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After a monthslong national search, Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12's board of directors approved a new executive director, who hopes to bring forward thinking and a knack for building connections.

Jeffrey West was appointed by the board at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8, and will serve a four-year term beginning in early spring.

He is currently completing his work as chief administrator for the Nebraska Educational Service Unit 13, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. 

Intermediate or educational service units provide a wide variety of services to area schools.  For LIU 12, that includes adult education, business services, language instruction, special education and educational technology services, its website states.

They also serve the community via businesses, nonprofits, other IUs and libraries, as well as act as a liaison between the state Department of Education and schools within the intermediate unit's region. LIU 12 serves York, Adams and Franklin counties.

Strong leader: Michael Miller, board president and personnel committee chairman for LIU 12, said the decision came down to experience and leadership.

West has an extensive background in education that spans more than 30 years, including work as a teacher, principal and a superintendent for two public school systems, according to a news release.

And Miller said he brings a national presence, having worked with state and federal governments and a network through the Association of Educational Service Agencies, a national organization that oversees intermediate units across the country.

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"I think we would like to increase our entrepreneur work," Miller said, as another reason for the hire.

West said over his 11 years at NESU 13, he was able to expand the portfolio of programs and services offered by the unit, bringing in some large federal grants to help with the job.

NESU 13 was recently awarded a $3 million per year grant for five years, enabling the unit to employ about 80 staff members.

Forward thinking: As for his own goals for  LIU, West said his primary objective is first to just listen.

He hopes to spend considerable time watching, learning and asking questions with internal staff, member superintendents, partners, community leaders and stakeholders to assess what's needed and prioritize those changes.

"Our job, or the job of an IU, is to be on the cutting edge," West said. "I think we need to be pushing the envelope, looking beyond three to five years, assessing the needs of schools and getting out in front in ways that the school is confident and engaged in the future."

Miller agreed, saying school superintendents are looking to their intermediate unit to help them provide the educational foundation to students for jobs that haven't even been invented yet.

"We would need to understand what the future needs are of the school districts so that we can be upfront in providing resources to them," he said.

West said the biggest challenges ahead include public education funding and recruiting highly qualified specialized staff.

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He plans to work toward internal growth, creating a positive and innovative culture and environment that encourages new recruits and provides an incentive to go back to school and get needed certifications.

He praised the LIU 12 leadership team for its talent and sophistication and said he hopes he can "hit the ground running."

West will be moving to one of the unit's three counties with his wife, Laura, and is looking forward to taking in all the history in the area. He enjoys golfing, hiking, running and a hobby of staining glass.

To help with the transition, Bruce Sensenig began serving as interim director  Jan. 9. 

He served as superintendent of at Cocalico School District in Denver, Lancaster County, from 2006 to 2016 and in several administrative roles at Eastern Lebanon County School District in Myerstown since his retirement.

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