Friday, April 6, 2018

Sara Nelson

Alisa Meggitt goes above and beyond to support her students and educate them on complex issues surrounding diversity. 

This is why Meggitt, a social studies teacher at North Central Junior High in North Liberty, was honored with the 2018 Phyllis Yager Diversity Teaching Award on Friday, April 6, during the University of Iowa College of Education 2018 Diversity in Education Conference. The event is organized by the College of Education Diversity Committee.

The award is given to teachers who demonstrate an innovative and unique perspective to promoting and building respect for diversity in the classroom and go above and beyond required curriculum concerning teaching and implementing diversity. 

Phyllis Yager received a Master of Arts in 1957 from the UI and a doctorate in 1983 from the UI College of Education. She is the late wife of Science Education Professor Emeritus Robert E. Yager, who also received a Master of Science in 1953 and a doctorate in 1957 from Iowa. Phyllis Yager devoted her career to advocating multicultural opportunities and gender-affirming activities through her work as a teacher in the Iowa City School District and later as a consultant to the Grant Wood Area Education Agency.


Meggitt is a UI alumna who received her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies in 1992 and a certificate in elementary education and teaching licensure in 2002. This is Meggitt’s 15thyear as an educator. She incorporates diversity into her curriculum by teaching lessons about understanding Islam and Islamophobia, hunger and food insecurity, and poverty and privilege.


Meggitt does not limit her instruction to the confines of a classroom. She has organized 11 after-school service clubs in addition to many service projects in school. She has spent nearly a decade as a multicultural and gender-equity building representative.  Additionally, she has spent the last two years as North Central Junior High’s cultural competency leader. 


Individual student support is of the utmost importance to Meggitt. She maintains connections with at-risk students’ parents and guardians with frequent calls, home visits, and meetings. Meggitt has also helped to organize a United Action for Youth clothing drive for her school to give students free clothes and personal products. Prior to the clothing drive, she would take struggling students to consignment shops and purchase clothing for them. Additionally, she has taken many struggling students to dinner to give them a full and balanced meal while studying. 


“The greatest show of student support involved a very at-risk student in her class in 2008, who abruptly returned to Chicago in 2009. Alisa monitored this student and her sister in Chicago for years, bringing them back to Iowa City dozens of times during breaks and on family trips,” says friend and fellow educator, Elizabeth Cummings (MA ’97), who nominated Meggitt for the award. “She helped these students with tremendous regard, ultimately helping one move back to Iowa when she turned 18.”


Meggitt has volunteered with the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities for the past three years, where she accompanies visitors from foreign countries to mosques, and to programs on immigration, disabilities, and African Leadership. She has supported Friends of International Students (FIS) for the past six years and has welcomed eight international students into her family.


“Alisa is someone who walks the talk of valuing diversity in education, curriculum, schools, and community,” says Cummings. “She has spent the better part of her life working to engender compassion for both civilians abroad and right here at home.”