Culler Middle School
Culler Middle School is a professional learning community with a tradition of service, a culture of collaboration, and a commitment to student learning.

The Cougar Connection

January 2022

Letter from our Principal

Culler Community,

Welcome to 2nd Semester! As we are navigating our second year of running a school within a pandemic, there have been many lessons learned and we have worked to shift and rethink our resources to best meet the needs of our students. To this end, we have been able to hire an additional Teacher Associate to help cover staff absences and an additional Student Support Technician to support student behavior.

Below are the new hires:

  • Robyn Okamoto – Teacher Associate and Counselor Intern
  • Dave Dyson – Teacher Associate
  • Brett Thompson – Teacher Associate
  • Molly Lambert – Student Support Technician
  • Jordan Hardesty – Para Educator in our Teaching and Learning Center

If you have not already checked it out, please try coming to one of the next 2 Parent-Community Engagement Meetings. We meet for 45 minutes via Zoom! Your input and thoughts are extremely valuable!

  • January 20th @ 7:00 p.m.
  • April 21st @ 6:00 p.m. – Title 1 Parent Mtg also

Thanks for your continued partnership!

Michaela Hahn
Michaela Hahn


Upcoming Dates

January 12
Food Market 3:05-3:30pm

January 17
No School

January 25
PLC Dismissal-1:40pm

MTSS-B Information

Happy 2022, Cougar Families!

Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) have three layers including Tier 1 (all students), Tier 2 (10-15% of students) and Tier 3 (5% of students). This month, Culler will be rolling out a revamped version of our Tier 2 supports. Students who show a need for Tier 2 supports will have a designated check in check out (CICO) teacher who checks in with them every day. They will also carry a CICO card with them and each teacher will circle a positive contribution the student made in class.

If students need support beyond this, they will be placed in a SAIG (Social Academic Intervention Group). These groups teach social skills in a way that we would teach math or reading. Students will also receive a more extensive check in check out with a specifically assigned teacher.

If you would like more information on Tier 2 supports for your child, please email me at

Take care–
Kim Rathe

Most Improved Cougars (MICA) & Students of the Month

MICA Award Winners

Earnestina Strozier
Bhashya Sri Vermuri
Kamorione Taylor
Kiara Austin
Gabe Ortiz
Zavior Spellman
Maggie Kurtzhals
Ky-Mani Stephens
Diego Recinos Guevara
Jaleah Divers-Sidney
Kria McCall
Yassin Jandali
Rida Aribi
Boston Caroon
Bella Amen
Maddison Carter
James Craft
Shaleia Busby
Darion Madkins
Don Nguyen
Korbin Blake
Mohammed Mohammed
Sarah Parden
Xaiden Lehmen-Bear

Students of the Month

Preston Rudolph
Abe Duffek
Karen Mares
Violet Herber

Cougar Den // Malone Center Events

Happy New Year Cougar Families!

Enrollment for CLC will open back up towards the end of January! Please look at our Culler website to sign your student(s) up for our CLC program.

We will be announcing our December Students of the Month on our Facebook page.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out!

7th & 8th Grade Intramurals

Happy New Year 2022!

January is upon us and we have one athletic season going on. Boys Basketball!! This is available for 7th/8th grade boys. Both grades are separate and will play with their grade only. We will have 3 teams at each grade level, consisting of an A,B and C team. All skill levels are welcome!! Below is some information that they will need moving forward.

*January 6th: Meeting after school in the boys gym at 3:10-4:00.


  • Jan. 22: vs. Moore MS
  • Jan. 29: vs. Park MS
  • Feb. 5: @ Lefler MS
  • Feb. 12: @ Irving MS
  • Feb. 19: @ Dawes MS
  • Feb. 26: vs. Mickle MS

There will be a postseason tournament for the A teams and those dates will be shared as we get closer. Game times for each regular season game are as follows.

  • A game: 8:30 a.m.
  • B game: 9:30 a.m.
  • C game: 10:30 a.m.

If your son is interested in playing basketball for Culler this year, please have them see me for info! If you have any other questions feel free to contact me as well with those.


Jeff Williams

The Culler Library

Empower learners to be curious, critical, and creative thinkers; enthusiastic readers; skillful researchers; and conscientious digital citizens.

Culler Library Mission

Library News

Did you know that LPS students have a robust collection of reference, magazine and newspaper articles available digitally? Gale is a huge database where you can find the answers to almost any question and explore topics of interests. It’s also a great resource for research. To access Gale, click on the link on the LPS Portal and choose the most relevant Gale Database for your needs.

Digital Citizenship Tips

LPS teachers instruct students about digital law when they help students explore how terms of service agreements and privacy policies are important and have real-world implications. Topics for a family discussion might include:

  • What is a privacy policy? (Tells how an application or service will use your personal information, photos, videos, and may include age requirements for the application or service.)
  • Why are privacy policies important? (It’s important at a young age to decide how much information you want to share with an application or service and what information you want to keep private).

This Common Sense Media site provides additional information for parents concerning privacy and internet safety.

Library Staff

Ms. Haack

Mr. Saddler

ELL Information

Culler ELL Teachers

Mrs. Jurgens-Woitzel

Mr. Pabst

Ms. Petersen

Mrs. Rodell

Mr. Shanahan

Ms. Westlund


All students who qualify for ELL services will take the ELPA21 in February. The ELPA21 is a statewide assessment that all English language learners in the state of Nebraska take. The online assessment is made up of four parts: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Results usually become available in May. Students who score proficient (all 4s and 5s) meet the criteria to exit the ELL program will no longer receive ELL services the following school year. We will begin testing in early February with practice tests happening the week prior. It is important that students get enough sleep so they can do their best on this assessment. It’s also imperative that students arrive to school with a charged Chromebook as the assessment is done online.

RAZ Kids for ELL Students

Many parents ask what their child can work on at home to improve their reading. RAZ Kids is a reading program that all students in ELL levels newcomer-2 have access to. Students are able to log on, listen, read, and take quizzes on stories at their reading level. The program automatically moves students up reading levels as they complete stories. Encourage your child to use RAZ Kids at home, even for just 10-20 minutes a night.

Late Bus for ELL Students!

ELL students, who ALREADY receive bussing to and from school because they live outside of the Culler attendance area, have the option to take a late bus that departs at 4:45 in order to stay after school for the Cougar Den after school program, clubs, academic support, and/or intramurals. Students may sign up anytime, but we ask that if your child signs up, they commit to taking it consistently (more than once a week) to keep their name on the list. If interested in the late bus, students should ask their teacher for a permission slip to have you sign and return to school.



Aqeel Fadhil
(402) 436-1715


Sudanese Dialect

Hager Mohamed
(402) 436-1958


Marta Boucher
(402) 436-1763


Khudhur Ali
(402) 436-1994


Mooku Taw
(402) 436-1434


Toan Tran
(402) 436-1955


Tosh Jock
(402) 436-1892

Russian / Ukrainian

Ellie Kasab
(402) 436-1942


Florence J. Clark Award for Excellence in Middle School Teaching

Our very own Ashlea Jurgens-Woitzel was awarded the Florence J. Clark Award for Excellence in Middle School Teaching.

This Award annually recognizes two outstanding middle school teachers in the Lincoln Public Schools. Middle school teachers honored by the award demonstrate excellence in middle school teaching and work toward continuous improvement in student achievement and development.

Ashlea was nominated twice for this award. Her nominations described her leadership skills and her commitment to supporting the ELL students at Culler. They go on to explain that she is a model teacher, her students are engaged in learning, her enthusiasm for her job, and that she is constantly learning and growing. Lastly, the selection committee was most wowed by how she has stepped up to be a role model and leader at Culler.

View photos from the award ceremony in this gallery!

Spirit Week

Highlights from Spirit Week! View the gallery here!

Culler Counseling

Providing hope for the future, giving students the strength and courage to persevere.

6th Grade

Happy New Year! Last month 7th graders began to think about what their future goals and dreams might be after they graduate from high school in 5 short years. I was so pleased that the majority of our 7th grade students have plans to continue their education after high school at Southeast Community College, a 4 year college, trade school or the military. The lesson was presented in Health classes during the month of December. I presented 3 steps to take in preparing to achieve their future goals.

  1. Find the right fit-different types of educational opportunities after high school
  2. Push yourself-take challenging courses, get involved in school and community activities
  3. Get your hands on some cash-how to access scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and loans

Ask your 7th grader about this lesson, I’m hopeful they will be able to answer any questions you may have.

This month I will be going into classes to have students choose their ACES (elective classes) for 8th grade. This is the first time students get to choose which classes they want for 2 class periods. Some classes are year long classes, others are semester classes. Students will be able to prioritize classes that they are the most interested in to match their future goals. All students must take English, Math, Social Studies, Science and PE/Health. Encourage your 7th grader to think about which classes would be interesting and useful to them as they move into high school. Classes they can choose from are listed below.

Full Year Classes

  • Spanish 1 (high school credit class)
  • 8th Gr. Choir
  • 8th Gr. Band
  • 8th Gr. Orchestra

Semester Classes

  • Art
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Technology
  • Family Consumer Science
  • Journalism (Yearbook)
  • Skilled and Technical Science
Sherri Robinson
Sherri Robinson

7th Grade

Happy 2022 everyone! I’d like to take you all back to the summer of 2021 and the start of your students’ 6th grade year. The transition was tough for some. Now, we are settled into middle school and rocking life! Students seem less anxious and seem to feel like they “belong.” We still have friendship changes, and that’s very difficult for young psyches, especially now when friends are so very important to them. I explain to students that friends will change and evolve their entire lives. We talk about good friend behavior to help students identify when the people they think are their friends are really not and to help them to be better friends. I continue to be impressed with how open our 6th graders are to really listening to each other and respecting each other’s viewpoints.

Talking about friendships brings me to social media. Social media platforms can connect and divide people. When kids use social media, there are many factors that can be harmful. I have dedicated January to online safety, especially social media platforms. Officer Stumbo and I will teach classroom lessons on just that. If you have a general issue you’d like addressed in these sessions, please email me. We cannot talk about real individual issues to full classes (Sally did this to Joey and here’s why it isn’t safe) because of privacy laws. We can, however, talk in generalities (bullying, trafficking, harassment, actions to take when you feel unsafe, etc.). Even though 6th graders are technically too young to have a social media presence, we know it happens. Let’s help them be safe.

Would you have a chat with your students about online safety? It is important for a child to know that the adults in their lives support them and are concerned for them. That feeling helps kids to be able to report to a trusted adult when things do not feel right. Thank you so much for your partnership. As always, please call or email if you have questions or concerns.

Margaret Pass
Margaret Pass

8th Grade

Welcome to 2022 and the final semester of your 8th grader’s middle school career! Second semester and high school choice are here. In early December, you received information from LPS.  Please check that communication and let me know if you have questions. If you have not received it, please contact me.

Each 8th grader attending an LPS school (with their guardian’s permission, of course) has the right to choose the high school they attend. That means that any 8th grade student within LPS may go to any LPS high school they like, so long as they submit the high school choice by January 31, 2022. That form is available in the email information sent to you by the district or here.

Class of 2026 parents and guardians,

High school choice time is here.  You should have received a form from the district that had the choice form attached to it, or your student can come to the counseling center to grab one if need be.  Just a reminder- the choice forms are due on January 31st.  Here is the blurb from the last newsletter-

Each 8th grader attending an LPS school (with their guardian’s permission, of course) has the right to choose the high school they attend. That means that any 8th grade student within LPS may go to any LPS high school they like, so long as they submit the high school choice by January 31, 2022. That form is available in the email information sent to you by the district or here.

The only 8th graders who need to submit the high school choice form are those who want to go to a high school other than their home school. If you are not sure which school’s boundary you live in, check out the Home School Lookup page. Just input your address and your home schools will pop up. 

If your home address in our system or your email address is incorrect (check your student’s Synergy home page), please correct it immediately by calling our registrar, Gretchen Molina at or 402-436-1210. If you call, choose option 3 for the Counseling Center. If we do not have the correct address, we do not have the right home school for your child. If we do not have the correct email address, the high school information will not get to you.

Thank you all for your help and partnership this school year. As always, if you have questions, please contact me at 402-436-1210 option 3 or

Another set of events that I would like to put on your radar are the High School Information nights that are going to be held in January.  These events are designed to share information about the opportunities available at each school.  Below are the dates and times:

Monday, January 10, 2022
Northwest High School
6:30 PM

Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Southwest High School
6:30 PM

Wednesday, January 12, 2022
East High School
6:30 PM

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Northeast High School
6:30 PM

Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Southeast High School
6:30 PM

Wednesday, January 19, 2022
North Star High School
6:30 PM

Thursday, January 20, 2022
Lincoln High School
6:30 PM

Also, your 8th graders will be choosing their classes here soon.  Registration for classes will be on February 16, 2022.  More info to come, but if you would like to do some research on courses for each of the high school’s, check out the Preparing for High School information page on by typing in “BIBW” in the search box.

The only 8th graders who need to submit the high school choice form are those who want to go to a high school other than their home school. If you are not sure which school’s boundary you live in, check out the Home School Lookup page. Just input your address and your home schools will pop up.

If your home address or your email address is incorrect in our system (check your student’s Synergy home page), please correct it immediately by calling our registrar, Gretchen Molina at or 402-436-1210, option 3. If we do not have the correct address, we may not have the right home school for your child.

Thank you all for your help and partnership. I look forward to seeing our 8th graders grow into the young adults I know they can be.

Logan Waite
Logan Waite

Technology for Learning

Personal Computing Devices

This time of year often brings questions about whether students are allowed to use personal computing devices instead of the district issued Chromebook. Where completing school work is concerned, the answer to this question is “no.” There are a number of reasons for this, but you should be aware that the LPS Chromebook comes with limits on the web sites that can be visited and the applications that can be accessed. You can support teachers’ efforts in managing a consistent learning environment by encouraging your student to use the district issued Chromebook for all school work.

Testing Change

We wanted to let you know about a change in plans for testing this winter. LPS had planned to have all students in grades 3-8 participate in a winter pilot of the NSCAS Growth ELA and Math tests. Recently the Nebraska Department of Education decided to limit the NSCAS Growth Pilot to a much smaller sample of students. Our school will no longer be participating this winter, but will take the NSCAS Growth tests in the spring.

Culler Artists

Tallulah Luettger

Amirre Brown

Amirre Brown

Yesenia Puentes

Learning Moments Captured

Students in foundations math were practicing identifying fractions through the game snakes and ladders.

Celebrating students who have improved their English and moved up a level in ELL!!!

AVID Corner

Ms. Kokrda’s 7th Grade AVID class spent two days last week developing their group work skills. They specifically focused on the question, “What unique qualities do I bring to group work?”

ParentVue is a component of the LPS Student Information System that allows parents/guardians to:

  • Access class information
  • Obtain email addresses to message teachers
  • Monitor attendance & report all-day absences 24×7
  • View and print report cards
  • Secondary Only: Monitor grades & automatically receive notifications when a grade falls below a selected level

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