Tag Archives: The Big Garden

It’s a slammin’ Easter weekend

March 29, 2018 by

Subscribe to this free weekly newsletter here.

Pick of the Week—Easter Weekend! Friday, March 10-Sunday, April 1: It’s heeeeere! The resurrection of brightly colored eggs and ridiculously cute bunnies is happening now. And there are too many goings-on to list, so we’ve picked just a few highlights. Let us know where your favorite Easter celebrations go down!

  • Get your kids ready for the big day with Easter Bunny Storytime at the Shadow Lake Towne Center, happening both Friday and Saturday. Once the stories are told, get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny (making a special pre-Easter appearance). But you’ll have to bring your own camera, just like the paparazzi do when they want to snap a pic of the fluffy one. Read all about it here.
  • The Lauritzen Gardens Easter Extravaganza is happening on Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. until noon. Do some crafting, find some eggs, and snap a selfie with the bunny. If candy-filled eggs just won’t cut it, the cafe will open at 9 so you can get that kick of caffeine you need to spring into action. Find out more here.
  • The Easter at Baxter Arena event is hosted by Something’s Happening and King of Kings Church and it promises to be a large, high-energy service. The worship and celebration of life begins at 10 a.m. There’s plenty of room inside and free parking, so bring your friends, family, and anyone you think might be interested. Learn more here.
  • Easter brunch is kind of a big deal, which means there really are just too many yummy things going on to even begin listing them here. Just remember to make your reservations asap as most places tend to fill up quick, like a bunny! Enjoy this (hopefully!) beautiful weekend.

Thursday, March 29: Have you always wanted to grow your own garden but don’t have the space or the knowledge? Then check out the Spring Kick-Off Meeting at InCOMMON tonight at 7 p.m. Held at InCOMMON and put together by the Park Avenue Neighborhood Association, Hands to Harvest Community Garden, and The Big Garden, this is a chance to learn more about the application process and the free summer youth program. To contact them or find out more, dig it here.

Friday, March 30: What’s more spring-like than punk music? If you need a nice clean break from all the pastels and chocolate, a trip to the bar where black reigns supreme and the only chocolate you’ll find is in your stout may be in order. Plus, A March On The Crown/Just Tonight singalong with No Thanks and Mad Dog & the 20/20’s sounds like a great way to do a little spring cleaning of the soul. So don’t be a buzzkill. Lurch on over to Brothers and check out punk’s future. You’ll be in good company. Show starts at 9 p.m. Get more information here.

Saturday, March 31: Were you not quite the prom type back in the day? Or maybe you were but you always wondered what it would be like on the darker, punker side? Well, good news. The punk rolls on this weekend with Punk Rock Prom A Go-Go at The Waiting Room on Saturday night, and this ain’t your momma’s prom scene. Grab your Docs and your safety pins, get in the van, and head to Benson. Who knows? You might even win the prom king or queen crown you never knew you wanted. Elbow your way on over here to find out more.

Sunday, April 1: Forget Frozen. If you want to see an authentic, heartfelt kids movie, you must see My Neighbor Totoro, playing at the Alamo Drafthouse at 4:15 p.m this Sunday. The critically-acclaimed film will show you a world you’ll wish you lived in. So after all the colored eggs and chocolate bunnies have been found (and largely consumed) get to the Alamo and entertain the little ones (and yourself) with one of the best family films of all time. Just try to leave without a smile. Roger Ebert dares you. Click here for more information.

The Nelson Mandela Way

January 20, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

North Omaha may be reversing five decades of capital resources leaving the community with little else but social services coming in. Emerging business, housing, and community projects are spearheading a revitalization, and a new school with promise in its name, Nelson Mandela Elementary, is part of this turnaround.

The free, private school in the former Blessed Sacrament church and school on North 30th Street blends old and new. An addition housing the library and cafeteria joins the original structures. The sanctuary is now a gym with stained glass windows. Vintage stone walls and decorative arches create Harry Potteresque features. South African flag-inspired color schemes and Nelson Mandela-themed murals abound.

NelsonMandelaSchool2

The school that started with kindergarten and first grade and will add a grade each year is the vision of Dianne Seeman Lozier. Her husband, Allan Lozier, heads the Lozier store fixture manufacturing company that operates major north Omaha facilities. The couple’s Lozier Foundation supports Omaha Public Schools’ programs.

Their support is personal. They raised two grandsons who struggled to read as children. The odyssey to find effective remedies led Dianne Lozier to new approaches, such as the Spalding Method used at Mandela.

Mandela sets itself apart, too, using Singapore math, playing jazz and classical background music, requiring students to study violin, holding recess every 90 minutes, and having parents agree to volunteer. Mandela “scholars” take College for Kids classes at Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha campus.

NelsonMandelaSchool4

It’s all in response to the high-poverty area the school serves, where low test scores prevail and families can’t always provide the enrichment kids need.

Most Mandela students are from single-parent homes. Sharon Moore loves sending her son, Garrett, to “a new school with new ideas.” Eric and Stacy Rafferty welcome the research-based innovations their boy, William, enjoys and the opportunity to be as involved as they want at school. Moore and the Raffertys report their sons are thriving there.

“Parents are really getting into this groove of being here,” says Principal Susan Toohey. “It’s building a community here and a sense that we are all in this together.”

Community is also important to the Loziers.

“We’re just really connected here,” Dianne Lozier says. “Allan and I have really strong beliefs that the economic inequality in the country and north Omaha is a microcosm of a huge issue. It’s a fairness issue and a belief that, if we want it badly enough, we can make a difference.”

She and Toohey are banking that the school demonstrates its strategies work as core curriculum, not just intervention.

“I’m hoping by the end of the first school year here we’ll be able to compare students’ literacy against other places and show that children have developed stronger reading skills,” Lozier says. “Our longterm goal is that all kids will be grade-level proficient readers by the end of third grade.”

For Toohey, launching and leading a school in a high-needs district is appealing.

NelsonMandelaSchool3

“What an incredible opportunity,” she says. “Rarely do you get a chance to start a school from the ground up and pick everything that’s going to happen there and hire every person that’s going to work there. I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but my heart has always been in urban education.”

In preparation for opening last August, she says, “I spent a year researching educational practices and curricula and developing relationships with people.” Her outreach forged partnerships with Metro, College of Saint Mary, the Omaha Conservatory of Music, The Big Garden, and others.

“We really want to be a model of what makes a school stronger, and I think having the community involved makes it stronger so it’s not working in isolation.”

Dianne Lozier, whose foundation funds the school with the William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation, is a frequent visitor.

NelsonMandelaSchool5“I help out with breakfast,” she explains. “I tie a lot of shoes. I get and give a lot of hugs.”

Lozier says her presence is meant to help “faculty and staff feel a little more supported—because this is hard. Every teacher and para-educator here, even the head of school, would say this is the hardest job they’ve ever had.”

Toohey says the difficulty stems from teaching a “very different curriculum” and “starting a culture from scratch. Families are getting to know us, we’re getting to know the families, and this is a really challenging population of kids. Many have not been in preschool programs that helped them moderate their behavior.”

Despite the challenges, Lozier says, “We have incredible families and kids.”

Drawing on the school’s inspirational namesake, each morning everyone recites “the Mandela mantra” of “Education is the most powerful weapon you can produce to change the world,” and “I will change the world with my hope, strength, service, unity, peace, and wisdom.”

“I hope all those things are what this community sees coming out of this school,” Toohey says, “and that our kids develop those qualities of grit and resilience so critical for success.”

Lozier adds that Mandela is a symbol of hope and opportunity.

“To accomplish the things we’re capable of,” she says, “we have to believe we can do that. It’s an opportunity to make improvements and get past impediments, to use internal strengths and be recognized for what you can bring.”

Visit nelsonmandelaelementary.org to learn more.

NelsonMandelaSchool1