Spirit Lake educator wins top honor from ISEA
SPIRIT LAKE — Kathy Kleen, high school biology, anatomy and AP biology teacher at Spirit Lake High School, was named the 2018 Excellence in Education Award winner. The award is sponsored by the Iowa State Education Association. Kleen was selected among a top field of educators — all nominated by co-workers, students, parents and community members because of the difference they make every day in the lives of Iowa's students.
"This award is truly about recognizing the educators who work hard on a daily basis and rarely get the recognition they so richly deserve," said Mike Beranek, president of the ISEA. The nominations we receive are a testament to the dedication and compassion Iowa educators have for their students and the communities in which they live. Showcasing how educators go above and beyond to help shape the lives of the students they teach is what this award is all about."
Kleen was nominated by a former student who, inspired by her, became a biology teacher in the same school district. In his nomination, he wrote about Kleen inspiring his love of teaching, science and creativity. Kleen's car is in the parking lot before first-light and after dark on most days prepping for her students. She spends extra time outside of the classroom and at other extra curricular activities supporting the students she teaches. Kleen serves as a mentor teacher, has been an association leader, trained student teachers, assisted young chemistry and physics teachers and provided guidance to new and veteran teachers alike. She is the ultimate professional and is loved by students, colleagues and the community.
"It's clear that Kathy's creativity, passion and work all combine to make a tremendous impact in her classroom and beyond, added Beranek. The Excellence in Education Award is about teachers like Kathy who are invested in the lives of their students and go beyond what is expected to make an exceptional educational experience for them."
Now in its 18th year, the Excellence in Education Award honors educators around the state who make a difference in the classroom. Nominations are solicited beginning in January through March.
Kleen received a cash prize of $1,000 from the Iowa State Education Association during an awards ceremony and banquet on Monday, June 30, at the West Des Moines Sheraton in West Des Moines.
Four runners-up were also honored at the Excellence in Education banquet. Dr. Valerie Betz, a family and consumer science teacher at Central DeWitt Community High School in DeWitt; Terri Makinster, a kindergarten teacher at Viola Gibson Elementary School in Cedar Rapids; Cody Lakose an anatomy and science teacher at DeWitt High School in DeWitt; and Lisa Hagemeier, a sixth-grade communications and high school Spanish teacher and speech coach in the Harlan Community School District. All runners-up received $100 courtesy of the ISEA.