2019 Award Winners

ACTEN Administrator of the Year

Jon Cerny, Superintendent, Bancroft-Rosalie Community Schools

Dr. Jon Cerny has been at Bancroft-Rosalie Community School since 1982. He began his career as the 7-12 science teacher, became activities director in 1984, and principal in 1987. He was named the superintendent in 1993. In 2015, Dr. Cerny received the Terrell Bell Award from the Nebraska Department of Education for Outstanding Leadership. In 2013 he receive the Outstanding Superintendent Award from the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association. Dr. Cerny serves on several state and local committees including past president of the NRCSA, board member of the Nebraska School Activities Association, vice president of the Nebraska Career Education and Innovation Foundation, Northeast Nebraska Career Academy Board of Directors, and president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation Board of Directors.

His passion for career and technical education is demonstrated by his service on the Northeast Nebraska Career Academy Partnership and his involvement with implementing “Fridays at Northeast”, a dual credit program offered by Northeast Community College. He played an instrumental role in developing Pathways to Tomorrow, a six-school regional career academy. Jon took on the responsibility of developing and implementing the P2T Computer Science program, including recruiting and training a teacher and identifying appropriate curriculum and equipment needs.

The president of NECC writes, “Jon brings a true spirit of collaboration among the many partners working on P2T. He has helped facilitate a partner agreement for day-to-day programming and continues to offer ideas that bring solutions to complex issues.”

ACTEN Teacher Educator of the Year

 Carol Erwin, Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wayne State College

Carol Irwin serves as an assistant professor in the Family and Consumer Sciences program at Wayne State College. She was instrumental in implementing a course covering program management after completing an assessment of the Wayne State College FCS Program. Outcomes of the FCS Program Organization and Administration class include students demonstrating proficiency in designing a standards-aligned Family and Consumer Sciences program with identified Nebraska Programs of Study, as well as how to incorporate a Career and Technical Student Organization (FCCLA). Her goal was to expose students to a variety of different FCS programs across the state of Nebraska. By using Zoom technology, the students were able to take ‘virtual field trips’ to see and compare programs, facilities, and equipment in many schools. With Carol’s input, the FCS Department revised their program to include two courses in CTE to provide a stronger CTE background.

Another innovative practice implemented in the WSC FCS education program was the creation of a practice test to help prepare students to pass the content test required for teacher certification in the state of Nebraska. After taking the test, the students are to analyze their results to create a plan of action for study.

In 2018, Carol completed her doctorate in Adult and Higher Education Administration from the University of South Dakota. Her coursework focused on the adult learner and how to take a leadership role in facilitating lifelong learning for professionals.

Carol works with the Nebraska Human Sciences and Family and Consumer Sciences Career Field Specialist in developing plans for professional development for the Family and Consumer Sciences teachers in Nebraska.

ACTEN Agricultural Education Division Teacher of the Year and ACTEN Career and Technical Teacher of the Year

Stephanie Miller, Heartland High School

“From the time I decided to become an agriculture educator, I knew that I needed to stay current with not only my certification, but also with educational and agricultural advancements as well.” Stephanie is the Agricultural Education Teacher and FFA Advisor at Heartland High School. To stay current, Stephanie regularly attends professional development opportunities. That includes the Nebraska Ag Ed Symposium, NCE Conference, the National FFA Convention, and the ACTE CareerTech VISION when possible.

As the advisor of the FFA, she provides students the opportunities available to them and then guides them in preparing for the activities. She believes the Heartland FFA chapter is the students’ organization and lets them decide how and what they do. By giving the students the ability to choose how far they want to push themselves, ends up making them more successful. A student writes “Mrs. Miller is always willing to come to school early or to stay late for any student that needs help in her class. She sees the potential of each student and helps them become a stronger leader.”

Stephanie and four other CT educators created an iMovie to inform staff members, school board members, and community members the importance of career and technical education. The movie highlights what the students are doing in classes and how important the CTE classes are to the student body.

Stephanie currently serves as the Secretary/Treasurer for her FFA District. She has served as the president-elect, president, and past president of ACTEN.

ACTEN Family and Consumer Sciences Division Teacher of the Year

Suzanne Martin, FCS Instructor, Medicine Valley High School

Suzanne Martin is the Family and Consumer Science teacher and FCCLA adviser at Medicine Valley Schools. She has strived to develop a quality FCS program with a focus on helping students find a program of study through career education. During her time at Medicine Valley, she implemented a Health Career Academy partnering with Mid-Plains Community College. The academy includes health classes and service hours in health care areas. Suzanne has incorporated various activities into her curriculum to not only help with the relationship with various community leaders, but as well as giving her students an opportunity to work with other industries.

Suzanne feels the best part of her job is working with students in FCCLA. She realizes that CTSO’s are very important for all students and lead to great success in life. Helping the students with their STAR projects has helped her grow as a person and a teacher. Since she has been at Medicine Valley, she has had 10 state officers, 21 state peer officers, and 42 groups have competed at the National STAR competition.

Suzanne’s administrator writes, “Ms. Martin is cognizant of current trends in the community and strives to have her classes aware of changing trends in the business world. Her caring attitude and outstanding subject knowledge make her very effective with students of all levels of ability.” A parent state, “Suzanne is creative and has developed an amazing FCS program at Medicine Valley. She has added a Health program where the students spend several days off campus job shadowing different careers in the health field. She has high expectations and is the first to jump in and embrace new challenges and ideas.”

ACTEN Business Education Division Teacher of the Year

Shawna Koger, Business Education Instructor, Arlington Public Schools

Shawna Koger is a business teacher at Arlington High School and Middle School. She was instrumental in providing data to ensure all eighth grade students are required to take an Exploratory Business class and all high school graduates being required to have a personal finance/economics course. Having her Master’s in Business Administration students can take advantage of college credit offerings.

Her students not only participate in the Stock Market Game, Personal Finance Challenge, and Economics Challenge, they also receive top honors in those events. Throughout her career, she has sought to engage students in projects that provide them work readiness skills while preparing them to become life-long learners. Her passion has been to instill in students the skills necessary to become good financial stewards of their money.

Shawna has been a Future Business Leaders of America adviser for 25 years. She has had over 140 students attend the National Leadership Conference with numerous Top 10 Award winners. Shawna has served on the Business, Marketing, and Management Standards writing team for the Nebraska Department of Education. She has attended numerous conferences and shared her expertise at many of these conferences. On the professional level, she has belonged to several organizations including ACTE, NSBEA, NBEA, DPE, and NETA. She was a member of the FBLA Board of Directors for six years.

Her superintendent says, “Shawna is a master teacher. Not only has she taught a variety of courses during her tenure, she is constantly reflecting and modifying her instructional material and approach to reflect best practice research and to ensure that students are afforded the best possible learning opportunity.”

ACTE Region V, Agricultural Education Division Teacher of the Year

Kristine Spath, Agricultural Education Teacher, Waverly High School

Kristine Spath is the Agricultural Education Teacher and FFA Advisor at Waverly High School. Kristine has obtained certification in the Curriculum in Agriculture Science Education (CASE) allowing her to teach five courses using the CASE curriculum. This curriculum has been nationally developed aligning with the Next Generation Science standards. Kris manages eight programs of study for her students including plant science, animal science, agribusiness and natural resources. All curriculum taught aligns with the Career and Technical Education Career Readiness Standards and students are asked regularly to reflect on their performance in areas such as problem solving, teamwork, and communication.

Her administrator says “due to Mrs. Spath’s efforts, she has had a significant impact on our students, our community and the Agricultural Education in the state of Nebraska. Every year, Kris is searching for professional development opportunities, writing grants, or networking with educators across our state, in order to expand her programs, provide more relevant experiences for students, to grow as a professional, and to do her part in improving Agricultural Education in Nebraska. Most recently, due to her grant writing, the FFA has created a learning garden at our high school, made renovations to the greenhouse, and created more access to technology in the classroom. She is a learner with a burning passion for agriculture education, and one who cares deeply for the education of students and their interests.”

ACTEN Member of the Year

Gregg Christensen, Nebraska Department of Education

Gregg Christensen serves as the Entrepreneurship and Workplace Experiences Specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education. Mr. Christensen provides curriculum and professional development assistance to educators in the K-12, two-year and four-year postsecondary systems throughout Nebraska. He also works to connect entrepreneurship and work-based learning with economic development and workforce development initiatives and programs statewide. He has served as facilitator for over 25 Nebraska school districts that have engaged in the reVISION process as well as leading many of the community engagement meetings for those schools. reVISION is a strategic approach for Nebraska schools to analyze their current Career Education system and make adjustments to more effectively prepare students for college and careers.

Gregg hosts the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Education listserv and twitter account @NDE_EntreED while maintaining and updating the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Education and Nebraska Workplace Experiences websites. He also represents the Nebraska Department of Education as a Commissioner and Vice-Chairperson for ServeNebraska. The ServeNebraska Commission mobilizes Nebraskans to strengthen their communities through volunteering, collaboration, and national service programs. In fulfilling this mission, ServeNebraska coordinates the development, implementation and continual improvement of AmeriCorps programming.

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