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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 8, 2004

Photo: (Click here for a high-resolution version of the image) NFL Teacher of the Year Julie Ann Busch lets Bryan Parsons, one of her third-grade students at Mark Twain Elementary School in Iowa City, try on a football jersey sent to Busch by former student and current San Diego Charger Tim Dwight. Dwight nominated Busch for the award. Busch received a $10,000 check from NFL Charities for her school, $5,000 for herself and a paid trip to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii next month. Credit: Kirk Murray, University of Iowa Relations Publications.

UI Alumna Named 2003 NFL Teacher Of The Year

With former student and current pro football player Tim Dwight leading the charge, Iowa City teacher and University of Iowa alumna Julie Ann Busch has scored a winning touchdown for education, her state and her school.

Busch, who like San Diego Charger Dwight is a UI graduate, has been named the National Football League's teacher of the year, earning a $5,000 award for herself, a $10,000 grant for Mark Twain Elementary School -- where Dwight was a student in Busch's third-grade class -- and an all-expenses-paid trip to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii next month.

Busch (BA '69/MA '73) was selected by NFL Charities from among 10 finalists across the country after being nominated by Dwight. Busch, who is flying to the Pro Bowl game with her husband, will be formally recognized during a special ceremony on game day, Feb. 8.

A teacher at Mark Twain for 33 years, Busch said she found out about the national award when Federal Express made a delivery to her house Christmas Eve. The box was from the Chargers and included a message that said, "Do not open until 12-25." But Busch says her adult children were too excited to wait. The first item they pulled out was one of Dwight's Charger jerseys, bearing his number 87 and a hand-scrawled note signed by Dwight that said, "I knew you would win!"

"That's when it hit me that I had won the national award," Busch said. A letter enclosed in the box confirmed it, as did checks for $5,000, $10,000 and a team photo of the Chargers.

On Wednesday, Busch relived the experience with her third-grade students, describing her surprise and delight at discovering the box's contents. She let several of the students try on the jersey, and passed around the team photo.

It is just that kind of interaction that inspired Dwight when he was in Busch's class from 1984-1985. Busch went on to teach two more of Dwight's three siblings.

"She always had a good understanding of each of her students' needs," Dwight said in a press release on the Chargers' website. "She knew how to motivate her students in different ways, enabling them to flourish in the classroom. She was pretty tough on me in class, because she wanted me to excel in the classroom as well, and that forced me to focus on goals outside of sports."

Busch obtained both of her degrees from the UI College of Education, a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in elementary counseling. Prior to moving in 1970 to Twain -- where she has taught third, fourth and fifth grades -- Busch taught for one year in Lisbon, Iowa.

In addition to teaching in the classroom, Busch helped established the Conflict Management Program at Twain 13 years ago. The program promotes students supporting other students on the playground. Busch also implemented a local Community Garden Project where students work together each year as a class to plant and harvest a garden and donate the crops to local food pantries.

Dwight began his professional football career as a wide receiver more than six years ago with the Atlanta Falcons after playing for the Hawkeyes and was acquired by the Chargers in 2001 in a pre-draft trade. At the UI, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in sports management, Dwight finished seventh in balloting for the Heisman Trophy in 1997.

Now in his third season with the Chargers, sixth overall in the NFL, Dwight is actively involved in the community. He hosts a three-day football camp in Iowa City that was attended by more than 300 youngsters in June. Half of the proceeds from the camp helped support the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Children's Hospital of Iowa, while the remaining funds from the camp went toward the Tim Dwight Scholarship Fund.

Dwight often visits Twain Elementary when he's in town and talks to the students, encouraging them to read and to become good friends and responsible citizens. Busch said he's also created a citizenship award that rewards area junior and senior high students with a free trip to a Chargers away-game, all at no cost to the participants.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the NFL clubs created the NFL Teacher Of The Year program in 1990 to honor teachers who have had a positive influence on NFL players.

The 2003 Teacher of the Year panel of selectors included U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), a former teacher; Lamar Alexander, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Hal Farah, the 2002 NFL Teacher of the Year winner; Dr. Bernard Harleston, former president of City College of New York; Thomas Kean, president of Drew University; Jim Kearney, high school teacher and former NFL player; U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick R. Paige; U.S. Rep. Marge Roukema (R-N.J.), a former high school teacher in Ridgewood, N.J. and current member of the House Education and Labor Committee; NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue; Dr. Leroy T. Walker of the United States Olympic Committee; and Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

NFL Charities is a non-profit organization created in 1973 by the member clubs of the National Football League to enable the clubs to collectively make grants to charitable and worthwhile causes on the national level. Since its inception, NFL Charities has made more than $70 million in grant commitments to more than 250 different organizations.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,