LPS Podcast

A collection of interesting stories about the students and staff from Lincoln Public Schools.

The impact – and numbers – of the BackPack Extra Mile Walk

This number is amazing: 1.3 million dollars raised. This one is unsettling. 5,535 Lincoln children will go hungry this weekend. Those two numbers intersect as we get ready for the BackPack Extra Mile Walk, April 29, 2017 at Lincoln East High School. We’ll hear why those numbers matter for LPS budget director Shari Styskal, and for students and staff throughout LPS. #63

In their own words: Highlights from Thank You Teacher letters and speeches

From 500 nominations, five teachers in four categories were honored at the annual Thank You Teacher event. Listen to excerpts from the students reading their letters, and the teachers responses. Truly inspirational. #62

The ‘science’ of Science curriculum in LPS

This week we head to Science class, where changes are happening. At last month’s Learning Lunch at the Lincoln Public Schools district office, we learned about the changing standards of Science curriculum. Today we bring you excerpts from that forum, and to give you a better feel, we specifically chose parts that are classroom specific, something we can all relate to. First, two teachers, then our science curriculum specialist James Blake. #61

Southwest HS choir sings ‘The Star Spangled Banner’

In honor of the anniversary of the formal adoption of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ as the United States’ national anthem on March 3, 1931, the Varsity Concert Choir of Lincoln Southwest High School sings the anthem. #60

ELL teacher has relatable experiences of living and learning abroad

English Language Learner teachers are used to a myriad of cultures and languages and experiences in their classroom. Our guest this week, North Star ELL teacher Ellen Jorgenson, has her own set of worldly experiences as a member of the Peace Corp. We talk where, when, and why. #59

School counselors offer more than ‘guidance’ for students

The term guidance counselor is an acceptable but perhaps outdated title for those who help students with a variety of issues. In fact, as the counselor roles in schools have adapted to student needs and other trends, it’s not entirely accurate either. Hear from a school counselor and a student who talk about the role of counselors in our high schools today. (This interview was recorded during National School Counselor Week.) #58

Students find obvious inspiration in ‘Hidden Figures’ movie

Female students in certain math classes at Lincoln High and Lincoln North Star high schools had a chance to watch the movie, ‘Hidden Figures.’ We interviewed four students and one principal about the impact the movie has had on them. #57

Letters, speeches and inspiration from Thank You Teacher event

Who could be more inspirational that students and teachers … in their own words? Listen in to this rebroadcast of excerpts from the 2016 Thank You Teacher honorees. Then consider nominating your favorite teacher – http://www.lps.org/apps/teacher_recognition_day/index.html. #56

Growing the number of females in engineering classes, courses and careers

Grace Larsen has gotten used to it at Lincoln Southeast High School, Rachael Wagner adjusted to it in college, and Kara Hinrichs hasn’t let it bother her in her career. What is it? They are three females in what might be considered the male-dominated field of engineering. That was the topic of discussion at recent school lunches at Southeast. Women in Engineering: what are the hurdles, if any? What are the opportunities? There are many. And are there females? Yes, yes there are. #55

‘We the People’ event reveals glimpses of student constitutional conversations

If you want to feel better about future discourse regarding constitutional and governmental issues, check out We The People. Students from five high schools in Lincoln Public Schools competed in the half-day challenge. We have sound from the actual competition, plus interviews with three students. #54

The work before and after the MLK Youth Rally

What does it take to be ready for the rally, march, speeches and performances for the 2017 MLK Jr. Youth Rally? And what do students want to happen after the event? Two students with insight to both topics in preparation for the MLK Youth Rally, set for January 16, 2017.

Going ‘backstage’ to learn costume, dancing and music

We’re backstage this week. As part of an annual LPS event, a different elementary school goes backstage with the ballet right inside their own school. The Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company teaches students about the intricacies that you will learn about from the Everett Elementary School music teacher and three students, and a member of the ballet team. #52

From teacher to superintendent, with Steve Joel (Part 2)

In the second part of a two-part series with Supt. Steve Joel, we learn more about his leadership strategy, planning for the future of LPS, hiring great talent, and what he has learned from his grandchildren. #51

From teacher to superintendent with Steve Joel (part 1)

To kick-off season #2 of the LPS Podcast, Supt. Steve Joel joins us for a two-part series. In this episode, we talk technology, physical activity, mental health, snow days and much more. #50

Trip abroad allows board members to add perspective

Board of Education members Don Mayhew and Connie Duncan report from China while on a trip to learn about education similarities and differences between the United States and China. Listen in to learn more about their experiences and insight. #49

A student honors her own teachers with nomination and honor

Sometimes an educator doesn’t know the full impact they had on a student. Recent graduate Ashley Pales made sure a teacher and counselor at Lincoln Southwest High School were well aware of their impact on her success by nominating them for a Yale Educator Award. They both won, with ‘they’ being guidance counselor Colleen Finkhouse and science teacher Jason Thomsen. Hear from the educators – and from Ashley herself as she reads her nomination letters. #48

Students trade the school bell for the opening bell

There’s a bell to start and finish, and there’s a lot of high-energy learning happening. But it’s not a classroom this time; it’s the Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge. Hear from a teacher and two students describing the event and what they learned. #47

When chaos in the classroom is by design

Take a glance at a Sarah Gergen classroom at Irving Middle School and you’ll notice students working to understand learning objectives in any number of ways. And that’s exactly what Gergen hopes for. This week we explore the teaching style of an award-winning teacher. #46

The before and after of a student’s college campus visit

A grant, a campus, a bus ride and a team of students and counselors from Lincoln Southeast High School. And of course, the campus visit to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. We talk with a high school counselor and three students before and after a campus visit to learn what they are looking for in a college, and what they are finding. #45

How they became award-winning teachers

Two award-winning teachers, two state-wide honors, one high school, and one podcast. Hear from Jocelyn Lippincott and Cara Hemminger about their craft, their profession and their joy in teaching. #44

New activity unified bowling already has its successes and fans

It’s the first season of Unified Bowling in Lincoln Public Schools. But it’s already considered a success in many ways. #43

School lunches in the eyes of middle school students and a kitchen manager

This week is National School Lunch Week. We went to Irving Middle School to talk with three students and the school’s kitchen manager to talk about school lunches. It happened to be Creamed Turkey Day, which is the most popular luncha cross Lincoln Public Schools. #42

Bubba’s Closet, and why it matters in Lincoln

Back in Fall of 1992, the Elementary School Principal’s Network began Bubba’s Closet with the hope of providing warm winter clothing to students who needed it. Twenty-four years later the event continues to grow. We sit down with the organizers of Bubba’s Closet as they describe the event and how you can help. #41

A Walking Tour of MOSAIC

On our fortieth podcast, we join Chris Haeffner, library media service coordinator, on a walking tour of MOSAIC. This collection of multicultural literature is selected by a committee to help students make connections with the many different cultures from around the world. This year, MOSAIC is modernizing with more hands-on and interactive displays to help students create more connections with the books. #40

Northeast choir with a special Patriot Day performance

This week, we release our podcast a day early, on Sept. 11, Patriot Day. For this occasion, the Vocals ‘N’ Harmony Show Choir at Lincoln Northeast High School, under the direction of Amy Thorpe, sang than National Anthem for us. #39

Two students are the first in state to attend national Econ Leaders camps

Kessa Rogers and Gau (pronounced ‘Go”) Ayaj both attend Lincoln Northeast and The Career Academy, and both were the first students in Nebraska to attend a prestigious leadership camp designed around Economics curriculum. What they want to do with their interest, the knowledge and their new leadership skills, however, is where they diverge. But they have one other thing in common: they both thank TCA teacher Carol Matthias for her part in encouraging them to apply. #38.

CLCs building momentum before, after, and in between for students and families

Community Learning Centers in Lincoln Public Schools aren’t just before- or after-school programs, and they aren’t just for students. The CLCs focus on a family-wide and community-friendly programming. And this fall, they’re adding even more: more fun, more passion and more offerings. http://wp.lps.org/clc/overview/ #37

The Chromebook as a tool for ‘academic consumption’ and ‘innovation’

As year two of student computer devices begins, we take a deeper look at the Chromebook as an educational asset, what LPS teachers learned in year 1, and how it will impact education in year 2. #36

New LPS teachers remember – and plan for – first days of school

Teachers new to the profession and new to LPS gathered for the annual New Teacher Breakfast. We caught up with a few to reminisce about their own first days of school as students, and how that impact their plans for the first day of the 2016/17 school year. #35

The teacher who climbed a mountain for professional development

Burke Morrow is East High School science teachers and mountain climber. The two go hand-in-hand, and foot-over-foot, together. Her most recent hike, Mount Kilamanjaro. The lengths, or in this case, the heights that this teacher went for professional development. Episode #34

How to teach students to learn what you don’t know (and 6 other questions)

One has to be careful what they post to social media, we all know that. For example, when Jane Stavem, the associate superintendent for Instruction in Lincoln Public Schools, posts a link to a list of seven questions for every new teacher, we were curious: What are the right answers to those questions? So we asked. She answered. And we made it a podcast. #33

Staff add up potential with new math curriculum

Students, parents, families of grades 3 through 5, pay attention: Math class may be different this coming school year, but how much will you notice? Hear from a teacher, instructional coordinator and principal about the pilot program for math curriculum at eight elementary schools. #32

Overseeing the growth in career and technical educational opportunities

On her last day before retirement, curriculum specialist Carol Andringa talks about the rise in attention, success and popularity of the Career and Technical Education curriculum efforts in Lincoln Public Schools. This past year saw a record set students, and a huge commitment to the philosophy of CTE in the form of The Career Academy. #31

Under the hood, on bus rides, routines and routes

11 million miles, 130 drivers, 92 para educators, 80-day inspections, new routes, relocated schools, field trips, ball games, activities, and one local and national issue: a shortage of drivers. Bus drivers, that is. We’re going behind the scenes of busing in Lincoln Public Schools. Bill McCoy is here, he’s next, so find a seat and keep your hands inside the window. #30

Fourth-graders, researching colleges, feeling empowered

There’s nothing all that unusual about students in Lincoln Public Schools announcing which college they will attend. Except when they are fourth-graders! Who put them up to this, and why? #29

School’s support gives needed boost to ailing teacher

This story is not really about the health issues of Pound Middle School teacher Laura Rigoni, but rather the support of co-workers to allow a teacher to teach as long and as much as she possibly could, and kept her spirits strong. #28

Looking ahead, on the last day of school

Learning who your next teacher is going to be is exciting and anxious. To get ahead of the anxious feelings, and add to the excitement, Morley Elementary Principal Molly Bates decided to do the work necessary to let students know of their next teacher on the last day of school. Here’s how it worked, according to the principal, a teacher and students themselves. #27

Final Words with Joanna Hejl, Lincoln High

Another bonus episode for our podcast listeners. Another adapted video interview, this time with Joanna Hejl, a senior at Lincoln High School.

Final Words with Braly Keller, Northeast (25)

Each year, LPS Communications interviews a few graduating seniors for our Final Words video series. This year we have adapted that for podcasts, providing extra podcasts episodes for you this week. Here’s Braly Keller, a senior at Lincoln Northeast High School.

Assessing a forthcoming change in high school assessments (24)

If this podcast episode were to be graded, it would garner a ‘needs improvement’ label for its lateness and some noise-iness. It’s ironic then that the topic of this episode is assessment, and specifically how a college entrance exam will replace the Nebraska state assessment test for high school juniors over the next two years. SO give us a chance for extra credit, and give us a listen as we visit with Leslie Eastman, diretor of assesement and evaluation for LPS.

Notes and quotes with two high school musicians

Two musicians, two different schools, two different future pathways, but still a love of music. Hear from Thomas at Southeast High School and Zachrey at North Star High School, plus excerpts from their orchestra and choir performances at District Music Competition. Episode #23

Leadership, affirmation and Mr. North Star: A student council spotlight

Earlier this month, it was announced that Lincoln North Star High School is one of just three nebraska schools to receive the 2016 National Gold Council of Excellence award from the national association of student councils. Hear from Harlie, Max, and the group’s sponsor, Jace Ahlberg, on unifying a building with school spirit, while celebrating the uniqueness of each individual student. Episode #22

#21 – Overcoming misconceptions: Pathfinder teacher helps with alternative path forward for students

David Beatty’s teaches at the Pathfinder Education Program, a secondary level program located in the Lancaster County Youth Services Center. His work is so impactful and important that earlier this school year, David was honored as a distinguished educator of the year by the national partnership for juvenile services. The pathfinder program in Lincoln Public Schools helps students who are in some sort of judicial trouble, but it focuses on education continuity and credit recovery.

#20 – A collision, a concussion and a champion

The state championship run by the Lincoln East girls basketball team last month was memorable for many reasons: the go-ahead bucket, players rising to the occasion, and a team overcoming the loss of a starting guard. Caroline Spethman suffered a concussion from a collision with an opposing player during the semifinal game at the state tournament. It impacted her as an athlete, as a student, and as a person.

#19 – On leadership, sportsmanship, school culture, and your own brand

The scene is a leadership summit for student-athletes hosted by three of our high school athletic departments. Listen to three excerpts from three speeches from three people with different insight into sportsmanship, and personal talents and branding: a business owner, a director of a coaches association, and a Heisman Trophy winner. Speakers include Charlie Colon, Eric Crouch and Darin Boysen.

#18 – An LHS alum talks AquaLinks, sportswriting and addressing important issues

Among the 2016 Distinguished Alumni is Jane McManus. She’s a journalist who has covered four Super Bowls, six seasons with the New York Jets, two Final Fours, fifteen US Tennis Opens, one US Golf Open, and Wimbledon.

#17 – Speaking, communicating and competing at State Speech

45 students in Lincoln Public Schools have qualified for state speech, which is this week in Kearney. Lincoln East has won the team title in Class A for the past 14 years. Lincoln Southwest has finished in the top 2 in 3 of the past 4 years, and Lincoln Southeast has the only returning individual champion from LPS, and she performs a very cool snippet for us.

#16 – How a principal prepares for a new school

Where do school rituals come from? How does a principal hire dozens of staff members for a school that isn’t even fully built yet? And how does being away from an elementary school for seventh months help someone be a better principal? Wysong Elementary School doesn’t officially open until August, but we have some early answers from Principal Randy Oltman.

#15 – Letters, speeches and inspiration from Thank You Teacher 2016

Please Note: We are releasing episode #15 early because it features excerpts of the great letters and speeches from our March 1 Thank You Teacher breakfast event. Six students read letters, the five honored teachers give acceptance speeches, with plenty of tears and laughter and pondering great ideas. Enjoy!

#14 – The story of Tosh’s school in South Sudan

Tosh Rick Jock is a bi-lingual liaison in Lincoln Public Schools from South Sudan. After growing up during the cival war of South Sudan, struggling with loss of family members and friends, he made it to America. And yet … he went back to South Sudan. Why? There are two hundred reasons, and one very noble cause.

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