Embracing and Enacting

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 20 members of cohort 2 through the leadership academy coursework. We checked in with advisor Tiffany Shonerd, Children Services Director at Blue Valley Community Action Partnership, to see how her group is coming on their capstone projects.


Within the Leadership Academy, participants spend time engaging with competencies that support their growth and development as a leader of a PreK-3rd grade space. After an initial overview of each of the competencies, cohort participants choose a competency that they would like to learn more about it. Provide a brief overview of the competency your group has chosen for their focus.

The great part of being an educator is having the love of learning. We want to learn for our growth, but also the development of others that we are teaching. My group is excited to have their capstone revolve around Competency 3: Embracing and Enacting a PreK-3rd Grade Vision in the Leading Learning Communities: A Principal’s Guide to Early Learning and the Early Grades book. This competency encourages a deeper look from school leaders on how to align vision, culture, and curriculum from within the early years and beyond. Each participant encapsulates their school or district vision and how they want to make it stronger for the individual learners.


How is your group learning in action through this process?

The assignments allow for more information through the resources given along with reflection and expert responses from the peers. For example, one participant advised on early learning workshops for the community’s early childhood workforce as a way to align the vision as a community. Another participant just started ReadyRosie, and a peer commented on how it has worked for her, so the comradery of the leaders is present and helpful with the project and just the job in general.


To demonstrate learning, cohort participants engage in a capstone project that directly relates to their competency and a problem of practice within their school/community. What capstone projects are the members of your group working on?

  • Vertical alignment of math curriculum while using knowledge of child development as a guide to provide PD in this area for all teachers
  • Alignment of the K-2 practices in English Language Arts to build a stronger primary system.
  • The principal will engage in a once-a-month PK-3 PLC to help improve students and teacher outcomes in the areas such as SEL, DAP, behaviors, and other academics.
  • Providing support to all teachers in understanding child development by using the child development continuum, looking specifically at the culture.
  • Incorporating play based learning centers in the early learning classrooms to help decrease behaviors and increase student mastery of standards.


Describe how the capstone projects are expanding upon the learning from the course

Each individual participating in this course is taking different pieces of the learning opportunities that are embedded in this course and putting them to work. For instance, one participant has dove into curriculum alignment across a few lower grades in the PreK-3 grade classrooms. Her vision, along with the buy-in of her teachers, will create an understanding of each level of learning so there isn’t a repeat of learning in each grade and there isn’t an assumption on the next level teacher that something has been taught in the previous grade. This is specifically a reflective capstone assignment in lesson 4. Another participant dug deeper into how to incorporate STEM projects as a way to enhance her capstone project of play-based learning. The combination of the reflective questions and responses from the peers incorporates critical thinking along with support.