(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
Craig Dickes, who has taught in McCook and coached seventh grade girls basketball and eighth grade boys basketball as assistant coach since the 2007-08 school year, was nominated for the award by fellow teachers for, among other traits, his "excellent classroom management skills."
Dickes received the award during the Horace Mann Awards Luncheon of the NSEA's annual delegate assembly in Lincoln April 25.
During a surprise re-presentation of the award Monday afternoon before junior high staff and students, fellow teacher Cindy Wilcox said, "Craig is not an average teacher. He teaches with the skills of a seasoned veteran."
Wilcox said that Dickes "makes history come alive for his students." Turning to students, she said, "He is a good disciplinarian who expects a lot of you kids."
Superintendent Dave Schley said that Dickes has "developed into a top-flight teacher and coach who is respected and well-liked by students and staff. It is a royal honor to see you get this (award), and especially in front of your peers and students."
Schley said it is believed that Dickes is McCook Public Schools' first-ever NSEA "Rookie Teacher of the Year" recipient.
Dickes told students and staff gathered at the impromptu assembly that the award "has the appearance of an individual award, but that's not true."
It's "easy to be successful," he said, with team members, administration, students and staff such as those in McCook.
He concluded, "I look forward to continuing my career and life in McCook."
Junior high principal Dennis Berry said he's pleased to hear that Dickes plans to stay in McCook. "He just bought a house," Berry said, with a grin. "That'll lock him in for 25 to 30 years."
Dickes was a finalist for the "Rookie of the Year" award along with David Anderson of Chadron Public Schools, Helen Tanderup of Metro Community College, Julie Tighe of South Sioux City Public Schools and Kathleen Wingard of Lincoln Public Schools.
Dickes is a native of Fordyce and a graduate of Hartington Cedar Catholic High Schools and Wayne State College.
At Wayne State, he was a member of the National History Honorary and the National Geography Honorary, and was on the dean's list. He student-taught at Elkhorn Public Schools and substitute-taught at Lincoln Public Schools, Omaha Catholic Schools and Fremont Public Schools.
Dickes enjoys basketball, football and track, and is especially fond of baseball -- he and Schley are both fans of the Minnesota Twins, "the Twinkies," Schley said.