Bohac, Valparaiso math teacher, receives McAuliffe Prize

Bohac, Valparaiso math teacher, receives McAuliffe Prize

25 Mar 2011    

The Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education, the teaching prize that honors courageous Nebraska teachers, has selected a recipient for this year’s McAuliffe Prize.

After hours of debate, the prize committee has selected Kathy Bohac of Valparaiso, a fourth through seventh grade math teacher at East Butler Public Schools in Brainard, as the first place recipient. Nominated by her superintendent Jim Koontz, she will be awarded $1000, as well as $500 to sponsor East Butler Public School activities.

Special recognition teachers are Jacalyn Groesser, seventh grade world history teacher at Ralston Middle School and long-time special education teacher; Jack Broderick an agricultural sciences teacher at Seward High School; and  Teresita Westover, originally from the Philippines, a second grade teacher at Howard Elementary School in Grand Island.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Education & Human Sciences will host these teachers on March 6, 2011 for a recognition ceremony at UNL’s East Campus Union in Lincoln. This will be in conjunction with the induction ceremony for Pi Lambda Theta, a professional education honorary association of students and educators committed to recognizing persons of superior scholastic achievement and high potential for professional leadership. Bohac will deliver the keynote speech.

“This is a wonderful way to bridge generations between the best of Nebraska's teachers and the best of our future teachers,” said Marjorie Kostelnik, Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences and Co-chair of the McAuliffe Prize Committee.

A nontraditional student, Bohac earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees while raising children with her husband who was a farmer. After 15 years of teaching, she was faced with a challenge: East Butler Public Schools needed a seventh grade math teacher.

“Her body language immediately told me her decision without saying a word as she literally moved to the edge of seat and began asking questions,” her nominator and superintendent Jim Koontz wrote in his nomination letter. “Some teachers would not have been interested, wanting only to stay in their ‘comfort zone.’”

Bohac went on to earn her master’s in math education without having taken similar math courses since high school.

While taking on additional challenges at school, she was also coping with her husband’s battle with lung cancer, particularly difficult because he was a non-smoker. He died in 2008. In 2010, her brother was also killed in a house fire. But Koontz said, the students would never have known, because her commitment and courage in the classroom and in life were steadfast.

College of Education and Human Sciences
Teaching, Learning & Teacher Education