History Written by Winner

New Teacher Takes Statewide Award


Madison Almquist

Big and small: Smiling into a new school, social studies teacher Alise Pape was excited to start her new job at GHS. “Gretna is a growing district,” Pape said. “But it does a great job at keeping that small town feel.” Pape is the state’s History Teacher of the Year.

Ansley Gydesen, Reporter

By bringing the past into the present, Ms. Alise Pape shows students that history is important. The 27-year-old social studies teacher earned the 2022 Nebraska History Teacher of the Year Award which is presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. After five years at Lincoln East High School, she recently moved to GHS to continue her teaching career as a Dragon.

“I just really loved talking to Mr. (Todd) Mueller with how passionate he was about the kids here, and it just sounded like a place I would want to be,” Ms. Pape said. “So when a job opened up here late last year, I took the opportunity to apply.”

The History Teacher of the Year Award focuses on the significance of historical education by honoring history teachers from K-12 in each state, as well as the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and other U.S. Territories.
“When I was nominated I didn’t really think there was any chance that I would win,” Pape said. “When I got the email that I won I literally screamed and freaked out for a solid five minutes. I was like ‘This is real, this is happening,’ and I think it’s just really an honor because there are so many amazing teachers in the state of Nebraska.”  

Although LEHS is a huge school, GHS is almost bursting at the seams with the amount of students filling the building and the families that are continuing to pop up in the district. Because of this, Ms. Pape does not have her own room. Instead, she is sharing with fellow history teacher, Mr. Cody King. 

“We teach the same classes, or at least some of the same classes, so any questions I have I can run by her,” Mr. King said. “It’s good to be able to get some of that information and things that she can tell me. She’s really smart, loves the kids and really loves teaching.” 

Ms. Pape was chosen for this award not only based on her master’s degree in American History, but because of her ability to create a safe and fun environment for each and every one of her students inside the classroom. Due to the fact that she is a younger teacher, she is also experienced in the technology and slang of the younger generation. Using this to her advantage gives her the ability to go above and beyond by building a deeper connection with all of her students.  

“I always tell my kids, ‘I don’t want to be bored and I don’t want you to be bored.’ If I am, then I’m doing something wrong,” Ms. Pape said. “I like to make my classroom a joyous place to be. I know, a lot of times what I teach my students sometimes goes in one ear and out the other, but what I always tell my kids is that, ‘What’s important to me is that you leave this classroom knowing that I care about you and I value you and I’m here if you need me.’”