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Marilyn Zweng First Year Teacher Grant

2022 Grant Recipients

Fulltime Mathematics Teachers ($250)

Kayla Britt
High School, Postville High School, Postville

Hello, my name is Kayla Britt, and I recently graduated from Wartburg College with a degree in secondary math education and a minor in leadership. I grew up just a half-hour north in Fredericksburg, Iowa. From the time I was young, I wanted to be a teacher, for I enjoy sharing the joy I have for math even if it may not be someone’s strong suit. My two younger brothers were subjugated to me trying to fill their summer with mini lessons. They were never to fond of this idea and quickly lost interest. To my accord, the lessons were not always about math. I paid attention to what my mom said they needed to work on and crafted my curriculum from there. Fast forward, now I am approaching my first year of teaching Algebra I & II, Geometry, and PreCalculus at a small high school in Postville. As many know, Iowa has primarily white population; however, Postville is a unique community with a third of the population being Hispanic. I am excited to see how diversity is approached in the school and develop meaningful relationships with my students. With this grant, I would like to purchase calculators and other math manipulatives so my students have multiple ways and tools to work through their math problems and develop 21st century skills.

Brooke Dean 
10th Grade, Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf

Morgan Kruse
7th Grade,  George Washington Middle School, Dubuque

Hello, my name is Morgan Kruse. Other than a hiatus where my family moved out of the area, I was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa. I love to travel, try new food, watch movies, and learn ballet. I graduated from Loras College in 2017 with majors in Accounting and Management Information Systems.  After a few years, I realized accounting was not fulfilling to me and did not provide meaningful work. Throughout my career, I began thinking about teaching again - something I had wanted to do since I was in Kindergarten. With the wonderful support of my husband, family, and former educators, I made the exciting leap to earn my Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education from Western Governors University. Teaching has been a lifelong dream of mine. I have always wanted to help others learn and understand information, and I love the feeling of helping a student grasp a concept that may have confused them.  Knowing that I will spend my days helping students is something that fills my cup and brings fulfillment to my life.

I will teach 7th grade mathematics at George Washington Middle School this fall. I will be teaching four classes of 7th grade math, one class of Pre-Algebra, and two Tier II groups. I am looking forward to getting in the classroom and starting the career I have always dreamed of. I cannot wait to meet my students and begin teaching them mathematical principles. I hope I can bring them to love math just as much as I do. These funds would definitely help me in my first year of teaching. I currently have very little in my classroom that I have purchased on my own and decided to wait until I know what I need before I invest in organizers and various materials for the classroom. With this money, I would be able to purchase items for my classroom that would benefit myself and my students. Additionally, I would be able to invest in items that would make my classroom more welcoming and cozy for my students.

Madeline Nelson
7th & 8th Grades, Williams Intermediate, Davenport

My name is Madeline Nelson and I am from Colona, Illinois. I graduated from Central College in Pella, Iowa with an elementary education major, mathematics endorsement, and a music minor. A few of my hobbies are kayaking, kickboxing, and playing music in my church worship team. Throughout my education I have joined many music ensembles including orchestra, drumline, steel pans drums, and Symphonic Wind Ensemble. I will be teaching 7th and 8th grade math at Williams Intermediate in Davenport, Iowa. One of the main reasons I chose to pursue a career in teaching is to help people learn in a way that is fun and best suited for them to grow. Being able to help a student realize they are capable of learning a challenge topic and seeing it click that they can do more is something that I hope to achieve for all of my students.

In Williams Intermediate I will be teaching six periods in the day including accelerated 7th grade math , 8th grade math, and a few 7th and 8th grade periods of math with an ESL co-teacher. I am most looking foward to creating my own classroom environment and getting involved in the school. The funds from this grant will be able to help me buy more manipulatives and classroom supplies. It will also be able to help me to by more materials to decorate my classroom.

Paitin Peters
9th Grade, Ottumwa High School, Ottumwa

My name is Paitin Peters and I will be a first year ninth grade Algebra I teacher at the Ottumwa High School in the fall. I actually graduated from OHS a mere three years ago, so I could not be happier to be back in my hometown serving my community and working alongside some of my favorite educators. After high school, I attended the University of Northern Iowa and majored in Mathematics Teaching. I was fortunate enough to graduate a year early due to having taken so many dual credit courses in high school. Some of my hobbies outside of teaching math include managing my online women’s clothing boutique, engaging in any kind of outdoor activities with friends, and reading.

I am incredibly thankful for the amazing teachers I had in middle and high school that made math fun and accessible for all. What I am most looking forward to next school year is doing exactly that. I want to change students’ preconceived notions that they will never be able to be good at math, or that math is boring. Instead, I want to hold high expectations for my students and teach them they are capable of hard things. The funds from this grant will help me to create this fun and engaging learning environment where students are provided with all the tools they need to make math make sense to them.

Hayden Vroom
Pella Middle School, Pella

My name is Hayden Vroom and I am entering my first year of teaching at Pella Middle School! I will be teaching 8th grade math for the majority of the day with one period of 8th grade science thrown into the schedule as well. I have been very blessed to have been given the opportunity to teach in the town that I grew up in. I was born and raised in the town of Pella, although I actually attended the Christian school in the area. I often joke with colleagues about how I have “ joined the dark side” but I am beyond thrilled to be working in the Pella School District. 

This spring I graduated Central College with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and endorsements in middle school math, science, social studies, and coaching. Looking to my first year of teaching, I am simply excited to interact with students and to see them grow into the people they were meant to be. I believe that the students that are in my classroom are there on purpose, for a purpose and it is my job to help them discover that purpose for themselves. I am excited to serve my students and be a bridge that guides them from where they are now, and where they want to go, wherever that might be by encouraging them along the way. The funds that I receive from this grant will go towards “persistence” posters and updated calculators for my math classroom.

Whitney Weiss
High School, Winterset Community Schools, Winterset

The upcoming school year is approaching and I am currently getting my classroom ready for the year. This past spring I graduated from Iowa State and accepted a position teaching high school math at Winterset Community Schools. This semester I will be teaching Geometry and an elective class called “Project Geometry.” I have a creative and competitive drive that I hope will inspire the students throughout the semester. I am looking forward to creating a positive classroom environment and showing students that math surrounds them everyday in everything they do.

Throughout high school, I was deeply impacted by my teachers and that inspired me to become a teacher. During one of my courses at Iowa State, I was taught how to use manipulatives to teach different math topics. This is something I never experienced in my education career, and through the use of these manipulatives I gained a deeper understanding of the topic. This grant will help me purchase manipulatives for the students to use during many geometry lessons. Geometry is a subject that asks students to think visually. This can be difficult for many to do, so by having hands on materials to build 3D figures students will gain a better grasp of the topics.

Skyler Young
6th Grade, Berg Middle School, Newton

My name is Skyler Young and I am from Sully, Iowa. Some of my hobbies include being with my family and friends, working out, crafts, babysitting, and volunteering my time at various places. I recently graduated from Central College with a degree in Elementary Education as well as other endorsements in Reading and Coaching. In August of 2022, I will be teaching 6th grade math full time at Berg Middle School, located in Newton, Iowa. I plan to teach multiple classes of 6th grade math according to the Iowa Core Standards. The funds will assist me with providing more materials and supplies to the students in my classroom.

I chose the profession of teaching because it has been a passion of mine ever since I entered a school building. It’s an important goal and motivator in my life to help support and interact with children while they learn, grow, develop, and prepare for their future. I want to help the next generation of students love and enjoy school. I have always wanted to become a teacher, and I can’t envision myself in any other profession. I am so excited to start my search for a full-time teaching position in Elementary Education. I have dedicated my life to continually educating myself on the different aspects of the teaching career, so I feel confident in my abilities. I have gained extensive knowledge, experience, and confidence during my time at Central College. I am eager to have my own classroom where I can support the kids that walk through my door socially, emotionally, and academically. I have had the dream of becoming a teacher my entire life and I'm ready for it to become a reality.

JR Zeitler
6th Grade, Cardinal Middle School, Eldon

Hello, I am JR Zeitler. I am originally from Bloomfield, IA ,where I grew up on my family's farm where we raised row crops and cattle. I attended Davis County Schools and chose to attend Central College in Pella, IA where I majored in Elementary Education with endorsements in Middle School Math, Middle School Social Studies, and Coaching. While attending college there, I also was a part of the football team for four years, and I was also the Student Representative for the ICTM Executive Board in 2019 and 2020. 

During my school years, I was always influenced by positive male role models. I wanted to be that person for some kid in their lives. During my first job I will be teaching two double blocks of 6th grade math and two skinny periods of 6th grade social studies. These funds will help me prepare my mathematics classroom with the necessary items to make my classroom innovative and collaborative.

Part-time Mathematics Teachers ($200)

Brooke Finney
1st Grade, Central Lee Community School District, Donnellson

My name is Brooke Finney and I am from Donnellson, Iowa! I am an excited and eager first year teacher! In May, I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Elementary and Middle Level Education. I was very involved at UNI while I served as a Student Admissions Ambassador where I was able to enhance my leadership skills at the college level. Leadership has always been an important part of who I am and I look forward to growing into leadership roles within my career. As my time at college came to an end, I was ready for the next chapter of my life to teach. I moved back and was fortunate to get a job as a first grade teacher at the school I went to my whole life, Central Lee. As a first grade teacher at Central Lee I will be on a team with four other teachers who I am thrilled to collaborate with and learn from! I feel very honored to be able to be a part of the district that inspired me to be a teacher!

I have always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. My mom and dad are both elementary school teachers, so growing up I had wonderful role models that I looked up to as educators. Education has always been a true passion of mine, so entering the field is very rewarding. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to have an impact on lower elementary students. Relationships are a huge part of my teaching philosophy, so I am very excited to begin forming positive relationships with my students. Another thing I am looking forward to is seeing how much my students grow within the year I have them. Funds from this grant would be greatly appreciated to help me collect supplies that will support and enhance learning in my classroom.

Sarah Kruse
4th Grade, Central Lee Community School District, Donnellson

My name is Sarah Kruse. I grew up in Brandon, IA, and met my husband while working through FFA at the Iowa State Fair. After finishing my BA in Finance and Management, I moved to southeast Iowa to be with him.  Once we started to grow our family, I stayed home with our 3 boys while operating an in-home daycare. Our family loves to spend time outdoors: camping, swimming, kayaking, hiking. I enjoy gardening, reading, and spending time with my family.

During the summer before my youngest started kindergarten, I took the substitute authorization class and became a substitute at Central Lee Community School District. Little did I know, I was about to find my true passion. I loved working in the district with the students and staff!  When I went back to full time employment as an administrative assistant in the manufacturing industry, I missed the students, the staff, and the school environment. This drove me to the decision to return to school and earn my Masters in Elementary Education from Western Governor's University. I was able to achieve this in 1 year's time, as I knew this was my true calling. I was very fortunate to complete my observation hours and student teaching at Central Lee, and was able to accept a 4th grade elementary position while doing my student teaching.

I am so excited to be teaching my first year in 4th grade at Central Lee! I can't wait to get the students back to school and start building deeper relationships with them. I will be teaching all subjects in fourth grade. My favorite will be math! 

Grace Leslie
5th Grade, Neil Armstrong Elementary, Bettendorf

My name is Grace Leslie, but I will soon be Mrs. Shepherd, since I'll be getting married this fall. I grew up in the Quad Cities and am very excited to be able to teach here. I have two dogs and love spending time outside. I completed my bachelors at the University of Iowa in 2018 and my masters at Western Governors University in 2022. I'll be teaching 5th grade at Neil Armstrong Elementary in Bettendorf, IA. This will include ELA, Math, and Science.

I'm extremely excited about this year as a whole, but I think my biggest excitement simply comes from having the opportunity to have a positive impact on my students' lives and to make a difference. My goal as an educator is to help students achieve their goals by creating an inclusive, culturally responsive, enriching learning environment that is full of positive energy and student led, inquiry based learning.

The funds from this grant will help me buy supplies to make the learning environment better, specifically lots of manipulatives, as well as the necessary materials for our math curriculum and centers.

Connor McCool
Behavior Disorder Special Education, Neil Armstrong Elementary, Bettendorf

My name is Conner McCool. I grew up in Des Monies Iowa where I attended the Johnston school district. When I graduated from Johnston, I attended Des Moines Area Community College located in Ankeny IA. I decided to attend DMACC because I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do for my career. After I graduated from DMACC with my Associates degree I attended Iowa State University where I studied Child, Adult, and Family Services.

I have been the Behavior Interventionist at Neil Armstrong Elementary for 4 years now and I am in the final year of my Masters program. With my 5th year here at the school, I will be stepping into a new role as their Behavior Disorder Special Education teacher. I am beyond excited about this opportunity and am honored to start my teaching career in the Bettendorf Community School District. This is going to be a challenging transition, but I already have my whole school on my side ready to step in whenever I need a hand. This grant will assist me in buying the basic supplies needed for my new classroom for me to be successful and for my students as well. This will include classroom furniture, teaching tools, basic school supplies students can use in my room, and classroom decor that will help make my classroom a welcoming and safe place for my students to learn and grow.

Madison Reed
Elementary, Vinton- Shellsburg Tilford Elementary, Vinton

My name is Madison Reed and I am from the small town of Urbana, Iowa. I received my bachelors degree in Elementary Education at the University of Northern Iowa and am continuing my education at Morningside University.

I currently live in a small town, within the Vinton- Shellsburg School District, with my boyfriend and our German Shepard, Kolby. I enjoy spending time boating in our jon boat, watching Stranger Things, decorating, and refurnishing dressers. My creative and artistic spark are two of the reasons I began teaching. I wondered all the ways a teacher must be creative in an elementary classroom and, during college, I confirmed this. However, the primary reason I developed a passion for teaching was because of my high school Spanish teacher. Although she was tough on me, she was able to intrinsically motivate me. She had high expectations for me and pushed me to be far greater than I thought was possible. I was so motivated that I went on to take Spanish courses in college. I quickly realized the power an educator holds on students. If I hold my students to high expectations, each student will be capable of success.

While at UNI, I had amazing professors who showed me the power of effective math instruction. My interest in math began there and grew further during student teaching. This experience allowed me to recognize the engagement, various strategies, and curiosity math offers. By far, math is my favorite time of the day and I cannot wait for my fourth graders to feel the same. Each day, I will teach Math to Fourth Graders from 1:25-2:55. If I was awarded the Marilyn Zweng First Year Teacher Grant, I would put it towards flexible seating for my students, professional development opportunities, instructional resources, and college courses as I wish to obtain my masters in Mathematics. During my first year of teaching, I am looking forward to watching my students grow socially and academically. During student teaching, I watched my students progress within a short eight weeks. I am excited to see relationships blossom and skills strengthen throughout the entire nine months in my own classroom. With my caring demeanor and drive by student success, I am certain this will happen.

Luke Rohmiller
3rd Grade, Emerson Elementary, Indianola

My name is Luke Rohmiller and I grew up in Webster City, Iowa. I have always enjoyed being active throughout my life. Sports in which I have been a part of in high school and college include wrestling, boxing, rugby, and football. I continue this love of athletics through coaching. In addition, I also love to read and occasionally write. I graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. My endorsements include ELA, and during the summer of 2023, I plan to also add mathematics and reading endorsements. I have licenses in substitute teaching and coaching. I will be a 3rd grade teacher at Emerson Elementary starting during the fall of 2022.

What led me to teaching was a love for helping others grow, as well as inspiring people to strive for high-set goals, guiding them throughout their journey. I believe that each student has an infinite amount of ability in their own unique way, and my job as an educator is to give them opportunities to explore their passions through learning experiences! At Emerson, I will have 24 students who I will teach each day; mathematics will be an essential part of each day. I plan to begin implementing a thinking classroom, as noted in Peter Liljedahl’s book Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics K-12 (which attributes to a large reason why math for the coming year is what I am most excited to teach). The funds from this grant would allow me to buy more efficient vertical non-permanent surfaces, as well as help in gathering materials for constructivist based tasks for students to partake in.

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