May 2024
Diego Martinez Gutierrez accomplishes more in a day than many of us do in a week.

The bilingual South High scholar, programmer, musician, actor and leader is ready to take on college and beyond. He credits his family, South High, Marrs Middle and Castelar Elementary, for equipping him to pursue a career in aviation.

Beyond the academics and extra-curriculars, we’re in awe of his care for our community and commitment to making things better in the future.

We celebrate Diego and more than 2,500 outstanding Omaha Public Schools graduates this May. Meet more incredible young people through our Portrait of a Graduate Series and More Than Hashtags: The OPSProud Podcast.

We thank the staff who make it possible - from the bus driver who welcomes each student in the morning to the kindergarten teacher who sparks a love for reading. The nutrition services team that energizes students and the AP physics teacher inspiring future rocket scientists.

Throughout the year, we talked a lot about getting better. Our focus on school improvement is to make sure every student enjoys opportunities and success like Diego. The work is so important, and we care so incredibly much. We’re going to get there.

It is our privilege to serve.

Matthew Ray
Interim Superintendent
Omaha Public Schools
Educators Share Experience That Spans Five Decades
From a first-year teacher to a veteran of 50 years, Omaha Public Schools honors staff
In the summer of 1974, Richard Gottner arrived at Burke High for orientation. As a first-year teacher at Omaha Public Schools, he recalled walking into a full auditorium.

“Every slot was taken by new teachers. There had to be more than 600 of us,” said Gottner, who now teaches technology at King Science & Technology Middle. “It’s intriguing to see everybody who was a rookie and then to see the different people today who are still working for our district.”
Gottner’s commitment to Omaha Public Schools spans five decades. When Pinewood Elementary opened, he was one of the first teachers. In 1984, he transitioned to King Science & Technology Middle as a science teacher.

“He's always looking out for the safety, health and well-being of our kids. After 50 years, he still sees the positive in people,” said Jane Laughlin, King Science & Technology Middle principal. “He’s an old soul who is constantly a source of inspiration and wisdom for me.”

Gottner’s wisdom is welcome advice for first-year teachers like Breanna Stohs at Sunny Slope Elementary.
Stohs started in August 2023 in a kindergarten classroom that she wanted to be a bright and welcoming space for her students. The decorations hanging on the walls represent the joy in her students' artwork.

“I wanted the students to decorate because it’s their room, too,” said Stohs. “I want them to feel comfortable and take ownership of this space.”

Stohs’ journey with Omaha Public Schools began as a student teacher. Now, she’s preparing to finish her first year as a full-time teacher. She says it hasn’t always been easy, but she knows this is what she was called to do.

“For many of my students, this is their first academic setting. They’re on their own and making their own decisions,” said Stohs. “I love teaching them self-help skills and seeing them implement them and advocate for themselves.”

Myah Calderon-Ornelas, Stohs’ student, says she was nervous about starting school this year, but her teacher helped her through it.
“She was my first friend because my favorite color is pink, and her favorite color is pink,” said Calderon-Ornelas. “She’s nice to us, and she taught us how to play Simon Says.”

Stohs attributes her first-year success to the support from her peers, administration and her students’ families.

“As a first-year teacher, Ms. Stohs never misses a beat,” said Maria Roden, Sunny Slope Elementary principal. “She's done an outstanding job. She is like the quintessential kindergarten teacher. She's so calm, compassionate, loving and reflective.”

Though many years of experience separate Stohs and Gottner, they share a common goal. Both are part of a much larger team at Omaha Public Schools, dedicated to student success.

Omaha Public Schools sets aside time each May to recognize the essential work of every employee who serves students in our district. Staff Appreciation Week honors the nearly 9,000 full and part-time employees who contribute to educating more than 52,000 students.
Student’s Award-Winning Book Shines Light on Mental Health Awareness
Itzel Montoya Hernandez's thoughts fill the pages of her book, telling a tale of heartache, grief and, finally, acceptance.

The Bryan High junior wrote, illustrated and published a children's book called "Pastel de Zanahoria" or "Carrot Cake," aimed at helping young children cope with grief. 

Montoya Hernandez wrote the book in English and Spanish for an Educators Rising competition. She says that the characters and illustrations in her book represent her culture.

Her book was inspired by her cousin's death in middle school and its impact on her family. In the story, the main character, Samuel, experiences the loss of his grandmother and learns how to navigate the five stages of grief.

Montoya Hernandez says she's hoping to show elementary-aged students how to cope with loss at an early age.

"It's a topic that's hard to explain to little kids," said Montoya Hernandez.
"And that's why I wanted to make a book so that you're not using big words or giving them too much information at once, but you're still explaining it to them."
Writing a book as a 16-year-old is challenging, but Montoya Hernandez has done it twice. She wrote both books in English and Spanish. Montoya Hernandez received help from her parents, bilingual liaisons, and Educators Rising sponsor Raeanna Carlson.

"This gives a voice to other little kids, and she's able to use her superpowers of bilingualism to do this really cool thing," said Carlson, Bryan High English teacher. "This current generation is more tapped into understanding mental health, and we need to leverage their own experiences to communicate the necessary processes to move through it."
Bryan High displayed the book in its library as a resource for students and their families, helping to raise awareness of mental health. Montoya Hernandez says mental health is an important conversation, especially if it's difficult.

"It's one of those things that gets pushed aside because some think it's not okay to show emotion," said Montoya Hernandez. "Mental health is a topic that affects everyone, no matter what age you are."

Montoya Hernandez received fourth place for “Pastel de Zanahoria” in the Children’s Literature category at the annual Nebraska Educators Rising State Leadership Conference in 2023. She wrote her second book this year and will learn soon if it earned an award.

To read a digital version of “Pastel de Zanahoria” in English or Spanish, click this link or the image below.
More Than Hashtags – The OPSProud Podcast
Tune into this month’s “More Than Hashtags” podcast as high school seniors reflect on their Omaha Public Schools journey with Interim Superintendent Matthew Ray.

Mr. Ray also recognizes the hard work and dedication of our staff during Staff Appreciation Week.

Listen to the latest episode here on the KIOS-FM Omaha Public Radio website.
Last Day of School Reminders
It’s hard to believe the last day of school is upon us! Omaha Public Schools is focused on learning and school improvement throughout the year. Here are a few reminders as you plan for summer:

  1. The last day of school for all students is May 22.
  2. Next Level Learning begins for identified Pre-K through eighth grade students on May 29 and ends on July 3.
  3. Omaha Public Schools offers Welcome Camp and Jump Start for students in grades five through eight. These three-day experiences are scheduled for May 29-31.
  4. High schools will offer an Academic Summer Bridge program designed to prepare incoming freshmen for the next school year.
Celebrating the Class of 2024
It’s time to celebrate the graduating class of 2024!

Graduation ceremonies for our comprehensive high schools are May 21-23 at Baxter Arena. For those unable to attend in person, live streams will be available. Streams will begin approximately 15 minutes before the ceremony. Links can be found on our website, along with graduation information for each of our programs.
Summer Food Service Program
Omaha Public Schools proudly sponsors the Summer Food Service Program, which provides over 300,000 healthy meals to children ages one through 18. The federally funded program offers breakfast and lunch at no cost to families.

The program begins on May 29 at select locations across our district. Locations are listed on our website, or you can text FOOD or COMIDA to 304-304.

All sites are closed on June 19 and July 4-5. 
Updated 2024-25 Calendars Posted to

Four Improvement Days throughout the school year include a late start for students, allowing time for staff to focus on data-driven growth.
Summer Interview Fairs

Omaha Public Schools is hosting three interview fairs this summer. Staff will be on-site to assist with applications, answer questions and conduct interviews. 

For more information, visit our website or call 531-299-0240. 
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:
  • Boys Town Free Parenting Sessions

Omaha Public Schools provides this opportunity for outside organizations for the benefit of our families. It does not endorse any business, product or service.
… to Brooklynn Pierce, Westview High junior, for becoming the state champion in the Entertainment Review Writing category at the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) State Journalism Competition.

… to Central High senior Violet Tran for winning the Nebraska Investwrite Essay Competition.

… to South High’s JROTC team for placing first at the Patriot Raider Challenge in Missouri.

… to all Omaha Public Schools robotics teams that competed at the VEX Robotics World Championships.

… to Jason Susnjar of Bryan High for being named the Van Ekfelt Coach of the Year for Class A by the Nebraska State Wrestling Coaches Association.

… to all Omaha Public Schools high schools for being recognized as recipients of the 2023-24 Nebraska State Colleges Multi-Activity Student Award from the NSAA and the Nebraska State College System.

… to all JROTC teams at Omaha Public Schools that qualified for national championships.
  • Benson High
  • Bryan High
  • Central High
  • North High
  • South High
  • Westview High
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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.