OMAHA -- Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School teacher Lee Perez was named Wednesday as the 2022 Nebraska Teacher of the Year.
Perez, a teacher for 13 years, is an ESL teacher at Buffett, which is in the Omaha Public Schools in northwest Omaha.
Perez said that as he works to teach his students a new language, he also celebrates their backgrounds and cultures in the classroom, according to a news release from the Nebraska Department of Education.
Perez said in his application for the award: "It is important to embrace diversity. We should acknowledge that being different is special and these differences should be showcased during learning."
Perez said his message to other teachers is to be "kind, culturally aware and tolerant and that kindness should be our new pandemic."
Perez earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
A panel of Nebraska educators chose Perez for the honor.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, and another was flown to Bryan West Campus in Lincoln, where they later died. The shooter is also dead, according to the Nebraska State Patrol, after an employee returned fire.
"The evidence that has been presented to you in this case during the last week shows beyond a reasonable doubt that Jake Gonzalez … got angry and literally beat Hollen Siedschalg to death," Assistant Attorney General Bill Tangeman said.