College of Education shoots for success


By Shanae Springer, Contributor

Success is the standard when it comes to the College of Education at the University of Nebraska Omaha.  Ken Bird, who served as a superintendent of Westside Community Schools, is an example of that standard.  

The education program is rigorous and requires constant focus, according to David Conway, associate dean in the College of Education.  It includes five academic units that offer a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.  Admission to College of Education programs is a two-step process. Students first need to achieve and maintain an above-average GPA in order to stay in. This requires a student to have discipline, practice strong study skills, have time management and personal interactive skills, Conway said.  

Not only are student skills important to success in the education programs, but the faculty also play a part.  Conway said the UNO faculty is student focused, consistent, experienced and loyal to students. Many UNO professors have contributed to the success of the graduates for many years.  

“We produce successful students that stay in the area, contribute to the community and go on to further their education,” Conway said. “My community involvement began at UNO more than 40 years ago and has lead to me being involved in dozens of local, state and national civic and professional organizations,” Bird said.  “Through my early community involvement at UNO, I learned the importance in giving back to your community.  Each and every one of these activities has contributed to my personal and professional growth.  As well as helping me keep balance in my life and provide a great appreciation for our community and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.”

For 16 years, Bird served as the superintendent of the Westside Community Schools in Omaha. He currently serves on Boards of Children’s Hospital Foundation, Conference for Inclusive Communities, Omaha Community Playhouse Foundation, Project Harmony and Werner Enterprises.

Undergraduate programs include teacher education, special education and communication disorders and health, physical education and recreation. The graduate program includes five programs: counseling, educational administration and supervision, special education and communication disorders, health, physical education and recreation and teacher education.

An example of the college’s success in producing school administrators is present in Omaha.  Out of all the primary and secondary schools in Omaha, approximately 40 percent are served by principals and about 60 percent by teachers who come out of these programs. There are also a number of counselors and superintendents who serve in the Omaha schools and are graduates of the college.    

These are the leaders in Omaha, according to Conway.

The Buffett Award recognizes the achievements of skilled and dedicated educators of the Omaha Public Schools. Of all the Buffet Teaching Award winners, approximately 50 percent have at least one of their degrees from UNO. This award goes to those teachers who understand the passions and goals of the students, as well as to those who demonstrate a strong knowledge of their subjects and the ability to deliver the message effectively to the students.