Thank You Teacher winners announced

Jon Squier is now the special education coordinator at Irving Middle School – but this week he took time to think back to when he was a student at the former Culler Junior High and had George Nutt as his physical education teacher.

“Mr. Nutt was a perfect combination of kindness, toughness and comedian,” Squier said.  “Nobody who had Mr. Nutt during that time at Culler could ever forget the lasting impression he made on all of us there.”

Nutt was one of five winning teachers honored – along with the students who nominated them – in the annual Thank You Teacher breakfast ceremony held at the Governor’s MansionTuesday in honor of Nebraska Teacher Recognition Day. The event is sponsored by Lincoln Public Schools and Three Eagles Communications.

Squier nominated Nutt in the “retired teacher category,” and said his research had uncovered a Facebook page entitled: “I survived George Nutt’s PE Class at Culler Junior High.”

A few Facebook entries about Nutt:

  • “Hubba Bubba men…I loved that guy.”
  • “He always reminded us that PE classmates were like teammates and that you needed to take care of people who couldn’t always take care of themselves.”
  • “He was the greatest ever. I had low self-esteem at that age, and him making me feel like a star in his class brought out the best in me.” 

Meanwhile, the other four Thank You Teacher winners were also announced Tuesday.

Randolph Elementary School first grader Bailey Ball wrote about his Reading Recovery teacher, Susan Johnson:  “What I would like to share is that when I started first grade I could not read at all, and with her hard work and dedication to me, I can now read stories to my mom and dad every night.’”

Bailey continued: “The first night that I brought home my reading bag, I was so excited at what I could do and what I had accomplished. When I opened my book and started to read my mom started to cry.” 

Rossi Sanford, a fifth grader at Meadow Lane Elementary School, said her teacher Pat Henry cares about her – and her feelings. “You can never tell what she is going to do next to change your life…She teaches me life lessons…She really feels like part of the family.” 

Culler Middle School sixth grader Basima Shamo wrote about her teacher Kailah Anglin:  “She helped me listen, work on what I struggled on in life – on hard things. She helped me read better. Write better.  She helped me not struggle in class.”

Darla Starr, a teacher of the visually impaired at LPS, was nominated by Heather Shear, a student in the VOICE program (a special education initiative that operates outside traditional high school classrooms to provide LPS students with educational and vocational experiences in the community).

Heather said: “Darla Starr was my vision teacher for six years which included Park Middle School and Lincoln High School…She helped me prepare for my life as an adult in the Lincoln community." 

This year’s Thank You Teacher awards went to:

  • Preschool-Grade 2: Susan Johnson, Reading Recovery teacher, Randolph Elementary School, nominated by Bailey Ball, Randolph.
  • Grades 3-5:  Pat Henry, fifth grade teacher, Meadow Lane Elementary School, nominated by Rossi Sanford, Meadow Lane.
  • Middle School: Kailah Anglin, sixth grade teacher, Culler Middle School, nominated by Basima Shamo, Culler.
  • High School: Darla Starr, special education, teacher of the visually impaired, nominated by Heather Shear, a student in the VOICE program.
  • Retired: George Nutt, teacher at former Culler Junior High, nominated by former student Jon Squier, now special education coordinator at Irving Middle School.

Published: March 6, 2012, Updated: March 6, 2012


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Randolph Elementary School Reading Recovery teacher Susan Johnson listens to Randolph first grader Bailey Ball sharing the special letter he wrote about his teacher.