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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.

2022 Nomination Form

Anyone, including school administrators, colleagues, students, parents, college faculty, and associations, may nominate teachers for the award. Self-nominations and nominations by family members are not accepted. 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.

2022 Iowa TOY Nomination Form – Nominations for Iowa's TOY are due April 1, 2021. The IATOY is usually announced in the fall of each year.

2020 Iowa TOY George Anderson

2020 Iowa Teacher of the Year 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.

See photos from the 2020 Iowa Teacher of the Year announcement ceremony.

“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

2019 Iowa Teacher of the Year 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.

See photos from the 2019 Iowa Teacher of the Year announcement ceremony.

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

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 26, 2021 at 9:59pm.