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York teacher named Nebraska English Teacher of the Year

York teacher named Nebraska English Teacher of the Year

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YORK -- York High School Language Arts Teacher extraordinaire-Becky Stahr was honored at the recent awards luncheon at noon on August 4, 2020, where representatives gathered (using correct social distancing) to honor the National Council Teachers of English awardees.

She was named the “Nebraska English Teacher of the Year” and awarded the “NCTE Secondary Teacher of English Excellence” National Award representing Nebraska English/ Language Arts Teachers. The award was presented by Sharon Bishop of Henderson, the State President of the Nebraska English Language Arts Council (NELAC)-the local NCTE State organization-NCTE Affiliate and Ann Quinlan of Lincoln, representing NCTE. Stahr was to be honored at the National Convention in Denver in the Fall, however it was canceled due Corona-19 Virus. She will be honored again at the Plum Creek Literacy Festival April 17th, 2021 and at the State Capitol on Friday, May 7, 20201.

“When you look to define the term Speech or Drama Coach in the Dictionary-you discover a photo of Becky Stahr with the definition-she is that talented!” Stated NELAC Award Chairman, Clark Kolterman in introducing Stahr. “Her work as an English Language Arts educator exemplifies all the positives with both of her Speech and Drama high school programs and she tirelessly continues to present award winning students in a variety of programs throughout Nebraska. She willingly works to serve as a teaching mentor to many and continues to find creative methods to continue creating ‘best practices’ in her educational presentations. Nebraska is honored to have her call a Nebraska classroom and stage her home and NELAC is excited to have her represent Nebraska this year as the “English Language Arts Teacher of the Year.”

Five outstanding educators were recognized at the recent Nebraska Language Arts Council (NELAC)

Awards Luncheon honoring and recognizing them for their achievements, dedication and career

accomplishments. NELAC is the State English/Language Arts Teacher Association for the state of Nebraska and affiliated with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The luncheon was held at the Seward Civic Center in Seward to present the awards to the honorees, who were to be recognized at the Fall Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival, which was postponed until April. A picnic luncheon was enjoyed prior to the awards presentation.

The state recognition and awards were presented to Becky Stahr - York High School-who was honored as the “NCTE/NELAC Secondary Teacher of Excellence/Nebraska English Teacher of the Year” award. Not only does she teach high school English Language Arts at York High but she is also an award winning Play Production and Speech Coach and directs the annual York High Musical.

Kelcey Schmitz -Omaha Benson High/OPS-- was the recipient of the “NCTE/NELAC Leadership Development Award” presented to a new outstanding Language Arts/English teacher of one to five years’ experience. She is in her fourth year of teaching English Language Arts at Omaha Benson High School in the Omaha Public Schools system.

Taylor Lenz - Central City High School and new University of Nebraska at Kearney graduate-was the recipient of the “Gerry Cox Memorial” “Nebraska Language Arts Student Teacher of the Year/Future Teacher Award.” She was also presented with a check for $500 in memory of longtime educator and NELAC member Gerry Cox. She student taught at Aurora High School.

Bryan Moore-Director of Drama at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska-was the recipient of the NCTE/NELAC “Nebraska Intellectual Freedom Award/Academic Freedom Award.” He is the Nebraska NCTE Award Recipient and honored for his strong stance in dealing with various issues surrounding his productions and drama presentations centering around intellectual freedom.

Todd Schlechte of Gretna, who is with the Southeast Library System was announced as the national nominee for the “NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award/Academic Freedom Award-National Level.” He presently serves as President Elect of the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska-dealing with many issues involving intellectual Freedom and Academic Freedom.

Presenting the award were members of the board of NELAC, including Sharon Bishop of Henderson-the NELAC State President, Ann Quinlan of Lincoln, longtime NCTE Leader on the NCTE National Level, and Stephanie Shearer of Central City, President Elect of NELAC.

Originally the honorees were to also be honored at the National NCTE Conference, which was to be held at Denver, Colorado, but was canceled due to the Corona-19 Virus. The Conference is now going to be held viral.

Dylan Tuet, the Director of the Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival at Concordia University, spoke on the state of the Children’s Festival-which has been postponed until April for the 2020 year. He commented on all the scenarios and what let up to the postponement of the event. Clark Kolterman, NELAC Awards Chair, served as the Emcee for the luncheon.

These honorees will be recognized again at the Teachers Day at Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival April 17th and also at the annual NCTE/NELAC Honors Day at the State Capitol in Lincoln on Friday, May 7th at 4:00 pm, surrounded by friends and family.

Following the awards luncheon, the NELAC Board met to elect officers for 2020-2021 and included President: Stephanie Shearer- Central City High School, Vice President/President Elect: Dash Rohan-Sioux County High School, Secretary: Jenni Erhart: Osceola High School-Retired, Treasurer: Clark Kolterman-Seward High School-Retired, Past President: Sharon Bishop-Henderson Community Schools-Retired, NCTE Liason: Ann Quinlan-Southeast High School Lincoln-Retired, Secondary Representative: Melissa Pohl- Seward High School and Middle School Representative: Dr. Ericka Bruening-Lincoln Public Schools.

The mission of NELAC is to promote the development of literacy, the use of language to construct personal and public worlds and to achieve full participation in society, through the learning and teaching of English and the related arts and sciences of language.”

For more information on NELAC visit the NELAC Facebook page or NCTE at or contact Clark Kolterman at

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