Jill Lachenmayr
•March, 2018•

Spring. A time of transformation and growth. It renews our spirit with the anticipation of spring flowers and new possibilities. It’s a time when many eagerly look forward to planting gardens, knowing that with a little care and attention, the fruits of their labor will emerge. Beautiful, bountiful and satisfying.

Learning Forward Nebraska, a state affiliate of Learning Forward, can relate well to the excitement and anticipation of planting something new, nurturing it and watching it grow. As the recipient of the Learning Forward Foundation Affiliate Grant, the affiliate is at the midway point of a three-year plan to grow the capacity of professional learning within the state. Learning Forward Nebraska has focused attention in three key areas: expanding the Learning Forward Executive Leadership Program across the state, developing the website to support rigorous education designs of professional learning, and building the capacity within the board for advocating and supporting high-quality professional learning.

Learning Forward Nebraska has had many successes along the journey. Relationships have been nurtured, programs expanded, and the impact of the work is growing. It’s exciting to see transformation in action! Any successful initiative begins with creating a strong plan. The affiliate was able to utilize grant funds to hold a retreat to gather ideas and create a strategic plan for accomplishing the goals. The impact of this planning has been demonstrated in the expansion of the Executive Leadership Program from one site to four, with a total of 60 participants across two cohorts. The affiliate has fine-tuned its approach by shortening webinars, improving the quality of materials and synthesizing the highlights to ensure that the program is broadly accessible. Success in advocacy is also evident as affiliate leaders work to get the professional learning standards adopted in Nebraska.

“From a small seed, a mighty trunk may grow.” (Aeschylus) We all know that change takes time. Starting something new is exciting when you think about the possibilities that await you at the end of the journey. You plant the idea, nurture it, protect it from weeds.

Satisfaction comes when progress towards goals are made. Plans don’t always go as anticipated and that’s okay. It’s the learning journey that matters. Time, attention and continuous progress transforms a budding idea into a strong, mature tree.

Congratulations to Learning Forward Nebraska as they build the capacity of professional learning within their state. The Learning Forward Foundation grant has “energized the passion” for professional learning in Nebraska. May your own personal learning journey be rewarding and satisfying as you make progress towards your goals. The Foundation can be a source of financial support and a thinking partner.

Please visit our website for more information about the Learning Forward Foundation or to Apply for Scholarships and Grants. Want to learn more? Check out our past Learning Forward Foundation Blogs.

Jill Lachenmayr serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Academic Affairs for Andover Public Schools. She is treasurer of the Learning Forward Kansas Affiliate and a board member of the Learning Forward Foundation.