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Marilyn Zweng First Year Teacher Grant

2021 Grant Recipients

Fulltime Mathematics Teacher ($250)

Cole Berkenpas
7th & 8th Grade, LeMars Community School District, Le Mars

I am a recent graduate of the University of Iowa and will be teaching 7th and 8th grade general mathematics this coming school year at Le Mars Community Schools, of which I am an alum. During my time at the University of Iowa, I had the incredible opportunity to work with students from different backgrounds and skill levels across multiple grades of my 5-12 license. Undoubtedly, my favorite memories from these experiences involve students. The first time I made the grumpy kid laugh and engage, the time where I made a genuine connection with the student labeled BD that most teachers had written off, or the time when the entire class groaned at one of my awful jokes are all in competition for my favorite memory. Looking ahead to my current teaching assignment, I am most excited to engage with the students and help them have a greater appreciation for mathematics. Some fun facts about me are that I enjoy taking my golden retriever, Sunni, out on walks, I love spending time with family, and there is not another job I would rather have than being a math teacher.

If awarded this grant I plan on using it to help purchase several things that will support student curriculum. The first thing I plan to obtain is a classroom set of individual marker boards. This will help students with computational skills as they begin learning the basics of algebra, which can be a tricky subject for students to grasp. Another thing I hope to acquire is a magnetic coordinate plane. This will be used to help students visualize how to graph points and how to graph the slope of a basic linear function. Finally, I would also like to procure some manipulatives for students that are more visual/physical thinkers. By having this hands-on approach I hope to engage more students and make my lessons more meaningful to them. Without question, the grant will go to good use for the 7th and 8th graders at Le Mars Community Middle School.

Ethan Cain
6th Grade, Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School, Dubuque

My name is Ethan Cain, and I am a 6th grade mathematics teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Dubuque, IA. I am also coaching middle school wrestling and football this school year. I graduated from the University of Dubuque in December 2020. While at the University of Dubuque, I completed a summer research fellowship and studied the similarities and differences in mathematics teaching practices between a school in Iowa and a school in Sweden. I like to stay active. Some of my hobbies include woodworking, hiking, and competing in triathlons and half-marathons. At Roosevelt Middle School, I will be exclusively teaching mathematics. I will be teaching 5 sections of mathematics. 4 sections are general education mathematics. I will also teach one section of honors mathematics. Because 6th grade is the first year that honors is offered, I will teach the honors at an accelerated speed. These students will learn all of the 6th grade math content along with half of the 7th grade math content. This grant will help me tremendously during my first month or two of teaching mathematics. It will allow me to provide the resources that I need as a teacher. I will also be able to provide additional resources for my students. I plan to use this grant money to purchase classroom necessities and hands-on manipulatives which will help the students better learn the content.

Lucas Den Herder
High School Math, Western Christian High School, Hull

I am Lucas Den Herder and I graduated from Dordt University in May of 2021 with a degree in Secondary Education, emphasis on Mathematics. I was hired by my alma mater Western Christian (Class of 2016). Last school year I worked at Western Christian as a part of my student teaching experience helping fill a teaching vacancy while completing my degree. I have also spent the past three years working as a coach in the boys basketball program. My mother and grandparents are also graduates of Western Christian so this is a special place for me!

Shayna Engelhardt
High School Math, AGWSR High School, Ackley

My name is Shayna Engelhardt and I am originally from Allison, Ia. I attended North Butler Schools where I quickly noticed my passion for teaching. In middle and high school I taught music at my area church to kids which we would then perform at church services. This is what really made my passion for teaching so high. I attended Wartburg College where I completed my Secondary Mathematics Teaching degree. In my first two years on campus I was actually a K-12 Music Education teacher, but I noticed that mathematics teachers were in higher demand and therefore switched to mathematics which was always my favorite subject in high school. Through my time at Wartburg I spent a majority of my time in extra-curriculars and if I wasn’t doing that I was working. I quickly realized how challenging it was going to be to go to college and pay my bills as well as get involved on campus. Looking back I realized how busy I was and how much that will help me in the future as a mathematics teacher. I know that being a teacher consists of more than just the typical “8 hour day” and that I will be doing work at home. Therefore being busy on campus benefited me as I know what it is like to be on the go for a lot of things. Here at AGWSR I am super excited to complete my first year of teaching. Coming from a smaller school myself I know how important it is to not only make sure I know what I’m doing, but that I also consult with the other high school mathematics teacher so that way the students are able to switch between the both of us and not struggle. AGWSR has welcomed me with open arms and I am so excited to begin my journey.

Brittney Fredericks
Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, & Geometry, Newton High School, Newton

I am currently getting ready to begin my first year of teaching at the Newton High School. This semester I’ll be teaching two sections of Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, and Geometry. I recently graduated from Iowa State University where I was heavily involved in the student club, Equipping Math Teachers (EMT), an affiliate student group of NCTM. Being a part of EMT allowed me to gain various experiences that have helped me in my continuous journey becoming the best teacher I can be, such as leading outreach activities and collaborating with experts in the field of mathematics education.

I aspired to become a mathematics educator to provide students with opportunities to problem solve and grow as an entire person, not because of the income. The grant would help me fulfill that goal by providing resources for students such as manipulatives and having access to the resources provided by ICTM.

Kailee Meyer 
Algebra I and Algebra II, Newton High School, Newton

I am about to start my first year of teaching high school mathematics at Newton High School. Throughout my childhood, I had always dreamed of becoming a teacher and shaping the lives of future generations. I grew up in Tipton, Iowa, and both of my parents are educators. Watching their excitement about their jobs was always the main reason why I wanted to become an educator. They would tell me stories about their students’ successes, and I started to imagine myself having those stories to tell as well. I began attending Central College in 2017 and graduated with a major in Secondary Education for Mathematics in May 2021. I have accepted a teaching position at Newton High School in Newton, Iowa for this upcoming school year where I will be teaching Algebra I, Algebra II, and Math Lab.

While the projected income of a high school math teacher in the state of Iowa isn’t an ideal income for many, it is a career that I not only want to pursue but something I am also passionate about. This grant will allow me to purchase materials that make my classroom student-centered. As an educator, I believe the purpose of education is to prepare young minds for a lifetime of potential success. This idea includes all students, whether they will go to college, a two-year program, trade school, or straight into the workforce. Incorporating a range of instructional strategies to present notes, hands-on activities, or provide any additional information to the class can help all students succeed. To do this, I am utilizing new technology, multiple mathematical instruments, and differentiated instruction. Overall, your grant will allow me to create a positive classroom environment where every student can learn and feel welcome.

Louise Tsafack Mila, East High School, Des Moines

I am Louise Tsafack Mila. I have a master's degree in mathematics of education from Iowa State University. I enjoy music and play with my two boys in my free time. Mathematics is a subject that I enjoy doing, and It can be explained by my desire to become a teacher and explain it to students at all levels.

This year I will be teaching algebra one, and I understand that algebra can sometimes be frustrating if we do not use manipulatives to make it concrete to students. The grant will help me buy the manipulatives and decorative posters to use in my classroom to enhance my students' learning.

Lauren Pedersen
6th Grade, Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School, Dubuque

I am from Clinton, Iowa, where I graduated from Clinton High School and earned my Associate Degree from Clinton Community College. After I received my Associate Degree, I moved to Dubuque where I would attend the University of Dubuque and later receive my Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education in Math with a Middle School endorsement in Math and Social Studies. I graduated from the University of Dubuque in December of 2020 after completing my student teaching at Washington Middle School. I was extremely excited when I was offered the position at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School to teach 6th grade math full-time. 6th grade math was my dream job. I student taught with this grade level and absolutely loved them! I am getting them at the beginning of their middle school career, which is a scary time for them. I am here to alleviate some of the fear, teach them math, and have fun! I have always had a passion for math and spreading that passion through teaching. I am ready to begin the 2021-2022 school year, which will be much different from last year due to the Pandemic. If awarded this grant money, I will use this to begin building my classroom. As a first-year teacher, I still need quite a few supplies for my room. This money will help me purchase the supplies I need to make sure I have a classroom that is ready for student learning. I believe this grant is an incredible opportunity for first year teachers!

Stephanie Peiffer
7th Grade Math, Algebra II, College Algebra, Precalculus, and Consumer Math, Belle Plain Jr/Sr High School, Belle Plain

My name is Stephanie Peiffer and I will be starting my first year teaching at Belle Plain Jr/Sr High School. In the fall of 2020, I completed my student teaching experience and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a mathematics education degree. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I was in high school because I loved helping people and working with kids. My first job was teaching swim lessons to kids in my community and I absolutely loved watching the progress the students made throughout the week. Because of this experience, I knew that teaching was the right career for me. I am very excited to finally watch my dreams become a reality in the next few days.

At Belle Plain, I will be teaching 7th grade math, Algebra II, College Algebra, precalculus, and consumer math. The teacher that I am replacing has taught for 50+ years and I am grateful that he was able to help me prepare for my first year. Though the teacher was loved by everyone in the community, multiple things in the room are outdated which is why I am applying for the Marilyn Zweng First Year Teacher Grant. As a first year teacher, I have to start from scratch and this grant will help get me started. My goal is to make sure my students have everything they need to be successful and to make my classroom a safe environment.

John Petrzelka
High School Math, Washington High School, Washington

I am John Petrzelka, a first-year math teacher. I am originally from Amana, Iowa and attended Clear Creek Amana. Upon graduation, I attended the University of Iowa as an undeclared student. At this time, I was not sure of what I wanted to study, though math education was always one of my ideas. After ruling out a couple of other options, and taking several general education classes, I decided to declare my major, Mathematics and Math Education, near the end of my first year in college. I am fortunate to be one of the first students from the university of Iowa to receive the B.A. in mathematics education as part way through my college career The University of Iowa was authorized by the board of regents to confer this degree. My other degree, a B.A. in mathematics, I am also grateful for because it shows my expertise in my content area. I was given many trials though college, though I am sure this is a prevailing theme of first year teachers this year. Through college I enjoyed participating the Hawkeye marching band each fall and other musical ensembles throughout the year.

This grant would help me most in preparing my classroom to be the best version that it can be. It would help me cover some of the costs of classroom materials and activities. It would also help me in acquiring teaching materials. In all this money would help me get off the ground and give my students the best possible experience.

Bridget Schaufenbuel
Algebra & Geometry, Clayton Ridge High School, Guttenberg

I recently graduated from Wartburg College with a major in Secondary Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. My college coursework, field placements, and student teaching experiences gave me extensive knowledge in mathematics, teaching, and technology. I had the opportunity to work with various levels of education ranging from elementary to college through my course placements and jobs I had during college. My placements included middle school, high school, and special education environments; and my job positions included tutoring college students in the Wartburg Math Lab. leading STEM camps for elementary children in the summer, and more. Now, in less than a few weeks, I will be starting my full-time teaching position at Clayton Ridge High School. My focus will be Algebra and Geometry for a majority of the day. Though I have a lot of preparation, I am anxious to see what this first year of teaching will bring.

I have been gathering old school supplies that I have to take to school for students to use if needed. However, I have not even begun to think of things I may need for myself to use when I start teaching. Not only would this grant assist with supplies I want on hand for students, but I will be able to buy items I may need while teaching. As a first-year teacher, this grant will allow me to purchase quality supplies I think of as soon as the school year begins, once I have the classroom full of students ready to learn.

Part-time Mathematics Teacher Grants ($200)

Rylie Conway
3rd Grade, Cardinal Elementary School

My name is Rylie Conway, and I am going to be a first year teacher at Cardinal Elementary School in Eldon teaching third grade. As one of four third grade teachers in the district, I am excited to start creating meaningful relationships with students and staff. In May of this year, I graduated from Central College in Pella with a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in reading and a minor in Spanish.

Duing my college career, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Merida, Mexico and Granda, Spain. I connected a passion for traveling with my love for students by completing an internship in a local school in Spain where I helped teach English to native Spanish speakers. This summer, I also had the opportunity to work as a tutor counselor for Central College’s Upward Bound. This program provides academic support for low-income high school students from Des Moines and the surrounding area who will be first generation college students. Through this experience, I was able to mentor students in college level classes and connect with them outside of class. In my free time, I love to be outdoors and enjoy nature by hiking, kayaking, or hammocking.

This grant will be extremely beneficial as I begin creating a productive learning environment for my students. Throughout college and student teaching I realized the financial commitment that is needed to develop a classroom. This grant would allow me to purchase books for my classroom library, learning materials, math manipulatives, and organizational items to help cultivate a classroom that is welcoming and safe. Additionally, I would appreciate the ICTM membership to utilize its many resources during my mathematics instruction.

Beth Duffield 
4th Grade, 
Lucia Wallace Elementary School Algona

I will be teaching fourth grade at Lucia Wallace Elementary School in Algona, Iowa. I recently received a degree in Elementary Education from Iowa State University, and my endorsements are in math, reading, language arts, and coaching. I grew up in Humboldt, Iowa and graduated from Humboldt High School in 2017.

Growing up, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a young girl. My mom has been teaching 2nd grade for over 30 years and was my inspiration to enter the profession. My experience at Iowa State University was one I will never forget. I enjoyed all my education classes, practicums, as well as my student teaching experience. I can remember my favorite class at Iowa State - a class about teaching elementary mathematics. I learned many tools to help students develop their mathematical thinking and have a positive mindset about the subject. I am excited to implement this valuable knowledge in my own classroom.

This grant would be very helpful during my first month of teaching. It would help me to buy the necessary school supplies for my new classroom. In return, I will feel well prepared and confident when entering my first-year teaching. My goal is to help my students achieve success and this grant would certainly support that.

Shana Jannusch
2nd Grade, Richardson Elementary, Fort Madison

My name is Shana Jannusch and I am very excited to begin my teaching career this fall at Richardson Elementary in Fort Madison, Iowa. I get the privilege of teaching 2nd grade there! Teaching is something that I have always dreamed of doing. When I was 30 years old I finally made the decision to return to school to pursue that dream. I received my Bachelor of Arts In Elementary Education from Western Governors University in May of 2021.

I am the proud mother to an amazing 7 year-old boy who has been quite the inspiration I needed to get into education and make a positive impact on the children in our community. I could not have made it through all of my 100% online classes while still working full time if I had not had the support of him and my wonderful husband.

This grant will be very helpful in getting essential supplies for my classroom during my first month of teaching. During my student teaching I noticed several tools that teachers have that enhance their ability to teach their students effectively-either by saving time or helping students learn the material. Many of these items are something I will need to pay for out of my own pocket. These tools include pocket charts, name plates for students desks, extra material such as scissors and glue at stations throughout the classroom, posters for bulletin boards, folders, individual student whiteboards, an electric pencil sharpener, construction paper and math manipulatives like magnetic money and tens sticks.

Andrea Veldman
7th Grade, Netherlands Reformed Christian School, Rock Valley

My name is Andrea Veldman, and I am excited to kick off the school year! I was born and raised in South Dakota, and I enjoyed growing up on an 11 acre farm. My mother is a teacher, so she sparked my love for the profession at a young age. She homeschooled my four siblings and I through the 8th grade. After that, I went to Western Christian High School in Hull, Iowa. More recently, I attended Dordt University in Sioux Center. I pursued a degree in Elementary Education, with a Middle School Math and Science endorsement.

In the spring of this year, I found a job opportunity that fit my interests well and applied at Netherlands Reformed Christian School in Rock Valley, Iowa. They offered me a contract, and starting soon, I will be teaching 7th grade science and math, along with general music for the 4th through 6th graders. I will also help accompany the choir as I greatly enjoy playing the piano.

Grant money will allow me to have more freedom in buying supplies for my classroom. Specifically in the area of math, I would love to purchase some math games, Rubik's cubes, and the like to supplement lessons with exploration activities. I also would have extra money to help supply rulers, binders, protractors, compasses, and the like to students as needed.

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