Michael Fryda, Nebraska Teacher of the Year
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Michael Fryda entered teaching for a challenge. "It challenges me intellectually, emotionally and socially," he says. "I'm excited that I have chosen a profession in which I am not 'finished' with my own education."

Likewise, Michael believes in challenging his own students and giving them the honesty they deserve. "Teachers don't need to be cruel to maintain professional boundaries, nor are we our student's friends," he explains. "We are caring mentors, and we work hard to show students that there is good reason behind the ways we help kids grow. In the end, students respect teachers that challenge the 'easy way out' and expect nothing less than the best."

Asking questions, putting personal prejudices aside and making tough decisions are what Michael considers some of the most valuable skills for an educator. "I didn't become successful at reaching students until I learned to recognize their personal challenges and found ways to give individual students what they needed the most to succeed." Helping students to understand how they learn best may sound simple, but Michael says that it's a demanding yet essential task to provide the best possible experience to all students.

"If students just needed to know facts," he says, "teachers would not be needed."

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