Stephanie Tabor was not surprised to see “a huge stack of gifts” from students on Alicia Shoemaker’s desk. Tabor, a junior in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, had just returned from a semester of study abroad and stopped by Shoemaker’s Waverly High School classroom to add to the pile. In typical Shoemaker form, she told her former student that her students were the greatest and she didn’t deserve the gifts. Tabor knows better.
On Friday, Shoemaker will receive the 2016 Frieda Battey Distinguished Educator Award at a luncheon in the East Campus Union at UNL. The award recognizes excellence in teaching and comes with a cash award for both the teacher and school. Tabor nominated her for the honor.
“Alicia Shoemaker is the reason that I want to be a Spanish teacher,” Tabor said. “She truly never stops teaching and helping her students, even once they graduate. I graduated from high school two years ago and she has taught and encouraged me so much.”
“Above and beyond” are terms that were also used to describe the educator, who teaches Spanish, English and world geography, heads the Spanish department, is on the school improvement team and was chosen for the Waverly school district’s first leadership cadre.
“She is willing to do all she can to impact as many students in our school as she can,” Principal Ryan Ricenbaw said. “Alicia’s expertise lies in her visionary thinking, her innovative classroom style and her deep desire to impact every student in her classroom.” Shoemaker said her personal mission as a teacher is to “engage and serve students within the global community via optimism, resilience and empathy.” She leads study abroad trips for students and regularly brings international guests to her classroom in person or via Skype. Although she was educated in a one-room schoolhouse on the Nebraska prairie, Shoemaker has embraced a global view and has taught on three different continents through scholarships and Fulbright grants. She is working on a master’s degree in educational leadership.
“Although I plan to use what I have gained in my graduate education leadership coursework by strategically planning for student programs and improving students’ access to academic and private services, I have decided to remain a teacher because my true calling is encouraging student growth as I listen to students as well as learn with and from them each day,” Shoemaker said.
The Battey Award honors the life and career of Freda Drath Battey, a 1923 graduate of the University of Nebraska Teachers College and a public school teacher in Ashland for many years. College of Education and Human Sciences students nominate recipients. The criteria for the award are “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.