Clemencia Spizzirri wins the Iowa Teacher of the Year Award

To be a teacher is to be responsible for shaping children’s minds and impacting them in positive ways.   It is an honor for any teacher to be recognized for their efforts.  It is even a greater honor to be a first Hispanic who is not born in the US to receive a special Iowa Teacher of the Year award.

Clemencia Spizzirri is from Quito, Ecuador. She taught English in Ecuador for 10 years and 12 years ago she came to the United States where she now teaches Spanish at Merrill Middle School IB in Des Moines. Early on in her life Spizzirri decided she wanted to empower people. Growing up in Ecuador she saw a lot of young people on the street trying to make a living. She noticed that many of them could not afford a quality education.  

“Observing the unfortunate circumstances of the youth sparked my passion to take action in helping the impoverished to elevate them through education,” Spizzirri explained of her desire to become a teacher.

Clemencia Spizzirri believed she could make a difference by becoming a teacher. She understood early on that education can “empower and liberate people.”

It is that belief that drives her to go beyond her classroom walls. Teacher Spizzirri knows very well that being a teacher means impacting students, teaching them to confront life situations with capability and inspire them to never stop learning.  

“My work is not only limited to my students; I also strive to work with my students’ families to create a cycle of sustainability and empower the community itself,” Teacher Spizzirri explains her beliefs.

It is no wonder that her former students nominated her for the Iowa Teacher of the Year award. Spizzirri is also the first Hispanic who is not born in this country to win this award.   She explained that she was very emotional to learn that her students nominated her because this shows that she really does her work as a teacher and she truly has impacted and continues to impact her students’ lives.

Spizzirri said that it is a great honor to win the Iowa Teacher of the Year Award. The simple phone call from Dr. Brad Buck, Director of Iowa Department of Education, changed her whole life.

“I will serve as an ambassador of the teachers from the state of Iowa and I am also representing an entire community,” Spizzirri told.  

The name Clemencia translates to compassion and there is no doubt that to win the Teacher of the Year Award and to make a difference in a student’s life a little compassion always helps. 

Hola Iowa staff congratulates Clemencia Spizzirri, the winner of the Iowa Teacher of the Year award. We hope that teacher Spizzirri will continue her excellent job of empowering students and preparing them for future for many more years to come.


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