LaMasters wins Gold Star award

Hillary LaMasters, a well known Spanish teacher at Cedar Falls High School and Holmes Junior High for five years, has recently been selected with 10 other significant teachers to be awarded the Gold Star Award. 

Every year, a teacher in the Cedar Valley has a chance at being nominated by a student for the Gold Star Award, an honor that grants 10 significant teachers $1,000 in cash. This award ceremony will be held by R.J. McElroy Trust and KWWL television for the 32nd time. 

For LaMasters, her inspiration to teach developed in school when she was a student. “My high school creative writing teacher was a great inspiration to me in becoming a teacher, although I had no thoughts of going into teaching until I was in grad school. He was so positive and encouraging; I’ll never forget the impact he made on my life. As for my content area, I have always loved learning languages, so teaching Spanish was a natural fit for me. I also think that learning another language is incredibly important and has the potential to change the course of your life.”

For LaMasters, when she first heard about the news of being selected for the Gold Star Award, she said,I was very surprised when I heard the news. I feel very grateful that someone took the time to nominate me. I know so many hard-working teachers who pour their heart and soul into their job and deserve to be recognized.” 

When it comes to the prized award of $1,000 in cash. LaMasters also plans to put some of that money in expanding her class library. 

LaMasters said she finds that the number one priority when it comes to teaching students is to “Make sure they feel safe, seen and cared for. That has to come first as the foundation for connection and learning.” 

Humor is one technique she said has worked well for building her welcoming class environment. “I always start class with a joke, but my students usually tell me that my jokes are terrible … and they are. I just hope to make them smile and brighten their day a little. I hope students see me as passionate, caring and patient, but I feel that those adjectives describe a lot of other teachers too.”

For more information about the Gold Star Award, go to the website The Gold Star Award for the Outstanding Teaching ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 24 at 7 p.m. in the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the University of Northern Iowa campus.

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