A suburban Des Moines high school teacher has been named the 2008 Iowa teacher of the year. Andrew Mogle has been teaching family and consumer science at Norwalk High School since 1999. "I think that the thing that sets me apart from some of the teachers — not all teachers because many teachers believe the same way thing that I do, that students need to find their own destiny in a classroom," Mogle says. "They need to feel that what they’re doing is going to be important to them beyond the brick and mortar of the building that they’re in and be able to be used in their life outside of school."

Mogle’s first career was as a chef and restaurant manager, but he says after 15 years he went back to school and got a teaching degree because he wasn’t "fulfilled" by his work in the hospitality industry. "The most important thing I got out of that was a love of teaching at that point because everywhere I went, everything I did was centered around training," he says. Mogle, who turned 46 last week, says he always appreciated teachers.

"I developed a desire to learn and a goal of mine was always to be a student even after I left school," he says. "To be able to come back to this situation in Norwalk in particular because the community just supports this district and these schools so tremendously with their pocketbooks and with their hands and with their hearts — it just made it easy to do."

Mogle has created a fully-functioning restaurant in his classroom in Norwalk. It’s called the Warrior Cafe — as Norwalk’s mascot is the warrior — and it gives Mogel’s students hands-on experience at food service. Mogle holds two degrees from Iowa State Universities — an undergraduate degree in liberal studies and a master of education in family and consumer science.

Other finalists for the 2008 Iowa teacher of the year were Claudette Bees, a mathematics teacher at Hempstead High School in Dubuque; Debora Masker a vocal music teacher at Kirn Junior High School in Council Bluffs; Sheila Coyle, a visual arts teacher at North Middle School in Sioux City and Peggy Beatty, a gifted and talented teacher at Decorah Middle School in Decorah. Mogel and those four finalists will be honored at a luncheon October 26th at the Science Center of Iowa.