paul  winners


Gehlen Catholic Instrumental Music Director Received the Bishop’s Excellence in Education Award

During the opening liturgy of the 2018-2019 school year, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Sioux City, Mrs. Patty Lansink, announced Gehlen Catholic’s Instrumental Music Director, Mr. Paul Niebuhr of LeMars, will receive the Bishop’s Excellence in Education Award on Sunday, October 21st.


Niebuhr is one of five educators, of the 35 nominated throughout the Diocese, who received  the award during the 2018 Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools. 


Mr. Niebuhr was nominated by Gehlen Catholic’s principals, Mr. Jeff Alesch & Mrs. Lorie Nussbaum, this summer. 


During Mr. Niebuhr’s 20+ years of service at Gehlen Catholic School, Mr. Alesch highlighted Mr. Niebuhr’s attributes of hard work, dedication, collaboration & service to the students, parents, & colleagues.  Mrs. Nussbaum elaborated on Mr. Niebuhr’s humble demeanor, positive attitude, constant encouragement, & abiding faith as to reasons why he is an excellent educator. 


The heart of Mr. Niebuhr’s teachings is his faith.  Former Gehlen Catholic Band Parent, Mr. David Eral, said it best, “He (Mr. Niebuhr) openly speaks of his faith.  This was never more apparent than recently when his son, Evan, was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident.  Even with this enormous loss, he expressed continued concern for his family & students over his own needs.”


Gehlen Catholic junior, Anthony Vera of LeMars, expressed in his recommendation letter how Mr. Niebuhr incorporates his Catholic values into the music program.  It is because of Mr. Niebuhr’s faith, relationship & commitment to God, Anthony selected Mr. Niebuhr as his confirmation sponsor. 


Consistently throughout the nomination letters from administrators, students, parents, priests & friends, Mr. Niebuhr was heralded for the countless opportunities he has provided students over the years through the Instrumental Music Department.  During Mr. Niebuhr’s tenure at Gehlen Catholic, the program has grown to over 100 students who have been actively involved in marching, jazz, pep, & concert bands; solo & ensemble contests.


These opportunities are more than just “activities,” shared Gehlen Catholic parents, Steve & Michele Larson of LeMars.  The Larsons told the Bishop’s Dinner Excellence in Education Committee how Mr. Niebuhr helped their daughter, Jordan, overcome her health challenges through her involvement in the Instrumental Music Department.  The past two years, Jordan’s parents said, “She found a new love, the church choir & music.”  Jordan is a freshman this fall at South Dakota State University.  She is a member of the SDSU Instrumental Music Department & Color Guard.  The Larsons expressed their gratitude to Mr. Niebuhr for all he did for Jordan, their family & Gehlen Catholic students.


As Mr. Niebuhr reflected on his 21 years at Gehlen Catholic & nearly 30 years of teaching, he articulated, “My grandfather’s family came to Iowa & helped to establish the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Eastern Iowa.  At one time, I discerned a calling to either be a pastor like him, a farmer like my father, or a teacher.  Teaching at Gehlen Catholic has given me the opportunity to do all three.  I try to plant the seeds of hard work & dedication, compassion & love, team work & individual responsibility, having fun, perseverance & praising God.  The Bishop’s Excellence in Education Award is not about me.  Instead, this award is about God, my family & the students I have been privileged to teach.  I thank God, my family, the students I have taught & their families, & Gehlen Catholic for all of these blessings!” 


Mr. Niebuhr is the 11th member of the Gehlen Catholic faculty & staff to be honored at the Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools.  They include Mr. Richard Seivert; Mrs. Carolyn Bickford; Mrs. Carol (Ryan, ’79) Kessenich; Mr. Rick Fox; Mr. Steve Shea; Mrs. Mary Renner; Mrs. Lorie Nussbaum; Mrs. Lisa Niebuhr; Mrs. Beth (Langel, ’78) Schlichte; & Mrs. Kim Wick. 


The proceeds are awarded annually to the diocesan schools via educational grants for textbooks, technology & other curriculum expenses, according to Mr. Chuck Kellen (’77) of LeMars & Chair, the Diocese of Sioux City’s Catholic Schools Foundation.


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