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Legendary Educators

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is pleased to offer the Legendary Educator Awards. This award was established to recognize the many outstanding educators who have made it their life's work to ensure success for thousands of Grand Island students. We are grateful for the inspiring work of our educators past and present.


The Legendary Educator Award was inaugurated in 2009 to recognize the outstanding educators who have made a difference to the thousands of students who have attended Grand Island Public Schools. To qualify for the Legendary Educator Award the nominee must meet the following criteria below.

Legendary Educator Criteria:

  1. Nominees must have been employed by Grand Island Public Schools

  2. Nominees must be retired, or not currently employed at the Grand Island Public Schools

  3. Nominees will be teachers, counselors, coaches, administrators, etc.

  4. Nominees may be living or deceased

  5. Nominations must explain why the nominee is "legendary" and how the nominee has benefited many students

A night honoring distinguished alumni and educators

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at Riverside Golf Club
5:30 pm Cocktails  |  6:30 pm Dinner

You are invited to attend the celebration.

Join the GIPS Foundation for an extraordinary event, Legends & Legacies. The Foundation is dedicated to honoring distinguished Grand Island Senior High Alumni to the Hall of Honor and celebrating our Legendary Educators. This event is a celebration of the remarkable individuals who have not only walked the hallowed halls of education but have also left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those they have touched. Join us as we celebrate these extraordinary alumni and the passionate educators. Legends & Legacies welcomes you to an evening of celebration, reflection, and recognition of those who have shaped the future through their commitment to knowledge and the pursuit of greatness.

Jim Cassey

Jim Cassey

Legendary Educator 2011
Grand Island Senior High 1970-2001

“Jim Cassey was great in every meaning of the word and he has become an idol both in my mind and, more importantly, in my heart.” –a former student

Jim Cassey was born in Springfield MO, moved to Texas and then to Denver for his grade school years. His family moved to Grand Island and he attended Barr and then Senior High graduating in 1958. In his sophomore English class, Cassey helped a fellow student understand something; the teacher, Mr. Sturdy, said “you would be a good teacher, Jim.” This inspired Mr. Cassey to consider a career in teaching.

Mr. Cassey received his Bachelor's degree from Kearney State in 1964 and his Master's in 1970. He taught in O'Neill in 1964 and then McCook in 1967. He came to Grand Island in 1970 as a Speech teacher, debate coach and assistant gymnastics coach. He began teaching English Composition in 1980.

Mr. Cassey was honored as an Outstanding Teacher from Denison University in 1992 because former students Mary Jane Fowles and Rebecca Nabity nominated him. Additionally, he received a trophy recognizing 30 years of outstanding service to debate in Nebraska in 1993. In 1998, he received Grand Island Senior High School “In Honor of Excellence” Award.

Mr. Cassey was a member of the National Forensics League and was president of the Nebraska Forensics League in the 1980's. At Grand Island Senior High Cassey’s Debate teams were well known in the states of Nebraska and Iowa and finished in the top three at state for several years. 

As a gymnastics coach, Mr. Cassey’s specialty was high-bar. During his coaching tenure, Grand Island had five 1st Runner-up State Champions.

After his retirement in 2001, Mr. Cassey taught part-time dual credit at Grand Island Senior High for Central Community College. He then taught secondary English for Central Catholic High School from August 2004 until his death in December 2008. As one of his CCHS students said “he gave his life making other people better and for that he will never be forgotten.”

Jim was married to Maggie Glass from 1967 until his death in 2008.

“Mr. Cassey, you've been one of the greatest English teachers I've had, you teach great perspectives and values to have in life.”-a former student

“Thank you for opening our eyes and ears to the world and making us all better people for having the pleasure of being taught by Jim Cassey.”- a former student

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