Heather Anderson: 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year Finalist

Cowles educator Heather Anderson was one of five finalists for 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year honors.

Congratulations to Heather Anderson of Cowles Montessori School who was named one of five finalists for the Iowa Teacher of the Year award by the Iowa Department of Education.

Heather has taught at Cowles since 2004 and to say she’s had an impact there is putting it mildly.

When she arrived the school didn’t offer much in the way of extra-curricular activities for students.

Since then Heather has overseen the implementation of a number of physical fitness opportunities including basketball teams, indoor soccer, golf clinics, yoga classes, cheerleading clinics and a running club which is preparing for the Cowles community’s third annual 5K run/walk event that Heather established in 2011.

No wonder Cowles received a “Healthiest School in Iowa” award in 2010. This year Heather wrote the school’s Fuel up to Play 60 grant and Cowles was awarded $4,000 which will be used to expand on the physical fitness programs already in place, and two years ago helped with Cowles’ successful application for a Farm to School grant from the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

Heather’s also determined to create learning opportunities for Cowles students. Two years ago she organized a school-wide science fair. This year she’s added a drama workshop, a science club will be starting soon, and a school-wide mock election is planned for November.

Nothing indicates Heather’s level of dedication more than the fact that practically all of her innovations at Cowles are in addition to what goes on in her classroom between she and her own designated students. She has created opportunities for not only all of the students at Cowles but for their families and the surrounding community as well. Truly, her level of dedication rises above and beyond the call of her assigned duties.

And how does she go about those?

“I believe in interweaving subjects together such as history, art, music, mathematics, literature, astronomy, biology, geology just to name a few,” she says of her teaching philosophy. “At any one time during the school day all subjects are being studied at all levels. This may seem chaotic but children thrive in this rich learning environment.”

This year’s Iowa Teacher of the Year is Tania Johnson of Cedar Rapids, a longtime kindergarten teacher who recently became the district’s Teacher Quality Liaison. Other finalists were Christine Green, a 7th grade science teacher at North Scott Junior High School in Eldridge; Matt Heston, a mathematics teacher at Knoxville High School in Knoxville; and Joshua Steenhoek, a 5th grade math and science teacher at Jefferson Intermediate School in Pella.

The winner and finalists were 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.

All five educators will be honored at a luncheon for outstanding Iowa teachers on October 26 at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines.

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.

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