Iowa Middle School Science Teacher Named Wal-Mart's National Teacher of the Year

Iowa Middle School Science Teacher Named Wal-Mart’s National Teacher of the Year
National Retailer Awards Special “Environmental Science Trip” to Teacher
and $25,000 to School

BENTONVILLE, AR, NOV. 2, 2005 – An outstanding educator who instills a passion for science in sixth and seventh graders has been named the Wal-Mart National Teacher of the Year.  Dr. Hector Ibarra of West Branch Middle School in West Branch, Iowa, was selected by Phi Delta Kappa International, a national professional education association, from a pool of teachers from all 50 states and Puerto Rico in the 10th year of the program. 

Born in Mexico in a home near the one-room schoolhouse where his mother was the teacher and learning to speak English in the fourth grade, Ibarra is a role model for many.  His life’s work is a testament to how one educator can positively impact not only his students, but the community at large.

The national award was announced today during a surprise ceremony at the Englert Civic Theatre in downtown Iowa City.  Representatives from Wal-Mart and Phi Delta Kappa joined students and teachers along with local dignitaries to honor Ibarra.  As part of the award, Ibarra’s school received a $25,000 educational grant from Wal-Mart for the honor in addition to state and local grants totaling $36,000. 

During the ceremony, Wal-Mart invited Ibarra on a “science trip” to visit the retailer’s Aurora, Colo., Wal-Mart Supercenter – the company’s second experimental store focused on environmental sustainability– opening Nov. 9.  Environmental sustainability has become an increasing point of focus for Wal-Mart.  The Aurora store features more than 50 experiments aimed at saving energy and helping the environment. 

Ibarra will receive a personal tour of these experiments at the store and learn first-hand what the world’s largest retailer is doing to help the environment.  Through this experience, Wal-Mart hopes to provide Ibarra the opportunity to share new information and ideas with his students.  In addition, Ibarra will receive a personalized trophy, certificate and one-year membership to Phi Delta Kappa.

The National Teacher of the Year program is a part of Wal-Mart’s long-term commitment to support education throughout the United States.  The program will provide $4.3 million this year to schools across the country and honor top teachers.  Since its inception in 1995, Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year program has recognized more than 25,000 teachers nationwide.  This year, Wal-Mart will contribute more than $45 million in support of educational initiatives.

“Dr. Ibarra is an amazing teacher who uses creative, hands-on activities to open the world of discovery for his students,” said Betsy Reithemeyer, vice president of corporate affairs and head of the Wal-Mart & SAM’S CLUB Foundation.  “He represents the ingenuity and inspiration of teachers everywhere who are helping young people to see how they can make a positive difference, and is a great example of why it is so important that Wal-Mart recognize teachers like him every year.”

“Dr. Ibarra is an outstanding representative of the thousands of outstanding teachers in this country who inspire their students every day,” said Dr. William Bushaw, executive director of Phi Delta Kappa International. “He and other teachers like him make learning fun, yet challenge their students to excel.  At the same time, he makes a special effort to connect his classroom to the community.  Teachers like Dr. Ibarra make special contributions to their schools and beyond, and Phi Delta Kappa is delighted to be a part of program sponsored by the Wal-Mart & SAM’S CLUB Foundation that honors classroom teachers for serving America’s next generation!”

Ibarra has received other national honors including being named one of the top teachers in the country by USA Today and participating in the Fulbright Memorial Fund Master Teacher Program.  His class last year won the President’s Environmental Youth Award.  Ibarra list of honors includes the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship, National Science Teachers Association Distinguished Teaching Award and the Milken National Educator Award.

How the Program Winners Are Selected
Local winners were named in May by each of Wal-Mart’s 3,800 stores, SAM’S CLUBS and distribution centers.  These winners were chosen based on community nominations.  Each teacher’s school received a $1,000 donation in their honor and a $50 gift card for the teacher during National Teacher Appreciation Week.  Local winners had the option to complete a comprehensive application form for the state winner phase to be reviewed by Phi Delta Kappa International.  State winners, including a winner from Puerto Rico, were announced this fall and were automatically considered for the National Teacher of the Year award.

According to Bushaw, several criteria were used to evaluate the applications of the state and national winners.  Applicants answered four questions with each response limited to 250 words; judges gave each answer a numerical score.
1. What do you consider to be your greatest contribution to students?
2. What self-initiated practices, programs or projects have you implemented to produce a high level of student achievement?
3. What do you consider to be the three most critical issues in education that affect students?  Address one of these issues by describing how you attempt to respond to it.
4. At what level and degree are you involved in community volunteer work?  Describe how your involvement has influenced your teaching.

Applicants also submitted two letters of recommendation – one from an immediate supervisor and one from a colleague, a community member, a student’s parent or a student.

Check out the 2005 State Teacher of the Year winners.

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
More information about Teacher of the Year, Wal-Mart’s charitable giving per state and other programs can be found at www.walmartfacts.com or www.walmartfacts.com or www.walmartfoundation.org

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and SAM’S CLUB locations in the United States.  Internationally, the company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom.  The company’s securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT.  Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com.  Press releases and other Wal-Mart facts are available at www.walmartfacts.com.