Three Concordia University, Nebraska alumni recognized by Lutheran Education Association

Published by Amy Crawford 1 month ago on Fri, Mar 1, 2024 8:03 AM

Concordia University, Nebraska today announced that three university alumni have been recognized by the Lutheran Education Association (LEA). Annie (Hinck) Ziegelbein ’08 was recently awarded the organization’s 2024 Distinguished Lutheran Elementary Teacher Award. Nicholle (Harstad) Blomenberg ‘21 was recently awarded the organization’s 2024 Outstanding New Lutheran Early Childhood Teacher Award. Joshua Rempfer ’01 was recently awarded the organization’s Esther Award for dedication leadership and perseverance on behalf of education in times of trial and tragedy. The Lutheran Education Association is an international, professional organization that links, equips, and affirms educators in Lutheran ministries. 

“We very pleased to join LEA in recognizing the gifts that Joshua, Annie and Nicholle are to their students, schools, congregations, and communities. We thank God for the opportunities with which He has blessed these educators to serve and lead in their specific contexts,” said Dr. Lorinda Sankey, dean of the Concordia Nebraska College of Education. “Joshua, Annie and Nicholle exemplify the Concordia Nebraska experience and how it prepares men and women for challenges and blessings throughout their lives.” 

Annie Ziegelbein: A 16-year veteran in Lutheran education, Ziegelbein is a fifth grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School, Jefferson City, Missouri. She has also served in Morton, Illinois. Ziegelbein earned a bachelor of education from Concordia University, Nebraska and a masters of curriculum and instruction from William Woods University.  

“Some of my greatest joys in working with students come from those moments of clarity, engagement, and excitement from students throughout the learning process. I love helping students work through challenging concepts and watching their confidence build as they practice the skills being taught,” she said. “However, my ultimate joy comes in being able to build meaningful relationships with my students which allows me to share Jesus' love with them each and every day. I am thankful to be able to engage in meaningful conversations in our devotions, class studies, or in the teachable moments throughout the day. My greatest challenge as a school teacher in Lutheran ministry is not having enough hours in the day to serve in all the capacities in which I would like to serve.” 

Nicholle Blomenberg: Blomenberg is in her second year of teaching K-1 as an Ignite (multi-aged, individualized learning) Teacher at Concordia Lutheran Schools in Omaha, Nebraska. Blomenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with an endorsement in English as a Second Language, from Concordia University, Nebraska. 

“Witnessing the transformation of my students as they take ownership of their learning journey is immensely gratifying. The joy lies in the realization that they have the ability to push themselves academically and emotionally, embracing the thrill of discovery every day,” she said. “Another profound joy is the opportunity to share the gospel message by fostering an environment where all questions are welcome and safe. In exploring how God desires us to love one another, we create a space of understanding and compassion. These moments of spiritual and intellectual growth create the joy I find in my role as an educator.” 

Joshua Rempfer: Rempfer serves as principal at Emmanuel Lutheran School in Kahului, Hawaii (island of Maui). He is a graduate of Concordia University, Nebraska, and earned his master’s in education specializing in math from the University of Utah. He also has a master of arts in leadership from Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, Utah. He has served at Emmanuel since 2017. 

Last year, Maui was devastated by fires, and Rempfer was a leader in helping to provide relief not only to school families affected, but also to the Lahaina community as he and others at Emmanuel became the conduit for local, district and synod-wide relief efforts. Shortly after the fires devastated Lahaina, Emmanuel started communicating with families affected by the fires. They provided meals for first responders, and still provide meals to local sports teams in Lahaina. To date, more than 200 truckloads of materials and food have been delivered from Emmanuel. Rempfer also reached out to church, school, and community members to collect gift cards and donations of needed goods for people in Lahaina. He then organized groups to deliver the goods and materials. Emmanuel also became the connection point to distribute relief funds coming in from across the United States. To date, around $800,000 has been collected to benefit effected families. 

“The formation of church workers and of all those who enter their various vocations from Concordia Nebraska is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is empowered by the Great Commission when Jesus told His disciples - and tells us - to go, teach, baptize, and promises to be with us as we do,” added Sankey. “By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, Joshua, Annie, Nicholle and thousands of Concordia Nebraska alumni are moving forward with the Gospel in action throughout their everyday lives. Thank you to LEA for faithfully recognizing servants such as these in glory to God and in service to neighbor.”

Are you interested in learning more about how Concordia Nebraska prepares teachers to serve and lead from a foundation of faith? Discover more here