Eight Catholic school educators will be honored by the Archdiocese of Omaha at a Sept. 12 dinner. Each honoree will receive a $5,000 award.
The Archbishop's Dinner for Education, which will mark its 36th year, provides an opportunity to honor educators, thank those who support Catholic schools and raise funds for the awards and for scholarships for low-income students. Funds raised for scholarships are matched by the Children's Scholarship Fund.
The evening begins with a social hour at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and a brief program at 7 p.m.
Tickets for the dinner, to be held at the Embassy Suites in La Vista, are available for $125 each. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Donna Erker at 402-827-3757 or email@example.com.
The awards are presented to administrators, teachers, and inner-city and special education teachers.
Administrators of the year
» Stacy Uttecht, St. Wenceslaus, Dodge, Neb.
Uttecht has been a preschool, kindergarten and head teacher at St. Wenceslaus for more than six years. She helped start the school's new preschool and develop a curriculum for the kindergarten.
“Because of the quality of the program she developed, most children in our community attend the preschool and the majority of our families with children are choosing to send their children to St. Wenceslaus School,” the Rev. Pat McLaughlin, St. Wenceslaus' former pastor, and Richard Eikmeier, school board president, wrote in nominating Uttecht.
Uttecht has more than 22 years of teaching experience. Before joining St. Wenceslaus, she taught preschool in the Head Start program in Wisner and kindergarten at the Clearwater Public Schools. She also has taught in Wayne and Tryon, Neb. She has a bachelor's degree in education from Wayne State College.
» Laura Hickman, Duchesne, Omaha
Hickman, Duchesne's principal since 2002, has a strong focus on service, reflecting the Sacred Heart mission of service to the poor and to the marginalized.
A 1985 Duchesne graduate, Hickman helped organize and participated in the school's first trip to the Dominican Republic with Creighton University's Institute for Latin American Concern program as well as its first trip to the Winnebago reservation. She has been the lead organizer and chaperone on four trips to Uganda and East Africa. “I believe these experiences are transformational for young people as they experience extreme poverty and cultures very different from their own,” she said.
She was a key player in bringing internationally known author Immacullee Ilibagiza, a Rwandan genocide survivor, to Omaha in 2009. She helped plan and facilitate the Archdiocesan Foundations of Faith program and supported a parent awareness committee for area Catholic high schools.
She also taught U.S. history and world cultures at Duchesne and served as history department chairwoman. She has a bachelor's degree in English, secondary education and history from Creighton University, a master's degree in U.S. constitutional history from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a certificate in secondary education and a doctorate in education from Creighton.
Secondary teachers of the year
» Mary Bartak, Pope John XXIII Central Catholic, Elgin, Neb.
Friends and co-workers say Bartak's schedule gives an idea of the energy she puts toward her students, school, parish and family.
Bartak, who has been teaching eight years, all at Pope John XXIII, teaches six math, history and theology courses. After school, she's junior class sponsor, assistant track coach, quiz bowl coach and bus driver. She's also a mother of five and a farmer's wife who earned bachelor's and master's degrees while raising her family.
“Students seek out Mary,” said Principal Betty Getzfred. “They feel comfortable talking to her, seeking her advice, and they appreciate the extra help she is willing to give them. She is straightforward with the students; she doesn't tell them what they want to hear but what they need to hear.”
Bartak has a bachelor's degree from Wayne State with a field endorsement in social science, a middle school endorsement from Chadron State and a master's degree in history and curriculum from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
» The Rev. Steven Emanuel, Gross High School, Bellevue
Colleagues describe Emanuel as a competitive man who pushes students to excel in school and sports.
Emanuel serves as theology department chairman and instructor and school chaplain as well as head girls basketball coach and freshman baseball coach. He also runs the school's campus ministry, manages its service program and started a class that allows students to learn about their faith.
Dorothy Ostrowski, the school's president, says the fact that the class enrollment has grown significantly is a testament to Emanuel's teaching ability. “Father Steve clearly understands young people and their needs, and he is available to them at any time,” she said.
He has a bachelor's degree in secondary social sciences from Concordia Teachers College in Seward, Neb., and a master's degree in divinity from the University of St. Mary of the Lake–Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill. He has more than 20 years of teaching experience.
Before coming to Gross nine years ago, he taught at West Point Central Catholic, Columbus Scotus and Pope John XXIII Central Catholic in Elgin. Parish assignments include Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, West Point; St. Bonaventure, St. Isidore and St. Anthony, Columbus; St. Francis of Assisi, Neligh; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Tilden; St. Bernadette, Bellevue; and St. Columbkille, Papillion.
Elementary educators of the year
» Barbara Stansbury, St. Michael School, South Sioux City, Neb.
Stansbury has shown the importance of loving all creatures during her 42 years of teaching at St. Michael, with all but two of those years in third grade.
Stansbury's classroom has been home to a variety of animals, including hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, tadpoles, fish, turtles and the current favorite, Benjamin the Bunny. Colleagues say students learn love, respect and responsibility caring for the animals. In 2011, school officials called on her to teach a newly consolidated third and fourth grade, which required a new curriculum and a new style of teaching.
Stansbury earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa.
» Michael Hartigan, Christ the King, Omaha
Hartigan, who has taught P.E. and health to first- through eighth-graders at Christ the King for 21 years, was described as not just a teacher but a role model.
Over the years, he's coached baseball, basketball, volleyball and track. He arrives at 7 a.m. to work with students on fitness and to master skills. During lunch and recess, he helps students develop better organizational and study skills. He also teaches middle school students how to become Catholic leaders during weekly meetings and teaches fifth-grade religion classes on Wednesday nights.
Former student Maggie Neary said Hartigan encourages everyone to find a passion and obviously has found his own in teaching. “He is truly a 'man for others' and an everyday hero,” she said.
Hartigan holds a bachelor's in education from Creighton University and is continuing graduate course work. In his 28th year of teaching, he taught at Immaculate Conception School/All Saints School before joining Christ the King in 1992.
Special education and inner-city educators of the year
» Katie Barmettler, Sacred Heart, Omaha
Before returning to Omaha in 2008, Barmettler taught in Kansas City, Kan., St. Louis and Las Vegas, where she also worked as an educational computing strategist, curriculum specialist and district administrator for drug, alcohol and violence prevention programs.
In Omaha, she became principal at St. Richard School. When the announcement came that the school would close the next year, she is credited with keeping the school community calm and focused on students.
Most of her staff and students followed her to Sacred Heart, where she serves as principal. Within months, she established a seven-year plan for instruction as well as plans for professional development, facility improvements and community involvement. Later, she established a student achievement plan, obtained outside accreditation and expanded athletic and student activities.
Barmettler has a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Kansas, a master's degree in education from Maryville University in St. Louis, an education specialist degree in administration from Nova Southeastern University in Las Vegas, and she recently completed the Catholic School Leadership Program at Creighton University.
» Nancy Gillpatrick, St. Bernard, Omaha
Gillpatrick, a music teacher, started her career as a part-time band instructor in Elgin, Neb. She then taught first- through fourth-grade music at Brownell-Talbot in Omaha before joining St. Bernard, where she's been for the past 30 years. She's stepped in where needed, going back to school to get an endorsement in library science when the school needed a librarian and taking Spanish so she could teach introductory Spanish when the school added that program.
Gillpatrick directs the school's annual Christmas program and junior high musical, coaches the school's Bible Bowl, Quiz Bowl and Wits Clash teams and plays piano at weekly school Masses.
“I don't know what we would ever do without Mrs. Gillpatrick” is a common refrain from co-workers, said former Principal James Daro.
Gillpatrick has a bachelor's degree in music education (K-12) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a K-12 library media specialist endorsement from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
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