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Hector Ibarra, PhD
2008 Alumni Classroom Fellow
West Branch, Iowa


Photo of Hector Ibarra, Classroom Fellow
video Hector Ibarra identifies what he sees as the most important qualities of a teacher.

Bio/Overview: Ibarra retired from teaching middle school science in West Branch, Iowa after 34 years in the classroom. Ibarra taught 6th, 7th and 8th grade science and was the science department chairperson at West Branch Community Schools. Currently, he serves on the National Assessment Governing Board for the U.S. Department of Education and continues to teach talented and gifted 3-8 grade students through the University of Iowa’s Belin Blank Center.  When he was in junior high Ibarra made it his goal to be a science teacher. He considers himself very fortunate because his life has been touched by many outstanding teachers. Ibarra’s first outstanding teacher was his fourth grade teacher, Ms. Myrtle Olson. Ibarra did not speak English very well, and Ms. Olson opened his eyes to learning. Ms. Olson was instrumental in helping to shape Ibarra’s life.

Educational Values/Philosophy: Ibarra believes that we teach for the moments yet to come. His contributions occur when he inspires his students to continue on their journey of discovery. For Ibarra, teaching is a journey. Teachers open doors and create opportunities for dreams to become reality. Learning begins in the classroom. It is here that teachers impact all students and help mold their lives.

Achievements:Ibarra’s programs in the environment, water conservation, and energy have received national acclaim. Ibarra has been fortunate to receive national honors including participating in the Fulbright Memorial Fund Master Teacher Program. He is most proud of the national awards his students have won in national contests that include eCybermission, Siemens, Christopher Columbus Award, Lexus, and ExploraVision. Students have received over $750,000 in saving bonds and cash as a result of being members of winning national awards. Members of the science club have been selected to participate in over 40 national award finals where students made presentations about the community issues they investigated. Students crafted 3 legislative bills that were signed into law by Governor Culver. Program class honors include three-time recipient of the President’s Environmental Youth Award and five-time recipient of SeaWorld Busch Gardens Environmental Excellence award. Ibarra’s list of honors includes the Phi Delta Kappa and Wal-Mart National Teacher of the Year, Milken National Educator Award, Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, Christa McAuliffe Fellowship, DisneyHand teaching award, and his induction into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1998.

Leadership Experience: Ibarra’s grant proposals include parents, businesses and the community. Since 1995 Ibarra has led a team of three meteorologists who serve as mentors for teachers in an NOAA NSF distance-learning Internet undergraduate professional development course in meteorology. In 2010 Ibarra was appointed to a 4 year term to serve on the National Assessment Governing Board. In 2011, Ibarra was appointed Ambassador of Public Health and Environmental Education for the State Hygienic Laboratory, and was hired to teach on a contractual basis at the Berlin Blank Talented and Gifted Program at the University of Iowa. Ibarra also serves as Director of Learning Without Limits science club. Ibarra also serves as Director of STEMS (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in Society) science club.

Affiliations: Phi Delta Kappa, National Teachers Hall of Fame, Milken, NOAA, State Hygienic Laboratory, AMS, Berlin Blank Talented and Gifted Program

Education: Ibarra received his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.

Areas of Interest/Expertise:

  • Science learning
  • Inquiry teaching approach
  • Applied learning
  • Technology in the classroom
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Last Modified: 09/23/2013