Building Young Leaders: Hannah Hrbek

Hannah, in her third year at our Sherman Elementary CLC in Omaha, knows that being flexible, building relationships, and mastering a wide skill set pays dividends when it comes to building young civic leaders.


Hannah Hrbek is majoring in biology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with minors in Spanish and psychology. The junior from West Point hopes to be a physician’s assistant someday. That career requires attending to a diverse range of tasks, being flexible, and relating to lots of different kinds of people. Those skills also are why Hannah excels as a program staffer at Civic Nebraska’s Sherman Elementary Community Learning Center in Omaha. We caught up with Hannah on a recent weekday to hear more about why Sherman’s CLC “is the place to be.”

I was looking for work when I got here as a freshman. I met Kent (Day, Civic Nebraska’s Director of Youth Civic Leadership) at a job fair at the beginning of that year. I talked with him a little bit, and as he told me more about the work involved, it really seemed like a perfect fit for me, something I’d be good at and really enjoy doing. So I started here at Sherman not long after that. And here I am now, a junior – still here, still doing it.

My days are pretty full. My schedule changes every semester, but right now I’m at Sherman four days a week. It gives me a chance to see how the CLC operates from day to day.

One reason I’ve stayed is that the staff here is really great. Brianna (White, Civic Nebraska’s CLC Sherman Site Director) does a really great job of just being here for the kids – and for us. If something comes up at UNO and I need to be flexible, she helps me work it out.

The kids are amazing. It’s cool to work with kids from different backgrounds, especially different from how I grew up. And I love our CLC events and clubs. With all of the partnerships that are invited in, it makes things fun. It makes it unique.

I mean, I wish we would’ve had a garden in my grade school back home. The Garden Club (which meets next door at the Sherman Community Center) is still up and running and that’s great to see.

Nothing is better than seeing kids getting engaged and having fun, and making connections about an activity and its bigger meaning. That means a lot to me.

It was tough to make connections over Zoom. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s so much better for all of us to form those relationships, to interact safely in person. Especially when it comes to kids who are on their iPads all day. They want to interact.

We’ve made our programs work throughout the virus. One way or another, we’re getting it done.

I feel good when I hear students say they want to be at CLC. That tells me we’re having a positive impact. They like it, they’re learning, and most importantly, they have a safe place.

The Sherman CLC is like a family. When someone needs help, we all step up. We fill in, make things work, and are there for each other. Ms. Bri is so supportive in so many ways. It shows everywhere.

Learn more about our Sherman Elementary School Community Learning Center here. To stand with Hannah and other CLC staff who do the daily work of building democracy, donate to our 2021 Back To School Giving Campaign through Oct. 15.

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After School Programs

  • Sherman Elementary School

    5618 N 14th Ave.
    Omaha, NE 68110

  • Lewis and Clark Middle School

    6901 Burt St.
    Omaha, NE 68132

  • Lothrop Magnet Elementary

    3300 N. 22nd St.
    Omaha, NE 68110

  • Campbell Elementary School

    2200 Dodge St.
    Lincoln, NE 68521

  • Lincoln High School

    2229 J St.
    Lincoln, NE 68510

  • Lincoln Northeast High School

    2635 N. 63rd St.
    Lincoln, NE 68507