Voters’ Guide: Learning Community Coordinating Council

Together with school districts and community organizations as partners, (the Learning Community group) demonstrate, share and implement more effective practices to measurably improve educational outcomes for children and families in poverty. — from the Learning Community’s website

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha contacts candidates during each election cycle and invites them to participate in the print and online editions of the Voters’ Guide. Candidates provide their biographical information and their positions on selected issues. Candidates are aware in advance that the biographies and answers will be printed exactly as submitted without edits for content, spelling, punctuation or grammar.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that never supports or opposes any political party or candidate for office.

PDF of Douglas County Voters’ Guide | Find voter information specific to your ballot at vote411.org.

Find your district by looking up your voter registration on the Nebraska Voter Check website.

Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 1

Bradley Ekwerekwu (D):  No response received.

Brian Thommes (D):  No response received.

Candidates for Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 3

Mark Hoeger (D):   No response received.

Melinda Kozel (D):  http://votekozel.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: n/a.  Past Public Office, dates held: n/a.  Education: BA-Art History, Univ of Nebraska at Omaha;  MA-Ed-Arts Education, Univ of Nebraska at Kearney.  Military experience: n/a.  Volunteer experience: Dog Walker, Nebraska Humane Society;  Visual Arts Chair, Omaha Entertainment & Arts Awards;  The Shakespeare Collective.

Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 3, Candidates’ Responses

How do you envision the future of the Learning Community?

Mark Hoeger:  No response received.

Melinda Kozel:  I see the Learning Community as a support structure to all of our school districts. The Learning Community is able to generate funds, develop partnerships, and implement programs and staff in a way that is more efficient, cost-effective, and consistent than districts would be able to do on their own. Because of this, the effort to close gaps in educational access, well-being, and performance can be given the attention it deserves.

In your own words, what is the mission of the Learning Community?

Mark Hoeger:  No response received.

Melinda Kozel:  The Learning Community is showing positive results of the work it is doing and proving the necessity of an outside entity to support schools and neighborhoods. I see this becoming more evident each year. I can also see it proving as a working model for the rest of the Nebraska. Tackling the gaps in access and achievement throughout the state is a growing concern and the ability to replicate this idea could greatly benefit us as a state.

How can the Learning Community improve outcomes for all students?

Mark Hoeger:  No response received.

Melinda Kozel:  It is our responsibility to acknowledge barriers that prevent students from having a positive and productive experience and seek out resources or methods that can alleviate those disruptions. We need to make sure that schools are a place where every single student feels safe, acknowledged, supported and inspired no matter their race, religion, country of origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, economic experience or level of ability and uplift teachers & families to support them.

If elected, what two things do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your first year?

Mark Hoeger:  No response received.

Melinda Kozel:  I would like to explore ways of incorporating mental health related programs throughout the city. Students should have consistent access to counselors, their families to systems of support, and teachers to resources to better equip them as well as offer support.  I would also like to explore the possibility of opening a center in or near Subcouncil 3 to benefit families and students that need safe and reliable access to programs and resources and facilitate collaboration with nearby schools.

Candidates for Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 5

Anayeli Martinez Real (D):  http://AnayeliReal.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: N/A.  Past Public Office, dates held: N/A.  Education: Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering.  Military experience: N/A.  Volunteer experience: Since 2016 I have been a Circle Program Career Coach for middle school girls through Civic Nebraska. Since 2015 I have worked with small business entrepreneurs as a Volunteer Instructor for the Business & Contractor Academy at Metropolitan Community

Erik O Servellon (D):  Web Site: http://erikserves.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: None.  Past Public Office, dates held: None.  Education: Bachelor of Art, Political Science, 2013, UNO;  Master of Public Administration, 2016, UNO.  Military experience: 10 Years Service Nebraska Army National Guard, 2016-2017 Deployment to Afghanistan as a Flight Medic Sergeant, 2017 Mobilization to Texas for Hurricane Harvey response.  Volunteer experience: President, Metro Young Latino Professionals Association; Board Member, Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership; Board Member, UNO Military Alumni Group; 2018 Fellow, New Leaders Council Omaha; Board Member, Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee

Tonya Ward (D):  No response received.

Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 5, Candidates’ Responses

How do you envision the future of the Learning Community?

Anayeli Martinez Real:  The Learning Community is an organization with endless opportunities to help mold the future of the youth in our community. I envision the Learning Community becoming the organization that will help students not only improve education from K-12 but also make sure kids find successful and rewarding careers post k12. This will not only change outcome of kids involved in Learning Community programs but also improve lifestyle of generations to come.

Erik O Servellon:  I envision the Learning Community as another pillar of the strong public education system in Nebraska.  Exporting best practices for pedagogy, early childhood education, and family learning all the while being a go-to resource for area students, parents, and teachers. The Learning Community of the future will no longer be a political issue – but instead a testament to many sides coming together to solve the age-old issue of the educational achievement gap.

Tonya Ward:  No response received.

In your own words, what is the mission of the Learning Community?

Anayeli Martinez Real: The Learning Communities mission is to be an organization that partners with existing community organizations and school districts to close the education gap for children and families in poverty. The mission is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely which is important to assure tax payers dollars are being spent wisely.

Erik O Servellon:  The mission of the Learning Community is to close the achievement gap in students throughout Douglas and Sarpy County school districts.  Through early childhood education, family learning, and teacher development programs, the Learning Community uses a comprehensive, holistic approach to set parents, teachers, and most importantly, students, on the road to success.

Tonya Ward:  No response received.

How can the Learning Community improve outcomes for all students?

Anayeli Martinez Real: The Learning Community is spending their resources to help kids in poverty close the education gap. If elected I will promote an investment in low-performing students to help close the education gap. A big part of my focus will be to increase outreach to parents to involve them with the education of their youth. More engaged families mean more engaged students.

Erik O Servellon:  The Learning Community can show school districts that core programs are producing measurable results.  One such example is an early childhood program that has shown to close the achievement gap in K-3 students, as compared to students who are not in the program.  The Learning Community is an organization that can try programs at a smaller scale (thus less risk), show that they work (or don’t), and export best practices or lessons learned to area districts for implementation.

Tonya Ward:  No response received.

If elected, what two things do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your first year?

Anayeli Martinez Real: I will help Learning Community expand their focus on higher education preparation and career education programs. This investment will help develop long term goals for teenagers and young adults that will help our community prosper. Another goal will be to help finalize the Community Achievement Plan, specifically the portion focused on preparing students for a successful career.  I will help increase collaboration between residents, districts, and the learning community. I will encourage public

Erik O Servellon:  When elected, I hope to develop a stronger relationship between the Learning Community and local. state, and federal elected officials.  The Learning Community is a hidden gem that is underappreciated – simply getting elected officials in the door of a Learning Community center would show them the immense public good that the L.C. is providing.  Additionally, I hope to build stronger public-private relationships, leveraging Omaha’s remarkable philanthropic community to elevate the L.C.

Tonya Ward:  No response received.

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