For his excellence as a teacher, leader, mentor, role model and advocate, Chadron High School’s Willie Uhing has received the 2017 Frieda Battey Distinguished Educator Award, presented by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Education and Human Sciences.
“No educator in my experience has ever been so upfront in showing a genuine passion for their students and education,” said CEHS student Alida Johnson, who nominated her former teacher. “His enthusiasm radiates throughout our school and everyone notices. What he has done in Chadron High School is legendary. I cannot speak highly enough about this devoted, exuberant, outstanding educator.”
Uhing, chair of the school’s English department, is “all in” for his students and colleagues. Besides his teaching and leadership roles, he is a coach, club sponsor, staff development trainer and informal counselor who supports students in activities outside of the classroom.
“His unique, positive, affirming style motivates students to be the absolute best they can be, whether it is in the classroom or outside on the cross-country course,” said Caroline Winchester, superintendent of Chadron Public Schools.
Winchester is quick to tout the latest state test scores of Uhing’s students, noting that 11 juniors had perfect writing assessment scores and 86 percent proficiency. His juniors were 93 percent proficient in reading, with six perfect scores. Principal Jerry Mack calls Uhing’s leadership and teaching “unparalleled.”
“Mr. Uhing’s influences on students and staff is directly responsible for the overall increase in our student learning and performance on state testing,” he said. “We have been blessed to have his talents in our school for the past 10 years.”
Loni Watson, Chadron High counselor, said: “Although it is Mr. Uhing who ends every class period with some form of ‘I love you guys,’ it is us at CHS that truly love him and are thankful. He is the decisive element at Chadron High School. It is his personal approach that creates the climate and his mood that makes the weather. We are thankful for the sunshine.”
Uhing takes the accolades in stride and says all the investment in his students and school is worth it. “I am honored being nominated for this award, not for the hardware, but simply because a student learned their potential can be tapped,” he said. “Education is not only about curriculum, it is about meeting the specific needs of kids and, as I tell my own children daily, making the world a better place.”
The Battey Award honors the life and career of Freda Drath Battey, a 1923 graduate of Nebraska’s Teachers College who was a public school teacher in Ashland for many years. CEHS students nominate recipients. The criteria for the award is “excellence in teaching coupled with recognition in other complementary education activities.” In reviewing nominations, the selection committee looks for evidence of teaching excellence, efforts to continue to grow as a teacher, commitment to students and engagement with students outside the classroom. For more information on the Battey Award, click here.