Mitchellville Educator Named 2023 Iowa Teacher of the Year

Courtesy Iowa Department of Education

Krystal Colbert, a teacher for 16 years who works at Mitchellville Elementary School, is Iowa’s Teacher of the Year for 2023.

Colbert teaches second grade in the Southeast Polk Community School District and has been praised for how she encourages her students to grow while also supporting their needs. She’s said one of the keys to successful students is having them believe in themselves.

“Here at Mitchellville, we are teaching our students that positive self-affirmations, healthy habits, and having a growth mindset are essential in reaching their highest potential,” Colbert said after the announcement. “We are affirming to our students every day that they are loved and valued and that we care about their success.”

One of her biggest goals is teaching students they can make goals and face challenges, and helping them figure out how they learn best and then apply that to school.

“Life is really hard for children and school can be hard as well, so I think it’s really important to teach them that they can do hard things, they can face those challenges, they can step out of their comfort zone and they can achieve greatness when they do not let the fear of failure or the fear of a making mistakes get in their way,” Colbert said in her interview with the Iowa Department of Education.

Colbert received the honor from Gov. Kim Reynolds in November 2022, then honored at the 2023 Outstanding Iowa Teachers Recognition Luncheon hosted by the Iowa Department of Education in April along with other teachers, Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Iowa Department of Education Director Chad Aldis.

“The Teacher of the Year award honors outstanding teachers who have made an impact on their students and colleagues. Krystal is a life-long learner, teacher leader and a Lighthouse team member working to build leadership and life skills in students,” said Ann Lebo, the former director of the Iowa Department of Education who left office in March 2023. “Her focus on supporting each student’s learning style and her ability to see challenges as opportunities for growth will help advance our education system as we move forward.”

Other finalists for the award include:

  • Lori Brandt, a special education teacher in the Sioux Center Community School District.
  • Levi Letsche, a high school mathematics teacher from the Sheldon Community School District.
  • Amy Phillips, an elementary teacher in the Marshalltown Community School District.
  • Corrine Schalk, an elementary teacher in the Cedar Rapids Community School District.
  • Katie Weldon, a middle school mathematics teacher in the Norwalk Community School District.


Nikoel Hytrek


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