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GIPS teachers honored as Teachers of the Year by Nebraska College Preparatory Academy

Jessa Yager (left) and Tracy Jakubowski have both been named as Teachers of the Year by the...
Jessa Yager (left) and Tracy Jakubowski have both been named as Teachers of the Year by the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy.(KSNB)
Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 3:27 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Two Grand Island Public School teachers have been honored by the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy (NCPA).

Barr Middle School teacher Jessa Yager has been named the 2020-2021 NCPA Middle School Teacher of the Year. While Grand Island Senior High School teacher Tracy Jakubowski has been named the 2020-2021 NCPA High School Teacher of the Year.

“I’m incredibly humbled and honored that my past students think so highly of me!” said Yager. “They know they are my ‘kiddos for life,’ because each year I express how I am now their teacher for life and a person they can count on for years to come.

“I have written so many NCPA recommendation letters I’ve lost count, and seeing so many of them receive scholarships and guidance through the program is reward enough. Receiving this award is amazing and has boosted my confidence. It helped validate my pedagogy and art of teaching. I needed it more in this very moment than these kids will ever know.”

Nominations are provided by NCPA scholars and submitted for review.

“When Karen (Palacios) shared with me that I had been selected for this honor, I was humbled,” said Mrs. Jakubowski. “From writing nominations for eighth graders when I taught at Walnut Middle School to supporting NCPA students in my classroom at GISH, I have seen firsthand the opportunities the academy provides for our kids.

“It has also been so amazing to watch former students from afar on their journeys as college students after they launch from GIPS. Being nominated and chosen as NCPA’s High School Teacher of the Year means so much, because it comes from the students and they are the reason we do what we do. Throughout my career in education, I have learned that the foundation of teaching is forming solid relationships and for kids to feel like they have someone in their corner; this award reaffirms that they feel supported and that is what matters.”

“I am very proud of Mrs. Jakubowski and the impact she has had on so many of our students,” said Grand Island Senior High School Executive Principal Jeff Gilbertson. “This award is so well-deserved. Mrs. Jakubowski is a tireless worker and a remarkable leader. We are honored to have her at GISH.”

Barr Middle School Principal Josué Covarrubias said that Mrs. Yager “is a phenomenal teacher who is a great advocate for our students and is extremely deserving of this award.” He added that students and staff “love” working with her.

“Being a hybrid-teacher in this pandemic year has filled me full of doubt, frustration, and exhaustion as I’ve attempted to reach my in-person and virtual students in the same effective ways as years past,” Yager said. “I am blessed to have such thoughtful students — past and present — who care enough to recognize all my efforts for reaching their potential. This award has truly energized me to feel like ‘me’ again.”

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