The educational, extra-curricular, and community based opportunities I experienced during my time at Diller-Odell High School were truly exceptional. The ability to participate in various activities, and the lifelong friendships I developed during my years there, make me grateful for my small town education.
Coming into the district in the 7th grade, my twin sister, Dawn, and I were so very fortunate to become part of a class which excelled academically. We were pushed not only by the wonderful staff and advanced curriculum offered at Diller-Odell High School, but also by a healthy academic competition with our peers. As I continue to learn more about the educational processes of various districts throughout Nebraska as well as the United States, I have come to truly appreciate the unique opportunity we had as students at Diller-Odell Public Schools. In our graduating class of 29 students, five of us scored a 30 or above on the ACT college entrance exam (with 36 being the highest score). That is an unheard of 17% of our class, which is outstanding for any public or private school. In addition, several of us went on to earn academic scholarships to continue our post-secondary educations.
Upon graduation from Diller-Odell High School in 2003, I attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) on a Regents full academic scholarship, majoring in Business Management. Following graduation from UNK, I worked in Omaha, Nebraska in the fields of Banking and Insurance for several years. Realizing my interest in the field of education, I returned to school and earned a second Bachelor’s Degree in Business Education, and began teaching at Omaha Burke High School. I obtained my Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Wayne State College, and moved into an administrative role as a Dean of Students at Omaha Burke High School. I recently accepted the position of Principal at Roncalli Catholic High School in Omaha. My husband, Chad, is from Madison, Nebraska and also attended UNK. He works as an Underwriting Consultant for Mutual of Omaha Insurance. We live outside of Bennington, Nebraska with our two year old son, Barrett.
Currently, I am working on my Doctorate in Education Administration, with a Superintendent Endorsement, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. My thesis revolves around the amazing educational opportunities I received at Diller-Odell High School, as I examine the benefits of relationship building and a small town education model on student achievement, versus an urban educational setting. The relationships the students of Diller-Odell have with their teachers are amazing. I know this experience is not unique to me, as evidenced by the numerous alumni who have reached out and continued to keep in touch with my own father, Mr. Rick Wallinger, who taught in the district for over 35 years. It is these relationships with teachers and peers, and the ongoing support of the towns for their schools, which really sets Diller-Odell apart, and makes me proud to be an alumnus.