebraska’s higher education institutions to work together to ensure students understand which courses may count toward a degree at a different school. About 5,000 students transfer into and between the state’s public higher education


institutions each year. A quarter of first-time, full-time students who enrolled at UNL, UNO or UNK in fall 2007 had graduated from another institution or were still enrolled at another institution six years later. Nationally, one-third of all U.S. college students switch institutions at least once before earning a degree, according to a 2012 report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. With access to clear information on transferability, students can plan more effectively, and have a smoother pathway if they decide a different institution might be a better fit, Fritz said. Adult students looking to return to school can also research how courses they took in the past may count toward a degree, and high school students who have earned college credit can explore where they can apply that credit. The inclusion of regional institutions in the site’s database also could help Nebraska attract more students to the state. Nebraska State College System Chancellor Stan Carpenter said: “Chadron, Peru, and Wayne State Colleges have long partnered with our postsecondary colleagues across Nebraska to serve students and their families. We are now equally committed to the successful launch of Transfer Nebraska, a web-based platform which has been designed to provide easy access to information regarding the transfer of credits between public institutions. Using Transfer Nebraska, students can learn what courses transfer to and from every Nebraska public institution. As the result of hard work and the commitment of numerous individuals at Nebraska’s 16 public institutions, Transfer Nebraska is now live and ready to help students plan their futures, become successful in the workforce, and grow into productive and engaged citizens across Nebraska.” Dennis Baack, executive director of the Nebraska Community College Association, said: “This Transfer Nebraska website will allow every student in Nebraska to have at their fingertips information about the transferability of their college work to make it easier for them to create a career path to their education goals. The community colleges would like to thank the University of Nebraska for their leadership on this very meaningful project.” Questions about admissions can be directed to the institutions’ admissions offices, which are listed on the Transfer Nebraska site, n


Westside Superintendent Among 100 Educators Chosen for White House Summit BY JULIE ANDERSON, World-Herald Staff Writer, REPRINT COURTESY OF OMAHA WORLD-HERALD


estside Superintendent Blane McCann is one of 100 school leaders from across the country selected to participate in the first National Connected Superintendents Summit at the White House on Wednesday. McCann and other school chiefs, selected by the Education Department, will be recognized for their leadership in helping to transition their school districts to digital learning. McCann was the only Nebraska superintendent chosen. The conference is intended to bring together school officials to share promising approaches to using technology in the classroom with one another and the Education Department. In 2004, the Westside Community Schools became the first public school district in Nebraska to provide laptops for every student in grades nine through 12. Eighth graders were added in 2008. This fall, the district extended the program to all students in kindergarten through 12th grade, supplying laptops for seventh graders and iPads for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. “School districts across the country are helping teachers harness the power of technology to create personal learning environments for all students,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. “We want to make sure every child—whether he or she is in the inner city, in a rural community, or on a Native American reservation—has access to knowledge and the chance to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” The White House summit will be followed by a series of 12 to 15 regional summits that will focus on the digital progress made

possible by local school districts. The events, according to the Education Department, also will include the unveiling of digital tools that facilitate incorporation of technology into short-term and long-range education planning. The Department also is launching a Future Ready Initiative aimed at showcasing outstanding school leadership and strategies. Education Department offi- McCann cials said technology has the potential to allow students to do more, at their own pace, and to develop the knowledge and skills employers demand. Yet fewer than 30 percent of classrooms have the broadband Internet to support today’s education technology needs. President Barack Obama, who will host the superintendents summit, announced an initiative in June 2013 with the goal of connecting 99 percent of students to next-generation connectivity within five years. n

Improving Acoustics in Learning Spaces (continued from page 7) different locations for three samples and measuring the amount of RT for each. • Background noise level (BNL): How much ambient outside noise hits the ear? The most common BNL impact inside the learning environment comes from mechanical systems. For each room studied, we essentially closed doors and windows and used equipment to record and analyze ambient noise levels. • Sound transmission class (STC): How much sound is isolated from one room to the next? The most common impact on STC is with design and construction of separations/enclosures between spaces. To test STC, we generated noise in a room and

set up listening equipment in an adjacent room to measure how much was getting through. We’re still analyzing the results of these tests. Based on initial findings, we know already that we can update the Reverberation Time Calculator that we use during design, which will help us become more accurate in the acoustic performance of our designs right away. I’m looking forward to more findings, and hope to share those out in a future article. n



NCSA Introduces Lobbyist Dr.Virginia Moon BY DR. MIKE DULANEY, Executive Director; and DR. DAN ERNST, Associate Executive Director


he Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA) has contracted with Dr. Virginia Moon to serve as a Lobbyist for NCSA. As an external lobbyist for NCSA, Dr. Moon will assist NCSA to analyze legislation under consideration in the Nebraska Legislature and measures that may appear on statewide election ballots, in addition to advocating positions taken by the NCSA Legislative Committee. She will be available to testify as directed at Legislative hearings on behalf of NCSA. Dr. Moon will work with Senators and their staffs on proposed legislation and help to inform our members and discuss NCSA positions on current legislation. She will be available to participate in all aspects of our NCSA lobbying activities. We are excited to work with Dr. Moon as she has tremendous experience as a school administrator, vast knowledge with respect to statewide policy as well as local education issues. As an experienced Nebraska school administrator, she has earned the respect and admiration of her peers and colleagues. A brief summary of some of her many highlights and experiences are shared to allow you to get to know Dr. Moon. Dr. Moon received her Ed.D from Kansas State University as well as Masters of Science diploma in Curriculum & Instruction, in addition to the Educational Administration Superintendent endorsement from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. The Holdrege native earned a Bachelors of Science from the University

of Nebraska with a double emphasis in English and Social Studies. Her leadership experiences include interim City Administrator in Broken Bow and Interim Superintendent positions in the Omaha Public Schools 2012-13 and Broken Bow 20102012. In addition, she served eleven years as the Superintendent of the Ralston Public Schools and six years as the Assistant Superintendent of Per- Moon sonnel for the Papillion/La Vista Schools, La Vista, Nebraska. She has classroom teacher and administrative experience in Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. Dr. Moon has extensive experience working with lobbyists, legislators, and school administrators to help formulate quality public policy for schools. We are pleased to work with Dr. Moon and encourage members to get to know her and to visit with her about legislative concerns. Her contact information is (402) 699-7295 or email n


NASES Spring Conference

Lied Lodge

Nebraska City

GRIT NASBO State Convention AQuESST empowered by DATA Conference

Cornhusker Marriott Cornhusker Marriott Younes Conf. Center

Lincoln Lincoln Kearney

NCE Conference NASCD Summer Conference NCSA/TRANE Golf Tournament NASPA Summer Retreat

Younes Conf. Center Embassy Suites Yankee Hill Golf Course Lied Lodge

Kearney Lincoln Lincoln Nebraska City

Administrators’ Days

Younes Conf. Center


APRIL 2 15-17 27-28

MAY JUNE 1-4 12 23 25-26

JULY 29-31


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

Boyd Jones Construction 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

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

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

Horace Mann Keith Jorgensen 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

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

Nebraska Public Agency Investment Trust Becky Ferguson P.O. Box 82529 Lincoln, NE 68501 402-323-1334

Nebraska Liquid Asset Fund

Silver Sponsorships Awards Unlimited Larry King 1935 O Street | Lincoln, NE 68510 402-474-0815

Bes-Tech, Inc. Tony Zimmerman 4640 South 59th Street Omaha, NE 68117 402-502-2340

School Traditions Reid Brakke 12100 W. Center Road, Ste 901 Omaha, NE 68144 402-733-0300

Ty Christensen 12117 Grover Street Omaha, NE 68144 402-960-5387

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

John Baylor Test Prep


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

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

Learning Together


Linda Fox 5509 B W. Friendly Ave., Ste. 201 Greensboro, NC 27410 866-921-0000

Will Hays 8700 Executive Woods, Ste. 100 Lincoln, NE 68512 402-423-5447

Kearney Visitors Bureau

National Insurance

Wells Fargo

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

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

Northwest Evaluation Association

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

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

Dan Henderson 121 NW Everett St. | Portland, OR 97209 503-624-1951

University of Nebraska High School Charlotte Seewald 1520 N. 20th Cr. | Lincoln, NE 68588 402-472-1922

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


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