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The Iowa Children’s Museum: The Robert E. Yager Active Learning Award 2019 Honorees

By January 30, 2019 No Comments

(Coralville, Iowa) – At The Iowa Children’s Museum, we believe in the Power of Play and in the positive impact of active learning on child development and education. Research overwhelmingly asserts that students learn best when they actively participate in their own learning.

Many excellent educators in our community dedicate themselves to content expertise and facilitating active learning, providing students opportunities to become engaged learners and dynamic thinkers. In recognition of this strength in our educational community, The Iowa Children’s Museum is honoring four outstanding educators with the Robert E. Yager 2019 Active Learning Award.

Any local educator (teacher, administrator, para-professional, or specialist) who has made a significant contribution to student-centered active learning is eligible for the award. Nominations were submitted from parents, educators, administrators, students, and community members.

The 2019 Honorees noted for their exceptional work to provide children with rich, active learning experiences include:

● Kari Cushion, 2nd Grade Teacher, Alexander Elementary, Iowa City
● Amy Erickson, Before & After School Coordinator, Borlaug Elementary, Coralville
● Naomi Larson, Alternative Kindergarten Teacher, Lisbon Community Schools
● Jo Nowak-Thompson, Pre-school Teacher, Washington Elementary, Mt. Vernon

The Robert E. Yager Active Learning awards will be presented to the 2019 honorees at The Iowa Children’s Museum’s annual Celebrate Play Gala on February 22, 2019, at the Coralville Marriott Hotel.

The Museum congratulates the many outstanding teachers in our community who were nominated for their work in advancing active learning in the classroom this year.

● Lisa Hildebrand, PE Teacher, Van Allen Elementary, Iowa City
● Katy Lincoln, 1st Grade Teacher, Regina Elementary, Iowa City
● Correne Bass, 5th Grade Teacher, Weber Elementary, Iowa City
● Amy Miller, 2nd Grade Teacher, Riverdale Heights, Bettendorf
● Susan Toth, PE/Health Teacher, Willowwind School, Iowa City
● Beth McNutt, Early Childhood Itinerant Teacher, Grantwood AEA, Cedar Rapids
● Deidra Benser, Preschool Teacher, Little Angel Learning Center, Iowa City
● Anna Gibbs, Special Education Teacher, Garner Elementary, North Liberty
● Dustin Schneider, 2nd Grade Teacher Prairie Hill Elementary, Cedar Rapids
● Jennifer Balvanz, Kindergarten Teacher, Prairie Trail Elementary, Ankeny
● Stephanie Jenson, PreK Teacher, Lakeview Elementary, Solon
● Mo Gingerich, 4th Grade Teacher, Mid-Prairie West Elementary, Wellman
● Laurie Thompson, 1st Grade Teacher, Faith Academy, Iowa City
● Katie Eichhorn, Special Needs Teacher, Johnson STEAM Academy, Cedar Rapids
● Jennifer Brauns, Afterschool Care, Saint Mary & Mathias Schools, Muscatine
● Lauren Willberg, Preschool & Music Together Teacher, Preucil School, Iowa City
● Krystle Davis, 6th Grade Teacher, Regina Catholic Education Center, Iowa City
● Tessa Strabala, Special Education Teacher, Tiffin Elementary, Tiffin
● Michelle Koenighain, Curriculum Director/Lead Teacher, Williamsburg Child Center
● Malissa Pryoy, Kindergarten Teacher, Lincoln Elementary, Macomb, Illinois
● Aspen Lohman, 1st Grade Teacher, Coralville Central, Coralville
● Mary Rockafellow, 1st Grade Teacher, Regina Catholic Education Center, Iowa City
● Colleen Baldrige, Preschool Teacher, Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, IC
● Kaye Lindsley, Preschool Teacher, Willowwind School, Iowa City
● Nicole Upchurch, Early Childhood Teacher, Prairie Green School, Cosgrove
● Val Calderwood, Kindergarten Teacher, Penn Elementary, North Liberty

What Does Exemplary Active Teaching Look Like? 

Less Emphasis On…


More Emphasis On…
Treating all students alike and responding to the group as a whole Understanding and responding to individual student’s interests, strengths, experiences, and needs
Rigidly following curriculum Selectively adapting curriculum to students’ needs
Presenting content through lecture, text, and demonstration Guiding students in active and extended inquiries
Focusing on student acquisition of information Focusing on student understanding and use of knowledge, idea, and inquiry process
Asking for recitation of acquired knowledge Providing opportunities for discussion and debate among students
Testing students for factual information at the end of the unit or chapter Continuously assessing student understanding and involving students in the process
Maintaining responsibility and authority Sharing responsibility for learning with students
Supporting competition Supporting a classroom community with cooperation, shared responsibility, and respect
Working alone Working with other teachers to enhance their teaching methods and strategies

The Iowa Children’s Museum (ICM) is a unique family attraction in Iowa and recognized as a leader in the field of informal learning through its innovative approach in providing hands-on, minds-on exhibits and programs.  The mission of the ICM is to inspire every child to imagine, create, discover, and explore through the power of play.  The ICM’s vision to help all children reach their greatest potential while nurturing life-long learning includes working with diverse community organizations to present family activities that enrich the quality of life of community residents.  The Iowa Children’s Museum is a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization.

For more information, please contact:

Jeff Capps, Executive Director
The Iowa Children’s Museum
319.625.6255 x210