It’s All About the Money . . . Or Is It?

by Priscilla Quintana, ESUCC Business Manager

What’s your budget?

Our World’s current situation has many schools questioning the future, implementing spending freezes, and trying to predict the financial future. This is not the first time that school budgets have been in danger. It seems like we are always trying to provide our kids with quality education while pinching pennies.

This concerns me, not just as an employee of ESUCC, but also as a parent. I want my kids to have the best education that we can possibly provide. Whether kids are learning in the classroom or learning remotely from home, supplies and equipment are essential. A decrease in funding, especially with these uncertain times, can make it very difficult for schools to obtain needed products and supplies.

What are your needs?

ESUCC has many resources available to support schools, educators and students. Continually working with ESUs, NDE, vendors, and other State agencies, we can provide cost saving solutions to meet all of your needs. By working together and sharing resources we all benefit, saving time and money.  ESUCC works to prepare strategic plans that assure cost-efficient and equitable delivery of services across the state, administration of statewide initiatives and provision of statewide services, and coordination of distance education.

Our Cooperative bid processes, leveraging bulk buying power, provide you with nationally and locally awarded contracts that give you low cost quality products and services. I have been doing this job for over 25 years and I have seen the cost savings and benefits of cooperative purchasing. It is amazing!  Schools can save up to 35% on classroom supplies & software, technology products, custodial supplies, food, building/roofing needs and so much more!

Did you know?

ESUCC Cooperative Purchasing saved Nebraska schools just over $5,000,000 last year!

Will things ever get back to normal?

Some days it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And most likely, we will never be the “same”. The technology has always been there, we have now been forced to use it on a daily basis to work, teach, communicate, and learn. And unfortunately, we will most likely always face financial concerns and budget issues. But thanks to the hardworking professionals, exceptional teachers, and the many educational support agencies working together in Nebraska, we will continue to achieve great results!

If money was not an issue, what would your world look like? What do you need help with?  ESUCC is always looking for new ways to serve Nebraska schools. 

If there is anything you need, please contact us!

Omaha office:  402-597-4843 or Ainsworth office:  402-387-1245

ESUCC Coop Facebook Page:

It's Okay to be Different

Breaking the Stereotype

It's Okay to be DifferentWhen one thinks of autism, Dustin Hoffman’s performance in Rain Man probably comes to mind. While it was a brilliant performance and he did portray many characteristics of autism, he only presented one small part of the full spectrum.  Similarly, Leonardo DiCapro’s performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape gives us another glimpse into the life of an individual living a life on the spectrum.

Too many people think that being autistic means that there’s something wrong with your brain, but what it really means is your brain works differently and you don’t process data the same way. There are so many levels on the spectrum that it can be difficult to determine who is autistic and who is not.

My son is autistic. He struggles with reading, math, and has no concept of time, but he can tell you what movie a specific song comes from when it comes on the radio.  He can also hear a voice or see a face in a movie and tell you what other movies they are in. Just make sure the movie doesn’t have subtitles, or he will lose interest quickly.

Being autistic doesn’t mean you stand out like a sore thumb.  Some folks can go their entire lives without knowing they are even on the spectrum. Autism manifests itself differently for different people, so there is no way to boil it down to a stereotype.  If you know someone on the spectrum, how do they present and what makes them special?

TLT – It’s Dynamite!

In the world of ESUs and education, you may notice the practice of using acronyms. They’re used in naming groups, projects, processes and products. So several years ago, when a couple of the affiliates under the professional development organization (PDO) merged to form one group “Teaching and Learning with Technology”, the shortened form, TLT,  became a new recognized “word” for ESUs. 

When we first decided to call the affiliate TLT, I couldn’t help but think of TNT, then dynamite, which by the way are not the same thing, but are similar. However, while checking on this, because I was curious if those words meant the same thing, I was reminded by Google that the informal definition of dynamite is “an extremely impressive or exciting person or thing.” This definition perfectly defines TLT. My word associations of TLT to dynamite lends itself to the perfect adjective of this extremely impressive group doing exciting things!

The exciting and challenging mission of TLT is to connect Nebraska educators with resources, best practices, and emerging technologies that will transform teaching and learning within the classroom. All of the ESUs employ experts in the areas of digital and blended learning, distance education, instructional materials, and technology. These experts collaborate and coordinate statewide in efforts to support districts. TLT also partners with the Nebraska Department of Education and other stakeholders on many of these endeavors. 

Recently, ESUCC in partnership with Nebraska Rural Community School Association (NRCSA) launched two websites that support remote learning, one for teachers and one for administrators. Much of the work was coordinated by TLT and includes resources that were curated or created by this dynamite affiliate. Some of those resources reside in the Nebraska OER Commons hub and were created as open educational resources (OER) by Nebraska teachers for Nebraska teachers under a joint project funded by the ESUs and NDE. The Nebraska OER hub, where these and many other great resources are hosted, is another great project that is a coordinated effort by NDE, ESUs and district teachers brought forward by TLT. Check out these dynamite tools and resources for Nebraska educators!

These are just a couple of examples of the impressive work by TLT. When our world was hit by the pandemic in 2020, TLT worked together along with other stakeholders to support districts in remote learning and much has been learned along the way!  TLT continues the mission to connect educators to resources and technologies for use in the classroom and welcomes input from our Nebraska educators.

Do you have remote learning resources to share or lessons learned that have helped you during the pandemic?

12 Rules for Life: An Anecdote to Chaos

Book Review by Dr. Kraig J. Lofquist

Mr. Charles “Tremendous” Jones helps individuals and businesses address their most pressing challenges, and he does so in an inspiring way. It’s safe to say that he knows a thing or two about human behavior. Regarding his popular quote shown in the illustration, Mr. Jones is correct!

Think of the people you have met over the past five years. What is it about them that had a positive impact on you? Now, think of the books you have read over the past five years. What is it about them that had a positive impact on you?

Millions of books are written each and every year, so what books should we consider reading, in order to experience a positive, everlasting impact?  I have read Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s book: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, and I strongly believe it’s a game changer.

The now world famous author’s “12 Rules” are based on scientific evidence, and as you read the details in each chapter, you will find them to be continuously thought provoking. Some of the “rules” seem like common sense, but they are clearly not common practice, especially in our current culture. As I read the book, I found myself thinking, “How much better would the world be if we all followed these 12 rules?”

Here is a list of Dr. Peterson’s 12 Rules

  1. Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back
  2. Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping
  3. Make Friends With People Who Want the Best For You
  4. Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not To Who Someone Else Is Today
  5. Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them
  6. Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World
  7. Pursue What is Meaningful (Not What Is Expedient)
  8. Tell The Truth (Or At Least Don’t Lie)
  9. Assume That The Person You Are Listening To Might Know Something You Don’t
  10. Be Precise In Your Speech
  11. Do Not Bother Children When They Are Skateboarding
  12. Pet A Cat When You Encounter One On The Street

If you are a person dedicated to your own personal development, I highly recommend Dr. Peterson’s work. It’s definitely worth your time. The ESUCC Professional Development Library has this as both an ebook and audiobook checkout for members. Select this link for the library.

Finally, If you’ve already read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share your comments.

Citation: Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Anecdote to Chaos. Random House of Canada. Kindle Edition. 

So Much Time and So Little To Do

By Scott Isaacson, ESUCC

“We have so much time and so little to do…  Strike that.  Reverse it.”– Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971.

In these times of the virus, remote work, and family isolation, our life can seem reversed, scrambled, upside down. With so much change so fast, new uncertainties, worry, and kids needing our attention, focusing is hard. It is tempting to flutter all day from one need to the next, but all that thrashing around from meeting to meeting, task to task, thought to thought leaves us empty-handed at the end of the day.  We feel like we didn’t really do or finish anything. 

This is my struggle, and isn’t limited to only these circumstances, but any time of too much to do and not enough time to do it.  This post is about how to pull some order and productivity out of a chaotic time.

It’s important to realize and admit that I can only do a few things well in one day. I do not multitask well and I suspect very few can. Yes, my to-do list and inbox are full, but I can’t handle it all at once. Some years ago I read David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done“, and his suggestions have been very helpful to me. 

One is keeping a list of thoughts, tasks and projects.  This list is a parking place for the interrupting thoughts and ideas that come up as I’m working on other things.  Writing these down in one consistent place allows my mind to trust that I’ve captured what’s needed so I can leave it for now and switch quickly back to the main task at hand. 

It seems to work best for me to pick two or three priorities each day and focus on those.  Dividing my day’s time into significant chunks to work on those priorities, I can often make noticeable progress. Preparing for the next day, I revisit the list and decide which items are priority then. 

Weekly or so, review the list. Allen says that each item on the list must be “actionable”.  Decide on a next step for each item, and whether that step needs to happen at a certain time or as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that one person can only do a limited number of things. If I continue to let my to-do list grow faster than I can complete projects then eventually some will not happen. It’s better to realize this and say No strategically up front before over committing. Saying No can be difficult but serves everyone better by being realistic about what can be done. 

I certainly have much yet to learn and practice in managing my own time. I hope some of these strategies will help you and that you might join our conversation about how you manage time and priorities.

What is your strategy to focus and get things done?  How do you choose what you will do today?

Let’s Bring This in for a Landing

Do you remember the Yellow Pages? Ah yes, those were the days. If you wanted to order a pizza, rent a U-Haul trailer or find a dentist, you looked up information in the Yellow Pages, and sometimes there might have been a business located nearby. That practice seems so quaint and historic now!

In the not so distant past, organizations shared the same, general “Yellow Pages” information on their websites. In effect, the “landing pages” of businesses used to be like the aforementioned Yellow Pages.

Enter Web 2.0:

Now, when you get on the internet, not only can you select the pizza joint near your house, you can put virtual toppings on it, and you know the exact minute your order comes out of the oven! A similar experience allows you to choose a specific size U-Haul truck or trailer, and you can now request dental appointments online. Of course, these innovations are magnified by social media giants: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, services that help to connect us all.

In that spirit, the ESUCC staff has updated our landing page, linking it to social media sites. Even though the new site is in its incipient stages, we are excited about its potential. These tools will help us tell the Nebraska ESU story and the important work that is accomplished on behalf of the schools we serve. Our goal is to have site visitors experience a smooth landing.

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Kraig J. Lofquist, Ed.D.
ESUCC Executive Director