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Day of Action Nebraska Loves Public Schools

BlendEd Learning Pilot Project

Nebraska Council of School Administrators

Winter 2016





2 Day of Action – Nebraska Loves Public Schools BY SALLY NELLSON BARRETT

3 BlendEd Learning: Partnership + Collaboration = Enhanced Teaching and Learning BY DAVID LUDWIG

4 Courage and Resilience:

NCSA EXECUTIVE BOARD 2015-2016 Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ryan Ricenbaw Vice Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . Mike Apple Immed. Past Chair . . . Dr. Mike Teahon NASA Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . Kyle McGowan President Elect . . . . . . . Dr. Mike Sieh Past President . . . . . . . . . Mike Apple

Standing up for Public Education BY DR. STEVE JOEL


The Demise of Dr. “NO”

NASBO Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . Jeff Schneider President Elect . . . . . . . . John Brazell Past President . . . . . . . . . Rick Haney



The Value of Your Leadership and P-16 BY GABRIELLE BANICK


NAESP National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska is Announced


NAESP Announces its Outstanding New Principal of the Year


NSASSP Announces 2015 Distinguished Service Award


NSASSP Announces 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year

NAESP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . Mark Johnson President Elect . . . . . . Jim Widdifield Past President . . . . . . . . . . Rod Engel NASES Representatives President . . . . Wendy Kemling-Horner President Elect . . . . . . . Missy Dobish Past President . . . . . . Sally Giittinger NSASSP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Troy Lurz President Elect . . . . . . Steve Adkisson Past President . . . . . . Ryan Ricenbaw NARSA Representative President . . . . . . . . . . . . Dave Kaslon NCSA STAFF

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NSASSP Announces 2015 New Principal of the Year Take a Stand—Elevate Your Health BY LINDA KENEDY and HOWIE HALPRIN




Calendar of Events and National Convention Dates

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 $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 ©2016 by NCSA. All rights reserved.

Dr. Michael S. Dulaney Executive Director/Lobbyist Dr. Dan E. Ernst Associate Executive Director/Lobbyist Megan Hillabrand Event Coordinator Amy Poggenklass Finance and Membership Director Christy Hald Executive Administrative Assistant Michelle Lopez Administrative Assistant Dr. Virginia Moon Consultant, Lobbyist The opinions expressed in NCSA Today or by its authors do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. WINTER 2016 NCSA TODAY 1


Day of Action BY SALLY NELLSON BARRETT, Nebraska Loves Public Schools Sally Nellson Barrett is the director of Nebraska Loves Public Schools, a documentary film project that's dedicated to sharing the stories of good things happening in public schools across the state. Each film focuses on how Nebraska schools are helping students succeed. ver the Thanksgiving holiday I was going through my grandmother’s old recipe box. In it I found not only some of our family favorites, but I found something that caught my attention. When I flipped over the envelope on a Date Nut Bread recipe, I saw a stunning postmark. The envelope was dated April 12, 1965 and postmarked with the words: PUBLIC SCHOOLS WEEK. VISIT YOUR SCHOOL. While it may not stir emotions—it did two critical things. It brought public schools into consciousness and it asked people to DO something.


Here's how the Day of Action works:

Parents, teachers, administrators, or anyone else with a stake in Nebraska's public school system can host a watch party. The watch parties are 100% free to host. We'll send along a DVD of the film and a discussion guide. Sign up at

Invite your communities—students, parents, teachers, administrators, alumni, business partners and more. Make sure to list your event on our statewide event page.

Showtime! Show the film and show the world that you support and love public schools. Share watch party photos online using the hashtag #ILovePublicSchools

So often, no one understands how hard it is to do what you do for your schools. Rarely, schools invite the public to be part of creating a shared understanding of what education looks like now. Because you are busy doing what you do best, there leaves little time to ask anything of your fellow citizens. Through Nebraska Loves Public Schools’ films, we have attempted to demonstrate the challenges you face and the grace with which you approach and overcome them. To some degree, we have asked people to “visit your school” but our team got to wondering, what would happen if we joined forces and did what this postmark does, together: show them and ask them to act. To that end, we are organizing the first-ever Public Schools Day of Action, a day devoted to engaging all citizens in Nebraska to celebrate our teachers, students and public school communities. On January 27, 2016, Consider the Alternative, our limitedrelease film that explains to families and taxpayers the positive 2 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2016

differences already happening in our existing public schools, will become available for watch parties across the state. From living rooms to auditoriums, lunch rooms to break rooms, watch parties will take place in as many communities across Nebraska on this day as possible. Hosts of the watch parties—parents, teachers, administrators, or anyone with a stake in public education—will ask their guests to take action based on what is needed in that local community. It could be anything from visiting the schools to volunteering or handwriting a note to their state senator in support of public schools. The day itself—January 27—is significant because there's a chance that a bill will be introduced in the Nebraska state legislature that would allow for school vouchers and/or charter schools to become part of the fabric of our state's education system. (continued on page 12)


BlendEd Learning: Partnership + Collaboration = Enhanced Teaching and Learning BY DAVID LUDWIG, ESUCC Executive Director, and DR. MIKE DULANEY, NCSA Executive Director


e are excited to formally announce the collaboration between Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council (ESUCC) and NCSA on a BlendEd Learning Pilot Program. The partnership was launched in October 2014 and we have been working since that time to develop and implement a dynamic instructional model. We encourage school administrators to read about the BlendEd Initiative and the development of the pilot program. Background As a result of the revision of Rule 84 (Regulations for the Accreditation of Educational Service Units) in June 2012, a level of accountability for ESU’s as well as a collaborative effort with NDE has been established. Included within Section 003.02A1 “The ESU administrator or his or her designee shall participate in two jointly established meetings with representatives of the Department and the ESU Coordinating Council annually to establish the focus and coordination of necessary core services based on priorities and on needs that are identified through the analysis of data.” Within the first collaborative strategic planning session, three statewide initiatives were unanimously adopted to include: BlendEd Learning, the current ADVISER Dashboard, and Educator Effectiveness (Teacher/Principal Evaluation). While the ADVISER Dashboard and Educator Effectiveness are currently in the implementation phases, the BlendEd Learning Initiative has been in the development phase with a statewide educational focus regarding an understanding of a BlendEd Learning environment and the impact on teaching and learning. BlendEd Learning has been defined as a student’s control over time, pace, path, and place. This learning environment is focused on pedagogy with the support of technology to create an engaging environment for the student learner. Within her article, BlendEd Learning Basics, in the Summer 2015 Edition of NCSA Today, Dawn Ferreyra, Omaha Public Schools, describes BlendEd

Learning as “a mix of Internet-based and face-to-face teaching that allows the learner to have a personalized, teacher-directed learning experience through enhanced choice, customization, and communication.” Pilot Program As we continue to move forward with an increased understanding of the BlendEd Learning initiative, a tremendous partnership has been created between the ESUCC and NCSA. This partnership, designed to strengthen the current statewide system of support for teaching and learning, has been created to collaboratively promote and implement a statewide BlendEd Learning Pilot Program beginning January 2016. Information regarding the BlendEd Pilot was provided through NCSA News on November 25, 2015 as well as through a joint presentation during the State Education Conference in November 2015. The collaborative efforts began through the development of a planning committee with NCSA and ESUCC/ESU. The committee has been meeting on a regular basis to develop a plan that will provide school districts/schools an opportunity to collaboratively develop an understanding of a BlendEd Learning environment and to work as a team throughout the development of a BlendEd Learning implementation plan. Initiated through an application process, school districts/schools will be selected using an established rubric based upon their readiness for a BlendEd Learning environment. “An important lesson learned for blended learning programs is to start first with clear educational goals and to make sure that blended learning instructional models are incorporating research from youth development and what works best for student learning.” (Watson, p15) The planning committee is utilizing the knowledge of the Highlander Institute to provide guidance and training for the teams that will be selected for the pilot. Information regarding the BlendEd Learning Pilot project can be accessed at Sequential steps regarding the two-year implementation process includes the following: (continued on page 4) WINTER 2016 NCSA TODAY 3


Courage and Resilience: Standing up for Public Education BY DR. STEVE JOEL, Superintendent, Lincoln Public Schools

A Joel

bout 35 years ago, a good friend and I were sitting in a Kansas hotel lobby attending our first conference as newly appointed superintendents. We had a great deal in common in our career paths: secondary teachers who had become small-school principals and then superintendents, energetic with young families, both married to home economics teachers who later became counselors. I remember raising a glass that evening to a generation of educators who were going to lead the country into greatness through public education. That night Rob Winter, superintendent in Grand Island, and I were braced and motivated for the future. We came into the profession believing we could change the world and—after a few hits and misses—we still believe that. We haven’t lost our idealism or our fundamental commitment to the cause. At the beginning of our journey, we had no concept of the challenges that lay ahead for

BlendEd Learning... (continued from page 3) Kick Off: Spring 2016 • Participating schools will send teams (up to five: including administrators, tech coordinators, and teacher leaders) to a one-day seminar organized by the Highlander Institute, a global leader in BlendEd Learning implementation. The purpose of this seminar is designed to assist participating schools in establishing a systems approach for supporting BlendEd Learning. School leadership teams will walk away with a clear understanding of BlendEd Learning at a systems level and a rough draft of a two-year plan for implementation will be developed. • After districts have time to return to their local tech committees to revise their two year plans over the spring semester, district teams will meet for a regional, one-day event to share and revise their two-year plans and further explore BlendEd Learning practices. • Throughout the year each pilot school’s administrators will participate in regular meetings to support the continued implementation of their BlendEd Learning plan. Participating teachers will also collaborate within their schools and across their project designated region. 4 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2016

leaders in public education. We didn’t know we would encounter and survive difficult personal and professional challenges, bond issues and budgets, tax increases and tax decreases, community battles and community allegiance. No longer young and brash, now a bit weathered and worn, we have learned that public education is rough, tough work but essential to our country. After more than three decades working in this noble profession, what I know for sure is that to leave a meaningful footprint in the world, we have a duty to stand up for the integrity of public education. That is our grand purpose. Last year this lesson became painfully clear when my school district experienced scrutiny statewide and nationwide amidst controversy over providing staff members with training materials to better understand transgender students. The issue exploded in the virtual, viral world (continued on next page)

• During the summer of 2017, pilot schools will meet regionally at one-day events to discuss progress and revise their BlendEd Learning plans. • Input from the pilot schools during the 2016-17 academic year will be used to develop an ongoing program of support during the 2017-18 academic year, as well as establish procedures for expanding the BlendEd Learning Pilot Project. School administrators are encouraged to discuss this opportunity with their leadership teams, to identify their level of readiness for this project using the established rubric and to begin the planning stages for a BlendEd Learning Environment. If school districts/schools should have any questions regarding this opportunity, please contact your ESU BlendEd Learning representative at your earliest convenience. As we continue to enhance the system of support for teaching and learning for the 307,000 Nebraska students, it is important to identify and leverage the resources available. The established partnership with NDE and ESUCC to collaboratively plan and identify the three statewide initiatives as well as the partnership between NCSA and ESUCC to implement a BlendEd Learning Pilot program is a tremendous opportunity for the students we serve. n

FEATURE Courage and Resilience… (continued) and created something of a fervor in our community, state and nation. At the end of the day the school district emerged strong and purposeful with renewed clarity of our convictions and mission. We are standing tall. In fact, I have always believed that experience is necessary to successfully face our most difficult challenges; and at this point in my career, I have accumulated what I hope is at least a glimmer of wisdom. So I take a moment to look back and share some lessons learned about leadership in public education. Public education is a human enterprise Over time there has been a growing movement to measure, assess and rank everything in education. Make no mistake, better data and accountability are both useful and beneficial for our profession. But many in business believe we should run public education like the world of commerce with quarterly profits and measured returns on our investment. That is simply not possible. Public education is a human enterprise. Our students are not test scores, ACTs, graduation rates or report cards. Our students deserve unique attention and opportunity. We must invest in every single child who comes through our doors regardless of our return on that investment. We must deal with them holistically, understanding that teaching today is more than reading, writing and arithmetic and learning is a challenge for students facing hunger and homelessness. We must treat our staff, families and students with respect, value what they have to say and honor them as individuals. Standing beside colleagues in times of change We all recognize that change is hard, but change is most especially challenging for public education. Many of our parents and patrons have had successful experiences in school, consequently they are often anxious when we suggest changing what, in their mind, worked well. That means the road is arduous for those on the forefront of educational evolution: the early adopters and agents of change. Educators who were the first to talk accountability, standards, cultural proficiency, and sex education were forced to fight on the sometimes brutal battleground of resistance. However, these changes eventually made our educational system stronger. My advice: We need clear vision and high expectations. But when leaders charge up the hill of change, they must go side by side with colleagues, bringing them along at a reasonable pace. At the end of the day, the best way to achieve change is to initiate a collaborative, systemic, common sense approach.

Critics: Keep calm and carry on We will always have critics, but today we live in a world where naysayers have tools that make them seem louder and more intrusive. No matter how good your school district, there is an element in your community that will be critical. These days a very vocal minority can seize upon whatever they perceive they are not getting—and criticize at every juncture. They have an advantage: They only need one thing to complain about and complain louder. Two subjects that we expect to get noisier are tax credits and charter schools. The bottom line is that you will never make everyone happy, but leaders must work hard to keep a consistent, engaged dialogue with the wide breadth of their community. We must continue talking about the power and importance of public education and the goal of meeting the greater good: We have an excellent public education system designed to meet the needs of the majority. We can’t dodge critics. We must meet them head-on and understand that regardless of the moment’s disagreement, we will live to educate another day. Committed to children I believe public education remains robust and evolving. Thanks to considerable research and substantial data, we know more about teaching and learning than ever before. More kids are graduating from high school, achieving and accomplishing. The key for public educational leaders is to stay committed to the purpose, never waiver, be strategic, and at every opportunity: Stand up for our great system. We must advocate for all children, and ALL MEANS ALL, giving them every opportunity we can offer them. Thirty-nine years later, Rob and I are grateful we chose the profession of public education. So we raise a glass today to reflect upon: • Our many colleagues, teachers and administrators, who have gone on to illustrious careers. • Boards of Education who provide support through the good times and the bad. • Families and communities willing to roll up their sleeves and help. • Children who weren’t supposed to make it—but did. Educational leaders must serve as the voice for public education. Be courageous and resilient: This is our greatest legacy. n


Increase se Your You Your School’s School’s A CT SScore. core. Increase ACT @JB_P rep @JB_Prep


The Demise of Dr. “NO” BY JEFF SCHNEIDER, President, NASBO

I Schneider

n the spring of 2009, the key financial leadership position in my district, the Hastings Public Schools, became vacant due to a retirement. At the time, I was the Principal of our Middle School. Due to a successful bond campaign in 2006 to build a new Middle School, I had been exposed to this leadership role and thought it might be a position where I could continue to serve my District well. But I wasn’t sure. So, I asked a friend who had served as a business manager for most of his career. He felt I would be successful as the district’s key financial administrator if I had an excellent support staff and if I became involved with other business managers across the state by becoming a member of NASBO. To his credit, he was absolutely right on both counts. As the key financial leader of my District since 2009, I have been extremely fortunate to work with a tremendous support staff that, every day, plays an important if often underappreciated role in my district. This group makes sure we pay our bills accurately and on time; they hire substitute teachers with little or no notice; they execute an accurate (to the penny) payroll each and every month with few if any errors; they account for every dollar received and every dollar spent; and they do all of this with a strong commitment to treating everyone fairly and equitably. As the second largest employer in Hastings, my District plays an important role in my community and often makes the front page of our local newspaper. Given this, it is extremely important that the financial system of our District functions well and professionally. Thanks to the support staff of my office, I believe the business and related human resource functions of my District are carried out in just that manner. I have also heeded my colleague’s advice on NASBO. Getting involved with this organization has been extremely rewarding. NASBO has introduced me to best practices and to a large number of outstanding individuals who work every day to make their school district financially sound. Many of them have served as mentors to me. And while many may think the favorite word of business managers is “no,” I have not found that to be the case. In truth, I find most business managers working hard to say “yes” when it comes to providing the students of Nebraska with the best education possible within the resources available.

I wasn’t sure this was going to be the case given how some stereotype administrators. Prior to joining my district office, I taught middle school math for eight years, was an Assistant Principal for three years, and a Principal for four years. At this point, I am into my seventh year as the Hastings Public Schools Director of Finance. Every time I changed positions someone would tell me that I was moving farther and farther away from serving students. While I understand that point of view, I don’t see it that way. Each of my positions simply brought a broader viewpoint and an opportunity to have a broader impact. As a Principal, I felt strongly that the best thing I could do for the students was to support my teachers to the greatest degree possible. Given that teachers truly are the front line of educational excellence, I felt it was my job to help them to be the best they could be so that they could help students to be the best they could be. As the financial leader of my District, I still feel the same way. I firmly believe the mission of the district’s business official is to figure out how to say “yes” to programs, facilities, materials, and other purchases that provide and enrich the educational experience and educational attainment of our students. Every educational financial leader I know lives with the challenges of spending lids or levy lids while living with the view of a few that schools overspend. Despite such challenges, I see most of my colleagues trying to find innovative ways to improve the financial support of education. In addition, I have found them extremely willing to share their expertise to help all districts to attain greater educational outcomes. I am very grateful for the advice I received seven years ago and I am very happy and proud to be a business manager and a member of NASBO. Despite the challenges we face and the restraints that make it difficult, let’s continue to say “yes!” Our students need us to work in teams with a focus on student learning. They really don’t need Dr. “NO.” n



The Value of Your Leadership and P-16 BY GABRIELLE BANICK, Assistant Vice President for P-16 Initiatives



s I think about the vision for P-16 with K-12 administrators, I am fortunate to have experienced K-12, community college, and fouryear college leadership first-hand. From a middle school special vocational needs/dropout prevention teacher to assistant vice president with the University of Nebraska, I realize my career represents at least the last half of the P16 pipeline. Certainly, my background and experience in Career & Technical Education plays a major role in my devotion to streamlining transitions to and through college and to the workforce. I hope you will see your role in the P-16 continuum as I describe the vision for our collective contribution to improving transitions among systems and preparing students for the next step in their education and career ladder. Perhaps the single most important differentiating factor, in my observation, between Nebraska and other states is the extent to which Nebraskans value education. As K12 educators, you play a major role in delivering on the inferred public trust that accompanies the high regard for education. No doubt, you have realized that this cannot be done alone and that the interdependence among K-12 education, higher education, and the business community is critical. While this article focuses mainly on the University and K-12 relationship, the points can be considered within all of Nebraska higher education. University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds indicated that his goals for the University include efforts to grow enrollment, maintain affordability, increase research dollars, increase the graduation rate, provide the best early childhood programs, address rural health care issues, and strategically deepen engagement with the businesses community. The success of these initiatives depends to a great extent on students coming from the K-12 system over the next decade. Your leadership will make a difference in this interdependent relationship between the University and the K-12 system. The following are directions on which all leaders can collaborate to create a stronger future for our individual systems, the P-16 pipeline, and the State. I hope you will see your role in enhancing student preparation, collaborating with higher education, and contributing to economic development. Students should be prepared for college, graduate in timely manner, and enter the workforce. In order to build the University, we must link K-12 and higher education in


a systemic, not episodic, way. The economic recession of 2008 told us that individuals who had little or no education beyond high school were the first let go and the last rehired in the workforce. Without income, they became victims of the economy. A lesson learned is that K-12 education must reinforce in students the importance of finishing strong and continuing their education, and administrators must lead the charge. The University’s teacher and administrator education programs have roles here, too. Pre-service and ongoing professional development must help school personnel, especially administrators, influence others in taking more responsibility for the academic success and economic future of every student and their ultimate quality of life. It’s not easy for leaders to shift teachers’ and other school staff members’ thinking of merely getting students to graduation. President Bounds’ message is consistent in this regard, especially as he speaks to K-12 students. To reiterate, leaders need to “strengthen the culture for recognizing the transformative power of higher education” and that the diploma is the beginning, not the end. That college is an expectation, not an option, needs to be woven throughout all curricula and permeate all grade levels. Blurring the lines between K-12 and the University must be enhanced. Helping all students arrive collegeready without the need for remediation is critical. The University is committed to assisting K-12 districts in preparing students for college as demonstrated with the new Nebraska Mathematics Standards. Nine faculty members from UNL, UNO, and UNK worked alongside the State’s math teachers to revise the standards. Because of this collaboration among our campuses and with school districts, students should be prepared to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing postsecondary coursework without remediation. Faculty members further offered a bold statement of support in the endorsement letter to the State Board of Education—“the University of Nebraska faculty stand ready to offer leadership and assist school districts as they implement the proposed standards.” There are also tools to assist K-12 administrators as they lead strategic initiatives to improve student achievement. The P-20 Longitudinal Data System developed and maintained through a collaborative agreement among the (continued on next page)

PARTNERSHIP The Value of Your Leadership and P-16 (continued) Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), University of Nebraska, State College System and the Community Colleges, is a prime source of information. With four years of High School Feedback Reports available, administrators can access reports through the NDE Portal within the Data Reporting System secure site and use student achievement and transition data to lead improvement efforts. The AQuESST framework is a companion initiative that also focuses on students’ transitions and college and career readiness. The NDE Career Education Model that helps students explore careers and facilitate career pathway decisions is another tool that administrators should embrace. As authors of the Pathway to Prosperity report pointed out, “We are convinced that the pathways approach would significantly expand the numbers of young adults who earn a post-secondary credential in a timely fashion.” If we haven’t already, I believe we will see in the future, more focused students in higher education as a result of the career pathways initiative. Students who come with a more finite concept of their future career path can jump right into their “15 in 4” journey (fifteen credits per semester for four years). It is expected that planned career pathways will help to reduce the number of undeclared students and students changing majors, which are currently some of the barriers to staying in college and graduating on time. Recognizing that some students have the capacity to successfully complete college work before they leave K-12 assists with their transition to college and shortens time to graduation. Dual credit, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and distance education are all motivators for which we need to challenge ourselves to increase. The University of Nebraska High School offers over 100 NCAA-approved, College Board (AP), and dual credit course to help students complete high school or begin their college coursework. Complimented by the Virtual Scholars program, the University expands online courses to Nebraska high school students, with a focus on underserved students, to help them become more college- and career-ready. The program allows the University to work with high school administrators, particularly in rural Nebraska, to identify educational challenges that can be addressed through online education. Counselors and teachers can also enhance students’ academic planning by helping them realize dual credit course transfer potential through Transfer Nebraska. The most common question from students and parents regarding dual is “where will my dual credit courses transfer?” The University, State Colleges and Community Colleges created a one-stop website to answer this question. Visit and develop a chart for your high school showing this information. Expand the K-12 and higher education role as major economic drivers for our communities and the state. We must double-down ef-

forts to keep talent in Nebraska. This begins with K-12 schools and continues through the University. Helping students see the value of staying in Nebraska will pay dividends for citizens and communities as well in as retaining and attracting businesses. As President Bounds states (2015), “more students attending the university and receiving a quality education means more skilled workers flooding the Nebraska workforce, boosting the economy and bettering the state as a whole.” The K-12 system also has exemplary ways of engaging businesses in local schools, reaping the benefits of a sustainable future workforce, and giving students first-hand knowledge of skills needed beyond high school. Partnerships such as in the Columbus Public Schools and Chamber of Commerce “STEM Academy” that encourage students to study science, technology, engineering, and math is in the planning stages. Businesses are in integral part of the success of this joint venture and serve on the STEM Advisory Committee to identify Columbus area industry, employment, and equipment needs. Business partners funded portions of the initiative and are expected to commit to sustaining the program to economically benefit the Columbus area. Engaging business in education is also a fundamental tenet of a quality P-16 system. The Buffett Early Childhood Institute is an example of comprehensively addressing workforce needs through higher education and at the same time, equipping K-12 administrators with skills to lead local school programs. Nebraska school leaders will be the first to benefit from exemplary practices and professional development necessary to accelerate the learning of young children living in poverty. This is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking approaches to early childhood education in the nation and it involves all Nebraska partners. We must be the best…together. The University of Nebraska Board of Regents developed a strategic planning framework to serve the State through teaching, research, outreach, and engagement. The first priority involves not only building the college-going rate but increasing the number of graduates. The strength of Nebraska’s K12 system is foundational to that goal. That’s where your efforts make a difference. Leadership is a continuous and collective process. Your unique position offers the opportunity to influence and lead change. It takes courage to advance ideas and build a culture that follows your lead. Using your expertise and talents in changing the school and community culture toward college-going and workforce preparation is a large task let alone focusing on all the other student transitions within the P-16 pipeline. We need each other and our State College and Community College partners as we continue to make progress toward our collective goals in Nebraska. n



NAESP National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska is Announced


he Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals is pleased to announce that Ann Jablonski has been named the 2015 National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska. Ann has been a Principal in Lincoln Public School district for 17 years. Ann has been the administrator in three elementary buildings and was selected to open Kooser Elementary in 2009. Ann is very active and passionate in her role as an administrator. Ann intentionally focuses on influencing and motivating her staff to find the best learning experiences that benefit the students at Kooser Elementary. Ann is rooted in developing a positive culture, as the staff, students, parents, and community understand the meaning of the “Kooser Way!” Ann works diligently in developing a positive and rich environment for all stakeholders. She is focused on highlighting information on student achievement, data, as well as, educational research. She believes that effective communication is the essential key to involving others in the school. Ann maintains personal connections with the staff, students, and parents within her school building. These connections have made Kooser Elementary a welcoming, positive, and pleasant place to attend.

Ann’s leadership has been obvious during her career as a Principal. She has served as the State President and Vice President for NAESP, Executive Board Member for NCSA, President of Region I, and is the current chair of Lincoln Elementary Principals Association. She has also been active within her school community serving as the education chair for Fallbrook Kiwanis Club of Lincoln. Ann will represent Nebraska Ann Jablonski in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2016. NAESP is extremely proud to have Ann represent our organization as NDP for 2015. Congratulations, Ann! n

NAESP Announces its Outstanding New Principal of the Year


ara Paider, Principal at St. Paul Elementary of St. Paul Public Schools, has been named Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals, New Principal of the Year for 2015-2016. Sara began her administrative career in St. Paul Public Schools in St. Paul, Nebraska in 2013. Prior to becoming an administrator, Sara was a kindergarten teacher in the Loup City Public Schools in Loup City, Nebraska. Mr. John Poppert, Superintendent of St. Paul Public School writes, “Mrs. Sara Paider has always put her students first in any decision that she makes. She is not afraid to try new strategies and implement new procedures to make St. Paul Elementary School more productive and successful. One of Mrs. Paider’s strongest assets is her ability to lead by example. No one in the elementary building is more dedicated or works harder than Mrs. Paider. She is highly respected by her students, staff, peers, and the entire community of St. Paul.” Sara has been involved in many organizations including 10 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2016

President-elect for Region IX, member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals, and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In addition, Sara is involved within her community including the United Way Education Council, Howard County Coalition Team, and presents to the St. Paul City Council and Rotary Club. Congratulations to Sara Paider Sara Paider for her outstanding start as an Elementary School Principal. We appreciate her early contributions to our profession and are proud to name her New Principal of the Year for 2015-2016. n


NSASSP Announces 2015 Distinguished Service Award


he Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals is proud to recognize Troy Lurz, Principal of Gibbon Public Schools, as the Distinguished Service Award winner for 2015. Troy received his Bachelor of Science from Chadron State College and a Master’s Degree from CSC in K-12 Administration. Mr. Lurz is currently in his first year as the secondary principal for Gibbon Public Schools. He previously served as the High School Principal for Ogallala Public Schools, High School Principal for Chadron Public Schools, Activities Director and 7-12 Principal for Crawford Public School, and K-12 Principal for Hay Springs Public Schools. Troy has been active in many professional organizations including NCSA; NSASSP, where he currently serves as the state president; the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP); and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Mr. Lurz strength lies in his collaboration with colleagues and the ability to build networks with other individuals in adminis-

tration. He not only shares ideas with others in his network, but gains valuable information from their experiences to make himself a better leader. Larry Witt, Superintendent of Gibbon Public Schools stated, “Since Troy’s arrival in Gibbon at the beginning of this year, the change in school climate has been nothing short of spectacular. Troy is consistently visible in the hallways, classrooms, and lunch room. He knows the stuTroy Lurz dents by name and has been able to achieve a rapport which has gained their respect in the short time he has been here.” n

NSASSP Announces 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year


ameron Soester of Milford has been recognized by the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals as the 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year. Cameron received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Math Education from Chadron State College in 2003. He also received a Master’s Degree in 7-12 Administration from CSC in 2012. He has been involved in education since 2003 and for the past three years he has served as Assistant Principal at Milford Jr/Sr High School. Prior to that, Mr. Soester served as a Math Teacher at Tri-County Public Schools in Dewitt, Nebraska and Limon Public Schools in Limon, Colorado. Mr. Soester is a current member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (Region I Member), the Nebraska State Athletic Administrators Association, and the Nebraska Coaches Association. He has been a former member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Nebraska Association of Teachers of Mathematics, as well as a member of Kiwanis International. Mr. Soester is married and the father of two boys. He has a

passion for learning and collaboration, believes in hard work, building relationships, and setting goals both personally and professionally. He also believes that the experiences we have in life are important to help us grow, that character matters, and that it is definitely worth the time and effort to build a positive culture. Brandon Mowinkel, Principal of Milford Jr/Sr High School states, “Mr. Soester has the inCameron Soester nate ability to develop relationships with parents, students, and staff members. His ability to foster these relationships allows him to effectively handle the day-to-day discipline issues that may come his way. The best way to deal with discipline is before it happens and Mr. Soester is a great example of putting this philosophy into action.” n WINTER 2016 NCSA TODAY 11


NSASSP Announces 2015 New Principal of the Year


he Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals has selected Derek Lahm as the 2015 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. Derek Lahm was selected as the NSASSP Outstanding New Principal for 2015. Mr. Lahm has been in education since 2008 and has been the Principal at Lyons-Decatur Northeast Schools since 2014. Derek 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 two years. He is also a member of the Nebraska Coaches Association (NCA), as well as a former member of Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA), and the National Education Association (NEA). Mr. Lahm also works with the local Booster Club and serves as a coordinator of Youth Boys’ Basketball known as “Cougar Cubs.” During his brief tenure at Lyons-Decatur Northeast, Mr. Lahm has helped organize school-wide community service projects for the past two years and helped create a program known as “Empower Your Genius” which creates an enrichment/mentor program for students while offering professional development time for staff. Students are divided into groups of 10 to 12 and are paired with teachers and teacher assistants with the main goal of building positive relationships. Mr. Lahm also serves as the government teacher for the high school.

Fred Hansen, Superintendent of Lyons-Decatur Northeast Schools, praised Mr. Lahm, noting, “Derek is an excellent role model for our students. He treats everyone in our building with respect. Everyone loves Mr. Lahm and speaks highly of him. He cares for our students and in the classroom, Derek dignifies each student by acceptance of any answer they give while at the same time holding them to high expectations. This character qualDerek Lahm ity has been carried over to his job as principal.” Congratulations to Derek Lahm 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

Day of Action... (continued from page 2) We want to use the film to educate the public about what the passage of any of these types of bills would mean for Nebraska's public education system. The watch parties would be a great conversation starter for anyone and everyone involved with public schools around the state. Just like the U.S. Government made a statement of its support for public schools using a postmark in 1965, what if our fellow citizen demonstrated their support by attending or hosting a watch party?


Please show us your support by hosting a watch party and asking others to do the same. Could it make a difference in the lives of your faculty, staff and students? We think so. To sign up as a Public Schools Day of Action Watch Party host, go to To watch a trailer of Consider the Alternative, visit n


Take a Stand—Elevate Your Health BY LINDA KENEDY and HOWIE HALPRIN, EHA Wellness Program




ere’s a trivia question for you. What do these movies have in common: A Streetcar Named Desire…Rebel Without a Cause…Breakfast at Tiffany’s? All of these movies have become classics over the years and all feature memorable performances by movie stars such as Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Audrey Hepburn who still make us think of Hollywood glamour at its finest. Another thing they have in common? All of the actors and actresses in these movies smoked. In fact, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s had a signature cigarette holder that was part of her “look.” There are many other movies throughout the years that featured handsome men and beautiful women puffing away which made the general public believe it was a glamourous habit to acquire. Since the time those movies were made, the research regarding smoking and use of tobacco products was validated and the public soon realized that smoking can cause major health issues such as lung cancer and even death. Now, thankfully, we don’t see smoking glamourized in the movies and on television quite as much, and additionally, smoking is not allowed at work, in restaurants, bars, and other public places. So what’s the next health issue to tackle? The answer may surprise you…and it’s easier to change than smoking. The 30-plus years of research are now showing that sitting all day long is the new smoking. Yes, you read that correctly, sitting as much as we do affects our health negatively. The average American sits for up to 13 hours each day—that includes not just desk sitting— it is also driving time, sitting for meals, and that comfortable couch time at the end of the day. It’s easy to rack up hours of sitting without even realizing it and we’re also encouraging others to sit as much as possible (think about what happens when someone comes into your office—do you offer them a seat?). And, the research is very clear that spending an hour exercising can’t combat the effects of sitting most of the day. The Effects of Sitting Disease Why is sitting so bad for our health? Once we sit down, not only do we stop moving and burning calories, but our fat burning enzymes shut down and for every two hours sitting our blood sugar levels increase, our blood flow is reduced and our good cholesterol levels decrease

by 20 percent. Additionally, sitting for long periods of time each day increases our risk for heart disease, obesity, stroke and others. Since our bodies were made to move, sitting in a chair all day can be uncomfortable. In fact, 16 percent of us have a preexisting condition that is exacerbated by sitting for prolonged periods of time. If that isn’t enough to get you up out of your chair…the research also shows that if we sat just three hours less each day, we can add two years to our average life expectancy! The Good News—Just Stand The solution to sitting disease, thankfully, doesn’t require a patch or quitting cold turkey. It does, however, require you to increase your time spent standing each day. Here’s the good news: one research study showed that participants in the study who added just one hour of standing each day increased their energy levels, felt better about their overall health, felt more focused and productive, felt a reduction in pain and fatigue and all participants reporting that they just felt better. Standing more doesn’t require a membership, doesn’t require you to change your schedule to fit your “standing time” in, nor does it take away from family time. All it requires you to do is find ways during the day to choose standing over sitting. Here are some ideas to get started: • Purchase a standing desk top to raise your computer to allow you to stand while typing emails. Or, have your Industrial Arts students design and build one for you and the office staff. • Encourage your teachers in the classroom to stand more than they sit—and get their students standing more as well. • Visiting with your staff? Try a standing or walking meeting—these work well to infuse some energy into those after school meetings. • Stand up and pace in your office while on the phone. • Create a staff challenge to log “standing” minutes. Check out for more information about the negative effects of sitting, the benefits of standing and how to stand more. (continued on page 16) WINTER 2016 NCSA TODAY 13

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NSAA Unified Sports


Participation in activities bring people TOGETHER BY DAN MASTERS, NSAA



nified Sports® offer the chance for all students with and without intellectual disabilities to participate in an activity. Providing opportunities for students with and without disabilities to interact in meaningful ways that highlight their similarities has been shown to be valuable in promoting positive attitudes. Activities provide an ideal platform for these interactions. In 2013-14 the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) member schools enacted Bylaw 3.11.13 recognizing Unified Sports® as an inclusive activities program supporting teams comprised of students with and without intellectual disabilities. This followed a few years of incorporating some inclusive activities at the respected state Track and Swim Championships. Prompted by a “Dear Colleague” letter from the Office of Civil Rights in which state associations and schools were prompted to provide participation opportunities for students with disabilities, the NSAA established a statewide committee that studied what these participation opportunities might look like. The committee, in partnership with Special Olympics Nebraska, made the recommendation to the NSAA Board of Directors that Unified Sports, Bowling should be the first avenue for providing these participation opportunities for students with disabilities. The Board approved Unified Sports, Bowling for implementation in the 2016-17 school year and preliminary approval of the sports manual during the November board meeting. The benefits of having Unified Sports® as a school activity are quite numerous and in some cases immeasurable. Unified Sports® will give a meaningful, real sport experience for students. Furthermore, this experience will occur in the educational setting where teachers, coaches, peers, and the school community can magnify the gains of these experiences. Also, students will benefit from social inclusion and an improvement of health and fitness. According to Special Olympics Nebraska, 79 percent of unified partners (student without a disability), reported talking to an athlete (student with an intellectual disability) during free time at school and 41 percent reported eating lunch with the student as well. There is a positive impact on all participants!

The NSAA is excited to announce the vision of Unified Sports, Bowling during the 2016-17 school year. General information and resources on NSAA Unified Sports, Bowling may be located at Currently the NSAA has planned for Unified Sports, Bowling to coincide with two of our existing seasons, a fall/winter schedule, mid-October through early December. All registered Unified Sports, Bowling teams will be placed into one class for competition. Student eligibility and participation will follow the same NSAA Bylaws governing all NSAA activities. However, restrictions regarding dual and outside participation for Unified Sports® participants are being lifted. Cooperative agreements may serve as a great option for many schools as this sport emerges. Special Olympics Nebraska and the NSAA are currently working on obtaining grant funds that might be accessible for your high school. The season itself will run approximately eight weeks long and include opportunities for teams to compete against each other during the regular season (dual, triangular, tournament). Teams will consist of up to five students, three competing and two substitutions. The three students competing should be comprised with at least one student (athlete) with an intellectual disability and two non-intellectually disabled students (partners). Coaches may play an additional student with an intellectual disability as a partner. Teams may be comprised of boys, girls, or co-ed. A student with a physical disability may participate as a partner. The Baker format will serve as an exciting and truly team-based method of bowling. A Baker game is when multiple bowlers bowl one game. Team members alternate frames of one game; meaning the same bowler never bowls back to back frames. Coaches may change their order from one game (10 frames) to another. However, the athlete must always bowl the first frame and bowl four frames in each game. A coach may substitute players at any time (frame) during the game and substitutions must keep the original team composition in place. Each trio team will bowl six Baker games within the meet. The winner of the meet will be decided by total pinfall. (continued on page 16) WINTER 2016 NCSA TODAY 15


NASES Legislative Conference Emerging Administrators, Day 1 of 2

Courtyard Marriott NCSA

Lincoln Lincoln

Emerging Administrators, Day 2 of 2 CASE Virtual Conference Education Forum

NCSA ESU #3 and ESU #13 Younes Conf Center


GRIT NASES Spring Conference

Cornhusker Marriott Harms Center

Lincoln Scottsbluff

NASBO State Convention AQuESTT

Younes Conf Center Younes Conf Center

Kearney Kearney

FEBRUARY 6 11 & 12 23-24


MARCH 2 31-Apr. 1

APRIL 14-15 18-19

Region Meeting dates can be found on the NCSA mobile app and NCSA website.

NATIONAL CONVENTION DATES AASA—February 11-13, 2016—Phoenix, AZ NASSP—February 25-27, 2016—Orlando, FL ASCD—April 2-4, 2016—Atlanta, GA ASBO—September 23-26, 2016—Phoenix, AZ CASE/NASDSE—September 25-27, 2016—Milwaukee, WI

Take a Stand... (continued from page 13) ELEVATE with EHA Wellness Still interested in more ways to get your staff up and moving? The EHA Wellness Program is launching a new incentive program called ELEVATE for the 2016-2017 school year. This incentive program is designed to motivate you and your staff to step it up a level and focus on improving health. The program, like the Wellness Program, is voluntary and includes both an individual in-

NSAA Unified Sports® (continued from page 15) The NSAA Board of Directors will make a determination about whether to hold District and State competition in the first year of Unified Sports, Bowling once the Board is aware of the number of schools that register to participate. Scheduling postseason competition will be heavily dependent on the number of schools that choose to participate in Unified Sports, Bowling. We appreciated the response and feedback given through the member survey sent out last month. There will continue to be a


centive and a group/school incentive based on participation. The ELEVATE program will be rolled out this spring at the EHA Wellness Trainings across the state and more information will be available soon at If you are currently participating in the EHA Wellness Program, you will be notified of the ELEVATE program through your rep. If you are not yet participating as a school or group, you’ll want to get on board right away to receive all the benefits of this free program to improve the health of your staff. Email today. n

number of variables that determine the structure including member schools’ interest. We encourage all of our member schools to start the dialogue surrounding the interest, need, opportunities, and benefits that Unified Sports® would offer your school and community. It is our hope and desire that schools will consider participating in this new and exciting opportunity. For more information please contact Dan Masters at n

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Bronze Sponsorships Kearney Visitors Bureau

University of Nebraska High School

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

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

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