2019 I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award Recipients

The Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and Kemin Industries joined together to honor teachers who are inspiring Iowa’s students to develop a passion for STEM subjects. The I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award Program is for teachers who are making a significant difference in the lives of students across the state by providing excellent curriculum, encouraging lifelong learning and inspiring a passion for STEM beyond the classroom and into the future.

The a panel of judges selected the recipients of the 2019 I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award, including:

Northwest STEM Region

JoAnne Sackett, Explore Lab teacher at Okoboji Elementary School, ends every class period with the chant, “We are MAKERS!” Since the implementation of Okoboji Elementary Explore Lab last year, she has engaged students at every grade to interdisciplinary STEM learning with their core class curriculum. Her kindergarteners explore the habitat and identify of bugs; her first graders combine literature, geography and engineering in a bridge building unit; and her third graders code music, build instruments and write and perform music in partnership with their music classroom. JoAnne continues to develop herself professionally as an officer of the Dickinson County Nature Center Board and as a STEM consultant to the YMCA of the Okobojis and Camp Foster. She was accepted to participate in the GenCyber Camp at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, and also to attend the 2017 Minnesota TIES Conference. Prior to being in STEM education, Mrs. Sackett taught Gifted Education and served on the Iowa Talented and Gifted Board.

North Central STEM Region

Sharon Jaeschke, math teacher and robotics coach at Southeast Valley High School has been teaching math for close to 30 years. Her trigonometry course is especially loved by students and was created using floor activities to convey lessons such as graphing trig functions and “human reference triangles.” She presented her trigonometry course work at the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics State Conference in 2017. In 2000, she created the Math Club to inspire students to enroll in upper level math courses and consider math careers. The club has since expanded to be the Math and Science Club and over half of the Southeast Valley Class of 2018 were members. Sharon was one of eight Iowa teachers chosen to attend a NASA workshop at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. This past summer, she was one of the 24 teachers in the country chosen to attend the seventh Annual U.S. Air Force/FIRST Leadership Experience at Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso, Florida. She is also a member of the Iowa State Mathematics Council and is a founding member and current secretary of the Iowa Pre-Calculus Advisory Council.

Northeast STEM Region

Ann Gritzner, science teacher and Project Based Learning teacher leader at Central Community High School, has been in education for 25 years and became a Project Based Learning Lead Teacher in 2014, now working to strengthen Central Community School District’s work-based and project-based learning. Her Global Science and Environmental Project Monitoring class offered her students the opportunities to repurpose unsellable clothes at a local consignment shop; improve Elkader’s downtown area with native plants as part of the Main Street Challenge Grant; work with local producers to offer fresh foods to Central High School’s kitchen; and research, design, test and implement a composting system for their school. The project received an Iowa Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award. Ann also sponsors Central’s Green Team and leads the Student Compost Team, leading her and her students to receive the Clayton County Conservation Awareness Network’s Volunteer Service Award.

Southwest STEM Region

Lacy West, seventh and eighth grade science teacher at Missouri Valley Middle School, has received two STEM Scale-Up Programs from the STEM Council that have allowed her students to work with motorized toy cars and fuel cell cars, and also compete with National Ten80 racing. Through funding from Donors Choose, she has also received a forensic science kit and a 3D printer for her students. Earlier this year, she had her students research different school safety devices that would help keep doors locked during an emergency situation that were also cost effective. Her students designed prototypes, 3D printed the prototypes and tested their designs. This type of real-world STEM learning provided her students’ knowledge on a variety of STEM career options, the process of testing and adjusting ideas, and brought on great societal conversation. Lacy sits on a WIC Professional Learning Community with four other science teachers to create common assessments for science. She has also planned multiple science workdays for vertical alignment of Missouri Valley science educators.

South Central STEM Region

Matthew Eddy, agricultural teacher and CASE Curriculum leader at Southeast Polk High School, has worked with local business to provide job shadow opportunities for his students, who have accumulated over 380 hours of industry experience. His Advanced Science Summer Lab allows students to run the birthing display at the Animal Learning Center at the Iowa State Fair each summer, while also earning internship credit with DMACC. He created the RAM: Farm to Folk program at Southeast Polk, where his students set out to improve the school’s aquaculture system. They have raised around 125 Barramundi fish to provide a fresh fish supply to their cafeteria and have grown 132 pounds of romaine lettuce in over 500 spots in aquaponic grow beds. Matt has completed all four courses of CASE curriculum certification and has earned the distinction of Master Lead CASE Teacher, leading institutes in five states with over 400+ hours of training for other agriculture teachers. Matt also sits as a secondary teacher for the U.S. Department of Education on the National FFA Board of Directors.

Southeast STEM Region

Jacob Hunter, agricultural science teacher at North Scott High School, helps oversee North Scott’s student-run 60-acre test plot, where students are beginning to test drone technology and GID mapping trials. He created an “early bird” club for experiential learning before school where ten students are worked with a local professional to restore a tractor. Due to the work Jacob did with the North Scott school board, administration, local community members and neighboring school districts, the North Scott District will be establishing an Ag Science and Technology Innovation Center for the Quad Cities metro. Jacob has completed all four courses of CASE curriculum certification and has completed all three modules for Next Generation Science Standards. He serves on the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force organized by the National Association of Ag Educators, is a member of the Iowa FFA Association board of directors and is an active member and mentor in the Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators.