Yager Award

Exemplary Teaching, On Display

It takes a great teacher to inspire a great teacher, and that’s what the Yager Exemplary Teaching Award seeks to recognize. The University of Northern Iowa Dr. Robert E. and Phyllis M. Yager Exemplary Teaching Recognition Award is sponsored by Robert Yager, a nationally recognized science educator and UNI alum.

The award is designed to highlight UNI graduates who have gone on to excellence as K-12 teachers in Iowa and identify a UNI faculty member’s contribution to their success. Recipients are honored at an annual awards luncheon.

Congratulations to our 2023 Yager Award winners!

From left to right are: Stuart Yager, UNI Provost José Herrera, awardee Kate Degner, awardee Jessica Dunnick, UNI President Mark Nook, UNI College of Humanities, Arts & Sciences Dean John Fritch.

Congratulations to the awardees!

  • Jessica Dunnick (Music Specialist at Bowman Woods Elementary in Cedar Rapids) 
  • Kate Degner (Secondary Mathematics Coordinator at Iowa City Community School District)

Looking to nominate someone?

Exemplary K-12 teachers can be nominated by any College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences faculty member. Nominees must be alumni of UNI’s undergraduate and/or graduate programs and be teachers who have taught a minimum of three years in an Iowa K-12 classroom.


Faculty who wish to nominate teachers eligible for this award should write a letter of nomination indicating:

  • The teaching qualities the nominee possesses, which qualify them as exemplars in K-12 teaching.
  • Experiences and interactions the nominator has had with the nominee that have shaped the nominee’s teaching.
  • Current contact information including the school, grade, and subject the nominee is teaching.

Letters should be submitted electronically to  ami.roeding@uni.edu. Please discuss your intent with the nominee prior to nomination since the application procedure is rather involved. Likewise, nominators are encouraged, but not required, to assist the nominees in gathering and preparing application materials.  


Nominees will be asked to provide:

  1. Documentation of the success of their teaching via the success of their students.
  2. A video-recorded learning sequence of them interacting with students in their classroom.  This sequence should be at least 10 minutes long, but no longer than 15 minutes and should be submitted in DVD format or a high quality digital video file. This can come from any current or past teaching experience and can be comprised of several separate sequences.
  3. An essay that identifies no more than three most important attributes that make them an excellent teacher and explains how those attributes were developed through their interaction with the UNI faculty member who nominated them and how the learning sequence submitted is a representation of those three attributes. Examples of the kinds of activities that a successful nominee might be expected to display can be found in the announcement. (1000 words maximum)  

Two support letters, one from a present student and one from a past student where the students discuss the following:

a.  How the nominee has helped them learn the subject.

b.  The activities/projects/experiments from the nominee’s class which were most memorable.

c.   Three reasons they feel the nominee is an excellent teacher.

NOTE: In the case of younger students, letters may come from the parents of current or past students or the attached form may be used in lieu of a letter from a current student.

If you have any questions, contact Ami Roeding, ami.roeding@uni.edu (319) 273-2725.


Past Award Recipients