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Educational Service Unit #13

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Past Leadership Laid the Foundation for Current Services at ESU 13

The following is ESU13 Administrator Dr. Jeff West's monthly media article..............

As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary, I want to reflect back on past leadership and their influence on ESU 13 and the services we offer to our 21 member school districts today.

During our first year of existence in 1967, the ESU 13 Board hired our first administrator, Dr. Udell Hughes. The first year was more organizational than operational in nature; and, since the ESU concept was new to Nebraska, a considerable amount of time was spent simply educating everyone involved.  A needs assessment was conducted to identify the programs and services to be offered that would meet the needs of students and teachers in 22 Class I, II, and III school districts in the ESU 13 two-county service area (Scotts Bluff and Banner Counties).

During Dr. Hughes tenure, ESU 13 offered direct services in the areas of speech/language/hearing therapy, remedial reading, bilingual education, diagnosis/consultation, media distribution, instructional television and in-service education.  ESU 13 added a center-based program for handicapped children named Meridian in 1970, and in 1986 added a teacher center, SOAR, to meet standards of professional and curriculum development.  ESU 13 also became a member of the statewide cooperative purchasing program.

Dr. West presenting Udell Hughes a plaque thanking him for his service to ESU13.

In 1987, the ESU 13 Board hired Dr. Creda Thompson as our second administrator.  During her tenure, ESU 13 added preschool services as a result of LB 701-Early Intervention Act, special education supervision and coordination to provide teacher support, and Internet services as a result of LB 452 to provide telecomputing resources and training in the Panhandle. ESU 13 also worked cooperatively with the Nebraska Department of Education to provide services of an HIV/AIDS Health Consultant and continued to oversee several activities funded by state and federal grants (Carl Perkins, Drug-Free Schools, Artist-in-Residence).

In July of 1996, the ESU 13 Board hired Mr. Terry Miller as our third administrator.  It was at this time that ESU 13 took on a very different look as a result of mergers with ESU 12 in Alliance in 1998 and ESU 14 in Sidney in 2005.  ESU 13 grew from serving 7,400 students in a two-county area to serving 14,500 students in an eleven-county area (the Panhandle of Nebraska) covering over 15,000 square miles.  During Mr. Miller’s tenure, ESU 13 added an alternative high school (VALTS); secured funding for a distance learning consortium and director; and added educators for the deaf and hard of hearing, autism spectrum disorder coordinator, a transition specialist, physical and occupational therapists, and two school nurses.

Dr. West presenting Terry Miller with a plaque thanking him for his service to ESU13.

 ESU 13 entered into a lease/purchase agreement to construct a 7,400 square foot addition to the existing facilities to house meeting rooms, a distance learning lab, a computer training lab, and a reception area consisting of a resource library, a kitchen with serving areas and restrooms.

In 2009, the Harms Advanced Technology Center was built through an interlocal agreement with Western Nebraska Community College to construct a 10,500 square foot addition under the Public Facilities Construction and Finance Act.  The ESU 13 Technology Center houses the VALTS alternative school, a virtual, online school (NEVA), transition services (LifeLink-Nebraska), professional development meeting rooms and offices.

As you can see, the visionary leadership of the three former administrators at ESU 13 has accomplished much.  The current ESU 13 staff as well as our 21 member school districts owes a great deal of gratitude to Dr. Hughes, Dr. Thompson and Mr. Miller as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary.  As the current administrator of ESU 13, I will always be indebted to these three leaders for what they put in place enabling our important service to continue for the educators and students of the Panhandle. While the needs of our schools continue to change, and because of those changing needs, our programs and services also evolve and change, we do so always moving forward living our mission of “striving to achieve educational excellence for all learners through strong partnerships, service and leadership” for the next 50 years and beyond.

Current ESU13 Administrator Jeff West and past ESU13 Administrators Terry Miller and Udell Hughes.