Lincoln Southwest teacher selected as 2018 Battey Award recipient

Brandi Benson, Lincoln Southwest High School journalism teacher, is the 2018 Frieda Battey Distinguished Educator Award recipient.

Lincoln Southwest teacher selected as 2018 Battey Award recipient

10 May 2018     By Brad Stauffer

Lincoln Southwest High School English/journalism teacher Brandi Benson has been selected as the 2018 Frieda Battey Distinguished Educator Award, presented by the College of Education and Human Sciences (CEHS) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Benson will receive the honor May 11 at a luncheon in Nebraska’s Memorial Union.

Jessica Horan, a May Nebraska graduate in family and consumer sciences education, nominated her former yearbook teacher for the Battey Award and says she thinks about Benson every week.

“She spoke words of positivity and encouragement every day,” said Horan. “Brandi valued every one of her students and had no tolerance for students being excluded or mistreated. She knew her students on a personal level.”

Horan, took notice of Benson’s classroom organization and teaching style saying, “Her classroom structure and content were well thought out and executed. She was constantly looking for ways to better the journalism program and her students. Her students gained autonomy quickly with her assistance.”

Sarah Thomas, assistant professor of practice at Nebraska, taught Benson and supervised her student teaching placements. Thomas calls Benson a “rare educator” with “infectious exuberance” and “unwavering optimism” who brings “determined graciousness” to everything she does.

“When leaders in any field—and especially in the field of education—lead from head and heart in equal measure, we are able to see magic in their memorable influence,” says Thomas. “Time and time again, I’ve observed Ms. Benson operating as such a leader.”

Her colleagues at Lincoln Southwest appreciate Benson’s skill in finding the unique gifts in each student and bringing them out in productive ways. In a letter of support for her Battey nomination, Associate Principal Keri Applebee and Special Education Coordinator Christy Champoux admired Benson’s connection with students of many backgrounds and abilities.

“One thing she does so well is recognizing others’ strengths and allowing them to utilize those strengths,” said Applebee and Champoux. “Brandi truly wants all students and staff to be successful and collaborates with necessary stakeholders to attain the goal at hand.”

An example they gave was her coordination, organizing and coaching of Southwest’s unified bowling team that features students with and without intellectual disabilities. Benson, they said, set high expectations for all participants and fostered an environment that made lasting impact on student-athletes and supporters. In part because of her leadership with the bowling team, she has been twice awarded by the Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska.

Benson has taught at Lincoln Southwest High School since 2013. She earned her master of arts in English education degree in 2013 from Nebraska and her bachelor of arts in media production at Hastings College in 2006.

The Battey Award honors the life and career of Freda Drath Battey, a 1923 graduate of Nebraska’s Teachers College. She was a public school teacher in Ashland, Nebraska 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, visit

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