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At grassroots level, inroads made in STEM education

News Press Now – Ken Newton

“President Trump announced in September that he would direct the Department of Education to use $200 million for grants to increase access to STEM and computer science programs. “One of the president’s primary goals is to give Americans the opportunity to obtain the necessary education and tools that lead to good, stable jobs,” the White House said at the time. At the grassroots level, teachers like Benz work to make sure students have a foundational understanding of the sciences as preparation for learning more. A University of Nebraska graduate who began a second career at Benton after a 21-year stint in the U.S. Marines, Benz said the science memorization of his high school days has evolved into a different emphasis in teaching.” (more)

More classrooms making time for play in early grades

Education Dive – Linda Jacobson

“Play is making a comeback in the early grades, with kindergarten teachers in the Omaha Public Schools making time in their classrooms for activities, such as puppet shows and painting, and incorporating pretend cash registers, money and plastic food, the Omaha World-Herald reports.”(more)

Nebraska schools increase bilingual education opportunities

The Daily Nebraskan – Zach Hammack

“Diverse and evolving Nebraska communities are driving the need for more capable teachers in world language and bilingual education. That’s why schools in Omaha, Fremont and Lexington have adopted dual-language programs to maintain academic standards for all types of students. Dual language programs are a type of bilingual education that tailor to the specific needs of both native English speakers and English Language Learners, or ELLs. In these learning environments, the student population is ideally 50 percent native English speaker and 50 percent ELL. Courses are taught in English and a partner language, like Spanish. Janine Theiler, the world language education specialist at the Nebraska Department of Education, said dual-language programs are beneficial for both native speakers and ELLs.”(more)

Goal for education is closing achievement, skills gaps by 2050

The Daily Nonpareil – Scott Stewart

“Dan Kinney won a thumb wrestling match in front of a group of about 20 educators, nonprofit workers and community members Wednesday afternoon. The Heartland 2050 Education Committee held an organizational meeting at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, sitting near the midpoint of the eight county area of Nebraska and Iowa served by the regional initiative. Kinney, the committee’s chairman and the president of Iowa Western Community College, defeated Stuart Shell, an architect with RDG, in thumb wrestling to launch a discussion on collective impact. Other topics for the meeting included reviewing work so far and discussing next steps for the planning process. “How can we have conversations and collaborations and find ways that we can all work together and we can all win?” asked Karna Loewenstein, coordinator of Heartland 2050, an initiative of the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency. “We’re used to the different counties, the different cities, Nebraska vs. Iowa, competing. What we’re asking you to do at Heartland 2050 is let’s think of ourselves as a region.” MAPA has been working for years on plans for the metropolitan area – including Pottawattamie, Mills and Harrison counties in southwest Iowa – to accommodate a population growth of about 1.5 million people in the metro area by 2050. Last December, a vision document was created that outlined several goals, including one to provide all area residents with access to a high-quality education.”(more)

Early childhood education should focus on building character, FBI agent says

The Lincoln Journal Star – Margaret Reist

“Weysan Dun’s 30-year career in the FBI convinced him that early childhood education should focus as much on character development as on teaching toddlers their numbers and letters. “Early childhood education must include character development,” said Dun, who retired in 2012 and lives in Omaha. “Some say that’s more important than cognitive development.” Dun spoke to a group of education officials and state and local policymakers Monday at a luncheon sponsored by First Five Nebraska, a policy group that advocates for early childhood education. Two other groups — Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and Mission: Readiness — also sponsored the event. During his career as a special agent for the FBI, Dun investigated national security matters, cybercrime, terrorism, public corruption, organized crime and violent crimes.”(more)