Educational Service Unit 13
« August 2015 »
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat


Chadron Site
Crites Hall
Chadron State College
Chadron, NE 69337
Phone: (308) 432-6495
Scottsbluff Site
4215 Avenue I
Scottsbluff, NE 69361
Phone: (308) 635-3696
FAX: (308) 635-0680
Office Hours: 7:30-4:30

Sidney Site
1114 Toledo Street
Sidney, NE 69162
Phone: (308) 254-4677
FAX: (308) 254-5371

Office Hours: 7:30-4:30
Educational Service Unit #13...
Striving to achieve educational excellence for all learners
through strong partnerships, service, and leadership.

Click here to learn more about ESU 13
Click Event for Details

Mexican Teachers Helping ESU13 Summer Migrant Programs
Two Mexican teachers are working in the Panhandle, teaching students, learning about Nebraska and making friends.
The Binational Teacher Exchange Program in Nebraska has brought 13 teachers to Nebraska this year to teach at various Migrant Education Program sites. Nebraska is one of 13 states that participates each year.
Marissa Ibarra Trejo and Luis Cárdenas Gámez have been experiencing Nebraska since May 14, teaching in several school districts and seeing the sights on the weekends.
You can read the full article in the Scottsbluff Star Herald.

According to ESU13 Migrant Director Kiowa Rogers students in the migrant programs are getting a wide variety of experiences.

In the pictures above you'll see students making guacamole at Bayard Elementary, singing "La Bamba at Gordon - Rushville Middle School, working with polymers at our North Platte Summer Science Camp, taking a virtual field trip at Gordon Elementary, and middle school student leader assisting at Roosevelt.
The ESU 13 Migrant Education Program currently has six summer programs for our students: Lincoln Elementary in Gering, Bayard Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary in Scottsbluff,  Student Leadership/work experience as a bi-national teacher assistant for Bluffs Middle School students,  North Platte, and Gordon - Rushville.

Busy Spring for ESU13 Meridian School
The ESU13 Meridian School Adopt-A-School partner, the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center truly made an impact on this program this past year with many wonderful activities. One activity that involved many different partnerships was building a number of planting boxes for the Meridian playground. Materials were donated by Aulick's TLC, Carr-Trumbull Lumber and UNL.

Also in May, to recognize and remember Raul Garcia, a Meridian student who passed away during the school year, Amy Seiler from the Nebraska Forest Service, planted a memorial tree in the ESU13 landscape.

Raul's parents, along with Meridian staff and students were on hand to assist in the planting. A special marker has been placed at the base of the tree.

Penny Businga Retires
After 29 years of serving teachers in the community, Penny Businga plans to retire from her career at Educational Services Unit #13 in Scottsbluff.

In the late 1980s, there was a movement by teachers to be treated more like professionals. This started because teachers couldn’t get what they needed in order to do their best at their jobs with the resources they had. At that time it was called Teacher Centers. Today, there is a lot of research and new support. Businga said she is always looking for new strategies and programs going in the schools they serve.
“Lots of teachers were complaining that they wanted to learn something, but you would find out training went on somewhere, but you didn’t know about it,” she said. “We said ‘how can we get a coordinating agency’ and ESU said ‘we would help you investigate’ and we kind of invented this job.”
In 1986, her career was born as the director of professional learning at ESU #13. On a daily basis, Businga works with six other employees and a few other departments that deal with staff development. They cover 21 districts and 15,000 square miles.
“It’s a long time and it felt like yesterday. It goes very, very fast,” she said.
Before she served ESU #13, Businga taught in Scottsbluff Public Schools for seven years at a variety of teaching grade levels. She spent most of her time in Title I, teaching remedial reading and math.
“That probably did give me my initial interest in this job with my English as a Second Language kids,” she said. “Because 20 some years ago, we didn’t have a lot of support for those kids and now we know they can learn a lot faster if we actually provide good teaching.”
ESU #13 Administrator Jeff West said there is a lot he could say about Businga and the significant contributions she has made to the schools and children in Western Nebraska and across the state.
“Penny has been with ESU 13 since its beginnings as a Teacher Center,” he said. “She helped put in place the very foundations that have made this organization such a success. ESU #13 has enjoyed the impact her influence has had in our region and the state. While we will miss her, our staff and member schools continue to benefit from her legacy of lifelong learning.”
Businga plans to retire in June to spend time with her grandchild and also wants to give back to the community that has served her well in her career.
“I figure I owe all those groups (student events and community partnerships) back after all these years, of saying you need to volunteer to help,” she said. “I’ll probably have to help volunteer.”
Businga felt the best part of her job has been the constant effort to make things better and witnessing all of the change that has happened in her time on the job.
This includes bringing in new ideas that have been experimented on by others, but have been successful in those trials.
“Our schools are traditional and they want to know this is worth doing before jumping over a cliff,” she said. “We’ve been able to bring in national presenters all the time. That means even though we are isolated in the Midwest, I think our schools get to know about all the best things that are going on in education all the time and that’s pretty cool.”
Not only has serving her community been fun for Businga, she has also enjoyed traveling overseas for international school improvement in Germany, Italy, Portugal and other countries.
“What a gift,” she said. “Schools are schools. They’re similar to ours. To see it in a different context, those all were department of defense schools, but to see what’s going on with those kids and how hard they’re working, it was just a benefit to travel and see people all over.”
In the future, Businga plans to visit schools and become more active in the community. Over the years, she has enjoyed seeing teachers expand their teaching skills and attend her annual workshops.
“It’s not the worst teacher who comes to workshops, it’s the best,” she said. “We get to know all the best teachers, administrators and I think that is just delightful to see them grow. I think that will be hard to hear a school bell and not be part of that.”
Jadie Beam will be taking over as Director of Professional Learning for the 2015-2016 school year.  Here is her contact information: or call 635-0661.
VALTS Graduation
On May 13th, the ESU13 Valley Alternative Learning Transitioning School (VALTS) had one of it largest graduating classes in history with 16 young people completing their high school education.

VALTS is a consortium of 9 area school districts that has graduated over 500 young people since it started back in the late 90s.

The VALTS program is run thru ESU13 and operates at the Harms Technology Center in Scottsbluff.

LifeLink Graduation 2015
Congratulations to the 2015 LifeLink Graduates-WNCC

We are very proud of your accomplishments!
Unpacking New ELA Standards
Panhandle English Language Arts teachers and administrators, examined the new ELA standards on Monday, May 4 with ESU 13 Staff developers. The focus was for district teams to become familiar with the changes and also to use technology to be able to prioritize and determine a district vision for teaching and learning.

Google applications and Excel spreadsheets allow easy customization for district teams.

Alliance, Crawford, Creek Valley, Garden County, Gering, Gordon-Rushville, Kimball, Minatare, Mitchell, Scottsbluff, Sidney teams discuss changes and updates in the newly adopted English Language Arts standards.
Educational Service Unit #13 Awarded $2.8 M Head Start Grant
Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Kimball, Garden, Cheyenne and Deuel counties will be administered through Educational Service Unit #13.  On April 8, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) officially notified ESU #13 of its successful application for the $2.8 million program. The award includes Head Start and Early Head Start services to nearly 350 children annually in the counties.
“Head Start and Early Head Start programs have been important to children and families in the Panhandle for many years,” said Dr. Jeff West. “ESU #13 is pleased to be able to fill the important role of working with parents and schools in maintaining this resource.”
In September 2014, a funding opportunity announcement was posted by ACF.  In early November, Head Start Partners, including the schools in Bayard, Minatare, Scottsbluff, Morrill and Mitchell and Volunteers of America along with the Panhandle Public Health District and Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska unanimously agreed to request that ESU 13 apply for the grant.  The group then worked quickly to hire a grant writer and submit an application by mid-November.
“We anticipate continuing an employment relationship with many of the current staff,” Dr. West stated.  “These people have a long term commitment to Head Start, and important relationships with parents and children.”
“The success of the ESU $#13 application was clearly due to the collaborative efforts of so many in this region.” stated Dr. Jeff West, Administrator. “The collaboration continues as Sarah Ochoa, former Head Start Director at CAPWN has agreed to consult with us as we transition this program,” West concluded.
“I am pleased to be able to work with the ESU to help launch this new phase of Head Start,” said Ochoa. “To me the most important part is the impact we can all have on the lives of children and families. The partners in the Panhandle continue to demonstrate that same commitment” 
Youth First Conference 2015
On April 1, 2015, ESU # 13 proudly sponsored the 8th annual Youth First Conference Western Region.  306 participants attended from 18 member school districts.  The day provided Loads of Learning and Fun!
Keynote Speakers for the Event were LEAD students from Cheyenne Mountain High School.  This nationally recognized group speaks across the nation, educating others about the academic, emotional, and social challenges involved in having a learning disability and/or ADHD.

Another Conference Highlight was Ashley DeRamus, from Hoover, Alabama.   She is a fashion designer, model, singer, entrepreneur and national speaker, having spoken before the United Nations.  She has been named one of six outstanding young entrepreneurs in America and will travel to India this summer to receive her award.  She shared her story, her fashions, and her beauty tips.

Students chose from 30 break-out sessions following a brunch in the WNCC cafeteria.
For all the conference details, visit our blog at:
ESU13 hosts Regional Science Fair
For the first time, ESU 13 held the NJAS Regional Science Fair for the Panhandle area.  Top winners from local school districts were able to compete for an opportunity to attend the NJAS State Science Fair in Lincoln on April 17. Garden County, Leyton and Mitchell  participated with a variety of projects from a Hover Craft to Controlling Whiteflies. The finalists who will be going to the State Science Fair are
Senior High Finalists
Peyton Stanczyk, Garden County
Middle School Finalists
Caden Knutson, Mitchell Elementary
Josh Kruse, Leyton Junior High
Danielle Higgins, Leyton Junior High
Meg Huson, Leyton Junior High
Kara Barnhart, Garden County Junior High

Judge Katie Juarez, ESU 13 VALTS instructor takes a ride on a Hover Craft built by Mitchell students Eric Wilson and Ashtyn Martin.

Mitchell Elementary Student Keegan Weiss proudly displays his car engine investigation.

Peyton Stanczyk from Garden County  will be attending the State Science Fair Senior Division with his study on Controlling Whiteflies.

Meg Huson from Leyton Junior High shows off her project and Finalist certificate that enables her to compete at the State Science Fair in April.

Caden Knutson, Mitchell Elementary constructed a steam powered craft and investigated the optimal way to move it with candle power. He will also attend the State Science Fair.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument reaches students through Distance Learning!
This past year ESU13 and its member schools were awarded a $500,000 to upgrade from the USDA to upgrade its distance learning classrooms. Part of the project was also a new partnerships with the two national monuments in our service area.....Scotts Bluff and Agate Fossil Beds. They are now equipped with state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment to provide virtual field trips to schools anywhere. Agate has already made connections with schools in Pennsylvania and recently sent out the following press release highlighting their new programs.
Thanks to a cooperative effort between Nebraska State Educational Service Unit 13 (ESU), which encompasses the Nebraska Panhandle, and the Oregon Trail Museum Association (OTMA), park rangers at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument are able to provide educational programs near and far with the addition of a new video conferencing system.  Distance Learning is the name given to programs initiated at one location, and presented to a distant location via the Internet using a video conferencing system. 
ESU-13’s Technology Director BJ Peters was instrumental in obtaining this equipment.  Peters, with OTMA, applied for a grant that aims to improve distance learning in the rural areas in the 21 school districts in the Nebraska Panhandle.  Agate Fossil Beds National Monument will use this system to bring educational programs to Panhandle students and beyond.  OTMA’s Business Manager Jolene Kaufman was happy to assist.  “OTMA’s focus has been to provide educational interpretation at both Agate Fossil Beds & Scotts Bluff National Monuments since 1956” said Kaufman.

In late Fall of 2014 Peters delivered $10,000 video conferencing systems to both Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and Scotts Bluff National Monument.  Staff at Agate Fossil Beds spent the next month developing programs and getting used to using the equipment.  “Agate Fossil Beds is a unique National Park Service unit because it is not only a spectacular internationally significant paleontology site, but also relates cultural themes through the remarkable gifts of friendship between the Lakota chief Red Cloud and the rancher James Cook,” said Acting Superintendent AJ Legault.  “To be able to present our educational programs to schools across the country is a treasured opportunity”. 
Last Thursday Rangers Lil Mansfield and Maryann Neubert used this equipment to make presentations to two classes of third graders in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania without leaving park headquarters in Harrison, Nebraska.  The school had asked for a program about the American Indian artifacts in the Cook Collection; during each 45 minute session, the rangers showed many authentic items, demonstrated how some of them were made, and answered students’ questions.  In spite of the two thousand mile distance, the rangers were able to interact live with the children, ask questions, and educate them about park resources and ethnographic concepts.  One of the best parts: it was absolutely FREE!

As transportation costs have risen, schools have had to severely limit student field trips.  Although parks are willing to send rangers to schools, they are unlikely to travel great distances to offer educational programs.  Distance Learning allows park rangers to provide multiple programs in classrooms in many locations each day--without leaving the park.  Furthermore, this technology allows rangers to show exhibit items that are too fragile or unique to be removed from the park museum.
Now, many schools and other community organizations in Nebraska and across the country are using this distance learning technology to connect their students with opportunities and concepts that have been previously impossible to experience due to budget, time, distance, weather or other factors that prevent a physical visit to a park.  Agate Fossil Beds National Monument has joined a growing number of National Park Service units across the country offering this educational service.
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located just 22 miles south of Harrison, or 34 miles north of Mitchell, Nebraska, on State Highway 29, then east on River Road for three miles to the visitor center. The visitor center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The park’s two trails are open from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.  For more information, go to or visit Agate Fossil Beds on Facebook.

Site Map | Privacy Policy | View "printer-friendly" page | Login   In Japanese  In Korean  En français  Auf Deutsch  In italiano   No português  En español  In Russian  
Site powered by © 2015 - Educational website content management