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Archdiocesan teachers 'devoted to God's purpose'

Mary Duffy from the Nebraska Department of Education speaks to teachers about using humor to increase learning in one of the conference's break-out sessions.
Photo by Lisa Schulte - The Catholic Voice


Nine archdiocesan teachers were named 2005 Educators of the Year. Each received $5,000.

Administer of the Year:

  • Sheila Haggas, Duchesne Academy, Omaha
  • Betty Getzfred, St. Boniface School, Elgin

Elementary Teacher of the Year:

  • Peter Menks, Christ the King School, Omaha
  • Helen Meyer, St. Michael School, South Sioux City

Secondary Teacher of the Year:

  • Patricia Dowd, Mt. Michael Benedictine High School, Elkhorn
  • Sharon Rief, Central Catholic High School, West Point
  • Deana Policky, St. Francis High School, Humphrey

Inner-City and Special Education Teacher of the Year:

  • Jean Sullivan, Sacred Heart School, Omaha
  • Marcia Regan, St. Bernard School, Omaha

The Catholic Voice

NORFOLK "“ Nearly 1,300 teachers filled the halls of Norfolk's Catholic schools Oct. 7 at the 2005 Archdiocese of Omaha Catholic Schools Fall Conference.

The theme for the day was 'Devoted to God's Purpose: Knowing, Living and Serving Through Catholic Education."

'During this school year of 2005-2006, we encourage teachers to continue to demonstrate by their words and actions an understanding and commitment to the important ministry God has chosen for them," said Sister Michelle Faltus, SFCC, archdiocesan superintendent of Catholic schools.

The conference was designed to provide teachers with meaningful opportunities to interact with other educators and to gain additional expertise.

Teachers attended break-out sessions and listened to keynote speaker, Jay McTighe, an educational consultant, speak about effective teaching ideas based on his book, 'Understanding by Design: Planning Effective and Engaging Learning."

Planning with the end in mind is an important way of planning curriculum units, lessons and entire courses, he said. It means being clear about the goals and about what evidence of learning is needed.

'We think about the evidence of learning before we get too invested in planning activities and choosing resources. Thinking about assessments is done at the end," McTighe said. 'It's more powerful to actually think about the assessments concurrently with the goals because the assessments really sharpen your goals and help give a teaching and learning target, not just a means of grading."

When teachers plan their lessons, he said, it should be around the 'big ideas" that they want students to understand.

'A student might be able to do a skill, but cannot explain why it worked or what he or she needs to do if the situation changes," McTighe said. 'We think that true understanding comes through authentic application and explanation."

Tom Kimminau, a math and science teacher at Archbishop Bergan High School in Fremont, came to the conference with hopes of meeting other Catholic school teachers and gaining new ideas for teaching.

'You've got to learn new things to get better," he said.

Dawn Nizzi, a religion and science teacher at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha, appreciated the opportunity to travel to the rural community.

'They have such a beautiful campus here," Nizzi said. 'They've really welcomed us and it's so well organized."

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