OMAHA, Neb. — Instilling and nurturing hope in students — that's what teaching is all about for Mary Lincoln, a 1978 graduate of Briar Cliff. Lincoln was named a 2013 Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher at a recognition ceremony held recently.
One of only 15 teachers in the Omaha Public School (OPS) district to receive the prestigious award, Lincoln, a counselor at Lewis & Clark Middle School, said the honor is humbling.
“To see my name among those I hold in such high esteem is a real honor and very humbling. It motivates me to accomplish even more,” noted Lincoln, who holds a bachelor’s in health, physical education and recreation (HPER) from Briar Cliff, a master’s exercise science and a master’s in counseling, both from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
“The early start I had working with students through Briar Cliff programs benefitted me and helped me solidify my career choice."
— Mary Handlos, '78, Lewis and Clark Middle School (Neb.) counselor
“The early start I had working with students through Briar Cliff programs benefitted me and helped me solidify my career choice,” she explained. “As a HPER work-study student, I ran campus intramurals, which gave me the opportunity to organize and run large programs – something every educator does each year.”
A 28-year veteran of OPS, Lincoln sees the role of educators as helping students identify their strengths and their weaknesses. “Obviously, this entails the hard work of teaching students academic and social skills,” she explained. “It also involves assisting students in understanding and using their strengths and identifying and forming a plan to work on their weaknesses.”
High on the list of things the 2013 Outstanding Teacher of the Year likes best about her job are working with a diverse student body from all over the world and learning to live a simplified life from refugee students at the school.
The Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award recognizes teachers who make a difference every day in OPS grades K-12. Nominations are made by former and current students, parents, other teachers, school administrators and the general public.