Jackson grade school teacher wins award for teaching excellence

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

For almost four decades, teacher Nan Beussink has dedicated her life to Catholic education. Last week she received one of two Distinguished Teacher Awards from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau for excellence in teaching.

Beussink, a third-grade teacher at Immaculate Conception School in Jackson, plans to retire at the end of the school year and said the award was a nice way to end her career.

"I'm surprised, but excited about it," she said.

Beussink credits the advice she has been given over the last 30 years, especially as a young teacher, for making her an effective educator today.

Immaculate Conception principal Michele Huffman nominated Beussink for the award. In addition to Beussink living her Catholic faith and being a good person, Huffman said, she is a challenging, well-rounded teacher.

"She has high expectations but is loving and patient," Huffman said.

Huffman can speak to Beus­sink's effectiveness in the classroom not only as a principal but as a parent. Her two sons both had Beussink as their third-grade teacher.

"She is one of the most deserving teachers I've ever had the privilege to work with and know," Huffman said.

Experience has made Beus­sink a mentor and role model to the school's younger teachers. Kindergarten teacher Amber Pierce is in her third year of teaching and said she has turned to Beussink for advice on several occasions.

"She has an open-door policy. She's always willing to share advice she's been given, her experiences. She always has time," she said. "She's deserving of this award, without a doubt."

Debra Owensby, administrative assistant with the diocese, said the award was started last year as a way to honor exceptional teachers and their contributions. While there are national awards for Catholic educators, she said the diocese wanted to recognize the work of its teachers, as well.

"We think our teachers are wonderful, but sometimes they can get lost in the shuffle nationally," she said.

Teachers were evaluated in a variety of areas, including professional contributions to the school and parish and exemplifying the philosophy of Catholic education.

Owensby said the offices that select the winners recognized Beussink's 36 years of service to the diocese, the positive example she sets for her students and the high level of performance she expects in the classroom.

The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau stretches from Joplin, Mo., to Cape Girardeau and includes about 300 teachers in 26 Catholic elementary and high schools, Owensby said.

cbartholomew@semissourian.com

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