LPS teachers making an impact despite pandemic challenges

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 7:38 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - This Saturday marks the last day of Teacher Appreciation Week and as it comes to a close, 10/11 now is highlighting a couple of the great educators here in Lincoln.

Teachers make an impact everyday and after going to a couple Lincoln Public Schools, it’s obvious how much these educators care about their students.

Laura Aten was the recipient of the Jill Oestmann Reading Educator Award presented by the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. The award is given to a teacher who shows a strong connection to students and demonstrates the ability to adapt teaching styles to meet student learning styles.

“One of my teaching philosophies is that every student has something worthy, every student has something worth loving about them,” said Aten.

Aten actively keeps her class engaged and makes every student feel included. After her lectures, Aten sometimes spends her free period helping students write graduation speeches.

“To know that the student needs me even if maybe they’re not showing up, even if they’re behind on their work, that someone you know wants them to be loved and I need to do that, I can’t give up,” says Aten.

Giving up is something Ashlea Jurgens-Woitzel has never thought of, despite the challenges of teaching the English language at Culler Middle School.

Jurgens-Woitzel was the recipient of the Florence J. Clark Award. All LPS middle school teachers are eligible and the award is given to the teacher who demonstrates excellence in teaching and works towards improvement in student development.

“They work so hard and often times their families have given up everything for them to be here, so they push me to be a better teacher and I’ve learned so much from them,” said Jurgens-Woitzel.

ELL is an English Language Learner program helping students who just moved to the United States. The class is designed to assist students with limited English skills to function in a regular classroom setting.

“When you think about each of those days as an opportunity to make an impact on a student, that’s going to help that student grow into a successful adult,” said Jurgens-Woitzel.

While the pandemic has changed a lot of things, teachers are still at schools making an impact every day.

“What teachers can give students beyond just curriculum is why I teach, and what I want to give back to the students,” said Aten.

Throughout the week Lincoln Public Schools has been interacting with the community on social media about teachers who have influenced their students, receiving hundreds of comments.

You can follow their Facebook page for updates on these comments, or interact with LPS using the hashtag #LPSProud.

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