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School employees of year announcedTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Brett Joneson
Courtesy Photo­Image
James Orcutt
Courtesy Photo­Image
Jamie O'Rourke Mendenhall
Courtesy Photo­Image
Angie Waters Miller

The North Platte Public Schools Foundation have announced the teacher of the year, staff member of the year, and administrator of the year for 2017.

The district employees will be honored at the foundation’s upcoming Education After Hours get-together on Friday evening, April 7.

Foundation Director Jodi Howard said two teachers of the year have been selected.


Teachers of the year

In grades 6-12, North Platte High School Science Teacher James “Jim” Orcutt is the teacher of the year.

Orcutt currently teaches two dual credit classes -- anatomy and physiology and advanced biology. In addition to teaching, he coaches girls golf in the fall and boys golf in the spring.

Orcutt grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa.

After teaching and coaching in Illinois, Mr. Orcutt began his career in North Platte in 1984. He holds a master's degree from the University of Nebraska.

Orcutt and his wife Martha have been married for 36 years and have two grown children, Kathleen and Clifton, and one grandson, Aiden. In his spare time, he enjoys golf, trout fishing, gardening and woodworking.


In grades pre-K-5, the teacher of the year is Osgood second grade teacher, Jami O’Rourke Mendenhall.

She has been with the North Platte school district since 1989 and started teaching at Osgood Elementary in 1994. She has served on many district committees in her teaching career.

Mendenhall wanted to be a teacher since age 4. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Kearney State College and has a master's in curriculum and instruction from Doane University.

She taught sixth grade and pre-school before moving to North Platte.

Mendenhall is also an active volunteer in many community organizations. She and husband Mark love to travel. She also enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren (soon to be five).



Staff member of the year: Lincoln Elementary para-professional Angie Waters Miller

Miller was nominated by her colleagues at Lincoln Elementary, who describe her as a blessing to teachers, as well as a staff member who puts her heart and soul into working with children. She has worked at the North Platte Public School District for 10 years.

Miller grew up in Beaver Lake, Nebraska and played volleyball at Central Community College in Hastings, where she majored in early childhood development.

Before relocating to North Platte in 2000, she worked at La Petite Day Care. She has two children -- Alex and Emily. In her free time, she enjoys shopping and sightseeing.

Administrator of the Year: Adams Middle School Assistant Principal Brett Joneson

Joneson received a bachelor’s degree from UNK in 1992 and his master's degree in Administration in 2001. He has been a teacher, coach and administrator for the North Platte Public Schools for 20 years.

He began his career in North Platte as a ninth grade teacher of social studies and world history. He has coached football and taught drivers education.

Joneson has been instrumental in helping implement interscholastic sports and adding seventh grade sports to the school district.

He has also served in the Nebraska Army National Guard for six years.

He and his wife Kim have two sons, Cole and Caden. He enjoys family and friends, outdoor activities and the Huskers!


Nominations for outstanding staff members were made by students, parents, community members and employees from within the school district.

These awards recognize and encourage superior professional effort to improve instruction and to cultivate the continuation of educational excellence in our schools.

Teacher and staff member award winners will receive a plaque and a $250 cash award.

Administrators will receive a plaque and $1,000 extra budget authority for their building/administrative area. A permanent award will be displayed at McKinley Education Center.

Tickets are $25 each ($20 for NPPSD staff) and available online at www.nppsf.org or at the Foundation office. Please call 696-3325 in advance to schedule a pick up time for tickets.  

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/26/2017
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