Governor Terry Branstad has named veteran Cedar Rapids educator Tania Johnson the 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year.
Johnson spent most of her 22-year teaching career in Cedar Rapids kindergarten classrooms before she accepted a teacher leadership position with her school district this fall.
The Cedar Rapids native was chosen for the award in part because of her commitment to working with parents and to individualizing lessons for her students. She says she has specific areas on which she would like to focus. Johnson says” I think the challenges grow from the poverty level in Iowa and the students who come in not ready to learn. I think challenges also come from education reform and how we can change what has been education for many years and how we can change that in the community and at the schools.” She also says she believes, " I can make a huge difference because I'm going to be in contact with teachers and lots of students. I'll be getting out and reminding the teachers what a great job they're doing and the difference they're making as we all work together for our students".
Johnson was chosen by a committee that includes representatives from the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa State Education Association, the School Administrators of Iowa, the Parent Teachers Association and 2012 Iowa Teacher of the Year Charity Campbell.
The other finalists for the award include:
Heather Anderson, a Des Moines Public Schools employee who teaches grades 1-3 at Cowles Montessori School in Windsor Heights
Christine Green, a 7th grade science teacher at North Scott Junior High School in Eldridge
Matt Heston, a math teacher at Knoxville High School in Knoxville
Joshua Steenhoek, a 5th grade math and science teacher at Jefferson Intermediate School in Pella
Johnson and the other finalists will be honored Oct. 26 at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines. Her tenure as Iowa Teacher of the Year will begin in January.