Spring Conference

The 2023 NRCSA Spring Conference

The 2023 NRCSA Spring Conference will be held on March 23 & 24, 2023 at the Crowne Plaza & Younes North Convention Center in Kearney. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding the Spring Conference please contact Jeff Bundy at (402) 202-6028 or via e-mail at jbundy@nrcsa.net.

Member Registration

Registration fees are $210 per person for NRCSA member schools, $350 per person for non-member schools. $5 of every registration supports NRCSA scholarships and awards funds. To register simply complete one of the forms below and return it to NRCSA. Your business office will receive an invoice for payment of any conference fees. Registrations may be altered or cancelled prior to NRCSA making a meal count commitment. Schools will be responsible for registration fees after that occurs.

Registration Forms

Pre-registration is closed. On site registration will begin at 6:30 PM on Wednesday March 22 and continue through Thursday, March 23.

These forms are for schools only, exhibitors DO NOT use these forms!

Exhibitor Registration

There are a total of 98 exhibit spaces available at the conference. Registration fees are $475 per space and include an 8 foot table and chairs in a 10 foot by 6 foot piped and draped booth. Electrical power is available, if needed, and wireless internet is available throughout the hotel and conference facility. Booths are sold on a first-come-first served basis and typically sell out well ahead of the deadline listed on the forms.

Exhibitor registration is closed.

Exhibitor Directory

NRCSA encourages your support of our Business Affiliates.

2023 NRCSA Exhibitor Directory (PDF)


General Session Speakers

March 2023 Thursday Morning Keynote

Sam Stetcher & Mark Johnson

Creating a Positive Culture of Kindness

“What If Random Acts of Kindness Weren’t So Random?” These positive interactions can be part of how we do business every day. Sam Stecher and Mark Johnson will tell you the stories behind the choices they use to create a positive culture where kindness and validation are not random but the norm. Every choice is an investment in the quality of our lives and the lives around us. Sam and Mark will laugh with you through the learning and leave you with a plan to choose to make your organization great.

March 2023 Thursday Noon Keynote

Ryan Foor; Assistant Commissioner of Education, Nebraska Dept. of Education

Ryan Foor is the Director of State Board Relations and Rules & Regulations Officer for the Nebraska Department of Education.  In this position, he reports to the Commissioner of Education with responsibilities related to the roles and functions of the Nebraska State Board of Education, including education policy research.  Foor was a high school agriculture teacher in Iowa and a faculty member at the University of Arizona prior to coming to the Nebraska Department of Education. 

Ryan will provide an update from the Nebraska Department of Education, including Commissioner search process.

March 2023 Friday Closing Keynote

V.J. Smith

The Richest Man in Town

This talk is based on the life of ‘Marty’, a wonderful man who ran a cash register at Walmart. He was considered rich because he was loved and respected, but most of all, he was content with every aspect of his life, no regrets. Marty’s simple philosophies show what happens when you take the time to be kind and compassionate. All that you give, you get back, and more. Audience members will go on an emotional roller coaster ride…guaranteed.

Concurrent Sessions

2023 Legislative and “Why Rural Matters” Report

This session will provide an update and share data from NREA’s new report Why Rural Matters. Presented by Dr. Allen Pratt; Executive Director, NREA

A Conversation with Members of the State Board of Education

Join Members of the State Board of Education for a discussion on the statewide vision and priorities for Nebraska education as it relates to rural community schools.  Much of the session will be devoted to question and answer opportunities. Presented by Ryan Foor & Members of the State Board of Education; Nebraska Department of Education

A Living Continuous Improvement Plan that will Propel your School District to the next level!

Accreditation reviews and the Continuous Improvement Plan go hand in hand.  Learn how Hershey Public Schools has utilized the past accreditation cycle reviews to build a strong CIP.  Through Cognia, (formerly AdvancED, the largest accreditation organization in the world), Hershey has been engaged in our CIP goals and action plan to improve student achievement, utilize instructional stragies and develop a purposeful community. Through these steps Hershey received an Excellent Rating in the latest NEP and passed a bond issue in 2022 for increased educational space. Presented by Jane Davis & Shannon Vogler; Hershey Public Schools & Cognia

Agriculture - Connecting the School & Community

The agriculture program and FFA chapter at Hershey Public Schools was established this past 2022-2023 school year. The agriculture program prides itself by fulling utilizing the 3-Circle Model of Agriculture Education, which includes experiential and industry-based instruction, work based learning connections through Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs), and opportunities for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through the FFA. Hershey agriculture students and FFA members will discuss their contributions to the success and growth of the new program, a nationally-recognized SAE project, and how FFA is making an impact on Hershey Public Schools and their community.

Wayne Community Schools started an agriculture program in 2017-2018 and has since been named a Premier FFA Chapter at the state level and a three star FFA chapter at the national level. Additionally, many students have chosen to go into agriculture as a career and some are returning to the area. Much of the program’s success can be attributed to the community, and the FFA chapter has given back through community service as well. Overall, adding an agricultural education program to the school has increased agricultural community knowledge and leadership. Hear from students and the ag teacher on connecting your school and community through an agricultural education program! Presented by Hershey Public Schools & Wayne Community Schools

Are You Prepared

In this session, Jennifer and Ron will discuss the “3 H’s – Head, Heart, and Heat” in an effort to help school leaders assess their preparedness in dealing with concussions, cardiac arrest, and heat illness. Presented by Jennifer Schwartz & Ron Higdon; INebraska School Activities Association

The Basics & Uniqueness of Nebraska Agriculture Education

All agriculture education programs and FFA chapters are the same while also being different. What do all agriculture education programs have in common?  What makes them unique to suit their school and community?  Learn from FFA members from two Nebraska chapters about the basics of all agriculture education programs and what they do to build communities, grow leaders, and strengthen agriculture. Presented by Kurt Vandewalle & Tony Jensen; Fillmore Central & Freeman Public Schools

Before You Build: When to Involve Architects and Professional Engineers

This session will discuss the provisions of state law that mandate when licensed architects and/or professional engineers are required to design, and observe, construction, renovation, and alteration of commercial, residential, and pre-engineered buildings. Further information on exempt projects such as farm/agriculture buildings and certain public works projects will also be included. Presented by Amy Habe & Josh Frerking; Nebraska Board of Engineers & Architects

Chadron State’s “Grow-Your-Own” Teacher Programs!

Do to the existing teacher shortage crisis, Chadron State has developed two “grow-your-own” teacher programs in an effort to assist rural school districts in filling teacher vacancies. These two programs are: (1) CSC Para-To-Teacher Program-- purpose is to provide districts with an opportunity to cultivate and participate in the training of para-professionals employed within their districts who wish to continue their education to become teachers. Different from new teachers moving into a district who often only stay a short time, para-eduators are typically well established in their communities and less likely to leave. These individuals often don’t have the luxury of leaving their jobs or families to complete an education program. Our program allows paras to access their education without having to quit their jobs or leave their communities; never will program candidates be required to come to our campus. This practitioners program pairs course content with the realities of working in a classroom on a daily basis. CURRENTLY, Chadron State has NDE grant monies available to paras enrolling in this program. (2) CSC’s Teacher Academy Program is a partnership program designed for HS Seniors and recent graduates to continue their education to become licensed teachers. As described above, participants will complete their college course work “at a distance”. Upon program completion, these [now] teachers take jobs in their school district. Districts agree to provide candidates with para-educator positions within local schools for the duration of their collegiate program. Our presentation will discuss eligibility, logistics, advantages, program timeline, capstone course work, and structure of these two programs. Both programs utilize the CANVAS Learning Mgt. System in combination with other technologies to deliver quality program course work. Please come hear how we can help you. Presented by Dr. Don R King & Dr. Robin Brierly; Chadron State College

Charting the Course with uBEATS

“Waves” continue to surge in all areas of health care.  Current health care trends have created an increasing demand for passionate STEM professionals. We recognize this need, and therefore have created a 6th-12th grade online science curriculum titled, uBeats.  Our mission is to inspire and expose students to access pathways into the healthcare profession and workforce.  We will explore how students are “Charting their Course” through the UNMC and UNO Building Excellence in Academics Through Stem (uBeats) health science curriculum. We will discuss the need for the program (statewide and nationally), see examples of the uBeats modules and teacher guides, and discuss the expectant outcome for users. This session is for a “deep sea” dive into an online science curriculum program like uBeats or those who are interested in building their own online modules for science and healthcare learning.Objectives: Provide an overview of the uBeats program and the uBeats e-library. Discuss the need (Nebraska and nationally) for the uBeats program. Display an example of a uBeats module and teacher guide. Discuss expectant outcomes for users. Presented by Deanna Ingram; University of Nebraska Medical Center

Daycare solutions for School and Community - Panel Discussion

In this session, each participant has met specific challenges for providing daycare services in different ways.  We will highlight the pros and cons of each solution and some ways to learn from our processes.  Presented by Jackie Anderson; Randy Geier; Amy Colwell, Amy Kroll, & Rachel Sissel; Dundy County Stratton Public Schools, Wauneta-Palisade Public Schools, Weeping Water Public Schools, & Nebraska Children.org

Educator Shortage & Higher Ed:  How Nebraska's Educator Preparation Programs are Working Toward Solutions

Presented by the Nebraska Association of Colleges for Teacher Education(NACTE), participants will receive the latest vacancy and shortage data, learn about national and state partnerships and initiatives targeting educator shortage and get a preview of the work of the State Education Shortage Steering Committee and the Nebraska Educator Shortage Summit 2.0. An interactive session will allow for participant participation to continue to move the needle on Nebraska’s shortage. Presented by Dr. Sara Skretta & Members of the Nebraska Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; UNL & NACTE

EHA Benefits Update

This session will provide an overview of EHA Benefits and Programs. You will hear updates on Rx programs, services for diabetic members and Population Health for members with chronic conditions. Presented by Brett Young & Greg Long; Blue Cross Blue Sheild of NE & EHA

Enrollment Issues You Hate

What, exactly do the option statutes require? What about the new ones the Unicameral is kicking around?  How do we handle students with disabilities who apply when our programs are full?  When can a student enroll if they move in to live with a family member?  How can a kid have 3 or more residences?!  Let's talk. Presented by KSB School Law

Facility Advocates - Undertaking an Air Quality Project

This presentation will cover indoor air quality(humidity, CO2, temperature, ionization, etc). McPherson County Schools and Fairbury Public Schools are currently undergoing this project and will share their experiences. Presented by Dave Raymond, Byron Copeland, Tim Vanderheiden, & Stephen Grizzle; Facility Advocates, McPherson County Schools, & Fairbury Public Schools

Family-School Partnerships: Targeted Support for Rural Students

It is well-established that when parents and educators engage with one another, students benefit. Beyond one-way parental involvement in traditional activities, parents and teachers engaged in partnerships work jointly and share responsibility for children’s success. This session will describe a research-based individualized family-school partnership intervention— Teachers and Parents as Partners (TAPP). TAPP has been proven to be effective in rural Nebraska schools by improving student behavior, increasing positive parenting, and fostering positive parent-teacher relationships. Participants will receive background information on evidence-based family-school partnership foundations, conditions necessary for establishing effective family-school partnerships and details on the technical features of TAPP including strategies for building and strengthening school mental health providers’ relationship-building skills. Learning Objectives:1. This session will help participants enhance family-school partnerships in the their school. 2. This session will provide participants with practical tools to implement TAPP. 3. This session will describe how school specialists can integrate TAPP into their daily practice. Presented by Kristen Derr; Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families & Schools - UNL

Go for Gold: Join a Partnership to Grow Future Principals from within Through a Large Federal Grant Opportunity

This session will describe the Growth Oriented Leadership Development (GOLD) program and share how schools/districts can be involved. The program is a collaboration between UNL EDAD, NCSA, ESUs, NRCSA, and NDE, aimed at developing new principals from within and supporting existing principals through on-site, small group coaching, large group professional development focused on current building/district goals. Presented by Dr. Scott Sturgeon, Dr. Don Johnson, Dr. Jiangang Xia, & Dr. Nick Pace;  University of Nebraska-Lincoln

High Energy Cappuccino & Fresh Produce Winter Market

This session will discuss student businesses being operated at Banner County & Plainview Public Schools.

High Energy Cappuccino, a student led business, shares their story from the beginning to today. Listen to how this successful business incorporates Business and FCS standards to create an experience that motivates and enriches student learning.

The Plainview Horticulture class and Plainview FFA chapter have began raising fresh produce in their school green house. To distribute the produce they have set up a weekly market led by students. This presentation will consist of how these students set up the market, and produce their product, to marketing strategies, and future goals. Presented by Banner County Public Schools & Plainview Public Schools

Hot Topics in School Law

Oh baby, have the courts, agencies, and Unicameral ever been busy! We'll cover the biggest issues you are (or will be) facing right now as board members and administrators. Presented by KSB School Law

Hot Topics on Personnel Issues: Bonuses, Professional Boundaries, Gender Pronouns, and More

New trends aren’t limited to students.  Rather, staff can cause some of the biggest headaches in a school district. This session will explore trending topics and address “best practices” for handling them. Presented by Perry Law Firm

Hot Topics on Student Issues: Student Discipline, First Amendment, Furries, and More

Every year, students present new and different legal challenges to schools in Nebraska. This session will cover what to expect this year and next year based on recent case updates and real-world, Nebraska examples. Presented by Perry Law Firm

Jobs for America’s Graduates.  Empowering Students

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG Nebraska) is dedicated to empowering students with the personal and professional development skills and support to achieve success in high school graduation, further-education and employment following high school graduation. JAG Nebraska programming is provided as in-school, for-credit class electives during the school day. Classes integrate project-based learning and employer engagement through hands-on, realistic learning experiences where students master up to 87 competencies translatable to the workforce. JAG also provides leadership development experiences through extracurricular activities which include student-led planning and engagement for public service and social awareness projects and activities in addition to participation in State and National JAG conferences throughout the school year. As a result of JAG Nebraska, students become equipped to contribute to the local community through attainment of meaningful employment and active civic engagement skills. Presented by Shauna Paolini, Kate Tomaszkiewicz, Scott Siegal, & David Patton; United Way & Auburn Public Schools

NRCSA General Members Meeting

This session will comprise the General Members Meeting for NRCSA. Nominations for leadership positions and an update on NRCSA services and programs will be presented. Presented by Jack Moles & Dr. Dawn Lewis; Executive Director & President, NRCSA

NRCSA Legislative Update

In this session Executive Director Jack Moles will provide an update on the current legislative activity and NRCSA’s participation within the process, including the efforts of Nebraska United for Property Tax Relief and Education. Topics covered will also include school finance activity, property tax relief measures, the efforts of other education related groups, federal legislation, and more. Presented by Jack Moles & Russ Westerhold; Executive Director, NRCSA & NRCSA Lobbyist

NSAA Legal and Practical Update

Jennifer and Bobby will provide an update to board members and administrators around legal issues affecting your activity programs, including eligibility, NIL, transgender students, and more. Presented by Jennifer Schwartz & Bobby Truhe; NSAA & KSB School Law

Overcoming MTSS Challenges in a Small District

Travel the MTSS path with Ainsworth Community Schools as the district navigates over the obstacles of the implementation process. Discover their challenges and the changes made to establish a culture of coordinated school-wide practices. Presented by Steven Dike, Kelli Gibson, & Misty Wroblewski; Ainsworth Community Schools

Rural School Success: Taking your Rural School and the Community/Communities it Serves to the Next Level through Research, Collaboration, and Planning

Of the current 244 school districts in NE, 79 of those districts, 32% of total districts have an enrollment size of 256 or less. Of those districts, 46 schools are under 200 in enrollment; that’s almost 19% of ALL Nebraska schools with a total enrollment under 200 students. Are you a school district with an enrollment of 256 or less?  Are you approaching such enrollment in the next 5-10 years? Join this session to learn about each of the following (research, collaboration, and planning) in order to determine how you can positively impact your rural school and community.  Presented by Dr. Sadie Coffey; Milford Public Schools

School Finance 101

This session will discuss the basics of school finance. The major factors of the formula (various adjustments and allowances, comparison arrays, etc) will be discussed and explained.  This session will also cover the eleven different funds used by schools. Presented by Kevin Lyons; Nebraska Department of Education

School Finance Update

This session will provide information on all relevant current school finance happenings including; Legislative work addressing issues related to the state aid formula, aid certification, etc.  We will also be covering ESSER updates and possibly adding in a bad joke or two! Presented by Bryce Wilson;  Nebrasksa Department of Education

Services for NRCSA Boards

Attention NRCSA Board Members: NRCSA has some helpful services for our Boards and we invite you to this session to learn all about them. It starts with NRCSA Planning Services – a two-evening event to help your Board with goal-setting and long-range planning. The focus is on developing goals and planning implementation strategies to meet those goals. NRCSA Consultants will walk you through our planning process and explain how this service can help your Board excel. Then, NRCSA Consultants will outline the work of the NRCSA Superintendent Search Service. Now in its seventh year, NRCSA’s service has helped Boards hire quality Superintendents in 40 districts. Our proven, Board-directed process involves faculty, staff, and community members in selecting a school leader who truly fits your rural community district. Don’t miss this session on NRCSA’s services to our Boards. Presented by NRCSA Consultants

So What Makes a Good Board Member

Rural school districts across the state are blessed with many good, effective Board of Education members.  In this panel discussion, veteran Board members will share a little bit about their ideas on being an effective Board member. Presented by Jack Moles & panelists; NRCSA

Superintendent Evaluation and Issues for Board Members

Every year, school boards are required to evaluate their superintendent at least once. This session will walk through common (and unique) superintendent evaluation legal issues. Presented by Perry Law Firm

The Tiger Den & Small Town Kettle Company

In this session, we will share how East Butler and Silver Lake students learned some entrepreneurial skills while opening up school-based businesses. The Tiger Den and the Small Town Kettle Company.

The Tiger Den produces items such as shirts tumblers, and coasters among many other things. The Small Town Kettle Company produces kettle corn products that are local and fresh. Students from both schools will explain how they have learned about marketing, graphics, finance, and production. as well as the tools they use. All while learning valuable customer service skills. Presented by East Butler Public Schools & Silver Lake Public Schools

Using Existing Investments to Simplify Work-based Learning for Students and Professional Development for Teachers in your District

In this workshop you will learn proven practices for doing more with less in your district through industry partnerships that utilize your facilities capabilities and investments to simplify real-world learning for students and uplift professional development for your staff. Join us to learn more about:• How students can experience real, hands-on learning to earn Industry Recognized Certifications (IRCs) using your building as the work-based tool • Complementary, state-aligned programming that complements current curriculum and simplifies staff demands • Leveraging investments that you’re already making to do more with less and work with the tools you already have in place • How to elevate and recognize student success with the community, media, parents, and the Board of Education. Presented by Dan Whisler, Jonathan Hoesch, & Mariah Presley; Trane

Using Video Scenarios as a Leadership Development & Hiring Tool

In this session, you’ll learn how future and practicing principals can strengthen their practice using The Principal’s Hot Seat: Observing Real-World Dilemmas. The book contains 19 challenging scenarios common to the principalship, including video footage of authentic role play scenarios. You’ll also learn how the Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools utilized the tool in the screening process for administrative job candidates. Presented by Dr. Shavonna Holman, Brad Jacobsen, & Dr. Nick Pace; University of Nebraska-Lincoln & Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools

Wellness 4ALL Mental Health Program

In this session, attendees will learn about Educational Service Unit 5 Wellness 4ALL mental health program, and the partnership and impacts it has had for the Seward County school students, educators, families and communities. Presented by Dr. Josh Fields, Seth Ford, Jen McNally, & Kevin Wingard; Seward Public Schools, Centennial Public Schools; Educational Service Unit 5, & Milford Public Schools

So What Makes a Good Board Member

Rural school districts across the state are blessed with many good, effective Board of Education members.  In this panel discussion, veteran Board members will share a little bit about their ideas on being an effective Board member. Presented by Jack Moles & panelists; Executive Director, NRCSA

Conference Schedule

**Schedule is tentative and subject to change**

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

2:00 PM—4:00 PM   Executive Committee Meeting—Bronze 5

6:30 PM—9:00 PM   Exhibitor Check-In & Setup—Gold 4,5,6,10,11,12

7:00 PM —9:00 PM  Attendee Registration—Registration 1

7:00 PM                     Hospitality Rooms


Thursday, March 23, 2023

7:15 AM                     Attendee Registration—Registration 1

                                    Coffee and Rolls—Gold 4,5,6,10,11,12

8:30 AM                     General Session—Silver 4,5,6,10,11,12

            Presiding: Dr. Dawn Lewis, NRCSA President, Supt, Arlington Public Schools

            8:30 AM – 9:00 AM Musical Welcome:  Minden Public Schools

            9:05 AM – 9:25 AM Scholarships and Awards: 

NRCSA Scholarship & Gary Fisher Fine Arts Announcements

9:30 AM – 9:40 AM Introduction and remarks by NREA Executive Director Allen Pratt

9:40 AM – 10:30 AM Keynote Address: Sam Stetcher & Mark Johnson                                                                                   

10:20 AM—11:00 AM          Exhibitor Time

11:00 AM—11:50 AM          Thursday Morning Select-a-Sessions

12:00 PM                   Lunch General Session— Silver 4,5,6,10,11,12

            Presiding: Ginger Meyer, NRCSA Past President, Supt, Chadron Public Schools

            12:35 PM – 12:55 PM Keynote Address: Commissioner of Education

            1:00 PM – 1:40 PM Scholarships and Awards:

Outstanding Elementary Teacher

Outstanding Secondary Teacher

Gary Fisher Outstanding Music Teacher

Outstanding ESU Staff Member

1:45 PM—2:20 PM   Exhibitor Time

2:20 PM—3:10 PM   Thursday Afternoon Select-a-Sessions

3:10 PM—3:35 PM               Exhibitor Time

3:35 PM—4:25 PM   Thursday Afternoon Select-a-Sessions

6:00 PM                     Chuckwagon Buffet— Silver 4,5,6,10,11,12

7:00 PM                     Hospitality Rooms


Friday, March 24, 2023

7:15 AM                     Attendee Registration—Registration 1

                                    Coffee and Rolls—Registration 1

8:00 AM—8:50 AM  Friday Select-a-Session I

9:00 AM—9:50 AM  Friday Select-a-Session II

10:00 AM—10:45 AM          Brunch Buffet—Silver 4,5,6,10,11,12

10:30: - 11:00 AM                 Musical Welcome: Gothenburg Public Schools

10:50 AM                   Closing Session— Silver 4,5,6,10,11,12

            Presiding: Mark Lenihan, NRCSA President-Elect, Supt, Wayne Community Schools

            11:00 AM – 11:45 AM Scholarships and Awards: 

Outstanding Classified Staff Member

Outstanding Board Member

Outstanding Principal

Outstanding Superintendent

            11:50- AM – 12:45 PM Keynote Address: V.J. Smith

12:50 PM                   Thank Yous, Prizes, & Drawings