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The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

GPS Director of Curriculum to retire after 25 years

Anderson leaves impact on district, successor named
GPS+Director+of+Curriculum+to+retire+after+25+years
Gretna Public Schools Foundation

Meeting with grade-level teachers at Thomas Elementary School, working at admin on a new physical education program, voting on upcoming plans at the board meeting: that’s all in a day’s work for a Director of Curriculum in Gretna Public Schools like Rex Anderson. Anderson has worked in the district for 25 years and plans to retire after this school year.
“In all the time he’s worked here, you see how much our district has grown and how much he’s been a part of that,” Superintendent Travis Lightle said. “Dr. Anderson has always been prepared. Whether I was a teacher at Thomas, between he and Mrs. Deterding, I always understood what the expectation was.”
Throughout his career, Anderson has created a three-year curriculum system, updated courses for every subject and added six new dual-credit courses since 2017.
“He’s very organized, and he thinks a few steps ahead of everybody else,” Lightle said. “He thinks of things that other people don’t always think of. He’s got a great system in place, and it has everything teachers have to be successful.”
In addition to overhauling the curriculum system, Anderson has learned a lot, built many relationships and has created several memories that he will carry into retirement.
“I’ve got to meet some great teachers and work with some great people,” Anderson said. “I’ve learned something different from every single one of them.”
For his dissertation for his doctorate in 1996, Anderson wrote about small-town growth, focusing on Millard Public Schools’ history and the suburban growth within the district while working as a principal at Millard North Middle School. In 1959, they held a meeting about Millard finally spreading out of their K-12 building to Millard Central Middle School.
“It was the longest set of board minutes since 1945,” he said.
While reading board minutes, he found the members debating the size of the electrical outlet needed to pop popcorn for concessions. Then, one year later, after transferring to Gretna Public Schools, Anderson sat in a board meeting for this new rural district.
“The last two years I was principal, they built the high school around the existing Middle School,” Anderson said. “I had to go to all the construction meetings even though I was the middle school principal.”
After the meeting concluded, a construction worker asked what size outlet they needed for concessions, and Anderson’s good memory and interest in the school’s history came in handy.
“So some things don’t change,” Anderson said.
Anderson has two other administrators on his team working with him on curriculum: Andy Boone, the Curriculum Coordinator, and Shawn Hoppes, his assistant. His extensive research on different districts and education has helped others understand the reasoning behind his executive decisions.
“He has a historical perspective on everything,” Hoppes said. “This is my first year in the district, and if I ask, ‘Well, why do we do it this way?’ or something else, he can give you information from when he was the middle school principal and how it’s evolved to get to where it is today. So that’s very helpful as you’re learning the district. You’re learning why we do things.”
Boone and Hoppes started working in the curriculum office this year and are learning the ropes from Anderson.
“In this role, I enjoy working with Rex and Shawn in the curriculum department,” Boone said. “It’s a different type of team, in your group of three versus your school team, but the goal is ultimately to be out there supporting teachers and ensure our students are successful and have the opportunities they need to succeed.”
After he retires, Anderson plans on building his house on his brother’s farm in the Village of Ceresco with room for alpacas, small chickens and sheep.
“Eventually, we will sell our property here in Gretna and move to a small farm over by Lincoln,” Anderson said. “My brother typically runs that, but he’s only using about half the land. So we plan to build a house there, and we’ve talked about some ponies for grandkids and things like that. So it doesn’t sound like retirement since it’s a lot of work, but I’ll still have something to do.”
In earlier years, he gave eggs of chicks and ducks to first-grade classrooms, then invited them to the farms for field trips to see how their animals grew.
“When I was a first-grade teacher at Thomas, we got to go on a field trip to his farm,” Boone said. “We got to see the hen house, the alpacas and the pond. Gretna means a lot to him, so I hope he’s proud of all his work.”
Last night, at the school board meeting, all members voted to hire Hoppes as next year’s Curriculum Director, replacing Anderson after he retires.
“When working with him, you see that he has a genuine love and passion for Gretna, but also just for education, with his understanding of education reaching children,” Hoppes said. “It’s evident in what he does every day over the past 25 years he’s been in Gretna.”

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Onnika Moore, Editor
Onnika Moore is a junior at Gretna East High School. She was on the Gretna Media staff at Gretna High School for the past two year, and this year at Gretna East, she has earned an editor position. Her goals for journalism this year are to win State awards and build the program from the ground up. Journalism is the only school activity she is involved in, but with her free time, she enjoys drawing, reading and writing. She also loves to spend time with her two cats, Sprinkles and Cylis. 
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