Iowa Teacher of the Year (TOY)
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The Iowa Teacher of the Year 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.
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.
2013 Iowa TOY Tania Johnson
Tania Johnson, a teaching veteran who has worked to make a difference for generations of students and fellow educators, is the 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year.
“Great teachers see the big picture in education as well as the potential in every student,” Branstad said. “They are essential to achieve our goal of giving all children in Iowa a world-class education. The Lt. Governor and I congratulate Tania Johnson and thank her for being a role model to students, to aspiring teachers and to her colleagues.”
Johnson spent most of her 22-year teaching career in Cedar Rapids kindergarten classrooms before she accepted a teacher leadership position in the school district this fall. A Cedar Rapids native who was inspired by her own teachers to pursue a career in education, Johnson is best known for going above and beyond her work in the classroom and the hours in a school day.
In Johnson’s classrooms, students have found equal parts structure and creativity, high expectations and encouragement. Her students have learned the value of helping others through service projects, such as collecting hats and mittens for a local women’s shelter. Johnson often is invited to celebrate the high school graduation of students she taught as kindergartners. In Johnson, parents have found an open door, as well as an expectation that what is taught in school is reinforced at home.
“Today, teaching cannot be done with the door closed,” Johnson wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. “It is a team sport. Everyone must work together to accomplish the goal of learning.”
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds applauded Johnson’s ability to personalize instruction for students who entered kindergarten with different starting points. “Tania Johnson has given generations of children a great start in education, regardless of their backgrounds,” Reynolds said. “She truly demonstrates the huge impact a great teacher can have on children’s lives.”
Johnson has been a role model for her colleagues as well. She has mentored kindergarten teachers, opened her classroom to student teachers and has held leadership roles in after-school programs and organizations such as the Jackson Elementary Parent Teacher Association and the Cedar Rapids Education Association. Johnson was named Linn County Educator of the Year in 2006 and earned National Board Certification in 2007.
“The greatest teachers inspire their students and other educators to keep learning and growing,” said Jason Glass, the Iowa Department of Education director. “We look to the leadership of Tania Johnson and many other excellent educators to help move Iowa’s education system forward.”
Johnson started her teaching career in Cedar Rapids in 1990 and remained in the school district with the exception of a one-year teaching opportunity in Brighton, England, on a Fulbright Teacher Exchange Scholarship. From 1994 through last May, Johnson taught kindergarten at Jackson and Coolidge elementary schools.
She was nominated in May by Jamie Cummins, a Cedar Rapids teacher whose children were in Johnson’s kindergarten class at Jackson Elementary School.
“Tania Johnson is the perfect marriage of traditional teaching values and modern differentiated techniques,” Cummins said. “She truly sets the benchmark for what the standard of teaching should be in Iowa and the nation.”
Cedar Rapids Superintendent Dave Benson said: “Tania’s high expectations, love of learning and innovative teaching style have been a gift to so many students, and her vision and leadership will continue to generate respect from her colleagues and success in Cedar Rapids schools for years to come.”
In her new position, Tania will work to make a difference for students by supporting their teachers. As the school district’s Teacher Quality Liaison, Tania specializes in connecting Cedar Rapids teachers with professional development activities. She also has kept a presence in the classroom as a permanent substitute teacher at Arthur Elementary School in Cedar Rapids.
“I believe that I will positively impact even more students as I focus on helping teachers and the profession,” Johnson said. “I look forward to learning and growing as a professional in my new role while also staying connected with students in the classroom.”
2013 Iowa TOY Finalists
Left to Right: Joshua Steenhoek, Heather Anderson, Tania Johnson, Jason Glass, Christine Green, Matt Heston
- Heather Anderson, a grades 1-3 teacher at Cowles Montessori School in Windsor Heights (Des Moines Public Schools)
- Christine Green, a 7th grade science teacher at North Scott Junior High School in Eldridge
- Matt Heston, a mathematics teacher at Knoxville High School in Knoxville
- Joshua Steenhoek, a 5th grade math and science teacher at Jefferson Intermediate School in Pella
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|
|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|