Peru State College
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News Release

Peru State Awards 10 Full Tuition Graduate Scholarships to Area Teachers


(Peru, Neb.) Peru State College (PSC) today announced that 10 teachers pursuing graduate degrees in education have been named 2010 Boxley Scholars.

Rebecca Akins

Rebecca Akins began her teaching career in Tucson, Ariz., 10 years ago where she helped create and implement a pilot program called AIMS Prep (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards). It was a computer-based distance-learning program to help ninth grade students improve reading and writing skills. In her current position with the Omaha Public School District, she is working to create a new concept-based United States History curriculum for the district.

Gretchen Baijnauth

Gretchen Baijnauth has taught journalism, AP language composition and English, and creative writing in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for 12 years where she has also served as advisor to the yearbook and student newspaper. Her students’ publications have won national gold, silver and bronze medals. Next fall Baijnauth will begin teaching journalism (newspaper and yearbook) and English 10 College Prep at Gretna High School.

Rick Chramosta

Rick Chramosta has taught industrial arts courses in the Minden Public Schools for the past 11 years. In addition to teaching, Chramosta serves as head basketball coach, assistant varsity football coach, and assists with junior high football and boys track.

Jody Gensler

Jody Gensler has served as a special education teacher at Millard South High School for five years and is the case manager for approximately 20 students each year. Gensler is also part of a team starting a new austism social skills group for Millard Schools called iSee.

Rene Gochenour

Rene Gochenour is a secondary business education teacher for Benson High Magnet School and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Bristol Kelsay

Bristol Kelsay graduated with honors from Peru State in 2006. She has been teaching first grade at Calvert Elementary in Auburn for the past three years and coaches 7th grade volleyball.

Sara Kosmicki

Sara Kosmicki has been a teacher at Lincoln Public Schools for 19 years. She is a professional learning community member and serves as math liaison for her campus.

Shelley Lampe

Shelley Lampe teaches 2nd grade at Bennington Elementary School. She previously taught at Omaha Public Schools for seven years. She has served as a member of the technology committee and the math committee, been involved with first grade parent involvement planning, designed and implemented technology into the curriculum, and completed safe environment training.

Shelby Olson

Shelby Olson has been teaching in the Omaha area for the past nine years. She has been active in improving her school district by developing and piloting criterion-reference tests, building curriculum to support state writing assessments, scoring district and state level writing assessments, piloting developmental (basal and literature-based) reading programs, and unit/curriculum writing in the language arts content area.

Denise Powers

Denise Powers began her career in human resources but decided to pursue her goal of becoming a teacher after 10 years in the field. She has taught at Omaha Central High School for six years where she developed the curriculum for a course titled “Education for Employment,” a popular elective.

Along with the distinction, students are awarded Boxley Scholarships that cover full tuition, fees and books for the entire 19-month online cohort program. PSC’s online cohort program is unique in that it involves a group of students who enroll and progress through the graduate program together, creating a community in which they collaborate on projects and extend their support to one another.

PSC President Dan Hanson said, “The financial benefit of this scholarship cannot be overstated. It can make all the difference for professional educators who want to increase their knowledge and skills by pursuing an advanced degree. I want to congratulate these students on receiving this honor.”

The awards were made possible because of the generosity of PSC alum Mr. Ken Boxley of Beverly Hills, Calif. Boxley is chairman of the Board of the American Asian Association, Inc., a long distance telephone company linking the continental United States with several countries in Asia.

Hanson said, “Mr. Boxley’s generosity and willingness to support continuing education for professional educators is nothing short of inspirational. Ken has said that ‘education is the answer to many, if not most, of the problems this nation faces today. And, the education of teachers is most important.’ We at Peru State College could not agree more, and we are exceedingly grateful for Mr. Boxley’s support of our students.”

For more information on the graduate online cohort program, contact the Office of Graduate Programs at 402-872-2314 or