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A new voice for teachers

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Iowa’s top teachers traditionally come together once a year at a state recognition luncheon. Now they’re banding together to have a seat at the table among education policymakers.

A new advisory committee has formed under the leadership of past and present winners of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the Iowa Preserve America History Teacher of the Year, and the annual Iowa Teacher of the Year award.

These talented teachers wanted to do more with their titles.

“They wanted to be a voice for teachers,” said Iowa Department of Education consultant Isbelia Arzola. “We have long wanted to do something more with our teachers. We brought in several teachers from across the state, and they all recommended that we create a committee to come together on issues of education.”

The Voices from the Classroom: Iowa Teacher Advisory Committee, which met for the first time in March, will be co-chaired by 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year Tania Johnson of Cedar Rapids and 2012 Iowa Teacher of the Year Charity Campbell of Norwalk. The committee also is open to teachers throughout Iowa (read on for nomination details).

“I hope that this group of teachers can become an advisory group for the Department of Education and the Legislature, and a voice for Iowa teachers,” Johnson said.

Campbell agreed.

“I also see it being a place where teachers can bring concerns or questions from their colleagues to have answered or listened to,” she said.

Campbell said she envisions the committee as the conduit for better communication between teachers and the Iowa Department of Education.

“For so long, the department has been looked at as a place that does something to educators rather than doing things with educators,” she said. “I hope this group helps break down the barrier, and each side can see that the other can be very valuable in helping make education in Iowa the strongest it can be.”

Johnson added, “I believe this group can give a teacher's perspective on problems the Department of Education is working on.”

Campbell says the committee can be a strong partner in furthering education initiatives in the state.

“Teachers have a lot of great ideas, but feel like no one listens to them,” she said. “I think this group will help the Department of Education by being the teacher voice or sound board for initiatives they are working on.”

Though the committee has met once, members have decided they wanted to open the group beyond formally recognized educators. Specifically, they want to ensure that the committee has the voice of all teachers, from all regions and subject areas. In particular, the committee is seeking nominations for teachers who:

  • Teach in the southeast and southwest portions of the state.
  • Specialize in fine arts, special education, and English language learners.
  • Teach in a diverse setting.

The committee meets quarterly in Des Moines, with the next meeting slated for August. Nominations to the committee should be sent to Isbelia Arzola at Please explain how you or your nominee would provide a new voice to the group.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on January 22, 2018 at 5:51am.