Terry Abrahams has a way with words, whether it’s speaking, writing or teaching. But on Monday she found herself at a loss.
“An English teacher who’s speechless,” Abrahams said.
The longtime Lincoln Southwest High School English teacher had just been honored as the 2018 Scottish Rite Distinguished Teacher of the Year during a surprise ceremony at the school.
The prestigious award is presented annually to a Lincoln Public Schools teacher and comes with a cash prize of $5,000, donated by the local chapter of the Scottish Rite organization. It was first awarded in 1965.
On Monday, Abrahams had gathered with colleagues in a classroom after school for what she thought was an end-of-year English Department meeting. She knew it was more than that when family members, LPS Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Eric Weber, Scottish Rite representatives, LPS Superintendent Steve Joel and even more of her Southwest colleagues entered the room.
“We love opportunities like this to recognize our teachers,” Weber said. “It’s a public display of what happens in all of our classrooms every single day.”
Bruce Wood, general secretary of the Lincoln Scottish Rite, said support of public schools and education is one of the tenants of his organization. “We look forward to this event every year,” he said. “It’s a special event and Lincoln Public Schools has a lot of great teachers and it’s hard to pick just one.”
Abrahams taught 14 years at Lincoln Northeast High School before joining Southwest 14 years ago. At Southwest, Abrahams serves as department chair and has taught everything from English 11, for students who struggle with literacy, to AP Literature. In all, she’s dedicated 40 years of her life to teaching.
She grew emotional as she scanned the room on Monday. “I can’t imagine having become an educator and having grown so much without all the people in this room who have nurtured me all the way. So I thank you so much for this - thank you so much.”
The Southwest English Department and administration wrote the following in their nomination letter for Abrahams: “Terry has created a setting of integrity and character in which students can flourish. These young people are taught the importance of increasing their knowledge, not just as a benefit to themselves but to others. Her professional practice is done in a manner that respects the dignity of the individual. Terry understands how the tapestry of human culture can greatly enhance the opportunities for all to learn and contribute in our pluralistic community. Terry is a true life-long learner and works to instill the job of the learning process in all her students and colleagues.”
Superintendent Joel said the Scottish Rite Award “represents the very best of what Lincoln Public Schools is all about.”
“That's teaching effectiveness, building relationships and caring deeply about our society and the folks that we get to work with everyday,” Joel said. “It's a genuine pleasure of ours to be a part of bestowing this, but to also say congratulations. There are a lot of great teachers in Lincoln, and today you are the top of that heap and it's well deserved.”
Abrahams also will be honored during a special event in the fall at LPS District Office, where she’ll be featured along with past winners in an interactive display located outside the board room.
Published: May 22, 2018, Updated: May 22, 2018