Iowa Council of Teachers of English We facilitate deep connections & professional learning for ELA teachers. Thu, 04 Feb 2021 14:29:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Teaching in 2020-2021; Driving in a Snow Storm Thu, 04 Feb 2021 14:28:41 +0000 Waves of white cover the yellow lines. Where is the left-turn lane? How close can I get to that other car? Why is that car going so fast? And why are their headlights not on? Will I be able to stop if this streetlight turns yellow? What do I do if my tires spin through the intersection. What if I get stuck? What can I do? 

I am not sure about others, but I know that when I am brushing off my car, snowflakes still pouring from the sky, and getting ready to drive home during a snowstorm, there is always a sense of dread in me. I have heard that there are people who enjoy driving in the snow; sliding down icy roads or making donut turns in parking lots. That isn’t me. I would prefer to drive on solid ground without the treacherous crystals that seem to cause so many problems in our Midwestern winters.

And yet, the stop lights keep going from red, to yellow, to green. People continue to try and find turn lanes buried beneath the white flakes. Cars attempt to move at the speed limit. People try to go to and from work as if nothing has changed  as if there isn’t a barrage of snow falling on us from above. People continue on as usual. Or, at least try to do so. 

This situation is not normal. This situation is dangerous. We should not be driving down the road as if nothing has changed. We should not be driving around as if everything is fine. There should be different traffic laws. More help. We should slow down and make sure that everyone is safe. No one should be risking their life trying to get from Point A to Point B unless absolutely necessary. We should be making better decisions. 

But what have we done with teaching this year? For many of us, we have been forced to go back into the schools and perform and teach as if nothing has changed. We are surrounded by a highly-contagious virus. We are teaching in a pandemic —  the likes of which hasn’t been seen for almost a hundred years. We are asked to teach in a hybrid model. We are asked to teach online students and in-person students at the same time, all while wearing a mask and cleaning desks between periods. We are asked to cover the classes of colleagues, to supervise lunch and recess, and to be “flexible.” We are required to meet the needs of all of these learners no matter the time restraints. All of this while trying to remain safe and healthy for ourselves and our own families.  

My first year of teaching, I was living in Ames, Iowa, but commuting to West Des Moines —  normally about a 45-minute drive to school. Being young and naive, I underestimated the power of an Iowa winter during a commute. I will always remember January 14th. An enormous weather system dropped almost a foot of snow on Iowa during the after-school commute. Being young (and stupid), I decided to brave the trek home in a blizzard in my tiny Ford Fiesta. 

I quickly found myself in a lose-lose situation on Interstate-80. The wind threatened to slide my wheels across the lanes of traffic while snow pelted my windshield.  With my vision restricted to only a few feet in front of me, large 18-wheelers zoomed by. If I drove slowly, I feared being rear-ended by careless drivers behind me. Too fast and I feared losing control and flying into a ditch. 

Driving in  a blizzard: there was no way to win. 

Teaching in 2020: there is no way to win. 

Give too little and the students suffer. Give too much and I suffer. No lesson I create can be good enough to meet the diverse needs of my in-person and virtual learners, I am driving with no vision. I am teaching with my hands tied behind my back. 

When driving the car down that icy road, I push on the brake and my tires skid across the surface. When teaching in 2020, I reach for that tried-and-true instructional method and it won’t work. The group work, discussions, Socratic Seminars, performances, partner-reading —  none of it quite works the way it used to. I can’t work the way I used to. 

The rules are constantly changing. The lines are constantly blurring. How do we adapt to a situation in the moment? How do we steer our way through these challenges? How do we invent a new style of teaching while adapting to life in a pandemic? 

The first-year teacher version of myself was all alone on that treacherous car ride home. I didn’t know if or when I would get home safely. At times, I didn’t see an end in sight. 

Unlike “first-year teacher” me, I am not alone this year. I have friends and colleagues to help me. I have people to lean on in the hard times. I have experts in the field who can share their great ideas. When the road is unclear, I have fellow-teachers who can take that wheel and lead me on my way.  

We need to acknowledge that this year is not normal. No lesson plan or project is the same. The smallest issues are exasperated. The days are long and the week are eternities. Nothing is ever “good enough.” This is not okay. We are not okay. Why are we being asked to teach as if nothing has changed? 

Why are we being asked to drive and pretend we don’t see the snow?

]]> 0
Words for 2021 Sat, 23 Jan 2021 21:44:40 +0000
Pullquote Photo

In 2020, I have often found myself shaking my head and saying, “I just don’t understand.” Assuming a posture of curiosity might help me out. Curiosity demands listening, learning, understanding before evaluating, critiquing, judging. Practically, Curious will send me to books, films, and people who broaden my perspective on this world and its inhabitants.”

— Kim Van Es

Pullquote Photo

This has been a year of struggle, disappointment, doubt, and hardship. Each breath I take is evidence that I’m still here, still surviving. Right now, my goal is to continue to survive until I reach a point at which I can thrive.”

— Kenna Koster

Pullquote Photo

After 2020, I think it is imperative that students learn the skill of perseverance. In fact, they are my inspiration because it seems they have persevered despite 3 months of online schooling last spring, shiffling in and out of classes all fall when having to quarantine, and going online 2 weeks before Christmas break. Yet I want them to persevere in their studies too. When something is difficult or they are not comprehending something they are studying, I don’t want them to stop, to give in, to postpone. I want them to persevere and push their thinking and continue to try despite their fear of failure. So perseverance is the word for 2021.”

— Cassie Alber

Pullquote Photo

I’ve always tried to do too much. I throw a hundred irons in the fire and say “yes” when someone asks for more? Fill in as basketball coach? Sure! Data team?! Yes! PBIS co-leader?! Join this race?! Volunteer for this committee?! When I think back to what’s truly brought be peace and joy, the answers are simple: reading a satisfying book on a Sunday morning, seeing my husband’s face in the hallways at school, watching my seniors talk about diverse topics with light and understanding in their eyes, building new friendships with the old(er) men at the local diner, running in the country without having to think about traffic, getting to have more meals with my father in the last year than in the twenty before combined, sitting on my porch, talks in the car with my children while we commute, whispering jokes behind my mask or using my eyes to communicate to wise teenagers, drinking my coffee in the dark, quiet school alone each morning, and meeting new colleagues who challenge me and wake up my mind and spirit. None of these things require me to do more. They actually require me to do less. Focus on what’s breathing and growing and existing in front of my eyes. All this time, I’ve spent spinning my tires…I often wonder what I’ve missed. But, for now, I’m happy to just take it all in. ”

— Britt Jungck

Pullquote Photo

I am a Christian, so I find that I use this word a lot in explaining a faith in God. I have faith in the world as well, that things will indeed get better.”

— Kaitlyn Pietan

Pullquote Photo

I feel like there have been so many disappointments and roadblocks this year, so I want to think assertively. When I feel like quitting or giving up, I will remind myself to persevere. ”

— Barb Edler

Pullquote Photo

I want to look for and find the joy in each place I’m in and each person I’m with. I hope keeping this word at the forefront of my thoughts will guide my words and actions toward cultivating joy wherever I go.”

— Lauren Stephens

Pullquote Photo

I want to let go of and release resentment I have.”

— Leigha Shanley

Pullquote Photo

I’ve been struggling to find balance between work and life. I want to find balance in my work, my mind, and my life to bring me a better overall well-being. ”

— Maureen Snook

Pullquote Photo

This year has been a whirlwind filled with new sources of stress at every turn. We are teaching in person and online, constantly surveying the room to ensure proper mask wearing, and coaching and directing under challenging and ever-changing circumstances. At the same time, every usual expectation is still there. This year as I struggle with it all, I must remind myself to breathe, to remain calm, to give what I can give, to hold myself to reasonable expectations. I owe it to my family, to my students, to my team, and to myself to maintain enough perspective that I remember not to be consumed by what is difficult and imperfect. This simple word will serve as my reminder.”

— Susan Vernob

Pullquote Photo

I’ve chosen “build” the last two previous years and after 2020, it just seems appropriate and inspiring to rebuild what has been leveled and reconsider how to do so, how to create. ”

— Courtney Lubs

Pullquote Photo

The pandemic taught me that I appreciate stillness more than I thought. I don’t want to rush back to normal — I like weekends free of obligations and leisure time to check-in with friends. I don’t miss the pressure to do everything at school and have enjoyed letting some things go. I need to be cautious what I put back on my plate moving forward and make time for quiet.I also need to use quiet as a reminder to stop talking sometimes. Sometimes I am too snarky or say too much when I’m uncomfortable and I should just be quiet. ”

— Kari Straube

Pullquote Photo

I’ve always taken care of me. I’m a single mom, I put myself through grad school, etc. Right now I’m feeling like teaching is…well…kind of an island job, where it used to be a collaborative job. But survival has changed things. So I must remember my independence!”

— Becky Jones-Webb

Pullquote Photo

There will be a real need for meaningful connections after this 2020 isolation. ”

— Darci Kellen

Pullquote Photo

When I look for things for which to be grateful, I’m a much more positive person and hopefully a better teacher. ”

— Cathy Anderson

Pullquote Photo

I am hopeful that 2021 brings change back to some normalcy.”

— Melissa Chia

Pullquote Photo

I want all that I do to be with intention. Intentional planning. Intentional family time. Intentional eating. ”

— Melanie Wirtz

Pullquote Photo

I am so excited for things to hopefully be back to normal. I am waiting in anticipation for it. I am going to remind students that it will happen. ”

— Tracy Steger

Pullquote Photo

Good intentions are important, but demand consideration.”

— Lezley Johansen

Pullquote Photo

I chose this word because as I work on my dissertation while also navigating hybrid teaching, I have been struck by my own defensiveness and resistance to discomfort. I chose “acceptance” as a challenge: to listen better, to practice humility, and to ease the pressures I too often create for myself.”

— Missy Springsteen-Haupt

Pullquote Photo

We as teachers need to be resilient in determining how to help our students learn and foster empathy toward one another during this pandemic time.”

— Donna Niday

Pullquote Photo

Everything I want to accomplish this year comes back to that one word: wellness. My goal by the time I’m 50 is to be the strongest woman I’ve ever been — physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. While that gives me about three years to get there, the basis does that strength will come from wellness, figuring out how to find balance, getting my house organized, and dipping into my intuition and spirituality. ”

— Kirstey Ewald

Pullquote Photo

I personally believe my life is craving some semblance of balance. It’s been hard to divide my time between high school teaching, my family, teaching Chinese students English, starting my own crafting business, & finding time for myself. I need to make finding a balance a priority in 2021. ”

— Jenn Weaver

Pullquote Photo

Focus. Focus on the task at hand. Focus on prioritizing. Focus on what I need. Focus on simplifying. As someone who probably has undiagnosed ADHD, I have determined this is my word for 2021. Distractions come all too easily and I hope to be more intentional and focused in order to reach goals I have set for myself.”

— Sonya Staudt

Pullquote Photo

Because it’s all choices. I want to be intentional with how I spend my time, what I say, what I do. I want to remember that there is nothing I am forced to do. I have choices. I want to make wise ones.”

— Allison Berryhill

Pullquote Photo

We are all expecting a “new normal.” After all the “new” things we encountered this year, we shouldn’t ignore how we’ve grown by simply returning to the old, but should allow that growth to make us “new” and better each day. 2021 is a “new” year. Today is always a “new” day with the opportunity to learn something “new.” After having Covid, I have a “new” perspective on my health. After having experienced pandemic teaching, I have a “new” perspective on education and my importance as a teacher. I was blessed with a “new” grand baby this year, which made 2020 fabulous, despite Covid. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17”

— Jen Hartwig

Pullquote Photo

It signifies a positive, new start to a year. It reminds me to keep things simple and paired down, not cluttered and chaotic. ”

— Suanne Willman

Pullquote Photo

Hoping to keep everything in perspective and not allow some things to take over.”

— Colleen J. Flathers

Pullquote Photo

For its extraordinary precision. I hope it will inspire me to embrace such simple pleasures as the smell that accompanies a first downpour after a long dry spell.”

— David Duer

Pullquote Photo

My 2020 word was “nurture”. It guided many of my choices through the last 12 months. I wanted something similar to that and “cultivate” seems to be what I need now. I am hoping to cultivate many things for my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual life, in my family and other relationships, and for my home/gardens. I pray that by the end of 2021, I will have reaped the benefits of my cultivation. Even though I have retired, I have not given up my mentoring or learning. I hope to continue to inspire others as well. ”

— Jayne Vondrak

Pullquote Photo

Forever, I had a quote by Jane Kenyon in the signature line of my email: “Be a good steward of your gifts.” My confidence has been shaken in recent years and I’m finding it hard to find my footing again. Self-stewardship will remind me to turn inward, to control what I can control, to have faith in myself, to be curious, courageous, and committed. I need to care for myself and nurture myself better in order to better care for and nurture others.”

— Haley Moehlis

Pullquote Photo

The first definition of MOXIE is ENERGY or PEP, as in “woke up full of moxie.” I aspire to feel this, which is the opposite of the depression that lurks on the edge of my consciousness at all times. Pandemic teaching is exhausting in all ways. The second definition is COURAGE or DETERMINATION. Reinventing my teaching practice for online learning this year, teaching in a void without much student or colleague interaction, requires all the MOXIE I can possibly summon on a daily basis. The only way out is through. I’d like to enjoy the journey more. The third definition is KNOW-HOW, something I took for granted that I had in regard to teaching, and even technology, but I am finding woefully inadequate to address the situation at hand. I simply don’t know how to do this well. I am in dire need of online teaching moxie as I try to reimagine Romeo & Juliet with one day of live instruction per week and four days of video instruction, and not make it a miserable learning experience for all involved. I have never felt less KNOW-HOW than I do right now. MOXIE is a versatile and flexible word for an adverse and challenging time in my career. I need all three meanings of the word to make sense of my world right now. ”

— Jenny Paulsen

Pullquote Photo

I chose this word as I struggled to balance my teaching workload and family life during the fall semester. The teaching workload definitely received more time and energy. This word will guide me in the coming year as I intend to get things back in balance by not bringing work home and finding the balance necessary to be an effective educator, as well as a reliable and present partner and father. If anything, I hope to see the scale tip more toward the family life side of things.”

— Carl Barnhart

Pullquote Photo

I picked “initiate” to remind myself to be an agent of change. Usually I have really awesome ideas, but I keep them pent up because I’m too afraid of the work it would require to manifest them — or too afraid of failure? Often times, starting the process of something is the hardest part for me! This world will remind me I am in charge of initiating changes I want to see. ”

— Rachelle Lipp

Pullquote Photo

We are not yet thru pandemic teaching. Every day is a new experience and new challenges. We get overwhelmed. Fortitude- courage in the face of adversity- is what will get us through this time. There are joys in every day, but there are many challenging times.”

— Susan Ackerman

Pullquote Photo

I think that 2020 was about what we could push through, and 2021 needs to be about how we can be better. We need to rediscovery our humanity.”

— Rex Muston

Pullquote Photo

Journalism is important to our democracy, especially right now. Seeing students learn its importance is helping me to to see the value of my job.”

— JoAnn Gage



]]> 0
The Teachers Who Framed Me Sun, 06 Dec 2020 22:01:33 +0000 My influences as an educator remind me of the 1995 movie How To Make An American Quilt, personal details, stitched together to create something unique that lives on to work with new students, in new towns, creating new dreams.

When I plan my lessons and grade my papers, I channel my high school AP English teacher, Linda Kaufman.  Her precision and rigor still echo in my head 20+ years later and I appreciate her dedication the longer I am in this profession. She never hid her brilliance or her opinions, which takes bravery for a female educator, even today.

When I talk with my kids, lecture them about ethos or pathos, describe a book in detail and dramatically illustrate my passion, I think of Damon Adair.  He taught English (and history) at Perry for many years.  His use of humor and energy, along with a deep knowledge of his subject entranced many students.

When I write with my kids, bonding with them over humor and sorrow, I think of my time with Jenny Paulsen.  We shared a tender few months as teacher and student teacher, each walking into the other’s life at the right moment.  I still remember how warm her creative writing class would feel in the antiquated Mac lab, as students would come over and read her sample essays in awe.

Lastly, when I write my students’ notes and send them cards…leaving hints of my tender side for them to hold onto, I think about my friend and mentor Vicki Cose.  She is quite simply the most loving and devoted teacher and mentor I have ever known. She knows her content inside and out, but can motivate anyone, even an often fiercely stubborn, type-A egomaniac named Britt.

]]> 1
Become an Official Member of ICTE in 2020-2021 Mon, 30 Nov 2020 23:20:15 +0000

2020-21 ICTE Membership

Please be counted as an honored member of your professional organization! Joining allows us to inform you about important opportunities for learning and networking, as well as giving you a voice and vote for your organization’s leadership. 


To become a member, complete the two steps below:

1. Click HERE to become an ICTE member by filling out the form.

 2. Click HERE to complete the second form to tell us about yourself and get a sticker!

]]> 0
Vocabulary Switch Thu, 19 Nov 2020 02:13:22 +0000

1. Allen, my partner, is a burden. He is not working very hard.

2. Cameron had culpability because he failed at picking a good partner.

3. Allen felt remorse for his fallen comrade, Cameron Doyle.

4. Cameron entrusted Allen with the responsibility of working with him, but alas, it was a bad idea.

5. Cameron was empathic for Allen, because he doesn’t have a good work ethic.

6. Cameron had a guilty conscience for making fun of Allen frequently. Sorry Allen.

]]> 1
Out of Darkness Mon, 02 Nov 2020 01:29:41 +0000 Sometimes life is sunny, radiating warmth like the smell of fresh-cut grass on a summer day.  Sometimes life leaks struggles in an endless stream like a toddler playing with a squeaky balloon. 2020 has been a squeaky balloon. Now, it is misshapen and saggy and barely holding it together, and I have to squint to realize it is, indeed, still there.

We knew we’d move this year.  We had a dream we were chasing.  We didn’t know that we’d leave our school, our district, our colleagues, our friends, and our students without a goodbye.  The pandemic clapped down on our plans for a farewell, and instead, we snuck out of town, silently leaving a trail of memories behind.

I write this from bed, while recovering from COVID-19.”

Then, we opened a business during a global, economic crisis, lost the contractor on our home, were hit by the derecho, and found ourselves living with my dad and stepmom.  It couldn’t get worse, right?  Alas, it does. 

I write this from bed, while recovering from COVID-19.  

It took wallowing in my own misfortune to see what was fueling me: my new school. ”

However, I think it took wallowing in my own misfortune to see what was fueling me: my new school.  Now, I am used to people groaning at my unbridled passion for my workplace.  I swear when the word “Waterloo” comes out of my mouth, I can hear eyes rolling all around me.  I can’t help it.  I am a loyal gal, and every school deserves a passionate cheerleader. I feared I wouldn’t feel that loyalty again.

But, last week my heart melted.

In my new role, I teach English to upperclassmen:  American Literature to juniors and AP Language, and Composition/DMACC Composition to seniors. I had taught middle school for the last six years and I questioned whether I’d remember how to bond with kids this age.  Had all my tricks revolved around dodgeball and making dorky voices while reading?  

I stumbled a lot at first.  I demanded things.  I layered on the pressure.  I like winning and I wanted these students to be the best and brightest I’d ever taught.  I channeled everything from my past lives teaching collegiate classes and pushed the accelerator harder and harder.  I wanted to impress people. Yet, vanity is a futile exercise. 

I questioned whether I’d remember how to bond with kids this age.”

My seniors and I were sitting in class one day, facing a roadblock with their writing.  Suddenly, I sent them a blank Google Doc and a list of 100 personal essay topics.  I told them to pick one for me and set a timer for four minutes.  I ended up writing an essay about a time I peed my pants in high school. The giggles and snorts as I typed fueled me.  When I heard the Ding! of the timer, I simply said, “Again!”

Then, I wrote about the death of my grandmother from Alzheimers.  How her slipping away was the cruelest torture I’d ever known.  I heard sniffles as I buzzed out sentences.  I then looked up and realized it had happened. We had a breakthrough.  The recipe hadn’t been rigor, after all.  It had been humility.

I had let my “person” out.  

The weeks went by and we continued to learn, grow, and ask questions.  I shared stories about my life, even writing about my fear for my Black students back home and discussing racism I’d countered on their behalf. We discussed imperfect parents and mental illness and stress beyond measure.

And then, we started our unit on marginalization in America.  We read Sedaris, Giovanni, Tan and Alexie, and my students showed their hunger for knowledge for the first time.  They asked questions instead of just searching for answers.  They wanted to know more instead of just wanting to know what the exam would be.  I looked at notes submitted by students and I saw things like, “Why don’t I know enough about how immigrants are treated in America?” or “I never thought about how offensive the term ‘broken-English’ was until I read Tan’s essay.” 

What poured out was an essay of gratitude.”

Just last week, another teacher surveyed my seniors as part of our school’s EDGE program, gathering information for future job shadows and speakers for our students to develop their 21st century skills.  After class, she said she couldn’t believe how many kids asked for more information on “the rights of indigenous people” and I almost cried right there at my desk.

I sit here with a headache, feeling a little sorry for myself, wondering what obstacle is next for our family, yet I also realize this strife is temporary.  For when asked to write about my experience as a teacher with COVID-19, instead what poured out was an essay of gratitude for the new home, the new colleagues, the new view, and the new students…filling my heart with purpose and reminding me that our humanity is the secret ingredient that makes magic happen…in any area code. And it might just be what saves us all this year.

]]> 0
Tensen Named NCTE Teacher of Excellence Fri, 30 Oct 2020 21:39:40 +0000
Tracy Tensen

The National Council of Teachers of English awarded Tracy Tensen with the 2020 Teacher of Excellence Award. Tensen began teaching English in Iowa in 1987, and has been teaching at Gilbert High School since 2014, where her courses include AP Language and Composition, AP Literature and Composition, dual enrollment Composition I and II, English 12, and Accelerated English 9. Tensen received the ICTE High School Teacher of Excellence Award in 2019.

English teacher Cathy Anderson nominated Tensen for the award.  “Her commitment amazes me,” Anderson said. “She spends almost every evening and weekend commenting on students’ papers so they can improve as writers.” 

Anderson went on to say that Tensen is one of the smartest people she knows. “I leave my classroom door open during my prep so I can listen in on Tracy’s class,” Anderson said. “It’s like attending fantastic college class every day. I learn new things often and I have four college degrees!”

Gilbert High School Principal Vic Vanderpool also nominated Tensen for the award.  He said that Tensen is eager to help other teachers in her building and she is also an active member of grade-level and district school improvement leadership teams. Vanderpool praised Tensen for regularly seeking professional growth and sharing her learning with others.

Tensen has been published in English Journal multiple times, in addition to being a peer reviewer for the journal. She has presented in national and state conferences, and sponsors a creative writing club and Poetry Out Loud in her school.

The last teacher from Iowa to win the award from NCTE was Sarah Brown Wessling of Johnston High School in 2011 when she was also chosen as National Teacher of the Year.

]]> 0
To Be Seen and Heard Sat, 17 Oct 2020 23:10:43 +0000 Because some people had told me racism was a thing of the past.

But that was nuts.

Because racism was alive and real as shit.

Unless we did something about it.

What the hell did he die for

If it doesn’t count for all of us.

Asking only to be seen and heard.


]]> 0
Students Speak Sun, 04 Oct 2020 18:58:31 +0000 Contributors: Susan Ackerman, Allison Berryhill, Holly Esbeck, Britt Jungck, Kenna Koster, Lisa Robinson, Lauren Stephens, Nicole Vogt




]]> 0
Let Students See Their Poems in Print Sat, 03 Oct 2020 21:30:22 +0000 Since its inception in 1945, the Iowa Poetry Association has hosted an annual Lyrical Iowa Poetry competition, an opportunity for Iowans of all ages to submit their creative works for recognition through publication in our anthology, Lyrical Iowa, as well as prizes and public presentation opportunities.  An important component of this competition is the ‘Student Division’, that invites submissions from each of college, high school, upper grade (5-8) and lower grade (K-4) students. Our editors for this Division include in-state educators supported by expert out-of-state judges.  This past year we had 658 entries with 57 poems published in the Student Division of our 75th Anniversary Edition of Lyrical Iowa.

In addition, IPA holds an annual Student Poetry Reading Celebration for all students whose poem was published in Lyrical Iowa. The event typically occurs in June at the State Historical Building; however, for this year, we will host readings on Facebook later in the fall, and hopefully will resume in person again next year. It’s fun and inspiring to watch the students’ excitement in performing their poetry, to the applause of family and friends. At the celebration, we also announce Iowa winners of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies student contests; IPA always advances some winners and high-ranking poems from our student submissions into the national competitions. 

I enjoy corresponding with teachers whose students have entered our contests, and some of you have shared ways for IPA to better communicate about opportunities for students. We are moving to more digital formats and online access to our contest guidelines. In addition we are adding a Teacher Resources page to our website with ideas for assignments and plans for you to more easily incorporate creative poetry writing into your already very busy schedules. These resources will be posted on our website at

At this time all high school and grade school submissions must still be mailed, but need not be sent in by the teacher; students or parents may submit them directly. The contest is open Jan. 1 through Feb. 28. See details in the attached contest brochure or online at

The Iowa Poetry Association is a non-profit organization whose sole objective is to promote interest in and appreciation of poetry among Iowans through educational opportunities, poetry writing contests and the publication of an annual anthology of Iowa poetry. Besides sponsoring an annual contest, IPA offers two workshops each year, held in Des Moines and plans to add monthly virtual mini-workshops in 2021. Membership is open to any individual or group with an Iowa address. Annual dues are $8.00. Patron dues of $15 or more provide the same benefits and additionally help support the expanding programs of the organization (increased outreach, scholarships, etc.). 

Contests are open to all persons with Iowa residence (or students attending school in Iowa). No entry fee. No membership or book purchase required.  Indeed, if you feel inspired or creative, consider submitting your own poems!

Questions? Email me at  I look forward to reading your students’ poems!

Thank you.

Marilyn Baszczynski

Editor, Iowa Poetry Association



]]> 0