LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Mark Ortmeier

Position: Science / Physical Education Teacher
School: Centennial Junior High School
School District: Centennial Public Schools
City, State: Utica, NE

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Mark Ortmeier was nominated by his colleague, Evan Klanecky

When Klanecky heard about the LifeChanger of the Year program, Mr. Ortmeier was the first person that came to his mind. Klanecky has had the privilege of teaching and coaching with Mr. Ortmeier for eight years, and believes that there is no one more deserving than him. Mr. Ortmeier, also known as "Mr. O," is always willing to sacrifice the least resistant path to help someone else.

"In the lives of his students, Mr. O has the most consistent mindset that I have ever seen," Klanecky said. "Students know that they are going to have to work hard, but at the same time they trust that he will take care of them and know that he has their best interest at heart."

Through teaching and coaching, Mr. Ortmeier has worked with every age group at Centennial Junior High School, making a difference at every age. No matter where he is, he always brings a positive vibe and a worker's mentality. Having coached track with him for eight years, Klanecky knows this very well.

"There are days when I am tired or frustrated, but Mr. Ortmeier is always there to pick me up, along with everybody else," Klanecky said. "This man works tirelessly to lead what ever aspect of Centennial he is involved in, and truly treats a janitor the same way he treats a superintendent."   

Mr. Ortmerier works well with the community and is actively involved in running Christian youth groups with young students after a long day. He has a flawless record of doing the right thing for over 30 years, and that type of experience and knowledge is contagious.

"Mr. O is a great teacher and coach," Klanecky said. "He is an ever better person, and I hold him in my highest regards and value the experiences that I get to share with him. I feel very strongly that he will be at the top of the list, and would love nothing more than to see a person like this, who never has in my years with him, ever asked for anything from anyone."

Comments (93)

Tracie Wehrbein Posted over a year ago

Mr. Ortmeier is a great role model. His son taught with me at Lewiston. This connection allowed us the privilege to tap his extensive knowledge. He was willing to drive down to help with our basketball team. He even gave advice to my daughter to help her career. Even though his son is elsewhere teaching, he still asks how she is doing and very supportive of her. This gentleman is very deserving of this award!

Donna Richards Posted over a year ago

I will agree with Mr. Klanecky - Mr O is always ready & eager to help someone out. When my late husband was ill, he was always there to lend a helping hand - mowing the lawn, fixing something & just there to visit with my husband. He is very good with the students at Centennial & teaching our high school students at our church. Just never seems to tire in assisting others. Always a smile & real concern about "how you doing".

Katie Keasling Posted over a year ago

Coach O is an extraordinary person in many ways. His demeanor is always uplifting, he has expectations that he is willing to help others achieve. He’s the best coach and teacher out there, all athletes or students would be blessed to have Coach O play a part in their life.

Brooke Posted over a year ago

Coach O truly is amazing. He has a great work ethic, loves his family and genuinely cared about his students and players as people. He wanted the best for all of us and encouraged us to be our best both on and off the court. My basketball days wouldn’t have been the same if it hadn’t been for Coach O.

Doug Nielsen Posted over a year ago

Mark is completely devoted to helping people!!! He wants everyone around him to be successful! !

Shannon Henry Posted over a year ago

Mark encompasses everything you imagine a teacher to be... he is kind, patient, caring and has a great sense of humor. He treats student and colleagues with respect and is always will to go above and beyond to help. Very deserving iofnrhis nomination!!

Brittni Peltz Posted over a year ago

Mr. Ortmeier is so deserving of this award! I have never seen someone who can relate to students and build relationships with every single student he has contact with quite like Mr. O. What’s special about the relationships he builds is that they are effortless for him- it comes so natural! I taught with Mr. O, coached junior high track with him, and also became his instructional coach. In each setting, he always showed a positive attitude in every aspect of what he did. He was an incredible mentor to me as a track coach. We worked so well together and had so much fun! When I became the instructional coach, he challenged himself to continue to grow and improve as a teacher and always showed me respect, despite the fact he has been in education much longer than I have. He is the epitome of “being there for the right reason” and “putting others before himself!” I am a better person because of working with Mark.

Leah Pankoke Posted over a year ago

Mr. O is a great teacher and a great Colleague. He is very deserving of the title Life Changer of the Year. His positive support and encouragement for everyone are what makes him special. He is a great role model for both students and staff. My stepson, Chase, had Mr. O for Kindergarten PE and every time we would see Mr. O out and about in town Chase's face would light up! Thank you for being you, Mr. O and congratulations on being nominated for this very deserving honor.

Emily Petersen Posted over a year ago

Mr. O absolutely deserves the title of life changer of the year. I have now taught at Centennial with Mr. O for two and a half years. Mr. O always knows just how to pick a person up when they are feeling down, both for students and staff alike. When you are having a rough day, Mr. O's positivity will get you out of any negative head space you might be in. He inspires his coworkers and students to be the best they can be without even having to say so. On any given day, Mr. O can be found strolling down the hallway with a big smile on his face making sure to personally greet each and every person he sees. He is the kind of person you want to be around because he is always good for a pat on the back, a good laugh, advice, and even a little constructive criticism, when you need it. The way he cares for and interacts with students and staff is something that cannot be taught. He is genuine, upbeat, and no doubt has changed countless lives for the better.

Dianne Bush Posted over a year ago

Mr. O treats everyone with respect. I work in the kitchen and he always has a smile and something nice to say. I have the oppurtunity to attend the same church as him and outside of school he still has a smile and a hello to everyone.

Alexus Skelton Posted over a year ago

Mr. O is an amazing teacher. He always knows how to make things fun. For a few years he was my science teacher. Mr. O really knows how to brighten up someone's day you don't even have to be a part of his class. Everyday someone learns something new from him.

Ben Rickert Posted over a year ago

I have been fortunate enough to coach and teach alongside Mr. O for the last 11 years. I was a rookie teacher when I first started teaching at Centennial and Mr. O was my mentoring teacher. I relied upon him a lot that first year, and he has never stopped mentoring me. I value every minute I get to spend with him and try to absorb everything I can from his interactions with kids. I learn something from him every day about how to teach, interact with students, coach, and be positive. He amazes me with his positive energy and love for his job and his students. He challenges me to be a better teacher and person. There is no one more deserving of recognition than him.

Marilyn Crawford Posted over a year ago

Mr. O" is one of the most amazing teachers I've ever known. I worked as a Para at Centennial for 18 years and worked in the special ed department. Some days were very challenging but he always had a way to make your day better. He believed in every student, no matter what their learning ability was and had a way to help each and everyone of them excel and see their excitement when they did. He never knows a stranger and is friends to everyone. When I walk into the school now I always know he will be happy to see you and to always speak. A great man all the way around!! He has earned the crown of life and will be rewarded. He is so deserving of this award!!

Tyler Colvin Posted over a year ago

I was fortunate enough to have Mr. O as a teacher, a coach, and even a co-worker (I painted houses with him, my dad, and a couple other teachers in the summers). Coach O truly is a great teacher and person. He is one of the reasons why I got into education and coaching. He is a great role model and someone that I have looked up to for many years. His passion, enthusiasm, and drive to help young people is truly remarkable. I feel very blessed to have had him play such an important role in my own personal development.

Carson Richters Posted over a year ago

I was taught science by Mr. O for 3 years and he was the most influential teacher I have ever had. There is no doubt that he’ll make you smile. Not only in the classroom, but on the track. He coached me for 2 years and let me tell you, it was hard. He pushed us for a good hour and a half, but he made them fun and it brought out the best in you. He makes no one person superior and brongs joy to everyone’s heart. Mr. O is THE man!

Carson Richters Posted over a year ago


Gina Kotas Posted over a year ago

I had the great opportunity to coach at Centennial with Coach O when I was in college. He was an awesome mentor for me as I was growing and learning as a basketball coach and person. I loved the passion he brought on a daily basis and his continuous drive to always be better. He taught me how to handle difficult situations as a coach and taught me a lot about the game in general. I am very thankful that I was able to have him in my life and appreciate everything he did for me and will continue to do. No one is more deserving of this award!!

William Lavelle Posted over a year ago

Mr O. is great! He always has fun classroom activities that make you learn, even when you don't try to. Let's make Mr. O. the Life Changer of the Year!

Anne Harley Posted over a year ago

I am new to the Centennial staff. When I came on board, Mr. O was the most welcoming colleague I came in contact with, even though we work in completely separate areas. Before I was even hired (just taking a tour), he took time to show me around his new science room -- so proud! From Day 1, he has greeted me by name with a smile. I know how that makes me feel as an adult, so I can only imagine how that makes students feel. I am the curriculum coordinator for the district. Most teachers are not super excited about standards and data, but Mr. O is genuinely interested in these things as he understands the impact it makes on teaching and learning. He is passionate about his students' results so he can work with them to set goals for improvement. He is so enthusiastic about science standards and upcoming changes -- he takes ownership and accountability in what these mean to his instruction. I absolutely love the high expectations he sets for himself; therefore setting high expectations for his students. Mr. O has a real gift in making connections with all stakeholders. We are blessed to have him here at Centennial!

Jackson Hirschfeld Posted over a year ago

Coach O has been a positive impact in my life ever since the day I met him. He has always been in my corner and he is somebody that I can count on to have my back whenever I need it. He is one of the best motivators that I have ever met. He is always very positive and can encourage anyone and make someone's day better. I always enjoy seeing him in the hallways with his positive encouragement.

Dana Chrisman Posted over a year ago

Me. O!! I agree with the all the comments! He does an awesome job working with all kids K-12. He makes connections with students and leads them with excellent character.

Barb Barth Posted over a year ago

I taught with Mark for several years before I retired. Not only did I observe his special way with students at school, but was witness to his friendly manner and willingness to help anyone he came in contact with in our small community. Mark is a treasure- totally committed to educating our youth and providing them unconditional support both in school and out.

Kaylee Posted over a year ago

Mr. O is amazing! I was lucky enough to have him as my kindergarten PE teacher all the way up till 7th and 8th grade when he became my science teacher. In 9th grade he helped coach my freshman basketball team and then my junior and senior year he came back into my life as a teacher and mentor through my church. He has made a MAJOR impact in my life and he really deserves this award. AMAZING MAN!

Kathy Posted over a year ago

Life Changers: “They are the ones who bring meaning to our lives, who happen to inspire, who spark a fire that we carry with us for the rest of our days, who are but pillars of hope and sometimes sacrifice. They are people we meet who have but little roles to play in our lives, who happen to be no more than a special appearance to our story but have a lasting impact on our lives.” When I googled “life changer” on the internet, this is what it said, the only thing missing was Mark’s picture because THIS IS Mark Ortmeier. I have had the honor of knowing Mark Ortmeier (or Mr. O or Coach O as some people like to call him) for 32 years. From the first moment I met him, I knew he was a life changer. It’s a little hard to put into words why he is such a life changer, it’s not like he comes swooping in with a super hero cape draped around him to save the day . . . that’s not what happens, he changes your life and he doesn’t even know he is doing it. He changes lives in adults and kids by choosing to make a difference simply by living a life that pushes someone else to be better person -- he leads by example every day. I work with Mark to teach our High School Religion Class (also known as CCD) to our Catholic Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors in our community -- he likes to refer to them as young adults instead of high school kids, he prepares them for a life of Spirituality without adult supervision -- I have heard him say “YOU have the choice to do the right thing, YOU have the choice to treat people with respect and sometimes the choice to do the right thing is not always the most popular amongst your peers, but do it anyway”, this is how Mark lives his life on a daily basis. I have never witnessed Mark teaching a class in his classroom, but what I can tell you about is the preparation he puts into teaching his class, he is always prepared for his students -- he truly wants to see each of them succeed, no matter what skill level they are. He has told me (throughout our 32 years of knowing each other) that each child has a different way learning and he makes sure he is aware of this and accommodates to each child’s needs. He has spent countless hours in the evenings and at the school on Sunday afternoons making sure he is ready for the week. He loves teaching, he loves making a difference and I know his heart hurts for a child or young adult when they are struggling whether it be in the classroom or in their personal lives, he tries to help whenever he can -- sometimes that is just by making sure they know he cares. Coaching: This is one thing that I have seen him do a lot, it truly is his passion. He pushes his student athletes hard but he does it with respect and encouragement. He gives everything he has when he is coaching and has fun while he is doing it, he understands that fun is needed if a person is to learn. I have seen him show compassion with a player after a hard fought game that resulted in a loss because of a missed free throw that could have won a game, he could have been mad but his heart went to the feelings of the player instead. Why should Mark be recognized for this award? Simple . . . he leads by example! He respects others, he has a positive attitude towards his work and students, he understands how to push hard for excellence but has compassion when needed. He changes lives by who he is on a daily basis, kids and adults learn from his behavior and in turn grow into leaders, they grow into life changers. It’s not always about a big life changing event, sometimes it just by doing the little things each day as Mark does, sometimes you never know how you are changing a life, and sometimes it is just by pushing kids to reach their full potential while bringing a smile and a positive attitude into the classroom and to the entire school.

Hunter Posted over a year ago

Mr.O has changed my life for the better. I used to never like science but because of him and how he teaches makes me want to do more stuff with him and science. He makes class fun and productive. He is a very understanding teacher. He is the GOAT. Keep it up Mr. O

Molly Warm Posted over a year ago

Mr. O truly makes a difference in the lives of all children. He makes connections with kids even if they aren't in his classroom. He makes all students feel important because he always talks to them wherever they are at. He visits with everyone and always has a smile on his face. He is happy and puts a great perspective on life, no matter what the situation is. Mr. O is an upbeat, happy go lucky person who could turn anyone's day around.He is definitely is a life changer.

Jody Wiemer Posted over a year ago

Someone once asked, "What do great teachers make?"...a salary good enough to support a family? Maybe. That is not why Mr. O. became a teacher. Mark Ortmeier became a teacher to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. He does that every single day. He truly loves what he does. He is willing to take risks and motivates others to step out of their comfort zone and achieve more than they might have believed they could accomplish. Mr. O. taught my Kindergarten students P.E. for many years. They LOVED and RESPECTED this man. He was the male role-model that these children looked up to (literally...he is VERY TALL!) every day. Mr. O. is absolutely a LIFE CHANGER!

Phil Payne Posted over a year ago

Mr. O has been a consistent and positive force in lives of the students at Centennial and for the people of our community for many years. He is a great teacher, coach and mentor. I have had the privilege of working with him in the junior high for ten years. He also impacts lives outside of the school by teaching CCD. Mr. O has helped me when I have needed guidance and I am proud to call him a colleague. I can't think of anyone else who deserves the award more.

JARRETT FOWLER Posted over a year ago

Mr. O loves kids. He is a teacher with a passion for working with kids. He enjoys teaching them new things and giving them wonderful educational opportunities. He is always positive and looks to build up students whether they are having a good day or not. He is the definition of an outstanding teacher!

Craig Barjenbruch Posted over a year ago

Mr. Ortmeier is the best teacher, coach, and mentor that I have ever been associated with. I have never been around someone who is consistently positive and consistently caring for everyone else around him before he even thinks of himself. He has changed more lives than I can even begin to fathom. He cares for all of his students, but has incredibly high expectations that force each student to become a better person and student than they could have ever imagined. He works to get to know every student on an individual basis and he knows exactly what each student needs to be pushed to be their best and have their life changed in a positive way. Mark Ortmeier defines the words "life changer" and if there were pictures in the dictionary his picture would be right next to the words "life changer!"

Kelly Heser Posted over a year ago

No matter how long someone has been in education, there is always need to evolve in every aspect of teaching. Mark is a leader amongst his peers as trusted and reliable source of common sense approaches and clear minded directions. For the kids, there is not a better junior high science teacher and coach. He leads by example and all of our kids know they will be challenged to exceed their goals while learning in a fun and enlightening environment. I truly hope, Mark will never retire!

Coach K Posted over a year ago

These comments about Mr. O speak for themselves and shows how many lives that he has truly impacted. Thanks for everything, your the man!

Reiden Posted over a year ago

Mr O is the goat of all time ball don’t lie

Carson Posted over a year ago


Kathy Posted over a year ago

Mark Ortmeier is simply one of he best teachers I have known in my 47 years in education. Mark cares for absolutely everyone - students, athletes, support staff and teachers. His life is an example to all educators and students -- professional, caring, prepared and involved in church and community. Mark will always go above and beyond to see that everyone has what it takes to learn and be successful.

Morgan Steckly Posted over a year ago

Mr. O has changed so many young lives. He is a friend to all of the students. When I had him as a teacher, his class was my favorite because his energy and positive attitude was contagious. He helps in as many ways as possible for you to be your best. I like to think o Mr. O as a cell, (which he also taught us about) he has this positive attitude that divides through the whole school. I believe that Mr. O deserves this award for the many lives he has impacted.

RaNay Kratochvil Posted over a year ago

Mr. O is definitely a Life Changer! He is always positive and so friendly. He coached my grandchildren in JH track and football and was one of their favorite coaches along with a great sense of humor and personality. Thank You Mr. O for being such a great role model for all the kids!

Amy Hottovy Posted over a year ago

Think of an important role a teacher plays in a school, and I promise Mr. O has exceeded all expectations for that role. He is an educator, a friend, a motivator, a coach, a voice of reason, an advocate for ALL students, a true champion in & out of the classroom, and a true believer in the power of learning. Every student in our school knows that Mr. O is genuinely interested in not only their educational success but also their personal growth. Every day he makes me want to be a better person and a better teacher. No one else deserves this award more than him.

Colin Bargen Posted over a year ago

I have had the privilege of working with Mr. O in many capacities for the past 10 years as his principal and as a parent, he has taught all three of my kids. I still remember the first time that I met Mr. O. I had just been hired at principal at Centennial but was finishing up the school year as the AD at my previous school. We happened to be hosting the conference junior high track meet and Mr. O and his track team were participants. I remember him hollering "Hey boss" from across the track and coming up to introduce himself and visit. Mr. O has a way of making anyone he talks to feel at ease and like they are the most important person in the room. Mr. O has a positivity and enthusiasm about him that is contagious to all that he encounters. Whether Mr. O is a member of the school improvement team looking at data, working with the science department on curriculum alignment, teaching in the classroom, or coaching our student-athletes, Mr. O's positive attitude and level of effort is the same. No matter the task at hand, Mr. O brings his best and makes those around him better. I hold Mr. O in very high regard and in all of my 20 years in education, I can't think of anyone that I've encountered that would be more deserving of this recognition. He truly is all that is right with public education and is, and always has been, in the business for the right reasons. To have a positive impact on his students and help them reach their potential!

Katrina Zekulin Posted over a year ago


Morgan Sunday Posted over a year ago

I transffered to centennial in 7th grade and ever since then Mr.O has impacted my life a lot. He always pushes me to be the best me possible and when I'm down he always picked me back up. He is a very positive person and really has an impacted on everyone he meets. I couldn't think of a better person that deserves this award!!

Ascha Utter Posted over a year ago

While I never had the chance for Mr. O to be my teacher, I have had him as a coach during this 2017-2018 basketball season. He is an incredible person and coach and is always pushing everyone around him to be better in everything they do. He is always giving me feedback on how well I did or how I can improve. He takes time out of his busy life to work with you when you need help and he’s always there if you have a question or need to talk. Throughout basketball, he has reminded us players of how much he cares about us and wants us to succeed. He tells us that no matter what role we play we are all important and our team wouldn’t be what it is without each and every individual. We all know he believes in us and he is constantly telling us that he is proud of us and the work we put into basketball. One of my favorite things about Coach O is that he tells as what we are capable and then does everything in his power to get us there. Not only does he want us to be great basketball players, but he wants us to be great people as well and he leads a great example. He is encouraging, hardworking, thoughtful, and most definitely a LifeChanger.

Erika Cast Posted over a year ago

Mr. O has played such a great part in my life not only as a teacher but as a coach. He always pushes me in the class room and in sports. He also has such a strong faith that he spreads throughout the community. If I am having a hard day, Mr. O always makes my day better with his positive and funny personality. Mr. O is very deserving of this award because he always exspects the best out of us students and is always there for us.

Molly Maronde Posted over a year ago

Coach O makes every single student feel important and cared for. I’ve never met a person who is more positive and passionate than Mr. O. He truly makes a positive difference in every life he touches!! He is very deserving of this reward.

Rachel Hoffschneidee Posted over a year ago

Mr. O is a great teacher/coach. He is always positive and willing to help anyone with anything.

Molly Maronde Posted over a year ago

Coach O makes every single student feel important and cared for. I’ve never met a person who is more positive and passionate than Mr. O. He truly makes a positive difference in every life he touches!! He is very deserving of this reward.

John Posted over a year ago

As his former student, one of the attributes I appreciated the most was his relentlessly positive attitude. He always had a smile on his face in the hallways and in class. He is a great example of how important a positive attitude is and how it can make a difference as you approach every day. He also made learning enjoyable and instilled an appreciation of learning that sticks with me to this day.

Braylon Gierhan Posted over a year ago

Mr. O is the most selfless, caring and energetic teacher. He is always in a good mood and invests his all into all of his students and makes sure they have a valuable as well as fun learning experience. His personality also carries outside of the school and into the community! Can't think of a better or more deserving candidate than Mr. O!

Jason Richters Posted over a year ago

Mark Ortmeier, Mr. O, is an exceptional teacher, coach, colleague, mentor and positive role model for all students and staff members at Centennial Public School. I can honestly say that I've never seen him have a bad day. All three of my children have had him as a teacher and/or coach and absolutely love him, in large part because they know he cares about them. He has the rare ability to relate well with kindergartners and high school seniors alike. The man is truly a blessing to the students he teaches, players he coaches, colleagues he works with, and public education in general, and we are grateful for the man he is and all that he does.

Jordan Ortmeier Posted over a year ago

My dad is the reason why I am in Education right now. Ever since I was in Kindergarten, I always had the dream of being a teacher and a coach. My reasoning for that was because of my father, Mr.O. I have seen the way he has positively impacted the lives of so many students of his both past and present. I had him in class my 4th-8th grade years and he cared for every single one of his students he had. No matter the time of day, he is always willing to work with students and help them learn life skills. No one is truly more deserving of this award than Mr. O. Thank you Dad for always having a huge impact on my life

Jarod Owens Posted over a year ago

Mr. O is a big reason why I am a teacher and coach. He not only taught me a love of discovering new things, but that I should have higher expectations of myself.

Marsha Sukup Posted over a year ago

Mark and I taught together about 11 or 12 years in Harvard before he moved to Utica. He is an amazing teacher, friend, coach, mentor, and just a down right good person. He was a joy to work with. What a wonderful, positive teacher and friend he was. He arrived upbeat literally everyday. I never saw him down or lacking enthusiasm when he arrived at school. He was such a positive influence on the students especially on the boys who didn't have a strong male influence in their lives. He made a difference in their lives. I loved working with him. He made my life and the lives of our students much nicer. I don't know a better recipient of your award than Mr. Ortmeier. He will make you proud also.

Angie Posted over a year ago

Mr. O is a great teacher... My son and daughters all had him as a teacher and they enjoyed his classes.. Thank you Mr.O for all you do...

Craig Barfknecht Posted over a year ago

I was a colleague of Mark Ortmeier for several years, and have not known anyone who was more positive, caring, and concerned about his students or the athletes he coached. With his true “gift of gab,” he could make anyone feel comfortable and appreciated.

Barb Posted over a year ago

I was a colleague of Mark Ortmeier when he taught and coached at Humphrey Public School. At that time he coached boys basketball and taught junior high Language Arts. He was always so positive with his students and athletes. We certainly hated to see him move on to Cenntennial Schools but knew he would continue to have positive effects on a new school, community, and school. He would be a very deserving recipient of this award.

Kelley Owens Posted over a year ago

We had the honor of having Mr. O.(Coach O.) teach and coach our children. He is an inspiration to many and definitely a wonderful influence on the young lives that he strives to reach every day. He treats every person he meets with respect no matter their position in life and he is passionate about helping his students and athletes to become the best that they can be. He is one of the reasons that our son chose to go into education and become a teacher and coach as well. Our last name is Owens and he said he wanted to be "Coach O" and he hoped he could make that name proud and live up to what he learned from him. My husband coached along side Mark during all of his years at Harvard and has many wonderful memories of their time spent together. He is not only a fantastic teacher and coach but he is also just a very caring and compassionate person that puts 100% into his church and his community and does it all with a smile for each and every person he comes into contact with. Mark Ortmeier is very deserving of this award and we are so happy for him and proud to be able to say he definitely touched our lives and our hearts!

Liz Purdham Posted over a year ago

I learn something from Mr. O every day. His passion for helping kids be there best is undeniable. He is a selfless servant and a true inspiration!

Steph Miller Posted over a year ago

I was fortunate enough to have Coach Ortmeier as my high school basketball coach for four years. His passion for coaching and inspiring his athletes to work hard and always put team First is unparalleled. I learned so many important life lessons from this man. I truly cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award!

Jim Dolezal Posted over a year ago

I have known Mark Ortmeier for 37 years. You will never meet anyone with a bigger heart for students He is phenomenal with the best of students and compassionate with those who have special needs. I am proud to call him a lifetime friend and a premier example of what a professional teacher is supposed to be.

Jesse Hartshorn Posted over a year ago

I transferred to Centennial at Christmas break of my eighth grade year. Immediately Mr. O became a teacher and friend that I trusted whole heartedly. His student-centered teaching strategies and collaborative projects not only challenged me academically, but they also helped me form relationships with my peers. Because of Mr. O, I was able to make friends in a new school which, as many people like myself know, isn’t always easy. Although my classroom experience with Mr. O ended after eighth grade, our relationship, like so many other of his students, lasted into high school and beyond. I had the opportunity to work with Mr. O as a student assistant for Kindergarten and first grade PE my senior year. Like so many others, my senior year I found myself wondering where I wanted to go in life. Mr. O asked if I had ever thought about teaching. I said I had but not seriously because, at that point, I thought I wanted to look for a career path where I could make a large salary right after college graduation. (I know, how naive.) What he told me is something that will stick with me forever. He said, “Jesse, financially, teacher don’t always make it big, but they’re always alright. And the young lives that’s you touch everyday are worth more than anything money could ever buy you.” Because of Mr. O, I was able to scope my interests and realize that the classroom is where I want to spend my professional life. I am now studying to become a high school business teacher. And I know that if I do half the job as Mr. O and some other of my past teachers did, I’ll do just fine as an educator. The sense of community, caring, and passion that Mr. O helps every student find within themselves is what’s makes him a great teacher, coach, and friend. He is truly a teaching success story.

Hunter Hartshorn Posted over a year ago

Coach O is one of the best people I have ever met! He has impacted my life so much. He’s always doing what’s right and is always lending a helping hand. There is no better person that comes to mind for this award other than Mr. O. He is always trying to make me a better athlete and a better person. He is one special guy and so deserving of this award!!!

Carson Posted over a year ago

Every day I walk to science Mr.O is standing there ready to make you day and when you are having a bad day he is always there to make it better

Dan Krull Posted over a year ago

Congrats Mr. O!

Nathan Hanneman Posted over a year ago

Mr.O has energy and he always has a smile on his face. He is very supportive in sports and he never lets you down if you have a question. He's a great guy to be around

Doug Nielsen Posted over a year ago

I've taught and coached for 50 years and I haven't seen anyone better than he is!!! He is professionals prodessional!!!

Katie Posted over a year ago

Mark was my 5th grade teacher at Johnson-Brock Public Schools. I remember that Mark always seemed to make learning fun; and every morning we started the day with a jumpstart activity. I am fortunate to have remained in contact with Mark and his family eventhough it has been 30 years since he was my teacher. To this day, every time I see Mark he always has a smile, usually a hug, and kind words of encouragement for me.

Barb Posted over a year ago

Mark Ortmeier is one of a kind. A true friend and a fellow colleague several years ago, our years spent together in teaching, coaching and raising our children were some of the best years ever. You could always count on Mark to stay calm and positive and proved just the perspective you needed at the right time. His stable, caring personality provide a consistency in the every day lives of his students and that was so important. A true team player in every sense of the word. It was a pleasure to be around him every day. He is very deserving of this honor.

First Grade Class Posted over a year ago

Mr O is awesome! He’s a great first grade PE teacher as well as an awesome science teacher. We started a new science curriculum this year and realized we need a lot more materials than in years past and even with just a little notice he is excited to share materials or even come co-teach with us in first grade!

Greg Wemhoff Posted over a year ago

Respect and admiration. These are words that I think about when asked about Mr. Ortmeier. I knew Mark in High School when he was coaching at Humphrey High. I always enjoyed watching him coach and working with his team. Mark always got the most out of his kids on and off the floor. My wife had the honor of working with Mark at Harvard High School and it only solidified my admiration for him. My wife was a first year teacher and he was never to busy to take time to help her out and show her the ropes of education. When I was teaching and coaching at Anselmo-Merna he did a girls basketball camp for me. He was awesome. My team instantly fell is love with his energy and knowledge about the game. Most importantly he made them feel like they could do anything on and off the floor. When you talk to Mark even though he is a busy man he makes you feel like you are the most important person in the room, I wish I was more like that. Mark Ortmeier is a quality person that has made a huge impact on my life.

Cindy Posted over a year ago

Coach O, Mr. O, or Mark is the most deserving person I know ofor this award. He coached my daughter, taught my two sons, and was our neighbor for many years. He impacts everyone he comes in to contact with his positive attitude, his love for life, his love of his family, and his faith. He always finds the GOOD in people and in any situation. Our schools need more teachers like Mr. O, our sports programs need more dedicated and positive coaches like coach O, and our world needs more people with the love of family, faith, and life like Mark.

Jake Polk Posted over a year ago

Three years ago I finished up college and applied for teaching jobs. A family friend heard I had an interview with Centennial and he became excited for me because of one guy: Mark Ortmeier. He told me that Mark was a teacher at Centennial and was "just the greatest guy out there" and that Mark would "take care of me". Now in my third year at Centennial, I can honestly say that that family friend was right. Mark is the same person when nobody is watching, when everyone is! Genuine is one of many qualities that can be given to Mark. He loves kids and has a passion for teaching. Through teaching, coaching, and golfing with Mark: I can, without hesitation, say that Mark is a LifeChanger!

Angie Medow Posted over a year ago

Mark has taken a leadership role with leading the high school student group at our church over the last 5+ years. He is someone that the students really look up to at Centennial--the students have to work hard but the end rersult will be worth it!

Liz Crabtree Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege to coach and teach with Mr. Ortmeier for seven years and what an amazing person. Everyday he brings his best and brings the best out of every student. He builds relationships with everyone around him! He goes out of his way to help in any way he can. These are just a few of the reasons he is deserving of this award.

Donna Tietmeyer Posted over a year ago

My grandson (Tylor Well man) fondly remembers Mr Ortmeier from his high school days at Centennial. He is 22 now, but apparently Mr Otmeier was/is a caring teacher.

María Díaz Posted over a year ago

I'm from Spain and I taught Spanish at Centennial for a year. Mr. O made me (and my family) feel at home both in town and at school. Always helping us and including us in the wonderful Centennial community. Thanks, Mr. O!!!

Barb & Joel Barnett Posted over a year ago

We know Coach O (Mr. Ortmeier) from his days in Harvard. He was such a good example to the kids. He also taught our kids too. He will always be remembered as a very good man, teacher, and coach!

Emily Posted over a year ago

I had the great pleasure of having Mr. O as both a teacher and as a coach. He was also an active member of the community and at church. He is a great husband, father, and grandfather. He truly loves what he does and is an inspiration to his students. I have so many fond memories from being his student. He instilled many valuable lessons that still serve me well as an adult and as a professional, such as hard work, teamwork, honesty, and integrity. I am thankful to know him and was blessed to have him as a teacher! He is most deserving of such an award!

Danielle Martin Posted over a year ago

I first met Mr. O as a young 5th grader who had a burning passion for the sport of basketball. I built up the courage to ask if I could join the high school girl's basketball team as a student manager and he welcomed me with open arms. Coach O had such an impact on my life, both on and off the court, that I asked him if he would be my spiritual sponsor when I was confirmed in the Catholic church in Utica. Eventually I entered high school and he became not only my coach, but my CCD teacher on Wednesday nights. Mr. O has a heart for others and that's why I believe he came out of retirement to continue his passion of teaching and coaching girl's basketball. He is an amazing person who lives to serve others and inevitably has a large impact on their lives, especially my own. Supporting Mr. O for this award is the easiest thing to do because he has done so much for me over the years.

Cam Scholl Posted over a year ago

I have taught with Mr. Ortmeier for the last 10 years, and I've known Mark a long time before then as well. Mr. Ortmeier is one of the best teachers I've ever been around. He is always prepared and very positive with students. Students enjoy going to Mr. O's class. His enthusiasm for teaching and coaching is infectious and he is someone all teachers and coaches can look up to. If anybody deserves an award like this it is Mr. Ortmeier.

Mona Posted over a year ago

Mr.Ortmeier is a great guy. He is always happy when I see him. His family is like him. They are all nice people. Good luck to him on this award.

Amanda Posted over a year ago

I would give Coach O the highest remarks for this award. He has inspired many and been a great role model for all students and athletes that are lucky enough to have him as a teacher or coach. He is very personable, made learning fun, and win or lose on the basketball court he could always find a positive! I know he influenced me to be the best, and holds his expectations high for all. Keep being the lifechanger you are.

Paige Yost Posted over a year ago

Coach O. has had such a positive impact on soooo many students! He has an uncanny ability to bring out the best in kids and push them to be successful. Some of my very best memories of Jr. High and High School include Coach O. He is so deserving of this award and every student or player that has had the opportunity to be taught or coached by him should consider themselves extremely lucky!

Ann Posted over a year ago

Mr. O, Is one of those amazing teachers that only come along so often. He truly cares for all the kids. It doesnt matter who they are, he is going to ensure they do the best they can in the classroom. He makes learning fun, and the kids enjoy his classes so much. Not only that he is an awesome coach that can make kids believe in themselves and perform well no matter what their ability. He has helped my child so much while going through those difficult teen years, by being a person they feel comfortable talking to. He is one of those teachers that the kids will want to come back and thank when they have grown up.

Brett Posted over a year ago

"Mr. O" came to Harvard Public Schools and was one of my junior high teachers. He helped me build an appreciation for learning that is a central part of who I am and what I do today as a college professor. My students are certainly getting a bit of "Mr. O's" teaching style when they are in my class. He's been doing such a good job for such a long time now that I even encounter college students who had him as a teacher in we've shared students now! He was also an excellent track and field coach and a lot of students' successes in athletics are the result of him being such an effective motivator and coach. He deserves an award like this simply as an affirmation of the fact that he is really, really good at what he does and he's being teaching at a high level for so long.

Michelle Rawson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Ortmeier has served many roles in my life and has definitely changed my life with each of those roles. I had the opportunity to have Mr. O as my 4th, 5th, and 6th grade science teacher. It was during class when I was a 5th grader that I observed him helping a classmate of mine that just wasn’t “getting it”. He stayed patient and consistent in helping this student. After Mr. O finished helping my friend he understood what we were learning and was excited to see what Mr. O had for us to learn next. Mr. O stayed patient and diligent. It was at that moment that I wanted to be a teacher like Mr. O. I was also blessed to have Mr. O in the role of “Coach O” in both track and basketball. As a track coach he pushed me. I hated high jump. Hated it. Coach O “made” me compete in high jump as a freshmen. Because he “made” me high jump I placed 7th twice and 3rd once at the Nebraska State Track and Field Meet. I also went on to receive a scholarship to Doane College where I high jumped and participated in Nationals for four years, thanks to Coach O. He was there when I played in my last basketball game and told me it was a pleasure to coach me. He helped drive my passion for the game of basketball. He taught me compassion and patience as an educator. Because of his patience with my classmates and myself I was able to have patience and understanding with my own students. But the biggest role he has had in my life is the role of my Father. As his daughter he taught me to work hard. Nothing was handed to me just because he was my dad, teacher and coach. He taught me to want something so badly that it hurt when it didn’t work out. Mr. Ortmeier, my Father, has changed my life many times. He was able to keep all three roles separate and stay consistent with each one. Mr. Ortmeier is more than deserving of this award. For 30 years he has changed students lives and he will continue to do so even after his teaching days.

Pat Bohart Posted over a year ago

Mark Is nothing but professional. He is a great coach a great teacher and he is a great man!!

Audra Leichleiter Posted over a year ago

Coach O was one of the best coaches and teachers I ever had the privilege of knowing. He was a kind but firm teacher as in middle school I recall a group of us students eating lemon drops during recess and he inspected our tongues to see if they were yellow when we got back inside. We all got our names up on the board under the heading: Lemon Drop Violators. It haunts me to this day haha! On a more serious note, the saddest day at my high school, for me, was the day he announced his family was moving. My heart sank and I knew our school would never be the same. I am so thankful to have had the privilege of being taught and coached by this man and getting to know his amazing wife and kids as well. He truly is a life changer and a motivator- one of the most selfless men I’ve met.

Christy Riggins Posted over a year ago

Mark is the most supportive and least selfish person I have ever met! When you need compassion, he's there. When you need straightened out, he's there. God placed a very special man in our lives!!!

Amanda Posted over a year ago

Mr. O, or Coach O as I know him, has made a difference in so many lives! He is an amazing teacher and coach! He cares so much for what he does and his passion and wisdom is shared with everyone and inspires all around him to be and do better! It has been 15 years since he was my coach and he has had a large impact on the person I have become! You're the best Coach!!!

Brooklyn Gierhan Posted over a year ago

Mr. O (coach O) is one of the most deserving people for this award. He came out of retirement just to help out our girls basketball team. We are so thankful for him as a coach and as a teacher. He goes out of his way for the team and his students. We are so lucky to have a man like him in our lives!

Sharon Hartshorn Posted over a year ago

Mr O is the BEST of the BEST!! He has definitely been a positive influence for my kids in the classroom and on the field/court!! You know when your kids come home and talk about their day and his name always comes up with a smile and laugh, that he is making a difference in the lives of these children! And also as a parent, whenever you run into him, he always has a positive word and energy about him. He is well deserving of any type of award of this nature!! We love and appreciate you Mr. O!! Thanks for being you :)

Kristen Posted over a year ago

Congrats Coach O! So deserving!

Alexis Banks Posted over a year ago

When I transferred to centennial last year he made me feel so welcomed and made it an easier transition