Omaha Public Schools
Omaha Public Schools (OPS) is partnering with Leading Educators to strengthen instruction in 15 Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) elementary schools so all students are ready for their next step.
About the Partnership
Omaha Public Schools is a vital institution for the youngest residents in the city of Omaha, serving more than 54,000 students. While students bring different strengths, life experiences, and support systems, Omaha sees its public schools as the community’s chief vehicle for working towards equal opportunities for all Omaha children.
To build on strengths and expand opportunities for students to achieve greatly, Omaha Public Schools leaders recognize that the district needs to make key systemic improvements in support systems for excellent teaching.
In spring 2023, an academic diagnostic revealed key areas of opportunity:
- OPS students had access to grade-level work only 40% of the time and demonstrated ownership of their learning and meaning-making just 26% of the time in ELA across 20 schools.
- Only 32% of ELA teachers surveyed had a strong belief in students’ ability to perform at grade level. Consequently, the district recognized the need to address rigor and mindsets in instruction.
The district adopted HMH Into Reading during the 2019-2020 school year, but high teacher turnover rates and teacher shortages have made consistent implementation challenging. Teachers have had limited experience implementing Into Reading in a traditional setting and have also experienced additional adoptions of high-quality instructional materials (HQIM) for other content areas. The training and development for literacy have been limited.
OPS aims to establish structures for district- and school-level staff to build on their strengths and expand students’ opportunities to achieve greatly in literacy. This includes implementing collaborative planning time and developing school-based instructional facilitators to support peer teachers’ growth.
Along with systems-level support, Leading Educators is facilitating continuous improvement cycles emphasizing methods for teachers to provide and enhance access to grade-level texts and tasks.
This programming incorporates mindset development work focused on maintaining high expectations for students and fostering greater student ownership, specifically with the Into Reading curricular materials. This comprehensive approach will align efforts and collaboration across principals, instructional facilitators, and teachers.
Leading Educators used discovery to understand CSI schools’ contexts, strengths, and areas of need, along with district leadership’s plans. Throughout the year, we’ll conduct data review sessions to monitor and iterate on programming. We’ll also collaborate with district leadership to support coherence, refine the vision, and streamline priorities for improved system conditions.
Leading Educators is creating and leading a year-long curriculum-aligned professional learning series for teachers in priority areas identified with OPS leadership. Additionally, we design and facilitate monthly development sessions aligned with leading curriculum-aligned PLCs and content-aligned coaching for site-based instructional leaders.
Leading Educators staff individually coach 15 CSI elementary school principals around continuous improvement in literacy instruction and implementation of site-based school improvement plans.
Partnership By The Numbers
supported with more rigorous and joyful lessons in core content areas
participate in up to 3 monthly 50-minute PLCs to strengthen their instructional practices
15 School Leaders
receive quarterly principal meetings focused on instructional leadership development
15 site-based instructional leaders
receive monthly professional learning sessions on change management and continuous improvement
Meet The Team
Dr. Lakita D. McKinney
Managing Director of Networks
Senior Director of Networks
Director of Content
Dr. Kate Ulrich
Director of Content and Coaching, ELA
Dr. Lakita D. McKinney
Dr. Kate Ulrich
About Dr. Lakita D. McKinney
Before joining Leading Educators, Lakita was the Senior Director at Leading Elephants where she provided support for leaders through individual and group executive coaching, the design and facilitation of adult learning experiences, and customized organizational consulting. She previously served as the Senior Director of Leadership Development for the Tennessee Department of Education in the Human Capital Division and redesigned the leadership academy for new principals and assistant principals. She also previously served as New Leaders’ Executive Director for the Midwest Region where she provided strategic direction and program development input to support districts in addressing leadership development needs. Lakita began her career teaching in Chicago Public Schools and went on to successfully execute the start of a new contract school in Chicago.
Lakita holds a Doctor of Education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College; two Master’s degrees, one in Curriculum & Instruction and the other in Administration & Supervision. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Florida A&M University. Lakita enjoys spending quality time with her family in Naperville, IL. She loves to travel and is a self-proclaimed foodie.
Dr. Lakita D. McKinney in the news
About Amanda Silva
Previously, Amanda coached instructional leaders in District of Columbia Public Schools as a Leadership Coach through LEAP. Before joining Leading Educators, Amanda was a middle school special education teacher, English Language Arts instructional coach, and department chair.
Amanda holds a B.A. in Economics & Sociology from New York University & a MAT in Elementary Education from American University. She loves staying on top of the most current news and pop culture phenomena, road tripping while listening to podcasts, and finding the best places to visit in the new cities she passes through.
Amanda Silva in the news
About Ashley Davis
Ashley began her career as a 5th grade teacher in her hometown of Rockford, IL. She moved to pursue her graduate studies at Western Michigan University, where she served as a reading specialist in the university’s reading clinic and taught content area literacy upon graduation. Before joining Leading Educators, Ashley served as a Literacy Coach for two Chicago charter school campuses.
Ashley holds a M.A.Ed. in Literacy Studies from Western Michigan University and a B.S. in Elementary Education from Western Illinois University. Ashley lives in Chicago with her husband Daniel and her two sons Daniel Jr. and Dylan.
About Dr. Kate Ulrich
Before joining Leading Educators, Kate served for 16 years as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, curriculum designer, and in various school leadership roles in the NYC and Atlanta communities. Recently, as a Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Assistant Principal at a school in south Atlanta, she enjoyed the opportunity to combine her passions for coaching and curriculum development in order to connect, empathize, and build relationships with teachers, school leaders, and external stakeholders.
Kate earned her doctorate in Leadership and Learning in Organizations from Vanderbilt University. Her research focused on examining how community-based organizations that utilize multi-stakeholder models can impact local education in rural communities. Kate also holds an MA from Columbia University Teachers College in Bilingual, Bicultural Education and a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in D.C.
When not at work, Kate is an avid nonfiction reader, she enjoys singing and making music with her friends and siblings, as well as spending time volunteering during local elections, hiking, swimming, going to the movies, and enjoying time with her niece, friends, and family.
Associate Director of Networks, West
About Sabrina Ware
With a decade of event production experience, Sabrina has an extensive background in providing both in-person and virtual events with logistical support. In any work setting, Sabrina works to build and maintain relationships through collaboration with those around her, providing support to ensure the success of programs, and most importantly, our students.
Lear About Other Partnerships
Omaha Public Schools is just one of a dozen partnerships across the country that are pushing the boundaries of what schools can offer students. Learn more about how we customize our supports to meet the needs and strengths of visionary districts.