Melody Theobald moved to Papillion with her husband in February 1999 to raise a family.
“It’s more personal,” she said. “You’re part of the Omaha metro area, but Papillion has more of a small town feel.”
After her husband, Tyler, 43, finished his work at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, the two moved to Papillion, which is close to Theobold’s home in Bellevue. The couple chose Papillion because of its great parks and growing community. They raised seven children and sent them to Papillion schools.
They made a good choice, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The magazine named Papillion the Best Place to Raise Children in Nebraska on Jan. 15.
The organization praised the city’s strong schools and highlighted recreational activities for children and adults. In 2010, the publication ranked Papillion as the Best Affordable Suburb in Nebraska.
“They have so many opportunities,” Theobald, 44, said of the schools. “I think they try to have not just an educational program, but actually an opportunity for kids to learn outside of the classroom.”
The award showcases the health of the community, said Mayor David Black. There’s a strong foundation in its civic organizations, schools and culture.
“We don’t chase awards so when they come, we’re very happy about them,” he said. “When an award comes, we’re doing the right thing. When it doesn’t come, we’re still doing the right thing.”
Papillion has a population of 18,966, a median family house income of $83,342 and an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, according to Bloomberg. The publication used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the website GreatSchools.org.
The Papillion-La Vista School District was singled out on GreatSchools, as well as by the governor’s office and others, based on its high test scores. Trumble Park Elementary has a GreatSchools score of 10, and two other elementary schools both earned an 8.
“(Students) know they have a great opportunity to grow as much as possible,” Superintendent Rick Black said. “They take advantage of it.”
The publication selected one community from each of the 50 states based on public school performance, safety, housing costs, adult educational achievement, income and unemployment.
Papillion was recently named the Best Small Town in America by Livability.com, which described the city as a modern Mayberry, a fictional town from “The Andy Griffith Show,” which is intended to represent the ideal, close-knit community.
The city was also ranked No. 5 among the Best Places to Live by CNN/Money Magazine in its 2011 rankings. The city has finished among the top 25 since 2005 and will try to maintain its position in the magazine’s 2013 rankings.
Rick Black said dedicated teachers and administration provide Papillion students with high level education and experiences through comprehensive programs. The superintendent also attributed the district’s success to strong partnerships with more than 150 businesses and educational organizations.
There’s an ongoing interaction between students, parents and teachers in the Papillion-La Vista School District, he added. The goal is to give students the most opportunity possible and make sure they don’t settle for anything mediocre.
“At the very top of the list is the work ethic of our kids,” he said. “They know they have a great opportunity to grow as much as possible, and they take advantage of it. And that’s because of the value installed by their parents.”