Learning Academy
Contact us! (402) 564-0815

What We Do:

The ESU 7 Learning Academy is a specialized educational program committed to unlocking the potential of students aged 5-21. Through collaborative efforts with stakeholders, we meet students at their unique academic, behavioral, and social levels, capitalizing on their strengths to facilitate a successful transition back to their prior educational environment.

Our academy serves as a temporary placement option for school districts seeking support for students facing social, emotional, or behavioral challenges. It is important to note that the Learning Academy is not intended as a permanent placement; instead, it is thoughtfully designed to equip students with the skills necessary to reintegrate seamlessly into their home district. Concurrently, we provide school districts with the essential training and tools to ensure continued success upon the student's return.

Within the Learning Academy, our dedicated staff, including teachers, paraprofessionals, a principal, a licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP), a school psychologist, and a school nurse, work tirelessly to meet both the academic requirements of the student's home district and their social-emotional development needs. Our facility, located on the ESU 7 grounds, boasts a newly renovated space featuring four classrooms, a sensory room, an activity center, a conference room, and administrative offices. The activity center is thoughtfully equipped with exercise facilities, play spaces, and meal-serving capabilities, while two dignity rooms provide private spaces for one-on-one interactions, breaks, or quiet work, also serving as sanctuaries for students in crisis, ensuring privacy and safety.

The curriculum at the Learning Academy revolves around five key areas: Responsible Decision Making, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Self-Management, and Self-Awareness. To enroll a student in our program, school districts collaborate with our staff, the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team, and parents to devise an individualized plan. The Learning Academy is considered as an option only when the IEP team determines that temporary educational placement is necessary. In cases where the team, in conjunction with our staff, believes that our program and facilities are inadequate to meet a student's needs, alternative solutions are actively sought.

2024-2025 ESU 7 Level III Program Calendar


Making a Referral:

  • School gets permission from parents to share educational documents and observe student
  • The school/district fills out the Learning Academy Application Form
  • Learning Academy staff reviews educational documents
  • Learning Academy teacher &/or Principal &/or BCBA completes observation(s) & consults with district staff regarding the student
    • Mental Health Practitioner contacts parents to discuss mental health needs if needed
  • Learning Academy administrator will notify the school district if the student’s needs do or do not match the Learning Academy programming.
    • Students’ needs may not be met by the Learning Academy when:
      • The student needs a permanent placement instead of a transitional placement
      • Learning Academy does not have the necessary resources to meet their needs.
      • The Learning Academy staff cautions the district for the least restrictive environment for the student at this time and recommends the district consider the additional implementation of strategies, accommodations, etc. at their district and will continue to reconsider placement based on the results of the implemented strategies. 
  • An Individual Education Plan meeting will be scheduled.
    • If the IEP team chooses to change the placement of the student:
      • Parents will be given the Notification of Change of Placement.
      • A new IEP will be drafted to outline:
        • The students present level of progress.
        • How/what services will be provided.
        • The length of the student’s school day.
        • Academic and behavioral goals.
        • Modifications/accommodations the student needs.
        • Behavioral and academic supports needed.
        • Transportation needs.
    • District staff (contact person and administration) will be given a Learning Academy handbook
  • Parents/guardians and the student will be invited to visit the Learning Academy.
    • Parents will complete needed forms and paperwork for Learning Academy attendance (must be completed and turned in before student’s first day at the Learning Academy)
    • Student Services Principal and/or representative will go over policies and procedures related to the handbook and other forms.
  • The school/district and Learning Academy will partner on grading and academic work.  We will use Acellus online learning for most students.  Learning Academy staff will report grades and progress back to the districts on a quarterly basis. If Acellus does not work for this individual student, the Learning Academy staff will work with the district to borrow curriculum, and will still do the grading to report back to the district to be entered into the district’s grading system. 
  • The student will begin attending the Learning Academy as determined by IEP and will complete an induction process, learning the expectations and procedures at Learning Academy, before joining the day-to-day activities with other Learning Academy students.

Intake Procedure when students & parents/guardians come to visit LA building:

  1. Student/Parent (guardians) tour building, meet teachers/paraprofessionals (if available)
  2. Student/Parent (guardians) sit with staff and go over parent/student handbook sections: (Student must listen to the underlined sections)
    1. Contact info
    2. School hours
    3. Dress code
    4. Lunch
    5. Discipline
    6. Closing/Cancellations
    7. Communication
    8. Student Attitude
    9. Visiting School
    10. Dignity Room
    11. Points/Level System
    12. Physical Assault
    13. Leaving the Grounds
    14. Weapons
    15. Alcohol/Drugs/Other controlled substances
    16. Possession of Tobacco
    17. Search and Seizure
    18. Restraint and Seclusion

Show them the forms they will need to fill out once they read the entire handbook and return those forms to our staff. 

These forms include:

  • Student Handbook Acknowledgement
  • LA permission form
  • Health History/Emergency Contact
  • Acceptable use of Computer Student Form
  • Acceptable use of Computer Parent Form
  • Transportation release
  • Release for community-based experiences/community activities

Student Services Principal will sign the handbook form indicating that the above-mentioned areas were discussed with the Parent (guardian) and student.

Parent (Guardian) will meet  with the mental health practitioner (if available - otherwise, principal or teacher)

The mental health practitioner or designee will go over an explanation of privacy practices
Mental Health Forms:

  • Release of information form HIPAA
  • Consent to treat form
  • Suicide Protocol 
  • Explanations of Privacy Practices 
  • Expectations

Parent (Guardians) will meet with the nurse (if available - otherwise, principal or teacher)
Additional Medical Forms

  • Over the counter medication form***
  • Medication release (transportation)
  • Seizure action plan (if needed)


To be in compliance of our Triennial Assessment though NDE, our survey results can be viewed here: NDE Triennial Assessment 

Playground with Students
Tami Clay
Tamra Clay
Special Education Director
Ext. 1018
Cara Neesen
Cara Neesen
Student Services Principal
Ext. 1008
Angie Arndt
Angela Arndt
Special Education Administrative Assistant
Ext. 1017
Anne Baptiste
Anne Baptiste
Learning Academy Teacher
Ext. 1049
Christine Barber
Christine Barber
Kristen Cattau
Kristen Cattau
Lindy Eberle
Lindy Church
Learning Academy Teacher
Ext. 1041
Kassandra Cornwell
Kassandra Cornwell
Provisional Licensed Mental Health Practitioner
Tiffany Hackett
Tiffany Hackett
Brenda Hake
Brenda Hake
Alicia Hastreiter
Alicia Hastreiter
Brooke Hemmer
Brooke Hemmer
Learning Academy Teacher
Ext. 1012
Ashley Lerch
Ashley Lerch
Susan Olmer
Susan Olmer
Ext. 1019
Brandy Rose
Brandy Rose
School Psychologist / Behavior Analyst
Ext. 1029
Melissa Schwichtenberg
Melissa Schwichtenberg