Fremont teacher earns 2022 Christa McAuliffe Prize

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Fremont teacher earns 2022 Christa McAuliffe Prize

26 Jul 2022     By Haley Apel

Mary Trehearn, an English teacher at Fremont High School in Fremont, Neb., is the recipient of the 2022 Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Education and Human Sciences presents the annual award to a Nebraska teacher who exemplifies the character of McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, who died in the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster.

Trehearn will be recognized July 29 during Administrators’ Days, a conference for Nebraska school administrators.

According to nominators, Trehearn is known as a dedicated, caring and creative teacher. She is committed to making her classroom a safe place for all students to explore, ask questions, contribute and grow. She has created a positive environment for over 3,000 students to make the transition from middle school to high school.

“I am humbled to be named the recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Prize, and am grateful for the affirmation it has given me,” Trehearn said. “It truly does take an army to mold our youth, and I count myself blessed to be one among many in the strongest, bravest army known to humanity: the Army that Molds the Future, otherwise known as educators.”

Trehearn helps her students learn and understand challenging subject matter through creative practices. She’s been known to transform the walls of her classroom, have students act out the scenes of a play, or dissect the lyrics of a well-known song to make every lesson she teaches relevant, and show how it matters in the present and future.

“Mary’s commitment to excellence has always been on full display in her classroom and around the school,” said one nominator. “Parents have requested that Mary teach their children because they know the type of instruction, caring spirit and high-expectations their children will experience.” 

Trehearn takes the time to build personal connections with each of her students. She has helped her students process and overcome such hardships as the loss of a loved one, a devastating flood, and the global pandemic. She listens thoughtfully and provides all of her students with the encouragement and support needed to succeed.

“I cannot count the number of times I went to Dr. Trehearn to talk, whenever I needed advice or someone to lean on, she would be ready to listen, and never once prioritized anything over that relationship with me or her other students,” wrote a former student in Trehearn’s nomination letter.

“The type of support she lent me through all my years of high school and beyond is what inspired me in choosing psychology as my major in college, as I was eager to support others the same way as she had always done.”

Trehearn earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Buena Vista University, a master’s degree from Wayne State College, and a doctorate from the College of Saint Mary.

To learn more about the College of Education and Human Sciences’ educator awards, click here. Nominations can be made through Feb. 15, 2023.

College of Education and Human Sciences