Doane Alumnus to Lead Online Education Program for Lincoln Public Schools
Casey Fries has a new take on the one-room schoolhouse.
In fact, he is now the principal of more than 750 one-room schools.
The many-time Doane University graduate will be the first remote learning principal for Lincoln Public Schools for the 2021-2022 school year. The program will serve almost 800 students — from kindergarten to seniors in high school — who are registered to continue learning from home.
A native of Cairo, Nebraska, (“Yes. I lived on Suez Street), and a graduate of Centura High School, Fries made a long, long venture into his new job.
His first graduation was at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a business degree and a major in marketing. After a couple of years in business, he decided education was going to be his future.
Fries, the husband of another Doane grad and former Tiger basketball player, Jessie, who is the principal at Lefler Middle School in Lincoln, jumped into the Doane Fast-Track program. He picked up a teaching degree in math and taught the subject at Lincoln High for four years.
He wanted more.
Fries received his Master of Education and Curriculum at Doane-Lincoln. A short while later, he earned a Master of Education in Education Leadership from Doane.
“I was motivated to get into school administration and Doane offered just what I wanted,” Fries said. “At one time I was taking classes at Doane, UNL, Southeast Community College and Chadron State. So you could say I was really into what I could learn in school.”
He moved from Lincoln High math to assistant principal at Lincoln East four years ago.
After a year of hybrid online and in-class teaching and administrating because of the pandemic, he’s now moving to remote learning.
The new post will be a first for Lincoln and one of very few of its kind in the country.
Fries is ready for the challenge.
“I will be using everything I’ve learned, including the incredible work our teachers have done this year through the pandemic,” he said. “I will have the new experience of working with kids from all ages and not just high school, so that will be interesting.”
The new remote learning program, paid for through a federal government COVID-19 relief grant, is going to take some time to develop scheduling and team building.
“We’ve all learned so much from the hybrid of teaching in class and remote, this will be the first remote only school,” he said. The program was created after a need was identified for continued remote instruction of students from kindergarten through senior year in high school.
Some kids can’t go to school itself because of anxiety, some because of other problems, and some will be taught through a specialized method, he said.
“There will be some big challenges, such as teaching second graders to read in online classes, but I have had such great work from my team, here at East and through the rest of LPS, we believe the new program will be successful.”
Almost 800 students, including 189 special education students, are enrolled in the program as of February. The numbers include 17 kindergartners, 80 seventh graders, 88 juniors and 88 seniors.
Fries will continue his post at Lincoln East through May. He boasted that the help he gets from the East staff makes his transition possible. “We have a lot of great people in our system and they take some of my responsibilities to give me time to work on the new program.
“This is pretty exciting and very promising.”
As for the long-term future, Fries said he might pursue his EdD (education Doctorate) at Doane.
“You never know when I might get the urge for some more education,” he said. “Doane has made a lot of things possible for me.