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Iowa Teacher of the Year (TOY)


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The Award
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.

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.

2019 Iowa TOY Nominations Form - Nominations for Iowa's TOY are due each year in the spring. The TOY is usually announced in the fall of each year.

2017 Iowa TOY Shelly Vroegh

Shelly Vroegh
2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year Shelly Vroegh

Shelly Vroegh, whose desire to help all students reach their potential stems from her own childhood, is the 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today at Lakewood Elementary School in Norwalk.

See photos from the 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year announcement ceremony.

Vroegh, 43, a fifth-grade teacher and instructional coach, is a 20-year veteran teacher. She has taught in the Norwalk Community School District since 1997.

“Great teachers really do change lives,” Branstad said. “Shelly Vroegh’s talent, dedication and enthusiasm make her a great teacher, and I’m thrilled that she has taken on a teacher leadership role to improve instruction and raise student achievement.”

Lt. Gov. Reynolds applauded Vroegh’s contributions to her school and community, including serving as a district lead mentor, elementary math curriculum leader and instructional coach. She also coordinated an elementary summer reading program.

“Shelly Vroegh stands out for her leadership, her passion and her commitment to engaging all students so they can reach their potential,” Lt. Gov. Reynolds said.

Vroegh’s love for teaching took root in childhood, when she played teacher with her younger sister. However, she credits her Aunt Susie – who is just three years older – as the biggest influence on her career choice. Vroegh said Susie, who has Down Syndrome, taught her “about perseverance, patience, and positive attitudes.”

“She taught me that life is what you make it and that determination and hard work will always pay off,” Vroegh wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. “I didn’t see Susie as different from me; rather, I saw her as someone who needed support, guidance and encouragement to be the best she could be each day.”

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise applauded Vroegh’s core belief that all students can learn and achieve at high levels.

“Developing teacher leadership and preparing all students for success in school and beyond are two key goals we’re working toward in Iowa,” Wise said. “Shelly Vroegh and many other outstanding Iowa educators will help lead the way.”

Vroegh views the student-teacher relationship as a partnership. At the beginning of the school year, her students participate in drawing up expectations for the upcoming school year.

“Once the expectations are established, it’s my job to model those expectations and hold everyone, including myself, accountable,” she said. “By doing this, I have helped create a place where students feel safe, respected and encouraged to be the best they can be each day.”

In addition to teaching, Vroegh is active in the Norwalk community, from being a “football mom” to working the Special Olympics. She and her husband, Troy, live in Norwalk with their two children, Mitch and Connor.

2017 Iowa TOY Finalists

  • Kristie Kuhse of Waverly, a family and consumer science teacher at the Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School
  • Amanda Schiller of Donnellson, who teaches middle school science in the Van Buren Community School District
  • Laura Tracy of Swaledale, who teaches kindergarten at North Butler Elementary School
  • Andrew Troxel of West Point, who teaches social studies at Fort Madison Senior High School

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
  2017 Shelly Vroegh Instructional Coach and 5th Grade Lakewood Elementary School Norwalk
  2016 Scott Slechta English Language Arts Fairfield High School Fairfield
  2015 Clemencia Spizzirri 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 May 24, 2018 at 6:48pm.