July 18, 2024

St. Malachy teacher receives honor

Creston St. Malachy first-grade teacher Ann Levine was right about the purpose for the school assembly Friday afternoon.

Sort of.

Thinking it was an award ceremony for the students, the event was a surprise for her as the Des Moines Diocese named her teacher of the year. She has been at St. Malachy for 45 years. After receiving the award from Donna Bishop representing the diocese, Levine admitted she thought the afternoon was for the students.

Levine, surrounded by family, was thankful for the honor and the staff she works with.

St. Malachy Principal Jennifer Simmons said she was informed of the award on Monday and quickly organized the surprise assembly.

“There are so many people,” Simmons said about people from the Creston area who have been impacted by Levine’s work. Simmons said she was cautious about telling too many people knowing the secret may leak just because of how many people know of her time and effort at the school.

“And there is a 46th year planned,” Simmons said.

A 1974 Creston graduate, she attended Southwestern Community College before transferring to Northwest Missouri State University.

She initially considered nursing, but, “Sometimes you go and find out things you have to take. I changed my mind,” she said earlier this month. Elementary education was the next choice.

Levine said earlier this month her goal she has for her students is to increase their reading skills. She also said she makes her class “students” as they transition from kindergarten.

St. Malachy Catholic school is one of 16 within the Des Moines Diocese. A ceremony is scheduled Aug. 26 in Des Moines for Levine to formally receive her award with other Catholic school staff and administration. Last year, Simmons was named rural administrator of the year.

Nomination letters for Levine explained her decades-long commitment to the school and well-being of her students. People read excerpts from the nominations.

“She’s dedicated her life to the students,” one nomination stated. “She’s learned technology and technique.”

Levine started in education at a time when computers seemed more like parts of a science fiction books. Now they are common as laptop computers are provided for her own students.

Another briefly explained what Levine did when COVID put education on its ear in spring 2020. Levine was known to have recorded lessons and distributed them to students through the technology available.

“Every student has a memory,” according to another nomination form.

St. Malachy fifth-grade teacher Amy Surma, who eventually takes in Levine’s students from the previous years, said Levine is a valued resource.

“I look to her for guidance,” she said.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.