Outstanding Educators

Robert E. Yager Active Learning Award

At The Iowa Children’s Museum, we believe in the Power of Play and in the positive impact of active learning on child development and education. Research overwhelmingly asserts that students learn best when they actively participate in their own learning. Many excellent educators in our community dedicate themselves to facilitating active learning in their classrooms, providing students opportunities to become engaged learners, innovative thinkers, and creative problem-solvers. In recognition of this strength in our educational community, The Iowa Children’s Museum is honoring four outstanding local educators with the Robert E. Yager Active Learning Award.

Any local preschool or elementary educator who has made a significant contribution to student-centered active learning is eligible for the award.  Nominations can be submitted from parents, educators, administrators, students, and community members.

The Robert E. Yager Active Learning Awards will be presented to the 2015 honorees at The Iowa Children’s Museum’s annual Celebrate Play! Gala in November 2015.

The Active Learning Award Includes...

Each Active Learning Award (valued at $1,575) includes:

For the Award-Winning Educator

  • Four tickets to The Iowa Children’s Museum’s Celebrate Play! Gala
  • Award presentation at the event
  • Special recognition in the event program
  • Original “Active Learning” art print created by local artists
  • Free Museum Admission Passes for classroom students
  • One classroom field trip to The Iowa Children’s Museum, additional bus funds available
  • $100 gift card to the Think Tank at The Iowa Children’s Museum


For the Award-Winning Educator’s School

  • Two family memberships to The Iowa Children’s Museum
  • Ten family admission passes to The Iowa Children’s Museum

2014 Honorees & Nominees

2014 Honorees selected for their outstanding contributions to active learning:

Lianna Cornally: Wondergarten Early Enrichment, Solon

Lianna Cornally was nominated by Katy Bolander, a parent of preschool age children, who writes “Exemplifying active learning is who Ms. Cornally is as an educator.  She follows the interests of her young students and creates individualized curriculum based on their needs.”

 

Dawn Johnson: Kids World Preschool, Centerville

Dawn Johnson was nominated by Terri Johnson, Director of Kids World Preschool and Vickie Parker, AEA Early Childhood Consultant, sharing that “Dawn is a master teacher who is passionate about Inquiry Based Learning.  Learning in Dawn’s class is very hands on, child directed and play based.  The children construct their own learning as they work together to solve problems in an atmosphere free of the fear of failure.”

 

Vicki Saunders: Borlaug Elementary, Iowa City

Vicki Saunders was nominated by John Dunkhase, University of Iowa Science Education Center Emeritus, who writes “Ms. Saunders has a 33 year history of being an exemplary science teacher and leader in promoting active learning for her students and colleagues.  Vicki provides to her students a student-centered cooperative learning environment that builds on student interest and gives them shared responsibility for their learning.”

 

Alicia & Shawn Weithers: Loving Hands Daycare and Preschool, Lambs Grove

Mr. and Mrs. Weithers were nominated by Jill Dodds, a 2013 Robert E. Yager Honoree, and writes that “Alicia and Shawn have over 20 years experience in the field, but feel they are continuously learning and evolving.  The children who attend Loving Hands are encouraged to explore, ask why, try again, and never give up.”

Special Recognition To All 2014 Nominees:

Shawn Perkins, Danville Early Learning Center, Danville

Karin Mullen, Bridgeview Elementary teacher, LeClaire

Kerri Bell, Kalona Elementary, Kalona

Brittany Busch, Unity School Preschool, Sioux City

Jan Grenko-Lehman, PE Coordinator, Iowa City

Leanne Amelon, Clear Creek Elementary, Oxford

Mary Zobeck, Grant Wood AEA VAST Center, Cedar Rapids

Jenny Lorch, Penn Elementary, Iowa City

Carrie Karr, Penn Elementary, Iowa City

Emily Ring, Borlaug Elementary, Iowa City

Tonya Thatcher, East Union After-School Program Coordinator, Afton

Janet Conrad, Lincoln Elementary, Washington

Chad Hippen, Lincoln Elementary, Washington

Jodi Swift, Lincoln Elementary, Washington

Angie Rhinehart, St. Joseph Catholic School, Marion

Meghan Meyer, Borlaug Elementary kindergarten teacher, Iowa City

Susan Boatwright, Prairie Crest Elementary, Cedar Rapids

2013 Honorees & Nominees

2013 Honorees (selected for their outstanding contributions to active learning):

Jim Bezoni: River Valley Elementary, Washta

Valery Fuhrman, a fellow teacher at River Valley, nominated Mr. Bezoni for this award sharing that “Jim is a favorite teacher at River Valley because he infuses hands-on learning in his science classroom.  Last year his class learned about wind energy and how wind turbines create energy through designing and building model wind turbines through a STEM grant using the Kid Wind Program!”

 

Rachel DeMaris: Willowwind, Iowa City

Paul Pressler, Head of School at Willowwind, nominated Ms. DeMaris for this award sharing that “Rachel is an amazing example of a pro-active educator.  She challenges her students to become advocates, activists and collaborative, critical thinkers!

 

Jill & Jeff Dodds: Simple Abundance Childcare, Coralville

Alice Atkinson, a retired early childhood educator from the University of Iowa, nominated the Dodds for this award sharing that “Jill and Jeff provide an educational setting for young children guided by the philosophy that children learn best through play believing that childhood is a time to explore, create, and be joyful.”

 

Dawn Scholtens: Sunset Heights Elementary, Webster City

Annette Louk, an AEA consultant, nominated Mrs. Scholtens for this award sharing that “Dawn creates a classroom where all students feel valued and cared for as individuals.  She allows her students to constantly explore and learn in ways that work for them.”

Special Recognition To All 2013 Nominees:

Emily Mizer, Montessori Children’s Garden, North Liberty

Joy Lekwa, Colonel’s Kids Preschool, Columbus Junction

Chris Cahalan, Harrison Elementary, Cedar Rapids

Pam Hubbard, Lincoln Elementary, Iowa City

Kayleen Miller, Weber Elementary, Iowa City

Paula Boback, Prairie Green School, Cosgrove

Brooke Buxton, Shimek Elementary, Iowa City

Nicole Early, Heritage Christian, North Liberty

Sara McGee, Schuler Elementary, Clive

Amanda Stahle, Lakeview Elementary, Solon

Julie Dohman, Fort Madision Elementary, Fort Madison

Steve Sproule, Shimek Elementary, Iowa City

Karen Royer, Tipton Elementary, Tipton

Mike Wedge, Sibley-Ocheyedan, Sibley

2012 Honorees & Nominees

2012 Honorees (selected for their outstanding contributions to active learning):

Sherri Clemence: Penn Elementary, Iowa City

Stacie Smith, a parent and Northwest Junior High Science Teacher, nominated Mrs. Clemence for this award sharing that “Sherri Clemence has made my child LOVE school by having him be an active participant in his own learning!”

Sarah Kalsem: Shimek Elementary, Iowa City

Vern Duba, a community member, nominated Mrs. Kalsem for this award sharing that “Sarah Kalsem’s science classroom is always taught with a hands-on inquiry-based process involving active learning.”

 

Ted Proctor: Horn Elementary, Iowa City

Laura Westemeyer, a parent, nominated Mr. Proctor for this award sharing that “Ted Proctor extends the curriculum with culmination activities, for example my son and his team built a replica of Kinnick Stadium using measuring, ratios, percentages, art and other concepts to better understand electricity.”

 

Connie Stusak: Jackson Elementary, Cedar Rapids

Robin Sempf, a parent, nominated Mrs. Stusak for this award sharing that “Connie Stusak incorporates hands-on activities that light the fire of learning in her students.”