Jan McKeown, an instructional and technology coach at Lefler Middle School – who says the secret of good teaching is caring enough to bring your A-game every day – will now forever be known as the Scottish Rite’s 2017 Distinguished Teacher of the Year.
“I can’t believe it, [the Scottish Rite Teacher of the Year award] has always been on my bucket list, this is just such a big deal,” she said through her tears. “Today I’m trying to consider all the students I have taught over the years, and I was guessing 2,000, but as I look out over this auditorium today, I’m sure it’s even more than that.”
McKeown began her teaching career with Lincoln Public Schools at Clinton Elementary School 32 years ago. She now teaches at Lefler Middle School, where she determined middle school was her true love. “I joke that my development got arrested at age 12,” she said, laughing. “I love this age of students, I love their sense of humor.”
She considers instructional coach “the best job in the district because I get to work with everyone in the school…Our teachers go above and beyond, they step up to the plate every single day and do what’s best for kids.”
Jessie Fries, principal at Lefler, said of McKeown: “Jan is a phenomenal teacher, educator, mentor and coach. She has had a profound impact on our five-year vision, as well as our culture of learning and collaboration... Jan is a teacher of teachers, and who I believe lays the foundation for the solid research-based instruction that occurs at Lefler.”
Other teachers who have worked with McKeown said:
“Jan is an exceptional educator who is wise, caring and goes out of her way to make staff feel welcome and supported.”
“Jan has been an invaluable asset in making my teaching more effective.”
“Jan has a contagious passion for teaching that rubs off on everyone she comes in contact with.”
Eric Weber, associate superintendent for Human Resources at Lincoln Public Schools, presented the award, noting that this award “recognizes excellence in teaching and the vital role our teachers play.”
Created in 1965, the prestigious Scottish Rite Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award is presented annually, and comes with a cash prize of $5,000 from the Lincoln Scottish Rite Preservation Foundation. The teacher’s photograph is also permanently hung in the Lincoln Public Schools administrative office.