UNK Dr. Lavonne Plambeck Early Childhood Pioneer Award

Dr. LaVonne Plambeck receiving Early Childhood Pioneer Award

2023 Award Recipient

Dr. Carol Renner

carol rennerDr. Carol Renner is a well-known figure in Kearney, renowned for her extensive dedication to Kearney Public Schools as the associate superintendent. Her educational journey spans across various roles and locations, encompassing positions as a classroom teacher, resource teacher, director of special education, and director of curriculum/staff development in California, Missouri, Hawaii, and Nebraska.

Dr. Renner holds an impressive academic background, including a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum, Administration, and Instruction, along with a Specialist of Education degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She also earned a Master of Education specializing in learning disabilities from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Bachelor of Education from Fontbonne University in St. Louis. Her commitment to education extends beyond the classroom, as she has actively contributed to numerous local and state educational boards and even earned a position on the International Committee for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Dr. Renner’s outstanding contributions to her communities have been recognized through her distinction as Business Woman of the Year in two Nebraska communities.

Dr. Renner’s dedication to community involvement and fostering parental inclusion within the educational process remains at the core of her work. In Nebraska, her significant achievements include her involvement with the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, instrumental in securing a Sixpence grant for early childhood education in Kearney. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Bright Futures Preschool, which serves disadvantaged individuals, non-English speakers, and young mothers, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to advancing education and inclusivity.

About the Award

UNK’s College of Education presented the inaugural Early Childhood Pioneer Award to LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck of Omaha in 2019. The Early Childhood Committee then named the award in her honor.

An educational legend and visionary, Plambeck has supported and invested in high-quality experiences for young children for decades. She opened Omaha’s first Montessori Educational Center in 1968 and later added seven locations and opened schools in Denver and Fort Worth. Plambeck also launched the Mid-America Montessori Teacher Training Institute to provide professionals with training and certification.

In addition to working on early childhood education extensively with UNK, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Buffett Early Childhood Institute, College of Saint Mary and Concordia University, she has served the Nebraska Association of Young Children, American Montessori Society Board of Directors, Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education and an advisory committee on early childhood education for the state of Nebraska, and was appointed to a White House conference on families.

A financial gift from Plambeck added two dedicated Montessori classrooms to UNK’s Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center, as well as an endowed Montessori education professorship and an endowed fund that supports workshops, seminars and other outreach activities for early childhood education providers across Nebraska.