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.
Indian Hill Elementary
Jennifer Bailey has been with OPS for 17 years, all of them at Indian Hill. A colleague wrote: “Mrs. Bailey loves her students! Not only does she build strong relationships with them, she builds relationships with the parents, especially with the parents of those students who struggle at school. She definitely believes in working as a team with the families of her students.” Another said: “Jennifer engages and inspires her students to love learning. I see often how Jennifer has made a difference in the lives of her students by the number of former students who stop by to visit her, many of whom have gone on to middle school, high school and beyond.” Mrs. Bailey has a B.S. and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Standing Bear Elementary
Kelli Baker has been with OPS for 17 years, 13 of them at Standing Bear. A parent wrote: “Mrs. Baker has been more than we could have ever dreamed as a teacher for our first grader. She is so helpful, patient, kind and understanding. Our son has a love for school and I think Mrs. Baker is a big part of that because he feels loved and supported by her.” Another said: “Mrs. Baker is an exceptionally amazing teacher! She takes a special interest in each child recognizing their talents and gifts. She leads them to be the best student they can be.” Mrs. Baker has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Chandler View Elementary
Leslie Baxter has taught in OPS for 31 years, 26 of them at Chandler View. A colleague said: “Leslie truly makes a difference in her students’ lives. She is always looking for new and innovative ways to reach them. It is obvious she cares about each one of them and makes lasting relationships with them, as well as with their parents. Most notable is her ever present positive ‘can do’ attitude.” A parent wrote: “Mrs. Baxter was able to raise my daughter’s reading and math scores, and her social skills, which led to my daughter being mainstreamed in school. She taught me many things also. We always worked as a team, always sharing new ideas and information.” Mrs. Baxter has a B.A. from Buena Vista University and an M.A. from the University of Northern Iowa.
Burke High School
Page Dalton has spent her entire six-year career with OPS at Burke. A student said: “She is always full of energy and fills her students with that same energy with interesting activities. She is one of the only teachers I’ve had that truly makes learning fun and makes me excited to come to class.” Another wrote: “She is one of the most authentic, caring, and down-to-earth teachers you will ever meet. She genuinely wants to see her students succeed, and I could ask nothing more of a teacher.” Ms. Dalton has a B.A. from Concordia University and an M.A. from California State University and College of St. Mary.
Buffett Middle School
Jay Daugherty has been with OPS for 17 years, eight of them at Buffett. A colleague wrote: “Jay works tirelessly with his students to help them achieve not only academic success but social and life skill success. His calm demeanor, patience, kindness, and love of his subject matter is conveyed in all his actions, both in and out of the classroom.” A parent said: “He not only instilled in my children an interest in learning but helped them develop a passion for learning about other cultures and people. Mr. Daugherty helped them learn that the world is a bigger place than Omaha.” Mr. Daugherty has a B.A. from Iowa State University and an M.A. from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Wilson Focus School
Maggie Douglas has been with OPS for six years, all of them at Wilson. A parent wrote: “She is both a fun and challenging teacher. She is excellent at developing a relationship with each student, so they understand she has high expectations for their learning. Because of this, you won’t want to let her down.” Another said: “Miss Douglas has worked magic on not only keeping my son engaged and interested, but in sparking his curiosity. She has encouraged him to break out of his shell and challenged him to not just learn more but to be a better person and citizen.” Ms. Douglas has a B.A. and a B.S. from Creighton University, an M.S. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Burke High School
David Groth has been with OPS for four years, all of them at Burke. A student wrote: “Mr. Groth is a teacher who truly cares. He is a motivational speaker, therapist, and excellent teacher all in one. His positive attitude makes his classroom one that students want to be in. He teaches students to be confident, kind to others and to make a difference in the world.” A parent said: “Mr. Groth is not just a teacher. He is an encourager, a coach, a mentor, a way-changer, a life-giver, and he heals through music and his loving, cheering personality. Not only does he create amazing performers, but he helps create amazing teens to young adults.” Mr. Groth has a B.S. from Northwest Missouri State University.
Norris Middle School
Lacie Hansen has been with OPS for 12 years, the last three at Norris. A colleague wrote: “Ms. Hansen has the rare ability to know how to work with individual students and make them feel safe, supported, and confident in her classroom. She uses a variety of engagement strategies and works diligently to build relationships with her students.” A former student said: “She was an energetic, caring, and fun teacher. But what I loved most about her was that she was very supportive and loving. Even on my worst days she made me smile and laugh.” Ms. Hansen has a B.A. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an M.S. from Peru State College.
Bryan Middle School
Jessica Korth has been with OPS for 20 years, 18 of them at Bryan. A colleague wrote: “She is truly outstanding in everything she does for her colleagues, students and school. She not only goes above and beyond during school hours, but she dedicates her time once school is done. She is kind, giving, considerate, and just the best colleague to have.” A student said: “Mrs. Korth is a very inspiring teacher. She constantly helps her students to achieve more than an education. She would go to any lengths to help us get the grades we had the potential for.” Ms. Korth has a B.A. from Wayne State College and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Marrs Middle School
Keith Kramer has taught in OPS for 26 years, 20 of them at Marrs. A parent said: “Mr. Kramer is an amazing teacher, role model and human being. He really knows how to relate to the kids in his class, which keeps them involved and learning. He puts in countless hours after school and on the weekends working with his students.” A colleague wrote: “I have seen Mr. Kramer’s dedication to the educational, social, emotional, and physical well-being of each of his students. In the classroom Mr. Kramer is a marvel. He is very active and animated in all of his presentations.” Mr. Kramer has a B.A. from Creighton University and an M.Ed. from Concordia University.
Vanessa Kruse has taught in OPS for 13 years, all of them at Picotte. A parent said: “I am impressed by her kindness, patience, and fun and creative teaching methods. She is always wearing a huge smile, she is so positive and upbeat, and it is obvious how much she cares about her students.” A colleague wrote: “While Vanessa goes above and beyond to meet the academic needs of her students, her greatest strength lies in her compassion for the students she serves. Her warm and engaging personality lends itself to making Picotte students feel comfortable and safe in the school environment.” Ms. Kruse has a B.S. from Creighton University and an M.A. and M.S. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Belle Ryan Elementary
English as a Second Language
Michelle Meyer has been with OPS for 17 years, all of them at Belle Ryan. A colleague wrote: “Michelle is one of the most passionate educators I have had the pleasure of working with. Michelle is an advocate for both her students and their families. She has impacted countless students both educationally and with social-emotional learning.” Another said: “She brings tremendous energy and passion to teaching ELL students every day! Michelle truly believes in making a difference for her students and has high expectations for them and for herself. But what makes her an exceptional teacher is how much she loves the kids.” Mrs. Meyer has a B.S. from Northwest Missouri State University and an M.A. from Doane University.
Desseraye Scott has been with OPS for 15 years, the past nine at Crestridge. A parent wrote: “Mrs. Scott fostered a love for learning in my daughter. She offered a level of rigor that stretched our daughter’s academic growth, as well as her imagination and passion for discovery and inquiry. She gave her the attention she desired yet instilled an independence that allowed her to flourish. ”Another said: “Mrs. Scott’s teaching style embodies the essence of ‘active learning.’ Students are not allowed to sit passively at their desks. Rather, they are very engaged in the learning experience. Mrs. Scott is outgoing, positive, and always has a smile on her face.” Mrs. Scott has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Buffett Middle School
Kimberly Wichert has taught in OPS for 27 years, the last 15 at Buffett. A colleague wrote: “She has a true talent for teaching her students and simplifying the complicated topics of science so everyone can understand. She always makes science fun and pushes herself to find new and innovative ways to engage even the students who don’t usually participate.” A student wrote: “She goes above and beyond to help us understand everything. She always takes our mistakes and turns them into lessons that we can learn and grow from. Even if we feel like giving up, she encourages us to work harder.” Mrs. Wichert has a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa.
Marrs Middle School
Donna Wilcox has taught in OPS for 22 years, the last three at Marrs. A student wrote: “My language arts skills have grown dramatically, and I thank her for that. She has not only supported me in school but outside of school as well. She is overall an amazing teacher and deserves a great amount of credit for what she does.” A colleague said: “I have watched her work her magic on kids, and I love watching her teach. She teaches with a sense of humor and with excitement. Any time I walk into her classroom I see students fully engaged, and she is up walking around and making sure everyone understands.” Mrs. Wilcox has a B.S. and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
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