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Building Bridges of Communication

Nebraska Council of School Administrators

Interview with Dr. Matt Blomstedt

Winter 2017

Happening every day in Nebraska’s public schools.

Brought to you by Nebraska Loves Public Schools


2 Baker’s Agenda: Building Bridges of Communication BY TYLER DAHLGREN

3 State Education Board Readies for Extended Policy Role BY TYLER DAHLGREN


New Year, New Leadership, New Vision…

NCSA EXECUTIVE BOARD 2016-2017 Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jeff Schneider Vice Chair . . . . Wendy Kemling-Horner Immed. Past Chair . . . . Ryan Ricenbaw NASA Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . Dr. Mike Sieh President Elect . . . . . Dr. John Skretta Past President . . . . . . . . . Mike Apple



PEW Rural School Food Convening Addresses Challenges of Safe, Healthful Foods Initiatives BY DR. JOHN SKRETTA


Smart Education Investments are Essential to Moving Nebraska Forward BY TIFFANY SEIBERT JOEKEL

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NAESP Announces National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska First Five Nebraska: Your Partner in Early Childhood Policy BY BECKY VEAK


Curly, Larry, and M.O.E.?

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NSASSP Announces 2016 New Principal of the Year


One Thing at a Time… BY LINDA KENEDY

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NSASSP Announces 2016 Distinguished Service Award NSASSP Announces 2016 Assistant Principal of theYear NCSA to Endorse Annual Graduate College Course Offering by Coaches Association BY DARIN BOYSEN


NAESP Announces National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska


NCSA Introduces Tyler Dahlgren, Communications Specialist


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 $50 (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.

NASBO Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . John Brazell President Elect . . . . . . . . . Brad Dahl Past President . . . . . . . Jeff Schneider NAESP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . Jim Widdifield President Elect . . . . . . Jason Calahan Past President . . . . . . . Mark Johnson NASES Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . . Missy Dobish President Elect . . . . . . . . Jason Harris Past President . Wendy Kemling-Horner NSASSP Representatives President . . . . . . . . . . Steve Adkisson President Elect . . . . Brandon Mowinkel Past President . . . . . . . . . . Troy Lurz NARSA Representative President . . . . . . . . . . . . Dave Kaslon NCSA STAFF Dr. Michael S. Dulaney Executive Director/Lobbyist Dr. Dan E. Ernst Associate Executive Director/Lobbyist Megan Hillabrand Professional Development Manager Amy Poggenklass Finance and Membership Director Carol Young Executive Administrative Assistant Michelle Lopez Administrative Assistant Tyler Dahlgren Communications Specialist The opinions expressed in NCSA Today or by its authors do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. WINTER 2017 NCSA TODAY 1


Baker’s Agenda: Building Bridges of Communication BY TYLER DAHLGREN, NCSA Communications Specialist


iven the projected budget shortfall, the Nebraska Legislature is embarking into the next session amidst times of uncertainty, but Senator Roy Baker is carrying a firm agenda aimed at enhancing public education. First, Senator Baker, serving District 30, wants to thoroughly review the state aid formula. Baker said there are many people, some who have an understanding of how schools are currently receiving aid and some who don’t, that feel the system is broken. Baker has been involved in education since 1968, when he started as a teacher in Central City, and spent 36 years as Superintendent of four separate school districts, so he falls in line with the former. “At a minimum, we need to take a look at square one and rebuild the concept,” Baker said. The current school finance formula was enacted into law in 1990. The Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA) was designed to address both property tax and equities of educational opportunities. Baker called some of the language in current education statutes “archaic,” noting the need to identify “all those things that are conflicting with newer or recently passed legislation,” perhaps through an interim study. For many years, Baker viewed himself as a steady conservative. In the Legislature, he’s viewed as a fiscal conservative, but has been labeled as a more moderate Republican. While at the helm of school districts such as Norris Public Schools, where he spent 13 years through his retirement in 2010, Baker avoided fads and farout programs that were unproven and instead stuck with researchbased practices. What Baker is interested in is developing stronger communica-


tion bridges with the State Board of Education, which he called “hit and miss collaboration between our body and theirs.” “We want to work together to help schools become better,” Baker, who acknowledged meetings between past chairmen and the board but expressed the need for more involvement from senators, said. “I think that has to be the message, without being overly intrusive on local control.” His interest in stronger communication bridges has been echoed by Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt and several State Board members. Baker foresees “tough” legislative sessions given the budget shortfall. With tax revenues forecasted to fall $910 million below estimated expenses through the end of the next budget period, he’s aware that there could be an impact on education, and other programs. Baker added that he would be surprised if school spending was not on the table once again next session. “I have been through several up and down cycles,” said Baker, who noted the early 2000s when the ‘.com bubble’ burst. “It goes in cycles, and this is just not a good cycle in terms of the State’s cash flow.” The current Basic Allowable Growth Rate (BAGR) is 2.5 percent, and school spending was on Governor Pete Rickett’s agenda during the 2016 session. “Budget crisis or not,” Baker said, “it’s still the state’s obligation to provide for public schools. It’s not a question of whether the State is going to support public schools, they have to do that to the best of their ability.” Reduction of school budgets would lead to bigger classes and fewer teachers, two detrimental consequences to consider, while a recent survey from the Teachers College found that prioritizing and investing in education, in the long run, produces higher individual incomes, higher property value rates, lower crime rates, and lower costs for public health and welfare services. “There has been a lot of clamor in my first two years in favor of tax reform and lowering property and income taxes,” Baker added. “One thing that can’t happen, in my eyes, is we can’t be giving people lower taxes and not fully funding education.” The budget shortfall won’t deter Baker, and fellow educationminded senators, from working towards what is best for public schools. He acknowledges that increased pressure to consider competition in the form of charter schools and vouchers to private schools will possibly be issues in the next session. “That is a bedrock, hard core conservative belief, that schools won’t get better unless there is competition, and competition takes several forms,” Baker said. “Those are things we can’t duck,” he added. “We are going to (continued on page 3)


State Education Board Readies for Extended Policy Role BY TYLER DAHLGREN, NCSA Communications Specialist


or Department of Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt, term limits mean taking an increased look at his department’s role in setting a policy agenda and searching for alternative ways of working with what has become a revolving-door legislature. Term limits, implemented in Nebraska in 2006, have shifted the state’s legislative landscape the past decade, limiting senators to two four-year terms. “There is more of an expectation that the State Board takes on a deeper policy role,” said Blomstedt, who has held his post for three years. “Right now, some things are very explicit in statute and some things are very general in statute when looking at policies. Striking a balance between how that relationship (between the State Board and lawmakers) is going to work in the long run is going to be important.” Without casting any judgment on whether the effects term limits have had from a legislative perspective have been good or bad, Blomstedt said that legislative leaders now must come to speed faster with complex issues than they’ve had to in the past. Now, he believes the Legislature will place more reliance on the Department of Education. To build better communication and interaction with the Legislature, Blomstedt said the State Board must first work extensively to connect with Nebraska’s public schools and communities. Right now, the Board’s most substantial efforts have centered around “having conversations with school officials and administrators about getting on the same page and making sure expectations around how schools work and we work are well coordinated.” On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, which reauthorized the longstanding Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). One effect of ESSA, Blomstedt said, is that it has opened up different kinds

of communication channels with the community. “For us to do our work and serve our communities well, we need a different way to connect,” Blomstedt said. “There is a need to connect to communities differently than we have in the past, and that means also connecting with traditionally underrepresented groups in Nebraska.” ESSA largely replaced the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, Blomstedt which was introduced in 2001 and, on a federal level, carried the expectation of an accountability system implementation. Nebraska Legislature passed LB 438 in 2014, requiring the State Board to establish an accountability system at the state level that classified schools and identified them on a priority scale. “We thought it was critical that we create a ‘Theory of Action’ around how to improve schools,” Blomstedt said. “We believed it was a lot more than an assessment of results that ought to be used to make that judgment.” And so, with that desire to go above and beyond to improve the state’s public schools, Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow, or AQuESTT was born. The accountability system was centered on continuous improvement, and the board settled in on six different tenets that fell into two separate domains. “There’s the ‘Teaching and Learning’ domain, which is really our traditional investments in education, standards of college and (continued on page 4)

Baker’s Agenda: Building Bridges of Communication…(continued from page 2) have to face those things and allow some in-depth look at those issues and see where it goes.” And even though President-elect Donald Trump is a proponent of school choice, citing competition as a caveat for schools to strive to be better, Baker doesn’t expect a “huge shake-up in the education establishment.” “The changes we are going to see are going to be more on the state-to-state levels,” Baker said, which should influence Nebraska administrators and educators to become involved and reach out to their state senators. Baker encourages school administrators to get active and make

personal contact with their senators and education committee members. The more interaction and participation, the better. Offices at the Capitol are staffed with legislative aides and administrative assistants, so there is always someone there to field a call. Emails work fine, too, said the Senator. Attending hearings is another way to make your voice heard. “There are all kinds of misperceptions about schools and how well off or not well off they are,” Baker said. “So giving real examples of what your school district is facing and what action the Legislature could possibly take to impact that can be very beneficial.” n WINTER 2017 NCSA TODAY 3


State Education Board Readies for Extended Policy Role…(continued from page 3) career-ready educations and traditional assessments, examines what happens in the classroom,” Blomstedt said. “On the flip side, we have what we call ‘Student Success and Access,’ which was developed with the notion that in order for students to be successful, there are other things besides the tradition what is happening inside the education that we have to be thoughtful and mindful about.” The latter came with an expanded focus on the positive partnerships and relationships that help the students successfully move forward in their education, including relationships with parents, the community and other types of service providers that focus on transitions, whether it be to college or a workplace. “Making sure we pay attention to what happens Pre-K to elementary to middle school to high school and so on is a priority,” Blomstedt said. “As is ensuring there is a broad set of opportunities at our schools, not just the minimum, and ensuring that schools are exploring ways to connect curriculum and educational opportunities to other things, even before and after school and in the summer.” The State Board opted to go with AQuESTT in favor of ranking assorted schools, which Blomstedt called “the minimum,” because of a higher pay-off for students, schools and communities. “We had a theory that if we’re doing these things effectively, and at a community level, if they are really thinking about how they tie that together, we will have better schools and improvement will follow with that,” Blomstedt said. Blomstedt has seen schools take thoughtful approaches to engaging parents. For a long time, when schools were constantly worrying about time and instruction, it was difficult for them to develop a welcoming presence for parents. With AQuESTT, different school districts have been increasingly sharing models that have worked in forming a solid partnership between parents and the school. “Building connections in different places and engaging in their own way that is beyond the traditional parent-teacher conferences, so parents just don’t show up once,” Blomstedt said when asked about the importance of parental involvement. “If there are homework expectations or critical things the students need to be learning, or areas the students are struggling in, we need to find ways the parents can be helpful in improving that.” Another issue that Blomstedt acknowledged is the nationwide concern about a teacher shortage. In Nebraska, teachers are still being produced at a high number, but the state also exports quite a few to states like Texas, who recruits Nebraska extensively. “We’ve seen those shortage areas a lot in the career of education arena and there is a need to focus on recruiting people into the profession,” Blomstedt said. “We should be the best at recruiting our profession, but unfortunately it hasn’t worked that way.” Blomstedt said the State Board is working very diligently to re4 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2017

cruit potential educators, starting when they’re in high school. A student group formerly known as the “Future Educators,” now called “Educators Rising,” has grown steadily, which Blomstedt called an “exciting” development. “In addition, we must think through what kind of teachers we need for the future, and we need to take a look at our teacher preparation programs,” Blomstedt said. “I think we will have some energy around those conversations, with at least 16 different teacher prep programs, on how they’re feeling recruiting into their programs.” Blomstedt encourages school administrators to get to know their State Board member, including the two new members, Patsy Koch Johns, District 1, and Lisa Fricke, District 2. “We always have, at least the past three years, a very active board that appreciates being invited to meetings and other opportunities to learn about their district,” Blomstedt said. “We always want to make sure that’s part of the puzzle.” And with that strong interaction, Blomstedt hopes to establish a common language in education, mentioning AQuESTT as a key component in that equation, that will lead to investments in key systems in education, from assessment to thinking about professional development. “The more we can organize our message for the new legislators, the easier it is for them to get up to speed for requests we have from our education community,” Blomstedt said. “It’s important to get to know legislators as well.” If all Nebraska groups will head to Washington D.C. with a more unified message, then the larger the influence the state will have on the conversations being had in the nation’s capital. “Here’s tiny Nebraska having an impact and a lot of people asked us how we possible predicted what was going to happen with ESSA, because AQuESTT actually aligned well there,” Blomstedt said. “And it’s not so much that we predicted what was going to happen, but we think we were listening carefully to all of our organizations to know where to make some strategic decisions about how we were prepared to work in that.” Blomstedt spoke about building and maintaining strong relationships. “There is a constant need to build those relationships and doing that together with NCSA and other groups is going to be important,” he said. n


New Year, New Leadership, New Vision... BY STEVE MILLIKEN and AMY RHONE, Nebraska Department of Education




orty-five plus years leaves behind a lot of footprints to be followed. A feat most would feel could not be completed. But for Special Education in Nebraska, the new year and new leadership bring forth a new vision promising to take those footsteps and continue on a pathway that leads to the improvement of outcomes for preparing all children and students with disabilities and their families for learning, earning and living through effective use of data, collaboration, communication, and a framework of differentiated support. In 1975, the department of special education was newly formed under the state department. Public Law 94142 was enacted bringing forth state level special education from the Department of Education under the leadership of Gary Sherman. January 1, 2017, the state will celebrate with Gary as he decides to embark on the newest adventure of his life, enjoying his family and retiring. Gary's retirement will bring new leadership to the state’s special education department since the departments inception. Steve Milliken, Director and Amy Rhone, Assistant Director feel honored to be entrusted with such an adventure. The world of special education is complex, challenging and, when done well, enormously satisfying for the educator, parent and, especially, the student. The vision brought to the Department of Education within the Special Education department is to inform, educate and challenge those who live and work within this field. Compared to 50 years ago, the United States has made huge strides in the delivery of special education. Inclusion has become more than the norm in the classroom. Educators have more evidence-based tools at their fingertips than any time before. Yet the achievement gap between students with disabilities and those without remains high. Nebraska has long before now taken the future of all students very seriously and this isn’t something that will change, rather, under the new leadership, will be a continued focus. Nebraska is a state built on traditions. Taking what has been created and building on these will provide for a solid foundation as we move forward, dedicated to serving our state. But serving our state from the Department of Education’s view can be difficult. That is why with this new leadership, there is a commitment to listening to what the state needs and responding while providing the leadership and supports that are desired. This adventure brings leadership to the realization that cultural change is a priority. Special Education in Nebraska has long set an expectation of excellence. Under new leadership, Nebraska will see a new set of priorities that will build on this excellence.

What makes this leadership so sure they can provide this? It is a passion that is instilled in a cumulative of 45 years of education and has recently been brought to the helm in special education at the state level. Steve Milliken is no stranger to the challenges Nebraska faces as he spent many years leading in the field of special education prior to becoming State Director. Beginning his love and passion right out of college, Steve graduated with his Bachelors, a Masters, and a Specialist Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska in Kearney in Special Education. He spent several years working his way through a resource classroom, specialty classroom, and special education coordination. Before his current stop at the Department, Steve spent 30 years as a local director in both a rural community and the metro. Striving to bring excellence to his districts, Steve forged ahead to develop programming and supports to continuously push what was being provided for our Nebraska children. This leadership extended to all of Nebraska as he served as the President of the Nebraska Association of Special Education Supervisors (NASES). Serving as the International Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) president for two years, Steve gained a national prospective that he would bring back to support all districts in Nebraska. Steve initially came to the Department of Education in August of 2013 where he began working as a special consultant to the Commissioner within Special Populations. In July of 2015, Steve was officially named the Director of Special Education. For Steve, this isn’t just a stop on the career path, this is a way of life. A commitment to truly providing leadership to the State of Nebraska and being true to a mission that flows through his blood. Amy Rhone joined the Nebraska Department of Education as the PBiS Coordinator/Director in 2015 and the Special Education Department as the Assistant Director in August of 2016. After receiving her BA in Family Science from the University of Nebraska, Amy set off to Arizona where she spent 15 years working with kids and families. Her experience includes teaching in a variety of settings; from preschool through adult education. She spent the first 8 years working with foster and adoption families with pre and post placement, services, and advocacy. In 2004 she joined the education world as a teacher, serving elementary and special education students. In 2007, she became an administrator, committed to providing students with an outstanding academic foundation that includes activities and opportunities to enrich the elementary (continued on page 6) WINTER 2017 NCSA TODAY 5


PEW Rural School Food Convening Addresses Challenges of Safe, Healthful Foods Initiatives BY DR. JOHN SKRETTA, Superintendent, Norris School District 160



recently had the opportunity to join about 60 other invited delegates from across the country to participate in the recent Pew Charitable Trust’s Safe and Healthful Foods Rural School Foods convening. The meeting was in St. Louis in September and included district level food service directors and administrators, state and national public health advisors, and industry leaders representing food service management entities like Sodexo. The meeting was sponsored by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project (KSHF)—a joint initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on ensuring that all students have access to quality nutrition. The meeting featured invited experts including Dr. Katie Wilson, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services with the USDA. The convening was marked by a series of professionally moderated discussions grounded in research and directed at identifying how schools and other sectors can work collaboratively to enhance progress in school nutrition and facilitate a culture of health in small districts across the country. The major findings of the meeting and recommendations for decision makers will be published later by Pew. Rural schools and small school districts are actually the vast majority of systems in the United States. Only 11 percent of school food authorities (districts administering federal school food service programs), actually have 12 or more schools and large districts of more than 10,000 students make up only about 8 percent of all public systems. Since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010—the reauthorization of the children's nutrition/ federal school lunch program—school nutrition programs have gone through massive changes. The Pew Charitable Trust in cooperation with RWJF provided a thorough re-

search summary on this topic to attendees. Findings from the Pew Trusts and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: • The amount and variety of healthy foods in schools is increasing. • Students are starting to eat more healthy foods and waste less—simultaneously, schools have found a greater variety of fruit and vegetable options leads to students making healthier choices. • Food service equipment issues and infrastructure remain a major obstacle in serving healthy school meals. On average, school districts in rural areas report needs for over $60K in equipment acquisitions including processing and chopping tools for fresh fruit and vegetables, carts for mobile deployment of foods, and other items like digital scales to ensure proper and compliant portion sizes. • Despite the nearly universal need for new equipment upgrades to meet the new nutrition requirements, only slightly more than 20 percent of rural schools have a plan in place for equipment replacement and upgrades, and just over a third have actually been able to budget for capital equipment purchases in these areas. When these equipment and infrastructure challenges are combined with a lack of adequate training in implementing healthier school meal standards as well as predictable resistance from students and families, this can create huge challenges for administrators trying to support their food service programs and provide great nutrition services to our families. Accessing more regional staff training from state agencies like our own Nebraska Department of Education, realizing the importance of cafeteria upgrades in our school budgets, and making sure administrators are trou(continued on page 7)

New Year, New Leadership, New Vision...…(continued from page 5) school experience. Within this time she also served as the Director of Special Services within the district, providing special education and programming direction and support. In addition to her BA, she holds an MAEd in Education. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate Degree in Educational leadership and organizational management. Her experience and passion will help to drive the mission within special education within the new leadership and vision.


The new leadership’s drive and passion will move us to fully understand a vision where we are leading and listening to our state through collaboration. Taking one step at a time, the Office of Special Education will continuously look at the footprints from the past as we begin to move on our new path, serving from one end of the state to the other. 2017 brings a new year, with new leadership, creating a new vision that will lead to improved outcomes for children. n


Smart Education Investments are Essential to Moving Nebraska Forward BY TIFFANY SEIBERT JOEKEL, Policy Director at OpenSky Policy Institute


ebraska’s outstanding public schools are the foundation of opportunity in our state. They help our communities thrive by providing our children with the skills they need to prosper and by powering our strong economy. Our public education system is one of the best in the country on a number of metrics. Consistently, we have one of the top high school graduation rates in the nation, we Seibert Joekel rank seventh nationally in college-going rates and our average ACT score is tops among states where most students take the ACT. However, there is always room for OpenSky Policy Institute improvement and innovais a non-partisan, non-profit tion, and there are major think tank that researches challenges ahead. and analyzes Nebraska As Nebraska lawmakers state fiscal policy. OpenSky’s face an extremely trying budget situation in the mission is to improve upcoming legislative sesopportunities for every sion, they are likely to face Nebraskan by providing pressure to cut funding to impartial and precise public K-12 education— the largest single spending research, analysis, education item in the state budget. and leadership. But there are several im-

portant reasons that balancing the budget on the backs of our public education system is not the best strategy for our state, our economy and our property taxpayers. First, it’s important to note school spending in Nebraska is not out of control. While public K-12 education funding accounts for 28 percent of the state budget, this is not out of line with our neighboring states. State spending on education represents more than 40 percent of South Dakota’s and Iowa’s General Fund budgets and approximately 60 percent of Kansas’ General Fund budget. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, our statewide average per pupil spending amount is just slightly above the national average ($11,726 in Nebraska; $11,009 nationally in 2014). Furthermore, that statewide average per pupil spending is driven up significantly as a result of rising per pupil costs in smaller schools with declining enrollment relative to fixed costs. The Legislative Fiscal Office found that schools with the lowest total spending growth have the highest per pupil costs—reflecting this shift in enrollment relative to fixed costs, as opposed to out of control spending. Another key reason to protect education funding relates to our state’s economic development and the broadly-expressed idea that strengthening our workforce (continued on page 8)

PEW Rural School Food …(continued from page 6) bleshooting directly with our food service directors as partners in a collaborative effort are all crucial strategies for success. Fortunately, the last few years have seen school districts embracing a number of active strategies to promote healthy eating. These include student taste test opportunities, and cooking demonstrations with students. A key to this process has also been administrators demonstrating the leadership and willingness to experiment with breakfast and lunch schedules to increase participation, understanding that students who are adequately nourished are also likely to perform better academically. Norris is one such example among many, where our district has instituted a second chance “grab” breakfast program that has proven highly successful in providing a nutritious daily breakfast opportunity for students. Federal funds can also help schools use more fresh ingredients and improve service and school districts across Nebraska and elsewhere have been capitalizing on healthier US schools challenge competition funds that are available for meeting healthy

school food requirements. Information on the application criteria and guidance as well as a list of recognized Nebraska schools is available on the USDA’s website at hussc/nebraska-award-winners (about a hundred individual Nebraska schools have earned HUSSC distinction and received monetary assistance to continue instituting healthier menus). I felt honored to represent Nebraska’s outstanding schools at this meeting and I am proud of the efforts underway across the state in our school districts to ensure all students are able to derive the health and academic benefits of school nutrition services. As we all know and as the Pew event reaffirmed for me, the challenges of doing so have only become more complex. Additional information and helpful resources are available at healthyschoolfoodsnow.orgstate. As we continue to work together, I am eager to observe what the future holds for each school district, each ESU, the ESUCC, NDE and all stakeholders within this statewide system of support. Best wishes for a great year! n WINTER 2017 NCSA TODAY 7


NAESP Announces National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska


imothy Garcia, Principal at McCook Elementary School in McCook, Nebraska, has been named Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals, New Principal of the Year for 2016-2017. Timothy began his administrative career as an elementary assistant principal before becoming the elementary principal at McCook Elementary in 2012. Prior to becoming an administrator, Timothy was a Health and Physical Education teacher in the McCook Public Schools. Mr. Grant Norgaard, Superintendent of McCook Public Schools writes, “Mr. Garcia is an excellent elementary school principal whose primary objective is student success and achievement. I believe that it is somewhat rare that we come across individuals like Mr. Garcia who are solely focused on creating a strong collaborative work environment dedicated to the pursuit of student achievement, while at the same time maintaining a strong sense of character and moral uprightness.”

Timothy has been involved in many organizations including Nebraska Council for School Administrators, member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, NSAA, Optimist Club, Child Advocacy Team, and Through the Eyes of a Child. Congratulations to Timothy Garcia for his outstanding start as an Elementary School Principal. We appreciate his early contributions to our profession, and are proud to name him New Principal of the Year for 2016-2017. n

Timothy Garcia

Smart Education Investments are Essential to Moving Nebraska Forward…(continued from page 7) is a key to moving Nebraska’s economy forward. According to a recent survey by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, workforce availability was the top concern of Nebraska businesses. Similarly, in a monthly survey conducted by the UNL Bureau of Business Research, Nebraska businesses consistently rank “labor availability and quality” as one of their top concerns, second only to “customer demand.” Our public education system is and will continue to be an integral partner in preparing our children to meet our state’s workforce demands. Cutting education funding harms our state’s ability to strengthen its workforce and economy. Regarding property taxes, state funding for K-12 education has a direct relationship to taxes levied at the local level, as approximately 60 percent of all property taxes go to fund local schools. When state funding for education goes down, school districts have to make up for that funding elsewhere—usually by increasing local property tax revenues. Nebraska currently ranks 49th in the share of K-12 funding that comes from the state, and we rank 2nd in terms of reliance on property taxes to fund our schools (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). As the state continues to hold down or even cut their investment in public education, it will result in an even greater shift of responsibility to local property taxpayers to support their local school districts. Given that public education is our state’s largest and most impactful investment in economic development and its relationship to our heavy reliance on property taxes, the best way forward for Nebraska is to protect and support cost-effective investments in public education. This is particularly trust as the numbers and needs of public school students in our state are growing. 8 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2017

To that end, OpenSky is working with experts from throughout the state on a multi-year project called the Nebraska Education Collaboration ( to identify evidence-based approaches to support a high-quality education for every child in every public school building in our state. While each school district has its unique challenges, the Nebraska Education Collaboration will focus the conversation on what works. Some policies that will be explored initially are increased investments in school-to-career programs, early childhood education, and expanded learning opportunities (before and after school and summer programming). While the state’s present budget scenario may make increased investment in education difficult at this time, the Collaboration will encourage our state’s leaders to plan, prioritize, and prepare to make impactful policy choices when the time is right to do so. Our public schools are the heart of many communities, and they do an excellent job of educating our children. To be successful in our efforts to help our students achieve excellence in the classroom and close the opportunity gap faced by too many students in our state, we must commit to continuous improvement. It is critically important that we remember, in the face of a large budget shortfall, that the investment decisions made in our state today will reverberate through our communities and our economy for years to come. By focusing on evidence-based, cost effective investments in public education, we can make the right kinds of investments that will grow our economy and build thriving communities across the state. n


First Five Nebraska: Your Partner in Early Childhood Policy BY BECKY VEAK, Director, First Five Nebraska





f the more than 150,000 children between the ages of 0-5 living in Nebraska, 64,127 (42 percent) face developmental obstacles that threaten their chances of becoming successful students and productive citizens. Over the past 10 years, Nebraska’s 0-5 population has grown by approximately 13,000 children—85 percent of whom are already at risk of entering the K-12 system developmentally unprepared to learn and thrive. As educators, you know this not only undermines their prospects for academic success, but has broader implications for our state’s continued growth and prosperity. First Five Nebraska is a team of professionals with more than 60 years of combined experience in government relations, data analysis and strategic communications. Our expertise focuses on promoting practical, effective and fiscally responsible public policies that support high-quality early learning and prepare more children to enter the K-12 system ready to learn and motivated to achieve. We believe that changing the public conversation about early childhood in Nebraska is key to changing the long-term outlook for our state and its citizens. Scientific evidence tells us that children’s earliest experiences are physically written into the neural architecture of their brain, especially during the first three years. Stimulating and emotionally supportive experiences, environments and relationships with caring adults—especially parents—build strong brain circuitry and encourage the skills children need to succeed in school and life. The quality of these early experiences matters, and we know that lower-quality experiences can actually reduce the neural connections and result in poor skills development. The neural foundation that supports all future learning is largely in place by age 5, and while we continue to learn and develop new neural pathways throughout life, the circuitry becomes increasingly difficult to alter over time. It is far easier to positively influence a child’s developing brain in the first three to five years than to rewire parts of it later. Studies of model early childhood programs indicate that very young children at risk benefit dramatically in both cognitive and character development through consistent, high-quality learning experiences both before and after they enter kindergarten. These gains correspond to stronger academic performance, higher graduation rates and higher levels of post-secondary education, which also promotes better social competencies and marketable skills they will carry into the workforce and their communities.

The High Cost of Failing Nebraska’s Youngest Children Nebraska's public schools serve more than 300,000 students at an average cost of about $12,000 per pupil per academic year. This investment in our children's education pays dividends as Nebraska ranks among the top states in the nation for high school completion. Yet, state expenditures on special education currently exceed $200 million and continue to climb as more children enter kindergarten unprepared to learn. Factoring in costs associated with behavioral health services, remediation and school dropout, and even later crime and incarceration, the net losses to individuals and the fiscal burden on society increase dramatically. Investments in high-quality early childhood opportunities can’t overcome all of the risk factors for children who are likely to face serious challenges in school, but a growing body of evidence shows that consistent, highquality early experiences result in academic gains and can offset the high cost of trying to address the achievement gap in elementary school and beyond. Consider Us a Resource First Five Nebraska would like to be considered as a resource for you. We provide objective data analysis, information on children at-risk by county and state legislative and Congressional districts (see Where Are Nebraska’s Children at Risk on our website at, as well as other resources for educators and policymakers. We also track and report on Nebraska legislation affecting children from birth through age 8 on our website. Users can search bills by number or by nine categories: child care, child safety, child welfare, early childhood workforce, economic assistance/public benefits, education, physical and mental health, school funding and systems/governance. Bill information and status is updated daily when the Nebraska Legislature is in session. In recent months, First Five Nebraska’s policy team joined Senator John Stinner (District 48) in a series of conversations with K-12 officials and their partners in communities across Nebraska about how to advance early learning opportunities across the state. Superintendents reported a growing achievement gap among children ages 0-5, especially from low-income families and households where English is not the dominant language. They commented on the challenge of insufficient funding for early childhood programs, especially in districts that do not re(continued on page 10) WINTER 2017 NCSA TODAY 9


Curly, Larry, and M.O.E.? BY JOHN BRAZELL, President, NASBO



few weeks ago as I started looking for something to write about for NCSA Today as NASBO President, I ran across an old Three Stooges movie clip. In conjunction with this, several times during the first semester of the school year Maintenance of Effort (MOE) has been the topic of conversation. The conversations have come about as part of internal discussions within Beatrice Public Schools and with my colleagues in the field. Business managers and probably Special Education directors across the state are aware that MOE has increased in importance as the scrutiny over meeting the requirements has increased. So as I watched the short clip featuring Curly, Larry, and Moe I thought that Maintenance of Effort, or MOE would be a good topic to focus on. To narrow MOE down to its simplest of terms, a school district expends funds for special education services using local or state and local funds in a previous year1, the school district then must spend equal or greater local or state and local funds on special education in a subsequent year to demonstrate that the receipt of any IDEA special education funds are not supplanting local or state and local funds. The intent of MOE requirement is to ensure that the Local Education Agency (LEA) is expending a certain level of non-Federal funds for the education of students with disabilities, thereby providing a stable source of funds necessary to provide special education services

to those students that qualify for special education. MOE is a requirement for any LEA that receives IDEA part B funds. Therefore, if your district receives IDEA Part B funds you must follow and meet MOE. From my viewpoint, MOE has three steps: 1) The eligibility standard, 2) The compliance standard and, 3) Exceptions. Step one is the eligibility standard. An LEA is not eligible to receive IDEA Part B funds until it has met the MOE eligibility standard, also known as the budget standard. To meet the eligibility standard an LEA must budget at least the same amount or more for the education of children with disabilities as it spent in the previous year. A school district must not use IDEA funds to reduce the level of expenditures made by the LEA from local funds below the level of those expenditures for the preceding fiscal year. 34 CFR §300.203(b)(1). In other words a district must plan to spend no less than they did the previous year. To confuse matters further, there are four different ways to meet the eligibility standard. The school district can meet the standard by comparing local funds only, comparing local and state funds, comparing on a per capita base local funds only, and finally comparing per capita basis for local and state funds. If any one of the four methods are met, the district has met the eligibility standard. Step two is the compliance standard, which occurs after (continued on page 11)

First Five Nebraska:Your Partner in Early Childhood Policy…(continued from page 9) ceive equalization aid under the TEEOSA formula. Several participants indicated that early childhood programs in their districts are already operating at full capacity, and usually have significant waiting lists—a common problem that often accompanies a lack of available space in public schools. Other issues high on the list are limited transportation options, difficulty in dealing with children who have serious behavioral issues, and the challenge in finding a qualified workforce with the skills necessary to meet the standards of their early childhood programs. At First Five Nebraska, we want to thank schools for the work you do, and we want you to consider us as a resource on early childhood. If your district would like to learn more about Nebraska’s early childhood legislative and regulatory landscape, please contact our policy associates, Jen Goettemoeller at or Andrew Monson at • School to career pathways: By providing career training as part of high school education, students gain skills that can lead to well-paying jobs right away. • Early childhood education: Children who grow up in poverty face disadvantages that can get in the way of their academic 10 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2017

success. But research shows that high-quality early childhood education is a smart investment that makes people more likely to have a higher income as adults, more likely to own a home, more likely to graduate from high school on time—and less likely to need special education or public assistance. School districts across the state are working on innovative, research-based ways to support children and families—and we need to expand those programs, not tear them down by weakening our public schools. I decided to do this work because I got a top-notch public school education here in Nebraska that enabled me to pursue my dreams, and I want every child in the state to have that opportunity. I look forward to meeting with many of you in the coming weeks and months—along with teachers, parents, business leaders, and elected officials from across the state. Our officials need to hear from you about the great work happening in our schools every day—as well as the challenges you face. Together, we can protect our excellent schools while working to make them even stronger for all Nebraska children. Look for more from us soon, and I look forward to working with you! n


NSASSP Announces 2016 New Principal of the Year


he Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals has selected Matt Blomenkamp as the 2016 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. Matt received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Physical Education with a Coaching Endorsement from Midland Lutheran College in 1999; a Master of Science in P-12 Educational Administration from Wayne State College in 2002 and an Educational Specialist Degree from WSC in 2009. In December of 2011, he received his Doctorate of Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Dr. Blomenkamp has worked in education since 1999 and has been the Principal at Bennington Public Schools since 2013. Dr. Terry Haack, Superintendent of Bennington Public Schools, praised Dr. Blomenkamp, noting: “Matt is a hard-working, dedicated, resourceful individual who cares for the well-being of students. He brings a high degree of leadership and competence to the job of high school principal that goes above and beyond what

is expected of an administrator. Matt has a strong desire to succeed, and the grit and determination that can be matched by few.” Laura McGrew, Language Arts Teacher at Bennington Public Schools, commented: “I can honestly say that since Matt has become our high school principal, the morale of our school has consistently increased. His leadership capacity, as well as his personal relationships with the Matt Blomenkamp staff and students are only a few of the reasons why he is truly a dynamic administrator.” Congratulations to Dr. Matt Blomenkamp 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

Curly, Larry, and M.O.E.?…(continued from page 10) the end of the fiscal year. This is when the district must prove that they actually spent more than in a previous year1. In the eligibility standard the district is planning to spend; in the compliance standard, the district must prove that it did spend an amount equal to or more than the previous year. The actual computation of the compliance standard of MOE is derived from comparing total SPED expenditures on the AFR’s from year to year. Proper coding and reporting are essential in order to meet MOE. Just like eligibility standard, the compliance standard uses the same four options to meet the standard. Those are the local funds only, state and local funds, and the per capita comparison also using the local funds or the local and state funds. As noted in the footnote for previous year1, a local school district must also be aware of the 2012 update that defined what is known as the “Subsequent Year Rule.” This was clarified by regulatory guidance issued in 2015. The Subsequent Year Rule states that if a school district fails to meet MOE, the subsequent year must be compared to the level of effort that would have been required in the absence of that failure and not the actual expenditures in the year in which it failed to meet the compliance standard.2 The final step is the exceptions. There are five allowable exceptions to MOE. Those exceptions are: 1) the voluntary departure of special education staff, 2) a decrease in the enrollment of children with disabilities, 3) the termination of a program for a high cost child, 4) the termination of costly expenditures for longterm purchases, and 5) the assumption of cost by the high cost fund operated by the state education agency. For all exceptions the local school district must be able to prove the decrease in

expenditures by providing copies of the receipts and accounting records.2 Nebraska handles exception #2 through per capita cost on the MOE worksheet and for exception #5, Nebraska does not operate a high-cost fund therefore it is not an option for an exception. The local school district must be careful in applying the exceptions as additional requirements exist. Here is one example that affected Beatrice Public Schools. A highly paid special education staff was moved to an elementary classroom teaching position and replaced with a lower cost special education teacher. In order for this move to be an allowable exception the district must advertise the open classroom position and conduct interviews for the position, which our district did not do. Therefore, Beatrice cannot claim the reduced cost as an exception to MOE. Documentation of the advertisement and the interviews must also be maintained. Like many programs from the Federal Government, the intent is good, but the execution, procedures, and policies do not always provide for prudent budgeting and the best use of school district funds. The best we can do is to diligently be mindful of the MOE requirements, be proactive as we prepare our budgets each year, follow through with meeting the requirements, and provide proper documentation for the exceptions. n 1

Previous Year refers to the last year the last year that a district met the MOE requirements, which may or may not be the preceding year, also known as the subsequent year rule. 2 Office of Special Education Programs, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Service, U.S. Department of Education. IDEA Part B supplemental Regulations Local Educational agency maintenance of Effort Issued April 28, 2015 Non-Regulatory Guidance



One Thing at a Time… BY LINDA KENEDY, EHA Wellness


ust for a moment, think about the last time you just did one thing. It may not be easy to remember when all you did was just talk to a friend without checking your phone or the last time you only answered an email and didn’t get distracted by a coworker interrupting you or your phone beeping or ringing. Or, when have you just looked up something on the Internet and then closed the tab? Most of us click from link to link opening more tabs than we realize and end up forgetting why we opened the browser in the first place. If these scenarios sound familiar, you may be doing too many things at one time and your brain isn’t sure which task is most important! Multitasking…does it work? Doing several things at one time, or multitasking, has become a way of life for many of us. We think nothing of making phone calls while driving, answering emails while on a conference call and checking our email and texts while talking to friends. So, the big question is, does multitasking really work? Or, we can ask, are we getting more done doing several things at one time? The research shows us that it actually doesn’t work. Doing several things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we are getting more done. According to the Harvard Business Review, in reality, our productivity can go down by as much as 40 percent when we multitask. Our brains aren’t wired to multitask—they actually switch from task to task and in the process of switching tasks we interrupt ourselves and take more time to complete the job or assignment. Another study showed that people distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10 point fall in their IQ’s. That’s equivalent to losing an entire night of sleep and trying to work the next day. Still not convinced? Try to text and talk at the same time…and then see if you texted what you meant and if the person you were talking to understood what you said! Or, try to communicate with middle or high school students while they are Snapchatting with their friends. What’s more is all of this multitasking takes a toll on our health. We don’t just lower our productivity, we put ourselves in a constant state of stress which, over time, can lead to muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, increased blood pressure and increased risk of heart attacks and more. The research also tells us that practice does not make perfect—the more we multitask, the worse we are at it. Can I still chew gum and walk? If all of this multitasking is working against us, how can we still get everything done? The answer is, if the tasks need your concentration to complete, do one thing at a time. Yes, you read that correctly, do one thing at a time—also called single tasking. If that statement raised your blood pressure because you can’t comprehend how you will get everything done, challenge yourself to single task for 15 minutes each day. Pick something on your to do list 12 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2017

that needs to get done and spend those 15 minutes doing just that—with no interruptions. For those 15 minutes all you do is focus on that project. For example, if you have been putting off responding to a sensitive email, turn off your phone, close your office door and write the email. If you have been meaning to call a close friend or family member, give them a call but all you do is just talk on the phone—no driving, no side conversations, no checking out a store. After the initial shock of doing just one thing, you probably felt pretty good about whatever you chose to do for those 15 minutes. The benefits of single tasking are many—our stress levels drop dramatically, productivity skyrockets, our ability to focus increases, and you acquire a calm patience for things that you need and want to get done. In contrast to multitasking, the more you single task, the better you get at it. Suddenly, you stop texting back everyone instantly if you are busy with another task, you spend time with people who are physically with you instead of checking your phone for the next email and you realize that the world still turns if you leave your phone at home once in a while. Here are a few more tips to get you started down the path to single tasking more: • Pick one or two areas to change—maybe pick something at work and something at home. Don’t try to single task everything all at once. • Decide what’s distracting you from single tasking and figure out what will work to eliminate them while working on your task (e.g. turn off your phone, close your email, shut your office door, notify coworkers that you are unavailable, etc.) • Once you’ve picked your task and cleared distractions, pour yourself into it. Really allow yourself to focus and only think about that task. • Practice it! If all you can give it right now is 15 minutes each day, do that every day for a month. Remember, we aren’t perfect. Every once in a while it’s OK to allow for a little multitasking…however, the more we single task, the better off we will be at home and at work. And let’s not forget all of those students who look to you as role models—if we can slow down and focus, it just might help them slow down and focus as well. Those multitasking students who are studying, texting and watching Netflix all at the same time will be better in the classroom if they learn to single task more often. One last thing—yes, you can still chew gum and walk since it’s technically not multitasking as it uses different parts of our brain! If you would like more information about this topic or would like to participate in challenges to help you improve your health throughout the year, check out the EHA Wellness Program at n


NSASSP Announces 2016 Distinguished Service Award


r. Chris Stogdill has been selected as the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Stogdill received his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Doane College in 2000; his Education Specialist Degree from Wayne State College in 2007; and his Doctorate in Education Administration from the University of South Dakota in 2010. Dr. Stogdill is currently the principal for Otte Blair Middle School in Blair, Nebraska and previously served on the staff at both Stanton Community Schools in Stanton, Nebraska and Osmond Community Schools in Osmond, Nebraska. Dr. Stogdill has taken a very active leadership role, not only in his school, but on a state and national level as well. He has served on the NCSA Capitol Hill Advocacy Committee since 2012, is one of the co-founders of #nebchat on Twitter, served as a member or chaired AdvancED external review teams for several area schools, written articles for Principal Leadership Magazine; currently serves as an adjunct faculty member for Wayne State College; has presented on various topics at several professional development opportunities for other administrators, and much more Brandon Mowinkel, Principal at Milford Jr/Sr High School states, “As one of Dr. Stogdill’s former students, I know first-hand the impact he has had as an educator in the lives of his students. Through

his role as a teacher and coach, Dr. Stogdill provided the guidance and support I needed to focus on what was important in life and ultimately choose to become an educator myself. Building positive relationships with students has always been one of his many strengths; he knows and values the importance of creating positive and inviting learning environments.” Morgan Echtenkamp, 7th Grade English Teacher at Otte Chris Stogdill Blair Middle School, expressed, “Dr. Stogdill is a man of great integrity and dedication; he is decisive and confident. He has an unyielding passion for the education profession. These are essential qualities of an educational leader. But what’s more is that he is personable, empathetic, respectful, open-minded, and accountable. The culmination of these qualities truly make him a great leader.” n

NSASSP Announces 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year


he Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals has selected Heather Daubert of Millard as the 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year. Heather received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry and English from the University of Nebraska–Kearney in 1994. She received a Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction from UNK in 1997 and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Doane College in 2010. She is currently working on a Doctoral Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Heather Daubert has been involved in education since 1994 and for the past seven years she has served as Assistant Principal at Beadle Middle School in Millard. Mrs. Daubert fully believes that we have the greatest impact as educators when we work together and she is very proud of the relationships she has built with her community, students, and staff. She is a strong leader for her school district and for the Millard community. John Southworth, Principal of Beadle Middle School, states: “Mrs. Daubert values the commitment to learn and achieve which does drive how she approaches her job. She also values the commitment to create, plan, and implement initiatives that will im-

prove student achievement, staff professional growth, and improve the culture surrounding Beadle Middle School.” Jolene and Mike Straub, parents of two students, commented: “In a school as large as ours, it is hard to imagine the logistics of meeting the needs of so many students, but Heather has always made us feel that no time spent is too much, no unusual request too unreasonable, and no situation too unmanageable. We feel very blessed to have such a voice for our kids.” n

Heather Daubert



NCSA to Endorse Annual Graduate College Course Offering by Coaches Association BY DARIN BOYSEN, Executive Director, Nebraska Coaches Association


he college classroom had filled with undergraduate students for the first day of the undergraduate class Fundamentals of Coaching. As the clock struck 8:00 a.m., the instructor silenced the room, and belted out six words that would resonate with me for over 30 years, “Teaching is Coaching— Coaching is Teaching.” Those six words can serve as a powerDarin Boysen ful reminder to administrators, teachers and coaches that we must provide students with educated, motivated and talented individuals working in the classroom and within extra-curricular activities. The Coaching Academy In cooperation with several leading state organizations (including the Nebraska Council of School Administrators) Nebraska Coaches Association will launch the NCA Coaches Academy in conjunction with the NCA Multi-Sports Clinic in July. This comprehensive college graduate level course will challenge and empower individuals in the areas of talent and culture development. Core Curriculum & Focus of Instruction Led by a team of instructors from HUMANeX Ventures, teachers/coaches will complete a pre-course online assessment to explore their own personal innate talents and strengths. Building from the assessment, attendees will invest in creating a common language to set goals utilizing personal strengths as a teacher and coach. The second major component of the class will focus on equipping teachers/coaches to build a positive and impactful culture ‘by

design.’ The instruction and discussion will focus on predictors of team success and ways to further understand and expand team chemistry and the importance in doing so. Impactful, Practical, Affordable The accredited course work will be offered through the University of Sioux Falls. This course will empower teachers/coaches to further explore and discuss critical topics with leaders from the Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA), the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA), the Nebraska State Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NSIAAA) and the Nebraska Coaches Association (NCA). The three-graduate credit class will be offered at an extremely affordable price of only $380. Demanding & Rigorous The initial course work will require participants to complete a HUMANeX Ventures talents assessment prior to attending the classroom instruction. The intensive classwork will begin Monday, July 24 at Lincoln North Star High School—one day prior to the NCA Multi-Sport Clinic. Enrollees will also be required to complete three of the following four requirements by September 1: • Attend and critique 12 total sessions at the NCA Multi-Sports Clinic sessions, • Review and critique 12 articles from Coach & Athletic Director magazine or Nebraska Coach magazine, • Complete a five page research paper on the development of team culture/chemistry, • Develop and/or revise (citing course work) an Athletic or Team Handbook to be distributed to players and parents in 20172018. Continued Investment in Teacher & Coach Attendees Through the development of educational partnerships with the NCA, teachers/coaches that successfully complete the course work will also receive several other unique resources or discounts to ex(continued on page 15)

Program Endorsements

NCSA Nebraska Council of School Administrators



NAESP Announces National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska


he Nebraska Association of Elementary School Principals is pleased to announce that Mrs. Katie Mathews, Principal at Park Elementary within the Kearney Public Schools, has been named the 2016 National Distinguished Principal from Nebraska. Katie has been a Principal in Kearney Public School District for nineteen years. Katie was an assistant principal before becoming the elementary principal at Park Elementary in 1997. Katie demonstrates much pride and passion as an elementary principal. Katie noted three specific accomplishments that are evident at Park Elementary. These accomplishments include sustaining a positive culture, focusing on the whole child, and communications that have been established with the stakeholders in their community. Katie intentionally focuses on influencing and motivating her staff, and their culture can be referred to as “feeling like a big family.” The “family feeling” at Park Elementary flows directly into the community, where there are strong and supportive stakeholders. According to Dr. Kent Edwards, Superintendent of Kearney Public Schools, “There is no one who has dedicated more of their personal and/or professional time in an effort to make a positive contribution to students, teachers, or a school system. She has established herself as a leader and valuable team member within our school system. In all of my associations, Katie has demonstrated an

ability to motivate, train, and equip staff to facilitate student success within any K-5 setting.” The Parent-Teacher-Organization of Park Elementary states, “Mrs. Mathews ‘wears many hats’ as the principal of Park Elementary. She is a leader, mentor, and an outstanding professional at all times. She is always the first to lend a hand to a student, a teacher, or parent. Mrs. Mathews supports the academic, social, emotional, and physical growth Katie Mathews of Park students.” Katie will represent Nebraska in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2017. NAESP is extremely proud to have Katie represent our organization as NDP for 2016. She is very deserving of this recognition. Congratulations, Katie! n

NCSA to Endorse Annual Graduate College Course…(continued from page 14) pand their growth in the classroom and through extra-curricular activities. • One year online subscription of Coach & Athletic Director magazine provided by the NCA • Nine month online access to the Glazier Clinics Vault of national clinics including video and clinicians’ notes for one sport provided by Glazier Clinics & the NCA • Great Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently, by Don Yaeger provided by HUMANeX Ventures • $50 credit when ordering at least $150 in Russell Athletic coaching apparel for a coaching staff provided by Custom Sports of Norfolk NCSA Endorsement & Support It’s rare that a group of disgruntled parents or community members would march into the school office or a school board meeting to demand action due to an ‘underperforming’ or ill equipped core teacher. But how much time and resources are spent by administrators reacting to situations as the coach comes under fire? This NCA educational initiative will equip

teachers/coaches with the resources and skills to create a positive culture by recognizing and developing each individual’s strengths and talents. We need your help as school administrators. The success and continued growth of this educational program hinges on the endorsement of organizations such as the NCSA. Teachers and coaches need your administrative support in allowing this course work to count towards movement on your school district’s salary schedule. We are making every effort for this curriculum to be acceptable as an elective in any graduate level program. Ultimately, this decision will be determined by each individual institution. A successful school recognizes that we can have an immeasurable impact by equipping students with life skills in the classroom and through extra-curricular activities. We ask that you invest in those staff members that are building a lasting positive legacy. n Darin Boysen has served as the Nebraska Coaches Association Executive Director since 2011. The NCA serves nearly 4,300 voluntary members across the state. Prior to his service to the NCA, he was an assistant director at the Nebraska School Activities Association for five years. He enjoyed 15 years as a classroom teacher and coach at North Bend Central.



NCSA Introduces Tyler Dahlgren, Communications Specialist


y name is Tyler Dahlgren, and I am the new communications specialist for the Nebraska Council of School Administrators. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about myself and what I hope to build and accomplish here. Our vision is to establish a highly interactive, continuous outlet of content on the Nebraska Advantage website that highlights students, schools, teachers or administrators that go above and beyond to make a difference in our public schools. With that strong content serving as a base, we’ll aim to create a heavy presence on social media. Nebraska Advantage wants to fill your timeline with all the great things that happen in our public schools, so give us a Twitter follow @NEADVANTAGE and @NSCAToday! From December of 2014 up until last week, I served as the sports editor for the Washington County Enterprise, a position that included close work with three public school systems in Blair, Arlington, and Fort Calhoun. I believe in public schools, and have seen countless success stories that I am now thrilled to find, with your help, and tell. There are incredible people within our public schools doing special things, and my passion is telling those stories. A graduate of Blair High School and the University of Nebraska– Omaha, I’ve always loved sports and writing. Eventually, those two interests merged, and I’ve covered sports in some capacity for the last 10 years. I’m looking forward to easing back into the “fan” role.

I am a Kansas City Royals diehard (even before they were good, I swear), and cheer for the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Lakers, though I’m in the market for a new NBA team now that Kobe Bryant is retired. My girlfriend, Alyssa, is one of the biggest Cubs fans I know, so it was certainly an exciting fall. I was glad to see the curse snapped, but hope the Royals make some moves in the offseason. Tyler Dahlgren I have two favorite places in the world: The first is Memorial Stadium, so the move to the capital city is naturally exciting. Though about everyone around here will tell you the same thing, my Husker fandom really does border on obsession. I’m looking forward to catching more games at Pinnacle Bank Arena this winter, too. The second is my sanctuary: The lake, with a fishing pole in hand. More specifically, the dock when the crappie or walleye are biting. I spend free time in the spring and summer with my tackle box. Like I mentioned briefly before, I am looking forward to scouring the state for success stories within our public schools. We have already gained some incredible momentum through the first two months, and look to continue sharing your stories. n


Emerging Administrators, Day 1 of 2



Emerging Administrators, Day 2 of 2 Education Forum NASES Legislative Conference

NCSA Younes Conf Center Cornhusker Marriott

Lincoln Kearney Lincoln

5 GRIT Cornhusker Marriott 6-7 NASES Spring Conference Younes Conf Center 10-11 AQuESTT Younes Conf Center 19-21 NASBO State Convention Cornhusker Marriott *Region Meeting dates can be found on the NCSA mobile app and NCSA website.

Lincoln Kearney Kearney Lincoln

FEBRUARY 4 8-9 23-24


National Convention Dates AASA—March 2-4, 2017—New Orleans, LA ASCD—March 25-27, 2017—Anaheim, CA NAESP and NASSP—July 9-11, 2017—Philadelphia, PA ASBO—September 22-25, 2017—Denver, CO CASE—November 1-3, 2017—Nugget Reno, NV 16 NCSA TODAY WINTER 2017

Gold Sponsorships Ameritas Investment Corp.

EHA Wellness

Dallas Watkins 5900 O Street, 1st Floor Lincoln, NE 68510 800-700-2362

Howie Halperin 256 No. 115 Street, Ste. 7 Omaha, NE 68154 402-614-0491



Daniel Beatty 605 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20001 970-391-1550

Dave Ludwig 6949 So. 110th Street Omaha, NE 68128 402-597-4866

Boyd Jones Construction

First National Capital Markets

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

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

D.A. Davidson & Co. Paul Grieger 1111 No. 102nd Court, Ste. 300 Omaha, NE 68114 800-942-7557

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

Great Plains Safety and Health Organization Mick Anderson Rm 220E WSTC—UNK Campus 1917 W. 24th Street Kearney, NE 68849 308-865-8258

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

Humanex Ventures Katie Lechner 2900 So. 70th Street, Ste. 100 Lincoln, NE 68506 402-486-1102

Insuring Success Ty Christensen 19016 Costanzo Circle Elkhorn, NE 68022 402-960-5387

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

Modern Images Bradley Cooper 13436 So. 217th Street Gretna, NE 68028 402-991-7786

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

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

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

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

TRANE Dave Raymond 5720 So. 77th Street Ralston, NE 68127 402-452-7762

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

Wells Fargo

Bronze Sponsorships Kearney Visitors Bureau

University of Nebraska High School

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

Charlotte Seewald | 206 South 13th Street, Suite 800 | P.O. Box 880226 Lincoln, NE 68588 | 402-472-1922 |

Heather Kudron 1919 Douglas Street Omaha, NE 68102 402-536-2090

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

Renaissance Learning

Software Unlimited, Inc.

Heather Roth 2911 Peach Street Wisconsin Rapids, WI 55494 800-338-4204 ext. 4712

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

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

Accredited. College-Prep. Online.

Meet Your Students’ Academic Goals 100+ core, elective, AP® & dual enrollment courses online.

The University of Nebraska is an equal opportunity educator and employer.


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