Welcoming students to the new year with respect and kindness

Quote of Dr. Joel "LPS is a space where we come together peacefully and calmly in the interest of learning – where we come together in a place of care, connectedness and civility. As educators we must continue to uphold – and hold one another responsible – to our philosophy of honoring and educating students of all nationalities, ethnicities and religions. Every child at LPS is a child of promise who deserves to be cherished and valued."We are fast approaching the excitement of the beginning of another school year and the first day of classes for Lincoln Public Schools – Monday, August 12 – and we are ready to welcome more than 42,000 eager-to-learn students arriving for 2019-2020. The first days are always filled with bliss for me as I visit schools and witness the magic that happens when students arrive and are greeted with kindness, enthusiasm and respect.

LPS believes it is important to recognize that each and every child brings value to our classroom, and that we bear great responsibility to ensure they feel safe and welcomed (by our staff and our students). We also believe that by modeling and teaching students how to be kind and respectful to others can make a positive impact in our school communities. In light of the country’s highly-charged environment and conversation, we are strengthening our message of “All Means All” – for our students and staff.

As we look ahead to the school year, we will focus on developing a plan that addresses our growing facility needs for students. Our high schools are currently approaching 115% of program design (and growing), which means we need more space and student seats. In addition, we must create new space for our growing numbers of children in preschool, elementary and middle school, as well as ensure we fund the maintenance and care of our existing schools. Significant student growth is a sign of a vibrant community that continues to attract families – from across the country – who are seeking job opportunities and quality of life. Later this month the Superintendent’s Facility Advisory Committee (with 100 members from our community) will culminate more than six months of work and present their official recommendations for critical facility needs. Then the Lincoln Board of Education will review those recommendations with the goal of identifying the very top priorities.

This school year we also will remain relentless in our mission to ensure each and every student, every day, in every classroom, will have a positive learning experience – developing a framework to gain better understanding of our equity and accessibility challenges that some of our students face. This will not be easy work as we will have to first create a definition of equity, and then dig deeply into our data to measure our effectiveness and develop strategies to improve outcomes for students. But our mission remains the same: Greater opportunities for success for all of our students.

I will close with a huge thank you – to all our incredible community members who continue to support and help us become a better school district.

Have a great year,