Bighorn news: Two longtime board members step down

From left are Bradley Smith, Hoyte Salisbury, Donald Hicks and Ryatt Jackson.

From left are Bradley Smith, Hoyte Salisbury, Donald Hicks and Ryatt Jackson.
Provided to the LVN

Two long serving Oasis Academy Board members have stepped down after a combined 20 years of service.

Lisa Bird and Dr. Sage Hiibel have both spent extensive time serving on the board. Bird started on the board two months after the school opened in 2011 and Hiibel in 2016. Both know the importance of education and brought with them experience in higher education. Bird works for Western Governors University, and Hiibel is a tenured professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“I came to Oasis with pre-K-12 and higher education teaching and leadership experience,” Byrd said. “Joining the Oasis Board of Directors gave me the opportunity to connect my passion for education with my belief in a strong school and home partnership. I appreciated how Oasis created opportunities for parents to serve and be an integral part of the school community.”

Hiibel recognizes the importance of education.

“Education has always been important in my family, and as our kids got closer to starting school, I knew that their education was going to be important as well. I have never been very good at sitting on the sidelines, especially when it comes to my kids and their activities. It was the right time to get involved,” Hiibel said.

They’ve both seen a lot of changes at the school during their time. Including a lot of growth; adding a third class in the young grades, adding Oasis Academy College Prep High School, and now planning for the new high school building.

The accomplishments during their time on the board working with the school administration are numerous.

“We accomplished a lot as a team. I think I am the proudest of the school being designated as a STEM school by the governor's office and having a 5-star rating,” Hiibel said.

Bird said students are the center of each discussion and decision.

“I'm grateful for the experience working with the board and administration to rethink the school mission ‘Improving Lives Through Opportunity.’ Also, student test scores, teacher retention, and student retention prove the Oasis model of education works,” she said. “Oasis Board of Directors and Administration focus on students first. When we created the school values, ‘Students First’ was chosen as the most important. Every decision made is compared to what is best for students.”

That student-centered focus is something both board members take seriously.

“By far, what I will remember from my time at Oasis, is the board's decision to add our Core Belief: We believe in the inherent worth and potential of each human and in the life-changing power of learning,” Bird said. “For 12 years, I have participated in countless calls, meetings, conversations with the administration, faculty, and other board members where this core belief is what grounds us in decision making and is truly a shared belief.

“Oasis believes in the worth and potential of every individual student and we believe learning has the power to change lives for the better. It's been an honor to help plan those opportunities to improve students' lives.”

One of the other aspects to serving students has been making sure they have the support needed through teachers and staff.

“In monthly Academic Excellence Meetings, we focused on hearing directly from teachers and the challenges they face in best serving students. This created a way to identify problems that helped us work toward better solutions,” Bird added.

“I have witnessed a commitment to focus not just on education but on the wellbeing of students and the faculty and staff that serve our students over the years. This area is another example of how Oasis is leading K-12 education in Northern Nevada. As a board and administration team, we prioritized school counselors and well-being programs for our students.”

Hiibel also had words of support.

“Through all the growth I think we have done a pretty good job of always remembering that the students and the people are what make Oasis special,” he said. “I am proud of what the students of Oasis have accomplished over the years. With the support of the amazing teachers, aides, and staff, they have done some phenomenal things, and I am excited to see how the Bighorns change the world moving forward.

“Thanks to everyone at Oasis for making my time on the Board such a positive experience. I learned a lot about how a school works, and I have a whole new level of respect and appreciation for the administrators, teachers, staff, and everyone else that helps make the Oasis experience such a good one for the students. Go Bighorns.”

Melissa Mackedon, CEO, expressed thanks.

“The importance of having a quality board who believes in your mission cannot be overstated,” she said. “Both Lisa and Sage were board members I relied on throughout the years, members whose opinions and questions were always valid and led us to making the best decisions we could for our students. I am incredibly grateful for their service.”

Class hatches chicks

For the third year in a row, Mrs. Heather Weissmer’s second-grade class hatched chicks in their classroom. The fertilized eggs were brought in early May and hatched right before the school was released at the end of the month.

The project teaches students hands-on about lifecycles and strong lessons in agriculture.

“Not only are the kids learning academics, they are learning how to care for an animal. For the first time we actually had our first batch of eggs not hatch and I turned it into a learning moment. We researched reasons why they may not have hatched. We concluded that we just did not have the best eggs to start,” Weissmer said.

“They were either too old or not fertilized to begin with. So, thanks to the amazing Mrs. Kimmy Samaguey, I received a fresh set of eggs from a chicken breeder. Eight of the nine eggs we put in the incubator ended up hatching.”

“A lot of students have never seen chicks let alone watch them hatch. The class spent time learning about the development going on each day, had a countdown, and moved the incubator between all of the second-grade classrooms so everyone could enjoy it.”

Currently, Weissmer said “the chicks are living between Ms. Alexandra Conder's house and mine. We think there are three roosters and five hens, but it is still a little early to be sure.”


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