Union College is proud to honor Lincoln Public Schools with the 2020 Community Partnership Award.
The award was presented at the eighth annual Community Appreciation Breakfast on Tuesday, February 5, 2020. Union gives the award to recognize a local business, foundation or organization’s steadfast dedication in helping the college accomplish its mission—to create a personal, student-focused community, which empowers students for a lifetime of learning, service and leadership.
Lincoln Public Schools received the Community Partnership Award for their support of Union’s teacher education program. The system provides many Union education students with student teaching opportunities and internships—and often, a fulfilling career after graduation.
Lincoln Public Schools is the second-largest public school district in Nebraska, renowned for its long-standing legacy of educational excellence and tradition of rigorous academic achievement. The school district serves more than 42,000 students in more than 60 schools and programs.
“We are lucky to have such great partners here in Lincoln as we prepare future teachers,” said Peter Adams, director of Union’s education program. “Our goal is to train graduates who are comfortable, competent and confident wherever God leads them. It’s important to us that our students observe and teach in as many different types of learning environments as possible, and Lincoln Public Schools is a critical part of that. The experiences LPS provides are tools our students can use anywhere their careers take them.”
Maile Mekelburg, a 2017 Union College graduate who now teaches second grade at Beattie Elementary School in Lincoln, told event attendees about learning in LPS classrooms throughout her time studying education at Union. “I loved my experiences with every single teacher I met at schools around Lincoln,” she said. “I learned so many tactics that I still use in my classroom today—especially amazing strategies to keep students engaged in learning.”
“We value our partnership with Union College because the opportunity to build strong educators is important to us,” said Eric Weber, associate superintendent of human resources, who accepted the award on behalf of Lincoln Public Schools. “Our partnership with Union allows us to continue the tradition of hiring outstanding teachers, getting them into our classrooms and serving our more than 42,000 students.”
Weber said LPS has hired more than 20 Union graduates as teachers in the past five years. “Union teachers are different,” he explained. “They are articulate, intelligent and compassionate. They’re highly effective when they get into our classrooms. They are incredibly passionate and they are going into this profession for the right reasons. They want to serve and love children. We are thankful for our partnership with Union College. We hope we can bring more and more Union College graduates to Lincoln Public Schools.”
Mekelburg is thankful to find an employer that shared the values she learned at Union. “I loved my Union experience. It connected me to my career and a school district that encourages that same growth and opportunity.”
The Community Appreciation Breakfast was hosted by Union College supporters Barbara Bartle, president of the Lincoln Community Foundation; Bryan Shank, vice president of commercial banking at Union Bank and Trust; and Topher Thompson, vice president of leasing at Thompson Realty Group.
Thanks to the Lincoln Independent Business Association for sponsoring the solid crystal award.