CONTACT: STEPHEN PRADARELLI
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 3, 1999
Stilwell Junior High teacher to receive UI Distinguished Teacher
Award March 16
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman will
present V. Patrice Kraus, a seventh- and eighth-grade reading teacher at
Stilwell Junior High in West Des Moines, with an Iowa Distinguished Teacher
Award during a ceremony Tuesday, March 16 at the school.
Kraus, a teacher in the West Des Moines School District for 20 years,
was cited for exemplary performance in the classroom, a commitment to lifelong
learning and a driving passion to recognize students.
One of four teachers selected for the 1998 Iowa Distinguished Teacher
Awards, Kraus will receive a $1,000 University of Iowa grant for equipment
and teaching materials for the school during a classroom presentation at
1:30 p.m. March 16.
In announcing the awards, Coleman said: "As a graduate of Iowa
public schools, and through my travels throughout the state, I know there
are many, many examples of excellent teachers in Iowa classrooms. And I
know the difference that their commitment makes in the lives of young people."
"The Distinguished Teacher Awards are our way of recognizing some
of the very deserving people who don't often hear the words 'thank you,'"
Coleman redesigned the awards ceremony in 1996 so that she could personally
visit the school of each recipient and present the awards. She also created
the $1,000 grant as a way of letting each school share in the honor.
Coleman will present the award to Kraus. Also on hand will be UI College
of Education Interim Dean Richard Shepardson. Representing the school will
be Stilwell Principal Les Aasheim, who nominated Kraus, as well as school
board members, district administrators, teachers, staff and students and
parents, past and present. The school's orchestra, band and chorus will
perform during the special assembly.
Aasheim said he immediately thought of nominating Kraus after seeing
an article in which Coleman described the kind of teachers for whom the
University of Iowa designed the award.
"There's probably no other teacher about whom I've had parents
or former students write me or call me and say, 'I don't know how my son
or daughter could have made it without her.' Besides her performance in
the classroom being exemplary, she works very hard to create a true learning
community for our school. She does this by being aware of all the talents,
gifts and abilities of students and staff."
Kraus began her career in 1967 teaching 10th-grade English at Merrillville
Community School in Indiana. In 1979 she began working at the West Des
Moines Community School District as an English as a Second Language instructor
for K-12, joining Stilwell Junior High School in 1985 as a reading resource
She received a master's degree in education from Drake University in
1986, certifying her as a reading clinician. She received a master's degree
in liberal arts with a concentration in English from Valparaiso University
in 1976. And she received a bachelor's degree in English, with a speech
and drama minor, from Valparaiso in 1967.
Kraus is a member of several professional organizations, including the
International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of
English and the Iowa Writing Project.
The UI has presented the Distinguished Teacher Awards since former President
James O. Freedman initiated the program in 1984.
Freedman established the awards to honor teachers who have profoundly
influenced the lives of their students, particularly in the skills of critical
reasoning and clarity of expression. The awards emphasize the UI's commitment
to education and its recognition of the interdependence of K-12, community
college and university education.
The Distinguished Teacher Awards are co-administered by the UI Office
of the Provost and the UI College of Education. Each elementary, junior
high school and high school in the state is invited to submit one nominee
for the award each year.
Winners are chosen by a committee chaired by Shepardson. Other members
are UI faculty and licensed teachers and administrators.
EDITORS: As part of the selection process for the Distinguished Teacher
Awards, recipients are nominated by supervisors, colleagues, parents and
students. Here's a sample of what V. Patrice Kraus' nominators wrote about
Supervisor: "Pat is the 'awareness' person in our school community.
Honoring every student's experience is one of her driving passions. She
develops bulletin boards, posters and other media packages to effectively
display that learners not only consume and exhibit knowledge but that learners
also serve as resources of knowledge."
Colleague: Pat "is a model advocate for students. Her students
are often those who don't have much support at home. Not only does she
awaken their genius, but she regularly passes on the lovable anecdotes
about these kids to all their teachers so we recognize it, too."
Former student: "Mrs. Kraus has had a great influence on me. She
taught me things that I will pass down to my children and I hope they pass
down to their children. By introducing me to writers like Maya Angelou
and Robert Frost, she opened up a whole new world for me."
Parent: "Without her help and guidance, a lot of kids would have
fallen between the cracks. By the time my daughter had reached junior high,
a lot of teachers had already given up on her. Then her life crossed paths
with Mrs. Kraus. New hope. Mrs. Kraus looked for the best in her and found
a hidden talent with words called poetry. With Mrs. Kraus' support and
encouragement, she found enough confidence to read her poetry in public,
with Mrs. Kraus there cheering her on."