Rockbrook Summer Newsletter
July 2023 Edition
Welcome to the 2023-2024 School Year
This year is an exciting milestone for me as my 10th year serving the students, staff, and community of Rockbrook, and my 20th as an educator here for Westside Community Schools. The support of our community and the partnership of our staff and families has made these such a privilege to be a part of. If you are a new family to our school I know that you too will experience the Community that is such an important part of our district. For all of our families, I hope that you will be sure to be a part of the many opportunities for students and families with our Rockbrook Community Club (our Westside term for our PTO/PTA). Meetings typically occur on the 2nd Monday of each month and all families are invited and encouraged to participate and be a part of the work and leadership at our school.
Joining our team at Rockbrook this year we have several amazing new staff members were are pleased to introduce you to (pictures and introductions below).
Please help me welcome:
Ms. Paula Baldozier - Administrative Assistant
Mrs. Katie Bast - 2nd Grade Teacher
Ms. Kelsey Christensen - Special Education Teacher
Mrs. Susannah Kasik-Meng - 1st Grade Teacher
Miss Jaedyn Klein - 3rd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Becca Ross - School Counselor
We also want to make sure families are aware of the following updates that occurred before the end of last school year:
Mr. Mike Main - New Building Engineer
Mrs. Sarah Davenport - Moving from 3rd grade to 4th grade
Mrs. Amber Whitney - Moving from 1st grade to 2nd grade
Our Open House Night this year is on Tuesday, August 8th at 6:00pm. We look forward to welcoming families back to our school and the excitement of the start of the new school year. Be sure to join us to meet your child's teacher and see their room. Class placements will be sent out ahead of this evening and we are also happy to help you look up your child's teacher at the front office.
Dr. Higginbotham, Principal
*Note: Remember for Kindergarten families you should have received a letter in the mail indicating if your child will attend the 10th and 11th, or 14th and 15th. Please call the office (402.390.6475) if you did not receive this or are uncertain and we'll be happy to help you.
Rockbrook Open House Night
Tuesday, Aug 8, 2023, 06:00 PM
2514 South 108th Street, Omaha, NE, USA
Returning Student Registration
All families of returning students must complete Returning Student Registration prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year. This needs to be completed for each returning student in your family in order for your student to attend field trips, allow Rockbrook staff permission to take photos of your child/ren, update contacts, etc.
If you have not done so already, please CLICK HERE to complete this important process.
Enter your PowerSchool parent portal information to log in
Click Returning Student Registration near the bottom left side
If you have problems logging in, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information for Kindergarten Families
We're excited to welcome our newest Bulldogs and their families! If you weren't able to attend our Spring Kindergarten Parent Meeting or attended and can't find the handouts, it's all available here!
- Kindergarten families should have received a letter in the mail with your child's start date (Aug 10th or Aug 14th). Please contact us if you didn't receive this or have questions.
- Class Placements for Kindergarten students will also be mailed, and should arrive in similar time to the email that is sent to returning student families with this information.
District Back to School Info
An addition to this newsletter, Westside also has a great website with valuable information for families. Please click the image below to view it or you can click this link.
Ms. Paula Baldozier - Administrative Assistant
I have worked many years in Real Estate both in Omaha and at the Lake of the Ozarks. I'm looking forward to a new challenge.
Fun Facts: I'm a HUGE fan of Elvis Presley! I also love football and am planning on getting the Huskers back on track.
Mrs. Katie Bast - 2nd Grade Teacher
I have been teaching for 13 years. I was lucky enough to stay home when my kids were young. I have taught Kindergarten and 1st Grade at Hillside. Currently, I am finishing out my position as the Reading Specialist/Resource Teacher at St. Roberts. I believe collaboration plays a huge part in education. The position I’ve held these past 6 years has also taught me how crucial it is as an educator to truly know each student and his/her learning style. I’m extremely excited to rejoin Westside and to meet my new team at Rockbrook.
Fun Facts: I love fishing!
Ms. Kelsey Christensen - Special Education Teacher
I worked as an Education Assistant at Westside Middle School for three years while obtaining my degree! This last year I was a first year teacher, working in a self-contained special education classroom in Omaha Public Schools.
Fun Facts: One fact about me is that I am a super positive person! I will find the positive in every situation!
Mrs. Susannah Kasik-Meng - 1st Grade Teacher
I am originally from Omaha and I live here with my wife and our many pets.
I have 10 years of experience teaching early childhood in Preschool and PreK settings. I received my Bachelors from UNO in 2019 and I graduated with my Masters in Elementary Education in May. My passions include children’s literacy, inclusion, and creating a lifelong love of learning. I promote an innovative, welcoming environment for all students to unlock their individual potential.
Fun Facts: When I was little I told people I wanted to be a farmer so when I grew up I could have as many pets as I wanted. Coincidentally I later work overalls to the first day of soccer practice and got the nickname "farmer" for years after!
Mrs. Becca Ross - School Counselor
My aim as school counselor is to provide social, emotional, and career guidance to students through class lessons, small groups, individually, and experiences. I thrive in organization and collaboration with my coworkers.
Fun Facts: I have over 30 ducks in and around my house for decorate purposes, most are rubber ducks!
Community Club Corner
The Rockbrook Community Club is a network of parents and families of Rockbrook Elementary students. The Club provides opportunities for families to connect and build community, improve communication with the school, and enhance the Rockbrook learning experience. We're excited for the start of another great year. Check out a few details below and even more on our Community Club Website: https://rockbrookcommunityclub.membershiptoolkit.com/
*New Policy* Family Directory - Rockbrook’s Family Directory is exclusively available on the Community Club’s website, Membership Toolkit (MT). Directory information can be used to reach other families (ex. arrange play dates & send birthday party invitations). *As of the 23-24 school year, Rockbrook staff will no longer be a conduit for connecting families.* Don’t miss out on party invitations and other fun - sign-up for your MT account and update your Directory information today! Please see the attached handout for instructions. (**Note: grade levels and teacher assignments will be manually updated for returning students after classroom assignments are published).
Save these Dates!
Rockbrook staff begin their school year on Wednesday, August 2. Please help us welcome them back by participating in Chalk the Walk on Tuesday, August 1 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. We’ll adorn the school’s sidewalks with "welcome back” messages and drawings. Chalk will be provided!
Open House on Tuesday, August 8 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Meet your child’s new teacher, enjoy a treat, drop off school supplies and pick up your student’s FREE school spirit t-shirt!
Open House is also an opportunity to learn more about the Community Club and the events & programs we sponsor throughout the year. Please consider serving as an Open House volunteer - click here to sign-up. Open House volunteers will receive a FREE school spirit t-shirt. Thank you!
As a parent of a Rockbrook student, drop off and pickup are important routines to know about. Below is a list of procedures for parking, drop off, and dismissal. Following these procedures helps to promote safety and efficiency at these busy times of day.
Breakfast Drop Off: 8:05 at the North (Main) Entrance
School Day Drop Off: Staff supervision begins at both North and South Entrances at 8:10 please do not drop off before then.
Students Entry: 8:20
Start of School Day: 8:30 (students need to be in their classroom)
Dismissal: 3:30 (3:00 on Wednesdays)
Please Stay in Your Car If Possible
- Staff will assist school-age students in getting into vehicles keeping our traffic moving smoothly.
- Practice having your child put their backpack in and get in and close the door quickly.
Avoid the Crowd
After School Plans
We understand that student pickup plans may occasionally change. To ensure all students are accounted for at the end of each day we ask that families make their best attempt to use a typical mode of pickup on most days. Please take a moment to fill out the form below to indicate your child's typical dismissal plan. In the event that you need to pick your child up via a different method, we ask that a parent call the office at least 30 minutes before the end of the school day. The office will notify the student and their teacher of this change of plan.
Approving a Child to Go Home with Another Child's Parent:
In the event that you would like to approve your child to go home with another child's parent we need contact from both you and the other child's parent. This can be in the form of a note, email, or phone call to the office. Staff will not dismiss your child to another child's parent without prior contact, preferably to the main office so that this can be communicated to others (Classroom Teacher, Club66, etc).
Lunch at Rockbrook
We have a computerized meal program in operation in our district that allows parents to maintain an account for their child’s meal charges. Each student has their own account. When students go through the food line, the price of the breakfast, lunch, or any extra items such as extra pizza or extra milk is subtracted from their account. Students on free lunch may keep money in their account to pay for extra food items which are not included in the free lunch program.
Elementary School Meal Pricing:
If you think you may qualify or are interested in applying for Free or Reduced Price meal benefits, you can fill out an Application for Free/Reduced Meal Benefits. Please remember that this status is always kept private and that there is no way for other students to have access to this information. Please find our application instructions and online link here.
My School Bucks
To deposit money into your child’s account you may bring a check or cash to the office, or you may go to MySchoolBucks.com. We send an email to any student whose account has become overdrawn. Please check your email, spam folder and MySchoolBucks account for your child's lunch balance. We need to have negative balances at zero or positive balances. This balance carries over to the next year. Start 2023-2024 year off right for your child's lunch account.
Please let the office know if you are running late or have a morning appointment for your child. If your child plans on eating lunch from the cafeteria that day, PLEASE call and or email your child's lunch choice before 9 am.
Joining Your Child for Lunch
If you are joining your child for lunch, and want to eat lunch from the cafeteria, then you must call before 9 am to order your lunch choice. Adult lunch is $4.25, small bills are preferable for payment and should be paid at the office.
We cannot deduct your lunch from your child’s account as our computer will not let us charge the adult price on a student account.
If you are coming and bringing a lunch, then there is NO need to call ahead, just let us know when you check-in. Guests are asked to only bring food for their own child when visiting.
Students (3rd Grade and up only) may purchase extra slices from their lunch accounts when Pizza Hut is on the menu if they have a positive balance in their account. Extra slices cost $1.20. Parents, make sure you let your child know whether or not you want them to have an extra slice. Extra slices are not included with free or reduced lunch accounts. You need to make sure your child has the $1.20 for the extra slice.
Where to Sit
Parents joining their child for lunch are welcome to sit with their child and the class when space allows. Limited seating is also available at our guests table, but parents are asked to only bring their own child if choosing to sit there.
Two Parent Households
- Inform the office of your current phone number, address, and email.
- Inform the teacher you would like to receive progress reports (this may be electronic), conferences signups, and notices about school activities.
- Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences to show your child that both parents are behind him/her - acting as a team.
- Provide your child with a special folder to save school papers for you. That way, you'll see your child's finished work and teacher comments.
Fall Facilities Reservations
Rockbrook Elementary, Early Childhood, and Club66 - Safe and Welcoming Inside and Out
The safety of our students and families is our top priority at Rockbrook. The best security, however, is only as good as the practices we implement in using it. Please help us in adhering to policies regarding student Drop Off and Pick Up.
Both Early Childhood (ECC) and Club66 Policy requires that all students be checked in to these programs by an adult, by walking children into the building. As ECC and Club66 staff operate from the south end of our building, we ask that all Early Childhood and Club66 attendees enter through the south end of our building unless stair access prohibits doing so.
All exterior doors at Rockbrook will remain locked except when being monitored by Rockbrook Staff during arrival and dismissal. School age students may be dropped off starting at 8:30 a.m. and enter through either the north or south entrance. Please be aware of the times below when entrances will be locked or open and monitored.
Before 8:20 - All entrances are locked, students and families must use the buzzer to request entry.
8:20-8:30 - North and south entrances will be open and supervised by Rockbrook Staff.
8:30-3:25 (2:55 on Wednesdays) - All entrances are locked, students and families must use the buzzer to request entry.
3:25 (2:55W) - 3:45 (3:15W) - North and south entrances will be open and supervised by Rockbrook Staff.
3:45-6:00 - All entrances are locked, students and families must use the buzzer to request entry.
(Note: for evening events, and access, arrangements for entry are being coordinated through our district office. Please contact Jennifer Fox at email@example.com regarding evening access.)
If you will be dropping your child off after 8:30 you will also need to walk them in to the office and sign them in for the day. If students arrive without an adult between 8:30 and 3:30, parents will be contacted to remind you of this expectation.
When you are visiting the school, we would also remind you that all visitors must check in at the main office and get a visitor's badge. Anyone without a badge may be asked to return to the office to check in. If your child has forgotten something at home and you are quickly dropping this off, we are happy to accept this at the office and deliver items to the classroom.
Thank you for your support to keep Rockbrook Safe and Welcoming Inside and Out.
Your Partners in Education,
Mr. Garret Higginbotham, Principal & Ms. Julie Kathol, Site Director RBECC and Club66
Cell Phones and Smart Devices in School
Our expecation is that all cell phones are turned off and placed in a student's backpack while on school grounds.
In the event students need to contact their parent, calls can be made from classroom or office phones.
2023-2024 Rockbrook Staff
Dr. Higginbotham- Principal
Ms. Baldozier - Administrative Assistant
Mr. Carlson- Kindergarten
Ms. Miller- Kindergarten
Mrs. Lewis-1st Grade
Mrs. Kasik-Meng- 1st Grade
Mrs. Bast- 2nd Grade
Ms. Whitney- 2nd Grade
Miss Klein- 3rd Grade
Mrs. Rice-3rd Grade
Ms. Conyers- 4th Grade
Mrs. Davenport- 4th Grade
Ms. Greenwald- 5th Grade
Mrs. Smith- 5th Grade
Ms. Akers-6th Grade
Mrs. Jagels-6th Grade
Ms. Cramer-Brink- Learning Circles
Ms. Christensen-Learning Circles
Mr. Schoneman-Learning Circles
Ms. Davis- School Psychologist
Mrs. Ross- School Counselor
Ms. Anderson - School Social Worker
Ms. Sharkey- Speech Clinician
Mrs. Safranek- Reading Coordinator
Mrs. Kneifl- Media Specialist
(Ms. Wisniewksi got married this summer and is currently in the process of updating to her married name for email communication.)
Mrs. Henecke -Vocal Music
Mr. Steele- P.E. / Health
Mrs. Sadowski - English Language
Mrs. Sindt-EY Coordinator
Mr. Freeman- Instrumental Music/Band
Ms. Matheson- Instrumental Music/Strings
Ms. Brezina- ArtTeacher
Ms. Biodrowski- Educational Assistant - Kdg.
Miss Padios-Educational Assistant - Kdg.
Ms. Mellick- Educational Assistant
Ms. Hurlbut -Educational Assistant
Ms. Seward- Health Assistant
Ms. Blecher- Educational Assistant - Learning Circles
Ms. Dickinson- Educational Assistant - Learning Circles
Ms. Hangren- Educational Assistant - Learning Circles
Ms. Johnson- Educational Assistant - Learning Circles
Ms. Carlson- Educational Assistant - Learning Circles
Ms. Matson- Educational Assistant - Learning Circles
Ms. Preininger- Head of Building Food Service
Ms. Pineda- Food Service
Mr. Main - Building Services - Day Engineer
Mr. Dunlap- Building Services - Night Custodian
Mr. Sanchez Moran- Building Services - PT Custodian
Mr. Preininger- Building Services - Support Engineer
District Approved Snack List
Click the Images Above to Download
Attention 5th Grade Students and Parents
You are invited to BE A PART OF THE MUSIC! This fall, you will have the opportunity to do what so many successful students have done before you by being a part of Band and Strings! In the first three weeks of school we will be visiting all the buildings, demonstrating the instruments, and giving students the opportunity to select an instrument of their choice. We will have a parent meeting about our program on Wednesday, August 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Westside Middle School. All are welcome to attend to learn about elementary instrumental music and meet the teachers. We are excited to introduce your child to the world of instrumental music!
The Elementary Instrumental Music Staff
Gail Carpenter-Johnson, Michael Freeman, Viktoria Matheson and Jennifer Johansen
DOES YOUR FAMILY NEED ASSISTANCE?
Westside Community Schools provides clothing and food assistance through the Family Resource Center to students and their families who may need extra support. Families can contact the School Social Worker, April Anderson, by email or at 402-408-8914 to arrange a time to meet there. Additional resources can be located in the Social Work Newsletter.
We want to make sure every child has the school supplies to feel ready to start on their first day. If you family is in need of assistance for school supplies there are several options throughout the community. Many of these are currently taking donations to help stock up for the wishing to access this. If your family would either like to donate to or access these supports, further information can be found at the Salvation Army 7 Can Help Kids Back to School Backpack Program as well as by contacting the School Social Worker.
Medication at School
Rockbrook Recess Equipment
Student Dress Code
1. All students must wear a shirt, bottoms, (pants/sweatpants/shorts/skirt/dress/leggings) and shoes (soft-bottomed slippers are not allowed). Undergarments are not considered tops or bottoms. Clothing/undergarments should cover a student’s private body parts. Clothing should not expose genitals or undergarments.
2. Costumes and blankets should not be worn during the school day unless they are a part of a school-sponsored activity.
3. Clothing and jewelry should not advertise beer, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
4. Clothing and jewelry should not be lewd, indecent, vulgar, make sexual references, exhibit nudity or profanity, or include violent images or language, hate speech, or images or language creating a hostile or intimidating environment based on any protected class.
5. Clothing and jewelry should not be able to be used as a weapon (ex: chains, spikes) or encourage horseplay or cause property damage (ex: cleats).
6. Clothing and jewelry should not promote illegal activity.
7. Heavy coats should be put away during the school day.
8. Unless it is part of a school-sponsored activity, students should not wear baseball caps, stocking caps, hoods. This does not prohibit religious headwear.
Consideration will be made for students who wear special clothing as required by religious beliefs, disability, or to convey a particularized message protected by law. Westside Community Schools’ Dress Code guidelines have been developed to create safe and productive learning environments where all students are accepted, engaged, celebrated, and have the opportunity to thrive in school. The final decision regarding attire and grooming will be made by the Principal. In the event a student is uncertain as to whether a particular item or method of grooming is consistent with the school’s guidelines, the student or student’s parent/guardian should contact the Principal for pre-approval. If school staff determine that the student does not meet dress code, the student will be asked to change.
For more information regarding the dress code and code of conduct, please download and read the Elementary Student-Parent Handbook.
Flip-Flops/Crocs & Recess / Gym, A Dangerous Combination
Visitors and Deliveries
To keep students focused on learning any deliveries during the day should be dropped off at the office. We have a deliveries table where families may bring items and place a note on it and we will contact your child's teacher to have them come pick this up at a convenient time.
Rockbrook has bus transportation available for students who live two miles or more from school. Please call Westside administration at 402-390-2107 to register for bus service or if you have any questions regarding where the bus stops are located or what time pick up and drop off times are.
CHIEF BUS COMPANY
Office personnel will notify parents/guardian when a student needs to be sent home from school due to illness. Conditions requiring a student be sent home include: temperature greater than 100.0°F, vomiting, diarrhea, unexplained rashes, or on determination by the school nurse that the child’s condition prevents meaningful participation in the educational program, presents a health risk to the child or others, or that medical consultation is warranted unless the condition resolves.
Parents should complete the online Annual Information Update each year to verify that emergency daytime phone numbers are current so that parents can be reached if their child becomes ill or is injured while at school. Parents should also inform the School Nurse or Health Assistant of health-related information they feel is important for each child’s safety and success at school.
When is My Child Too Sick for School
Send me to school if...
· I have a runny nose or just a little cough but no other symptoms.
· I haven't taken any fever-reducing medicine for 24 hours and I haven't had a fever during that time.
· I haven't thrown up or had any diarrhea for 24 hours
Keep me at home if...
· I have a temperature higher than 100 degrees even after taking medicine.
· I'm throwing up or have diarrhea.
· My eyes are pink and crusty.
Call the doctor if...
· I have a temperature higher than 100 degrees for more than two days.
· I have been throwing up or have diarrhea for more than two days
· I have the sniffles for more than a week and they aren't getting better.
· I still have asthma symptoms after using my asthma medicine (and call 911 if I'm having trouble breathing after using my inhaler.)
What We Do in the Event of Weather
We are lucky in Nebraska to get to enjoy all 4 seasons. This also means that at times the weather gets in the way of our fun and plans. Below is a brief description of our procedures when the weather is not cooperating:
Cold Weather: So long as temperatures are 10° or warmer, students will be outside for recess, arrival, dismissal, safety patrol, and other outdoor activities.
Rain: When rain is heavy enough that students would get considerably wet, or when there is thunder or lightning, students will be kept inside or brought inside. In addition, if conditions have been such that fields are muddy, access to dirt and grass areas may be restricted as well as playground equipment if it is deemed too slick for safe play.
Severe Weather: If the National Weather Service issues a Thunderstorm Warning students are kept inside. In the event of a Tornado Warning, students are moved to our area of refuge at the south end of the building. Families coming to the school during this time are encouraged to take shelter with us until the warning has passed.
We know it is important to consider both the physical and social-emotional wellbeing of our students, families, and staff. We continue to be committed to providing regular instruction and support in managing thoughts and feelings.
If your child is experiencing particular difficulties and you would like to explore options for additional support we encourage you to contact our School Psychologist, Ms. Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org), or our School Counselor, Mrs. Ross (email@example.com) who can help in coordinating additional supports and resources.
Notice of Non-Discrimination
Westside Community Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, marital/parental status, military/veteran status or any other category protected by law in its programs and activities or in admission or access to, or treatment in, hiring and employment, and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.
The following District personnel have been designated to coordinate compliance and can address inquiries about the District’s nondiscrimination policies and procedures:
For questions or concerns by students, parents or others:
• Coordinator of Student Services/Title IX Coordinator – ABC Bldg. 909 So. 76th St. Omaha (402) 390-2100 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Director of Special Services/ADA & 504 Coordinator (disability/accommodation) ABC Bldg. 909 So. 76th St. (402) 390-2100 E-mail: ADAcoordinator@westside66.net
For questions by District employees or applicants:
• Ass’t Supt. for Human Resources/Lead Title IX Coordinator - 909 So. 76th St. Omaha, NE (402) 390-2100
Annual AHERA Notice
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 (AHERA) requires each public school district to annually notify parents, staff, and employee groups of its asbestos management plans. A management plan is in place for Rockbrook and is available for review either at the school building or at the Westside Service Center, 9437 J St. Omaha, NE.
This school was originally inspected in the 1980’s and re-inspected by a certified inspector every three years thereafter. The three-year re-inspection was conducted in 2021, a ceiling tile inspection in 2019, and periodic surveillance will be conducted as required. No abatement activities are currently in progress or scheduled for the 2023-2024 school year at this building.
The Designated Person responsible for managing the District’s AHERA compliance and the contact person for questions or to review a management plan is the Director of Facilities, Andrew Wane (402) 390-8331.