BURWELL - Burwell English teacher and head volleyball coach Megan McNeil Helberg is the Nebraska Dept of Education's 2019-20 Teacher of the Year. The Chadron State College graduate has taught at Burwell for 10 years.

As the Nebraska Teacher of the Year, Helberg will visit Washington, DC, for a week in April to attend the National Teacher of the Year presentation and to visit various members of government. Later trips will include a conference at Princeton, touring Google headquarters in California, and attending the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

Helberg says being named Teacher of the Year is "quite humbling and exciting," adding that she's "ready to fully embrace the opportunities and adventures that come with this honor, all while representing the Good Life of Nebraska."

She's also thrilled that her selection brings the spotlight on rural Nebraska and rural schools, saying we may be small, but we are mighty (as) wonderful teachers and students exist all across our great state."

This isn't the first honor for Helberg, who was selected in 2016 as a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow. She has since coordinated workshops and presented sessions for 6th-12th-grade English and Social Studies teachers.

Helberg is a second-generation Nebraska Teacher of the Year as her mother, Susan McNeil, received the award in 1995. Also a CSC graduate, McNeil went on to become principal and superintendent at Anselmo-Merna. In retirement, she's still a substitute teacher for several districts.

McNeil also attended Space Camp, which helped drive a life-long interest in space for her daughter. Helberg says she "thought it was so neat when my mom came back with her space suit. Even on family vacations, we've visited launch sites."

Helberg is an unofficial ambassador for Chadron State, where she competed in track for 2 years and volleyball for one, and where she met her husband Dan - then a graduate student and now an English teacher in Ansley.

Helberg says CSC was a wonderful fit for her with a community that was "so supportive of the college" and always made her feel very supported and safe at an important time in life for "finding your niche."