Rachel Hruza, teacher and chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences Department at Lincoln North Star High School, has been selected to receive the Freda Battey Distinguished Educator Award presented by the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
The Battey Award honors the life and career of Freda Drath Battey, a 1923 graduate of Nebraska’s Teachers College, and longtime public school teacher in Ashland, Nebraska. Battey’s family established the “Distinguished Educator Award” in her memory in 1986.
The criteria for the award is “excellence in teaching coupled with recognition in other complementary education activities, such as counseling of students or initiation of student-oriented programs.” Candidates for the award are nominated by students in the College of Education and Human Sciences.
Hruza earned her bachelor’s degree in December 2016 from the family and consumer sciences education program at Nebraska, and started teaching at North Star in January of 2017. She currently teaches five different courses daily while also leading the department. Her chair responsibilities include scheduling, budgeting and ordering for the department, leading department meetings and retreats, and representing the department at building and district leadership meetings.
Sheree Moser is an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies at Nebraska. Moser taught Hruza as a college student and could tell early on that Hruza would shine brightly as a teacher and leader.
“Rachel was highly involved in campus life as an undergraduate that showed her potential early for becoming the excellent teacher she is,” Moser wrote. “She participated in a wide variety of community service activities and worked with people of diverse needs and aptitudes. All of this has contributed to her move into teaching that has included being drawn into leadership and sharing at professional conferences and with colleagues.”
Beyond the classroom, Hruza is very involved within the district. As a committee member of North Star’s Restorative and Trauma-informed cohort, she developed a “Mindfulness Monday” activity for students and staff to practice each week. She works with North Star’s student/parent team and has become an interventionist for teen parents. Hruza also spends time working with the district on new curriculum and trainings.
Rachel King, associate principal at North Star, has worked with Rachel for five years. King noted Hruza’s strong work ethic, use of laughter and excitement to engage students in learning, and her deep care for her subject matter and student growth.
“In all aspects of her education career, she is such a strong teacher, leader, friend and confidant,” King wrote. “Students and colleagues learn a lot from Rachel about relationship building, engagement and love of learning.”
This fall, Hruza will transition to a new role as chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences Department at Lincoln Northwest High School, Lincoln’s newest high school.
Hruza will be honored at a reception on June 3. The Freda Battey family will present her with an inscribed school bell and cash award. Lincoln North Star High School will also receive a cash award.