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Nebraska elementary assistant principal directs curriculum

By SHAY BURKOctober 28, 2018

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) — When the new Adams Central Elementary School opened this fall, there were only a few staff members who knew just about every student and teacher.

Shannon Nepple, who has been the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment with the district for the past four years, is one of them.

This school year, she added assistant principal at the elementary to her title, knowing that her past experience at Adams Central would come in handy.

“When we moved to the new building and I took on assistant principal, I already knew everyone,” Nepple said. “I had been going to all the different schools. I had seen all the classrooms and could tell you what grade level a lot of the kids are.”

Nepple said she couldn’t always remember names but she knew the students and teachers in each grade and what school they came from.

“But when we merged, I had to take a step back and remind myself that not everybody knows everybody,” she said. “I had the luxury of being able to do that.”

Nepple hasn’t always been a part of Adams Central but she was destined to work in education.

“My grandma was a teacher, my mom was a teacher, I’m a teacher,” she said. “I married a teacher and my brother’s a teacher. It’s one of those things I was probably destined to follow that path.”

After graduating from Wayne State College, Nepple taught one year at Winnebego Public Schools before transferring to Columbus where she taught half-day and then full-day kindergarten along with English as a second language. Then she settled at Spalding Public Schools, while her husband taught at Spalding Academy.

There she was a Title I reading coach where she began her work in curriculum and assessment.

“I had a principal in Columbus who told me on my growth plan that I was going to go into administration and she wrote it in my plan that I had to go through classes and start the journey,” Nepple said. “She knew.”

While at Spalding, Nepple was with a team of people who were looking into the reading mastery program used by schools. That program was already being used by Juniata Elementary.

That visit was Nepple’s first experience with Adams Central Public Schools.

“That would have been probably 2011 when I took my first visit to Juniata (Elementary) and never thought this is where my career would have led me back here,” she said. “That’s kind of a fun thing when I look back on that.”

In 2014, Nepple accepted a job as the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment with Adams Central, the Hastings Tribune reported.

Within five days, Nepple accepted her job, her husband found out he could transfer his job to Hastings and the family sold one house and bought another.

“It was kind of a whirlwind,” Nepple said. “I always think I guess that’s where I was meant to come.”

In that position, Nepple’s first goal was to bring all the programs together and be more systematic in the way curriculum and instruction were assessed. That meant designing rubrics, comparing curriculum to assessment tests and working a lot with teachers.

Then with the opening of the new Adams Central Elementary this fall, there was the need for an assistant principal to work with principal Allyson Bohlen.

Nepple said she and Bohlen work well together and play off each other’s strengths.

Nepple’s emphasis is on the kindergarten, first- and second-grade classes, so that is where she spends most of her time.

“Obviously, that’s where my experience has been and that early childhood is definitely my passion,” she said.

In that role, Nepple stands at the front door and greets the students as they come in each morning, tries to visit the classrooms on a daily basis and works with those teachers.

“I hope as the position evolves, you’ll find me more in the classrooms being with the students, being with the teachers, helping them make their classrooms better,” she said. “Instruction is my passion.

Nepple said she loves the idea of helping with lunch duty and just working with students.

“I’m really excited to get to be with the kids every day,” she said. “With (curriculum, instruction and assessment) you get buried in the numbers and I didn’t get to have as many interactions with kids as I wanted.”

So now, Nepple gets the best of both worlds by serving both as assistant principal and as curriculum, instruction and assessment director.

And she’s excited about that.

“I feel they know when I’m making decisions it’s for the K-12 process not necessarily for my building or the high school building,” she said. “It’s for the system.”

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Information from: Hastings Tribune, http://www.hastingstribune.com

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