The North Platte Public School Foundation has announced that Niki Ruda, Joshua Bruck, Ronda Richman and Matt Irish have been awarded the 2013 North Platte Public Schools Employees of the Year! These awards recognize and encourage superior professional effort to improve instruction and to cultivate the continuation of educational excellence in our schools.
Niki Ruda has been named the North Platte Public Schools 2013 Teacher of the Year, PreK-5th grade. Niki is a Speech/Language Pathologist for the North Platte Public Schools Early Childhood Program. Co-worker Melissa Foote nominated Niki for this year’s award. According to Foote, “Niki’s dedication to the students she serves, and to all the children of this community, is absolutely unprecedented! Niki is excellent at initiating and fostering relationships with providers and makes everyone feel they are part of the team. She never fails to come up with innovative and creative strategies to help children meet their fullest potential. Those of us that have the pleasure of being around Niki on a regular basis are in awe of her constant drive and willingness to help others, her genuine spirit and her enthusiasm for life.”
Niki is a 1990 graduate of Spencer-Naper High School. In 1994, she received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders and her Masters of Science in Speech / Language Pathology in 1995, both from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She is currently pursuing a Certificate in Autism and Severe Disabilities at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Niki has been a Speech/Language Pathologist in the public schools for the past 18 years, the most recent 14 years with North Platte Public Schools. Niki is the wife of Jon Ruda and the mother of three children, Courtney (Junior), Amanda (Freshman) and Tanner (5th grader). School and related activities keep all of them quite busy and they enjoy those precious nights when everyone can be home as a family. Niki has hobbies too numerous to mention but learning is at the top of the list.
Joshua Bruck has been named the 2013 NPPS Teacher of the Year, grades 6th-12th grade. Joshua grew up in Manilla, IA. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Education in Social Sciences 7-12 from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2006. He graduated with a Masters in Education from Doane College in 2012. Joshua has been a teacher at NPHS for 6 years, where he is the High School Social Studies Department leader. Joshua also coaches middle school football, girls basketball and track. Joshua is married to Nicole Bruck, a 3rd grade teacher at Washington Elementary. They have a 3 year old daughter Amelia and one on the way, Greta. According to Brett Joneson, who nominated Joshua, “Joshua is constantly looking for ways to improve his teaching and providing the best instruction for his student that he can. He is an exceptional leader and colleague, making my teaching better. Joshua is a great resource for his students and the district.”
The 2013 NPPS Staff Member of the Year is Ronda Richman. Ronda has been a para educator for the Early Childhood Special Education program for the past 33 years and was nominated by Jamie Holson,
Veronica (Missie) Seward and Trisha Hasty. Ronda joined the staff in 1980, after her daughter Laurie was diagnosed with a significant hearing loss and became one of the first home-bound students to receive services from the North Platte School District.
According to Seward, “when you see Ronda in action with children one can only say that she works hard, focusing on challenges with an all consuming compassion for the nature of each situation presented.” Ronda has always had a “can do” attitude and treats special needs children with the patience and respect all children deserve. She attends workshops and continues to address the changing needs and new strategies used to help special education preschoolers work toward their individual learning goals. Ronda is dedicated to the field of education, being a fixture in the District’s Birth to age 5 program. Her patience and kind heart continue to inspire those around her. Ronda is married to her NPPS sweetheart, Bruce. They have two daughters, Carmen and Laurie and two grandchildren, Alec and Brittney, all of North Platte.
Matt Irish has been named the 2013 NPPS Administrator of the Year. Matt Irish was born in North Platte, Nebraska where he has resided for his entire life except for a few years in which he moved away to attend college and to start his teaching career. He moved back to North Platte when he and his wife decided to start a family. Matt is married to Mellissa Irish and has three children; Peyton who is a freshman in high school, Madison who is a fifth grader and Isaac who is a kindergarten student.
Matt is the principal of Lincoln Elementary. “Matt leads the school as an educational coach, facilitating growth and harmony in his staff and students. He spends much of his time in each classroom making him a vital part of the team of educators helping our young ones to grow,” stated Stacy Wells. Jody Leisy notes, “Mr. Irish is respected by the staff at Lincoln Elementary. He works as a team player, frequently seeking staff input to decide what is best for students. He works hard to be available for students need during each and every week. Matt has worked in the North Platte Public School System for 9 years as an administrator, previously at Washington Elementary and Adams Middle School. Matt began his professional career as a middle school teacher in Ordway, Colorado and taught for six years at Platte Valley School District near North Platte as a third, fourth and fifth grade teacher. There he began his administrative career before taking a full time administrative position at Hall School near North Platte.
Matt received his High School Diploma from St. Patrick’s High School in North Platte, his Associate of Arts degree from Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, his Bachelor of Arts degree from Chadron State College and his Masters of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
These individuals will be honored at the Foundation’s “Education after Hours” event on Friday, April 4th, at the Holiday Inn Express, beginning at 5:30 pm. The public is invited to attend this event to honor the North Platte Public School District’s 2013 Employees of the Year and the 2013 NPHS Distinguished Alumni Chuck Schwartz, Jim States, Byron Boslau and Jim McFarland. Tickets are $25 and can be reserved by contacting Jackie at the Foundation office at 696-3325 or at any NebraskaLand National Bank location.