OMAHA – Two University of Nebraska at Kearney graduates were recently honored as Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award winners.
John Urbanski and Gregory Verraneault received the award May 11 during a recognition dinner.
Sponsored by the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the award is presented annually to 15 educators from Omaha Public Schools who cultivate a love of learning, understand the individual needs of their students and demonstrate expertise in their subject matters. Winners must have at least two years of experience and be nominated by current or former students, parents, colleagues or the general public.
Urbanski, a Grand Island native who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UNK, has been with OPS for 17 years, all at Morton Middle School. He teaches physical education.
In his nomination, a parent wrote: “I always hoped my son would have wonderful role models and mentors in his life. John has been such a figure. He has shown my son what it means to be responsible and passionate about something you love and has coached him how to work hard for something you want.”
A colleague wrote of Urbanski: “He goes way above and beyond for his students whenever necessary. He shows the kids every day that he truly cares about them and their educational needs.”
Verraneault has been with OPS for 11 years, the last four at Fullerton Elementary School, where he teaches third grade. The Kearney native earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education and master’s degree in administration from UNK and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Peru State College.
In his nomination, a parent wrote: “Thanks to his dynamic personality, patience, kindness and clear instructions, my daughter is thriving. My child, who normally had come home with emotional, relationship-related problems, which often distracted her from learning, is focused and learning. This man loves his job and the kids can tell.”
Another parent wrote: “I have seen my son flourish under Mr. Verraneault’s guidance. He seems more confident in everything he does, especially with his day-to-day schoolwork. My son has loved every one of his teachers, but I think Mr. Verraneault has been the teacher that has made the biggest impact on his life so far.”
Established in 1988, the Alice Buffett Outstanding Teacher Award is named after an aunt of Omaha investor Warren Buffett who taught high school home economics at OPS for more than 35 years. Award winners receive an engraved medallion, $10,000 gift and $500 in McDonald’s gift cards.