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

 

Cathy Andrus

Cathy Andrus
Central High School
Counselor
Cathy Andrus, a native of Baldwin, New York, has been with OPS for 12 years, the last nine at Central High School. A parent wrote: “I fear that describing Cathy as a ‘tireless worker’ on behalf of Central High School students may be clichéd, but I can’t think of a more apt way to describe her. She truly stands out as someone who does an extraordinary amount for Central High School and its students.” A former student said: “She really contributed a lot during my preparation for college. She made my journey to college so easy, by connecting me to someone who is now paying my college tuition. She offered herself to help me throughout last summer, making sure I was on the right track for college. Her advice helped me a lot and is still helping me now.” Ms. Andrus has a B.S. from Brigham Young University and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Robert Bacome

Robert Bacome
South High School
Art
Robert Bacome has been with OPS for 17 years, all of them at South. A student wrote: “Mr. Bacome is an extraordinary teacher. He didn’t just teach me art but he also taught me many life lessons that I took to heart. Mr. Bacome never once hesitated to help his students in anything they needed. His kind heart and humor have led me to believe that he deserves this award and much more.” Another said: “He manages to captivate his students by using a unique blend of wit and intelligence. Because of his profound knowledge of art, his sense of humor and his caring for students and people around him he has become a great educator. Mr. Bacome is a caring person who will listen to you whether it is about school or not.” Mr. Bacome is from Omaha and has a B.A. from the University of Nebraska, Kearney.

Thelma Bell

Thelma Bell
Blackburn High School
Special Education
Thelma Bell, a native of Omaha, has been with OPS for seven years, the last three at Blackburn. An admirer said: “Thelma is a natural leader. She is a source of true inspiration. Her strength, courage, forthrightness and natural leadership skills enable her to navigate the challenging roads of teaching special ed kids. Thelma takes a proactive approach to these challenges and views them simply as problems to be solved. Deep in her soul she cares so deeply for her students and creates a school day deep with meaning and worth for them.” A colleague wrote: “Thelma Bell teaches students many label as unteachable. This fiercely determined teacher has proved this label wrong by developing an innovative curriculum of literature and writing. Thelma Bell’s success is legendary. She is doing her best to bring at-risk and economically disadvantaged kids one step closer to the education they deserve.” Ms. Bell has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha and an M.A. from the University of the Incarnate Word.

Sally Rosanne Carmichael

Sally Rosanne Carmichael
Lewis & Clark Middle School
Special Education
Sally Rosanne Carmichael has been with OPS for 28 years, the past eight at Lewis & Clark. A colleague wrote: “She gives students exactly what they need, whether it is a stern scolding, a pencil, a new strategy, a winter coat, or a friendly ear. She regularly takes groups of students from the classroom she is teaching in and gives them private, small group instruction in any subject. The woman is a genius.” Another said: “No matter what subject, no matter where the students are in their learning process, Rosanne is able to teach the subject, make a connection, and draw forth the best effort from any learner, no matter their ability. Rosanne is indeed a master at her craft. Her passion is evident in her relentless pursuit to help each student reach their full potential.” A native of Red Oak, Iowa, Ms. Carmichael has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

William Cosgrove

William Cosgrove
Morton Middle School
Resource
William Cosgrove has been with OPS for 29 years, the last two at Morton. A colleague wrote: “Each year it amazes me to watch the progress his students make, both socially and academically. He individualizes his lessons to fit the variety of student needs he has in his classroom. Bill’s classroom is more than a learning environment, it is a community.” Another said: “Bill Cosgrove is the kind of educator that every parent of a ‘student with special needs’ hopes they are entrusting their child to during the school day. He is strong, patient, kind and understanding. He is the hardest working teacher I have ever seen.” Mr. Cosgrove has a B.A. and M.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He is from Kansas City, Kansas.

Cathy Eichorn

Cathy Eichorn
Lewis & Clark Middle School
Science
Cathy Eichorn, a native of Ames, Iowa, has been with OPS for 34 years, the past 25 at Lewis & Clark. A colleague said: “Her tireless work ethic and creativity is displayed in her planning and execution of her lessons. She leads by example, working long hours when most teachers are done for the day. In a profession that wears away even the very best of us I rarely see Cathy slow down for any reason.” A student wrote: “She never gave up on me when I was having a hard time. She always made sure my work was done. When I did badly on a test or quiz she always made sure I tried again and did better. She cares about us kids a lot because she is always helping us. She gives up her free time to help us.” Ms. Eichorn has a B.S. from Iowa State University and an M.S. from Creighton University.

Myra Hudson image

Margo Forsythe
Central Park Elementary
Kindergarten/English as a Second Language
Margo Forsythe has been with OPS for 20 years, the past four at Central Park. A colleague said: “She regularly takes students to community events or activities in the evenings and on weekends so that they may have many opportunities to build background experiences and language development. She also provides her students with books and educational toys to have in their home to stimulate their learning.” An admirer wrote: “In addition to the safe environment she creates and the experiences she provides, the instruction Mrs. Forsythe delivers in her classroom is masterful. Because of her ability to meet students where they are and scaffold instruction to ensure their progress, within a few years of working with her students assimilate to a regular classroom and meet with amazing success.” A native of Omaha, Ms. Forsythe has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and an M.Ed. from Lesley College.

Faith Keim

Faith Keim
Standing Bear Elementary
Early Childhood Special Education
Faith Keim has been with OPS for 22 years, the last four at Standing Bear. A parent wrote: “She is special because of the energy and enthusiasm that she brings to the classroom every day after many years of teaching. She is special because of the kind way that she handles each student, even when they may be having a difficult day. I honestly have never met a teacher who is more highly regarded by parents and colleagues alike.” Another said: “Mrs. Keim has created an outstanding structure and curriculum for her classroom to meet the varying needs of her students. She is patient, caring, supportive, and dedicated to the success of each child in her classroom. She is always available to answer questions or concerns I have as a parent and communicates well about what is going on each week in her classroom, including activities to do with my child at home.” A native of Scottsbluff, Ms. Keim has a B.S. and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. 

Kelene Langenfeld

Kelene Langenfeld
Masters Elementary School
Kindergarten
Kelene Langenfeld, a native of Sioux City, Iowa has been with OPS for 27 years, the last twelve at Masters. A parent wrote: “When students enter her classroom she immediately begins thinking about what she can do for them. She has developed many behavior and academic plans for children. She wants every student to succeed.” Another said: “Her talent is in her amazing ability to reach even the most difficult child, academically and emotionally, while challenging the most advanced. She is gifted with a tremendous amount of patience and diligence. She is positive, determined, organized, structured, consistent and fun.” Ms. Langenfeld has a B.S. and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Marcella Mahoney

Marcella Mahoney
Central High School
English
Marcella Mahoney has been with OPS for 17 years, the last 13 at Central. A student wrote: “Mrs. Mahoney can take the literary ability within a person and turn it into a living, thriving, workable talent without said person’s awareness. Not only did Mrs. Mahoney bring out something in me that I never thought was possible, she opened a door. She invested in me and awoke something in me I didn’t even know was there – a true love for English.” Another said: “Not only is she the best teacher I think I’ve ever had, but she also is one with the biggest heart. Yes, she pushed to our limit, brought tears to my eyes from being so stressed and made my hand cramp more times than I would have liked, but in the long run I know I am a better writer, a more intelligent person and an overall better person.” Ms. Mahoney, a native of Aurora, Nebraska, has a B.A. from Creighton University and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Chad McAndrews

Chad McAndrews
Central Park Elementary
Fifth Grade
Chad McAndrews, a native of Omaha, has been with OPS for eight years, all of them at Central Park. A colleague wrote: “As a regular classroom teacher Mr. McAndrews has developed many interesting lessons and projects. He uses a variety of techniques and hands-on activities. He speaks with students in a positive manner and knows how to prepare them for real world experiences. He has a good rapport with parents who often stop by after their child has moved on to visit and report to him.” An admirer said: “Mr. McAndrews teaches with passion and sparks a love of learning in his students. He teaches science and social studies to the entire fifth grade body and often looks outside the box for hands on activities to provide students with a concrete understanding of difficult concepts. After his class, students talk for days about the things they’ve learned through experiments they’ve completed.” Mr. McAndrews has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha and an M.S. from Wayne State College.

Luisa Palomo

Luisa Palomo
Liberty Elementary
Kindergarten
Luisa Palomo, a native of Scottsbluff, has been with OPS for six years, all of them at Liberty. A colleague wrote: “She has always provided an amazing amount of energy in her quest for both high student achievement and social justice. Her dedication to all things family and the depth of her teacher heart is hard to measure. She often spends weekends and evenings visiting former students, translating for families in tenuous situations. Her students adore her and her natural ability to get them to write and read in two languages is the by-product of her hard work.” An admirer said: “When you enter her classroom you find an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance for all. Students have learned from her positive attitude and calm demeanor, and it shows in how they relate to each other. Her instructional skills are superior, utilizing a variety of methods to keeps students actively engaged in and excited about learning.” Ms. Palomo has a B.S. from Creighton University and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Sara Point

Sara Point
South High School
Science
Sara Point has been with OPS for five years, all of them at South High. A student said: “I needed help with finding volunteer opportunities and learning how to get into college. She helped me with all of that. She was the first teacher that told me I am very bright and that I just needed to have confidence in myself. Ever since she told me that I began to have that confidence. The outcome was amazing. Hard work and confidence paid off in so many good ways.” A parent wrote: “Ms. Point deserves this recognition for her hard work, dedication and serving as a role model for her students and parents. While visiting her classroom I could not help but be inspired to consider teaching myself. Her enthusiasm for her students and for teaching is incredible. My daughter credits her growing interest in the sciences to her classroom experience with Ms. Point.” Ms. Point has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. She is from Des Moines, Iowa.

Kathleen Prusha

Kathleen Prusha
Chandler View Elementary
Kindergarten
Kathleen Prusha has been with OPS for 28 years, the last 14 at Chandler View. A colleague wrote: “Kathy is a dynamic educator. She develops activities that are age-appropriate and hands-on and is wonderful at encouraging parental involvement. She communicates well with everyone and has an innate ability to generate enthusiasm, a positive rapport, and a sense of camaraderie with others working towards a common goal. Her can-do, positive and fun-loving personality is a healthy influence for our building climate as well.” A parent said: “From the first time I walked into my daughter’s kindergarten classroom and met the first teacher of her life all my apprehensions of leaving my daughter in someone else’s care immediately left me. I knew my daughter was in good hands.” A native of Omaha, Ms. Point has a B.S. from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Deana Rainey

Deana Rainey
Monroe Middle School
Language Arts/Gifted
Deana Rainey has been with OPS for 11 years, all of them at Monroe. A colleague said: “I can only say that her personal demand for excellence is one of the most inspiring I have ever seen. Her students love her, even as she challenges them beyond what they think they can do. I cannot say enough good things about Deana Rainey.” An admirer wrote: “Mrs. Rainey is an outstanding teacher who works tirelessly to provide a solid education for all her language arts students. She puts thought into every paper she grades, giving specific information as to what a student can do to improve. She creates exciting project and short story ideas that inspire students to reach their limits and realize their potential. While maintaining high expectations of all her students, she teaches passionately and holds thought-provoking discussions over the material.” Ms. Rainey, a native of Casper, Wyoming, has a B.A. from Midland Lutheran College.