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Omaha Magazine

Superintendent Letters

Mar 09, 2020 10:18AM ● By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
The greater Omaha metropolitan area is home to some of the state’s best schools, educators, and students. Superintendents at six of the area’s largest school districts share their thoughts and reflections from the 2019-2020 academic year.

Michael W. Ashton, Ed.D. Archdiocese of Omaha

Michael W Ashton EdD

Our 71 Catholic schools continue to be the top choice for many Omaha families across the 23 counties of the Archdiocese of Omaha. Nearly 20,000 children thrive in these communities that prioritize faith, family, service, academics, and co- or extra-curricular engagement. Some of our achievements this year include increases in:

• Innovative programming, such as Roncalli’s Career Academy

• National Blue Ribbon Award winners

• Campus ministry offerings, such as Skutt’s discipleship program

• Extra-curriculars, such as St. Philip Neri’s LEGO robotics team (which is going to the championships in their first year)

• Impact from our graduates, such as the Gross Catholic alumni heading ReRUNS R Fun

• Inclusion of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as enrollment in Madonna School & Community-Based Services expands into St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Pius X/St. Leo

Omaha natives are familiar with the long tradition of excellence in our schools, like ACT scores that are above the state and national averages, and a 99% graduation rate. What people don’t know is how hard we strive toward our ultimate goal of being accessible and affordable for every Nebraskan. With the help of donors, churches, and organizations like the Children’s Scholarship Fund, we are able to continue serving more students from families in poverty, non-English speaking families, and students with diagnosed learning disabilities.

Visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@ArchOmahaSchool) to see good news from all of our schools: There is a convenient school finder, a listing of career opportunities, and access to countless stories of good news from our families and faculty.

Jeff Rippe, Ed.D. Bellevue Public

Jeff Rippe EdD

As one school year comes to a close, we move into summer mode. Learning, however, is a year-round activity.

BPS offers two summer programs.

Summer school is offered for students entering K-sixth grade for three weeks in June. Secondary summer school will be offered for students entering grades seven-12 for four weeks in June. There is no cost to enroll student(s) in the program.

Science, technology, and math camps provide in-depth curriculum experiences at high levels for incoming sixth and seventh grade students. All three camps integrate engineering into the classes. The camps are offered in three one-week sessions from the end of June through first part of July. Cost and registration details are available online.

Reflecting on the great accomplishments for Bellevue Public Schools this year…

• Work is underway on our strategic plan—a road map to help us toward even greater success.

• We continue to renovate, rehabilitate, and improve facilities through our bond program—providing students with access to new technology, educational and recreational resources, and safe, secure environments.

• We are in year two of our $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. The grant supports advanced STEM and the three-year College Readiness Program from the National Math and Science Initiative.

• We are also in year two of a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Partnership that has allowed BPS to provide elementary teachers access to STEM resources, curriculum, activities, and professional learning.

It takes everyone being an advocate for the students of the Bellevue Public Schools—that makes us Champions for Children.

Bary Habrock, Ph.D. Elkhorn Public

Bary Habrock PhD

Elkhorn Public Schools is grateful for another year with many celebrations in the classroom, through extracurricular activities, and in our supportive community. Our staff continues to believe in the potential of all students and remains dedicated to maintaining a sense of community while managing the challenges that come with our continued, unprecedented enrollment growth.

Some of this year’s many highlights include:

• EPS was again the only district in the state to maintain the Nebraska Department of Education’s highest AQuESTT rating of “Excellent.”

• For the eighth consecutive year, EPS was named to the Advanced Placement Honor Roll.

• We remain committed to system-wide, continuous improvement models that ensure we are purposeful about always getting better because helping students prepare for their future matters to us. 

EPS continues to be dedicated to preparing students for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead while shaping them into responsible, lifelong learners.

We are already looking forward to the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, another year of excellence in all facets of our students’ education, when we will add a third high-performing high school to our system with the Elkhorn North High School Wolves.

Jim Sutfin, Ed.D. Millard Public


When you look at Millard’s history, one thing is clear. The people of Millard have always put education first.

Even before there was a town of Millard, records show the first school was established in 1868. George Potwin was the teacher, and he had six pupils.

If only Mr. Potwin could see our schools today! We just marked the final phase of our one-to-one technology roll out. Five years ago we started by giving each student in our Early College program a laptop computer. This past January we issued iPads to every third-grader. Now in Millard every third through 12th grade student has his or her own digital device. Students can complete research on the internet or connect with teachers and classmates through Google Drive. They can let their creativity flow with access to the full Adobe suite of tools. Snow day? The instruction continues through eLearning.

While you are there, remember to #BeKindOnLine. We are partnering with our families to start the conversation about the importance of good digital citizenship. We’ve transformed through the centuries from a one-room schoolhouse to learning anytime, anywhere. Millard may look different than it did in the mid-1800s, but we still want the same thing—the best opportunities possible for our children. We are thankful for our community’s support and we are #Proud2bMPS!

Cheryl J. Logan, Ed.D. Omaha Public

Cheryl J Logan Ed D Headshot

As this school year comes to a close, we take note of the exceptional opportunity before us to focus our work, expand excellence, and see our young people achieve.

This year, Omaha Public Schools finalized and launched our Strategic Plan of Action, which will drive our collective work on behalf of students. Research, reviews by educational experts, and more than 680 hours of input from stakeholders across our community guided the development of our plan. Priorities focused on academic achievement, recruiting and retaining the best staff, financial accountability, and demonstrating an ethic of care for those we serve, which unites us on behalf of 54,000 young people. This roadmap will guide our district through 2025, and I am excited to continue the journey forward.

We celebrated the completion of work at several schools with gratitude for the Omaha voters who supported both the Phase 1 and Phase 2 bond programs. Renovations and construction will continue, offering students vibrant and engaging spaces to learn. Driving through the community, you’ll see construction progressing on five new schools: two new high schools, two new elementary schools, and one new middle school.

 As our students and families prepare for summer break, we encourage everyone to continue learning. At least 20 minutes of daily reading for students supports a strong start to the next school year in August.

 Thank you for your support of our students, staff, and district community. We are stronger because of it. I am grateful to serve and I wish you a wonderful summer.

Mike Lucas, Ph.D. Westside Community

Mike Lucas PhD

Westside Community Schools was founded in 1947 on the principles of innovation, community, and excellence. A lot has changed in the decades since, but our commitment to these founding pillars will never wane. We will always be proud of our rich history and the traditions, support, and people that have made, and continue to make, Westside such a special place.  

As we head into the 2020-21 school year, our future is brighter than ever. Our commitment to helping ALL children remains our top priority. We are proud that the demographics of our 6,000 children mirror that of the city of Omaha. We are excited that we have the programming and highly qualified staff to help our students earn acceptance into prestigious colleges and universities, directly enter the workforce, pursue community college degrees or workplace certifications, and anything/everything in between. We have something for everyone.

From early childhood through 12th grade programming, from fine arts to athletics, from math to science and language arts, from career preparation to special education—all with activities, clubs, and educational support for the whole child—Westside is ready to lead the way. We continue to promote the “We” in Westside. We remain focused on being a place where anyone and everyone feels welcome, accepted, and part of the District 66 family.

One of our themes and focuses for this school year is to “make an impact.” Westside Community Schools is committed to making a positive impact on each of our students and their families. As a school system, we are committed to making a positive impact on the great city of Omaha. We wish all of our fellow metro school systems a safe, successful, and amazing school year. Together, “We” can all help make Omaha even better.

This article was printed in the 2020 Summer Camp Edition of Family Guide.

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