Iowa Teacher of the Year (TOY)
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The Iowa Teacher of the Year (TOY) Award was established in 1958 and is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education through an appropriation from the Iowa legislature. The award provides an opportunity to recognize an Iowa teacher who motivates, challenges, and inspires excellence; who is respected by students and peers; who is a dedicated professional that helps nurture hidden talents and abilities; who is a creative, caring individual; who takes teaching beyond textbooks and blackboards; and who is an exceptional teacher helping to redefine American education.
The Iowa Teacher of the Year may serve as the Iowa Ambassador to Education, acting as an education liaison to primary and secondary schools in the state.
2021 Nomination Form
Anyone, including school administrators, colleagues, students, parents, college faculty, and associations may nominate teachers for the award. Winners are chosen by a committee that includes representatives of the Iowa Department of Education (DE), the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI), the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), the past Iowa Teacher of the Year, and representatives from higher education institutions.
2021 Iowa TOY Nomination Form - Nominations for Iowa's TOY are due each year in the spring. The TOY is usually announced in the fall of each year.
2020 Iowa TOY George Anderson
George Anderson, a 13-year teaching veteran who presents his history classes as hands-on, problem-solving opportunities, is the Iowa Department of Education’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today at Cedar Rapids’ Kennedy High School.
“Outstanding educators like George Anderson help shape our state’s future,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Providing more than just facts from a page, George brings moments of historical significance to life in the present day. Thank you George and to all our educators for putting Iowans on a path to be successful.”
Anderson, 43, also serves on the school’s leadership team and is an assistant football coach.
“The Teacher of the Year award honors outstanding teachers who have made an impact on their students and colleagues,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “As a former social studies teacher, I was particularly enthusiastic hearing about how George makes social studies come alive and relevant in his classroom.”
Anderson, a former Marine, says he educates students to discover for themselves the concepts behind social studies. (Watch a video Q & A with George Anderson.)
“As a teacher I like active rooms, students moving around and discussing the material with other students,” he said. “I like to see students engage with the material of history in a way that isn't just fact recollection or sequencing events. I want student-centered dynamics in the classroom. I do not want to be the center of attention.”
In the 61-year history of the Iowa Teacher of the Year program, there have been two Teachers of the Year out of the Cedar Rapids district. The other, Tania Johnson, was named Iowa’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.
Anderson, his wife, Stephanie, and daughters Summer and Brielle, live in Cedar Rapids.
2020 Iowa TOY Finalists
- Corrine Brown, fourth-grade teacher at Cedar Heights Elementary School, Cedar Falls Community School District
- Luis Lemus, dual language teacher at Irving Dual Language Elementary School, Sioux City Community School District
- Dan Loy, fifth-grade teacher at Beaver Creek Elementary School, Johnston Community School District
- Joan Nikkel, seventh-grade language arts teacher, Pella Middle School, Pella Community School District
2019 Iowa TOY Christopher Burke
Christopher Burke, an 11-year teaching veteran who uses real-world examples to make his mathematics lessons come alive, is the Iowa Department of Education’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today at Dubuque’s Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School.
“Chris Burke exemplifies the great teaching that is taking place in Iowa schools,” said Gov. Reynolds. “His passion for inspiring students to learn math in a real-world context and his enthusiasm for serving as a coach outside the school day underscore the extraordinary commitment of educators in communities across our state."
Burke, 35, who is also a teacher leader at the middle school, is one of many educators in his family, including his wife, mother and sister. His wife, Betsy, also teaches at Roosevelt.
In the program’s 60-year history, this is the first time a Dubuque teacher has received the Teacher of the Year award.
“The Teacher of the Year award honors outstanding teachers who have made an indelible impact on their students and colleagues,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “The leadership of teachers like Chris Burke will help Iowa’s education system grow and improve.”
Burke says he educates students to discover for themselves the concepts behind math.
“Too often math is presented as clean, neat and tidy,” he said. “How often do numbers in the world around us present themselves as clean, neat and tidy? The beauty of this unit is that students collect data that is far from perfect. Scatter plots and best-fit lines force my students to look for patterns and trends, to question the data, to have a plan and execute it precisely, and to have a logical response when the math is not quite so clean.”
The hands-on, real-life classroom experience enables students to have a deeper understanding of how mathematics work in the world.
“I strive to cultivate a love of learning for each of my students and create an experience that allows them to connect the surrounding community into their learning in a meaningful manner,” Burke said.
The school’s climate is also an important component to a student’s education.
“Much of our students’ waking hours are spent in the care of their respective schools that must ensure there is climate, culture and a system that allows for all students to feel safe to learn and be themselves,” he said.
Burke and his wife live in Dubuque with their 1-year-old son, Max.
Past TOY Recipients
**One of four contenders for National Teacher of the Year
*National Teacher of the Year
|Year||Name||Grade and/or Content Area||School||City|
|2020||George Anderson||Social Studies||Kennedy High School||Cedar Rapids|
|2019||Christopher Burke||Mathematics||Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School||Dubuque|
|2018||Aileen Sullivan||Chemistry||Ames High School||Ames|
|2017||Shelly Vroegh||Instructional Coach and 5th Grade||Lakewood Elementary School||Norwalk|
|2016||Scott Slechta||English Language Arts||Fairfield High School||Fairfield|
|2015||Elizabeth Clemencia Bulthuis||Spanish||Merrill Middle School||Des Moines|
|2014||Jane Schmidt||8th Grade Literacy and Language Arts||Maquoketa Middle School||Maquoketa|
|2013||Tania Johnson||Kindergarten||Jackson Elementary School||Cedar Rapids|
|2012||Charity Campbell||Physical Education||Norwalk Middle School||Norwalk|
|2011||Molly Boyle||3rd Grade||Brookview Elementary School||West Des Moines (Waukee CSD)|
|*||2010||Sarah Brown Wessling||High School English||Johnston High School||Johnston|
|2009||Linda Heffner||4th Grade||Everette Elementary School||Sioux City|
|2008||Andy Mogle||Family and Consumer Science||Norwalk High School||Norwalk|
|2007||Jan Keese||3rd Grade||Crocker Elementary School||Ankeny|
|2006||Jacqueline Warnstadt||4th Grade||Leeds Elementary School||Sioux City|
|2005||Vicki Lynn Goldsmith||English, Women's Studies, Theories of Knowledge||Roosevelt High School||Des Moines|
|2004||Ernest Lee Schiller||Biology||Central Lee High School||Donnellson|
|2003||Diana Buter||Reading and Language Arts||Grinnell Middle School||Grinnell|
|2002||Jennifer L. Erbe||3rd Grade||Starry Elementary School||Marion|
|2001||Gail B. Wortmann||Anatomy and Physiology & Advanced Anatomy||Ottumwa High School||Ottumwa|
|2000||Thomas H. Paulsen||Agriculture Education||Carroll Community High School||Carroll|
|1999||Maureen Hoffmann||English||A-H-S-T Middle School||Shelby|
|**||1998||Ruth Ann Gaines||Drama||East High School||Des Moines|
|**||1997||Jan Mitchell||English||Marshalltown High School||Marshalltown|
|1996||Jill Olsen-Virlee||French||Marion High School||Marion|
|1995||Jerry Pierce||English||Roland-Story Middle School||Roland|
|1994||Keith Robinson||Social Studies||Maple Valley High School||Mapleton|
|1993||Joan McShane||Science||Jefferson Elementary School||Davenport|
|1992||Nancy Mounts||Family and Consumer Science||North High School||Sioux City|
|1991||David Arthur Hunt||Social Studies||Clarence-Lowden High School||Clarence|
|1990||Pamela Adams Johnson||6th Grade||Carpenter Elementary School||Monticello|
|1989||Anna Mary Mueller||English as a Second Language||West High School||Iowa City|
|1988||Pat Roush||7th - 8th Grade English and Speech||Neal McGowan Junior High School||Knoxville|
|1987||Richard E. Peters||High School Social Studies||Mount Vernon High School||Mount Vernon|
|1986||Linda Pershall Calvin||10th - 12th Grade Social Studies||Urbandale High School||Urbandale|
|1985||Margo J. Chesebro||11th - 12th Grade Language Arts||East High School||Sioux City|
|1984||Sharon June Lee||3rd Grade||Douglas Elementary School||Des Moines|
|**||1983||Gene Ulrich||Biology Teacher & Science Department Head||North High School||Sioux City|
|**||1982||Darlene Frazier||Art Teacher & Department Head||Boone Community Schools||Boone|
|1981||Dan Gogerty||Language Arts||South East Junior High School||Iowa City|
|1980||Howard L. Carter||Multi-occupations Program||Central Lee High School||Argyle|
|1979||Richard A. Wilson||Elementary Physical Education||Centerville Community Schools||Centerville|
|1978||Helen Finken||Social Studies||South East Junior High School||Iowa City|
|1977||Shirley Jean Fouts||Social Studies||South East Junior High School||Iowa City|
|1976||Betty Burres-Youngs||Remedial Reading||Washington Irving Junior High School||Des Moines|
|1975||Alice Elizabeth Piercy||Reading||Iowa City Community Schools||Iowa City|
|1974||Genevieve Treichler Wallace||Woodlawn Elementary School||Des Moines|
|1973||Goldie Michalek||Elementary||Mason City Community Schools||Mason City|
|1972||Jean Bogardus||Elementary||Clear Creek Community Schools||Tiffin|
|1971||John D. Beghtol||History||Centerville High School||Centerville|
|1970||Beulah Anderson||West Elementary School||Emmetsburg|
|1969||Jane Sharp||Kirkwood Elementary School||Des Moines|
|1968||James Lokett||Keokuk Community Schools||Keokuk|
|1965||Betty Jean Hyde||Callanan Junior High School||Des Moines|
|1964||William V. Houser||Science||Roosevelt High School||Des Moines|
|*||1958||Jean Listebarger Humphrey||Elementary||Ames Community Schools||Ames|