Skip to main content
Official State of Iowa Website Here is how you know

Iowa Teacher of the Year


On this page...

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 TOY may serve as the Iowa Ambassador to Education, acting as an education liaison to primary and secondary schools in the state.

Nomination Information

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, the Iowa State Education Association, the School Administrators of Iowa, the Parent Teachers Association, the past Iowa TOY, and representatives from higher education institutions.

Nominations are closed for the 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year cycle. Nomination forms for the 2025 Iowa Teacher of the Year will be available in this location beginning in January 2024.

2023 Iowa TOY Krystal Colbert

Krystal Colbert, a 16-year veteran teacher, as the Iowa Department of Education’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, during an assembly at Mitchellville Elementary School in central Iowa.

Watch an interview with 2023 Iowa Teacher of the Year Krystal Colbert.

See photos and watch the announcement video from the event.

“I am proud of the amazing work Krystal Colbert is doing to make a difference in the lives of her students and the impact she is having on the education system in our state,” said Governor Reynolds. “Outstanding educators like Krystal see that possibilities for growth are endless when you connect students and what they are learning with their community. Every day, she leads by example, focusing on how to make education better so all students can and do perform at the highest levels.”

“The Teacher of the Year award honors outstanding teachers who have made an impact on their students and colleagues,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo said. “Krystal is a life-long learner, teacher leader and a Lighthouse team member working to build leadership and life skills in students. Her focus on supporting each student’s learning style and her ability to see challenges as opportunities for growth will help advance our education system as we move forward.”

Colbert, who is a second grade teacher in the Southeast Polk Community School District, says students who believe in themselves will be successful in school.

“Here at Mitchellville, we are teaching our students that positive self-affirmations, healthy habits, and having a growth mindset are essential in reaching their highest potential,” she said. “We are affirming to our students every day that they are loved and valued and that we care about their success.”

Colbert, along with her husband Jason and children Jamison and Emersynn, lives in Altoona. 

If Krystal could support your efforts in teaching and learning or recruitment and retention in some way, contact her at

2023 Iowa TOY Finalists

  • Lori Brandt, a special education teacher in the Sioux Center Community School District.
  • Levi Letsche, a high school mathematics teacher from the Sheldon Community School District.
  • Amy Phillips, an elementary teacher in the Marshalltown Community School District.
  • Corrine Schalk, an elementary teacher in the Cedar Rapids Community School District.
  • Katie Weldon, a middle school mathematics teacher in the Norwalk Community School District.

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
2023 Krystal Colbert 2nd Grade Mitchellville Elementary School Mitchellville (Southeast Polk CSD)
2022 Sara Russell Social Studies Pleasant Valley High School Bettendorf
2021 No winner chosen      
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 and 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