Iowa Teacher of The Year Mentors Early Educators to Succeed in Classroom


Lakewood Elementary School. (WHO-HD)

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NORWALK, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Education is hosting a conference for new teachers to learn and grow from educators across Iowa.

The 4th annual Emerging Educator’s Conference is there to help make connections, listen to what different districts do across the state and host different break-out sessions.

2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year Aileen Sullivan said it’s important for teachers to communicate with each other.

“We are here, and we want to form connections with those new teachers so that they can stay with us and be 20-year and 30-year teachers here in Iowa,” Sullivan said.

Iowa Teacher of the Year is awarded each year to someone for their excellence in motivating and inspiring students and peers.

Anyone is welcome to nominate a teacher.

2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year Shelly Vroegh said when she went across the state speaking to different districts and soon-to-be teachers.

“I got different perspectives. I was able to come back refreshed and reinvigorated and more passionate than ever about what I do,” Vroegh said.

Now Vroegh is back in the classroom and mentoring new teachers.

“Education I believe is the life line to anything anyone does. Being able to be a mentor to not only to other educators, but also to students is so important. We talk about how relationships are the key today,” Vroegh said.

Second Year Teacher at Lakewood Elementary Taylor Officer said having Vrough as a mentor is a privilege.

“The biggest thing for me is just I know that the relationships are the most important part, so I have just focused a lot on that. That’s why it’s been nice to have Shelly kind of help me with the actual teaching part and the curriculum and all of that stuff,” Officer said.

Sullivan said teachers are stronger when they are able to grow and learn from each other.

“I think that it’s important to have a teacher be able to go out and to talk to other teachers and to remind them that they are enough, that they are doing a great job and that we are in this together. Every teacher like I said before has the same heart somewhere within them that makes us do what we do.”

2019 Teacher of the Year Christopher Burke will begin his term in the fall of 2019.

Nominations for the 2020 Teacher of the Year are open until spring.


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