Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Guest Post: Ambassadors, NPSA move forward in corner of public schools

Guest Post: Nebraska Public School Advantage (NPSA) is a reporting collaboration focused on the transformational power of public education. Nebraska Loves Public Schools works closely with NCSA, its Ambassadors and Nebraska Public School Advantage to increase the collective coverage of positive public school stories happening throughout the school year.


 

Keith Rowher, Kyle McGowan and Cinde Wendell carved their careers in education, witnessing first-hand the overwhelming power of Nebraska’s public schools.

When the Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA) came calling with a unique post-retirement opportunity, the trio of former school administrators officially became the first “Ambassadors” in a program designed to promote the power of Nebraska’s public schools.

“I think we take for granted the incredible education offered across the state,” McGowan, who served as superintendent for Crete schools prior to retirement, said. “I also believe the public schools are the lifeblood of a community, as well as a source of pride.”

And so, with plenty of pride in their pockets, the three new Ambassadors settled into the corner of public education, traveling through the state participating in speaking engagements in front of a wide variety of groups. At the same time, Rowher, McGowan and Wendell collected success stories for Nebraska Loves Public Schools and the Nebraska Public School Advantage (NPSA), which was launched at the same time as the Ambassador Program.

Through the twists and turns of the 2016-17 school year, the Ambassador Program and NPSA, in continuous support and alignment of Nebraska Loves Public Schools, continued to shed light on the incredible administrators, teachers and students that make public education in the state special.

In April, with the 2016-17 school year winding down, NCSA received news that its Ambassador Program, along with NPSA, had been approved for a two-year grant renewal from the Sherwood Foundation.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to extend our efforts to promote public schools in the state of Nebraska,” said Dr. Mike Dulaney, Executive Director for NCSA. “Both the Ambassador Program and NPSA will continue to fly in support of Nebraska Loves Public Schools and the great things they are doing.”

While Nebraska Loves Public Schools is well-known for their powerful videos, NPSA shares the success stories of students, teachers and administrators through print articles. Leads for those stories come directly from the ambassadors or Nebraska Loves Public Schools.

The last year only reinforced Wendell’s beliefs concerning the state’s public schools, which rank 49th in state-funding but 6th in best education according to the U.S. News & World Report Education Rankings.

“Our teachers, administrators, and all the staff from para educators to bus drivers are focused on the day-to-day work of teaching and learning,” Wendell said. “They often don’t think what they do for students and families is anything special, but it is.”

Nebraska hasn’t given in to some of the latest trends in education, Wendell explained, instead choosing to support public schools without diverting attention and financial support away from them.

In the last six months, NPSA published more than 30 feature stories, highlighting the achievements of those in schools from Auburn to Scottsbluff. Rowher feels the effectiveness of the program is highlighted in the number of contacts and presentations made already, which have directly resulted in several planned engagements for the 2017-18 school year.

“Schools need to share these success stories because teachers are our best ambassadors,” Rowher said. “They live these experiences every day. They have committed their professional and personal lives to the success and welfare of their students. This message needs to be shared as often as possible.”

“It’s hard for Nebraskans to truly appreciate the educational excellence available unless one has been in another state without such benefits,” McGowan said. “Education in Nebraska is about making sure all children have an opportunity for excellence.”

Often times, teachers deflect acknowledgement. The last ones to talk about themselves, educators usually sway the spotlight in the direction of their students. Now is the time to share those stories of success, however, and NPSA, in support of Nebraska Loves Public Schools, hasn’t yet scratched the surface of the wonderful things happening in Nebraska’s public schools.

“The future is exciting as we continue to promote public schools and all the great things that they are doing with the Ambassador Program working side by side with Nebraska Loves Public Schools,” Wendell said. “There are many more great stories in our public education system to tell.”

McGowan wants political leaders in Nebraska to recognize their schools as a model for the rest of the nation rather than attempting to implement programs from states that have, in some cases, given up on public education.

“Nebraskans should be touting and sharing methodology with the rest of the country,” McGowan said.

If proponents of public education continue to shine light on the vast successes of Nebraska’s public schools, they’ll eventually be impossible to ignore. NCSA’s Ambassadors and NPSA are thrilled to stand in the corner of Nebraska’s public schools.