Gold Star teacher nomination deadline nears

The Gold Star Award nominations for 2024 close out and the 10 teachers that are awarded win $1,000 in cash and $1,000 for their classroom to help underpaid and underappreciated teachers.

Since 1989, the McElroy trust, partnered with KWWL, has awarded more than 350 teachers in Black Hawk Iowa for their continued dedication to teaching. More recently than ever teachers are underpaid and overworked, often having to work another job to help pay the bills. The Gold Star Award hopes to give back to talented teachers who change lives everyday in their classrooms. To find who should be awarded, a volunteer committee looks through the hundreds of nominations sent in by students, parents, and other teachers and selects which teachers should be awarded the Gold Star. 

English teacher Brenna Griffin was one of these teachers who was awarded the Gold Star Award in 2023. Here’s some more about her and why the award is so important to teachers.

Q: Why did you want to be a teacher?

A: Probably the main reason I wanted to become a teacher is because of the desire to create communities among students. I had a really good Junior year writing class where the teacher was able to create this interesting experience with other people, and I thought, “this would be a really cool thing to do.” I also love to read and write so my content is a passion area of mine. But in terms of wanting to teach it I think it was that classroom experience of community building.

Q: What was it like winning the award?

A: It was really exciting. It’s funny because it’s really disruptive because the people come into your classroom because it’s supposed to be a surprise. At the moment I was kind of shocked and caught off guard, but the whole experience was really special because they really work to try to make teachers feel special and sometimes the work of teachers is overlooked and underappreciated and so, overall, it was really nice to have some recognition. 

Q: Why do you think it’s important for students to nominate teachers?

A: Well the most important thing is that at the end of the year whether you win or not the teachers get those nomination forms mailed back to them. So if you nominate a teacher they’re going to get a nice little thank you in May that tells what was meaningful to them, and so much of teaching is not knowing if you make an impact. As students I didn’t go out of my way to take my time to tell teachers what they did for me so it’s really nice to hear from a student of what they thought was meaningful from you.

Q: Do you think this helps solve the problem of underpaid teachers?

A: Yeah financially it’s nice, I was able to take a couple trips to see friends. But a one time $1000 isn’t going to make a huge difference but it is a nice luxury that a teacher could have. It lets teachers do things they wouldn’t usually do so it is really nice.

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