A teacher from a Nebraska rodeo town has a wild ride ahead.

Megan Helberg, an English teacher from Burwell, was named 2020 Nebraska Teacher of the Year at a surprise presentation Monday.

She will represent the state at various state and national events and compete for national teacher of the year.

Helberg teaches eighth, 11th and 12th grades at Burwell Junior/Senior High School, where she has been employed since 2010.

Helberg started her teaching career at Papillion La Vista Community Schools in the Omaha metro area.

The Teacher of the Year program recognizes classroom teachers who are exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, skilled and who are able to inspire learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.

Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt presented the award. A panel of Nebraska educators selected Helberg from among four finalists.

Other finalists were Mark Gudgel of Omaha North High Magnet School in Omaha, Robert Kerr of Hastings High School in Hastings and Erin Meyer of West Elementary School in Sidney. They will be recognized as Award of Excellence winners.

In addition to her classroom experience, Helberg has been a Burwell Public School Leader in Technology Educator.

She has served as a Museum Teacher Fellow in Washington, D.C., and received a Fund for Teachers grant, where she traveled internationally.

Helberg wrote in her Teacher of the Year application that her goal in teaching is to bring a broader perspective of the world to her students.

“I feel that it is my responsibility to bring the world to my students,” she wrote. “I must keep taking steps to accomplish the ultimate goal of reaching the entire community about various races, religions and ways of life.”

According to the Nebraska Department of Education, Helberg has worked to achieve that goal by creating lessons about the Holocaust and hosting video chats with speakers and classrooms from different countries.

She has been a teacher for 10 years.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Chadron State College. She received her teaching certificate through the Transition to Teach program at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The Nebraska 2019 Teacher of the Year was Sydney Jensen of Lincoln High School in Lincoln.

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