Paul Timm named 2021 Teacher of the Year

Paul Timm (right) with Matt Blomstedt  |  Photo credit: Omaha World-Herald
Paul Timm (right) with Matt Blomstedt | Photo credit: Omaha World-Herald

by Joe Dejka, Omaha World-Herald

Paul Timm, a science teacher in grades 7-12 at Lyons-Decatur Northeast Secondary School in Lyons, was named the Nebraska 2021 Teacher of the Year during a surprise award presentation Wednesday, Oct. 7. Timm was a leader in the TEAMS grant, a partnership between the Nebraska Department of Education and NebraskaSCIENCE from 2017 to 2018.

The school is located in Lyons, Nebraska, about 70 miles northwest of Omaha.

Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomstedt presented the award to Timm at the school.

He was one of three finalists for the award. Michael Sandstrom of Chadron High School in Chadron and Sarah Staples-Farmer of Lincoln East High School in Lincoln were also finalists and will be recognized as Award of Excellence winners.

Timm began his teaching career in Laurel, Nebraska, where he taught agriculture education. He currently teaches seventh-12th grade science at Lyons-Decatur Northeast Secondary School, where he has been since 2008.

Timm is an active member of the school community in the National Honor Society, as a Student Assistant Team Coordinator, and as a coach for the Quiz Bowl and the cross country and track teams. He represents Lyons-Decatur in the Nebraska Water Project multischool collaboration and the National Geographic Districtwide Partnership. He helped to establish a research program in the district.

In his application for the award, Timm said he viewed learning as an entrepreneurial venture. The students are not just employees at the job, but business owners building an enterprise of learning with passion, personal choice and full ownership.

“I begin by fostering a culture which promotes curiosity and questions, sharing of ideas, celebrating successes, and willingness to learn from failures,” Timm said. “Project- and inquiry-based learning drives education to the highest levels while extending the learning environment beyond the classroom and providing student choice.”

Using this philosophy, Timm strives to prepare his students for life outside school.

Timm has been a teacher for 17 years. He earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture education and a master’s degree in entomology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

A panel of Nebraska educators selected Timm as the 2021 Nebraska Teacher of the Year. The Teacher of the Year program recognizes the contributions of classroom teachers who are exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable, skilled and who have the ability to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn.

Timm, Sandstrom and Staples-Farmer will be honored by the Nebraska State Board of Education at a February luncheon.

Timm will participate in the National Teacher of the Year competition later this year.

The 2020 Nebraska Teacher of the Year was Megan Helberg, an English teacher from Burwell, Nebraska.