It is an incredible honor to be recognized among this prestigious group of educators. I am proud of the work our community is doing within science education and continue to be inspired by my students’ courage, curiosity, resilience, and compassion they have for the environment and humanity. It is a privilege to work within the partnership between Omaha Public Schools and Omaha’s Zoo. This accomplishment would not have been possible without their support and the support of my family.

Leah Litz Omaha, NE | K-6, Science, 2020

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Since 2017, Leah Litz has been a Bancroft Elementary School kindergarten teacher in Zoo Kindergarten, a place-based education program partnering with Omaha Public Schools and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. From 2013 to 2017, Leah taught kindergarten at Bancroft Elementary. Prior to entering formal education, Leah contributed to local STEM initiatives as the Outreach Manager at Omaha's Zoo. Connecting students with their community and the world around them is one of Leah’s hallmarks. By providing equitable pathways for young learners, her students begin to develop their science identity and build strong academic foundations that directly impact their scientific understandings as they continue on their K-12 career and future endeavors in college, careers, and life. Since joining Zoo Kindergarten, Leah has contributed to the program's expansion, which more than doubled local students’ access and enrollment. Leah has been an integral part of elementary and secondary writing teams to develop district-level assessments, K-12 vertical curriculum alignment, and equitable practices in remote learning. Leah serves as a Science Point of Contact for Bancroft Elementary and as a mentor teacher for future educators through the University of Nebraska-Omaha. From 2009 to 2012, Leah was the Nebraska Science Olympiad regional tournament director and a member of the National Science Olympiad tournament planning committee. Leah has a B.A. in communication from the University of Arizona; an M.A. with an elementary teaching specialization from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and a Graduate Certificate in early childhood education from Creighton University. She is certified in kindergarten through sixth grade elementary education with an endorsement in early childhood education.

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