Iowa’s Teacher of the Year visits Sioux City Career Academy

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:25 PM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Inspiring the next generation of teachers. That’s what Iowa’s 2022 “teacher of the year” did at Sioux City’s Career Academy on Tuesday.

Sara Russell teaches social studies at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa. She teaches classes in AP Geography and Modern U.S. History. Though she’s spent the last year as an appointee of Gov. Kim Reynolds, touring the state.

“My takeaway was the whole relationship building as building a relationship with a parent and a student can really help you support your students in the classroom and learn about them so that you can help them grow as a person,” said Conner Moon, describing Russell’s visit to the Career Academy in downtown Sioux City.

During the visit, Russell spoke to prospective teaching students about building lasting relationships and the stark realities of teaching nowadays.

“I just think it’s so important for us to give students as much real-world experience as we can. So they can start to explore careers and start to decide maybe what they like and what maybe they’re not suited for. And so this opportunity is just phenomenal,” said Russell.

Russell has spent her year traveling the state: promoting education in Iowa and meeting with other teachers to hone their skills. Here’s Russell when asked about Iowa’s new “school choice” law, a hot topic in the education community.

“Really in this role my job is to, you know, celebrate education across the state and to celebrate what our amazing educators and students are doing. And so that’s really my focus,” she said.

Her tour stop made a big impact on at least one other senior student, who plans to become a teacher herself.

“And it was really inspirational because she’s such an open book. And it was really great to hear her speak. And it was just a great experience,” said Addyson Jung.

The 2023 Iowa Teacher of the Year is Krystal Colbert from Mitchellville. Siouxland has two finalists, Lori Brandt, a special education teacher in the Sioux Center Community School District, and Levi Letsche, a high school mathematics teacher from the Sheldon Community School District.