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

April/May 2024

Letter from our Principal

Congratulations to our Inspire Award Winners!

Culler Community,

Congratulations to Emmaline Baxter and Sherlyn Carias-Blanco who are Culler’s 2023-2024 Inspire Award Winners. Staff provided the following reasoning for these two to be honored:

Ms. Baxter

Is always on top of any questions that teachers might have regarding their instruction and technology usage
Is very professional and puts kids first
She is flexible and willing to go the extra mile and take the initiative
Always keeps her cool and presumes positives
District leader in Open SciEd
Supports our MTSS-B efforts consistently


Sherlyn embodies the qualities of an exceptional leader through her unwavering commitment to various causes that speak to the heart of human rights and social justice. Her passion for immigration rights, universal medical access, and the transformative power of education reflects a profound understanding of the challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Michaela Hahn
Michaela Hahn


Upcoming Dates

4/10-Food Market 3:05-3:30pm
4/23-PLC Dismissal- 1:40pm

5/8 Food Market 3:05-3:30pm
5/16 Band/Jazz/Orchestra Concert

AVID For All

Navigating AI for Middle Schoolers: A Parent's Guide

Earlier this year, AVID and Packback announced their partnership to bring Packback’s AI-aided writing tutor and discussion platform to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to help students strengthen their critical thinking and writing skills in the AVID Elective and Excel classes nationally. The effort will provide AVID Elective teachers with free access to a unique AI-enabled coach that offers real-time feedback and support to help students throughout every step of the writing process, as well as build their confidence and sense of inquiry.
While Culler’s AVID program doesn’t plan on using this feature until next year, it made me think about our students and AI. How can we continue to support strong academic growth AND digital literacy in a world of artificial intelligence?

After some lengthy research on the matter, I am proud to present a balanced guide to discussing AI with your child, ensuring they grasp both the benefits and potential risks:

Understand Chatbots 🤖

You’ve probably heard of ChatGPT and other chatbots. They seem friendly, but it’s crucial to understand they’re not real people. “While chatbots are very good at sounding like a sympathetic human, they’re merely mimicking human speech from data scraped off the internet”, says Helen Crompton, a professor at Old Dominion University who specializes in digital innovation in education. They simply repeat what they’ve learned from the internet. It’s wise to avoid sharing personal info with them to stay safe online.

Think (and Consume) Information Critically 🤔

With the vast amount of information available online, it’s essential for your child, and all of us,  to think critically about what we read and see. Chatbots like ChatGPT can provide answers, but they may not always be accurate, especially if the user is not familiar with how to prompt AI with specificity. Unlike search engines like Google, chatbots can’t– and won’t–  verify the truthfulness of information. Encourage your child to read laterally: Open a few new tabs in your browser to search outside of the website itself. Return to the website and scan for additional information, such as a publisher or author name before accepting information sourced from an AI bot.

AI is Designed to Hook the Reader 🪝

Tech companies use smart algorithms to suggest content they think you’ll enjoy. These are called recommendation systems and they can sometimes be risky or misleading since their main focus is on keeping users engaged and interested in a platform rather than ensuring accuracy or balance in the information provided. This can result in users getting stuck in “echo chambers” where they only come across content that confirms their pre-existing beliefs, which can reinforce biases and restrict exposure to different viewpoints.Teach your child to be discerning about the content they consume online and to verify information from credible sources.

AI Does Not have a Moral Compass 🧭

Generative AI goes beyond just text! There are actually a lot of free deepfake apps and web programs out there that can put someone’s face on someone else’s body in no time at all. Just as nasty rumors spread, you can imagine what happens when someone starts to circulate a fake image. It’s also important to be cautious about using apps that put friends’ or fellow students’ faces in questionable situations, as this could lead to legal issues. According to Victor Lee, an associate professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, it also helps to provide children and teenagers with specific examples of the privacy or legal risks of using the internet rather than trying to talk to them about sweeping rules or guidelines. Many of these platforms can retain images for years, so it is critical that our students are proactive about their privacy!

AI CAN be used as a learning tool! 🧰

If students are having trouble grasping a difficult topic, they can turn to AI for help! ChatGPT, and similar platforms such as Google’s Gemini, can break it down in a step-by-step manner, turn it into a fun rap, or even role-play as a biology expert to help test their understanding..AI can also serve as a personalized learning tool for all learners, offering adaptive study support, virtual tutoring, interactive experiences, language learning support, and more! As students begin to utilize AI more as an academic tool, be sure to also talk to them about academic honesty– Students should still be accountable and invested in their own ideas, opinions, and work. Copy and paste, or anything like it, is plagiarism and just not cool.

By engaging in open and balanced conversations about AI, you’re empowering your child to navigate the digital world safely and intelligently.

AVID (Achievement Via Individual Determination) is an educational program that is designed to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in college and beyond. This segment is meant for all Culler students and their families, not just those in the AVID Elective, so that every student can reap the benefits of successful habits and routines now, and in the future!

For more information, visit or reach out to our AVID Elective Instructor, Mx. Beatty via email (

7th & 8th Grade Intramurals

Hello Cougar Families!

The rest of April and May for Culler Athletics will be heavily involved in our Track season!  The following meets are scheduled.

  • April 18th: @ LSE
  • April 24th: @ LSE

Each meet will include 3 other schools that will compete alongside us.

The All-City Track meet (with every LPS middle school) will take place on May 1st and May 3rd!

Reminder for your student athletes.  Please make sure they are prepared each day for practice.  Proper warm clothing or clothing appropriate for each day’s weather is needed.  

We’re looking forward to continuing  our GREAT TRACK season this year!  If you have any questions, please let me know.


Culler A.D.

The Culler Library

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

Library Books are Due by the End of the Year

The end of the school year is approaching and that means that it is time to return books to the school library. To see the titles that your student needs to return before the end of the year follow these steps:

  • Begin at
  • Enter your student’s ID and password (If you don’t have this information, the school office can provide it for you).
  • Select “Destiny Discover” from the alphabetical listing in the portal.
  • From the upper right-hand corner of the screen, select login and select Log in using your account with New LPS Portal.
  • On the top row, hover your mouse over “My Stuff”.
  • Select “Checkouts” from the dropdown menu to see the books that are currently checked out.

Want a great recommendation to help your student find their next great read? Novelist is the perfect database to search for book suggestions. You can search by age range and genres. Is there a book your student loves? Search that title and get read-alikes, author read-alikes, and series read-alikes lists. Keep those kids reading during summer break! 

  • Begin at
  • Enter your student’s ID and password (If you don’t have this information, the school office can provide it for you).
  • Select “Novelist” from the alphabetical listing in the portal.

Library One Card

Lincoln City Libraries is proud to partner with Lincoln Public Schools to offer the Library OneCard program. Library OneCard gives every school age child in Lincoln Public Schools a library account to check out books, playaways, Wonderbooks, instruments, video games and more. Current LPS students, pre-K to grade 12, are assigned a Library OneCard account when they enroll in school. Learn more here!

Digital Citizenship Tips

Continue building on the digital citizenship conversations you have had with your kids throughout the summer by reviewing and discussing the following:

  • Screen Time
  • Online Safety
  • Online Etiquette

Remember you can access library databases during the summer through the LPS Portal. These databases provide great learning opportunities and enrichment for the summer for all our students.

Library Staff

Mrs. Vlasin-Poore

Mrs. Ahmed

ELL Information

Culler ELL Teachers

Ms. Deras

Ms. Schlickbernd

Mr. Pabst

Ms. Svoboda

Ms. Yeoh

Mr. Shanahan

Mrs. Babica

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


Claudia Rains
(402) 436-1988


Khudhur Ali
(402) 436-1994


Kmwe Paw
(402) 436-1434


Toan Tran
(402) 436-1955


Rabia Rashidi
(402) 436-1832


Olena Petrova

Culler Counseling

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

Fourth Quarter Reminders

We are now in quarter 4 and the end of the year will be here before you know it. Parents, remember to continue to check ParentVue to monitor your student’s attendance, current grades, and any missing assignments. Encourage your student to attend CRC if they need additional help with schoolwork. The CRC schedule can be found on the Culler website. Checking grades can help to prevent your student from getting behind and feeling overwhelmed at the end of the year. Students, if you would like help making an academic plan to address grades, please fill out a request to meet with your counselor.

Hope Day- April 3rd

On April 3rd, our school will be celebrating Hope Day. This is a day to promote hope and positivity. Hope Squad members will be creating a “hope wall” where students can post inspirational quotes and kind messages to one another in an effort to lift spirits and raise awareness of these issues. Hope Squad members, advisors, and other staff will also be wearing their t-shirts as another way to promote this event.

LPS Summer Athletic Camps

Are you looking for some fun ways for your student to hang out with friends, make new friends and get better at their favorite sports? LPS Summer Athletic Camp sign up has started! Complete the following form and get ready for some fun!

Ask your student’s PE teacher or counselor if you have any questions!

Kylie Washburn
Kylie Washburn
Drue Marr
Drue Marr

7th Grade

Sarah Charles
Sarah Charles

8th Grade

Cathy Davis
Cathy Davis

Attendance Counselor

Kelly Grefe
Kelly Grefe


Denise Klein
Denise Klein

Social Worker

Technology for Learning

Testing Season is Upon Us!

It’s said a body needs 8 hours of sleep every night. That’s especially true during the testing season. Student Chromebooks also need a good night of charging. Please help your students remember to bring their Chromebooks fully charged every day.

Screen Time

Did you know not all screen time is the same? There is a significant difference between “active” screen time (engaging in focused production of content) and “passive” screen time (consuming entertainment media). The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends families have thoughtful conversations around the purposes for using digital media and offers an online tool for creating a “personalized family media use plan.” Create a AAP Media Plan!

See the LPS Parent Guide to Student Chromebook Use in LPS for more helpful information and strategies to support your student’s Chromebook use at home.

Parent/Community Engagement

Culler Community Staff Spotlights

Health Office

Information for families with a student entering 7th grade in the 2024/2025 school year. We know there is a great deal of information coming home from school, but we want to especially make you aware of a Nebraska requirement for students entering a public school entering 7th grade.

Families of 7th grade students for the 2024/2025 school year need to provide the following information to the school your child attends – or will attend:

  • Evidence of a physical examination completed by a physician, physician assistant, or an advanced practice registered nurse. This exam must have taken place within the last six months, prior to the start of school. Now is a great time to make your school physical appointment with your student’s provider.
  • Students must be current with all school required immunizations and provide proof to the school.

There are many resources available and the school nurse can assist you if you have questions about either of these items. Nebraska law requires students to have immunizations completed by the first day of school. Lincoln Public Schools extends a grace period for immunizations, allowing families to make necessary appointments and have them completed by the end of first quarter.

Students who have not submitted complete immunization records to the health office by Oct. 12, 2024 will not be allowed back to school until immunization records are submitted and up-to-date.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your school nurse at
402-436-1210, Ext #4.

Thank You,

Ann Pickrel RN
Culler School Nurse

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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