Learning Lunch highlights efforts to recruit, retain talent in LPS

Lincoln Public Schools is filled with thousands of talented staff and educators - so what does it take to recruit and retain these employees who are so vital to the education of our children?

That was the topic of the Dec. 11 LPS Learning Lunch, "Recruitment and Retention of Talent in LPS," presented by Eric Weber, LPS associate superintendent for human resources.

Recent numbers illustrate the size of the challenge. LPS hired 446 new teachers prior to this school year and 2,020 during the last five years. Also this year, LPS hired 70 new employees in leadership positions, such as principals, associate principals and supervisors.

“Anywhere between 85 to 95 percent of our budget at any given point has something to do with people, so people are our greatest asset,” Weber said. “Our investment in people is very important, in terms of getting the very best and keeping the very best.”

Weber highlighted the multiple strategies and initiatives in place to recruit and retain the very best to LPS. All of this work is guided by the LPS Strategic Plan for 2017-2022, approved by the Lincoln Board of Education.

One of the pillars of this five-year plan is “Support for Educators,” which includes the following goal: "Research and implement strategies to recruit, hire, develop, support and retain the highest quality and diverse staff." Within that goal are four action steps, which Weber touched upon during his presentation with examples of the work being done:

  • Recruit a staff reflective of student diversity. LPS has increased its number of diverse hires in recent years, thanks to enhanced efforts to identify potential employees as early as high school through The Career Academy and, once they are hired, making them feel comfortable in their new positions through events such as the Multicultural Dinner Reception.
  • Expand leadership development and continuity planning. Leadership LPS, now in its second year, is a rigorous, 18-month program for employees who aspire to be principals. It’s highly selective, with about 18 employees chosen annually. It falls under the “grown your own” philosophy that creates a pipeline of future leaders.
  • Review and enhance mentor program for new educators and teachers in new environments. Newly hired teachers now benefit from an assigned mentor for their first three years on the job; a Google+ site where they can interact with fellow new teachers and other LPS departments; an expansive mentoring handbook; and observation times when they learn from “master teachers.”
  • Review and enhance support systems for educators. LPS has now turned its attention to this final action step, with plans in the works for the upcoming year.

With all of these efforts to recruit and retain talent, Weber said, it’s always important to remember the purpose behind it all.

“The work we do is for them,” Weber said, pointing to a photo of students on the screen behind him.

LPS Learning Lunches are open to LPS staff and the Lincoln community. Learning Lunches are held in the boardroom at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. Doors open at 11:45 a.m., the program begins at noon, followed by questions-and-answers at 12:30 p.m. Please bring your own lunch – we’ll provide dessert.

The rest of the 2018-19 season:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 15: “VOICE at LPS: Readiness for Resumes, Rent and Recreation,” Tonya Jolley, coordinator of VOICE (Vocational Opportunity in Community Experience).
  • Tuesday, Feb. 26: “Budget Development in LPS,” Liz Standish, associate superintendent for business affairs at LPS.
  • Tuesday, March 19: “Twenty-five years of student-built houses,” Bob Freese, Lincoln Northeast High School teacher.
  • Tuesday, April 16: “LPS Student Debate,” Mindy Murphy, LPS curriculum specialist for English language arts for secondary education.
  • Tuesday, May 14: “Aprenda mientras toma su almuerzo con los Mariachis de las Ciudad Estrella!” (Learn while you have your lunch with The Star City Mariachi Ensemble), Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for music at LPS.

Published: December 11, 2018, Updated: January 3, 2019

"...People are our greatest asset. Our investment in people is very important, in terms of getting the very best and keeping the very best."

Eric Weber, LPS associate superintendent for human resources