December 2021
Dear Omaha Public Schools Community,
 
Thanks to the hard work of our students, staff and families, we have navigated challenging territory together through the first semester of this school year. We can all be proud of that accomplishment. We wish you a healthy and relaxing Winter Break, taking time with loved ones to recharge.
 
As students return in January 2022, our district’s preparations for the 2022-23 school year will be well underway. In fact, with the opening of four new schools and a new Student Assignment Plan taking effect, preparations have been underway for years.
 
An exciting update in 2022 will be the expansion of our College & Career Academies and Pathways. This edition of INSIDE OPS is devoted entirely to sharing news and information about that work. From our outreach to staff and families to award-winning academies already in existence, we invite you to read how this expands access to high-quality high school programming for students throughout our district.
 
While some students have already benefitted from existing programs like Benson High’s Health Professions Academy or Burke High’s Air and Space Academy, expanding access reflects our commitment to every student, every day, prepared for success.
 
As our high schools launch new and improved websites in the coming days, you’ll see information about these opportunities more easily than ever before. We can all play a role in preparing our students to innovate, excel and lead in life after graduation.
 
With warm wishes this holiday season,

Cheryl Logan, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Omaha Public Schools
School and District Events Showcase Opportunities Through
College & Career
Academies and Pathways
With JROTC cadets out front to welcome guests, North High opened its doors for an evening with ninth-grade students and families. The “Freshman Choose Your Academy and Family Information Night” included student leaders and partners from the University of Nebraska.
Azriel Carr, a junior who enrolled in two existing academies at North High, was on hand to provide advice. “I think it’s really important that all of our parents understand what academies are like,” Carr explained. “I think it’s helpful that you have upperclassmen who can sit down and tell them [academies] are a fun, interactive experience and you don’t have to worry about it.”
 
UNL Engineering’s Jeff Beavers, Ph.D., illustrated connections between high school, college and career. Beavers told families, “You have this amazing engineering program and we would be fools to not try and be part of that. We would certainly love to see you at Nebraska, but either way, we would like to help you on your journey. Normally, we talk with juniors and seniors. That’s why I think this [event] is so special, we’re talking with you as freshmen.”
The evening is just part of a comprehensive plan to reach out to students and families across each high school, including two new schools opening in August 2022. It includes events for middle-level students’ families selecting a high school and evenings for freshman students and families like the event at North High. Middle-level counselors even toured high schools across Omaha Public Schools to help them support strong transitions.
Last week, hundreds of families visited a one-stop shop at Omaha Public Schools’ Teacher Administrative Center to learn about each of our comprehensive high schools. Staff updated the annual High School Showcase for College & Career Academies and Pathways. School leaders and student ambassadors talked about the unique opportunities across the community. Though each high school will have specialized academies or pathways to connect with college and career, each school will offer core classes like English and Mathematics, fine and performing arts, activities and athletics.
Photo credit: Anne Rogers, North High student
At North High’s event for freshman students and families, one parent asked whether academies would limit a student’s interactions in school. Principal Collette Nero, Ph.D. replied that it’s designed to deepen a student’s interactions, “the well-rounded high school experience is key in building broad relationships and at the end of the day, it’s one big Viking family.”
For eleventh-grade student Carr, engineering and biomedical classes provide a clear path to a very bright future. “I’ll major in either aerospace or nuclear materials engineering with a minor or a double minor in chemistry and marketing. From there, hopefully, I can land an internship at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Maryland or, if I’m in Florida, at the Kennedy Space Center. I’d like to work for NASA.”
Every Student. Every Day. Prepared for Success.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Awards Scholarships to North and South High Students
Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Cheryl Logan, Ed.D. recently joined UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, Ph.D. in recognizing members of the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy.

This year, 50 Omaha Public Schools students completed the high school program, earning significant financial assistance for college. Click to watch video highlights.
State and National Awards Continue for
Benson High Academies
The National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC) chose Benson High for its 2021 Jeffrey N. Stein award, recognizing schools that achieve outstanding staff, family and community support for college and career academies. The award is given to one school in the country each year.
 
The award continues a series of recognitions for Benson High. This summer, the Nebraska Department of Education recognized Benson High as the 2021 Academy of the Year. Before that, Benson High earned “Model Academy” status through the NCAC.
 
“What our community has accomplished together for students is amazing,” said Principal Tom Wagner. “To see students so connected to learning throughout their
years in high school and graduate with a clear path to life in college and career.”
Curriculum Specialist Angela Johanek thanked Benson High’s more than 50 business, college and community partners. Supporters invest time, expertise and resources in students. “They have been since the beginning,” she said. “Day-by-day, they get even more involved. They come up with ideas to support staff and expand opportunities for our students.”
 
Johanek mentioned a student in Benson High’s Health Professions Academy who wanted to study microbiology. Because of the many connections built through academy advisory boards and partnerships, an email and phone call connected the student with a physician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Within days, the student had resources and a path to achieve their college goals after graduation. Johanek adds that without College & Career Academies and Pathways at Benson High, those relationships would not be the same. “Not a chance,” she said. “It would have taken much more time searching for contacts and asking for support.”
Benson High had already implemented academies, expanding opportunities and aligning high school experiences with a student’s goals for life after graduation. Benson High remained a “comprehensive” high school, offering music, arts and athletics in addition to its academies focused on Health Professions, Design and Business and Entrepreneurship.
 
Student Ayiana Woodman said, “I’m extremely grateful to be in the Health Academy. It has given me opportunities that are hard to find anywhere else. I’ve learned valuable information in the classes I take, along with increasing my love for the health profession."
 
As Omaha Public Schools expands access to high-quality programming for students, Benson High is an example of excellence. DeLayne Havolvic, Ed.D., career education coordinator, said Omaha Public Schools is “focused on building hundreds of partnerships across each high school to achieve the same work that is currently happening at Benson High and through other high school’s academies. That network sees our students as the future of the Omaha community and beyond.”
 
While Benson High takes great pride in the recognition, Johanek said it is always about the students we serve. Through academies, “the connection between our school and larger community becomes so much more impactful.”

High School Websites Launch Dec. 17
Our Strategic Plan of Action-aligned work to enhance our digital presence continues!

Following the successful launch of our all-new www.ops.org in October, new and improved high school sites will launch soon. Websites for Buena Vista and Westview High will be part of the update. The layout of our high school sites will mirror our district site, placing key points of information and good news on the homepage.

Our district will publish the new websites Friday afternoon, but it may take individual web browsers up to 48 hours to reflect the change.

Middle and elementary-level school websites will launch in groups through the coming year.
Winter Recess Reminder

  • There will be no school for students from Monday, Dec. 22 through Tuesday, Jan. 4.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 4 will serve as a Teacher Planning Day.
  • Classes will resume Wednesday, Jan. 5.
Health and Safety Protocols

This fall, we emailed all staff and families about our health and safety protocols. The message shared that we would review those protocols in early 2022. The review would include medical experts and public health leaders.
 
Based on current community health conditions, our district will continue with the same health and safety protocols into our second semester. We will continue to evaluate and provide an update later in January.
 
We encourage all eligible individuals to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including those who are due for a booster dose. A complete list of upcoming Douglas County Health Department clinics is available by clicking here.
Omaha Public Schools Board of Education Selects Margo Juarez to Fill Vacancy

The Omaha Public Schools Board of Education filled a vacancy during its regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 13.

Following interviews with the two candidates who applied, the Board selected Juarez for the Subdistrict 8 seat.

Seniors: File Your FREE Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) NOW!

More than $120 BILLION is available for college!

Read more about the process. Contact your high school counselor with questions.
Reviewing Your Student's Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) Report

Recently, your family should have received a copy of your student’s Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) state test results from spring 2021. Elementary student reports were sent home with students and secondary student reports were mailed home. The NSCAS state tests are intended to offer a statewide look among young people in grades three through eight, and 11. It is testing required by state and federal guidelines.
 
The results provide one snap-shot of your child’s performance on the NSCAS tests and are reported using a scale score that indicates your child’s achievement level. Students performing at the On Track and College and Career Ready Benchmark are considered proficient. Students scoring at these levels are meeting or exceeding expectations and are likely to be ready for success at the next grade level.
 
It is important to note that comparing results to past results should be done cautiously because of the learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. No single test score can tell the full story of a student, it is important to use a variety of measures to look at the progress your child has made. Your student’s teacher is a valuable source of information and they use daily observations along with classroom assessments to develop an instructional plan to promote your child’s growth.
Please Join Us For a Community Review of Elementary Math Materials

We invite you to view and provide feedback on the math resources currently under consideration for purchase.

One additional session will be held inside the Omaha Public Schools Teacher Administrative Center, at 3215 Cuming Street.

Families can join anytime between 5 and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

If you are unable to join the session in person, visit this website to complete an online review and survey.
Safe2Help Nebraska

Safe2Help Nebraska is a confidential and anonymous reporting hotline for students, families, staff or community members to report concerns. Examples of potential topics that could be reported would include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, bullying, relationship issues, substance abuse or distribution or threats against a school or an individual. 

The Safe2Help Nebraska app is installed on every Omaha Public Schools iPad and provides easy and immediate access to report a concern. 

December STEM Learning

Julie Sigmon, Omaha STEM Ecosystem Director
Happy Holidays! Check out these free STEM programs for teachers and students to get you in the winter spirit.
  • Make It!: 3D Printed Snowflakes: Learn how to 3D print out snowflakes on the Toybox 3D printers in this interactive youth program. Students will have the opportunity to learn basic 3D modeling and try their hand at the art of tessellations. This program is offered free by DoSpace.
  • The Verizon/Project Lead the Way STEM Teacher Portal: Project Lead the Way in partnership with Verizon created this online toolkit for teachers that offers hands-on k-12 STEM activities. Teachers have free access to supplemental materials such as virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D design and more.
To register for these opportunities or to find more STEM programs, visit the STEM Community Platform Portal.
Do you know an Omaha Public Schools teacher who deserves recognition?

A great teacher can turn a geography lesson into an exciting adventure or make a conversation become a life lesson. And the Omaha Public Schools community is fortunate to have so many great teachers. It’s why the Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award was created more than 30 years ago — to recognize those teachers who have gone above and beyond to help their students in the classroom and in life.

Nominate an Omaha Public Schools teacher for this award and tell us what he or she has done that has made a difference. Now more than ever, let’s recognize the extraordinary efforts of educators within the Omaha Public Schools. Omaha Public Schools teachers continue to meet today’s challenges with an unwavering spirit and passionate dedication to their students. Please submit your nomination by January 15, 2022. 
CHI Health and Omaha Public Schools partner to honor teachers across our 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 teachers' 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.


Thank you for your support of our teachers and Omaha Public Schools.
... all the Omaha Public Schools students who qualified for All-State Music:
  • Bruce Baker - trumpet - band
  • Jamison Moisset - bassoon - band
  • Spencer Feldman - cello - orchestra
  • Matthew Belshan - choir
  • Sierra Widhalm - clarinet - band
  • Christina Fischer - choir
  • Yolanda Henderson - choir
  • Moises Hernandez - choir
  • Mariana Hernandez-Moreno - choir
  • Faith Buller - violin - orchestra
  • Noah McPherson - violin - orchestra
  • Eli Kopp - cello - orchestra
  • Gracely Siford - bass - orchestra
  • Emilio Parra Carcia - flute - band
  • Bennett Lambelet - clarinet - band
  • Elana Elder - clarinet - band
  • Michael Abboud - Bari - jazz (alternate)
  • Grace Rock - Trombone - jazz
  • Salvador Bacerra - piano - jazz (alternate)
  • Tate Grabher - drum set - jazz
  • Flora Griffith - choir
  • Liberty Wlaschin - choir
  • Grace Znamencek - choir
  • Jonathan Gilmore - choir
  • Joseph Warren-Pasley - choir
  • Daniel Kuncl - choir
  • Joshua Bartsch - bass - orchestra

… our student-athletes who participated in the first NSAA-sponsored Girls’ Wrestling competitions in recent days.
 
… Marrs Middle’s Cameron Barona for being selected for the highly-competitive 8th Grade All-State Band.
The following links will provide you with quick access to district sponsored events, procedures and resources. Please click on the categories under each title below, and you will be taken to the correct web page.
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Thank you!
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.