Peru, Nebraska – Dr. Robert Ingram, Jr., was honored as the 2022 Nebraska State College System (NSCS) Teaching Excellence Award Winner at the recent Peru State College commencement.

The NSCS Board of Trustees selected Ingram, Jr., an Associate Professor of Education, during the Board of Trustees meeting in April.

“Dr. Ingram is an outstanding educator who is passionate about the success of each student. His dedication to students reflects the core values, mission and vision of Peru State College and the Nebraska State College System,” said NSCS Chancellor Paul Turman. “His dedication and devotion to the field of education serves as an example to those seeking to positively impact students’ lives.”

Each year the NSCS recognizes a faculty member from one of the three State Colleges – Peru, Chadron, and Wayne State - with the Teaching Excellence Award. A nominee from each College is submitted for consideration after being selected as the College-level Teaching Excellence Award recipient. The award recognizes superior teaching and advising, innovative instructional practice, high educational standards, and engaging learning environments that inspire and motivate students.

Ingram’s nomination included several letters of support, including these highlighted quotes: 

“Dr. Ingram truly makes a positive impact on each teacher candidate in the education program. He is caring, knowledgeable, positive, understanding, hard-working, and helpful. Dr. Ingram is someone I look up to as a future educator. He inspires me with not only the depth of his knowledge but also the way in which he advocates for each of his teacher candidates. Dr. Ingram has played an extremely important role in my educational journey, and I can only hope to impact my future students the way he has impacted me,” said Amanda Anderson, an education student at Peru State.

“Dr. Ingram has devoted his career to building relationships that are meaningful and rewarding, starting with his own students, and working outward to the Peru State community, to school districts in the region, and beyond to create opportunities that benefit everyone involved. He has touched the lives of hundreds of teacher candidates who are now teachers themselves, and who are carrying his example forward into classrooms of their own,” said Dr. Michael Evans, President of Peru State College.

“Teaching excellence, to Dr. Ingram, is lived out in so many more ways than through classroom instruction. While his instruction is strong, his knowledge, skills, and dispositions in education are exceptional as well and they show far beyond the four walls of the classroom,” said Dr. Kelly Kingsley, Associate Professor of Education at Peru State College. “He takes great pride in being able to reach every student and to help them be successful.”

Ingram earned his Ed.D. in educational administration and supervision, masters in learning disabilities, and bachelors in elementary education and special education from the University of Nebraska – Omaha. He began his education career in 1980, in the Bellevue Public School District, in Bellevue, Neb. He taught third and fifth grade for a total of 13 years and led several elementary schools as a school administrator for an additional 22 years.

In 2015, Ingram joined the Peru State faculty where he teaches undergraduate elementary methods courses and graduate level courses. He serves the educational community through committee work with the Nebraska Department of Education, the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society as a member and counselor, as a member of the International Literacy Association, the Peru State College Optimist International Inc as a faculty advisor, and a member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

During his acceptance speech at Peru State College’s commencement in May, Ingram was quick to thank many who have helped him along his educational journey. His talk in its entirety follows:

“My heart is overflowing with gratitude, and I would like to share a few words from a song I grew up listening to and singing. This song has always been a cornerstone for me in my journey in serving others. Listen to these words, “We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord. Trusting in His Holy name, He’s never failed me yet.” These words have special meaning to me as I have navigated over forty years of celebrations and challenges in teaching. One might ask, “Why would anyone want to teach for over forty years?” Just ask me and I’ll be happy to tell you, “I love it.” You see when you discover your purpose, your “Why”, the passion and purpose is demonstrated in your actions as you jump out of bed to get to it, as that enjoyment of doing fuels your curiosity to learn more, experiment, fall flat on your face, get up and try it in a different way, talk to a colleague, attend professional development, and just grow. That’s teaching for me. That’s my “Why.”

“Chancellor Turman and the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees, I thank you for trusting me to represent excellence in teaching by bestowing this Excellence in Teaching Award to me this year. I am moved by one statement I recall from the communication I received notifying me of this award. It went something like this, “The Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees and I were impressed by the many ways you help students succeed at Peru State College.” My goal in coming to Peru State College continues to be to elevate the lives of our students through the transformation everyone on this campus takes pride in accomplishing with one student and with one action at a time. This transformative goal is ever present in my thoughts. I borrow a quote from Nelson Mandela reminding me about saying I plan to do something and showing I mean it by doing something. Listen to this wisdom shared long ago. “Rhetoric is not important. Actions are.” I believe that as we work collectively to transform the lives of students, the administration, faculty, and staff at Peru State College embrace this goal exceptionally by the actions they demonstrate towards our scholars.

“President Evans and the Peru State College 2022 Teaching Excellence Award Committee, thank you for recognizing my work as an educator. I take pride in a job well done and I am encouraged by this moment in my life. My encouragement comes from the graduates we celebrate today knowing that all in this place have poured so much into each and every student. Knowing that as they leave Peru State College, these students will be exemplary problem-solvers and critical thinkers destined to leave their mark on the world. I appreciate your work in your first year at Peru State College in continuing the tradition of preparing students to be leaders in their respective fields of study. Your leadership and vision for Peru State College support my work and the work of all my colleagues in the challenge of doing the job better. You trust us knowing that we all play an important role in this work. The load is too heavy for any one of us, yet you demonstrate your belief in collaboration and team building to achieve great outcomes for students. I borrow a quote from The Dalai Lama who was asked, “What is our purpose here on earth?”  His response was simple, yet profound. “To help one another.” Isn’t that big? His message continues by asking a question that if we all understand that our purpose is to help others, wouldn’t that change humanity? I believe that the team at Peru State College understands and embraces our purpose as advocates for learners.

“Dean Chism and Colleagues-I realize I am blessed to receive these honors. I am truly encouraged by the realization that I work with a great group of dedicated, caring, student-centered individuals. I’ve grown exponentially from the collaborative opportunities we’ve shared, and I thank you for pushing me professionally to improve my abilities in teaching. I have watched several of you teach to gain strategies that are successful with college students, participated in deep discussions for planning instruction and assessment, borrowed material, and have found your friendship just what is needed on a tough teaching day, and I thank you for your love of teaching and collaboration in serving our students. May I share a quick story about a conversation I had with a student recently? I learned that this student hesitated to speak to his instructor, yet he and a few classmates needed clarification on an assignment. He was pleased to share the fact that he found the courage to go to his instructor and ask for assistance and to his delight, his need was met with forty-five minutes of explanation and guidance. I am so proud to share this story because the student reiterated his belief that the size of our college permitted him to find his voice and ask for help. The part of this story that means the most to me is that I hear this message time and time again. Hearing it seals the deal for me. I know that teaching excellence is demonstrated across this campus and this student is correct, you make the difference. Dr. Martin Luther King shared a thought regarding doing what is right. It goes something like this, “The Time is Always Right to do What is Right.” I am pleased to report your commitment demonstrates you know what time it is.

“Family-I want to pay tribute to my mom, my wife, our daughter, and my sisters, who have all come to witness this celebration. I thank each of you for understanding my love for serving others through teaching and for your unconditional love and support. There is so much to say about a mom and dad who poured so much love, discipline, encouragement, and trust into nine children encouraging each to go to college and dream beyond the walls of high school. Reading, writing, asking questions and researching were common activities around mom’s dining room table. We didn’t get to come home and watch cartoons immediately afterschool. If you didn’t have homework, dad would say, “That’s okay. Bring the newspaper and an encyclopedia to me. We can find something for you to do.” Believe me. You quickly learned to bring a book from class to review a lesson or go ahead and practice a skill coming soon. I appreciate those life lessons today and know that those were the beginnings of my love of reading and teaching. You see my parents were my first and best teachers. Mom, I thank you for recognizing the gifts each of your children possessed and for grooming each of us to be the best at using the gifts given to us by God.

“Students- It has been an honor to see many of you grow personally and professionally while pursuing your goals here at Peru State College. I am so proud to be present today to pose this question to you. “Now what?” Please reflect on your journey as you have completed school in the midst of a pandemic. No doubt there was disruption. No doubt there was added stress. No doubt there was uncertainty. Despite these challenges, or more accurately because of them, you are stronger. You persevered. The transitions you have made, your resiliency, the effort you have put forth to be at the top of your game has been noticed. I thank you for the opportunity to serve you as a professor of education at Peru State College and pray the impact of the faculty and staff’s efforts to prepare you to go out and change the world fuels your drive to question, change, reflect, challenge, and continue your quest to make the world a better place. I will leave you with a challenge from the late American politician and Civil Rights Activist, John Lewis, “Go out and Get into Good Trouble.”

Ingram resides in Bellevue with his wife Cizette. He is the father of two adult children and the grandfather of one child.

Peru State has had back-to-back winners of the system-wide award as Dr. Gul Ahmad was the 2021 Teaching Excellence Award recipient.

The Peru State College Foundation provides a financial stipend for the College’s Teaching Excellence Award winners. The Foundation is a self-supporting and independently governed corporation established solely for the benefit of Peru State College and its students, faculty, staff, and programs.