The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Volkmer Recognized a first Sidney Educator of the Month


January 20, 2021

The duties of education go far beyond taking attendance and presenting a lecture. The process involves several layers of employees, from the custodians to the administrators.

Three Sidney businesses have come together to recognize employees of Sidney Public Schools.

On Monday, Jan. 21, Janet Volkmer was recognized as the first employee of the month.

Eric Packer, manager of the Dairy Queen stores in Sidney and Ogallala, said the award is not just for teachers. He said the recognition award can go to paraprofessionals, janitors, teachers, food service workers, administrators or anyone else involved in the education process. Each school can choose from its staff for a specific month. The nomination is made by the school principal of that month's school and the administrative offices.

Dairy Queen is partnering with Sidney Floral and Gift, and The French Door. Award recipients receive an 8-inch cake from Dairy Queen, a $30 gift certificate from Sidney Floral and Gift and a gift certificate from The French Door.

“Teachers don't get enough recognition,” Packer said.

He said this year with the COVID restrictions, teachers have had to be home teachers as well as manage classrooms.

He stressed that everyone in the district is eligible for the award.

Janet Volkmer is not only staffmember (teacher) of the month, she is completing 37 years of teaching; 34 years in the Sidney Public School system. She is retiring at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Prior to Sidney, she taught in York for three years. She teaches kindergarten at Central Elementary in Sidney. She has taught half-day and all-day kindergarten.

“Every day is a new adventure,” Volkmer says.

She said the blessing about teaching kindergarten-age children is being a teacher means adapting to several different roles. She said there are a lot of social and emotional moments that happen in a kindergarten classroom. Some students just need a hug before a lesson.

She came into education naturally. Her grandmother and her dad were teachers.

“I've always liked kids,” she said.

She earned her K-8 endorsement, and elementary education and special education. When she moved to Sidney, the kindergarten position was open and she fell in love with it.

“I just got used to this, and loved it,” she said.

She said one of the blessings of the kindergarten age is how forgiving young children are.

“The kids never stay mad at you,” she said.

One of the memories she says she will carry with her is from a few years ago. A child had a coat that appeared to be well worn. She reached out to her principal, and the student's family, about getting the student a new coat. The coat was presented at a parent-teacher conference night with Volkmer, the student's mother and desperately trying to hold back tears as the student graciously accepted the new coat.

She said she has a tradition of giving students a book for Christmas.

“They always came up and gave me a hug,” she said.

She said seeing students in public is humorous as well. Some will run up to her and give her a hug, while others act shy in public.

She doesn't plan on leaving Sidney. She has a son in Denver and daughter in Louisiana and plans to travel as much as possible.


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