Maquoketa teacher named 2014 Iowa Teacher of the Year - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Maquoketa teacher named 2014 Iowa Teacher of the Year

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MAQUOKETA (KWWL) -

An eastern Iowa teacher was honored Friday afternoon as the 2014 Iowa Teacher of the Year.

Jane Schmidt has been with the Maquoketa School District for 25 years. She works as an eighth-grade literacy and language arts teacher.

Peers say it's her leadership, passion, commitment to improvement, and her ability to connect with her students that sets her apart.

Carol Hammill is a retired teacher in the Maquoketa School District. She nominated Schmidt for the 2014 Iowa Teacher of the Year.

"Jane is just so enthusiastic about her subject," Hammill said. "She is so caring and her students. She is always trying to do what is needed to help them become better."

Gov. Terry Branstad was on hand at the Maquoketa Middle School assembly for the announcement.

"It's very touching and humbling. The students, their response was just so inspiring to me," Schmidt said. "I think that's what keeps you teaching -- the reaction of students. You work hard to try and capture their interests and try to engage them with what they are learning. So it's just a joy."

Along with being an eight-grade literacy and language arts teacher, Schmidt also works as a mentor for other teachers in the school district, helping them refine curriculum and check into the effects of different teaching practices across the school district.

"What we have done is try to take and expand her impact so that she is not only teaching in the classroom with the students, but she is also helping teachers all the way from kindergarten through 12th grade improve their craft," said Kim Huckstadt, superintendent of the Maquoketa School District.

Schmidt herself is also learning on improving her craft. She says it is something that is very important for her as a teacher.

"Technology is an important side of teaching," she said. "It is a great tool."

Schmidt says she hopes to inspire other teachers across the state of Iowa to continue learning. She also encourages them to share experiences and coach one another.

"I hope other teachers understand that we need to collaborate," Schmidt said. "We need to coach each other and encourage one another to become better. I encourage people to share ideas."

Schmidt and the finalists will be honored at a luncheon for outstanding Iowa teachers on Nov. 8 in Altoona.

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