2020 Award Winners
ACTE Administrator of the Year
Brandy Thompson, Secondary Principal, Sutton High School
Ms. Thompson joined Sutton Public Schools in Sutton, NE in 2010 as Secondary Principal. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Doane University in Crete, and is currently working towards an Educational Specialist degree also through Doane University.
She has leadership experience as a teacher, an Assistant Principal whose duties also included the titles of K-12 Curriculum Coordinator and District School Improvement lead, and is in her 10th year in her current role as Secondary Principal where in addition to her many hats, is also the CTE Coordinator for her district.
Her CTE staff writes, “The impact she has had on teachers and students has been outstanding. Her commitment to professionalism, energy, and ability to lead us at Sutton has made it a joy to work with her. Career Education is Ms. Thompson’s passion. With Ms. Thompson’s lead and guidance, we have established the Sutton Career pathways Program at Sutton Public Schools.”
ACTEN Post-Secondary Teacher of the Year
Janet Stalder, Business Instructor, McCook Community College
Janet Stalder currently serves as a faculty member at McCook Community College. Throughout her career, she has taught a variety of subjects including Accounting/Business, Business Technology, and Computer Science. Mrs. Stalder serves as co-adviser of the local Phi Beta Lambda organization and was named to the National Phi Beta Lambda Adviser Wall of Fame in 2005 and the Nebraska Phi Beta Lambda Adviser Wall of Fame in 2017. Janet has participated in numerous “Put the Teacher to Work Initiatives” and has interned in a wide variety of practical business settings to gain insights that she can share with her students to better prepare them for the workplace and their careers.
Mrs. Stalder was instrumental in creating and implementing a College Placement Agency and a Temporary Employment Services Agency. The Temporary Employment Services Agency allowed local business temporary office assistance. This exposure for the students proved to be invaluable as the students experienced first hand what happened in the business setting and allowed them to bring back a wealth of knowledge to the classroom. Through Phi Beta Lambda, a College Placement Agency was created to assist students in obtaining employment upon graduation.
Janet’s department chair states, “She is an outstanding professional, mentor, teacher, and colleague. She is an outstanding leader of career and technical education at the college, community, and state level. Janet is one of the finest examples of a true professional in higher education.” A former student writes, “She is a truly exceptional educator who is ceaselessly passionate about her career as a professional in the classroom and in the community. She is a wonderful leader who does an incredible job of guiding career and technical education students not only at the college level but also at the state level.”
ACTEN Business Teacher of the Year and ACTEN Career and Technical Teacher of the Year
Jodi Dierks, Business Marketing Information Technology Education Instructor, Omaha Central High School
Jodi Dierks serves as an instructor and the Business Marketing Information Technology Department Head at Omaha Central High School. Jodi continually strives to implement high-quality CTE programs and is constantly encouraging the BMIT programs to evolve and change as needed. While department head, the BMIT Department has added new class offerings such as Personal Finance, Honors Introduction to Business, Advanced Digital Design, and Cyber Security. Her involvement in community partnerships created a Hudl class for the school. Students use a variety of technology resources including the Hudl sports management software to investigate management issues involved in planning, organizing, leading, and controlling a team. Through a partnership with Ameritrade, Ms. Dierks was able to start a new program in the school for girls, Girls Rock the Street, Wall Street. Rock The Street, Wall Street is a financial literacy program designed to spark the interest of high school girls into careers of finance.
Ms. Dierks is an active member and leader in state and regional organizations. She has served as a District Representative for the Nebraska State Business Education Association (NSBEA), treasurer of the Mountain-Plains Business Educational Association (M-PBEA), and presented professional learning sessions at the National Business Education Association (NBEA) annual convention. A colleague writes, “A passion for students is what sets Ms. Dierks apart from other educators. She has the ability to balance the individual needs and interests of the student with a high expectation of achievement.” A supervisor states, “Jodi is an excellent representative of her school and career and technical education. She is looked up to by her peers, colleagues, and those with whom she works. She is a strong teacher and a great instructional leader.”
ACTEN New Teacher of the Year
Miranda Bright, Family and Consumer Sciences Education Instructor, Crete High School
Miranda Bright is committed and passionate about teaching FCS education and advising FCCLA. Her philosophy of teaching centers around experiential learning through engaging strategies. While teaching, she demonstrates innovation via technology and gamification. Highlights include modifying popular games to increase student engagement and achievement. Ms. Bright was instrumental in creating a FCCLA chapter at Crete. As a member of the Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers of Nebraska public relations committee, she actively highlights members, promotes the achievements, and shares classroom activities of Nebraska FCS teachers on social media.
In her classroom, she demonstrates innovation via technology and gamification. With the Pear Deck for Google Slides Add-on, she added the magic of Pear Deck’s formative assessments and interactive questions to her presentations. Her students use Webquest to learn the most up to date information. She modified Guess Who and Jenga games to increase engagement and motivation to achieve student success. When teaching ServSafe, she has adapted the Pokemon Go game called ServSafe Go to encourage students to pass assignments and “catch” pathogen badges, which she created for the students.
Her principal writes, “Miranda has high expectations for her students. She is willing to work outside of class with students who seek extra help. Miranda has the ability to break down tough concepts in a manner that even struggling learners can understand. Miranda’s passion and dedication has helped develop our culinary arts program.”
ACTEN Member of the Year
Kathleen Kennedy, Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, Central Valley High School, Greeley
Kathleen Kennedy is a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Central Valley High School in Greeley, Nebraska where she also serves as the FCCLA Adviser. Kathleen has been a strong leader in Family and Consumer Sciences Education by her involvement in writing standards and contributing lesson plans and ideas with her fellow FCS teachers. She has served as a District Adviser and District STAR Competitive Events Coordinator for Nebraska FCCLA.
Mrs. Kennedy has served as the FCCLA adviser for the past 29 years. She served on the Nebraska FCCLA Board of Directors for six years. She has also served on the ESU 10 CTE Coordinators Advisory Council for 15 years. Kathleen is a long time member of Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers of Nebraska in which she has held many leadership positions.
Kathleen has been a strong supporter and advocate for the career and technical education, family and consumer sciences, and FCCLA. Her dedication and commitment to the Association for Career and Technical Education of Nebraska during the past 15 years is commendable. She has served as the president-elect, president, past president, and FCS Division Representative for ACTEN. She currently serves as the Nebraska Career and Innovative Education Foundation representative to the board. Kathleen has received many awards including the ACTEN Carl Perkins Community Service Teacher of the Year, FCSTN Teacher of the Year, and Advisers Committed to Excellence Award for Nebraska FCCLA.