Vinton, IA — On Tuesday, February 26, 2019, VSCSD Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock, Middle School Principal Shelly Peterson and seventh-grade science teacher, Kris Howes-Vonstein, traveled to Des Moines for the annual Outstanding Iowa Teachers Recognition Luncheon. The luncheon was hosted by Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise, Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg to honor the service of eleven of Iowa’s top teachers.
The luncheon recognized finalists and winners of the 2019 Iowa Teacher of the Year award, the Iowa Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and the State History Teacher of the Year Award.
Past, present and future Teacher of the Year teachers were honored including 2018’s Iowa Teacher of the Year Aileen Sullivan, 1958’s Jean Listebarger Humphrey, and 2019’s Christopher Burke.
The process to becoming a finalist for Iowa Teacher of the Year includes a few steps. First, Ms. H-V was nominated by Middle School Principal, Shelly Petersen last spring. Then in June 2018, she was asked to complete an application and essay questions. In September, she learned that she was one of the four finalists and was invited to interview in Des Moines before the selection committee which included representatives of the Iowa Department of Education (DE), the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI), the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), the past Iowa Teacher of the Year, and representatives from higher education institutions.
Mary Jo Hainstock, VSCSD Superintendent, comments, “Congratulations to our own Kris Howes-Vonstein for receiving this honor. Ms. H-V has been making a difference for the students in our district for almost 30 years. She continues to come to school with a drive and a passion for supporting our students and their learning. Please join me in thanking her for her work on behalf of our students and the school district. She is a Difference Maker!”
At a recent teacher professional development day for VSCSD staff, Ms. H-V shared that Difference Maker attitude in a presentation she gave titled “Light their Candles.” In her address, she encouraged her peers to keep caring about their students and each other using candles and the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness” for illustrating her point.
Ms. Howes-Vonstein credits family and community for her success. Her family includes her husband, Eric, who she describes as the “behind the scene guy who helps when I have a great idea and need “things” put together. He’s been supporting me my entire teaching career.” They have two daughters, Emily a junior at ISU and Lucy who is a sophomore at VS. As for the community, Kris says, “I love living in a small community. I see my students at the grocery store, at church, and at community events. I now am teaching the children of my first students. For thirty years, I have strived to connect student learning to the community through projects.”