Renee Jones, an English teacher at Lincoln High School, has been awarded the prestigious title of 2023 Nebraska 2023 Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Department of Education. The announcement came as a surprise during an award presentation ceremony.
Expressing her gratitude, Jones said, “I think it’s an honor that somebody would entrust me to represent the people of Nebraska and teachers.”
Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomstedt presented the award to Jones, commending her for her exceptional teaching skills and dedication. Jones teaches oral communications, creative writing, and Holocaust literature, and she is known for her ability to connect with students and help them overcome their fear of speaking to an audience.
The Nebraska Teacher of the Year emphasizes the importance of building connections between students and believes it is the key to their academic success. In her application, she stated, “Connecting students is the most influential and important element of my role as a teacher. Connecting students with me, with their peers, and with themselves, is at the heart of gaining the confidence they need.”
Renee Jones began her teaching career in California in 2014 before relocating to Nebraska the following year. Prior to joining Lincoln High School in 2021, she taught English at the Bryan Community Focus Program for six years.
In addition to her teaching role, Jones is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of English and Kiwanis International. She is also a published author and has presented on education at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Her dedication and expertise have been recognized previously when she received the Lincoln Public Schools Foundation’s Inspire Award in 2019.
The 2023 Nebraska Teacher of the Year award is a testament to Jones’ exceptional dedication, knowledge, and skills in inspiring a diverse group of students to learn. Commissioner Blomstedt acknowledged the significance of the award, saying, “We want to recognize the great work that teachers have done in the middle of the pandemic, but also just annually, this is such a great thing you’re going to be a part of.”
As Nebraska’s representative in the National Teacher of the Year competition, Jones will have the opportunity to participate in professional development activities alongside other state winners. She will also have the chance to share her expertise at various educational conferences and workshops both within the state and across the country.
Renee Jones’ impact on her students is evident, with freshman DeAdrian Walker crediting her for helping him overcome his fear of public speaking. Walker shared, “I feel like I wouldn’t be here talking if it wasn’t for her helping me.” Jones creates a supportive and comfortable classroom environment, instilling confidence in her students and ensuring they feel at ease expressing themselves.
With her well-deserved recognition as Nebraska Teacher of the Year, Jones joins the ranks of other esteemed educators from Lincoln High School who have received this honor, including Sydney Jensen in 2019 and current State Education Board President Patsy Koch-Johns, who attended the award ceremony.
Reflecting on Jones’ impact, Koch-Johns expressed her admiration, stating, “These kids are so lucky to be Links and to have this wonderful teacher.”
Renee Jones’ commitment to her students’ success and her dedication to building strong connections in the classroom have earned her the title of 2023 Nebraska Teacher of the Year, an accolade that recognizes her exceptional contributions to education.