Denise Aalderks – Mrs. Aalderks is a 5th grade teacher at Aldrich Elementary School in Cedar Falls. She received her BA of Science in Education from Iowa State University in 1992. Then completed her Master of Arts in Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 1997. She has been teaching for 27 years. Outside of the classroom she is the Vice President of Dollars for Scholars who raise funds for student scholarships. She also advises for the student council and safety patrol at Aldrich. Denise is supported by her husband Leon, and her two kids Drew and Allie Jo.
Ryan Christoffer – Mr. Christoffer is 4th grade teacher at Highland Elementary School in Waterloo. He received a BA in Elementary Education from Upper Iowa University in 2009. Then received a MA in Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 2013. He has been teaching for 11 years. He coaches Jr. Wahawks softball and is also a coach for West High’s softball team during the off-season. Ryan is supported by his wife Renee, and two daughters Haley and Nia.
Alex Conyers – Mr. Conyers is a science teacher and science department head at West High School in Waterloo. He received a BA in Biology Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 2010. He has been teaching for 9 years. He sponsors and leads the Nerd Club within the school, a group that plays board games and provides an opportunity for fellowship within the school. He also coaches the Waterloo West Debate team. Supporting him is his wife Tina and daughter Madelyn.
Nicki Davis – Mrs. Davis is a band teacher in the Hudson Community Schools district, teaching from 5th to 12th grade. She received her BA in Music Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 2010, and then her MM in Music Education from UNI in 2012. She recently re-introduced a marching band program to Hudson, which had been missing for 20 years, now including a drumline and color guard! She has been teaching for 8 years. She is supported by her husband Alek.
Gail Farber – Mrs. Farber is a English Language Development Specialist at Lincoln Elementary in Waterloo. She received her BA from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan in 1980. Then received her MA from the University of Northern Iowa in 1993. Gail has been teaching for 36 years and retired from teaching at the end of this past school year. Mrs. Farber is involved with her church, participates in fundraisers for the Cedar Valley Food Bank and Alternatives Pregnancy Center, and substitute teaches for Truth and Training, a program within her church. Gail is supported by her husband George and her daughter Gwen.
Ashley Hager – Mrs. Hager is a 2nd grade teacher for Cunningham Elementary School in Waterloo. She received her BA in Elementary Education from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. She has been teaching for 6 years. She enjoys volunteering with organizations that partner with her church, and at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. She also enjoys attending her student’s extra-curricular events in the community. Supporting her is her husband Colton, and her daughter Charley.
Becky Keeling – Mrs. Keeling is a 6th grade science and math teacher at Blessed Maria Assunta Pallota Middle School in Waterloo. She received her BA in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 1978, and a MA in Educational Leadership from Clarke University in 2011. She has been teaching in the Cedar Valley Catholic School system for 41 years. She has implemented the Leader in Me program into her school, and volunteers at the Catholic Worker House. She is also an active member of the Sacred Heart Parish, and was the director of their Religious Education program CORE. She is supported by her husband Howard, her son Alan, her Whitney, and her granddaughters Averi, Sophie, and Annabelle.
Ryan Lehmann – Mr. Lehmann is a 2nd grade teacher at Lowell elementary school in Waterloo. He received his BA in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 2014. He has been teaching for 6 years. Outside of the classroom, he is a volunteer coach with Waterloo Leisure Services Optimist Softball program and volunteers at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. He also volunteers as an announcer for the Blackhawk Area Swim Team (BLAST) and the UNI swim team. Tonight he is supported by his wife Nichole, and daughters; Peyton, Baylee and Taytem.
Becky Lins – Mrs. Lins is a school counselor at Peet Junior High School in Cedar Falls. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa in 2004 and her MA in School Counseling from UNI in 2006. She also earned a Certificate of Completion from Tec de Monterrey in Colima, Mexico. She has been a school counselor for 14 years. She serves as an on-site practicum/internship advisor for the University of Northern Iowa’s Counseling Graduate program. She also partners with UNI Career Services, serves as a part of AEA’s Counselor Advisory team, and volunteers in children’s ministry at Orchard Hill Church.
Sherry Parker – Mrs. Parker is a 2nd grade teacher at Dysart-Geneseo Elementary School in Dysart. She received her BA in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa in 1987. She has been teaching for 24 years. She has coached softball for the La Porte City Rec department, junior high, and was head varsity coach for Union. She has also organized concession stand fundraisers for softball programs and led and taught summer enrichment courses for elementary kids. Supporting her is her husband Todd, and two kids, Peyton and Bryce.
2019 Gold Star Award Recipients
2018 Gold Star Award Recipients
We surprise every recipient at their school with the big news! Check out their reactions here.
2017 Gold Star Award Recipients
1999-1989 Gold Star Award Recipients
While the 90s were known for grunge music and flannel, this decade also ushered in the Internet — which opened up a whole new realm of teaching possibilities (and challenges).
Meet our first decade of Superstars