George Anderson, a 13-year teaching veteran who presents his history classes as hands-on, problem-solving opportunities, is the Iowa Department of Education’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today at Cedar Rapids’ Kennedy High School.
“Outstanding educators like George Anderson help shape our state’s future,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Providing more than just facts from a page, George brings moments of historical significance to life in the present day. Thank you George and to all our educators for putting Iowans on a path to be successful.”
Anderson, 43, also serves on the school’s leadership team and is an assistant football coach.
“The Teacher of the Year award honors outstanding teachers who have made an impact on their students and colleagues,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “As a former social studies teacher, I was particularly enthusiastic hearing about how George makes social studies come alive and relevant in his classroom.”
Anderson, a former Marine, says he educates students to discover for themselves the concepts behind social studies. (Watch a video Q & A with George Anderson.)
“As a teacher I like active rooms, students moving around and discussing the material with other students,” he said. “I like to see students engage with the material of history in a way that isn’t just fact recollection or sequencing events. I want student-centered dynamics in the classroom. I do not want to be the center of attention.”
In the 61-year history of the Iowa Teacher of the Year program, there have been two Teachers of the Year out of the Cedar Rapids district. The other, Tania Johnson, was named Iowa’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.
Anderson, his wife, Stephanie, and daughters Summer and Brielle, live in Cedar Rapids.
The finalists for the 2020 Teacher of the Year are:
- Corrine Brown, fourth-grade teacher at Cedar Heights Elementary School, Cedar Falls Community School District
- Luis Lemus, dual language teacher at Irving Dual Language Elementary School, Sioux City Community School District
- Dan Loy, fifth-grade teacher at Beaver Creek Elementary School, Johnston Community School District
- Joan Nikkel, seventh-grade language arts teacher, Pella Middle School, Pella Community School District
The Iowa Teacher of the Year award was established in 1958. The annual program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. Honorees serve as ambassadors to education and act as liaisons to schools, higher education, and organizations across the state.