Bridging the Gap

Welcome to Nebraska’s NAESP PreK-3 Leadership Academy blog! We will be bringing you updates and perspectives from the advisors who are leading the 25 members of cohort 2 through the leadership academy coursework. This month we are featuring Andy DeFreece, Director of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Millard Public Schools in Omaha.


Why did you want to be part of the Pre-K-3 Leadership Academy?

At Millard Public Schools we’ve worked really hard to align our early childhood and early elementary efforts. I work closely with principals and it has been my experience that they often feel very prepared to lead K-5 efforts but less confident in leading birth through preschool initiatives. Early childhood efforts are often complex because they originate from multiple funding sources, which can make learning how to articulate and focus our programs a challenge. This program was appealing to me because it provides new insights into all of these areas.


What communities are represented in your group?


In the past month which topic has caused the most discussion among the group?

In the past month we’ve been focusing on shared leadership and building the professional capacity of our teacher teams. Professional learning communities aren’t just for K-5 staff members. We can bridge the gap between Pre-K and K-3 and improve outcomes for children through aligned learning, a focus on effective instruction, and meaningful collaboration.


What big ideas resonated with the group most?

I would say the two big ideas which have resonated with our group the most have been understanding child development and its implications for high-quality instruction and the importance of developing and fostering partnerships with families and our communities.


What are you most looking forward to gaining through the Pre-K-3 Leadership Academy?

I find the new learning and networking with colleagues throughout the state to be the most rewarding part of the leadership academy. The content is really high quality and engaging — but listening to the reflections and great thinking of my peers brings it all together for me. I get new ideas each week and am always inspired by the members of my group.