The Omaha Public Schools prepares all students to excel in college, career and life.
Managing Editor: Deb S. Christiansen Garza
Dear OPS Community:

Please take a few minutes to watch the latest "Sup for the Soul" podcast , filmed at Miller Park Elementary. This month, we discuss Miller Park's outstanding 100 percent attendance rate for parent/teacher conferences, its STEM lab, its hydroponics garden and its involvement this year as a Disney Musical School and their production of "The Lion King." Additionally, I highlight the district's flood relief efforts for staff members, state testing, ACT testing for all juniors, attendance and severe weather awareness week.

I hope you enjoy it!

Cheryl J. Logan,  Ed.D.
Omaha Public Schools
OPS Announces New Chief Operations Officer
The Omaha Public Schools has selected Dr. Lisa Sterba as the next Chief Operations Officer for the district. Her appointment is pending Board of Education approval and will become effective this summer.

Dr. Sterba's leadership and long-time dedication to the district during her 32-year career makes her a welcome addition to the Executive Council. She has spent the past 17 years leading the Lewis & Clark Middle School/Focus Program. She also served as a special needs teacher, student personnel assistant and assistant principal.

She holds a bachelor's degree in special education/education from the University of Texas at San Antonio and the following degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha: a master's degree in special education mild and moderate disabilities, a master's degree in educational administration and a doctorate degree in educational administration.

Throughout the next few months, Sterba will work with the staff at Lewis & Clark Middle School to ensure a successful transition for the next leader there.

We look forward to Dr. Sterba's leadership in her new role as chief operations officer.
Open Community Meetings for Proposed Boundary Changes
Set for April and May

The Omaha Public Schools recognizes and supports the need for planning for the future of our school district. To accommodate current and future needs of OPS students, the district held a series of meetings to assist in the development of a redistricting boundary plan to accommodate the opening of five new schools: two elementary, one middle and two high schools. The meetings took place on Feb. 13 and 14 for principals and Feb. 27 and 28 for staff, students, parents and community members. Additional focus group meetings involving larger groups of principals, staff, students, parents and community members will take place on April 2, 3 and 4. A compilation of the boundary options created during those meetings will be presented to the broader community on April 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 and May 6, 7 and 8.

We would like to invite you to participate in the upcoming open community meetings regarding proposed changes to south Omaha elementary and middle school attendance boundaries and the high school attendance boundaries to accommodate adding the new schools. The dates, times and locations of the meetings are as follows:
Proposed South Omaha Elementary/ Middle School Boundary Changes
South High Magnet School - Gym
4519 S. 24 St.
April 16
6-8 p.m.
Proposed High School Boundary Changes
Burke High School - Gym
12200 Burke Blvd.
April 22
6-8 p.m.
South High Magnet School - Gym
4519 S. 24 St.
April 23
6-8 p.m.

Central High School - Cafeteria
124 N. 20 St.
April 29
6-8 p.m.

Northwest High Magnet - Cafeteria
8204 Crown Point Ave.
April 30
6-8 p.m.
North High Magnet - Viking Center
4410 N. 36 St.
May 6
6-8 p.m.
Benson High Magnet - Cafeteria
5120 Maple St.
May 7
6-8 p.m.
Bryan High School - Library
4700 Giles Road
May 8
6-8 p.m.

The information presented at each of the high school meetings will be the same.

The success of this planning process requires involvement by all facets of the community and we encourage you to attend one of these meetings to share any input or concerns you may have.

After a review of all information obtained during the open community meetings, final boundary options will be presented to the OPS Board of Education for review and a final vote sometime this summer.

We look forward to seeing you.

Thank you for your continued support of the Omaha Public Schools.
CHI Health and Omaha Public Schools Partner to Honor Teachers Across the District
CHI Health wants nominations of Omaha Public Schools' teachers changing the lives of students. Each month, they'll surprise a Top Teacher nominee with a treat basket for the teacher's lounge and a personal gift card. CHI will draw winners on the last Friday of the month. CHI Health will select one winner at the elementary, middle and high school level.
Anyone can nominate a Top Teacher at .
Thank you for your support of our teachers and for your support of the Omaha Public Schools.

The February edition of INSIDE the Omaha Public Schools inadvertently listed Juan Valdovinos-Preciado as the student from South High Magnet selected to the Urban Health Opportunities Program through the University of Nebraska Omaha. It was, in fact, Juana Mora-Valdovinos, who is pictured right.
Fontenelle Teacher Named
2019 Solar System Ambassador
. . .to the state of Nebraska's 2019 Solar System Ambassador, George Galdamez. Galdamez is a fifth-grade teacher at Fontenelle Elementary and started a space club at the school called The Federation of Galaxy Explorers. The club is the first of its kind in the state. He is also a certified NASA Endeavor instructor from Columbia University. The Solar System Ambassador program is sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
OPS Students Qualify for State Geography Bee
. . .to the six OPS students who qualified to participate in the State Geography Bee at the University of Nebraska Omaha on March 29: Aidan Blakely (King Science & Technology Center), Jacob Lensch (Buffett Magnet Middle School), Anthony Norris (McMillan Magnet Middle), Brayden Taylor (R.M. Marrs Magnet Middle), Noah Smith (Wilson Focus) and Basie Spurgeon (Beveridge Magnet Middle).
Aidan Blakely
Jacob Lensch
Anthony Norris
Brayden Taylor
Noah Smith
Basie Spurgeon
2019 Supervisor/Administrator Art Educator
. . .to Angela Fischer, who is this year's National Education Association's 2019 National Supervisor/Administrator Art Educator. This award recognizes excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated educator. She received her award at the national convention in Boston, Mass. on March 14-16.
South High Magnet Captures Class A Boys State Basketball Championship
. . .to the South High Magnet boys basketball team who are this year's Class A state champions. The team earned the title after defeating Central High School 58-56.

Go Packers!
Columbian Student is One of This Year's Black History Art Contest Winners
. . .to Columbian Elementary fifth-grade student Vivian Dauner whose entry "Misty Copeland" in this year's Black History Art Contest was one of the winning entries. Dauner will be honored during during an awards ceremony at The Union for Contemporary Art on April 18.
By Julie Sigmon, Omaha STEM Ecosystem Director

Middle School and STEM

As parents, you may have heard of the growing trend in STEM education and may not be sure what skills a child will need to be successful in the future. Middle school years are formative in building interest and proficiency in STEM subjects and, for many, beginning to consider possible career options. This is a time that students may veer towards the easier math and science courses as they become frustrated with the struggle of math and science, or do not see relevancy in their application. This decision can impact their future choices.
Studies indicate many students lose their passion for the core of STEM by middle school. By nature, young children are curious. Yet, as kids hit middle school, their interest in STEM subjects seriously wanes, particularly in girls. So, what happens to that natural explorer and budding scientist as they progress to middle school and beyond?
One explanation is that, although the application of math and science can open doors to numerous career options, the repetitious exercises and lack of relevancy are fraught with failure that yield delayed or hidden rewards. In other words – many middle school students find math and science boring or geeky.
An understanding of mathematics and science applications is important.  However, students must also have key essential skills to be prepared for future STEM careers. These skills include collaboration, communication, understanding content, critical thinking, innovation and confidence.
As a parent, the key to finding success is finding ways to encourage and excite your child about STEM. Engagement is contagious. Look for STEM programs that combine fun, arts, technology and mathematics, while encouraging students to learn from failure and see the exciting rewards of math and science. There are numerous family friendly activities and STEM programs in the Omaha area such as the NE SciFest, City Nature Challenge, to mention a few. Check out an after-school program, visit your local library, join a scout program, ask your school counselor or teacher for other resources.
On-line resources or programs:
10 Tips to Help Your Child Be a STEM Thinker
Pictured above are Omaha Public Schools' staff that participated in a Science Content Immersion experience with educators at the Kennedy Space Center last summer to learn how to make science and math more engaging. Programming was led by Space Trek and the Center for Space Education at the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. Photos are of OPS staff members Amy Arneson (Northwest High Magnet grant evaluator), Melissa Belcastro (Sunny Slope Elementary), Carol Bobier (Lewis & Clark Middle School), Danielle Dornsife (Sunny Slope Elementary), Silas Grothen (Kennedy Elementary) John Huber (McMillan Magnet Middle) Emily Hughes (elementary supervisor), Leah Litz (Bancroft/Zoo), Vijava Mishra (Buffett Magnet Middle), Jon Tindall (North High Magnet), Heather Traxler (Field Club Elementary) and Melissa Zeisler (Kennedy Elementary).
Honoring Dr. Seuss and Read Across America

"Theodore Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 to September 24, 1991), better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was a writer and cartoonist who published more than 60 books. He published his first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street , under the name of Dr. Seuss in 1937. His rhymes and characters are beloved by generations of fans."

Omaha Public Schools joined in the celebration honoring Dr. Seuss' birthday and Read Across America in March.
Picotte Elementary kindergarten teacher Kristy Nixon's class celebrated the day by dressing up as "Things." The class created a verse to share with the school, which is featured, at the right.

Picotte is just one of many OPS schools that celebrated Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day.
It was too cold to go out.
It was too wet to play.
So these Things ran around
In the classrooms all day.
The principal caught them.
She told them to sit.
She did not like it.
Not one little bit.
South High Magnet Puts a Seuss 'Spin' on Morning Announcements
Even OPS high schools get in on the fun to honor Dr. Seuss. South High Magnet wrote their morning announcements in a fashion that would make even Theodore impressed. For the brave of heart, you can see the entire document by
clicking here. Pictured right is South English teacher David Weisser, author of the announcements.
Student Transfer Requests
Begin April 15

For families who missed the school selection process in January, the student transfer request process opens for school enrollment changes beginning April 15. All enrollment changes made prior to June 15 will be included in the Student Transportation routing process for the 2019-2020 school year. All changes made after June 15 will not have guaranteed transportation to the school of their choice. They will be eligible if there is a bus with space and a stop available on the route within the appropriate distance to the student's home.

Families who went through the school selection process should receive a letter this month. If you do not receive a letter, please call the Student Placement Office at (531) 299-0302.

Other questions regarding transfers and placement may be directed to the following individuals:

Special Education Placement: Dan Weidner (531) 299-9679
Student Placement: Patrick Pope (531) 299-9733
ESL Placement: Yadira Servellon (531) 299-9737

To find your home attendance area school or for more information regarding the OPS Student Assignment Plan, please click here.
Attendance Matters!
Did you know?

"Students with good attendance generally enjoy school more and achieve higher grades. Grades go down when you're not around!"

Every student. Every day. Prepared for success.
March is national Youth Art Month. The Council for Art Education created the program to encourage and support quality school art programs and to promote art material safety. The program recognizes skills developed through visual arts experiences, which include problem solving, creativity, observation and communication. This year's theme is "Your Art, Your Story." Specifically, Youth Art Month exists to:

  • Recognize art education as a viable factor in the total education curricular that develops citizens of a global society.
  • Recognize art is a necessity for the full development of a better quality of life for all.
  • Direct attention to the value of art education for divergent and critical thinking.
  • Expand art programs in schools and stimulate new art programs.
  • Encourage commitment to the arts by students, community organizations and individuals everywhere.
  • Provide additional opportunities for individuals of all ages to participate in creative art learning.
  • Increase community, business and governmental support for art education.
  • Increase community understanding and interest in art and art education through involvement in art exhibits, workshops and other creative ventures.
  • Reflect and demonstrate the goals of the National Art Education Association that work toward the improvement of art education at all levels.

In the Omaha Public Schools, students' artwork is displayed annually on billboards throughout the metro area and students have the opportunity to participate in the Scholastic Art Awards. A few of this year's winners from both events are featured below.

Youth Art Month graphic used with permission of the National Art Education Association.
2019 OPS Youth Art Month Billboards
Micaela Garcia-Vargas, 4th Grade
Sponsor: Lamar
Location: 6328 Grover St.
Halaina Bianco, 3rd Grade
Sponsor: OPS Art Department
Location: 120th and D Streets
Nina Carrizales, Ungraded
Sponsor: Munroe Meyer Institute
Location: 610 S. Saddlecreek Road
Kaziylah Terrell, 3rd Grade
Sponsor: Frontier Bag Company
Location: 30th and Dodge Streets
Ashley Valenzuela, 6th Grade
Sponsor: Wilson Focus
Location: 120th and D Streets
The Omaha Education Association is a proud
supporter of Youth Art Month.

To see all of the billboards, click here.
2019 OPS Scholastic Art and Writing
Awards Winners
The annual Scholastic Art and Writing Awards exhibit is now on display at the Teacher and Administrative Center (3215 Cuming St.), which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. We encourage the community to come and enjoy the extraordinary works of art by students from OPS and across the state of Nebraska.

The following selections are just a sampling of the works submitted for judging. While it isn't possible to show all of the submissions, if you would like to see a list of all of the award winners from the Omaha Public Schools, please click here.
Mu Wah (9)
Northwest High Magnet School
Gold Key - Digital Art
"Time Traveler"
Shevaun Nelson (11)
North High Magnet School
Silver Key - Mixed Media
"Go With the Fro"
Ashley Horan (12)
Benson High Magnet School
Silver Key - Art Portfolio
"Turquoise Dreams"
Lucy Mason (9)
Central High School
Gold Key - Photography
Alexandria Craig (8)
Norris Middle School
Silver Key - Digital Art
Lily Labs (8)
Beveridge Magnet Middle School
Gold Key - Ceramics and Glass

In honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, we selected art pieces created by OPS female students.
Mother and Daughter Share Honor of Artwork Being Featured on Billboards During National Youth Art Month

Natasha and Nina Carrizales now share the same honor. Both have had artwork featured on billboards during National Youth Art Month. Natasha’s work was featured in 2011 when she was a student at Benson High Magnet and Nina’s “Jazz Hands” was selected to appear this year. In 2018, another of Nina’s artwork was displayed at the state capitol in Lincoln. Astra Patterson, art teacher at Benson High Magnet School, is Nina’s grandmother. Art talent certainly runs in the family!
Pictured left, is Natasha with her billboard in 2011 and Nina's appears at top.

Congratulations to both!
OPS Students and Staff Participate in
Metro Science and Engineering Fair

The future of science and engineering and the best in education were on display at the 40th annual Metropolitan Science and Engineering Fair on Friday, March 8 at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. The fair is designed to promote interest in STEM, encourage students to investigate, analyze and communicate about a research project in the STEM field and reward students for their efforts.

This year, nearly 270 students representing 20 public, private and home schools in Washington, Douglas and Sarpy Counties participated in the event. Omaha Public Schools was represented by seven middle schools, four high schools, the Omaha Virtual School, the UNMC Health Alliance and the Zoo Academy. Schools that participated included: Bryan High School, Bryan Middle School, Buffett Magnet Middle School, Central High School, Davis Middle School, Nathan Hale Magnet Middle School, King Science & Technology Magnet Middle School, McMillan Magnet Middle School, Norris Middle School, North High Magnet School, South High Magnet School, UNMC Health Alliance, Omaha Virtual School and the Zoo Academy.

Several OPS staff served as judges, on the panel discussion and round table and in leadership roles throughout the year for Metropolitan Science and Engineering Fair committee.

Awards will be presented on March 30 at Lauritzen Gardens.
Veronica Nicole Alonso
Bryan High School
Ashtyn Meeske
Buffett Magnet Middle School
Oumaima Yacoub
King Science & Technology
Magnet Middle School
Roman Bolouvi and Carlo Santo
McMillan Magnet Middle School
Vincent Huerta
South High Magnet School
Audrey Anderson
Zoo Academy
Crestridge Magnet Elementary Wins Fermi Math League Competition
Crestridge Magnet Elementary took top honors in the district's first Fermi Math League competition.
Students in fourth through sixth grade were given four unique problems to solve that are either difficult or impossible to measure. For example: "How many Rice Krispy Treats would it take to cover the Tom Osborne playing field in Memorial Stadium?" Students used estimation and brainstorming before they began to calculate their answer. Every submission must include both the final answer and a written paragraph of how they arrived at the conclusion. Dundee and Standing Bear Elementary were the other top-scoring teams.
Pictured (left to right, front to back): Caleb O'Neil, Reese Schroeder, Sophie White, Xavier Mack and Jocelyn Cabellos. Back row: Jennifer Yannone, Crestridge GATE Facilitator; Beth Anderson, OPS GATE Consultant and Principal Marjorie Reed-Schmid.
Central High School Senior Attends MBK Rising Conference
Central High School senior and Step-Up Alumni Elijah Mitchell attended the MBK Rising Conference in Oakland, California on Feb. 18. The event is sponsored by the Obama Foundation.

About MBK Rising

"In 2014, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) and issued a powerful call to action to close opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color. The initiative sparked candid dialogue and action around the country to help more of our young people reach their dreams, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

"To scale and sustain this mission, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance) was launched in 2015 as an independent nonprofit organization. Since launching, a national movement has grown: Nearly 250 cities, counties, and Tribal Nations have accepted the MBK Community Challenge — President Obama’s call to action to adopt innovative approaches, strengthen support, and build ladders of opportunity for boys and young men of color — scores of new initiatives have been implemented, and there has been an exponential increase in aligned private sector commitments, all helping to reduce barriers and expand opportunity.
"Today, as an initiative of the Obama Foundation, MBK Alliance leads a national call to action to build safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color where they feel valued and have clear paths to opportunity. Alongside our partners across sectors, we will accelerate impact in targeted communities, mobilize resources, and promote what works, all with the goal of encouraging mentorship, reducing youth violence, and improving life outcomes for boys and young men of color."
"The Faces of Benson"

Benson High Magnet has a new mural in its recently renovated commons area titled "The Faces of Benson." It was created by former Benson graduate and artist Reggie LeFlore who now resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The mural depicts two alumni: Wanda D. Ewing (1988), an Omaha-based visual artist and a tenured associate professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha who passed away in 2013 and Nile Kinnick (1936) who earned the Heisman Trophy in 1939 at the University of Iowa and died while serving in WWII. The four current students who are featured are Aung Myo Mya, Paradise Sullivan, Abigail Mefford and Lamar Brown. Students submitted essays stating why they wanted to be featured on the mural and the winners were selected by staff.

To learn more about the artist and see more of his works, click here .
Reggie LeFlore can be seen working on the mural, which he created over spring break (March 11-15).
Seen in the mural left to right are Nile Kinnick, Wanda Ewing, Aung Myo Mya, Paradise Sullivan, Abigail Mefford and Lamar Brown. The mural is located in the commons area directly above the administrative offices.
We understand parents are busy. The following links will provide you with quick access to district sponsored events, procedures and resources. Please click on the titles below and you will be taken to the correct website.
District Operational Services

Health Services

Locations/Hours of Operation
Health Services

Virtual School Recruitment Season
Parents of home-schooled students who wish to have their child attend the Omaha Virtual School will find pertinent information regarding the recruitment process and kindergarten round-up at:
The new calendars are here,
the new calendars are here!
For families and staff anxious to make travel plans for next school year, the wait is over. Please note, teachers and students get an added day for Thanksgiving break. The 2019-2020 calendar has been approved by the Board of Education and can be viewed by clicking here.
To learn more about Wilson Focus School and see the calendar click here.
The Phase 1 bond program is winding down and Phase 2 bond program projects are underway. It's exciting to watch the transformations happening across the district and the benefits our students will enjoy because of the generous support of Omaha taxpayers!

To help us keep the community updated on the latest progress of projects, we asked Buffett Magnet Middle School students to lend their broadcasting skills to producing monthly reports. Our thanks to them on doing an excellent job!

We hope you enjoy this update on the new Gifford Park Elementary School set to open in August 2019.
Bond program manager, Jacobs Engineering Group and Omaha Public Schools' staff will hold a community meeting for the new elementary school to be built at 10th and Pine Streets to review the construction timeline. The meeting date, time and place is as follows:

Grace University Suckau Chapel
840 Pine St.
April 17
6-7 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you!
This month, we recognize Pawnee Elementary School principal Beth Holland for her commitment and dedication to the students and families of Pawnee Elementary School and the Omaha Public Schools.
Video created by District Communications' videographer Alex Hassel.
Your Opinion Matters!

We would like feedback on how well this newsletter is meeting the needs of OPS staff, parents, community members, retirees, community partners and others who receive it. Please take a few moments to complete this brief survey. It is our goal that the newsletter is packed with information important to you.

Thank you!
The Omaha Public Schools' Community Opportunities is a monthly
publication where businesses and non-profit organizations can post
advertisements for our parents to let them know of student and family opportunities taking place in the Metro area. The publication goes live on our website the first school day of each month. If you would like to see this month's ads, please click on the link below:

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, citizenship status, veteran status, political affiliation or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to accept allegations regarding non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-9822. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director for the Office of Equity and Diversity, 3215 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-0307.