Teachers Celebrate History, Debate Education Issues

2017 Friend of Education Honored, Student Discipline & Teacher Training Study Approved

April 22, 2017 — More than 350 teachers and other education professionals from across Nebraska met this weekend to discuss issues facing public education and to celebrate their professional association’s sesquicentennial. The 28,000-member Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA) was founded in October 1867 in Brownville.

Educators elected by their peers, past presidents of the Association and other dignitaries gathered on Friday evening for gala celebrating NSEA’s 150th Anniversary at the Lincoln Train Station Great Hall. Historical photographs and artifacts were on display at the gala and a book, “The 150-Year History of the NSEA,” written by Dr. Craig R. Christiansen, was presented to attendees. Dr. Christiansen, a former president and executive director of the NSEA, delivered the keynote address.

NSEA President Nancy Fulton presented the Friend of Education Award to honor a Nebraskan who has made a statewide contribution to public education. The 2017 honoree, Bert Peterson, is a retired actuary who uses his training to analyze student achievement scores and other data and then writes clear, concise and no-bar-holds commentary to Nebraska news outlets. Peterson’s letters and guest columns are well-reasoned, well-researched and written with a clarity that make clear his ardent support of Nebraska public schools. (Mr. Peterson’s acceptance remarks are attached.)

On Saturday, the elected delegates debated and enacted several new business items, including a call to hold a consortium to identify the resources needed for students with mental and behavioral health concerns, and to determine methods for providing ongoing training for educators on how to deal with disruptive, threatening and potentially violent students. Delegates also voted to create a committee to develop and implement an Early Career Educator Program that will work to reverse the downward trend in college students seeking to become teachers and to improve teacher retention rates. A proposal to change the governance structure of the Association was defeated by delegates.

NEW OFFICERS ELECTED

Delegates also elected Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) teacher Jenni Benson to a 3-year term as president of the NSEA. Millard Public Schools teacher Paul Schulte was elected NSEA vice president, and LPS teacher Linda Freye was elected as one of two Nebraska representatives to the National Education Association’s Board of Directors. Omaha teacher Tracy Hartman-Bradley is the other NEA Director from Nebraska.

TEACHING EXCELLENCE, ROOKIE, COMMUNITY AWARDS

NSEA’s 2016 Teaching Excellence honoree is Lincoln Education Association member Doreen Ainslie, a seventh grade social studies and reading teacher at Lincoln’s Mickle Middle School. Ainslie has demonstrated the highest level of advocacy for students and public education, particularly through decades of active involved in the Lincoln Education Association, NSEA and NEA. Ainslie has served as a role model of active involvement, has recruited others and inspired still others to work on the front lines of public school advocacy. As a building representative, peers frequently turn to her for advice. She is an active member of the bargaining team. And she knows, demonstrates and embraces the profession, where she seeks to be innovative, pays attention to diversity, embraces technology, and advocates for professional development.

The first year in the classroom can be difficult. Yet NSEA’s 2017 Rookie of the Year, Raeanna Carbaugh, a Niobrara Education Association member, has excelled as her school district’s only secondary English teacher, prepping for eight different English courses per day, while also coaching the speech team, directing one act plays and serving as yearbook advisor. She designed and implemented a creative writing course for the students in her small, rural high school. With two other teachers, she organized a professional learning community for local educators. She has volunteered for Community Cleanup Day and continues the activism fostered as a member of the Student Education Association of Nebraska by serving as vice president of her local association; as a member of the Elkhorn District Executive Committee; and as a delegate to NEA Representative Assembly last summer. In her “spare” time, she will complete her master’s degree at Wayne State College this year.

Becki Wulf, a Norfolk teacher and coordinator of the Alternatives for Success program at Norfolk Senior High School, is NSEA’s 2017 Community Service Award recipient. Wulf started networking in the community in 1997, and has yet to slow down. Her networking goal: to get students to graduate, but to also teach them to become good productive citizens. She has found that the best way to get kids involved in the community is be involved herself. She is on the board of Mercy Meals and Behavioral Health Specialists. She is on the Artifact Committee of the Elkhorn Valley Museum and is a regular volunteer at the Norfolk Arts Center, Meals on Wheels and the Northeast Nebraska Animal Shelter.

NSEA’s 2017 Public Education Advocate recipient is Jon Kipper, the chief bureau officer for two local FM radio stations, an AM radio station, and a News Channel Nebraska television station available on cable. The News Channel Nebraska station, based in Falls City, provides wonderful support to the education community. Kipper’s news coverage promotes community involvement in public education and provides up-to-the minute local news for several southeast Nebraska communities.

The Great Plains Milestone Award celebrates the development, advancement and protection of human and civil rights. This year we recognize “Unity in Action” – an organization that has been active in assisting the Latino community in South Sioux City. Unity in Action has:

  • Hosted informational forums about DACA kids – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
  • Urged policymakers to treat immigrant children with compassion and humanity.
  • Established a scholarship foundation to assist students pursuing a higher education.
  • Trained and organized volunteers to educate voters of color about the voting process.
  • Worked to recruit minority members into leadership positions.

The organization works on civic engagement, worker rights and common-sense immigration laws.

The Bellevue Education Association and the Omaha Nation Education Association were honored for their contributions to the NSEA Children’s Fund.

NSEA’s Elkhorn District was honored with the William Gallagher Jr. award, which recognizes the governance district that enrolls the largest percentage of eligible members within that district

This was the 156th Delegate Assembly in the Association’s 150-year history.

 

For more information, contact Karen.Kilgarin@nsea.org, (402) 432-7776 or Al.Koontz@nsea.org, (402) 613-0412.