Iowa Teacher of the Year (TOY)
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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.
2017 Iowa TOY 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.
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|