Loy Recognized as Iowa Teacher of the Year Finalist
Dan Loy’s fifth grade students have a lot of questions. And not just any questions – these questions come from some critical thinking about the earth, the sun, elements, and the list goes on. Loy, who is now in his 22nd year of teaching, loves it. He answers each one readily, with patience and enthusiasm for the inquiries of young learners.
“Each day, I want students to want to be here,” Loy said. “We are in each day together, so I try to make sure it is a great experience for kids. They come to class and their thoughts and time are honored. It’s built a strong sense of community in the classroom.”
For a person who never felt “born to teach,” Loy has made a life-long career of helping young people learn from and with each other, and learn with passion.
When Loy, who teaches at Beaver Creek Elementary, received an email regarding the Teacher of Year program from the Iowa Department of Education in April 2019, he nearly deleted it. Shortly after he received that email, congratulatory emails came from Beaver Creek Principal Eric Toot and JCSD Superintendent Laura Kacer. He circled back to the original email and discovered he had been nominated as a 2020 Iowa Teacher of the Year.
“On the last day of school, I found out some parents and kids had nominated me,” said Loy. “After learning that, I felt like I should go through with the nomination process. It felt really good that other people recognize the work I’m doing to create a classroom community and instill a passion for STEM education in students. It’s encouraging.”
He finished out the nomination process in June, submitting references and five short essays on his philosophies on education. Loy headed out for summer break and didn’t hear back from the Dept. of Education until September. At that time, he had been named a top five finalist and was invited in to interview and present to a panel.
“I got to the interview really early,” Loy said. “I had some time to reflect on my successes and failures in the classroom. There have been many moments where I wondered if teaching was the right career for me, wondering if I’ve had the most impact I could on a student. My mind thought about the many people who I’ve worked with, their influence on me, and the responsibility I have to the 26 young people in my classroom every day.”
His presentation focused on the topic of creating a community of learners who take care of each other and feel safe and protected in their classroom. Loy said he felt good as he left the interview, knowing his message was his every day mission.
When the Iowa Department of Education made the announcement about the 2020 Teacher of Year in December, Loy’s name was on the list, but not as overall Iowa Teacher of the Year. While it may not have been the ideal outcome, Loy said the experience and honor of being nominated have given him a renewed energy and passion for teaching.
“I’m thankful for working in a district like Johnston where new ideas are supported and I am able to spread my wings, try things as a
teacher,” Loy said. “When staff feel empowered, that leads to better teaching and better outcomes for students.”
At the end of the day, there’s not question about the passion and dedication Loy puts into his teaching and community of learners. Congratulations, Mr. Loy on your teaching honor!