June 2024

Omaha Public Schools principals are dedicated, caring and talented leaders. They are key to our school district’s growth.


As 17,000 students participate in Next Level Learning each June, principals and program directors gather for our Leading & Learning Institute.


Our professional development team organizes the week-long conference, designed to get leaders reflecting, learning and developing new skills.


Sessions focused on supporting all learners, how schools can recruit and retain employees alongside our district efforts, planning for high-quality lessons and leading school improvement.


The time is so important to step back, envision where we want to be and build a plan to get there.


We do it together. As Nebraska’s largest school district, there are countless opportunities to learn from each other’s innovations and success. It is all to ensure we deliver an extraordinary experience for every student we serve.

Matthew Ray

Interim Superintendent

Omaha Public Schools

From Omaha Public Schools to Outer Space, Summer Break Brings Continued Learning Opportunities for Students

Westview High Senior Lands Internship with NASA

Westview High senior Diana Tran’s summer plans are out-of-this-world. She was selected for an internship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  


Tran’s curiosity about space and science began at an early age. She enjoys researching planets and solar systems by watching documentaries and reading books. She also participates in Westview High’s Civil Engineering Pathway. When she got the opportunity to apply for the STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) program, a collaboration between NASA and the University of Texas, she couldn’t resist.


“I knew it would be a great opportunity to learn more about aerospace and other fields,” said Tran. “This will give me more of a look into real-life fields of experiments, research and engineering.”


The program accepts a small percentage of applicants. Rachael Arens, Ed.D., Westview High’s curriculum specialist, encouraged Tran to apply.


“This opens doors for awareness that these programs exist,” said Dr. Arens. “She is going to have a network of NASA scientists and mentors who can help prepare her for her STEM journey.”

Tran will spend the summer collecting data and studying orbital space debris. At the end of July, she will present her findings at the virtual SEES Science Symposium.


Tran is involved in a Westview High mentor program. She meets with freshmen students once a week, tutors them and helps them socially, academically or behaviorally. Part of the NASA program focuses on students building their leadership skills. Tran will be able to apply what she learns and share with the students she mentors.

Cousins Carry Family Bond to the Classroom

When Maria DelRosario Degante asked her cousin Wendy Degante to apply as an intern for Omaha Public Schools summer program, Next Level Learning (NLL), she hoped to share the experience with someone close to her.


Now, the Bryan High juniors are supporting teachers in the classroom at Gateway Elementary as paid student interns. They even ended up in kindergarten classrooms right next door to each other.


“It’s always fun doing something when there’s someone you know who’s doing it too,” said Wendy. “We like to help each other out, and we get to share this experience.”


Both Maria and Wendy plan to pursue a career in education because they share a love for helping children. They are among 200 high school student interns supporting NLL at more than 30 schools districtwide.


“I love when they [students] get excited when they do something right,” said Maria. “This is important because we’re students helping students, and I’m using this as an opportunity to see if it’s what I want to do in the future.”

During NLL, interns act as extra hands in the classroom. They work with students on reading skills and strategies, help with lunch and recess, and support teachers and paraprofessionals in the classroom.


“It’s very helpful, especially in the primary grades,” said Stacy Kobsa, Gateway Elementary kindergarten teacher. “If they want to pursue a career in education, this gives them an idea of what’s going on and helps them decide whether to pursue it further.”


Kindergarten teacher Jordan Lyons says it’s amazing to see the interns connect with the younger students and hopes this program continues long into the future.


“The kids love working with Wendy and look forward to one-on-one time with her,” said Lyons. “This gives them [interns] an opportunity in the summer to make some money and do something for their district that’s super meaningful.”

Student Production Offers Night with Shrek, Fiona and Donkey!

Artemis Else will paint his face and hands green when he suits up for a starring role in the Omaha Public Schools summer musical, “Shrek the Musical.” Else will play the ogre, Shrek.

“I wanted to be a part of Shrek because of my familiarity with the Broadway show and the movies,” said Else, a Northwest High senior.

Students from all over our district spent the last few weeks preparing for the upcoming performances of “Shrek the Musical.” The talented cast and crew includes students in grades six through 12.

“Working with other students in our district has been amazing,” Else added. “I've connected with old friends, made new ones and gotten to hear about theater experiences from schools other than my own.”


Central High sophomore Tessa Priesman will play the role of Princess Fiona. This is her second year being involved in the Omaha Public Schools summer musical.


“I just enjoy the community we are building with each other,” said Priesman. “I love how supportive everyone is of one another, and I feel like everyone feels comfortable in the space. We are all doing what we love.”

There are starring roles for students backstage, too. The show will feature many technical aspects, including sound effects, hanging set pieces that will fly around the stage, a dragon puppet, light designs and detailed paintings, all created by students.

Director Emily Mokrycki, a Burke High English teacher, hopes that this production will provide a meaningful message to both the audience and the students involved.


“I think this show allows so many individuals to shine with the abundance of characters,” said Mokrycki. “The powerful message is that our differences and uniqueness are our greatest strength. I think this is something our students really need to hear, understand and believe.”

Tony Schik, who teaches English at Westview High, is in his fourth year co-directing the summer musical. He believes the best part of the season is watching students collaborate. 

Summer Instrumental Camp Offers Tips on Technique

Middle school instrumental students had an exciting opportunity to further their skills during Omaha Public Schools Instrumental Camp in June. Students perfected their technique, explored new instruments and performed popular show tunes.

Beveridge Middle eighth grader James Jones has been playing the saxophone for three years. This summer, he’s learning how to play the baritone saxophone. He says the camp helps him continue his musical education during summer break.

“Instead of having the entire summer to forget everything you’ve learned, you can start to understand new instruments and new music,” said Jones. “This camp is to help you improve your musical talent.”

Beveridge Middle and Marrs Middle offered the camp at no cost for students.

“The more they play, the more instruments they try and the more music they experience, will help them understand and learn about their own instruments,” said Andrew Braun, Beveridge Middle instrumental music instructor. “I like seeing the kids try something new and uncomfortable and watch them progress through it and come out the other side with a smile on their face, believing in themselves and having accomplished something.”

Students will showcase what they’ve learned during a performance on June 25.

“One of the extraordinary things about the Omaha Public Schools summer musical is that it brings together a talented group of students and staff from around the city,” said Schik. “It truly creates a magical bond that goes beyond the final curtain call.”

Omaha Public Schools will present “Shrek the Musical” on June 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. and June 30 at 2 p.m. at the Burke High Auditorium. Tickets are free and can be reserved online.

District News

Omaha Public Schools Recognizes Federal Juneteenth Holiday

Omaha Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, in observance of the federal holiday, Juneteenth.

District offices and Next Level Learning sites will reopen on June 20.

For more calendar information, visit ops.org/ops.org/calendars.

Summer Reading Challenge Underway

The Summer Reading Challenge has begun! All Omaha Public Schools elementary school students are encouraged to participate in reading throughout the summer and log their minutes online.

Our district provided each elementary student with a bundle of books to add to their home library.

Our goal is for students to collectively read a total of two million minutes this summer. The school with the most minutes receives extra books and a celebration in the fall.

Families can help students track reading minutes here.

Registration Open for Advanced Academics Summer Symposium

Omaha Public Schools offers countless advanced academics opportunities to students.

This July, students can learn more about the classes, how to register and get support for success during our Advanced Academics Summer Symposium.

The symposium is a free conference for incoming freshmen through seniors who are interested in or registered for honors and advanced classes.

The event takes place July 23-25. Our website offers more information on sessions and topics.

Summer Food Service Program Continues


As a reminder, the Summer Food Service Program runs through July 19 at specific locations throughout our district.

The federally funded program provides free healthy breakfast and lunch meals to children ages 1-18.

For more details on locations, visit our website or text FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304.

Our Community Opportunities section is our digital bulletin board where families can find information about upcoming events and activities available in our area. New flyers are posted at the beginning of each month. This month's flyers include:

  • Project Extra Mile's Youth Leadership Retreat

Omaha Public Schools provides this opportunity for outside organizations for the benefit of our families. It does not endorse any business, product or service.

Our district extends congratulations to...

… to Sarah Nelson Wiese of Bryan Middle for being selected as a 2024 National STEM Scholar from the National Stem Cell Foundation and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science.

… to all Omaha Public Students who are State Track Champions.

… to Coach Bill Scarborough of Burke High for receiving the 2024 NSAA Outstanding Service Award for track and field.

… to Kene Okigbo of North High for receiving an Outstanding Mentor Award from the ACE Mentor Program of Greater Omaha. He was also chosen as one of the nation’s outstanding mentors for the ACE Mentor Program of America.

… to Moo Say of Benson High for being awarded the 2024 CMIC Allen Berg Memorial Scholarship from the ACE Mentor Program of America.

… to Brayden Simpson of Central High for being a recipient of the National Merit University of Nebraska – Lincoln Scholarship.

… to all Omaha Public Schools students who received awards at the Omaha Summer Arts Festival Youth Art Exhibit.

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Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, citizenship status, veteran status, political affiliation or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to accept allegations regarding non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-9822. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director for the Office of Equity and Diversity, 3215 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-0307.