Everything felt right when Cheryl LaVille walked into Marshalltown
High School on her first day as an English teacher 20 years ago.
The halls, the classrooms, even some of her new colleagues looked
familiar. Thats because LaVille had left the school just four
years before, when she graduated. After earning a teaching certificate
at the UI College of Education, then spending a few short months
out of state, she returned home.
"I was living back with my parents in Marshalltown after college,"
LaVille recalls. "I applied for jobs all over, but I really
wanted to stay in the area. Just one week before school started
that fall, the principal at Marshalltown High called to say someone
had resigned and to ask if I wanted to interview for a full-time
LaVille says the decision was easy. Her experience student teaching
at West High in Iowa City was positive, but she was disappointed
in her first (temporary) teaching assignment in Goddard, Kan. As
a student, she had loved Marshalltown and its schools, so it seemed
like a good omen to begin her career there. Even working alongside
some of the teachers she had had as a high school student didnt
"Marshalltown has a history of hiring back graduates,"
LaVille says. "So there were a few people already on staff
who had gone to high school before me and were back teaching at
their alma mater."
Twenty years later, LaVille is certain she made the right move.
She is a literature specialist, teaching honors and elective classes
for 11th and 12th graders. Together with her husband, who is also
an English teacher, she developed a class called The Literature
of Conflict, using films such as Schindlers List in addition
to the classics.
Perhaps it was the time she spent in Mrs. LaVilles senior
lit class that led Natalie Fritz, also of Marshalltown, to attend
Iowa, earn her teaching certificate, and seek jobs in Iowa communities
similar to her hometown. Fritz graduated in May 1999 with a double
major in mathematics and computer science, and a teaching certificate.
Though she could have earned a great deal more by marketing herself
as a computer programmer and moving into a corporate job, Fritz
followed her heart and chose to teach junior and senior high school
"I believe Im meant to be a teacher, and Im meant
to be in Williamsburg," Fritz says. "I like working with
teenagers and having the opportunity to make a positive difference
in their lives. I also like teaching in a small district that reminds
me of home. This is perfect."
LaVille and Fritz are in good company: nearly half of all College
of Education graduates remain in Iowa to teach. And with good reason.
With one of the best reputations for public education in the country,
Iowa offers teachers a high-quality environment in which to practice
their professional skills.
"When we work with University students in their final year,
we talk to them about using their skills, talents, and interests
to find the job that matches their particular profile," says
Rebecca Anthony, director of educational placement in the College
of Education. "New teachers graduating from our program certainly
are aware of the fine reputation of public schools in our state.
They know that the citizens of Iowa are serious about education
and that the reputation of Iowas schools speaks very highly
of our state. Many Iowa graduates want to be a part of that tradition."