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Between 1916 and 1972, University High School was a school that prided itself on being at the cutting edge of education.


Between 1916 and 1972, University High School was a school that prided itself on being at the cutting edge of education. Now, the U-High IDEA Scholarship awards student teachers who show the same dedication to innovative and creative teaching that was evident at University High school throughout its history.

U-High Scholarship Rewards Outstanding Student Teachers Reflections from the School Counselor Reflections from the Social Studies Chair


Reflections from the Social Studies Chair

One of the things that intrigued me about U-High was the makeup of the school. Students came from Iowa City and surrounding rural towns; we wanted diversity. In any given year, the captain of the football team would be the son of a professor, and the next it would be the son of a farmer. Recognition was given on the basis of ability, not pedigree.

John Haefner (L) and Harold Engen hold U-High WWII memorial plaque. Visit U-High online at www. department chair had a faculty appointment at the University of Iowa and also taught many of the creative and original classes at U-High. However, the UI graduate students who served as the core faculty were the school’s real strength. Not only did they keep new blood coming in, but they also were important young role models who valued academic performance and loved the subjects they majored in and taught.

U-High was really an innovator in teaching techniques. Early on, I taught junior high social studies, and I got together with the head of the science department to develop a course that taught seventh graders science and social studies simultaneously, and planned a variety of field trips to illustrate the points we were trying to make. We visited a coal mine in southwest Iowa and while the science teacher explained how coal is made, I taught the students about the sociology of company towns and the people who lived in them. We didn’t call it “team teaching” back then, but it really was a precursor to a teaching method that is commonly used today.

Every year, at least one class reunion is held, and the classes generally compile booklets describing the classmates’ current activities. When you read them, they confirm in a way that nothing else could that the experiences they had at U-High contributed to what they achieved in life.

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Reflections from the School Counselor

When I joined the U of I faculty in 1964, I had a joint appointment with the College of Education’s Counselor Education program and served as the first and only head of U-High’s guidance program. U-High was an exciting place to develop a model school guidance program, as the entire school was known as being on the cutting edge.

The most remarkable aspect about the school was the students. There was such a large number of academically gifted and high-achieving students, we did not report class rank. When transcripts were sent out, we included a letter describing the unique student body’s abilities with Iowa Tests scores in the upper 90th percentile and the strong curriculum they had experienced. Our students were accepted at the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country.

The teachers at U-High were also an exceptionally talented group. Many also held joint faculty appointments in the College of Education, including such distinguished professors as Camille LeVois (Foreign Language), John Haefner (Social Studies), Robert Carlsen (English), Gary Hansen (Physical Education), Robert Yager (Science), and Vernon Price (Math).
Tremendous resources were available, such as the studio-quality video equipment housed in the guidance suite. My opportunity to develop guidance-related activities utilizing this technology would go on to have an impact on the future of educational supervision and training practices in the field.

After designing guidance programs for grades 9-12 to help students make decisions regarding their careers and further education after high school, I recognized the need to extend our program to the junior high and elementary school students. We were one of the first schools to describe this difference and add a guidance programs designed specifically for these age groups. It was then that I felt we had a complete model school guidance program. It was one that was visited by counselor education faculty and practicioners from throughout the state and around the region.

Those who experienced U-High’s magic will never forget what a wonderful school it was. I know I will always treasure my memories of those I worked with and assisted there.

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U-High Scholarship Rewards Outstanding Student Teachers

Scholarships enable The University of Iowa College of Education’s outstanding students to pay their U-bills, reduce their debt loads, and spend more time learning to be educators. But long after the checks are cashed, scholarship recipients reap the less tangible—but equally important—benefits of being recognized for their achievements.

Two alumni who received the U-High Innovative Development in Education Award (IDEA)—funded by donations from alumni and faculty of the University of Iowa’s lab school that operated from 1916 to 1972 and which rewards students for outstanding student teaching—when they were students have looked back and found that this “vote of confidence” early in their teaching careers enabled them to start their first teaching jobs with knowledge that they truly were good at teaching.
“The recognition was simultaneously flattering, inspiring and reassuring,” said Vicki Krajewski (BA ’94, MAT ’99), who received the U-High scholarship in 1999. “The art and skill of teaching is so subjective that it’s hard to know when you’re doing things ‘right.’”

Vicki KrajewskiKrajewski, currently on sabbatical from a full-time English teaching position at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has taught speech and composition courses at Hamilton College in Cedar Rapids and uses her instruction skills creating training materials for telecommunications company McLeodUSA. Though her current professional pursuits have her outside of a traditional classroom, she said that her student teaching experience—what earned her the U-High scholarship—continues to serve her well.

“Trying to quantify or succinctly summarize what I got out of student teaching is like trying to explain what I’ve learned from living,” she said. “Most importantly, I learned I could actually teach. It’s so mysterious and intimidating before you get yourself in front of students. You go into student teaching hopefully prepared with a lot of theory and information about your subject matter, and a lot of thought about how to plan and structure lessons. But on the other end of your equation are 200 adolescents, each with unique hopes, loves, flaws, defenses, insecurities, and occasional crises. Because every person is an individual, there is never one answer to any pedagogical question or classroom issue.”

Jason DutmersJason Dutmers (BA ’00) did his student teaching in Mary Maxson’s class at West Liberty (Iowa) High School and while he describes that experience as “truly outstanding and innovative,” receiving the U-High award as recognition of his teaching abilities was icing on the cake.

“The award gave me an even greater sense of dedication to the profession, and it showed the UI’s dedication to improving teacher education and student learning,” said Dutmers, who teaches Spanish and is a marching band assistant/percussion instructor at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Ill. His enthusiasm for his chosen profession has only increased with time.

“I find teaching to be very challenging, yet extremely rewarding,” he said. “Teaching is an art in the sense that no teacher instructs in exactly the same way, no classroom is identical on any given day, and no two students will always interpret a lesson in the same manner. The profession is truly unique, requiring both the creativity of a sculptor and the patience of a fisherman.”

This year, Dutmers joined with hundreds of other UI College of Education alumni and made a gift to the Education Advancement Fund, which supports UI students in a variety of ways, as they become the next generation of educators, administrators and leaders. He is one of many scholarship recipients to become scholarship supporters.

“It is essential to give back to those that provided opportunities for you, so that they may also provide opportunities for others,” he said. –by Anne Heilemann

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