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Local teacher awarded for Excellence in Education

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 12:30 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 12:37 p.m. CST

Newton upper elementary art teacher Julie Saugstad recently was honored as one of 80 educators from across Iowa to receive an Excellence in Education Award.

The Excellence in Education Award program is a partnership between the Iowa State Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, and the Iowa Farm Bureau, WHO-AM radio and KDSM-TV. Saugstad teaches art to students in grades 4-6 at Aurora Heights and Woodrow Wilson elementaries in Newton.

Saugstad developed the annual fifth grade art and sculpture tour with Thomas Jefferson elementary art instructor Christy Humpal. Through the program, students get to see Newton’s public art collection, which rivals many larger cities’ collections, up close.

Saugstad was nominated for her award by Centre for Arts and Artists director Linda Klepinger and co-worker Margaret Caldwell.

“Everyone who accompanied their nominee was obviously excited and proud to have their honoree’s efforts acknowledged, but no one was prouder than Julie’s Newton admirers,” Klepinger said. “Julie has a great way of giving her students the self esteem to rise above their own expectations and create outstanding artwork.”

Saugstad also worked with Humpal and Des Moines sculptor John Brommel to bring to life the cardinal sculpture that now “guards” the north entrance to Newton Senior High School. Principal Bill Peters said he appreciates the work a great deal.

“The sculpture represents the Cards and Red Pride,” he said. “I love it. I absolutely love it.”

ISEA president Tammy Wawro said the Excellence in Education Award is meant to recognize educators who “work hard on a daily basis and rarely get the recognition they so richly deserve.”

“The nominations we received are a testament to the dedication and compassion Iowa educators have for their students and the communities in which they live,” she said. “Clearly, Iowa educators go above and beyond to help shape and, in many cases, to help change the lives of the students they teach.”

The Excellence in Education Awards were presented Nov. 12 at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines.