Category Archives: Lusero Blog

Summer Suggestions




It is hard to believe that the last bell will ring soon and summer fun will commence!  The EY team will continue to provide a variety of learning experiences through our blog to keep those summer minds sharp!  We also wanted to pass along other opportunities available outside of our team and/or district.  We hope that these resources provide a starting point for your search into further enrichment opportunities.  Please note that these are suggested resources and are not endorsed or extensively researched by the Westside EY team.

TenMarks Online Math Summer Program                                                                                                  As you know, students lose an average of 2-3 months of math comprehension
over summer break. TenMarks offers a Free Summer Program that is proven to
reverse the loss.  Students that participated in the program last year not
only reversed their learning loss, they showed an 11% gain in math
This summer, TenMarks is making the Summer Math Program available to your
students for FREE! (previously $39.95/student)
Register at

Nebraska Association for the Gifted website list                                                                                         This list has various opportunities around the metro area and state.  Please be sure to contact the sponsor for availability and further information.                                                       

Metropolitan Community College – College for Kids and Teens

Arts For All is a nonprofit arts education organization dedicated to making the arts available and affordable for all ages throughout Metro Omaha. In 2013, over 1,500 students participated in Arts For All’s quality culturally-enriched programming.

Summer Kid’s Music Clinic 2015                                                                                                Sponsored By The Papillion LaVista Community Theatre  Contact MONIKA PETERS AT  for more information.

Camp Wonderopolis (online)                                                                                                                                 Camp Wonderopolis is headed to new frontiers this year with a theme of Mission to Wonder. Camp will enable programs, families, and individuals to customize their experience to their needs while campers explore different tracks of STEM-based exploration. Along the way they will build their vocabulary, background knowledge, and literacy skills

Leap Ahead in Math This Summer!  (online)                                                                                                    Research shows that students who are not exposed to stimulating, educational activities over the summer months easily lose a couple of month’s worth of math skills.  Instead of losing skills, sharpen skills and leap ahead in math this summer with LeapAhead!.          


Highlights from BOTB 2015

bookworm_red  Recipe for Sharing Your Love of Reading & Writing
  • 20 Books
  • Over 150 Authentic Book Projects
  • 3 Authors
  • 1 Playwright
  • A Dash of Competition
  • A Little Free Library
  • A Sprinkling of our Favorite Neighborhood Bookstore

Yields:  120 students receiving a message of inspiration, perseverance, and hope!


Battle of the Books took a different spin this year at Westside Community Schools.  The morning started off with kids arriving and putting their book projects on display.  For each book read, students chose one project to complete.  There were 3-5 project choices for each book ranging from dioramas, to writing a letter to the author, to doing further research on a topic in the book.

Drew, 4th grader at Swanson said:  I loved doing the Battle Of The Books activities, and reading the books! Most of the books were amazing! :)

Check out some of the student projects submitted!

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Next, Omaha Playwright (and Westside graduate, parent and community member) Ellen Struve talked about her profession and love of reading & writing.  Not only did she talk about her personal journey to becoming a playwright, but Ms. Struve also involved the students in creating their very own play!  Throughout her presentation, Ellen embedded information about characters, dialogue, conflict, scene, and setting.  Based on the engagement level and questions asked by kids, there will most likely be additional play writers emerging from Westside in the future!

We found 3 BOTB authors on Twitter and they graciously agreed to Skype with our students!  Katherine Fitzmaurice, author of A Diamond in the Desert was up first.  She emphasized all the research that went into writing the book and even showed us pictures of the real characters.  She also showed students a pile of rejection letters and the numerous changes suggested by her editor.  Her advice for students wanting to write a book:  “You have to really like what you’re writing about.  Believe in yourself and like your story!”  

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Our next Skype call was with Valerie Hobbs, author of Sheep.  Many students chose to write Ms. Hobbs a letter for their book project and she graciously wrote letters back to all of them!  Talk about making a personal connection!  Several students read Sheep and fell in love with Jack, the border collie who tells the story.

Many students were excited when Ms. Hobbs shared information about the newly released sequel to Sheep.  At the end of Sheep, Jack finds Luke at the Good Shepherd Home for Boys.  Together, they are adopted by a couple and the sequel Wolf continues Luke and Jack’s story at their new home, a sheep ranch in Northern California.  Ms. Hobbs’ writing advice for the students: “Do a whole lot of reading of the type of book you’d like to write.”


Our final Skype call was with W.H. Beck, author of Malcolm at Midnight.  In addition to being an author, Ms. Beck is a school librarian.  Her advice for students was, “Make sure to set aside time each day to write.  You can make a list, write a short story, or just write down your random thoughts.”

Click Here for a Portion of our Skype Call With W.H. Beck



We didn’t forget the competition portion of Battle of the Books.  Students worked in teams to answer questions about all 20 books.  They used their iPads and participated in a Kahoot! created by Mrs. Lusero.  Students also took an individual test on a Google form.

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At the end of the day, Marla Fries shared her love of reading by telling the students about her Little Free Library.  Marla is a WCS community member, retired administrator, and volunteer at Westgate Elementary.

After the event, one student was so inspired that she wanted to build her own Little Free Library!  Check out Ava’s work!

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Ellen Scott from our neighborhood bookstore, The Bookworm, also shared her personal story and love of reading with the students.  She presented the kids with an opportunity to be on The Bookworm’s Kid Advisory Board.  We are so fortunate to have a family-owned bookstore in our Westside community!

Friday, March 13th was truly a wonderful day to celebrate many accomplishments!  To all the students who participated, Thank You for all your hard word and willingness to try something new.  The EY Team learned a lot throughout the process and we look forward to hearing your feedback!

If you attended Battle of the Books this year, please consider leaving a comment and letting us know your favorite part!  Also, click here for a quick survey about the day.

Science Olympiad Recap

Question: What do you get when you gather 110 students interested in science and allow them to think creatively, problem solve, experiment and collaborate?
Answer: Learning at its best!

The 2nd Annual WCS Elementary Science Olympiad was a huge success!  Throughout the day, students participated in a variety of events that challenged their thinking.

The Zoo School facilitated a Wildlife Safari event where students practiced their observation and inference skills.  The Barge Building event challenged students to create a foil structure that would float in water and support the most pennies.  Mystery Powders had students identifying substances based on their reactions to different liquids.  Other events included Rock Hound, Straw Tower, Mystery Boxes and Edible Vehicle.

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It was a great day thanks to the organization of Sheree Person-Pandil and John Thomsen from ESU #3.  We also had 9 amazing WHS students who shared their love of science by helping out at each event and facilitating a Science Bowl.


It’s so great to offer these types of opportunities to our students.  Seeing the level of engagement and enthusiasm from the students is what makes our job so rewarding!  Thank you to everyone involved in making this day a success!  Click on the link below to watch a short iMovie trailer of the day.

Click Here to Watch the Video

Happy New Year! January News



I decided to use this cold day when the students are hopefully all warm and cozy at home to communicate with you about the latest news for our Excellence in Youth program.  We spent a lot of time in December out of the buildings working on programming and the identification process.  Although I truly missed my time with students, I believe that we made some important progress in shaping the program.  We have been moving towards a  more inclusive program due to the fact that we feel that there are many students in our schools that would benefit from the opportunities that we provide and the testing that we use for identification may not reflect the strengths of all students.  We are working on a ways to challenge all.  This has proven to be quite a challenge for us!  🙂

As we begin the second semester, we are working to complete our history/timeline projects.  This is an exciting project, and I am eager to have the students share them with you.  I am hoping to have these done and  ready to share by mid January.  We will be setting due dates at the next EY meeting day.

Upon completion of this unit, we will focus on Science.  The students will be creating their own Science Experiment Video similar to Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show.  If you are not familiar with this website, please check it out at  The students will be required to write a proposal for their video and then write a script before beginning production.  I am excited to see what they choose and what they will do with this!

We will also continue with the Math Olympiad Competition.  These are the math tests that we take each month, November through March.  I am really pleased with the number of students that are participating at my schools.  The meeting after the test is a great learning opportunity for the students. It is interesting to see how they approached the problems and to see the light bulb turn on as we discuss how to arrive at the correct answer using various methods.

We also have the Science Olympiad coming up on January 27th.  Please ask your child if they are planning to submit a plan for an edible car for a chance to attend this Science filled day.  Their plan is due on January 14th.  Here is the link to the activity Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  Your child will be notified if they are chosen to attend. We will be looking at effort and creativity to determine attendees.

I  wish you all a very happy and safe 2015!  I look forward to the second semester working with your children  and their teachers to enrich their educational experience.




November News

November Image


Hello!  I hope all is well with you and your family.  This is a great time of the year to appreciate all the good things in life.  I am thankful that I am able to work with your children and provide them with some unique challenges that will inspire them to pursue their passions and strengths.

The second quarter we will focus on culture and history and the effects this all has on us.  The students are choosing an event or person to study.  They will also study the time period ten years before and ten years after the event.  They will make connections from the past to the present.  This will be done in a variety of formats to show what they have learned.  I am excited to see the end products.

We have been busy with some competitions too- we held all the school bees in two days  at Underwood Hills.  I did miss the school assembly part, but the students did not feel as much pressure and we received a lot of positive feedback about the change.  I would love to hear your opinion as well.  This will allow me to be with students more this quarter.  We are planning to run the same type schedule for the geography bee next month.  We  also hosted a quiz bowl on Friday for all ten elementary schools. The students that were interested took a qualifying exam and the top eight were invited to participate.

This is just a little update on what is happening in EY.  I continue to go into the classroom for E/I time once every six days and work with the smaller groups of EY students once every six days.  I wish it was more often, but we will work with what we have.  I enjoy my time with them but the time in the classroom is valuable too.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.


Patty Lusero




First Quarter Flies By in a Flash!!



The first quarter has passed so quickly.  We have accomplished a lot but it seems like we are still treading water.  The introduction of the iPad has impacted the look of EY  and I do see the bigger picture.  I believe the students will become more comfortable with all of the opportunities that are available to them.  I have already seen growth in their independence and being  invested in their learning.  I really want to encourage them to pursue their interests and challenge themselves to be a life long learner.

We have several events to look forward to in the next few weeks; the spelling bee,  a quiz bowl and then the geography bee. Our focus for the 2nd quarter will be on culture.  We will be exploring current events and reflecting on our own experiences and how they have impacted our lives.  Your child may be asking for input from you.

Once again, I encourage you to explore  the blog  There is a lot inside if you have time to navigate around it.   We did have a little glitch yesterday when all we had put on there since Sept. 1st  was lost.  You have to love technology.  🙂  But, we will forge ahead and embrace this new educational tool.  I really do believe it will enhance student learning.

I hope to meet with most of you at conference time during your scheduled time.  I will be at Sunset on Wednesday and Loveland on Thursday this quarter.   If  you would like to schedule a separate time, please email me and I will be glad to meet with you.   Thanks so much!

Loveland Peabody and Sherman Creations! Take 2

The students created short scripts about a historical event, person or landmark.  They researched their topic for facts that they embedded within their story.  We also learned about puns and the mechanics of script writing.  (Thanks to Reese’s mother for sharing her knowledge with us!)  We also learned about writing puns and the different types of puns.  Please enjoy the following short videos!


Will, Oliver & T.J.

Maren & Mara


Laila & Chiharu


Hayden & Ellie


Zach & Braeden



Kenan & Korbin


Paul & Isaac

More Loveland Peabody and Sherman Videos

Loveland Peabody and Sherman Creations! Take 1

The students created short scripts about a historical event, person or landmark.  They researched their topic for facts that they embedded within their story.  We also learned about puns and the mechanics of script writing.  (Thanks to Reese’s mother for sharing her knowledge with us!)  We also learned about writing puns and the different types of puns.  Please enjoy the following short videos!


Erin, Zola & Claire


Avery, Jude & Luke


John & Abe

Braylon & Jack

Eleanor, Abby & Isabella


Max & Judah


Victoria, Bella & Katie


Ryan & Harrison

More Loveland Peabody and Sherman Videos

Sunset Hills Peabody and Sherman Creations!

The students created short scripts about a historical event, person or landmark.  They researched their topic for facts that they embedded within their story.  We also learned about puns and the mechanics of script writing.  (Thanks to Reese’s mother for sharing her knowledge with us!)  We also learned about writing puns and the different types of puns.  Please enjoy the following short videos!



Ella, Ava & Abby

Tyler & Mitchell

Griffin, Will & Matthew


Christiano, Andrew & Will



Reese, Reagan, and Thomas

April/May News!

Hello All!   It is hard to believe that we are winding down another school year.  We have accomplished a lot and  there have been some unique opportunities for students this year.  Please check out the main page of the EY Blog and click the “What’s New” button for some pictures and information about some of those happenings.  There is also a listing of summer opportunities for gifted students.

We are all busy working on our Mr. Peabody and Sherman scripts.  The students have a topic chosen and are researching to find facts that will be imbedded in their script.  Everyone has had a short lesson in script writing and puns.  I am anxious to see how they turn out!  Stay tuned!

We also are finishing up our vocabulary enrichment, “Wordly Wise”.  I have seen a lot of growth in this area.  I will encourage them to finish strong!  They may not see the value of this right now, but I think they will later.  🙂

Thanks so much to all the parents that helped with transportation to the Brownell-Talbot Math Contest for grades 5-6.  I really appreciate all the support!

That is all for now!  Now that is seems to be finally here, enjoy the spring weather!