Tammy Schindler of Creighton was awarded the Gerald S. Oswald Outstanding Service Award last week in Norfolk.
The award, presented during the annual convention of the Nebraska Speech, Communications and Theater Association at Divots Convention Center last Friday, recognizes speech teachers who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the discipline of speech communication. The award is reserved for those persons retiring, leaving the state or changing assignments.
The award is named after Gerald Oswald, a longtime speech coach at Loup City, who promoted speech activities as they are known today, especially during the early years of speech competition within Nebraska School Activities Association (1970s).
Schindler continues to teach high school English classes at Plainview High School, but retired from coaching speech after 29 years.
She was a member of NSCTA for those 29 years, serving a two-year term as president and attending the annual convention nearly every year.
After giving up her speech duties - and having no idea she was to receive an award - she had decided to forego the convention this year.
When Peggy Belt, Norfolk High School speech teacher, NSCTA board member and award nominator, was informed Schindler wasn’t planning to attend the convention, she took the award presentation to Plainview.
As parent-teacher conference wrapped up about noon Friday, Sept. 21, one week prior to the convention, Plainview’s superintendent called the teachers to a meeting, “to debrief.”
A surprise was in store for Schinder. Belt was there to present the award in front of Schindler’s fellow teachers.
At the urging of her colleagues, she reconsidered the decision not to attend the convention and, accompanied by her husband, Steve Schindler, and her parents, Ron and Sharon Busch of Creighton, she was presented the award for the second time.
While serving as president of the organization, Schindler changed the way speech judges are trained. Judging speech can be subjective - a judge’s personal preference on style can play into results. The training she implemented leveled the playing field, giving judges concrete definitions and examples of what makes a performance a good performance.
“It was because of her diligence and dedication that the team of presenters was formed, worked together to develop the curriculum, and presented workshops in a variety of locations throughout the state,” wrote Matt Heimes in a letter supporting her nomination. “She put together a committee of retired coaches to do Level 2 training - one that was an enormous success.”
Heimes, a speech coach at Lincoln Southwest High School, is executive secretary of the NSCTA board.
Belt submitted the nomination. She wrote, “Under her tutelage, she helped countless young adults bring home mounds of golden trophies and medals... As an educator and coach, she not only served her students and team members, but more importantly, she was a tireless volunteer and mentor who graciously served her forensics community.
“I was honored and humbled to have her pass the gavel to me, and I tried my best to live up to her standard of selfless service and professionalism. Not only was she a tremendous leader for NSCTA, she was instrumental in spearheading statewide judges training which is now conducted by the NSAA. She may have retired from coaching, but ...her impact as a coach and educator will continue to shine through each of us and we embrace a new year of kindling that magic within our own students.”
Michele Mosel, a fellow Plainview teacher, wrote in a letter of recommendation: “Schindler’s dedication to speech began her first year of teaching...She took on one acts and speech without hesitation. Both programs at Plainview were hurting and taking them on was no easy task...Tammy had only two students on the speech team that year...By the end of her first season as head coach, she had her first state champion - and the Schindler era of Plainview speech began.”
Mosel joined the teaching staff at Plainview in 1991 as assistant speech coach.
“She taught me to be ethical even if it means not winning,” Mosel said.
Schindler’s nomination was also endorsed by Debra Velder, associate director of the NSAA.
Schindler earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Wayne State College and has spent her entire teaching career at Plainview.
She hopes the break from coaching will give her more time to spend with her two grandchildren, three-year-old Sawyer and one-year-old Ella, children of her oldest son, Skyler and his wife, Laura, of Elkhorn.
The Schindlers are also parents to Nick, who resides in Oregon, and Beau, a senior at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
All three sons graduated from Creighton High School.