Howard Elementary School teacher named as finalist for Christa McAuliffe teaching award
Howard Elementary School teacher Amy Anderson has been recognized as one of three state finalists for the Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Education and Human Sciences. Anderson was recognized at a luncheon on March 9 in Lincoln.
Anderson has spent her entire 21-year career teaching fourth grade at Howard Elementary School. Nancy Lueking, a teacher at Ashland Greenwood High School, was named the Christa McAuliffe Prize recipient. Anderson and two other teachers received certificates of distinction. Anderson received her bachelor's degree in elementary education and special education from Doane College in 1988 and has taken graduate courses from Doane College, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She is the co-chairman of the social studies curriculum and assessment team for the Grand Island Public Schools and is the chairman of Howard's school improvement team. Howard Elementary School Principal Julie Schnitzler nominated Anderson for the award. "Mrs. Anderson shows courage by choosing to teach students who have to overcome many struggles," Schnitzler wrote in her nomination letter. "Mrs. Anderson has the ability to inspire students to achieve their goals and be proud of who they can become." "As an educator, it takes courage day to day to face a room full of students with a variety of needs and backgrounds and help them to become the best that they can be," Anderson wrote in her letter to the nominating committee for the award. "There are times when you wonder if you are really making a difference, but I have learned that the rewards don't always come immediately."
Deb Harder, senior teaching and learning administrator for the Grand Island Public Schools, described Anderson in her letter of support as intelligent and energetic. "Her character is of high quality. She is an honest, organized, hard-working, caring individual," Harder wrote. "Amy is a highly motivated educator who has a passion for learning -- both for herself and for her students." Jane Kipper is also a fourth-grade teacher at Howard Elementary School. "On a professional level, I have seen Amy go from being a great teacher to an outstanding teacher. She teaches all subjects with knowledge and enthusiasm. Her classes come alive as she leads in retelling or the acting out of history lessons," Kipper wrote. Kyle Nabity is a third-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School and completed his student teaching experience in Anderson's classroom. "Amy possesses an ability to reach struggling students and identify their strengths and build upon their weaknesses. Her classroom is much more than a school room. She creates a safe haven and builds a community of learners where students come together as a family. She sets high standards for herself, teaches her students to set goals for themselves, and expects them to be met," Nabity wrote in his letter of support.
Kelli Czarnick of Lincoln was one of Anderson's students in her first year of teaching at Howard. "Through the years, Amy has proven to be far more than a 'teacher' and exemplifies many wonderful qualities that not every educator possesses. She naturally displays those characteristics of Ms. Christa McAuliffe that you are looking for: courage, commitment to excellence, creativity, and the ability to inspire," Czarnick wrote in her letter of support. Anderson is a member of the Grand Island Education Association, Nebraska Education Association, and National Council of Social Studies. She has served as a mentor for new teachers in the school district and has hosted three student teachers. Anderson has sung the National Anthem at many events in the Grand Island Public Schools.