Shelly Vroegh

The 2017 “Teacher of the Year” in Iowa says veteran teachers serving as “instructional coaches” are helping keep rookie teachers from leaving the profession.

“Mentor leaders are providing support and encouragement to our new teachers in those critical first years. These leaders are crucial in helping us retain quality teachers in classroom,” says fifth-grade teacher Shelly Vroegh.

As Iowa’s 2017 “Teacher of the Year” Vroegh received a stipend so she could temporarily leave her job and visit schools around the state. Vroegh has been teaching for two decades and she touts the new state program providing bonuses to about nine-thousand Iowa teachers serving as “instructional coaches” in their local school.

“Teacher leadership compensation has been the best initiative our state has provided teachers during the course of my teaching career and we need to encourage and motivate teachers to take on leadership opportunities within their schools.” she says. “We need to continue to work collaboratively to use data as the driving force for our decisions as well as reflect on our current practices in order to improve and grow as educators.”

In June, 85 percent of Iowa school administrators said the program had helped retain teachers and attract new ones to their districts. Keeping teachers in the profession is crucial, as there’s a national teaching shortage and fewer college students are choosing to become teachers.