Professional OpportunitiesNBEA Award Winners


Recognizing Excellence in Business Education

Each year NBEA accepts nominations for outstanding individuals for the following award categories:

Middle School Teacher of the Year [nomination form]
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to business education by a middle school business educator.

Secondary Teacher of the Year [nomination form]
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to business education by a secondary business educator.

Postsecondary Teacher of the Year [nomination form]
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to business education by a postsecondary business educator.

Collegiate or University Teacher of the Year [nomination form]
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to business education by a senior college or university business educator.

Distinguished Service Award for an Administrator or Supervisor [nomination form]
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to business education by an administrator or supervisor of business education.

Distinguished Service Award
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to business education by an institution, organization, business firm, government agency, or individual associated with any of these groups.

For more information about eligibility for this award or to obtain a nomination form, please contact NBEA at 703.860.8300 or



The 2013 NBEA Award winners are:

Patricia Olson
Secondary Teacher of the Year

Patricia Olson from Blair High School in Blair, Nebraska, was named NBEA Secondary Teacher of the Year. Olson was honored for bridging the gap between theory and practice, in effect opening the doors of her classroom to the doors of Main Street, to ensure that her students are well-prepared for the future.

As department chairperson, Olson helped student organizations such as FBLA, DECA, HOSA, Skills USA, and VICA work cooperatively on community service projects. As the business cooperative education coordinator, she partnered with local businesses to arrange career shadowing and other work opportunities to help students become more marketable in the workforce. In 2009, due to these excellent partnerships, the state recognized Blair High School as an outstanding career education program.

Through grants, Olson also secured funding for staff development, for upgrading computers and software, and for enhancing FBLA programs. When her school’s new computer lab was installed, FBLA members contacted the local Chamber of Commerce and showed businesses the benefits of using voice recognition software. This helped local businesses and gave students opportunities to network with business leaders.

Not surprisingly, Olson was well supported in her nomination for Teacher of the Year. One of the most endearing recommendations came from a student who praised Olson’s passion for making students her number-one focus: Oftentimes I see her volunteer her planning period or her morning or afternoon to work around a student’s schedule so she can help them and make sure they are keeping up with the class. … She cheers us on at each one of our 90-plus events every year. I love swapping stories about [her] with parents I babysit for or people I work with, and these stories always end the same way: with them telling me how grateful they are to have had a teacher … who cared so much and who actually prepared them for life beyond high school.

JaderstromKaren May
Postsecondary Teacher of the Year

Karen May from Blinn College (Bryan, Texas) was named NBEA Postsecondary Business Teacher of the Year. She was honored for being a lifelong learner; for being the “go-to” person for educational technology; and for being not only a model teacher but a mentor and trailblazer. Described as intelligent, hardworking, and a tremendous resource, May exemplifies a leadership style that Fast Company founder Bill Taylor said today’s world desperately needs: someone who learns as fast as the world is changing.

In 2000, when the world was anxious about the impending Y2K crisis, May was confidently co-authoring the first textbook on business image and digital multimedia management. The book, published by Cengage Learning and retitled Digital Media, is now in its third printing. The state of Texas adopted it for a high school course and the book now has 60% of the market.

On the heels of the most recent recession, when colleges were facing ever-shrinking budgets, May established two new associate degrees at her college. These degrees—Digital Publishing and Health Information Technology—are reportedly two of the highest-paying two-year degrees in the nation. May also established a two-year certificate program in digital publishing and created an achievement awards initiative for students enrolling in patient care specialist, administrative assistant, and digital publishing programs.

When others are complaining of information overwhelm, May can be found helping colleagues “stretch their brains” and offering personal tech support. “She was the first person I knew to buy a computer,” one colleague wrote in her letter of support for the nomination. “I sat in her living room watching television while she read the computer manual. When I bought my first PC, I handed her my checkbook and told her not to spend too much.”

Another colleague credited May with changing the colleague’s entire teaching style:  With her advice and guidance I began teaching speech communication online. Many thought it could not be done (even I had my doubts!). But one does not know what can be done until you have been taught by the BEST. She is a leader who serves — not a leader who observes.


KylePatricia Arneson
Collegiate Teacher of the Year

Patricia Arneson from Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, was named NBEA Collegiate Business Teacher of the Year. Described as a master educator, Arneson frequently impresses others with her outgoing personality, energy, creativity, and enthusiasm for education. Metaphorically speaking, she has a “green thumb” and “green fingers” when it comes to growing programs—and people.

Under Arneson’s leadership, Wayne State College expanded its educational offerings, including the establishment of a business club and a chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management on campus. The curriculum is now SHRM-accredited and students are able to easily network with HR professionals and corporate leaders. Arneson also founded an all-day-Saturday “Business Invitational” competition. The competition quickly grew from 9 competitive events to 17, from 20 participating schools to 50, and from 100 individual participants to 500. This event is now a major recruiting tool for Wayne State’s business program. At the state level, Arneson was a major influence in merging separate endorsements in business and marketing education into one field endorsement in business, marketing, and information technology. Together, these achievements positioned her university against larger institutions as a leader in teacher education.

As for how Arneson grows people—here’s what the senior advisor to the chancellor said about her: “She embraced and practiced developmental advising long before the approach was in vogue.” Another colleague called her “an excellent model for aspiring new teachers to emulate.” And a former student who became a business educator credited her with his career success. He wrote, She encouraged all her students to become NBEA members and attend state-level business education conferences. I served in numerous leadership positions within our state and regional associations. Without her encouragement, this wouldn’t have happened. More recently I have become the local school district supervisor . . .some of the best hires we make come from her program.

British landscape architect and author Russell Page could just as well have been speaking of Arneson when he wrote these words in his book The Education of a Gardener: “If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. 'Green fingers' are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.”


Priscilla Romkema
Distinguished Service Award for an Administrator

Priscilla Romkema from Black Hills State University, Spearfish, South Dakota, received the NBEA Award for Distinguished Service by an Administrator of Business Education. Romkema was celebrated for her unique and even transformational work as an advocate, spokesperson, and champion of business and business education programs.

Though Romkema’s teaching experience began in the states, it soon took on an international flavor when she accepted a position as an instructor at a Russian institute of entrepreneurship. Later she became a training advisor for an environmental policy and technology project, also in Russia. After taking a brief teaching assignment in the U.S., she served as an office manager in London, England. Then returned to the states, where she was hired as an assistant professor. Tenure and promotions followed. Throughout her career, she has not only served the university but has also been active in—and honored for her contributions to—national and international professional service organizations such as NBEA, ISBE, Delta Pi Epsilon, Phi Beta Kappa, Zonta International, and NABTE.

Colleagues described Romkema as a “dedicated, tireless, and positive leader…with outstanding collaborative skills and a positive ‘can do’ attitude.” She built and enhanced longstanding relationships with the business community in her region and served as president of several key local organizations. Students at her college frequently complete projects on behalf of these local businesses. Romkema’s leadership qualities have led to her playing “a huge part in transforming our School of Business as we seek accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business,” one supporter wrote on her award nomination. Another praised her exceptional people skills and willingness to serve. Still another highlighted Romkema’s sound judgment, wisdom, and ability to balance the big picture with the details requiring immediate attention. “She is guided by a commitment to doing the right thing, rather than what is politically expedient or personally advantageous,” this colleague wrote. “Some serve because of obligation; [she] serves because it is who she is.” All supporters of her nomination noted what an honor it was to serve with such a trusted and respected leader.