Iowa's 2011 Teacher of the Year Molly Boyle.

A teacher from the Des Moines suburb of Waukee was named the “Iowa Teacher of the Year” today. Molly Boyle is currently teaching third grade and her selection was announced at a meeting of the Waukee district staff this morning in West Des Moines.

Boyle thanked all of her fellow teachers and staff and told them it meant a lot to share the award with them. She said she normally is comfortable behind a microphone as in her instructional coaching role, but said today’s ceremony made her a little uneasy.

Boyle served as an instructional coach for other teachers for six years before returning to the third grade classroom last year.

Boyle says she has been in the educational field for 15 years and she looks forward to the start of classes this week as she knows her class “will continue to intellectually challenge me, the work I do, day in and day out, is never easy, and I’m grateful for that.”

Boyle has taught has also taught kindergarten and junior high, and says her approach is the same whether teaching, or instructing others how to teach. “I truly just model for kids what it is that a thinker goes through as they are acquiring new information or struggling with a problem, and trying to make that concrete for kids and help them to understand what it’s like to wrestle with an idea, and be flexible with your thinking,” Boyle says, “I think that’s important, and to share a passion, regardless of what it may be if it’s science or if it’s art that’s really what will drive you and help you be succeed in your life.”

Governor Chet Culver and Iowa Teacher of the Year Molly Boyle.

Last year’s teacher of the year was from nearby Johnston, and became the national teacher of the year. Boyle says that’s sort of a challenge to her. Boyle says she joked with officials from the Department of Education that she is a competitor and always has been, but it may be tough to have back-to-back national teachers of the year from Iowa.

But Boyle says that will be her next educational goal to try and achieve that. Boyle was nominated for the state honor by one of the parents of a student. Boyle has been with the Waukee school district since 2001, and has also taught in the Des Moines, Hudson and Osage school districts.

Other finalists for the award were: Thomas G. Cuvelier, a science teacher at Senior High School in the Dubuque Community School District; Donna Sue Lawler, an instruction coach at Southeast Elementary School in the Ankeny Community School District; Deborah Ann Masker, a vocal music teacher at Kirn Middle School in the Council Bluffs Community School District; Laurie K. Powell, a 4th grade teacher at Smith Elementary School in the Sioux City Community School District.