Krystal Colbert

What a year it has been for Krystal Colbert! As the 2023 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Colbert has traveled the state and beyond to serve as Iowa’s ambassador to education. Her year of service ends this month, but the impact of her work will definitely leave a lasting impression on classrooms and college campuses around the state.

During the past year, Colbert has been a part of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) State Teachers of the Year program. She has been able to attend high-profile activities, such as Space Camp in Alabama and the National College Football Championship in Texas. She also participated in conferences and visits to California and Princeton, New Jersey, where she was able to build lifelong relationships with other Teachers of the Year. Although she has been a part of many exciting experiences at the national level, Colbert does have a favorite, memorable event.  

Krystal Colbert

“My hands-down favorite moment was the Rose Garden ceremony at the White House with my 2023 State Teachers of the Year family, being recognized and honored by President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona," she said. “My husband was able to be there with me, and my students were able to watch the livestream back in Iowa. It was a beautiful moment of being uplifted and celebrated.”

In Iowa, Colbert prioritized the work of supporting pre-service teachers. She visited over 30 teacher preparation programs across the state this past year and often met with them more than once.

“I loved the focus on this work because I was able to share a message with them that would, hopefully, support them in their first years of teaching,” she said. “My message focused on Choosing Grace. Grace is the exercise of love, kindness, mercy and favor. As teachers, it’s important to choose grace by seeing the best in ourselves, our students and their families, our colleagues and our administrators.”

Krystal Colbert

Colbert notes that her year as the Iowa Teacher of the Year also focused on her own learning and skill development. She gained new insight from her fellow state Teachers of the Year and found personal growth by stepping outside of her comfort zone on a daily basis.

“As teachers, we are always growing our own skills,” she said. “There were many days where I doubted that I was good enough at the job I was being asked to do. This year reminded me that I can do hard things. Remaining persistent, having a lot of grit and choosing grace helped me stay the course and achieve my goals.”

Krystal Colbert

In the fall, Colbert will return to Southeast Polk Community School District’s Mitchellville Elementary as a second grade teacher.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing my students,” she said. “I’ve missed their hugs and their smiles, their excitement about learning, their notes they write to me, the stories they tell me and the class family we create each year. I’m excited to get back to my littles!”

Colbert has enjoyed her time as the 2023 Iowa Teacher of the Year. She is passing the baton to Des Moines Hoover High School educator Ann Mincks, who will begin her year of service as the 2024 Iowa Teacher of the Year on July 1, and offers valuable advice.  

Krystal Colbert

“My advice is to try and stay in the moment as much as possible,” she said. “As teachers, we are often thinking, ‘What’s next?’ because we have so much on our plates and so much to prepare. Throughout my year, I really tried to stay focused on what was happening in the moment, so I could create those core memories that would last a lifetime.”

The Iowa Department of Education extends its gratitude and congratulations to Krystal Colbert for her contributions and outstanding work as Iowa’s 2023 Teacher of the Year.