University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) master’s degree student and Burke High School teacher Nichole Niebur received a tech educator award from the AIM Institute at the AIM Tech Celebration held Nov. 15.
Niebur is studying computer science in education and was nominated for the award by her son. She found out about the nomination after receiving an email saying she won the award.
“It was kind of a surprise,” Niebur said.
The tech educator award is given to a K-12 teacher who plays a key role in developing and building future generations of tech talent, according to an AIM press release.
Niebur, who has been an educator for 10 years, passes tech knowledge on to the next generation by teaching “the techy stuff” at Burke High School, including web design and development, programming and the Adobe Suite.
Niebur hasn’t always been an educator. In fact, she was a business analyst at First National Bank before being laid off in 2008 during the economic crisis. After being laid off, she decided to do “some soul searching” to figure out what her next career move would be.
She thought back to the jobs she enjoyed doing while working in the banking industry and realized she liked training people.
“I made the decision that if I was happy to find a new job, I’d go back to school and get a job as a teacher and start doing what I really liked to experience as now my new career,” Niebur said.
Niebur was rehired at First National Bank for a year and used their tuition reimbursement program to get her degree in education. She started student teaching a year later.
Niebur knows the value of building students’ skills in the field of technology. Part of the reason she’s working on her master’s in computer science in education is to build on the technology classes Burke offers students.
Niebur said that technology classes teach students the skills they need to be successful in their future careers, even if they don’t pursue a career in an IT field.
“Even if you don’t go into a career in programming, almost all jobs, almost all assignments require you to use this thought process of how do you take this really big problem and break it down into small, manageable steps,” Niebur said. “Programming helps teach people how to do that.”