Cedar Rapids teacher is Iowa's Teacher of the Year

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- A Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School teacher is this year's Iowa Teacher of the Year.

History teacher George Kennedy has been awarded the honor. He's been teaching for 13-years, and is also an assistant football coach.

“Outstanding educators like George Anderson help shape our state’s future,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Providing more than just facts from a page, George brings moments of historical significance to life in the present day. Thank you George and to all our educators for putting Iowans on a path to be successful.”

“The Teacher of the Year award honors outstanding teachers who have made an impact on their students and colleagues,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “As a former social studies teacher, I was particularly enthusiastic hearing about how George makes social studies come alive and relevant in his classroom.”

The 43-year-old Anderson, served in the Marines, and says he educates students to discover for themselves the concepts behind social studies.

“As a teacher I like active rooms, students moving around and discussing the material with other students,” he said. “I like to see students engage with the material of history in a way that isn't just fact recollection or sequencing events. I want student-centered dynamics in the classroom. I do not want to be the center of attention.”

In the 61-year history of the Iowa Teacher of the Year program, there have been two Teachers of the Year out of the Cedar Rapids district. The other, Tania Johnson, was named Iowa’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.

Anderson, his wife, Stephanie, and daughters Summer and Brielle, live in Cedar Rapids.

The finalists for the 2020 Teacher of the Year are:

  • Corrine Brown, fourth-grade teacher at Cedar Heights Elementary School, Cedar Falls Community School District
  • Luis Lemus, dual language teacher at Irving Dual Language Elementary School, Sioux City Community School District
  • Dan Loy, fifth-grade teacher at Beaver Creek Elementary School, Johnston Community School District
  • Joan Nikkel, seventh-grade language arts teacher, Pella Middle School, Pella Community School District

The Iowa Teacher of the Year award was established in 1958. The annual program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. Honorees serve as ambassadors to education and act as liaisons to schools, higher education, and organizations across the state.