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Gov. Branstad announces 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year

This news story was published on October 28, 2016.
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educationDES MOINES – 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.

Finalists for the Iowa Department of Education’s 2017 Teacher of the Year are:

· 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 Swalesdale, who teaches kindergarten at North Butler Elementary School
· Andrew Troxel of West Point, who teaches social studies at Fort Madison Senior High School

The Iowa Teacher of the Year award was established in 1958. The annual program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. Honorees serve as ambassadors to education and act as liaisons to schools, higher education, and organizations across the state.

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