September 2021
Dear Omaha Public Schools Community,

Thanks to the hard work and commitment of our students, staff and community, we continue to learn in-person with our students each day. Even as we focus on daily health and safety efforts, our district is moving forward with long-term work aligned to our Strategic Plan of Action.

Thursday, our Board of Education approved the Omaha Public Schools College & Career Academies and Pathways. This evolution of a student’s high school experience is about expanding access to the type of high-quality programs we’ve offered some students for many years. When I first arrived in Omaha, I watched students learning to fly airplanes in Burke High’s Air and Space Academy. Benson High earned national recognition and “Academy of the Year” from the Nebraska Department of Education. Central High’s International Baccalaureate program inspires students to think critically about their education, our community and our world. Through the coming years, as we implement academies and pathways, every student will eventually have the opportunity to better connect their time in high school to college, career and life.

We’re also moving forward with our multi-year plan to invest Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. Our staff led an exceptional engagement process to hear student, staff and family priorities for these one-time resources. More than 70 meetings and 8,400 survey responses guided planning in four focus areas:
  • Academic Recovery and Acceleration Supports
  • Well-Being of Students and Staff
  • Infrastructure for the Future
  • Family and Community Engagement

Thursday, our Board of Education approved Omaha Public Schools’ preliminary ESSER plan and it will now go to the Nebraska Department of Education for consideration. Look for continued updates on how these resources are working for students.

This week is #OPSProud Week and I encourage everyone to share your pride with family, friends and on social media. As the largest school district in Nebraska, there are many places to find joy in what we offer young people. There are countless accolades to list, like the fact that Omaha Public Schools offers more Advanced Placement courses than any other school district in the state, or that 2021 graduates earned more than $69 million in college scholarships or our National Blue Ribbon Schools. But it takes all 9,000 staff, 53,000 students, their families and Omaha supporters to make our system go and our community so special. Thank you for being part of it. We hope you’ll visit your student’s open house this week and share in the excitement of a new school year.

Cordially yours,

Cheryl Logan, Ed.D.
Omaha Public Schools
Board Approves Evolution of High School Programming
Starting next fall, we are excited to offer our students greater ownership in their high school experience. On Thursday, Sept. 9, the Omaha Public Schools Board of Education passed the proposed College & Career Academies and Pathways.

“Students get to see and visualize what their future might be, and they are given a direct path that will help them attain it," said Susan Christopherson, director of secondary education. "They'll have more freedom to find their strengths and their interests, and they can learn how to use those to move forward in life to college, the military, the workforce, whatever they decide to pursue."

Through College & Career Academies and Pathways, students will choose a focus they may be interested in pursuing in the future. In addition to core curriculum like English, math, science and social studies, each academy or pathway allows students to take classes catered to their interests such as business, design or health professions. Every program includes opportunities for students to learn necessary skills and earn appropriate certifications and college credit.
“Each high school in our district already offers an academy or pathway, but in its current format, access is limited to a few dozen students in each school," Dr. Cheryl Logan, Ed.D shared at Thursday's board meeting. "College & Career Academies and Pathways expand these pockets of excellence and make them available to every student."
Photo was captured prior to COVID-19
"This plan is about ensuring every single child in our district has what they need and the opportunities they need to succeed," said Board of Education Member Kimara Snipes. "I am proud of all the work that has gone into this plan, and I look forward to seeing it grow in the future."

College & Career Academies and Pathways will roll out over the next few years as our current Freshman Academy students choose their high school plans. For more information, visit our College & Career Academies and Pathways website or watch the presentation from the Sept. 9 board meeting.
New High School Students Welcomed into
Freshman Academy
This year, our newest high school students are starting high school in a new way: Freshman Academy.

Freshman Academy is designed to welcome our freshmen and prepare them for what lies ahead in high school. In addition to studying their core curriculum, freshmen are placed in small learning groups that build vital skills for high school and beyond.

At Bryan High, freshmen recently kicked off their Freshman Academy experience with outdoor team building.
"Freshman Academy is all about preparing students, and a big part of that is their comfort level at school," shared Rony Ortega Ed.D., Bryan High principal. "These group-building activities are all about connecting our students and staff and setting them up to have positive relationships."

The Freshman Academy program is brand new at Bryan High this year, but students and staff are already seeing the benefits.

"I know that this field day has built great camaraderie already, and I hope that it will be the start of lasting friendships between many of our students," added Ortega.

William Banister, a Bryan High freshman, enjoys the connections he's already made through the program.

"I did school online at home all last year and the end of the year before that, so I didn't know a whole lot of people coming back this year," said Banister. "I've already met a ton of kids and got to talk to a lot of my teachers, so it's been really fun starting the year off like that."

In addition to connecting students with each other, Freshman Academy also improves collaboration with teachers.

"Any time a teacher can work more closely with a student and have a more personal relationship with them, the student is more likely to succeed," said Emily Anderson, Bryan High's Freshman Academy coordinator. "The same goes with students having close, positive relationships with other students, so the Freshman Academy is really setting students up for long term success."
Our New Website Launches Soon!
Omaha Public Schools is committed to open communication with our students, staff and families. As part of the Strategic Plan of Action, our district is preparing to launch a new, updated!

Data on page visits, and student, staff and family needs drove the construction of our new site. Staff took design best practices to build a site that is crisp and easy to navigate, with many opportunities to celebrate the great things happening in our schools. Look for much more to come on this exciting update.
Show Your School Spirit During
#OPSProud Week 2021
We are excited to celebrate #OPSProud Week across our district! To kick off the celebration, we are hosting open houses for our families:

  • Elementary Open House Night was hosted Monday, Sept. 13 from 6-8 p.m.
  • Middle School Open House Night: Tuesday, Sept. 14 from 6-8 p.m.
  • High School Open House Night: Wednesday, Sept. 15 from 6-8 p.m.
  • Career Center and Alternative Education: Thursday, Sept. 16 from 6-8 p.m.

Each middle and high school will partner with the Douglas County Health Department to host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic during open house. Vaccines are available for eligible individuals 12 years of age and older. Individuals who are 18 or younger will need a parent or guardian present.

Show everyone your school pride by wearing your Omaha Public Schools gear or apparel from your favorite school! Then, download the "I'm #OPSProud because..." sign, fill in your reason, then take a selfie and post to social media. Be sure to tag your favorite schools and include #OPSProud!

If you tag our district account, your post may be shared!
Aspiring Teachers Learn Through Educators Rising
They are the teachers of tomorrow. Students at Omaha Public Schools are learning alongside their peers in a program designed to prepare them for a career in education.

Educators Rising provides students with hands-on experience in the classroom and helps them cultivate the skills they need to be successful educators.

"Once a month our students work with our partner elementary school, and each student is assigned a classroom where they help that teacher for the day," shared Jennifer Gorrin, Northwest High's Educators Rising sponsor. "They're reading to the students, leading one-on-one activities, running learning stations, just really getting the full teacher experience."

Each summer, students in the program compete at the Educators Rising Nebraska State Leadership Conference. This is a competition of teaching skills including lesson planning, public speaking and research learning.
Students Hannah Dalton and Kierstin Copenharve presenting for the
Educators Rising National Conference
"We want to give students the experiences and skills to make them feel more confident in their future," Gorrin said. "Some of the students that go through Educators Rising realize that they really don't want to be teachers in the future, but the skills they learned in the program will still help them in whatever jobs they get in the future."

This summer, Northwest High's Educators Rising team took home high honors at the Educators Rising National Conference in the Inside Our Schools category, with Hannah Dalton and Kiersten Copenharve finishing third and Manal Suliman and Htoo Say earning fourth.
During a recent Board of Education meeting, Dalton shared that she and Copenharve made a video about the Northwest instrumental program's album for the competition.

"We got to showcase that with the judges and share it, really, with the community so they could see all of our hard work and what we put together this year," said Dalton.

For more information on Educators Rising, visit the Educators Rising Nebraska website.
Changes Approved for 2021-22 Academic Calendar

The Board of Education recently approved changes to the 2021-22 academic calendar. The calendar modifications include additional time for staff planning and professional development, which will benefit student learning. The new calendar shifts the following days to staff-only days where there will be no school for students:

  • Sept. 24, 2021 – Teacher Planning Day
  • Nov. 1, 2021 – Teacher Planning Day
  • February 4, 2022 – Curriculum Day
  • April 1, 2022 – Professional Development Day
  • April 15, 2022 – Teacher Planning Day
  • April 18, 2022 – Articulation Day

Classroom Closure Procedures for Staff & Students

Health and safety remain the focus for Omaha Public Schools. We continue to monitor community conditions and implement our COVID-19 mitigation strategies districtwide. If a cluster of cases is identified, we have procedures in place to determine if a group of students and staff would transition to remote learning temporarily. Those procedures for elementary and secondary are now included in the COVID-19 FAQ on our website. We will consult with the Douglas County Health Department as we make decisions on classroom closures.
Free/Reduced Meal Applications Available

During the 2021-22 school year, Omaha Public Schools will serve meals at no charge to enrolled students. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved use of the Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which allows local school districts to provide no-cost meals to all enrolled students for the duration of the 2021-22 school year.

Although school meals will be provided at no cost to all children, families may receive additional fees waived by submitting a free/reduced meal application and being approved. Only one application is needed per family but families must reapply each year. It is also important because school funding depends on completed meal applications.
Our Annual Report
We are proud to have served our students and the Omaha community for more than 160 years. Click below to read our Annual Report and learn about the amazing work of our students during the 2020-21 school year and a preview of things to come.

After-School STEM Opportunities

Julie Sigmon, Omaha STEM Ecosystem Director
Now that school is back in session there are many opportunities offered for students, parents and educators in the Omaha area to get involved in STEM learning outside the classroom. Here are some programs available for after school.
  • After-School Club - Kid Coders: Through this after-school program students are able to learn how to code their very own game and then play the game. This program is administered weekly at 5:00 PM. This program is offered free by DoSpace.
  • You Go Girl Code Club (Ages 8-17): Tech jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, but less than a quarter of computing jobs are held by women. Girls Who Code aims to change that! Learn the concepts of loops, variables, conditionals and functions that form the basis of all programming languages. This program is offered by Metropolitan Community College.

To register for these opportunities or to find more STEM programs, visit the STEM Community Platform Portal or click the link below.
Do you know a teacher who deserves recognition?
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 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 at

If you would like to view the latest CHI newsletter, click here.

Thank you for your support of our teachers and Omaha Public Schools.
... to the JROTC students who were awarded the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross Award. This is the highest award given by the US Army Cadet Command JROTC program.
  • Anna Burks of Benson High
  • Isabel Stewart of Bryan High
  • Jamison Moisset of Burke High
  • Noah Jacobs of North High
  • Bay Tha Nee of Northwest High

... to Cole Kreber of Central High for being named the Nebraska American Legion 2021 Baseball Player of the Year.

... to KIOS producers Courtney Bierman and Joshua LaBure for earning bronze medals at the 2021 Nebraska Broadcasters Association Pinnacle Awards.

... to Angela Drees of Alice Buffett Middle School and Jenny Deutsch of Wilson Focus Elementary for receiving T.E.A.C.H. Omaha Teacher Awards.

... to Omaha Public Schools for being recognized as a 2020-22 Common Sense District by Common Sense Education. This was awarded as more than 90% of our district schools and programs earned Common Sense School recognition.
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.