Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award

2018 Nominations are closed
Winners will be announced in May

2017 Winners

We are pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award. Please join us in congratulating these truly remarkable educators. To find out more about this year’s winners, please scroll down to read each teacher’s biography and comments from those who nominated each teacher.



Amye Aggen

Springville Elementary

Fifth Grade

Amye Aggen has been with OPS for 12 years, all of them at Springville.  She has a B.S. from the College of St. Mary and an M.S. from Concordia University. A colleague wrote: “Amye leads by example, treating every single student in her class with respect and compassion.  She sees the unique gifts in each individual and plays them up to elevate that child who thought they could not learn, the one who has such stress from their home life that it’s difficult to learn, the one with a learning disability, to a step or two above what even the child thought they could do.”  Another admirer said: “Amye has very high expectations for her students. Her tough love approach has her students respecting her for the high expectations, but loving her and asking to have her before they enter her room.” 


Thomas Allen

Bryan High School

Social Studies

Thomas Allen has spent his entire 15-year career with OPS at Bryan High.  He has a B.S. from Peru State College.  A student said: “Since having Mr. Allen’s class I have become more outgoing and open.  He really is a wise, smart man who changed the way I view things.  He made me become a better student and an overall better human being.”  A colleague wrote: “Tom is a central figure in the Bryan community, spending countless hours in the building working with students, attending events, or interacting with the community.  He works tirelessly on behalf of the students at Bryan in a number of capacities.  He is able to do what many in our profession struggle with, and he does it with great deft.  He builds relationships with our students that are grounded in a thirst for knowledge.  He is able to set high expectations for learning, and to hold students accountable for meeting those expectations.” 


Amy Batten

Springville Elementary


Amy Batten has been with OPS for 15 years, 13 at Springville.  She has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska Omaha. A parent said: “Miss Batten is a person that has great passion for what she does and will do whatever she can to make a difference in the lives of the students she encounters. For a teacher/counselor to be able to get kids to open up, want to learn, and do the right thing demonstrates her skills and ability as a leader.” A colleague wrote: “When students are going through a hard time, she makes it a point to see them in her office and shows them that she cares, listening attentively and giving them advice. Miss Batten wants the best for all students and encourages them to do well so they can be successful adults.” 


Connie Colton

McMillan Magnet Center


Connie Colton has been with OPS for 25, all of them at McMillan.  She has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska Omaha and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  A parent wrote: “She has made it clear that she believes in my son and this has been important to his development in his early teen years.  Her classes are academically rigorous and I am thankful that he has had the opportunity to learn and grow under her.”  Another said: “Ms. Colton recognized my son’s aptitude for math early on and has gone out of her way to create extra opportunities for him to work at an accelerated pace.  I’ve also observed that Ms. Colton demonstrates a commitment to helping students at all levels love math and perform to their highest ability.” 


Patricia Freyermuth

Crestridge Elementary

4th Grade

Patricia Freyermuth has been with OPS for 12 years, all of them at Crestridge.  She has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska Omaha and an M.Ed. from Concordia University.  A colleague said: “Pat is very good with a child that is struggling to accomplish a task.  She is calm and reassuring to her students and works her magic with them.”  Another wrote: “Mrs. Freyermuth displays the patience, kindness, dedication, and knowledge needed to teach a diverse classroom with students across a wide range of abilities.  Mrs. Freyermuth works hard to create a welcoming and safe environment for all of her students to come each day and learn.” 



Tomie Green

McMillan Magnet Center

Social Studies

Tomie Green has been with OPS for 24 years, the last year at McMillan.  He has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska Omaha.  A colleague wrote: “Mr. Green is an excellent teacher.  He has established an inviting learning environment for all of his students and builds a family with each of his classes.  Students who struggle in other classes rarely struggle in his classroom.” An admirer said: “I am in awe as I watch this teacher work. He identifies each student as an individual, teaching them at their own pace. He spends many hours after school helping students.” 



Kathleen Higgins

Druid Hill Elementary

Special Education

Kathleen Higgins has been with OPS for 25 years, the last 13 at Druid Hill.  She has a B.A. from Florida State University and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska Omaha.  An admirer wrote:” Katie loves teaching and loves her students. She is persistent in obtaining the resources she needs for her students.  Katie will contact supervisors, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, building engineers, autism consultants, etc. to get what she needs for her students.”  A colleague said: “Katie is a delight to work with and a wealth of information for faculty and families.  She is a go-getter and constantly goes above and beyond to meet the needs of every student. It is very obvious that Katie works from the heart and for the kids.” 



Pamela Homan

Burke High School


Pamela Homan has been with OPS for 12 years, the last 5 at Burke High.  She has a B.A. from Providence College and an M.A. from the College of St. Mary.  A student wrote: “Ms. Homan cares about students more than any other teacher I have ever had.  She has impacted my school life and my life outside of school.  Ms. Homan has taught me things that will stick with me for the rest of my life.” Another said: “Her loving personality drives her passion to have every student succeed.  Despite some students viewing school with indifference, she does not want a single one of them to fail.  So she always offers her help and reminds them of her high expectations.” 



Randall Howard

Burke High School

Social Studies

Randall Howard has spent his entire 8-year career with OPS at Burke High.  He has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska Omaha and an M.Ed. from Concordia University.  A student wrote: “Mr. Howard has probably been the most influential person in my life.  He made my freshman year in high school such an easy transition. He is a teacher who is willing to go the extra mile to get to know his students and make a relationship with them that no one else has with their students.”  Another said: “Mr. Howard is one of the best people, let alone one of the best teachers, I have ever met.  He is always three things – honest, even when you don’t want him to be; pushing, even when you believe you can’t do something; and strong, there for you no matter what.” 



Jodi Kelly

Columbian Elementary 


Jodi Kelly has been with OPS for 18 years, 12 of them at Columbian.  She has a B.S. from Nebraska Wesleyan University and an M.A. from Doane College.  A parent said: “Mrs. Kelly is bright, accessible, upbeat, kindhearted, passionate and exhibits a genuine love for teaching.  Her classroom is, like herself, has a positive and upbeat aura that one can instantly feel.”  Another wrote: “Mrs. Kelly has a true talent for making children and families feel welcome and loved.  She is everything you would want your child’ to have in a teacher – fun, positive, creative, energetic.” 



Leandra London

Integrated Learning Program

Special Education

Leandra London has been with OPS for 4 years, all of them with the ILP.  She has a B.S. and an M.Ed. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  A student wrote: “She will never give up on a student even if they give up on themselves. She will go out of her way to help any student that she knows. She has always been there to help me with all of my school work.  She is full of passion for what she does and it drives me to want to learn more.”  Another said: “She would build my confidence and keep telling me that I could do the work even when I wasn’t so sure that I could. She always made me feel smart and she always told me that I would achieve my goals if I just worked hard enough. She was right.” 



Pamela Schmeits

Jefferson Elementary


Pamela Schmeits has been with OPS for 10 years, all of them at Jefferson.  She has a B.S. from Dana College.  A colleague wrote: “Mrs. Schmeits has the unique ability to make every child feel like they can do anything.  Her students adore her and she builds a classroom culture that is cohesive and respectful. It is a focused and positive place where students feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things because they know they have the support of a great teacher.”  Another said: “Her students leave her class doing things that no one could imagine a 5 or 6-year-old could accomplish.  Pam’s students leave her class but never leave her heart.  They were loved so fully in her classroom that her presence still brings them joy.” 



Celio Silva

Norris Middle School

Social Studies

Celio Silva has been with OPS for 21 years, the last 13 at Norris.  He has B.S. degrees from Peru State College and Grace University.  A colleague said: “Mr. Silva has instilled in his students a strong work ethic by communicating to them in the classroom that they can be successful.  He accepts nothing less and I have witnessed students grow in their own belief in themselves as a result.”  Another wrote: “Mr. Silva is that special teacher that students will remember.  He cares about who these kids are now and who they will become in the future.  He cares enough to make kids accountable for their actions.  He always has time to talk with students who need someone to talk to and he has a way of communicating with those students who won’t talk to anyone else.” 



Kimberly Talamantes

South High School


Kimberly Talamantes has been with OPS for 5 years, all of them at South.  She has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska Omaha.  A student wrote: “Mrs. Talamantes is one of the few people I’m able to trust and look up to.  Besides being a good English teacher she is a very good listener and advice giver.  She is my second mom and has always encouraged me to succeed and never give up.”  Another said: “Mrs. Talamantes is one of the kindest people I have ever met.  If she can help someone in any way she will offer them her assistance.  When she gives you a hug it makes your day a little brighter than what it was before.” 



Julie Trimble

Saddlebrook Elementary


Julie Trimble has been with OPS for 8 years, the last 6 at Saddlebrook.  She has a B.S. from Iowa State University and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  A parent said: “Ms. Trimble goes above and beyond for each student in her kindergarten class.  My daughter looks forward to going to school every day.  She comes home chatting non-stop about her day and can never decide which part of the day was her most favorite.”  Another wrote: “Ms. Trimble’s care for her students reaches beyond the classroom.  She takes an active interest in her students by attending their extra-curricular activities.  Ms. Trimble does an excellent job of communicating with parents on a weekly basis what our children have been learning throughout the week.”

The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation responds to questions about the Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award only.  The Foundation does not respond to other inquiries.

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