A teacher for 42 years, Nancy Eckwall, West Liberty, was honored with the "A+ for Education" award for the month of September by Iowa news station KCRG on Friday.
The award is chosen through a nomination process and given to teachers, students, and coaches who have "gone the extra mile," according to kcrg.com.
"I'm so proud of her," said WL Elementary School Principal Nancy Gardner. "What a way to top off her years of education for West Liberty."
The station taped Eckwall receiving the award and a $250 prize for her contribution to the school system at the elementary building. Around 30 of her former students watched the ceremony, as well as voiced their own appreciation.
"Why is Mrs. Eckwall a good teacher?" asked Iowa City KCRG Reporter Mark Carlson during the ceremony.
"She never gives up on you," said one student, "Even if you struggle she helps you," added another. "And if you forget your homework she lets you finish it," piped in a third.
Eckwall was visibly moved by her former fourth grade students, and thrilled to be there.
"Getting this award was a really good feeling," Eckwall said. "You put so much of yourself into the school that it's lovely to be recognized."
Nominations are chosen by a panel of four judges from KCRG. They hand out the award each month of the school year. According to its website, "We are proud to recognize excellence in education."
Eckwall began teaching second grade in 1969. After spending a few years raising her daughter, Eckwall returned to the Nichols school and taught kindergarten, fourth grade and fifth grade until the school closed in 1987.
Afterward she spent the rest of her career teaching fourth grade in West Liberty until she retired in 2013. She loved teaching, never hated going to work and enjoyed everyday.
"After 42 years of teaching, it’s hard to pick a favorite moment," she said. "But when lessons went well and the students really caught on…that's what made it all worthwhile."
Even though Eckwall just retired, she plans to return as a substitute when the hot weather lightens up later in the year. The demands of full-time teaching became too much, but substituting will allow her to continue doing what she loves.
Even though Eckwall was the only one to receive the award from the West Liberty area, she acknowledged there are many others that need to be recognized.
"I have, for a long time, thought all teachers should get an award. They're just as hardworking as I am," she said. "What we do takes a lot."
She is married to John Eckwall and has two children, Anne Hocke and John Ekwall. She has lived in West Liberty during her entire teaching career.
The feature will run on KCRG, channel 9, throughout the month of September.
WL teacher honored on TVJacob Lane · Wednesday, September 11, 2013