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Back Row (L-R) Julia Polak, Bob Feurer, Katie Ramsey, Paul Clark, Roger Kassebaum, Bob Curtright, Chuck Lang, Joan Christen, Dan Sitzman, Sue Koba, Front Row (L-R) Ed Brogie, Jim Rynearson, Angela Nickel, Joan Anthony, Carol Engelmann, Jan Johnson, Bev Grueber, Mary Tusha , LeeAnn Vaughan, Lois Mayo, Laura Callahan

Click HERE for more photographs from the 30 Year PAEMST Reunion at Camp Calvin Crest in Fremont, Nebraska in 2013.

 

Joan Anthony
Spring Ridge

Elementary School
Omaha , Nebraska

1996 Award | K-6 Science

Carol Engelmann

Elkhorn Middle School

Elkhorn , Nebraska

2002 Award | 7-12 Science

Suzanne Kirby

Clinton Elementary School

Lincoln , Nebraska

1991 Award | K-6 Scienc

Nancy Jo Bellows

Willard Elementary School

York , Nebraska

1994 Award | K-6 Science

Dianne Epp

East High School

Lincoln , Nebraska

1993 Award | 7-12 Science

Susan Koba

Omaha North High School

Omaha , Nebraska

1992 Award | 7-12 Science

Ed Brogie

Laurel-Concord Public School

Laurel , Nebraska

1989 Award | 7-12 Science

Robert Feurer

North Bend Central

North Bend , Nebraska

1994 Award | 7-12 Science

Mary Kubovy

Benson High School

Omaha , Nebraska

1987 Award | 7-12 Science

Laura Callahan

Bancroft

Omaha , Nebraska

2010 Award | K-6 Science

Beverly Grueber

North Bend Central Elementary School

North Bend , Nebraska

2001 Award | K-6 Science

Charles Lang

Omaha Westside High

Omaha , Nebraska

1986 Award | 7-12 Science

Joan Christen

Beatrice High School

Beatrice , Nebraska

2011 Award | 7-12 Science

Karen Hastings

Challenge Center

Grand Island , Nebraska

1999 Award | K-6 Science

Joanne Langabee

Papillion-LaVista High School

Papillion , Nebraska

1990 Award | 7-12 Science

Ronald Cisar

Lewis and Clark Junior H.S.

Omaha , Nebraska

1984 Award | 7-12 Science

Vanita Jarmon

Central Park Elementary

Omaha , Nebraska

2004 Award | K-6 Science

Anita Long

2000 Award | K-6 Science

Paul Clark

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha , Nebraska

1993 Award | K-6 Science

Janice Johnson

Wakefield Community Schools

Wakefield , Nebraska

1998 Award | K-6 Science

Lois Mayo

Pius X High School

Lincoln , Nebraska

1997 Award | 7-12 Science

 


 

 


Robert Curtright

Lincoln Northeast High School

Lincoln , Nebraska

1999 Award | 7-12 Science

Roger Kassebaum

Milken Community High School

Los Angeles , California

1991 Award | 7-12 Science

James E. McGahan

Northwest High School

Grand Island , Nebraska

1988 Award | 7-12 Science

Angela Nickel

Park Elementary School

Kearney , Nebraska

1995 Award | K-6 Science

Daniel Sitzman

North High School

Omaha , Nebraska

2003 Award | 7-12 Science

Loreen Whalen-McMains

King Science and Technology Magnet School

Omaha , Nebraska

2008 Award | K-6 Science

Henrietta Pane

Westgate Elementary School

Omaha , Nebraska

1990 Award | K-6 Science

John Skrocky, Jr.

Northwest Senior High School

Omaha , Nebraska

1983 Award | 7-12 Science

Judith Williams

Central City High School

Central City , Nebraska

1995 Award | 7-12 Science

Julia Polak

Exeter-Milligan Public Schools

Milligan , Nebraska

2006 Award | K-6 Science

Pamela Smith

Hawthorne Elementary School

Hastings , Nebraska

1992 Award | K-6 Science

Brenda Zabel

Westside High School

Omaha , Nebraska

2009 Award | 7-12 Science

Katie Ramsey

Walnut Middle School

Grand Island , Nebraska

2001 Award | 7-12 Science

Bob Talbitzer

Kearney High School

Kearney , Nebraska

1998 Award | 7-12 Science

Roger Rea

Northwest High School

Omaha , Nebraska

1985 Award | 7-12 Science

Michael Tolfa

North Loup Scotia Public Schools

Scotia , Nebraska

1996 Award | 7-12 Science

James Rynearson

Lincoln High School

Lincoln , Nebraska

2005 Award | 7-12 Science

Mary Tusha

Verdigre Public Schools

Verdigre , Nebraska

1997 Award | K-6 Science

Carolyn Schwennsen

Millard South High School

Omaha , Nebraska

2000 Award | 7-12 Science

LeeAnn Vaughan

Omaha North Magnet School

Omaha , Nebraska

2007 Award | 7-12 Science

 

 


 

We have highlighted a few of our past award winners with their personal biography of their award process. Eventually, we will be adding photos and more bios at http://www.education.ne.gov/science/ note: this may not be their current school or contact info. We welcome more bios if you would like to share. Email james.blake@nebraska.gov

 

 

Robert Curtright/1999/Lincoln Northeast High School/Chemistry/Lincoln, NE/10-12

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 29 years

What memory would you like to share from the award process  Spend it on classroom/school related items, and attendance to science workshops. We were treated as VIP. We had a thoroughly wonderful time. It was interesting being with other teachers across the country. 

What are you currently doing? Supervising student teachers associated with UNL.

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?

 I taught high school students in Ord, NE and Northeast High in Lincoln, UNL night class, Wesleyan (science methods) and Bryan School of Nursing. In the summer I tried to work in areas that related to my career such as: 5 summers in biochemistry and 4 summers with Youth Conservation Corp.

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received I was part of a National writing team called ChemSource. Randy Emry and I co-taught Kicks Chemistry as well as wrote a correspondence chemistry course through the Division of Continuing Studies, UNL.

I graduated from Kearney State College in 1968 and in 1972, I graduated form UNL with a Masters Degree in Zoology.

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees? I encourage teachers to apply. I would be willing to apply more than once if you are not chosen. That fact that you are nominated indicates that you are a worthy candidate.

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 Carol Engelmann/2002/Elkhorn Middle School/Elkhorn, NE/8th grade/

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 28

What memory would you like to share from the award process.

I used my money to purchase cameras and laptops for my school.

While in Washington DC, I met the Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows that attended our PAEMST events and I learned that they were classroom teachers that worked in DC for government agencies.  I decided that I wanted to join them.  In 2004 I was accepted into the program and I spent a year at the National Science Foundation as an Einstein Fellow. One of my jobs was to work with the Presidential Awards program.  I was able to re-live a second week of fun with the 2004 winners.

Currently, I am completing my PhD in Geoscience Education from Michigan Tech University. I am also working as an Evaluator of Educational Programs for local organizations such as UNO, AIM, and NE Space Grant Office. While I was at the National Science Foundation, I learned about the need for Evaluators of university and government programs.  I decided that would be my next career, so I earned a certificate from Claremont Graduate University in Advanced Studies in Evaluation through an on-line program.  Now I have started my own Evaluation consulting business called the Einstein Evaluation Group, LLC.  I also met my Michigan Tech advisor while working in Washington; she was a Program Officer at NSF.  Michigan Tech had received a grant and needed someone with a Geology background and education experience to facilitate the Michigan Teacher Excellence Program while working on an advanced degree.  I expect to finish my degree this semester.

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

My advice for perspective PAEMST is to contact a past winner to serve as their mentor when they work on their application.

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 Bob Feurer/1994/North Bend Central/Secondary Science/North Bend, NE/7-12

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award?

15

What memory would you like to share from the award process?

Hillary Clinton was our hostess in the White House; the president was entertaining the Kenyan Prime Minister.The triceratops skulls on pallets in the catacombs under the Smithsonian.  Mammoth wool and flesh bootlegged out of Russia.  Gridlock in a bus in D.C. during a 1 inch "blizzard".  Wondering what to do with the 5 forks at our plates at our first banquet. Used funding to attend 4MAT learning styles training, a laptop and an infrared body fat analyzer

What are you currently doing?

Still in the same classroom teaching essentially the same courses:  7th grade science, Biology II, Anatomy/Physiology and Global Science.  This will all change next year as we are building a new science wing!!!!!!  I'll have a window for the first time in 35 years!!!

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?

Same school, position, and career....

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received?

I was the 2011 Nebraska teacher of the year.

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

You will grow as a teacher in the self-examination process of completing the application.  You will be a better teacher just by applying.

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Karen Hastings/1999/Newell Elementary/ Grand Island/4th grade 

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award?  12 years

What memory would you like to share from the award process (highlights from the ceremony in DC, what you did with your prize, etc. etc.  Because of this award, I was invited to visit Puerto Rico with other elementary winners and taught science lessons to elementary students for a week.  Loved getting to know other elementary winners but the best part was watching students get excited about science in the classroom.

What are you currently doing?  Westridge Middle School, presently teaching 7th classroom (the best place to be!)

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received (degrees, honors, anything you want us to know) Presented for several years at NSTA, secretary for SEPA (Society for Elementary Presidential Awardees) for four years, finalist for Nebraska Teacher of the Year 2005, Grand Island Education Foundation Middle School Teacher of the Year 2010

 What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?  Don't stop applying, many educators have applied more than once. it is definitely worth it.

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Vanita Jarmon/2004/Central Park/Science/1st Grade

How many years of experience did you have?

11 years

What other fun fact related to the award would you like to share?

It was an amazing opportunity to network with other great teachers of science.

What are you currently doing?

Assisant Principal at Jefferson Elementary Omaha Public Schools

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?

Instructional Facilitator

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received?

Master in Supervision and Administration

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

The process helps you to be reflective about how and why you teach the way you do.  It was not limited to the best practices that are great for science but the same practices were great in other curriculum areas as well.  I became a better teacher because of the process.  

 

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Joan Anthony/Spring Ridge Elementary/Elkhorn Public Schools/elementary science/Grade Level 3

At the time of the award I had been teaching about 20 years

During the award process, including the award ceremony in DC, I was so impressed with the professionalism!  We were valued! I currently teach children in third grade

I was an instructor with the NMSI Peers project in the 90s; am currently an instructor with the KICKS project (and have been involved in the original KICKS and KICKS2 and with KICKS3); I've taught at Midland University with Bev Grueber; have been a Key Leader for Science Matters/Building a Presence for Science since its beginnings in NE; have been involved in state work with science standards; and have been the elementary science chair for Elkhorn Public Schools.  My main position, though, is as an elementary teacher!

I was very proud to be last year's Catalyst recipient from NATS!

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees? Don't hesitate to ask for support!  You'll want a "critical friend" to help you through the process; someone who can look at your project and submissions with a more unbiased view.

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Laura Callahan/2011/OPS Bancroft Elementary/Science/Kindergarten

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 33 years

Memory: When I got to meet the President, I was so overcome that a tear ran down my face. The President hugged me and said, "Don't cry, Nebraska!"

Current Information: I am retired but continue working at the Henry Doorly Zoo in their Education department. I write curriculum and teach their Early Childhood classes. I also worked at Jefferson Elementary for the last two years tutoring Reading and Writing to third and fourth graders. I taught one semester at UNO in Early Childhood Education in 2012 and occasionally substitute teach.

Career Achievements: Alice Buffett Teaching Award; MS Elementary Education; MS Technology in Education

Advice for perspective PAEMST nominees: If at first you don't succeed, apply, apply, apply again.

Definitely give it a shot. I never thought I had a chance but support from colleagues, Jim Woodland in particular, gave me the confidence to go forward with the process. It's hard work, but well worth it

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Dr. Joan Christen/2011/ Beatrice High School/Science (Biology)/ Beatrice, Nebraska/ 9-12

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 16 yearsI think that what I enjoyed the most was meeting teachers from all over the United States that have the same passion for students and science that I have and maintaining contact with them since the award ceremony. Their friendship and support sustains me through the year. I used part of my prize to purchase a John Deer Gator for my husband because of his long-standing patience and support of my educational endeavors. The rest is being used to purchase supplies for student research.

What are you currently doing? Teaching dual-credit Botany, Zoology, Physics, Biology and Special Topics in Research at Beatrice High School. I also sponsor the Science Club, manage the school arboretum, pond, greenhouse and serve as the Professional Learning Committee Science Facilitator.

What other positions/schools/careers have you held? Taught at Southeast Nebraska Consolidated School for seven years before coming to Beatrice eleven years ago. Before getting my teaching degree, I was an upholsterer for 15 years.

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received?

Masters and Doctorate in Entomology with an emphasis in Molecular Biology

Toyota International Teachers Program to the Galapagos Participant

Inducted into Lewiston High Schools Hall of Fame for Outstanding Contributions to Science Education

NSTA Ciba Specialty Chemical Exemplary High School Teaching Award

Christa McAuliffe State Award 

Nebraska State Recycling Agency Educator of the year

Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Educator Award

Nebraska Community Forestry Environmental Educator of the year

RadioShack National Outstanding Educator of the year

NABT Outstanding Biology Educator of the year

Peter Kiewit Nebraska Teacher Achievement Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching

Accomplished grant writer receiving over $1 million in grant awards for the two schools I have taught at

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees? "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" Some people win the first time they try, but many try multiple times. Every time one applies, one becomes a better teacher because of the reflecting you do in preparing the application. But, you can't win if you don't apply! Seriously, write from your heart about how you view education and your students. Don't worry about having a "perfect" video--the analysis of the video is the important part. Ask teachers that have won for their suggestions--they also make wonderful proofreaders. Also, start now--it takes time to put the application together and get the video made--but it is worth every minute it takes.

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Paul Clark/1993/Hillrise Elementary, Elkhorn Public Schools/Science/Elkhorn, NE/4

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 

Still going  20+ since PAESMT

What memory would you like to share from the award process

I loved being around all of the other teachers and seeing what they were doing as well as attending all of the functions at the various locations in Washington.

What are you currently doing?  Teaching elementary technology at Whitetail Creek, Gretna Public Schools

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?  District Technology Coordinator, Elkhorn Ne 

STEM @ College of Education University of Nebraska at Omaha-Retired, Director of Education Strategic Air and Space Museum and now elementary tech coordinator

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received?

Doctorate Degree in Ed. Admin: UNO

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?  

Enjoy the time that you have in the classroom.  Keep learning and let students know that you want to keep exploring and learning. Have fun.

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Bev Grueber/2001/North Bend Central/Elementary Educator/North Bend Central/4th grade

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 29 years of teaching

What memory would you like to share from the award process. The ceremony in Washington DC has to be one of the high points in my career.  I have never been treated with such respect as an educator.

Please update us with your current information:  4th grade classroom teacher in North Bend Central

What are you currently doing?  General classroom, departmentalized science teacher

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?  Assistant Speech Coach at NBC

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received.

 NE Ag teacher of the year---National Ag Teacher of the Year......Scholastic Super Science Teacher.....White Rienhart Award Winner....NB Jaycee Teacher of the Year.....Great Plains Communication Teacher of the Year....

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?  Share your talents....apply.

I had been teaching for a number of years and didn’t always use my science textbook.  It was in our desks, but more as a resource book of sorts.  Some of my fellow teachers were “concerned” about my not “covering the science book”.  That made me begin to doubt my constructivist approach to teaching my 4th grade classroom. 

Thankfully, in the summer of 1992, North Bend Central was selected to be involved in the Nebraska Math/Science Initiative.  Those two summers at UNL with 28 other great elementary educators was just the “shot in the arm” that I needed to affirm my belief that I was indeed using the best practices science education.  

During those 2 summers and the following summer of guiding science workshops, my desire to be the best science truly evolved.  The peers I worked with from across the state shared my vision of an engaging, inquiry elementary science classroom with active learners that were busy observing, exploring, and continually testing their hypothesis.  May of these peers went on to be awarded Presidential Awards in Science too.

A love of science can be infectious…..just ask my fourth grade scientists as they help me being my 42 year of teaching and learning. 

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Jan Johnson/1998/Wakefield Elementary School/Science/Wakefield, NE/2nd grade

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 18 years

What memory would you like to share from the award process.

We were all made to feel very important where ever we went.  I've never had my picture taken so many times! We saw so much it's hard to pick a favorite, but  I think it had to be our dinner at the State Dept. where we had to go through all the security and then walking out of the elevator into a room housing priceless antiques from our country's history.  My favorite piece was the desk where Thomas Jefferson penned The Declaration of Independence.  Then Senator Bob Kerrey came to eat and talk with us at a breakfast and later that fall invited me to be on a panel to discuss the future of education in Nebraska.  After we received our awards I remember everyone taking their turn posing by the statue of Albert Einstein.

I used my prize money to buy science equipment for my classroom and some items for the entire elementary.   I allowed the administration to spend some as they saw fit.

What are you currently doing?

I retired from teaching in 2010 after thirty years, all at Wakefield.  I am enjoying several hobbies I now have time for and didn't while teaching.

Over your career, what notable achievements have you  also received.

Peter Kiewit Foundation Nebraska Teacher Achievement Award - 1997

CESI/Delta (Council for Elementary Science International/Delta) Exemplary Activity Award - 1996

Nebraska Statewide Math and Science Initiative  statewide lead teacher development program 1992/1993

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

Choose a lesson for your application that has continually excited past students to learn about a science concept.  No surprises when something doesn't go as planned this way.

Win or not, continue to be the best teacher you can be to motivate your students to think of themselves as scientists. 

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?  Be creative, be reflective, and always look to improve.

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Roger Kassebaum/1992/Millard North High School/Physics/Millard North High, Omaha, NE/10-12

 

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 15

What memory would you like to share from the award .

My "take-away" memory of the award ceremony was a speaker that addressed my "winner's remorse". I had a hard time dealing with the "Why me question.". I knew my students were learning and enjoying the process.  I thought I was a good teacher and enjoyed teaching, but why was I being honored when I knew so many teachers that I felt were doing just as good of job I was, or even better were not being honored?

The speaker at the awards ceremony addressed this issue and said: " Being selected does not mean you are the best, it means your are representative of the best teachers in the country."  One quality that might differentiate you from others is that you "let your student successes creep out of the classroom".  

That statement has stuck with me and helped me deal with the award and my future actions dealing with honors, awards, and student achievements. 

It takes courage to teach! By promoting student success, two things happen. Some will applaud you and seek your advise on how they might be able to do similar things with their students. Others will try to tear you down, belittle what you and your students have done and essentially attempt to ostracize you and your efforts. 

A mantra for decision making from the principal at Millard North (Ike Pane) was: "After all is said and done, what is best for students?"

It takes courage, but I think it is "best for students" to have the courage to let their successes creep out of the classroom.  If in that process, you as a teacher get recognized and get an award, it allows you the voice to do good things for student learning in the future.  Opportunities to advance education are more frequent when you have recognized student successes.

What are you currently doing? Director of the Mitchell Academy of Science and Technology at Milken Community High School is Los Angeles. 

What other positions/schools/careers have you held? I graduated from Hebron High School, UNL, and UNO. I taught at Bradshaw High School, Millard Central Middle School, Fairbury High School, Millard North High School and currently teach at Milken Community High School.

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received (degrees, honors, anything you want us to know)

Degrees: BS in Ed at UNL, Honored as one of 90 notable graduates in 90 years of the UNL Teachers College, Christa McAuliffe Award.

MS in Ed UNO with emphasis on Educational Technology, Tandy Radio Shack National Educator Award, Milken National Educator Award, IBM Teacher of the Year, Millard Teacher of the Year, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) STEM Educator of the Year, Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Teacher of the Year.

Since starting MAST in 2004, twelve students have been accepted to MIT, fifteen students hold patents or provisional patents, eighteen have been published in peer reviewed scientific journals, and three have been semi-finalists in the Intel Talent Search. A number of students have gone on to very prestigious universities such as Princeton, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Washington University, etc.   

Our Robotics team, the Milken Knights, have reached the finals in Tel Aviv twice and gone to world championship three times. We won the Los Angeles regional last year. 

Video of our Robotics team at the LA Regional http://vimeo.com/63513257

Video of an overview of the MAST program http://vimeo.com/5579020 video of two of my teams that hold patents presenting their ideas at Johnson Space Center at the finals of the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Competition 
http://vimeo.com/68320445

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees? Definitely apply. Even if you are not selected, the process really makes you think about what you do, what you believe in, and makes you articulate your passion for teaching. The process helps define you as a teacher and prepares you to articulate that passion to parents, politicians, administrators, and decision makers. The process only makes you more confident in who you are and what you do.  If you do happen to be selected, you get many more chances to influence decision makers to make good decisions for the betterment of students and the teaching profession

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Sue Kirby/1991/Clinton Elementary/Lincoln/K-6 Science

I attended my first NTS Campout my initial year of teaching with a group of K-12 teachers from the Lincoln Public Schools with the encouragement and support of our science department coordinator, Bob Reeder. Many of those individuals became career-long friends as well as mentors for me as I returned year after year as both a presenter and active participant.

Several years later, Bob Reeder and Don McCurdy submitted my name for the Presidential Award. The experiences that ensued after being named the 1991 Elementary Science Awardee for Nebraska not only enhanced my career, but that of many colleagues. I invested the monetary award in teachers with whom I worked and their students. With the monies received I was able to subsidize a mornings visit with 2 students and a teacher from each LPS elementary school by Eugenie Clark (the Shark Lady) whose book was required reading by fourth grade students, AIMS week long training for six elementary teachers (who later served as in-service leaders in the district, and travel to a NSTA meeting and NATS Fall Campout to name some examples.

Later, as Director of the K-12 Project (renamed PEERS Academy in later years( for the Nebraska State Initiative for Math & Science, I attended many NATS Campouts with the Initiative’s Lead Teachers, who were not only encouraged to actively participate but provided funds for travel and fees associated with meetings. I am always gratified to note the number of not only national awardees from the Initiative (Jim Rynearson, Bev Gruber, Jan Johnson, Mary Tusha, Joan Anthony, Bob Feurer) but also those in Mathematics and all the incumbent State Awardees over the years who were influenced by their participation in the Nebraska Statewide Initiative. Over the past 23 years, I have mentored a number of teachers who have submitted documentation for this award. In 1995, I was invited to accompany the PAEMST NE Math Awardee, Janis Hiatt, as a guest. This second experience gave me a whole new, and much more relaxed perspective on the process and the award.

I am sorry not to be able to attend the campout and renew many friendships made over the years. One of the highpoints of my career as a teacher was being named a Catalyst Awardee in 2005 by NATS. I retired from Lincoln Public Schools in 2007.

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Susan Koba/1992/Omaha North High School/Biology 1-2, Advanced Placement Biology, Global Studies in Science and Technology

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 18 years

What memory would you like to share from the award.

The events as a whole were quite impressive and it was a real opportunity to meet President Clinton, but the best long-term value of the time in DC was meeting people who have become long-term colleagues and good friends of mine. This amazing group includes past and current NSTA Board members, an NSTA Past-President, a person currently in the NSTA presidential chain, and Einstein Fellows. I was honored to be one member of this very prestigious group.

What are you currently doing?

I retired from OPS in 2006 but have stayed busy both in service and as a consultant. I currently chair the NSTA Professional Development Task Force, serve as the scope document writer for the NGSS SciPack under development, lead the development of the NSELA Leadership Learning Center, and am finishing up the 2nd edition of my Hard-to-Teach Biology book so it aligns with the NGSS. Most importantly I am "serving" as a very happy grandmother of two.

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?

After teaching for almost 25 years in OPS, I served as curriculum specialist at North High School, a district mentor and the Project Director of the OPS Urban Systemic Program initiative. I then began work for NSTA in support of the development of the NSTA Learning Center and the life science SciPacks. I just completed a term as Interim Executive Director of NSELA (National Science Education Leadership Association).

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received.

Degrees: Shortly after receiving the award, I completed my PhD in Administration, Curriculum and Instruction.

Honors: Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for NE (1990), Christa McAuliffe Fellowship Awardee (1990), Tandy Technology Scholar (1991), Presidential Award (1992), Alice Buffet Outstanding Teacher Award (1993), Doane College Alumni Teacher of the Year (1993), Genentech Access Excellence Fellow (1994), Ak-SAR-BEN Ike Friedman Educational Leadership Award (1995), NATS Catalyst Award Winner (2002)

Service: I am a NATS Past President and am the Immediate Past President of NSELA I served on the NSTA Board from 2001-2004. I also just completed service as NSELA's Interim Executive Director.

Publications:

I have authored two books and edited two books for NSTA Press. I have written six book chapters and numerous articles.

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees? Don't underestimate yourself. Many great teachers never apply for this honor. I've had the privilege of judging Presidential Awards at the national level many times and recognize that Nebraska teachers are among the best out there. The application itself is a learning experience and well worth completing – even if you do not win. But if you apply and win, make certain you give back in return. This award opens many doors if only you are willing to walk through them – and these doors allow you to contribute more broadly to the science education community.

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Mary Alice Kubovy/: 1987/Benson High School/Omaha, NE/Chemistry and Advanced Science Grade Level: 10th through 12th grades

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 22 years

What memory would you like to share from the award? 

The highlights were meeting the president (President Reagan), seeing Washington, D.C., and sharing ideas with my colleagues from across the country. Being treated so royally is something my mother and I will never forget.  

This award opened the door for me for other opportunities. I was asked to help conduct summer chemistry workshops for high school teachers at both Creighton University and UNO. The financial part of the award allowed me to buy special equipment for our chemistry lab.

This equipment would never have been possible otherwise.  

Other awards I received after the PAEMST were the Alice Buffett Award and the Ike Friedman Educational Leadership Award.

 What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

I found it very advantageous to share ideas with fellow teachers. In Omaha, we were lucky to have an Area Chemistry Teachers group which met once a month for that purpose. Attending conferences was also a big help in becoming more creative. I am sorry to see that many school districts have cut back so much on helping teachers attend conferences. I wish I would have been able to attend conferences earlier in my career.

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Charles Lang/1986/Omaha Westside High School/Physics/Omaha, NE/10 – 12

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 26 years

What memory would you like to share from the award process (highlights from the ceremony in DC, what you did with your prize, etc etc. The Dinner at the top of the State Dept. building was memorable.

What are you currently doing? Retired from teaching.  Helping to feed the homeless. Have a strong interest in native plant environments.

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?  UFO contact in Omaha. Nuclear Power Plant drills for FEMA. Creative consultant for Mr. Wizard World. UNL and Nebraska Wesleyan Instructor.

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received. Have been involved in physics teaching projects/workshops on every continent except Antarctica.

Also, to view my bio on a website developed by Kansas State and Carnegie Mellon:  http://www.physicspathway.org

·         Click on synthetic interview.

This site is dedicated to the improvement of physics teaching. A physics teacher can ask questions about what/how/when topics in physics should be taught. The software matches the question to an answer (out of over 9000) in the data base that each of four of us physics teachers have recorded.

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?  Teachers are lifelong learners.  "Luck favors the prepared mind." - Albert Einstein.

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Angela Nickel/1995/Kearney Public Schools/Science/Park and Windy Hills Elementary Schools/Fifth Grade

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 16 years

What memory would you like to share from the award?

Meeting and making professional connections with the other award winners

What are you currently doing?

I am currently retired from teaching. 

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?

I was elected to the Kearney Public Schools Board of Education where I serve on the Personnel and Curriculum committees.  I also volunteer in two elementary buildings.

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received?

I earned my Masters Degree in Education in 1985, served on the NATS Board from 1995 - 1998, received the Kearney Public Schools Outstanding Educator Award for 1998-1999, was named the Sigma Xi Outstanding Science Teacher in 1995, served as a lead teacher on the Nebraska Math/Science Frameworks Project, and the Nebraska L.E.A.R.N.S. Project.

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

My advice to prospective PAEMST nominees - Take advantage of professional development opportunities in your district and the state, join and be an active member in professional organizations, and always be mindful of ways to improve your teaching and your students' learning.

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Katie Ramsey/2001/Grand Island Public Schools-Walnut Middle School/8th

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 17 years of teaching experience.

The year I was awarded was the year of the 9/11 attacks.  As everyone knows, everything changed after that event.  Security was at its height.  We were not informed until the week before we had to be in Washington DC.  It just so happened that I got the call that I won the award while I was in DC with our 8th grade students.  I flew home on Saturday and had to be leave for DC on Tuesday!  It was definitely a whirlwind! 

I am a science instructional coach at present.  I work with 6th - 8th grade teachers.

I have served on many committees in leadership roles.  I am the President-elect of NATS and will be serving as President for this next year.

Advice for perspective PAEMST nominees:

While the application process may seem daunting, it is a very worthwhile professional endeavor.  Being a reflective practitioner can teach you so much about you as a professional.  The PAEMST award celebration in Washington DC is one of the most incredible experiences you will have. 

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Roger Rea/1985/Northwest High School, Omaha, NE/7-12 Science

I was the 1985 winner, and had been runner-up for the 1984 award prior to that.  The awards banquet, reception in Washington, DC, and the entire celebration of winners for the week I was in DC was fantastic.  Some local awards give money directly to the winner, but the Presidential Award brought national recognition to our state and to my school in particular.  I still have the Apple II computer that I got for winning, and although they did not include a monitor with the computer as part of my recognition, I have a monitor, too!  I used my Apple II computer in my chemistry classroom until I retired, for the computer-assisted data-checking programs that I wrote in Applesoft Basic for students to use in checking their calculations for the quantitative labs they did as part of my chemistry class.  I also bought several laser disk players to use in the classroom. Getting this recognition has been one of the most precious of my memories as an educator.

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award?  I was in my 19th year of teaching.

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?  In addition to my 34-year teaching career, I have done a lot of volunteer work.  I am the current Chairman of the Board of Directors for First Nebraska Educators Credit Union, a $90 million institution that provides financial services to educators and others in its field of membership.  I am the President of NSEA-Retired, the retired "arm" of NSEA.  I am currently on the Executive Committee of the National Council of Teacher Retirement (NCTR), and am Vice-President of the Omaha School Employees' Retirement System, which provides retirement security to employees of the Omaha Public Schools.  I served for five years as a trustee for the Nebraska Public Retirement Systems, which provides retirement security for all of the educators in the state outside of Omaha as well as for the state.

Please extend my best wishes to all who attend for their continued success, both in and out of the classroom. 

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Jim Rynearson/2005/Lincoln High School/Physics/Lincoln,NE/Juniors and Seniors

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 27

What memory would you like to share from the award process?

This was the first award I received where my wife was honored as well as me, if was great being able to have her share in the wonders of the week.  I used the money to buy a hot tub and every-time I sit in it I think of the great honor of being a Presidential award winner.

What are you currently doing? I am a Lecturer at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, I supervise practicum and student teachers, mentor teachers as well as teach science methods.

What other positions/schools/careers have you held? I work at UNL (see above)

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received?

I'm on the board of our state science teachers origination. I'm president of our state physics teachers organization (NAAPT). I mentor new teachers in Nebraska.I became the department chair for science department

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

Enjoy the week!

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Dan Sitzman/Omaha North High Magnet School/Chemistry & Biology/Grade Level 9-10

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 13

I was a state finalist 4 times before being invited to DC as the state awardee.  My wife and I enjoyed the week in DC, attending the river cruise, state dinner, and Smithsonian reception together.  She became the de facto activity director of the "significant other" club to visit DC sites while the awardees were in meetings and on the White House tour.   The highlight was being invited by Tom Osborne's office to have a 30 minute sit down with him and the Nebraska Math Awardee that turned into an hour-long conversation.  Osborne then arranged for a private follow up conversation for us with John Boehner's Chief of Staff.  As the first PAEMST class that received the unrestricted cash award, after setting aside the amount of tax and paying a few bills, I donated some of the funds to my elementary and high schools and college to support science education at each.  The overhead projector given by 3M to each awardee was donated to Camp Calvin Crest when I left the classroom (because people still used overhead projectors in the early 2000's!).  The remainder helped fund student activities and purchase some materials.

What are you currently doing? Curriculum Specialist at Omaha North High, which includes overseeing the Science Department and "other duties as assigned."  At home, my two daughters humor me by expressing some interest in science.  I'm proud of my older daughter who advanced to NJAS last year as a 7th grader with her science fair project.

What other positions/schools/careers have you held? Taught 8th grade science at Omaha Morton Middle School for 8 years, which included my first recognition as a state finalist for the PAEST.  Although I didn't realize it at the time, I shared a hallway at Morton with colleagues who went also went on to leadership and recognition (Denise Antrim, NSTA Regional Director after moving to California, and Deb Brewer, Buffett Award winner and PAEST finalist before moving to Kansas).

I was one of the few who was a Nebraska PAEST awardee to also go on to be recognized myself (Ron Cisar, PAEST '84, was my 9th grade biology teacher).   After being recognized as a state finalist in 1997, I became even more involved in state science, both with NATS and Dept of Ed.  Have served as a Science Matters Key Leader since its inception in Nebraska in 1999.  NATS Board Member 2000-2004.  NATS President 2008-09.   Pinnacle Award recipient, 2010.  Catalyst Award, 2011.  Current NAS President-Elect, Metro Science & Engineering Fair Council Member, Nebraska Science Olympiad Event Supervisor (with my brother-in-law) and NJAS Head Judge.

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LeeAnn Vaughan/2007/Omaha North Magnet/Science/Omaha/High school

What memory would you like to share from the award process (highlights from the ceremony in DC, what you did with your prize, etc. etc.

The week spent in DC was a whirlwind of elegant events alongside elected government officials; and, professional development provided by NSF experts. What made the week even more special were the rich interactions with fellow awardees.

What are you currently doing? Teaching science (Physics, Aeronautics, Aircraft and Rocketry) at Burke High School

What other positions/schools/careers have you held? OPS Zoo Partnership - taught for 3 years

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received (degrees, honors, anything you want us to know)  

2003 John Wallace Fellow

2005 Christa McAuliffe Special Recognition Award

2006 Morgan Distinguished Teacher of the Year award

2007 National Biotechnology Educator of the Year Award

2010 Fund for Teachers Fellow

Degrees earned  

Master of Science in Education

Certificate of Urban Education

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

While the nomination process may at first seem overwhelming; it is a very powerful way to get in touch with oneís own teaching. Embrace the opportunity to define your own educational philosophy and allow the reflective process to enrich your instruction.

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Loreen Whalen-McMains/Omaha, NE/Science

(From the PAEMST website:  https://recognition.paemst.org/finalist_profile/12814)

 

Receiving the highest honor a teacher can have in the United States brings me a deeply personal sense of accomplishment, pride, and humility. It reminds me of the tremendous responsibility I have to uphold the standards of excellence for which I've been honored. Additionally, the generous financial gift will allow me to develop new programs to involve students and teachers in international conservation and service-learning projects through my nonprofit science education organization, TinkFrog.

Loreen McMains has been teaching at King Science and Technology Magnet School since the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year. She is a sixth grade science teacher.

The professional and personal qualities that Mrs. McMains possesses result in wonderful learning opportunities for her students. She brings science alive in the classroom and creates enthusiasm for learning among the diverse student population. Her presentations, learning activities, and science labs provide problem-solving opportunities that enhance her students' success in high school and beyond. She has high expectations for her students in the areas of achievement and behavior and stresses students' role in their own learning.

Mrs. McMains is not afraid to try new teaching methods with her students. She always encourages them to do more to become better students and better scientists. She incorporates innovation with tradition and uses hands-on projects with independent study. She also goes the extra mile, staying after school and coming in on Saturdays to supervise and assist students.

Outside the confines of her classroom, Mrs. McMains continually seeks opportunities for extended learning experiences for her students. She has led student groups on science expeditions to local city and State parks and on international expeditions to Costa Rica. She has also had her students collaborate with scientists and teachers on Antarctic science expeditions.

Mrs. McMains has presented to fellow district science teachers and state and national audiences. Whether she is at King Science and Technology's feeder schools working to recruit new students, teaching summer and school-year extension courses, working with students through TinkFrog.org, or in her middle school classroom, Mrs. McMains is considered one of the school's best teachers.

She has a B.A. in psychology from the University of Miami and a kindergarten through sixth grade teaching certification.

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Brenda Zabel/2009/Westside High School/Biology/Omaha, NE/9-12

How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award? 23

What are you currently doing?

Science Teacher and Science Department Chair at Omaha Westside

What other positions/schools/careers have you held?

Began teaching career at Lincoln Northeast High School; also taught at Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City, IA for three years

Over your career, what notable achievements have you also received (degrees, honors, anything you want us to know)

2005 Nebraska Teacher of the Year

What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

The application process is a tremendous professional development experience. It fosters introspection and growth on so many levels.

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Mary Tusha/1997/Verdigre Public Schools/Verdigre, Nebraska/K-6 Science

 Grade Level: Kindergarten

 How many years of experience did you have upon receiving the award?  12 years

 What memory would you like to share from the award process?

                I applied for the Presidential award as a project for the final class of my Master's Degree.  I remember that I received word that I was a finalist on the day that    I presented my project to the class and I was able to end my presentation with notification that I was a finalist.  (I "aced" the presentation)

 

            The trip to Washington, DC was amazing and the other awardees were great to meet and tour the city with.  I'd have to say the highlight of the trip for me was     the dinner at the State Department.  The artifacts held there were so interesting to see and touch.   The views of the monuments, from the balcony, was a sight   to behold.  The food and the presentation were delicious and beautiful.

  Please update us with your current information:

                Mary Tusha

908 Clark Avenue

                Creighton, NE   68729            

                  marytusha@gmail.com

What are you currently doing?

            I am currently supervising student teachers for Wayne State College when they are placed in my area.  I enjoy substitute teaching when I have time.

 What advice do you have for perspective PAEMST nominees?

            The application process is a learning experience and is a good reflection of the positive impact that you have on students' lives and the hard work that you   have put in to being the best that you can be. 

            Receiving the award is an accomplishment that follows you through you life and opens the doors to many opportunities.  The money that an awardee receives can    be used to further your goals in the classroom and beyond.

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Nancy Jo Bellows/1994/Willard Elementary School/York, NE/K-6 Science

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Julia Polak/2006/Exeter-Milligan Public Schools/Milligan, NE/K-6 Science

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 Photographs from the 30 Year PAEMST Reunion at Camp Calvin Crest, Fremont, Nebraska-Photos courtesy of Dan Sitzman.

 (L-R) Jan Johnson, Chuck Lang, Joan Christen,  Bob Curtright, Katie Ramsey (speaking to the group), LeeAnn Vaughan, Laura Callahan, Lois Mayo

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Photographs from the 30 Year PAEMST Reunion at Camp Calvin Crest, Fremont, Nebraska-Photos courtesy of Dan Sitzman.

 

Ed Brogie speaking to the group.

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Photographs from the 30 Year PAEMST Reunion at Camp Calvin Crest, Fremont, Nebraska-Photos courtesy of Dan Sitzman.

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Angela Nickel 2x,Angela Nickel 2x