Iowa’s top teachers of the year joined Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Iowa Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow today for the 2024 Outstanding Iowa Teachers Recognition Luncheon.

Held at the Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Ankeny, the annual luncheon honored the finalists and winner of the 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year as well as the awardee for the Iowa History Teacher of the Year. All finalists and winners received recognition awards from Gov. Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Gregg and Director Snow.

View photos from the 2024 Outstanding Iowa Teachers Recognition Luncheon on Flickr.

Director Snow served as the luncheon’s master of ceremonies and kicked off the award program with gratitude for the exceptional work of teachers in Iowa.

“At the Department, we have the opportunity to support all educators, which totals more than 38,000 teachers across the state,” Snow said. “All across Iowa, I see the expertise, commitment and care of these impressive professionals. Thank you for your dedication, commitment and for your focus on the success of Iowa students and helping them to realize their incredible potential.”

Krystal Colbert
Krystal Colbert

The current Iowa Teacher of the Year and Mitchellville Elementary School second grade teacher Krystal Colbert spoke at the luncheon about her year of service that highlighted her philosophy on incorporating grace in the classroom.

“It has been an honor to serve as the 2023 Iowa Teacher of the Year,” Colbert said. “I’ve been able to work and interact with over 25 teacher prep programs across the state, with many more still to come. My time with them has been focused around the importance of choosing grace and the lasting impact that can have on both teachers and students.”

The honored keynote speaker for the luncheon was Ann Mincks, the 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year. Mincks, a 16-year English Language Learner educator from Des Moines Hoover High School, is noted for her use of evidence-based science of reading practices to ensure her students learn at high levels and achieve success. As the 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Mincks will serve as an ambassador to Iowa educators starting in July.

Ann Mincks
Ann Mincks

“In the upcoming year, I will strive to motivate, challenge and inspire excellence,” she said. ”I will work hard to earn the respect of students and peers and will continue to take education beyond textbooks and

Jennifer Paulsen
Jennifer Paulsen

Jennifer Paulsen, a 30-year veteran social studies educator at Holmes Junior High School in Cedar Falls, was awarded as the 2023 Iowa History Teacher of the Year. She noted how history can reach and engage kids in events from the past as well as the present, and she reaffirmed her commitment to engaging her students every day.

“In the years I have left in the classroom, I'm going to work on making sure my face lights up for every child that walks through my door,” Paulsen said. “That is what teachers do.”

Luncheon attendees enjoyed a three-course meal prepared and served by the first- and second-year culinary students from DMACC. Music for the event was provided by orchestra director Ann Osborne and three students from the Des Moines Independent Community School District.

Established in 1958, the Iowa Teacher of the Year award honors an Iowa teacher who motivates, challenges and inspires excellence with students and within the field. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History sponsors the Iowa History Teacher of the Year award to recognize the importance of teaching American history to future generations.

Along with Mincks and Paulsen, six finalists for the 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year award were also honored at the Outstanding Iowa Teachers Recognition Luncheon.

  • 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year finalist Daniel Black. Black is a 16-year music educator at Kirn Middle School in Council Bluffs.
  • 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year finalist Thomas Braverman. Braverman is a 35-year veteran special education teacher, formerly of City High School in Iowa City. He is now teaching at the Clear Creek Amana School District.
  • 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year finalist Rachel Evanoff. Evanoff is a 12-year science educator at Alta Vista Campus in Dubuque.
  • 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year finalist Tiffany Herr. Herr is a 14- year elementary educator at Orchard Hills Elementary in Norwalk.
  • 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year finalist Brenda Kaufmann. Kaufmann is a 32-year veteran elementary educator at North Tama Elementary School in Traer.
  • 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year finalist Nicole Schroeder. Schroeder is a 10-year elementary educator at Saydel’s Cornell Elementary in Des Moines.