Teachers of the Year

Nebraska’s 2020 Teacher of the Year Megan Helberg presented to the State Board of Education for the last time and the 2021 Teacher of the Year Paul Timm introduced himself to the board members.

Helberg discussed her experience as a teacher during the pandemic and how that impacted her year as Teacher of the Year.  She did not let Covid-19 slow her down but instead moved to online education, allowing her to talk to teachers across the state. She also started the process to be part of TedEd and recorded a podcast with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Helberg also said she wants to continue to be an advocate for teachers even with her year comes to an end.

Paul Timm gave an introduction and provided his reasons for becoming a teacher. He also laid out several of his goals for the year including helping teachers incorporate science and technology in their classrooms. He is excited to get started as the 2021 Teacher of the Year and is ready to hit the ground running.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum

The board agreed to allow a pilot program for an evidence-based comprehensive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum and assessment tool for staff and students in five districts that represent different demographics, geography, and student need across the state. Participating districts will receive support from implementation staff at Mosaic, professional development on adult SEL, and other tools.

Social Emotional Learning Program

COVID-19 Communication Strategy

Board members voted to grant the Commissioner the authority to contract with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation to provide communication materials to parents, families, and communities to underscore healthy habits and work towards the mitigation of community spread of COVID-19.

The contract seeks to leverage CARES Act funding to elevate key public health messages and create a unified theme, repository for materials, and tools to localize messages.

COVID-19 Communication Strategy for  Parent-Community Support 

Grant to Create Standardized Recipes

The board approved a Team Nutrition Grant award from United States Department of Agriculture. Nutrition Services will engage in activities to build capacity and infrastructure to develop and evaluate recipes for use by Nebraska’s school food service directors for the National School Lunch Program. Recipes developed for the grant will focus on local foods and help children learn more about the food they eat.

Team Nutrition Grant

National Geographic Grant

The board also approved a grant from National Geographic to develop teaching resources for integrated science and social studies education. The funds will be used to mobilize Nebraska students and educators as citizen and social scientists by collecting and analyzing data from Nebraska’s waterways which could inform potential legislation.

National Geographic Grant

2021 State Board Meeting Dates

The State Board of Education approved the proposed 2021 State Board meeting dates. Generally, the board meets on the first Thursday and Friday after the first Monday of the month with no meeting taking place in July.

State Board 2021 Meeting Schedule

The Board Recommends Mask Mandate, Issues Three Resolutions

The State Board of Education is recommending a statewide mask mandate to ensure the safety of all students, staff, and community members.  The recommendation comes in the form of a board resolution.

The resolution asks Nebraska communities to do their part to keep students and staff safe and to keep schools open through actions like wearing face coverings in public, staying home when possible, and avoiding the three Cs: crowded places, close contact, and confined spaces.

The board also issued a resolution praising local health departments and health professionals who have worked tirelessly since the pandemic began.

November is also Native American Heritage Month and the board issued a third resolution honoring Native American culture and encouraging all Nebraska schools to include the contributions of Native Americans in their curriculum.

Resolution on Community Responsibility in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Resolution to Recognize Native American Heritage Month in Nebraska

Resolution to Recognize Nebraska’s Local Health Departments

Statewide Assessment and Reporting System Changes

The board approved changes to statewide assessment and accountability. NSCAS Phase 1 Pilot replaces NSCAS Summative for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics in grades three through eight in the Spring of 2021. This pilot is a proof of concept assessment for the through-year adaptive model announced last year. There will be no public reporting of data for 2020-2021.

The NSCAS Science assessment is changing to reflect College and Career Ready standards and will have a field test for grades five and eight this year and there will be no public reporting of data for 2020-2021.

The NSCAS ACT will proceed as normal and will have normal data reporting.

Statewide Assessment and Accountability Key Messages

Statewide Assessment Plan

Recognition of Outgoing Board Members

The December 2020 board meeting was the final meeting for members John Witzel and Rachel Wise.  Board members and the Commissioner took time during the meeting to thank the outgoing members for their hard work and significant contributions. John Witzel served the board for six years representing District 4.  Rachel Wise served the board for eight years representing District 3. Two new board members, Jacquelyn Morrison and Patti Gubbels, will join the board in January.