2022 Award Winners
ACTEN Carl Perkins Community Service Award
Darla Windholz, Family and Consumer Science Teacher, Holdrege Public Schools
Darla Windholz currently serves as the Family and Consumer Science teacher at the middle school and high school for Holdrege Public Schools. She previously taught in Kansas and Wyoming. While in Wyoming, Darla was named the Outstanding Wyoming Home Economist New Achiever. In Wyoming she served as an officer of WATFACS and is currently serving on the Newsletter Committee for Family and Consumer Science Teachers of Nebraska.
Darla has incorporated several service projects in her curriculum. The walker caddie idea developed after focusing on giving her middle school students a project that would teach them to sew and use as a community service project. However, first she needed new machines for her students. She wrote a grant to purchase new computerized machines. The walker caddies were given to the area nursing and assisted living centers. Each completed caddie has a note that reads “Made Especially for you by” with the student’s name tucked into the pocket.
Region V Post-Secondary Teacher of the Year
Eric Knoll, Associate Professor of Practice; Skilled and Technical Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Eric Knoll earned his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology and his master’s degree in Vocational Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was the District Curriculum Specialist for the Skilled and Technical Sciences program in the Lincoln Public School system for seven years. Additionally, he taught Industrial Technology for 24 years at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska before serving at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He currently serves as an Associate Professor of Practice in charge of the Skilled and Technical Sciences Teaching Option. The STS teaching option is a 2+2 program where the students gain 60 credits towards this bachelor’s degree program at the community college and combine those with 60 credit hours earned at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Eric serves as the advisor and coordinator for this unique teacher preparation program.
A colleague writes, “A significant strength of Eric is his strong relationship and commitment with business and industry which aligns with the Quality CTE Program of Study Framework in the emphasis on Business and Community Partnerships and Work-based Learning. Eric has singlehandedly raised over $125,000 from local businesses and industries to support STS pre-service teacher scholarships and paid internships. In my 32-year career as a CTE teacher, teacher educator, and university administrator, I can think of no one else who embodies the passion for teaching and learning in the context of career and technical education combined with the vision of ‘CTE for All’ as much as Eric Knoll.”
ACTEN CTE Teacher of the Year and Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher of the Year
Angie Ehlers, Family and Consumer Science Education Teacher, Overton Public School
Angie Ehlers is the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Overton Public Schools. Angie received her FCS degree from Wayne State College with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Development from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Mrs. Ehlers has created a high quality CTE program which contains some of the newest technology in her school. She has made sure her content adheres to state standards by serving on a standards revision team for Nebraska.
A colleague states “Angie has created a wonderful classroom, mostly due to her creativity and ingenuity in designing lessons. Her teaching style is engaging, connected to standards, and brings in real-world applications.”
Angie serves as the FCCLA adviser. The FCCLA chapter participates in community service projects that have near and far-reaching impacts. She has several national qualifiers that she has helped coach in their various projects ranging from community service to childhood development. In addition, she is on the Farm to School team at Overton. This collaboration between the cafeteria, FCS, and FFA classrooms brings agriculture and tangible products into her classroom allowing students hands-on skills with produce that is relevant to their culinary needs.
ACTEN Agriculture Education Teacher of the Year
Siera Meyer, Agriculture Education Teacher of the Year, Kenesaw Public Schools Schools
Siera Meyer began her teaching career at Bruning-Davenport USD where she started the Agriculture Education program and FFA chapter. After seven years at Bruning-Davenport, she became the Ag instructor at Kenesaw Public Schools where she again started their Agriculture Education program and FFA Chapter. During her 10 years as a CTE educator she has been able to develop two agriculture education programs, added a greenhouse to the Bruning-Davenport program, and is assisting in building the CTE Work Based Learning and Career Pathways program at Kenesaw.
Throughout her teaching career, she has participated in several professional development opportunities including the NAEA Teacher Turn the Key, attending the NCE Conference every summer, attending the Tri-State Delta Conference focused on SAEs, and participating in the NCE Beginning Teacher Institute. Siera is a true professional belonging to ACTE, ACTEN, NAAE, and NAEA. Within these organizations she has held several leadership positions including being an ACTEN board member, NAEA District 5 Chair, and NAEA Awards committee member. These programs and organizations provide quality opportunities for her to network and grow as an educator.
An administrator writes “Siera’s positive, can-do attitude is infectious. She has impacted our students in exponential amounts in her time at Kenesaw and her level of dedication to every class, grade, and student is evident in everything she does from teaching to mentoring to sponsoring. From the moment I met Siera, she has continued to impress me with her passion for teaching.”
ACTEN Member of the Year
Steven Woodside, Retired Administrator from Columbus High School
Mr. Woodside grew up in Cozad and started teaching technology education after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The first two years of his career were spent in Elgin and then another eight in Lexington. In 1989, he started teaching at Columbus High School. He went on to serve as the school’s assistant principal for six years prior to taking on the role of the school principal in 2009. After 30 years in serving the Columbus Public School District, Steven retired in 2019.
Does an educator truly retire? Columbus High School offers a dual-credit opportunity for the students that want to explore teaching as a possible career. Through Wayne State College STEP program, CHS is offering three classes. Steven Woodside is the instructor for these courses. As quoted in the paper, “He will bring a wealth of knowledge to our students and give them a first-rate opportunity as they begin their educational journey.”
Mr. Woodside has served on the ACTEN board as president-elect, president, and past president. Not once, but twice. Steven served as the ACTEN president in 2003-2004. His leadership skills have left a tremendous impact on the board. His commitment to CTE is commendable. He is a strong advocate for CTE by connecting to our members of Congress at the National Policy Seminar and serving as a delegate to the Assembly of Delegates at the ACTE national convention.
Steven’s passion and dedication to career and technical educational is to be commended. We thank him for his service to and support of career and technical education and ACTEN.
ACTEN Counselor of the Year
Rick Painter, District Coordinator of Secondary Counseling, Westside Community Schools
As District Coordinator of Secondary Counseling at Westside Community Schools, Mr. Painter oversees the counseling department at the high school, middle school, and has a caseload of students at their West Campus location. During is 18-year career in education, Rick was a teacher at Bryan Middle School, a middle school counselor at Bryan Middle School and High School, a curriculum specialist at Bryan, and an elementary counselor at Paddock Road Elementary Schools in the Westside district. Throughout these roles, he has made an impact in the lives of students and teachers. He promoted career fields while advocating for teachers. He helped implement the first Agriculture Academy in Nebraska in a Class A high school. He wrote grants totaling almost $3 million dollars. The grants covered professional development, curriculum, a greenhouse, and distribution center.
As the District Coordinator of Secondary Counseling at Westside Community Schools, the counseling department has been able to set up industry tours, college tours, and career cafes. Each of these events allow their students opportunities to meet with business leaders and seek input.
Rick’s goal is to create equal access for each of their students. Westside has many classes offered in the CTE field. As counselors, they work hard to make sure all students take a variety of these classes. They want students to be exposed to as many opportunities as possible in order for them to have a broad overview of all the possibilities for future careers.
To bridge the gap between business and industry, higher education, and Westside High school, Rick formed an advisory council. The purpose of the advisory council was to provide a partnership between the schools and business community. The advisory council was an instant success and continues to grow. Rick serves as the Counseling and Career Development representative on the ACTEN board.