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Omaha Magazine

Omaha Magazine - October 2023: The Education Issue

Sep 22, 2023 04:29PM ● By Julius Fredrick
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From the Editor:

Whiteboards, School Boards, and Skateboards

Solving for Omaha’s Education Equation ‘X-Factor’: A Value of the Heart

Education is not only an inalienable human right, it’s the cornerstone upon which civil, healthy, and engaged society is framed upon. Still, fault lines are common, and many—especially those whose educational needs requiring specialized care—fall through the cracks. While funding, leglislation, and curriculum are all necessary for sealing such fractures, one element in particular has proven invaluable time and again: passion. Few exemplify the effectiveness of this quality more than Jefferson Elementary School special education teacher, Lisa Moody. Born with cerebral palsy, and a 2023 recipient of the national Milken Educator Award, Moody put it succinctly when she said, “I knew that I wanted to be an example for my students and for their families—just because you have a disability or you don’t always navigate through life as easily as your peers, doesn’t mean it has to define who you are.”

For more of Moody’s inspired perspective, and those of other passionate individuals, turn to our cover story detailing the state of special education in Nebraska.

Indeed, there are certain intangibles, pivotal to the success of a developing mind, that cannot be measured by report cards or standardized tests—confidence and resilience among them.

SkateFest Omaha founder Blake Harris understands this well, an ADHD diagnosis and a rebellious nature placing him at odds with formal education for most of his life. Through his SkateFest Omaha nonprofit, Harris has determined to uplift kindred spirits via live skating demos held at local schools and programs like Sk8 Kamp and Sk8 Skool, inviting area youth to share in the zeal, creativity, and persistence inherent in skateboarding culture.  

Moody and Harris each represent the heart of education in Omaha, and they’re not alone. From philosopher-guitarist Jacob “Cubby” Phillips and Fran Sillau’s inclusive Circle Theatre stage, to a trio of Omaha cooking instructors, there’s much to glean from the pages to follow. Don’t worry…there won’t be a quiz at the end of the reading.

As always, thank you for your time and for making Omaha such a wonderful place live and to learn.


Julius Fredrick


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