Fairfield High School English Arts teacher Scott Slechta was named Iowa’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Wednesday. Governor Terry Branstad was on hand to present the award to Slechta who has taught at Fairfield High School since 1984.
“It’s pretty obvious how much he is respected in this community, ” Branstad says, “recognized as the Citizen of the Year here in Fairfield. Beloved by his students.”
Slechta got emotional in accepting the award. “I just got wrapped up in the moment of what I do and why I do it. And the importance of education today and what we as teachers can do,” Slechta says. “I think that is something that we as teachers have to realize — the impact that we make. And I get wrapped up in that, because I really am I think I can say, passionate about what I do.”
Slechta talked about his greatest accomplishments. “It’s my students, but first it’s my family,” he says. “They have seen me check tests while I’ve been at a swim meet, they have seen me check papers when I’ve been at a soccer meet. They have seen me get up early to come into work. But there without their patience and understanding, I couldn’t do what I am doing right now.”
Fairfield High School Principal Aaron Becker talked about the things that make Slechta a good teacher. “Scott is a student-centered person, a student-centered teacher and this is just totally a representation of how he works in the classroom. It’s all about the kids all the time,” Becker says. “It is awesome for our high school, it’s awesome for out staff, awesome for our kids, but even more, Iowa is going to be so proud to have Scott as the representative for the Iowa Teacher of the year.”
Slechta and his wife Tricia and have four children: Margaret Way, Emily, Claire and Price.
Other finalists for the 2016 Teacher of the Year award were:
Gail Heninger of Bettendorf who teaches at Davenport’s Central High School.
Benjamin Chadwick of Grimes, who teaches at Dallas Center-Grimes High School.
Luise Fleming of Mount Auburn who teaches at Vinton-Shellsburg High School.
And Wade Petersen of Ankeny who teaches at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines.
(Reporting and photo by David Fannin, KMCD, Fairfield)