Iowa Council of Teachers of English

Who We Are

2023 ICTE Board

The Iowa Council of Teachers of English is the volunteer organization that facilitates deep connections and professional learning face-to-face and online for English/language arts teachers of all stages.

Our website’s mission is to provide information for our members and for any educators interested in our work, forming a community that allows for purposeful connections for ELA teachers to grow as professionals.

Join/remew the Iowa Council of Teachers of English by filling the form beow. (It’s FREE!)

ICTE Membership Form

Our organization provides the best English teacher professional development in the state with nationally revered speakers and current trends in education at the annual Fall Conference, as well as smaller opportunities at EngCamp and at writing retreats. We provide social media connections in our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter  pages, as well as our private Facebook group for members. We also provide support when books and curriculum are challenged. Together, we strive toward excellence as an affiliate of NCTE!

Meet your Executive Board members:


Nikki Smith

Nikki Smith is a high school English teacher at Urbandale High School and is currently in her twelfth year of teaching. She loves the new challenges and celebrations teaching offers every day.  Teaching allows her to combine all of her passions: reading, writing and children. She loves the new challenges and celebrations teaching offers every day. Nikki thrives on the professional experiences and opportunities provided through ICTE and the Iowa Writing Project as means to grow as a teacher, learner, and writer.  She and her husband, Casey, are parents to their daughter, Mila and another daughter due in December. She sometimes blogs about teacher narratives at and can be found on twitter @MrsSmithUHS.

Past President

Haley Moehlis

Haley Moehlis teaches at Valley High School in West Des Moines and spent the first twelve years of her career at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. She teaches Fundamentals of Writing and Modern American Literature with rotating elective courses (Creative Writing and Independent Literature Survey). She is married to an infinitely patient man as they do their best to corral four children who are equal parts sweet and challenging. She loves to write terrible poems in her pop-up camper (that is perpetually set up in the driveway — a writer’s retreat, but a poor one, as the children don’t have to work hard to find her). She loves: her family; laughing with friends; coming up with grand ideas that never come to fruition; Pilot G2 .38 pens; writing letters; the moon; sewing, painting, and all things crafty; sunrises; the woods; Mary Oliver; reading in the hammock; and the brilliant collective that is ICTE.

College Liaison

Erika L. Bass

Erika L. Bass is an Assistant Professor of English Education at the University of Northern Iowa. Her research focuses on writing instruction, rural education, and teacher preparation; often those areas converge. She is currently engaging in research related to critical placed writing with rural students, conducting rural-focused book studies with secondary English teachers in her state, and participating in a writing feedback partnership to help preservice teachers engage in providing writing feedback to high school students. She is also a member of the Whippoorwill Award Committee for rural Young Adult novels and serves as the academic advisor for the English Teaching program at UNI. In her free time, she enjoys taking walks with her dogs and playing slow-pitch softball.


Conference Co-Chair

Deneen Nelson

Deneen Nelson teaches 11th & 12th grade English, Spanish, and (some years) German at St. Ansgar High School in rural northern Iowa. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Education from UNI and has been teaching for eleven years. She loves working at a small school and feeling like an integral part of the community. When she’s not at school, she can be found with a book in hand, a child on her lap, and a lukewarm cup of coffee nearby. She has been attending ICTE’s annual fall conference since she was a student at UNI and is excited to give back to the organization through her role as this year’s Conference Co-Chair.

Event Coordinator

Kara Betts

Kara Betts teaches 6th, 7th, & 8th Grade Language Arts and high school Yearbook at Lone Tree Community Schools in Southeast Iowa. This is her 3rd year teaching! Kara received her undergraduate degree in English Education from Iowa State University along with an endorsement in Speech and Theatre. In her spare time, she can be found baking bread and sweets, working in her garden, or enjoying a selection from the never ending stack of “to be read” books on her desk. As the Events Coordinator, Kara is thrilled to have found support and community through ICTE and is eager to help create spaces and events where we can all come together.


Executive Director

Kirstey Ewald has served on the ICTE executive board for 18 years.  Currently, she works as a school improvement consultant at Central Rivers AEA.  Previous to this, she taught in a high school English/language arts classroom for twenty years.  She says, “I’m an ELA teacher who just happens to be serving teachers and students through the lens of my school improvement work.  I most love the times in this position when I’m able to collaborate directly with teachers who are thinking about how to enhance their classroom practice and increase student learning through a new instructional framework.  That reflection about the need to change and the willingness to take a risk is the heart of learning.”  When she’s notdriving her car across the state to support districts, you’ll likely find her binging on TV shows via Netflix or Hulu, enjoying a live music show somewhere, or — no surprise here — reading a book.  Reach out to her on Twitter, @KirsteyELA, and/or through old-fashioned e-mail:


Recognition Coordinator

Colleen Flathers

Colleen Flathers is a high school  Language Arts teacher at Central DeWitt High School in DeWitt, Iowa. Currently, she primarily teaches 10th grade but also teaches a second chance reading class to incoming freshmen. She is starting her 17th year at CDHS and really enjoys getting students back into reading.  Colleen along with her husband Kurt is currently trying to navigate the empty nest syndrome after having children at home for 26 years.  In her spare time, Colleen enjoys reading, scrapbooking, attempting to blog (Musings of an old English Teacher), and playing with her two cats Sox and Tabitha.



Lezley Johansen

Lezley Johansen resides in beautiful northeast Iowa and as of 2022 has been teaching 20ish years. She has taught at two northeast Iowa schools: Valley Schools (now North Fayette Valley) and Turkey Valley Schools (currently employed). Lezley works with students grades 7-12 and is particularly invested in helping students recognize the benefits of being an engaged reader. She has a passion for all things library. While she currently works as an ELA teacher, she is also a certified teacher-librarian and has worked in that position. She has been a trustee on her local public library board and had part time positions at area public libraries. Lezley is embracing her empty next life with her husband of 30+ years.

Social Media Coordinator

Maureen Snook

My name is Maureen Snook, and I teach Middle School ELA at Holy Name School. While I teach in Nebraska, I grew up in Iowa, got my Education degree in Iowa, and have been a member of ICTE for the past 8 years. As the only teacher in my department, ICTE has had a very special place in my career. Since my first year of teaching the ICTE members and conferences have provided insight, inspiration, and mentorship. I hands down would not be the educator I am today without the ICTE community. This is why I was excited to join the board as the Social Media Coordinator. I managed the social media accounts for various clubs and organizations in my undergrad, and have been using Class Dojo as a form of communication and social media for my classroom for the past several years. I’m excited to dive in. If you have any suggestions or things you would like to see on ICTE’s social media, shoot me an email at [email protected], message the ICTE Instagram page, or message me on Facebook. Happy Teaching!


Melanie Wirtz

Melanie Wirtz teaches 8th grade Language Arts at Peet Junior High in Cedar Falls. She is a National Board Certified Teacher with a passion for creating a love of reading in her students and helping students grow as writers. Melanie has taught 7th – 12th grade and loves the energy that comes with junior high students. She is also an active member of ISEA and NEA, working hard to ensure teachers’ voices are heard in the community and by our government officials.  Melanie lives in rural Cedar Falls with her husband Scott and son Carson. Melanie loves to bake, read, and spend time working in the yard.

Website Coordinator

JoAnn Gage

JoAnn Gage, teaches English and journalism at Mount Vernon High School. She advises Mount Vernon’s news website and yearbook, is a National Board Certified Teacher, an MJE in the Journalism Education Association and is actively involved in the Iowa High School Press Association. Her courses include AP Literature and Composition, Mystery Stories, 21st Century Journalistic Writing, English I, and Publication & Design. JoAnn enjoys taking photos of her husband and two sons, who do not enjoy having their pictures taken. You can find her on Twitter at @joann_gage.



We are the Iowa affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of EnglishJoin NCTE today!

We are dedicated to intellectual engagement, collaboration, and excellence.

In a November 2012 TEDx Talk, John Green explains where the title of his third novel came from, and he illuminates the history behind the fictitious town of Agloe, New York. Green explains that what two cartographers fictitiously created in the 1930s became a reality when developers built a general store on the cartographers’ site and named it Agloe General Store in the 1950s.

Green describes Agloe as “an irresistible metaphor to a novelist, because we would all like to believe that the stuff we write down on paper can change the actual world in which we’re living.” As English/language arts teachers, Green’s idea of writing changing the world through writing is irresistible to us as well.

At the end of his TEDx Talk, Green talks about the ability of the Internet to provide “places for intellectual engagement” and community. Green says: “When we invented Agloe, New York, in the 1960s–when we made Agloe real–we were just getting started.” So welcome to the Iowa Council of Teachers of English website, a place dedicated to intellectual engagementcollaboration, and excellence.

ICTE Executive Board Members at the April 2022 meeting
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