Meredith’s Jodi Osthus Earns Top Teaching Award from UNI
In addition to two finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching (Central Campus math teacher Brian Reece and Roosevelt math teacher Jeff Marks), two finalists for Iowa Teacher of the Year (Smouse special education teacher Kristi Wickre and Central Campus Chef Elaine Wolf), the recipient of the ISEA’s Excellence in Education award (Cowles teacher Heather Anderson), and the teachers-of-the-year in the subjects of physical education (Hanawalt’s John Baker) journalism (North’s Ben Graeber), elementary art (Findley’s Sarah Dougherty) and middle school art (Findley’s Lisa Jorgensen), now there’s Jodi Osthus, a math teacher at Meredith Middle School since 1994 and the latest recipient of the Dr. Robert E. and Phyllis M. Yager Exemplary Teaching Recognition Award bestowed annually by the University of Northern Iowa on one of its own.
The intent of the awards is to recognize exemplary science and mathematics teaching by University of Northern Iowa graduates. Teachers are nominated by UNI science and math faculty members and are UNI graduates in at least their fifth year of teaching in a K through 12 classroom. Awardees are selected on the basis of teaching materials, nomination letters and student references. Nominees were asked to submit a video of their teaching and a supporting essay.
Osthus was nominated by Dr. Ed Rathmell, a mathematics professor at UNI, who noted that she was a bright and dedicated student. Rathmell also described Osthus’s teaching as ahead of its time as she was instrumental in developing methods of teaching problem-solving that were eventually incorporated into the curricula in schools throughout Iowa.
The respect between professor and former student is mutual. In accepting her award during a ceremony at UNI on December 6, Osthus noted, “Dr. Edward Rathmell, along with other University of Northern Iowa mathematics minor professors and middle school mathematics graduate program professors, shaped my career. They taught me the importance of having students problem solve, reason, make connections, and communicate mathematically. Their knowledge and guidance continue to shape my daily lessons.”
If you watch Osthus roam the classroom tossing out questions and high-fives, you’ll quickly appreciate her knack for making math relevant to middle schoolers.
“Math is inquiry and problem-solving,” she points out, “and so is life in general, right?”
With Meredith’s designation as an International Baccalaureate school Osthus seized the opportunity to teach kids that not only is math directly relevant to their personal worlds, it is also truly a global language that all nations and cultures have in common.
“Jodi Osthus is an excellent math teacher who encourages her students to find multiple ways to explore math. She provides opportunities for the students to take what they have learned and apply it to real world situations,” said Meredith principal Cindy Flesch. “Mrs. Osthus also incorporates service learning into class and most recently partnered with the Red Cross to raise funds for the Colorado flood victims.”