LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

« Return to Nominee List

Deborah Masker

Position: Social Studies/Music Teacher, Instructional Coach
School: Kirn Middle School
School District: Council Bluffs Schools District
City, State: Council Bluffs, IA

Support Deborah Leave a comment for Deborah

Music that Describes Deborah


Deborah Masker was nominated by her colleague, Theresa Dreismeier.

Mrs. Masker has graciously developed and implemented Council Bluffs Community Schools District’s classes and programs. Out of all her district's programs, she has especially embraced National History Day, the Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy, middle school show choir, and middle school plays and musicals.

Mrs. Masker has taken National History Day from an infancy level to a fully immersed learning experience. Over the past 20  years, she has dedicated endless hours of her own personal time and resources for her students. She has worked with students in grades 6 through 12 to coach, lead, and guide them to compete in this annual event. Students from her district repeatedly make it to the national competition held each year in Washington, D.C. 

Besides being the History Day teacher for CB Schools, Mrs. Masker has also served as the local coordinator for Southwest Iowa. She has organized the area’s overall program and district judging competition.  She has been a mentor, leader, and facilitator for teachers from other surrounding schools. Mrs. Masker has been instrumental with designing, implementing, and continuously improving National History Day, not only for the Council Bluffs Schools District, but for all Pottawattamie County students.  

The Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy is a 31 year program that builds leadership skills in middle school students from West Pottawattamie County. The academy serves incoming 8th graders. Each year, approximately 100 students from 7th grade are nominated based on their leadership potential. Mrs. Masker is the academy director. For over 16 years, she has embraced this program. She has improved the curriculum, recruited volunteers, raised funds, trained other counselors, and solidified unity from the community to ensure the academy continues. Her annual campaign initiatives collectively raise $20,000. Mrs. Masker never stops pressing forward with this student advancement endeavor.

Mrs. Masker loves a challenge, no matter how difficult or time-consuming, especially when it promotes her vision to make Kirn Middle School the best possible learning environment for students, staff, parents, and the community. She has also taught and conducted the Kirn Show Choir and directed several middle school plays and musicals. These beautifully crafted productions always lead to a packed auditorium and sold out shows. Under Mrs. Masker’s leadership, Kirn Show Choir has performed in many local and state competitions.

Mrs. Masker has worked tirelessly as a humble, approachable team player. She is constantly improving classes, programs, partnerships, and professional development opportunities. Mrs. Masker not only helps create the best learning environment for students, but models a positive building culture, as well. She is an unconditional, honest colleague. She even had a back pocket buddy who needed a positive role model. 

Mrs. Masker has become a household name for so many families. When parents are asked, who is the one teacher who has made a significant impact on your child, they'll most likely say "Mrs. Masker."

"My own son said that Mrs. Masker will be a life-long connection," said Dreismeier. "She is a remarkable educator who manifests a legacy that continues to inspire students, staff, parents, and the community. She is a teacher who has dedicated her life to the advancement and betterment of students. Mrs. Masker is truly a LifeChanger."



Comments (91)


Brianne McDermott Posted 1 months ago

I have known Mrs. Masker for almost 10 years now and I still struggle to put into exact words how she has influenced me -- there are probably a thousand different stories I could discuss which demonstrate her commitment and passion to students. She has truly changed my life for the better and without a doubt has also impacted the lives of hundreds of other students throughout her career as an educator. I participated in National History Day from sixth grade all the way through my senior year of high school, and I definitely would not have stuck with it for as long as I did if it wasn't for her. Mrs. Masker not only sets high expectations for her students but she is 100% committed to helping them in any and every way she can. She will spend hours searching for sources for every single student and their topic (usually 30-50 students) and guide each and every one of them through the various stages of creating projects. She will open her kitchen to students on the weekends (and bake the best cookies) in order to ensure that the students are completing their projects on time. Because of Mrs. Masker and National History Day, I and several other students entered college and higher academia more prepared for the challenges ahead - I came to college knowing how to research historical topics, how to create annotated bibliographies, and how to speak publicly and confidently. I am currently in my second year of college studying Social Studies Education and I firmly believe that I would not have found my love for historical research or my love for education had it not been for Mrs. Masker. I can only hope I turn out to be half the woman, half the historian, half the educator that she is. Mrs. Masker is without a doubt deserving of every single award or accolade under the sun - she is a true advocate for her students and will do whatever it takes to help them succeed.

Jennifer Jensen Posted 2 months ago

I worked with Deb at Kirn Middle School. Deb has always had her students' best interest at heart. She is strong teacher and leader, and she deserves all accolades.

Kerry Newman Posted 2 months ago

I was Deb's principal for four years at Kirn Middle School. Deb's role evolved a few times. Each time she remained flexible and approached everything with a positive attitude. She is certainly a positive culture builder. Deb is a STRONG child advocate. She works with all kids and has a place in her heart for some of the toughest kids. Her Leadership Program exists because of her, literally. Without her efforts to gain funding and her passion, I am sure that program would not be going on. Deb is passionate about learning, especially Social Studies. She shares her expertise and time to her students as well as through History Day. She goes the extra mile for kids without hesitation. Deb Masker is a fantastic candidate for this honor. She is absolutely a Life Changer!

Tracy Albertus Posted 2 months ago

I have three children that had the privilege of having Deb as a show choir instructor, their leader at leadership academy and their mentor and guide when they participated in history day. Deb is much more than a teacher to my now adult children. She has always been someone they respected and also knew they could rely on for guidance and support. She is a magnificent example of someone who continuously gives back to her community through the CBCSD and Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy. She is invested in the youth of Southwest Iowa and anyone who has had the opportunity to interact with her realizes this almost immediately. As a parent of CBCSD students I am grateful to Deb for all of the hours she has put in and continues to put in to teach, motivate and mentor the youth that pass through her many doors. She is a rare treasure and there is no doubt that she deserves any and all recognition thrown her way for her tireless dedication to make our world a better place through our young people.

Isabella Taylor Posted 2 months ago

Deb started as my show choir teacher and quickly became a lot more than that. A leadership Academy Leader and mentor and a kind spirit in the halls. It’s been years since I’ve been in her class but her spirit and friendship still remains prevalent. She is the one teacher I’ve ever had that I felt was actually doing and advocating for the betterment of the students without expecting something back or without doing it for the accolades of others. She is rooted in good and she came during such formative years. I am lucky to know her and hope everyone gets the chance.

Madison Clark Posted 2 months ago

I am fortunate to have gotten the chance to be under the instruction of Mrs. Masker. Her expectations are set and those expectations are no less than met! With kindness and generosity, Mrs. Masker works tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone she comes in contact with. From music, to leadership, to life in general there’s not a phrase better than “Life-changer” to call this woman! I loved her so much that I had to come back with some of my fellow choir mates to sing our appreciation to her! Deserving is an understatement, you rock Mrs. Masker!

Jolene Hansen Posted 2 months ago

I have worked with Deb for the past 8 years at Kirn Middle School. During this time I have seen Deb work endless hours on weekends and holiday breaks helping kids. Whether it is History Day projects or Leadership students Deb makes time for whatever these kids need. To say that she is dedicated is not enough!! She cares deeply about the student and staff here at Kirn.

John and Carolyn Cool Posted 2 months ago

All four of our children attended the Leadership Camp led by Mrs. Masker and this camp proved to be a "Life Changer" for all four of them. Upon completion of the camp, all four of them said they wanted to do it again. Upon completion of high school, all four of them agreed that the week of Leadership Camp was one of the most memorable experiences they had during their school years. Today, as successful young adults with families of their own, they continue to agree that if they had a week to "do over again" it would be the week of Leadership Camp. They also agree that the primary reason this experience was so "awesome" is because of the hard work, dedication and tenacity of Mrs. Masker. She wanted every child to have the best experience, to become the best leader they could possibly be and to have fun while doing it. When children are excited about learning, they learn! She has a way of igniting a fire in each and every child with whom she works that makes them want to be better. I cannot think of a person more deserving of such an award.

Jennifer Vincent Posted 2 months ago

Deb has been involved with the West Pottawattamie 4-H program for many years. As a 4-H County Youth Coordinator, I have come to know her as a 4-H parent, a 4-H leader and currently a 4-H judge for the area county fairs. Deb is enthusiastic when she is judging and is always looking to encourage the 4-H'ers and promote the program. She makes personal connections with the 4-H'ers and pushes them to "Make the Best Better", whether they have been her own personal students or not. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has also had the pleasure of presenting at the Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy on several occasions over the past 22 years and I'm always amazed at the organization and effort that Deb puts into the Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy, it truly is a work of love for her and has impacted many students' lives. Deb is the epitome of a life changer!

Miriam Beck Posted 2 months ago

She is an extremely dedicated teacher giving hours and hours of her time to help the students achieve. She goes above and beyond the extra mile and took my daughters on field trips (hours away) to help them find good primary sources for their history day projects. Extremely dedicated teacher, the most I have ever known.

Christy Arthur Posted 2 months ago

Deb Masker in every way deserves this recognition. She has sustained a leadership program that enhances students mental/emotional growth. Mrs.Masker is a respected educator that rises to every challenge with out complaint. Her boundless energy and straightforward style of communication makes it easy to learn from her. History Day competitors from Kirn will always remember how she kept their opportunities open even during a pandemic. The number of her volunteer hours are staggering. I have had the pleasure of observing Deb Masker as a parent of students she serves, as a spectator in events she has directed, and as a fellow board member. Working with young people her name comes up in conversation regularly, in those instances the child I'm working with speaks of Mrs.Masker with appreciation and respect. Deb Masker in every way is a Life Changer.

Jerri Larson Posted 2 months ago

I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Masker for 4 years at Kirn Middle School when I was an assistant principal. Mrs. Masker is so flexible when it comes to teaching students and working with colleagues. There was never a worry when needing to ask her to change her schedule or take students that needed to switch a class. She gives tireless hours to the school and students including running the Leadership program and History Day. She worked with my own children in the past while they were in Leadership. She is truly a "one of a kind" teacher, coach and person!

Kelsey Whalen Posted 2 months ago

Mrs. Masker has had a very big impact on many lives! I met her in middle school during show choir! She puts her all into whatever she does and students greatly benefit from it! I was also in leadership academy and it was a highlight of my time in middle school! She organized and directed it! I am now on the board for leadership with her and it has all come full circle. She is very deserving of this award!

David Fringer Posted 2 months ago

I've known Deb for nearly 20 years; she continues to amaze me with her dedication and energy as a true "life changer". Countless staff, students, families, and community members are touched by Ms. Masker every year. This includes the students she serves directly at Kirn Middle School and students from all across southwest Iowa who participate in the SW Iowa Leadership Academy each summer. One thing that's constant in K-12 classrooms is change. Deb models the attributes of a life-long-learner which allows her to connect in meaningful ways with "today's students". Her job title (Social Studies/Music Teacher, Instructional Coach) illustrates how many people she touches each day. She's a Life Changer for the teachers she coaches, for the students she teaches, and for all students and families involved in her extra curricular programs. Here's one example: Deb works at Kirn Middle School with 6th, 7th, & 8th graders. I walked into the Media Center at Abraham Lincoln High School and there's Deb, working with a group of High School Students on their National History Day projects. So I say: "Deb - not enough for you to do at Kirn?" - She responds: "these kids wanted to enter the National History Day competition this year and I'm just lending a hand". Not because she had to, but because she's a LIFE CHANGER!

Shari Yungbluth Posted 2 months ago

Deb is my former 4-H leader. She was so encouraging and always made sure that I was aware of camps and scholarship opportunities. Even with a daughter a year older than me and one the same age as me, she still encouraged me to throw my name in the ring for those types of opportunities that her own kids were competing for. I have kept in touch with Deb, despite having been out of high school/4-H since 2002. I have come back to help with judging the history day events she coordinated each year. I see her former students also coming back to help her with these events. I think that speaks volumes to what a great influence she is. She is caring, compassionate, and such an encouraging person. She works hard helping students and comes home and works hard helping with the family farm. She spends weekends and evenings helping her students with projects. She is a woman that just keeps on giving. She is so deserving of this award. The prize money will be well spent towards her Leadership camp and history day events that she spends so much time and effort on.

Natalie Murphy Posted 2 months ago

I was so fortunate to meet Mrs. Masker when she was my older sister’s teacher. Since then, I have known her as my own teacher, choir director, National History Day coach, Leadership Academy sponsor.. the list of hats Mrs. Masker wears is extensive. She is a bright spot in a time of an adolescent’s life that can honestly be kind of scary. Her impact on my own life, however, did not stop after 8th grade. Mrs. Masker continued to reach out and encourage me all the way through college. She cares deeply about the students in her care and treats them as I imagine she treats her own children. The lessons I learned from Mrs. Masker continue to influence my life. Through the programs she is involved in, I learned code writing, public speaking, professional communication, and leadership and research skills. Even more, her pride in us made me confident, her dedication to us taught me the benefits of determination and perseverance, and her support of community involvement taught me empathy and humility. There is no better title to call Mrs. Masker than a “life-changer”.

Ryan Shantz Posted 2 months ago

Deb is the most supportive colleague any teacher could ask for. She is always willing to help and guide. There were moments in my last few years at Kirn that I wouldn’t have survived without her. She works tirelessly for everyone around her and if she doesn’t have an answer immediately she will find it. She is truly a treasure. CBCSD and Kirn are beyond lucky to have her.

Jordan Bahr Posted 2 months ago

Mrs. Masker was my my choir teacher for two years while I was at Kirn Middle School, and was also my instructor for Leadership academy as well. She is an amazing educator who relishes the chance to put her whole self into any project she is a part of, and someone who pushes those around here to achieve. I speak for not only myself when I say her guidance is what have me the push to pursue these things, as well as complete projects for Leadership Academy. She taught me to enjoy the work, and to find tasks and objectives that were stimulating and challenging. I can think of very few other people that left such a positive and enduring impact on my life and many others.

Claire B. Posted 2 months ago

Deb Masker was a role model and star teacher when it came to my middle school education. My first encounter with her was when I participated in the History Day club at our school, and I stuck with it for three years because of her. Deb’s undying love for education and bolstering children’s knowledge, passion for learning and confidence in themselves makes her a very special person. Her kindness in everything she does gives students the chance to explore their minds and intelligence without being afraid of mistakes. Even now, my fondest memories are of after school History Day and making recordings of documentaries with her guiding us through the challenges we didn’t think we could handle. Deb is a very strong and capable educator, friend and woman that is deserving of every praise and award that comes her way.

Emily Newby Posted 2 months ago

I met Mrs. Masker 3 years ago at Kirn Middle School. I decided to do the after-school club of History Day. My project was about Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, and every time I mentioned a musical she would start singing one of the songs....The next year I didn't have a really have a topic that I wanted to do, so Mrs. Masker convinced me to do a project on her favorite suffragist - Alice Paul. She always buys a book about our topic and arranges interviews to help us learn the most we can about our topic. She helps us with any technical issues there are with our documentary projects. All of this is outside of her regular job. No other teacher puts in this much volunteer time to help kids.

Ryan Simmons Posted 2 months ago

Over the past nearly three years I have known Deb Masker to be a tireless advocate for her students and peers alike. I first got the chance to see her work first-hand when I spent two weeks a substitute teacher in eighth grade math. Deb’s support for me in that role was invaluable. From there she hired me as a team leader for The Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy which takes some of the best up-and-coming leaders from area schools’ eighth-graders-to-be and gives them an intensive, week long, campus experience in leadership and cooperative development. That program was kept alive largely due the fundraising and logistical efforts of Mrs. Masker. Based on what I have personally seen and come to know, as well as that which I am confidently able to infer about her activities and efforts, Deb Masker deserves to be named LifeChanger of the Year!

Ryan Powell Posted 3 months ago

I have worked with Deb Masker for the last two years in our social studies department at Kirn Middle School. We often joke how Deb does not sleep because she always on, working, planning, contributing. As a source of inspiration as well as a provider of ideas and material, Deb was invaluable to our team towards reworking our curriculum and content from scratch into something we can all be proud to teach everyday. She raises the bar for everyone working here as she goes above and beyond as an educator, giving her free time to work in leadership groups, national history day students and any other area of need someone might be in. I could say that she is a life changer to me because of the incredible amount I have already learned regarding education from being around her, but this doesn't even come close to her influence and selfless work given to her students each and every day.

Jeff Kassal Posted 3 months ago

Deb Masker is the hardest working educator I've ever been around. She works tirelessly to help both students and staff. The activities she plans are engaging to even the most difficult students. When I taught at Kirn Middle School, Deb helped me with both classroom ideas along with encouragement when I was personally struggling. I cannot think of anyone even close to as deserving of this award. Mrs Masker is a teacher that current and former students remember for being caring and a fantastic teacher. "Life Changer" is absolutely a fitting term to describe Deb Masker.

Julie Newby Posted 3 months ago

I met Deb Masker at Kirn MIddle School when I was substitute teaching a decade ago. I had always heard about this History Day program she orchestrated. I wanted my 6th grader to do it, but she wasn’t interested. When Deb found out that my child might be interested, she continually encouraged her to join the program until finally my daughter did her 7th grade year. It was the best learning experience ever - even she would admit that now. She learned more in this extra-curricular program doing a History Day project than she has learned in her regular school curriculum - content, research skills, writing skills, performance skills - the list goes on. She is competing in History Day for her fifth year, winning the Iowa competition twice and qualifying for Nationals each time. She earned 8th place overall in 2020 out of over 100 entries in her category at the national competition. My other daughter also joined History Day her sixth grade year and has competed for 3 years, winning the Iowa competition twice and going to Nationals also. Both of my kids enjoy history because of this experience that Deb has provided for them. My oldest daughter even plans to major in History in college with the goal to either teach at the collegiate level or to work as a historian for a museum. Deb volunteers hundreds of hours helping kids do research, traveling to libraries, arranging interviews for projects, and for many years running the District Contest for our region. This program would not exist if it were not for Deb. There is no one that would step up and help kids produce 20 projects a year at the middle and high school levels, with most kids arriving with no idea how to do research, write a thesis, or do a bibliography. The core group of kids who have done this program every year from sixth through twelfth grade is a testament to how well the program is run, the amount of learning that occurs, and the opportunities it affords kids. History Day has opened so many doors for my kids. Not only have my kids learned a lot of this experience, I have also learned so much new information. Deb is also constantly seeking out new technology to keep kids interested. She is always a resource to ask when you need to know how to do something. If she doesn’t know, she will work to find an answer. So many times she has helped with video download issues, editing clips, and integrating them into projects. She goes above and beyond to get things done. When you stereotypically think that a cutting-edge technology person is someone in their early 20s or 30s, Deb breaks that barrier with all of the ideas that she comes up with. When Deb was the instructional coach at Kirn Middle School, she was constantly being asked to sub in classrooms when a teacher would be absent. She always did it with a smile on her face, in spite of still having her own workload to complete at a later time. In addition to subbing when needed, she also took on a struggling student to mentor him during her planning time last year. Deb is always the first to arrive at school and the last to leave. She continues to work even when not in the building. My daughter also participated in Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy. The kids got a chance to do community service and service to their school. My daughter met a lot of nice kids during that time. Once again, this program would not be possible if Deb did not put forth the effort to organize and run all of the events. Deb has also been involved with judging at our local 4-H Fair and other Fairs in the area. Qualified judges are hard to find, and she also finds the time to judge during the summer so that kids can have a worthwhile experience. Deb is a LifeChanger because she has dedicated her life to helping kids reach their full potential. Whether it be in the classroom or outside the classroom, Deb is a dedicated professional, life-long learner, co-worker, friend, parent, grandparent, and community volunteer.

Kimberly Heffelfinger Posted 3 months ago

I am fortunate to have worked with Deb Masker for 20 years. Deb is an inspirational colleague who works tirelessly to improve her students academic skill levels. More importantly, she is one of those rare educators who both models and teaches the fine art of civility each and everyday. I have never heard Deb say anything that could possibly be construed as anything other than courteous. Deb Masker consistently motivates her students to give nothing less than their best effort through the example she sets and the level of caring she shows each of her students. Deb has always exceeded every challenge presented to her. She is and will remain a lifelong learner. All of the students Deb has worked with are better for having worked with her because she does indeed change all of the lives she touches.

Julie Newby Posted 3 months ago

I met Deb Masker at Kirn MIddle School when I was substitute teaching a decade ago. I had always heard about this History Day program she orchestrated. I wanted my 6th grader to do it, but she wasn’t interested. When Deb found out that my child might be interested, she continually encouraged her to join the program until finally my daughter did her 7th grade year. It was the best learning experience ever - even she would admit that now. She learned more in this extra-curricular program doing a History Day project than she has learned in her regular school curriculum - content, research skills, writing skills, performance skills - the list goes on. She is competing in History Day for her fifth year, winning the Iowa competion twice and qualifying for Nationals each time. She earned 8th place overall in 2020 out of over 100 entries in her category at the national competition. My other daughter also joined History Day her sixth grade year and has competed for 3 years, winning the Iowa competition twice and going to Nationals also. Both of my kids enjoy history because of this experience that Deb has provided for them. My oldest daughter even plans to major in History in college with the goal to either teach at the collegiate level or to work as a historian for a museum. Deb volunteers hundreds of hours helping kids do research, traveling to libraries, arranging interviews for projects, and for many years running the District Contest for our region. This program would not exist if it were not for Deb. There is no one that would step up and help kids produce 20 projects a year at the middle and high school levels, with most kids arriving with no idea how to do research, write a thesis, or do a bibliography. The core group of kids who have done this program every year from sixth through twelfth grade is a testament to how well the program is run, the amount of learning that occurs, and the opportunities it affords kids. History Day has opened so many doors for my kids. Not only have my kids learned a lot of this experience, I have also learned so much new information. Deb is also constantly seeking out new technology to keep kids interested. She is always a resource to ask when you need to know how to do something. If she doesn’t know, she will work to find an answer. So many times she has helped with video download issues, editing clips, and integrating them into projects. She goes above and beyond to get things done. When you stereotypically think that a cutting-edge technology person is someone in their early 20s or 30s, Deb breaks that barrier with all of the ideas that she comes up with. When Deb was the instructional coach at Kirn Middle School, she was constantly being asked to sub in classrooms when a teacher would be absent. She always did it with a smile on her face, in spite of still having her own workload to complete at a later time. In addition to subbing when needed, she also took on a struggling student to mentor him during her planning time last year. Deb is always the first to arrive at school and the last to leave. She continues to work even when not in the building. My daughter also participated in Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy. The kids got a chance to do community service and service to their school. My daughter met a lot of nice kids during that time. Once again, this program would not be possible if Deb did not put forth the effort to organize and run all of the events. Deb has also been involved with judging at our local 4-H Fair and other Fairs in the area. Qualified judges are hard to find, and she also finds the time to judge during the summer so that kids can have a worthwhile experience. Deb is a LifeChanger because she has dedicated her life to helping kids reach their full potential. Whether it be in the classroom or outside the classroom, Deb is a dedicated professional, life-long learner, co-worker, friend, parent, grandparent, and community volunteer.

Kelsey Stupfell Posted 3 months ago

Deb is the depiction of a community builder and advocate for our local youth! She is a down-to-earth, real-talk, put in some elbow grease type of person. Deb is a collaborator, encourager, and a go-getter for Southwest Iowa. As a student who personally benefited attending the Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy and now serves as a business partner who helps promote this youth leadership program – it has been a blessing to see the amazing impact of this important work! The program continues to pay dividends years later while lifting local small businesses and our community at large due to the investment of so many teachers and Deb’s leadership and passion. Her devotion goes beyond the school hours, beyond the week-long camp and beyond the programmatic curriculum – she is dedicated to people’s potential and growth in every in interaction. If you want to see change and impact coincide, Deb comes to the top of the list!

Nate Posted 3 months ago

Mrs. Masker is passionate about helping others and especially her students. I saw that as a member of Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy, the program she runs that develops junior high age students into community leaders. She always finds a way to make things happens and puts everyone else ahead of her. She is an excellent role model and leader in our community.

Linda L. Forman Posted 3 months ago

How difficult it is to try to put into words how blessed everyone who works with Deb feels? Many will only see these words on a page but so many students and teachers see the passion Deb puts into each and every student and each and every project she undertakes. She is always ready to help and spend her own time to help students and her co-workers rise to a challenge. She is the best cheerleader and advocate for students and the teachers she works with. I can't think of too many other people for whom I would write a letter such as this. She is one of the best!!

Jacob Kaufman Posted 3 months ago

Mrs. Masker was a fundamental part of my middle school experience. She was my History Day mentor at Kirn and helped me and my partner make the National level two consecutive years, giving us the chance to compete in Washington D.C. twice to represent the state of Iowa. She put in many hours every Wednesday evening and would come in over the holidays to provide a workspace in the Kirn library. She was also my mentor for the Leadership Academy, including the summer camp at Iowa School for the Deaf and the volunteering experiences during my 8th grade year. Even more importantly than these, she was also there for me and all of her students on a regular basis. She was always a helpful person to talk to when you were feeling down. She was always solid ground during the shaky times we had as middle schoolers. She even came to my grandmother's visitation to be there for us and give her condolences. In these examples and many others, she consistently went above the call of duty and was not afraid to lend a helping hand for those students and families in need. I thank her for all of her time and help throughout the years, and I truly hope she can earn this award and continue to give back to the Leadership Academy!

Mary Lee Posted 3 months ago

Deb works tirelessly to help students achieve new heights. She strives to be a positive influence on all of the people she meets. I have been lucky enough to watch her for the last 4 years. She works with many groups and helps the entire school run smoothly. She deserves this award to help her achieve even more. She loves to make a difference in all of people she meets.

Jeremy Stukenholtz Posted 3 months ago

It has been wonderful to read about all of Deb's contributions and accomplishments over the years. She has definitely made a positive impact on the students and staff here at Kirn Middle School. But in the end I think what strikes me most about Deb is her authenticity and her care/concern for others. She lives a life in service of others!

Mike Johnson Posted 3 months ago

Deb Masker is a life changer on many, many levels. She is a life-long learner who is always looking for new ideas and better ways of gathering and presenting information. She has a tremendous work ethic and high expectations for herself that are contagious to those around her. Deb provides opportunities for students that they wouldn't have without her drive and determination to provide the best outcomes possible for her students. She shares strategies with staff to enhance their teaching and gives them resources they wouldn't have without her. Deb Masker is a life changer at Kirn Middle School, our school community, Council Bluffs, and surrounding communities.

Michelle Kaufman Posted 3 months ago

Mrs. Masker has truly impacted the lives of my 2 children, as well as countless others. Participating in the Southwest Iowa Leadership programs and multiple History Day projects have definitely been memorable experiences. Mrs. Masker is 100% dedicated to the success of her students both in and out of the classroom. We had the pleasure of traveling to Washington, DC twice for National History Day competitions and both times were filled with many fun and educational memories. My children feel like the high standards Mrs. Masker set for them with History Day projects has prepared them well for college writing expectations. I especially appreciate the way Mrs. Masker remembers and participates in her students lives long after they leave middle school. Mrs. Masker embodies the spirit of a "life changer" and has dedicated her life to making a difference in students lives.

Stacey Smith Posted 3 months ago

I can't begin to imagine how many lives Mrs. Masker has changed over the years! Her level of dedication and passion for teaching, guiding, and cheering on the youth in our community is incomparable. Programs like National History Day and Leadership have instilled the knowledge and skills that will last a lifetime. There is truly no way to measure the impact she has had on her students. I do know that when our son moves on to college and then a career, Mrs. Masker will no doubt cross his mind many times as he uses the tools he was afforded during his time with her. Her commitment and unwavering pride in her students is greatly appreciated and admired.

Sarah Sealock Posted 3 months ago

Deb is a dedicated educator who works hard to improve the instructional needs of all students. Her love of learning and interest in sharing that knowledge with others can be seen daily by the interactions with those around her. As the school’s IB coordinator I have had the opportunity to work very closely with Deb. Her passion for learning and helping all students succeed can be seen in her daily interactions with colleagues and students. She is a driven educator who makes purposeful decisions that helps students not only to succeed academically but that helps them to develop into compassionate and caring individuals.

Christine Davis Posted 3 months ago

Mrs Masker is so dedicated to her students and goes above and beyond the requirements of a teacher. My daughter attended the Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy. She gained excellent leadership skills and now has a new confidence in her abilities to take on new roles in her school. Mrs. Masker’s influence instills a desire in our children to improve themselves and then give back to our community. Mrs Masker has touched the lives of so many children and she deserves this award!

Lisa Dunning Posted 3 months ago

When I think of a “life changer” Mrs Masker tips this list. We had 3 of our children go through the Southwest Iowa Leadership program and what an impact impact it had on each of them! They were able to implement the leadership skills they learned in that program as they moved into high school. Deb was always there greeting the children and getting them hyped up for the week long program. What impressed me most about Deb is when funding became a problem, she ALWAYS found a way to make the program happen. She sent out letter to former attendees, found sponsors and much more; anything to make the program go on, because it was that important to her and the future leaders she was serving. Thank you Deb!

Nick and Peg Moore Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker is making an impact in students lives beyond her assigned classroom / building / school district that she works in. My children have had the pleasure of meeting, interacting with, and learning from Mrs. Masker through the Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy in which she is heavily involved and instrumental in annually growing leaders in Council Bluffs and area communities. We have an 8th grader and a Freshman from Lewis Central that attended Leadership Camp under her guidance the past 2 summers. We appreciate everything she has done for not only our children but the many other children she has impacted as well.

Teresa Hamilton Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker goes above and beyond to create leadership opportunities a success for so many individuals. Her excitement spreads through the staff, students and even the community! The experience provided at leadership camp and through her instruction stays with students forever. My two kids who were a part of the leadership camp remember the skills and activities that helped them to grow from years ago. The skills they learned will stay with them for a lifetime! She has dedicated her life to the growth of students throughout the Council Bluffs community. She continues to use her passion to impact all those around her - students, staff, families and the community.

Sarah Shomshor Posted 4 months ago

My daughter went through the leadership program Summer of 2020. Mrs. Masker and her team made this experience happen for students through a pandemic. My daughter was so excited about being able to still participate in the leadership program. She is committed to providing experiences and opportunities for all the kids. It is evident that her love of teaching goes beyond the classroom.

Madison Dunning Posted 4 months ago

I had a great experience at the Leadership Academy because of Mrs. Maskers hard work and dedication to the event. She creates a life changing event that helps students step out of their comfort zone and meet leaders from different schools. It was a meaningful experience that I will always remember. Mrs. Masker has such a positive impact on students and other teachers in this community.

Lisa Dunning Posted 4 months ago

When I think of a “life changer” Mrs Masker tips this list. We had 3 of our children go through the Southwest Iowa Leadership program and what an impact impact it had on each of them! They were able to implement the leadership skills they learned in that program as they moved into high school. Deb was always there greeting the children and getting them hyped up for the week long program. What impressed me most about Deb is when funding became a problem, she ALWAYS found a way to make the program happen. She sent out letter to former attendees, found sponsors and much more; anything to make the program go on, because it was that important to her and the future leaders she was serving. Thank you Deb!

Rachel Ginn Posted 4 months ago

My son Timmy Ginn was a big part of the leader ship academy and show choir, these teachers and leaders have inspired not only my own son, but many others that I have had the chance to witness myself, to thrive and succeed with excellence, beyond what is required by the students. They are truly an inspiration to students, parents and families everywhere. I thank you all for taking such pride in what you do and actually caring so much for all of us. Good bless you .

Mat Daniels Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker is a leader in our school community. She is involved in National History Day, Southwest Iowa Youth Leadership, an instructional coach, teacher, mentor and Jill of all trades. She is an innovator. Deb is a leader in technology presentations, using technology to enhance education for the students. She trains staff on the newest teaching technology and always finds time to support us. She does a lot of fundraising so that leadership can remain in existence. Deb is able to fill multiple roles throughout the school and in our community. She is someone the staff and students can lean on if they need anything. She has definitely made a difference in the many lives she has come in contact during her tenure in education. The list of accolades is long. In the end, Deb has had a positive impact on everyone she has been associated with.

Jason Smith Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker is one of the hardest working, most innovative, and risk taking teachers I've ever seen. I had the privilage of working with Deb when she was the social studies coach in our building. She was constantly bring us new ideas, such as setting up virtual field trips with our kids all over the United States. There were many days when I would wake up and check my email, only to see one sent from Deb at 5am. The dedication she displays for students and her coworkers is unrivaled. On top all this she has dedicated countless hours to students at Kirn MIddle School and Abraham Lincoln High School sponsoring History Day. Deb truly has changed the lives of numerous students and co-workers during her teaching career.

Joslyn Guttau Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker is always working to make Leadership Camp a fun and meaningful experience. It has been about three years since I went to SWI Leadership Camp, but I still remember the life-changing lessons that she taught me. I am so grateful for Mrs. Masker because she has helped me to become the leader that I am today. She kept everything running smoothly throughout the week of camp and was always there for us if we ever needed anything. Thank you Mrs. Masker for the way you have changed my life.

Andrea Barnes Posted 4 months ago

I had 3 children go through the Leadership Academy and all of them had a great experience. Mrs. Masker does a fantastic job of making the camp run smoothly and every year finds the resources and people to keep the Leadership Academy alive and well. She always has gone above and beyond for Leadership Academy and the students who participate. We are very fortunate to have this program and Mrs. Masker is an outstanding example of a life changer.

Ella Schmitz Posted 4 months ago

Ms. Masker is a wonderful person. She always keeps things in order and running smoothly. If you have an issue, she will be able to find a solution that will work.

Andy Brabec Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker works really hard and makes Leadership Academy fun and educational. I was able to participate and made new friends and learned leadership qualities from her but mostly by example. I hope she wins!

Robyn Hick Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker always made me feel welcomed. She never failed to make me smile. She’s been in my life since I was around 3 when my mom worked for the district. She’s an amazing teacher and deserves so much recognition.

April Balm Posted 4 months ago

Deb is a person who steps up to help other teachers I’ll learn more about their practice. She teaches courses to improve outcomes for teachers and she seems tireless! We are all fortunate to have Deb in our corner.

Logan Maxwell Posted 4 months ago

Deb Masker is a fantastic human being, and not just because she was part of the team that hired me. There is nothing that Deb fails to accomplish. She is engaged in leadership academy, history day, instructional development, and curriculum assessment and reflection. She has volunteered to help coach athletic events while I was out, and is a crucial figure in our school. Kirn Middle School, a school with Title 1 status, would have kids whose lives would be lesser if Deb Masker was not in our school. Period. A person who is so willing to donate so much time is so deserving of this awards and any a subsequent accolade she is awarded.

Nathaniel Posted 4 months ago

I had lots of fun, even with covid-19 going on she still made it so I could have a great time. Without her I don't think leadership camp would be possible. She is a great role model and an example for all students. She also taught me a whole bunch and is a great leader

Nathaniel Posted 4 months ago

I am really glad I got to go to leadership camp this summer even with covid. I had a lot of fun and made a lot of new

Melissa Braymen Posted 4 months ago

Life changer, creator, teacher, parent, sister, all these words describe this amazing woman who never stops trying to make things better. I have worked with Deb for the last 15 years. She is both my friend and colleague. I have watched her handle every role she has been given with enthusiasm, energy and grace. Her willingness to make everything and everyone around her better with her support and energy. We have laughed together and cried together. As a woman, teacher and parent I see her as a role model for all young women who are pursuing their dreams. She never fails to improve the lives of those she comes in to contact with, guiding and challenging to be their very best. The lives she has impacted and changed in her career as an educator is endless.

Tim Dinges Posted 4 months ago

Deb has always giving and has ask nothing in return .She a good co worker and excellent with children .I believe she changes students from beening bad by giving them something to do other then sit a home or going out in getting in trouble .

Bailey Peabody Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker is one of the best teachers that I have had the pleasure of having. I was lucky enough to have her as a choir teacher, history day advisor and our leadership coordinator. She taught me hard work, dedication and the power of never giving up. She helped me grow my love and confidence in the music world and told me anything was possible when you try your hardest. I then began to participate in National History Day and she worked tirelessly to help me find the perfect idea for my project, gave me pointers on my script for my one act play, gave me notes on my performances, helped me prepare my costume and set pieces and ultimately, helped me get to the state level. Mrs. Masker taught her leadership kids the importance of serving the community, family and your school. We would visit the nursing home, hold canned food drives, coat drives, make notes for teachers, help with 6th grade welcome night and much more. Through all of these service projects, she taught us how to be great students, good humans and the value of helping others. She is one of the kindest, most helpful, hardworking women I have gotten the pleasure of knowing. She has a fiery spirit and has strived and accomplished so much and asks for no recognition in return. She does all she does purely because it makes her happy. She is such an honest and wonderful person who has done so much for her school, her students and our community. I don’t think I would have strived so hard or accomplished so much without the guidance from Mrs. Masker. Her guidance and knowledge helped get me into amazing positions such as head of spirit and pride and student body secretary in my high school student council. With her push and motivation, I was also able to achieve my dream of being a page editor for the school newspaper and the co-editor-in-chief for not only my senior but junior year as well. I will never forget the day, my sixth grade year when I was crying because I wanted so badly to try out for a solo in choir but I was so nervous and timid. She sat me down, wiped my tears and told me that I can do anything I set my mind to. We as women are strong and resilient and that I have the power to accomplish anything. That had resonated with me since and is the reason I push so hard to achieve everything I’ve ever wanted. I don’t know anyone else more deserving of this award.

Kayla Whitworth Posted 4 months ago

My name is Kayla Whitworth, and I am a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School. I first met Mrs. Masker in 8th grade, when I decided to join the National History Day program at my middle school. Everyone knew about Mrs. Masker, and everyone knew about History Day. It’s a program that requires hard work and dedication, unwavering love for your chosen project, and unadulterated passion. It’s a program that is run by a woman who cares so deeply about history, about our schools, and about each and every student she encounters, that everyone knew that if you committed to History Day, you would have a wonderful mentor who was committed to you, in every aspect you would need her. We have had more of our fair share of students compete both at the state and national level of History Day, and while a large part of this comes from the students, it’s undeniable Mrs. Masker’s guiding hand plays a large role in our successes. She is not someone who is overbearing. She does not push you to do something you have no interest in. She has a special talent for finding exactly what piques your interest, the one topic you had no idea would completely entrance you. Mrs. Masker doesn’t force kids to participate, she gets to know kids and understands their interests, choosing to engage them rather than string them along. When I first joined the program, I understood this as a hypothetical statement, assuming that when experiencing the guiding hand of Mrs. Masker myself, the hype would turn out to be overstated and she would be simply another teacher not interested in affecting student’s lives. I have seldom been so wrong. Through the months I spent in my first year of History Day, Mrs. Masker helped me discover my passion for writing. She helped me discover my passion for history. She helped me understand just how valuable my time, effort, and passions are by encouraging me to explore them and showing me there are people who are interested in my success. I have stayed in History Day ever since. Also in 8th grade, I was accepted into the Leadership Academy, also run by Mrs. Masker. Again, I was shocked by the absolute care she puts into everything she does. The Leadership Academy was something I assumed would run for just a week and wasn’t something I would really take part in for the rest of my school year. During that week, I was introduced to a large community of like-minded students who wanted to have an impact on our community. During our week together, we all became friends and spent the majority of our time learning our strengths and weaknesses as leaders and venturing out into the community to test our skills by engaging in volunteer activities. By the end of the week, I felt undeniably confident in my skills as a leader and felt that I was actually able to effect change, which was a feeling previously foreign to me. I still feared that this was a one-off event, which I was (once again) wrong about. I was placed in a homeroom with the other leadership kids, where we were able to have uninterrupted time to work on projects to benefit the school. Mrs. Masker also became an important presence in my life and helped me to develop my leadership skills through the program by instilling confidence in my abilities and passion. She gave all of us students dozens of opportunities to put our talents into effect, everything from volunteering to running our school concession stand to organizing and running fundraiser events for our school. By the end of the year, I knew without question I was a leader, something I at the beginning of the year thought was impossible. Today, I am the co-editor-in-chief of my school newspaper. I have founded and am the president of multiple clubs, hold a Chair position in Iowa Youth Congress, and am a coordinator at my place of employment. I continuously seek out leadership opportunities because I am sure of my skills and know I have the knowledge and credibility to back my claims to these positions, all because of the Leadership Academy. I believe that Mrs. Masker should receive the Life Changer of the Year Award because I am not a singular success story. Every student I know who has spent time with Mrs. Masker can attest to the quality of life brought on by her presence. Her presence is something I would consider to be life-changing. Mrs. Masker deserves this award because she is the very embodiment of positive impact, leadership, and passion. She has taken extracurriculars such as National History Day and the Leadership Academy and she has turned them into life-changing programs that students see as milestones in their lives. She deserves this award because she is not a life changer this year, she is a life changer every year, and I have no doubt she will continue to change lives for the better.

Diane Storey Posted 4 months ago

I have know Deb for about 15 years. Even though we have worked in the district together for more than that, I really got to know Deb when my daughter was a member of the "show choir" at Kirn. At first my daughter was a little intimidated by Deb's take charge personality. Deb pushes her students to excel at whatever they are doing. My daughter came to truly admire Mrs. Masker. My daughter then participated in History day competitions. I was amazed at all the supports that she provided, such as taking them to Iowa State University to get resources at the Library. She would work many long hours outside the school day to make sure the students' projects were top notch. When my son was in middle school, he participated in the Leadership Program. The amount of work that Deb puts into this project to provide students opportunities to develop their leadership skills is commendable. Deb has won the Nelson Award in recognition of all she has done for the students in the Council Bluffs area. I am blessed to have Deb as a colleague and friend.

Kimberli Shaffer Posted 4 months ago

I work with Deb Masker and I’m truly inspired to be a better person and coworker. Working in education has many challenges but Deb takes each one head on and figures out how to overcome them. Overcoming the challenges sometimes means research, sometimes long hours and sometimes asking the team for help. And, when she asks for help, we all want to jump in because she has done that for all of us. Our students get a great education on whatever topic she is teaching at the time. The extra curricular activities of History Day and Leadership give the students opportunities to continue learning about their world and growing as people in their world. Deb Masker has changed many lives because of her teaching ability, her enthusiasm, her very hard work, her dedication to students and her willingness to be a team player.

Sara Stoolman Doerfler Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker was the Dean of Students when I was in high school. Her firm and structured discipline was fair and life-changing. However, it was her passion for The History Day Project that really changed so many of us (as we were pretty awesome kids not needing much discipline!). She trusted us. She empowered us. I followed in her footsteps to become a teacher. I’m so grateful to have her as a role model in education and working with young minds. I, now, get to call her a colleague as she challenges me to do more as a teacher. I became a certified National Geographic Educator after I saw her amazing work. Most of all, I am most honored to call her a friend after all these 20 years of knowing her. She raised me from an arrogant young girl into a confident and motivated woman. I’m forever grateful for this woman!

Kylee Buckles Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker truly impacted my life during leadership camp. she helped me become a better leader and taught me to get out of my comfort zone. Mrs. Masker also taught me that even the smallest things can have a big impact. She has made a large impact on my life and many others.

Tim Dinges Posted 4 months ago

As long as I have known Deb Masker she always does for others 1st love this person as my friend

Sarah Steinmetz Posted 4 months ago

Mrs.Masker is dedicated to helping students. She has a passion for education and striving to challenge each and every student that she encounters. She sets high expectations. She truly is amazing!

Evelynne Church Posted 4 months ago

I will forever be grateful that I got to got to Leadership Camp with Mrs. Masker running it. I am a student from Treynor who attended Leadership Camp this year. At first, many people were worried about the precautions that would be put in place with COVID spreading, but even after the first day I realized that it was still going to be an amazing experience. Mrs. Masker had to handle so much during the four days, and she still made Leadership one of the best experiences I've ever had. Mrs. Masker always made sure we were taking the right precautions while still being able to have fun. Mrs. Masker is an amazing leader and probably one of the best you'll meet. We students who attended Leadership may have missed out on things others got to do, but I as a student didn't feel like I was missing out on much. I learned so much from Leadership, and grew in many different ways after attending. This is why Mrs. Masker is my LifeChanger.

Izlea Macklem Posted 4 months ago

I can thank Mrs. Masker so much! i went to leadership camp this year and i loved it. she brought joy to anyone and everyone! she is always there for you no matter what is going on. if you ever need something you can go to her! she has made me love where i am at in life and she just brought me joy!

Gavin Rothmeyer Posted 4 months ago

I attended the leadership academy just 2 summers ago. Mrs. Masker has changed my life and the life of many students through the Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy. My summer before 8th grade is one that I will always remember. Without her none of it would happen. For years she has tried and tried to keep going through different fundraisers and donations. She told us it had just started to become too difficult to do. When she told me that it changed my view. I realized I want everyone else to have these amazing experiences. Now she presented us with an opportunity. I want in every way to try and help her keep this camp open. It changed the way I think. It was designed so that it taught us how to be a leader while also having lots of fun along the way. We worked on everything from critical thinking skills or problem solving to having empathy for others. In my eyes she deserves more than just a life changer of the year award. That is because she hasn't been the life changer of this year, she has been a life changer over many years. In many ways she taught kindness and friendship to everyone. She connected me to many new people who I have been close with since. She gives everyone new opportunities. She truly does care about helping and changing the lives of each and every student that went through this leadership program. The lessons, bonding, team activities, songs, speakers we had, memories we made there are like nothing I've ever done before (and the snacks, we always got snacks that were great). It's truly irreplaceable and really does change the lives of many students coming from many different places. Mrs. Masker has done many more things that make her deserve this award but those are just some ways she affected me. She is affecting many in the community from many different schools in many different classes. She truly is a LifeChanger. Gavin Rothmeyer TJHS Class of 2024

Alison Frieze Posted 4 months ago

Ms. Masker is an amazing teacher and was a great role model for me. When things did not work as planned she always had a backup plan. She made me feel welcomed when I first joined even when I was nervous. She was so passionate about giving to others and helping people in need, as well as doing things for the school and community. I loved going to the camp and getting to do the silly games and dances or when we were at meetings and she would explain to us our task. She made things fun like when she would sing or make jokes about stuff we did. She definitely taught me life skills that I use now and showed me what is expected and that I can accomplish more than I think I can, also gave me the urge to wanna help others and the community more.

Tyler Brietzke Posted 4 months ago

Deb Masker embodies every aspect of what it means to be a tremendous human being. There are few who are more dedicated, caring, and diligent than Mrs. Masker in both their personal and professional life. I have had the honor, and pleasure, of knowing Mrs. Masker as both a student and a celebrated colleague over the last 18 years. She has dedicated her life to serving others in many capacities. Mrs. Masker has worked with Leadership Academy creating an exceptional community of young adult leaders for our city. She works tirelessly alongside her History Day students, producing some incredible works of research all the while sowing the seeds of hard work and dedication to one's craft. Time and time again, Mrs. Masker has lifted others up all the while taking little credit for her hard work. The life and efforts of Deb Masker should be celebrated over and over. She is truly a treasure and I'm a better person for knowing her.

Hannah M Nunnenkamp-Engelman Posted 4 months ago

Life Changer, influencer and sincerely passionate, all of these words describe Deborah "Deb" Masker. My first year teaching in Kirn MIddle School was also my first year of motherhood. When my son came into the world three weeks early who was my main contact, friend and support at our school? DEB! She stepped in to help in my classroom while I was in my most time of need as I transitioned into motherhood. I might add that I had only known Deb for 2 weeks at that point. She is a Life Changer for me. She tirelessly gives to the students at Kirn. She is constantly organizing events, fundraiser, trips, and meaningful lessons for our history day and leadership students all while carrying a full classroom curriculum course load. She sincerely encourages those around her to do better and be better. When I took over the vocal music program at Kirn we had very old uniforms for our choir she said to "just see what they say" about purchasing a large amount of new choir uniforms. She brought in magazines for me to look at and gave me numerous names of companies she has used in her time while she was in my position at the school. She recently lost her brother and I subbed in her room during a day that she was gone. Even in her absence, during one of the most difficult losses one could imagine, she was beyond prepared and set up the students for personal and academic success! There is not a person that I know that deserves this type of award.

Lisa Poe Posted 4 months ago

Deb is one of the most dedicated people I know. I do not think we could truly measure how much she contributes to our school, staff, students, and community. She is one of the first people I go to when I have a question or need another perspective. I have learned so much from Deb and can truly say she has made me a better educator. Thank you Deb!

Shari Anderson Posted 4 months ago

Deb Masker will help anyone at any time. She is thoughtful and resourceful, and deserves many awards. Deb has devoted her working years to education and has positively impacted the lives of young people for decades. I wholeheartedly support Deb Masker!

Sara Posted 4 months ago

Deb’s leadership and example she sets for our youth is so greatly appreciated. My daughter has benefited greatly from the leadership program Deb facilitates.

Shauna Cihacek Posted 4 months ago

I do not know what I would do without Deb in my life. She has been a constant source of support and encouragement. Because of her, I took a leap and applied for the James Madison Fellowship. Deb is that person that will see the good in someone and help that grow into something fabulous. She is there for you as a colleague, but also as a friend. When I was struggling with depression, she encouraged me to see a doctor. Deb changed my life for the better. The world needs more people like Deb.

Jessica Formanek Posted 4 months ago

Deb Masker is an outstanding practitioner and master of her position, but one with the humble heart. She is not only an outstanding leader in her field, but a champion for every student that she comes in contact with. She works tirelessly to positively change the lives of the children that she passionately teaches, volunteers with for Leadership Academy, and hits the books with for History Day. Deb Masker truly lives every day as a LifeChanger, someone who embodies the spirit of this honor to the T. Deb does what she does without any need for accolade, but with every ounce of what it takes to deserve it.

Blake Higgins Posted 4 months ago

Ms. Masker is definitely one of the best leaders I've ever met. She always tries to help others, while still keeping it 100%

Mason Garreans Posted 4 months ago

My name is Mason Garreans, and I have had the pleasure of being taught by Deborah Masker. Last year I participated in Leadership Academy at Kirn Middle school. Deborah Masker changed my life. I was taught how to be a better person and act like a leader. Deborah Masker is one of the most devoted people I have ever met. She doesn't give up on her students. She supports them. Deborah Masker is my LifeChanger of the year. Thank you for reading this. Mason Garreans ALHS Class of 2024

Melanie Garrels Posted 4 months ago

Deb Masker is one of the most amazing and inspirational people I have ever met. We are all blessed in the Council Bluffs School District that she decided to become a teacher and chose here to call home. Her dedication to children makes her influence far and wide I would dare say she likely has an ambassador of her wisdom in every state. Mrs Masker’s passion for engaging her students, promoting the leadership academy and embracing our history are surpassed by no other! She is a shinning beacon of knowledge, determination and kindness. I will be forever grateful that she was a mentor in the lives of all 3 of my girls. To say that she is a life changer of the year is an understatement. She is a life changer of a generation.

Allison Narmi Posted 4 months ago

I attended the Leadership Camp that Mrs. Masker runs four years ago. I am now a junior in high school and I still use the skills that she equipped me with in most parts of my life. As a student-athlete and member of student government, it is important for me to know how to step up and become a leader. Mrs. Masker was able to teach me the skills needed to be the best leader I can be. Not only did she teach me how to lead, but she also helped me gain lifelong friends from the camp. It was an amazing experience and I know that the skills gained will help me throughout the course of my life. Mrs. Masker truly cares about every student who passes through her camp and equips them with the skills needed to be a successful leader.

Jennifer Smith Posted 4 months ago

My daughter was able to take part in Leadership Academy a few years ago because of the tireless work that Deb Masker puts in for the kids of Council Bluffs. I am truly grateful my child was able to have that opportunity. Please consider her for this award. I cannot think of an educator who deserves it more.

Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Masker was a great leader and example during the Southwest Iowa Leadership Academy.

Todd von Kampen Posted 4 months ago

Though I've spent most of my working life in newspaper journalism -- and am again doing so today -- I was nearly two years past a layoff and trying to build an alternate way of making a living when I first met Deb Masker at the end of 2010. I had just been hired as a choral accompanist splitting time between both Council Bluffs middle schools, Kirn and Wilson. I had started college intending to be in music education, but I graduated in 1986 as a journalism major with a second major in music. That, plus many subsequent years as a church musician, enabled me to get the job. It was a lifesaver in more ways than one. I expected to stay only until I could find a full-time communications job. Instead, I stayed six years. And while Deb's counterpart at Wilson (Krista Walter) played a key part in that, it was Deb and the kids and staffers at Kirn with whom I connected most -- and with whom I made some of the greatest memories of my musical life. Show choir was the major focus of both schools' choral programs. Both Deb and I were high school show choir veterans; in my case, I had been the piano player and rhythm section anchor at my school. I hadn't had the chance to play for show choirs for 25 years when I was hired in Council Bluffs. But I soon found that we were kindred spirits who wanted to gift our Kirn kids with the same passion for music and show choirs that we each had known. We worked together for 3 1/2 years, until Deb stepped down as vocal music director for another assignment. When the district approved a second full-time middle school accompanist, I applied and was chosen to stay at Kirn. Deb and our choir kids were the reason. She supported me in using my lunch hours to build a freelance writing career to bring in the money I needed to stay at Kirn. She entrusted me to run rehearsals (with a qualified sub in the room) when she couldn't be there. This became a necessity when Deb was injured in a car accident just before one school year and she couldn't start classes on time herself as she recovered. Above all, Deb enabled me to communicate my own passion and enthusiasm for performing to our students and join her in helping them to find it within themselves. We worked together on three junior musicals ("State Fair," "Fame" and "Guys and Dolls"), all of them featuring inspired cast performances. And our separate 7th- and 8th-grade show choirs held their own against much larger schools in competitions in the Omaha area. I'll never forget the 2013 Viking Cup contest at Omaha North High School, won by our 8th-grade show choir. They put on the performance of their lives. After we left the stage, not yet knowing if we would win, Deb choked up in our jubilant room where we waited for judge's comments. "I don't care if we win," she said through years. "You've already won." Deb has never forgotten that teachers shape young lives. She constantly urged her students to reach for the best in themselves during and after our direct collaboration and certainly until my family and I left Omaha in 2016 to return to our native western Nebraska. I know that many of the kids we made music with at Kirn would say Deb changed their lives. She also changed mine. At the lowest point in my adult life in my mid-40s, she helped me rediscover the best part of myself, the part that reveled in the joy of performing and in drawing as many people as possible into its embrace. If you choose her for this award, she'll put it to use inspiring even more young people. I can't think of anyone better for that task. Thanks for reading. Sincerely, Todd von Kampen, North Platte, NE (choral accompanist, Kirn Middle School, 2010-16) #LCOY

Scott Cordell Posted 5 months ago

I worked with Mrs. Masker at Kirn Middle School as a teacher and later as an instruction coach. Mrs. Masker has always gone the extra mile to help students, teachers, and administrators as she works to move everyone forward. She often takes on extra tasks and finds success for her students and herself. She has certainly touched the lives of many students and challenged them to achieve beyond the expected. I would also like to mention that Mrs,. Masker makes it a point to recognize all students (not just the best and the brightest). Please give her serious consideration.

Dave Miller Posted 5 months ago

I have known Deb for many years and have never known such a more deserving candidate. She spends endless hours of her time with her students a more dedicated educator I don't know if there is one.

Alea Dorsett Posted 9 months ago

One story is all you need to understand the real character of Mrs. Masker. It was my 7th-grade year, and it was the night before I had to turn in my website for the National History Day competition. I was putting on the finishing touches when my website glitched and erased everything, this was months of work gone. My mother called Mrs. Masker with me hysterical in the background, explaining the situation. The next day I came into school, Mrs. Masker had completely cleared her entire teaching schedule for the day, and we sat together in her office piecing back my website before the deadline. Without her help and dedication to ensuring I had something to present to the judges, I would have never finished my website in time. That website went on to win the best African American History project award and was a national alternate for the competition. Mrs. Masker showed me what hard work looked like not only for History Day but also on the stage as she pushed our show choir to be better at every practice, never giving up on us. Mrs. Masker continued to show her dedication to my life, as every year I was at Iowa State she would make time to take me out for lunch and catch up on my academics and how I was doing at college. She truly is someone who I know is dedicated to making sure I succeed in all aspects of my life.

Anna Boes Posted 9 months ago

I had Mrs. Masker for History Day for four years. Through middle school, she taught me how to be caring and empathetic towards people of every race, background and gender. Because of Mrs. Masker, I have learned how to fight for a cause that I believe in, to always follow my dreams and do what is right. She was the teacher that I knew I could always turn to if I needed help with a class, or just have someone to talk to about what I wanted to do with my life. Not only did Mrs. Masker teach me how to be a better human, but she also helped me learn valuable skills that I will definitely use throughout my college experience. I now know how to access and use technology in ways that I wouldn't have without her. I created websites for almost every year of history day, and with Mrs. Masker's help I was able to advance to nationals in my freshman year of high school. Without her guidance, I would not have had the confidence to do my project on something I was passionate about. Mrs. Masker has always supported me and still keeps in touch regularly to see how I'm doing. She deserves this award because she changed so many years of my life, and helped me become the person that I am today.

Madison Sola Posted 9 months ago

I had Mrs. Masker when I was in middle school for choir and show choir. I also had her when I decided, per her persuasion, do do History Day. Through all of my experiences Mrs. Masker was encouraging, uplifting, and pushing me to do my very best. When we lost a show choir competition, she drove us to build a growth mindset and get better instead of wallow in self pity. Even though I’m not much of a history buff she showed me to dig for the real truth and how to develop a passion to learn about the past. This eventually led me to study abroad studying WWII and the Holocaust. Her awesomeness didn’t stop when I left for high school. Still keeping in touch through her Leadership Academy Alumni Facebook page and being Facebook friends Mrs. Masker knee I was looking for a job in Council Bluffs Schools as a PE teacher. When positions opened she sent them to me. I believe she has and always will be a supporter in my corner. She pushed me to be a better student, leader, and now teacher. There is no one else who better deserves this award, because I believe, no one else has worked so hard to be a mentor, teacher, and now friend.

Kaylee Willadsen Posted 9 months ago

I worked with Mrs. Masker doing National History Day, show choir, musicals, and Leadership Academy. Thinking back to the vulnerable years middle school was, I can’t think of anyone who was more impressionable on my growth than Mrs. Masker. She was such a remarkable mix of firm love, honesty, and had a confidence in every child that brought out the best in everyone. One of the largest skills she showed me was how to be a strong female leader in middle school, which is a point in life where it is easy to stop believing in yourself and settle into that for years to come. After leaving middle school her love and encouragement did not end. She was one of the first people to show up to my graduation party, and to this day still reaches out to me as I am now a music teacher. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than Mrs. Masker.

Melissa Braymen Posted 9 months ago

Deb has been a colleague and friend for the last 16 years I have taught in the Council Bluffs School District. She always has a “can do” mindset no matter how big the challenge. I am blessed to call her friend who is also willing to lend an ear when I need on. She is also a mother, grandmother, wife, daughter and sister. She gives 150% to everything she does. She has changed countless lives always for the better. No one is more deserving of this award than Deb Masker.

Andrea Milstead Posted 9 months ago

Mrs.Masker has been a strongly influential role model to myself and many of the people in my life. I was a part of her 7th and 8th grade show choirs and the meaningful impact she left on me still holds as I enter my senior year of college. She showed me how to work hard through show choir, concert choir, and the school musical. I worked closely with her in 8th grade with a lead role in the musical and she helped me grow greatly as a musician and become ready to be successful in high school choir. Although not a part of any choirs currently, music is still a huge part of my life and as a young student the educators that start us out have such a large impact on us in the long run. Mrs. Masker not only helped me grow as a musician but she showed me what it meant to work hard enough to excel at something. Our eighth grade group won first place at a competition and that was hugely because of her expertise and grit. Mrs. Masker also leads the history day competition for our area middle and high schools. I watched her guide and mentor my sister as well as many friends to success and many to the national level of the competition. She works day in and day out to find resources for EVERY student’s project. The dedication she puts into the things she’s involved in have impacted everyone I know that interacts with her. She shows young kids what it means to work and how to have fun while doing it. I will forever be grateful to have known and had the pleasure of being a student to Mrs. Masker.