CHADRON – The Nebraska Department of Education has named Chadron State College alumna Megan (McNeil) Helberg the 2019-20 Teacher of the Year. Helberg is in her 10th year at Burwell Public Schools where she is also the head volleyball coach. She teaches eighth grade, junior and senior English.
"Being named the Nebraska Teacher of the Year is quite humbling and exciting. I am ready to fully embrace the opportunities and adventures that come with this honor, all while representing the Good Life of Nebraska. Also, I am thrilled to have the spotlight on rural Nebraska and rural schools. We may be small, but we are mighty. Wonderful teachers and students exist all across our great state,” Helberg said.
As Nebraska’s Teacher of the Year, Helberg is excited about upcoming travel opportunities and professional development.
She will visit Washington D.C. for a week in April, meet governmental representatives, and attend the ceremony naming the Nation’s Teacher of the Year.
She will also attend a conference at Princeton University, tour Google headquarters in California, and the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I’ve never outgrown my interest in space. I thought it was so neat when my mom came back with her space suit. Even on family vacations, we’ve visited launch sites,” Helberg said.
Another special interest of Helberg’s is Holocaust literature and Genocide education. In 2016, she was selected as a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow. As a Fellow, she has coordinated workshops at Kearney and LaVista Educational Service Units and presented sessions for teachers of English and Social Studies in sixth through twelfth grades.
Helberg competed in track and field for two years and volleyball for one year at CSC. She graduated with a business administration degree in 2006.
“CSC was a wonderful fit for me. The community of Chadron was so supportive of the college and I’m still in touch with adult community members I met. I always felt very supported and safe. It’s an important time while you are finding your niche,” Helberg said.
After a few years, Helberg said she realized her true calling was in teaching so she earned an education endorsement.
“I finally admitted it and embraced it. I love reading, writing, and being connected to the kids and the community. I’m very passionate about these small rural schools and want to help keep them going. They are close-knit and everyone watches out for each other,” Helberg said.
Helberg has several family ties to CSC.
Her mother, Susan McNeil, also an alumna, was the Nebraska Teacher of the Year in 1995 and went on to be a principal, and the superintendent at Anselmo-Merna. She is semi-retired and substitute teaches at Taylor, Burwell, Ansley, Sargent and other area schools.
“Because she was so awesome at what she did, I was intimidated,” Helberg said.
Helberg met her husband, Dan, at CSC when he was graduate student. He is a Scottsbluff native who earned a master’s in Educational Administration and teaches English at Ansley.
—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator