Friday, February 24, 2006

Reconnecting with a Great Teacher/Leader in GMG

At the end of my three day visit to East Central UniServ Unit, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a special leader I first met in the 2004-2005 school year.

Phyllis Rodgers, Junior High and High School Math instructor, at Green Mountain-Garwin (GMG) in Garwin greeted me with open arms on Thursday, February 23rd. Phyllis is again serving as the president of the GMG EA.

Phyllis (working here with a student) led one of her two 9th grade Algebra classes through a lesson on "consistent" and "inconsistent" equations. Phyllis has that special way of leading students to understanding. How lucky the students in GMG are to have Phyllis Rodgers as their Math instructor!

Thanks Phyllis for your leadership in and out of the classroom!

Northwest Junior High in Iowa City

My last stop before departing Iowa City was at Northwest Junior High School.

At Northwest Junior High I had the pleasure of meeting longtime association building rep, Kathy Hanes. Kathy (standing at left) was leading a class entitled "Food for Fitness". Kathy, a Family Consumer Science instructor, shared concerns that because of emphasis of core curriculum areas under the so called No Child Left Behind Law, the future for elective classes maybe in jeopardy. Also adding to the level of concern for Northwest Junior High staff is the opening of a new Junior High in the fall of 2006 that will take nearly 1/3 of the student population from this building.

Thanks for taking the time to visit and give me a tour of Northwest Junior High, Kathy!

Tate Alternative High School in Iowa City

On Thursday, February 23rd I started my day in Iowa City at Tate Alternative High School. The first person to greet me was Iowa City ESP member, Luis Siera (pictured at left). I first met Luis in October 2005 at the ISEA ESP Conference held in Des Moines. It was great to connect with Luis once again, but better was just awesome to see his calm and gentle way of conducting business in the school office of Tate High School!

Iowa City EA president Barb Henke (pictured at right) is a Math instructor/ teacher leader at Tate High School. Barb's day began with 9th grade Math.

It was an extra special time for me to see how comfortably Barb works with her students at the Altenative High School. It was just a magical time! Pictured with Barb (at left) is student Maddy.

How lucky we are to have you, Barb, in the top leadership role in the Iowa City EA! Thanks for all you do every day for your students and the association!

Clear Creek-Amana EA

My last school visit for the day on February 22nd was in Clear Creek-Amana. I had the honor of spending time with association president Bev Stolfus, a 5th grade teacher in the Clear Creek-Amana Elementary building in Oxford. Bev excitedly shared that the Clear Creek-Amana Schools were successful in passing a bond issue on February 14th. As Bev led me on a guided tour throughout her building, it was clear that this growing school district was busting at its edges in this elementary building. It was extra special to see the great things Bev was working on with her 5th grade class too.

Another energetic teacher/leader I had the opportunity to meet and observe her work magic with students was 3rd grade teacher Marcia Charbon (pictured at right). Marcia shared with us just a few of the projects and committees she is working hard as a member of within the school and in the community. Teacher leaders are often asked to lead projects in our communities because they have great ideas, have great organizing skills and they know how to get things done.

Thanks for the great teacher/leaders like Bev Stolfus and Marcia Charbon that I met in Clear Creek-Amana!

Urbana-Center Point Middle School

Association leader and Middle School Math instructor, Rob Libolt (at left) served as one of my co-hosts during my visit to Urbana-Center Point Middle School. Rob was doing dual duty in handling discipline issues for the school as the building administrator was out for training for the day. Pictured here in the staff lunchroom with Rob is Nikki Luchauer, Middle School Special Education instructor.

My second co-host for my visit at Urbana-Center Point Middle School was Dilyn McNeil, Middle School Math Instructor (pictured at right). I had a most delightful discussion with Dilyn regarding her long-time involvement in the association. Dilyn shared with all of us in the staff lunchroom that she was the chief negotiator for the very first contractever bargained in the Center Point-Urbana school district. Thanks for your longtime commitment to the association and to the students, Dilyn!

Center Point-Urbana High School

I had the opportunity to visit with High School Social Studies teacher and Center Point-Urbana past president, Dan Burke. Dan happened to have a planning period so had a few moments to visit with me about concerns he has with proposed legislation by some in the Iowa General Assembly. Dan certainly understands the impact that state government has upon educators in the classroom as well as the impact for all in the public schools. I challenged Dan and his colleagues to invite area legislators into the school building for an entire day.

Thanks Dan for your leadership in the classroom as well as in the association!

Center Point-Urbana Elementary

My second stop of the day on Wednesday, February 22nd was at Center Point-Urbana Elementary in Center Point. With stop watch in hand is Diana Lamphier, elementary physical education instructor. Diana is the current past president of the Center Point-Urbana EA, but continues assisting in building association membership. Thanks, Diana for all you do!

I had a chance to observe a guidance class lesson with 4th graders led by Elementary Counselor and association member, Sue Stonerook. Thanks, Sue for the great lessons and activities you provide for students!

One of the most delightful memories I'll hold of Center Point-Urbana Elementary is Cindy Baumgartel's Pre-School Special Education classroom. Pictured (at left) with teacher Cindy is a few of her students, all dressed in "island" garb. One of Cindy's teacher associates had just returned from a cruise, so the class shared in some of the fun the teacher associate leader had in her time away.

Earlier in the day all joined in rolling up their pant legs and stepping into a wading pool to catch plastic crabs and fish with their toes. What a great way to have an experience of using those fine motor skills! You're providing well planned educational experiences that the children will always remember. Thanks, Cindy!

A Breakfast with the Central City EA

Wednesday, February 22nd took me to Central City. UniServ Director Coy Marquardt delivered bagels and coffee as a treat from East Central UniServ Unit for the members of the Central City EA. Pictured here are 6th grade teacher Chris Frimml (left) and 3rd grade teacher and Central City EA president Kevin Carrier (at right). Thanks for your leadership, Kevin!

Pictured with East Central UniServ Director Coy Marquardt (at right) is Mr. Bill Mertens, Superintendent of Schools for Central City. Thanks for stopping by Mr. Mertens!

East Central UniServ Unit Executive Board

At the end of a full day of school for educators on February 21st, the East Central UniServ Unit Executive Board met for their monthly meeting.

Pictured with Team ISEA leaders from East Central UniServ Unit are UniServ Directors Dave Ulrick (standing, 3rd from left) and Coy Marquardt (standing, 4th from left).

Thanks to all Team ISEA leaders in East Central UniServ Unit for your leadership in the classroom as well as in the association!

Emerson Elementary and a Reception in Marion

Music teacher Jenny Neymeyer, from Emerson Elementary, claps a rhythm for 1st graders to repeat. Jenny had the children demonstrate some amazing skills of listening carefully to the changing music, then moving about the music room according the rhythm they heard. Such great skills that weave through all areas of the curriculum. Excellent work, Jenny!

Our final classroom visit of the day was to Tracy Slaughter's 1st grade room. Tracy's students had just scooted out the door for their recess, so she had a chance to catch her breath and take a few moments to visit with Barb and me. As with an overwhelming number of educators, Tracy shared her concern for the varying abilities and meeting the needs of all her students. Adding to concerns is the additional mounds of paper work to demonstrate in triplicate the progress students are achieving as well as interventions educators are making. Thanks for all you're doing every day for your 1st graders, Tracy! They are lucky to have you leading their class.

Marion Superintendent of Schools Mr. Nick Hobbs stopped by the High School Media Center to bring greetings from the school district. Thanks Mr. Hobbs for your leadership!

My hostess for the day visiting the great things going on in the Marion schools was Barb Tarwater (pictured at left), Marion EA president. Thanks, Barb for your leadership in the association as well as a certified Media Specialist in the Marion High School Media Center. How lucky Team ISEA is to have you as a leader on our team!

Starry Elementary School in Marion

Our fourth school visit of the day was to Starry Elementary. I had the chance to read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to Reggie Long's 1st graders. Pictured (at left) is Reggie Long and her 1st grade homeroom. What a delightful group of students! Thanks Reggie for all you do!

I had the opportunity to read to Kim DeWulf's 2nd grade class while at Starry Elementary. Kim is pictured with her class (at right). The children were great listeners and loved the story Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.

The last classroom visit at Starry Elementary was in Jodie Ternes's 3rd grade room. Pictured with Jodie (standing at left) and her 3rd grade homeroom is Marion EA president, Barb Tarwater. The 3rd graders loved the "mood" pencils from Team ISEA!

Francis Marion Intermediate School

Marion EA president Barb Tarwater and I visited FMI School as our third stop of the day in the Marion Independent School District. Showering with me with gifts is Art teacher Karen Hoyt. I am holding a "worry doll" that the students made for me. Karen shared, the doll was extra big since I probably had extra big worries. Karen is holding a paper dragon that students made in honor of the the Chinese Year of the Dragon.

Karen demonstrates here for the students and I (at left) her subject area/Art on the FMI School portion of the Marion Independent School District website.

Pictured at left are "Gates" decorating the walls of the FMI School Media Center. With Karen's leadership, students in each grade level created the work to decorate each "Gate".

The students and staff are extra fortunate to have their own artist in residence working with them each and every school day in Karen Hoyt!

Marion High School Visit

The second stop of our day on Tuesday was at Marion High School in Kathleen Braun's AP English Class. Kathleen (seated, 2nd from right) directed the students in a discussion of the book Sula by Toni Morrison. I was amazed at the level of discussion by these high school seniors!

Following their book discussion, several of the students shared their sestima poems. A sestima is a poem of 39 lines, with 6 stanzas with 6 lines each. (I know, that doesn't add up to 39!). The final 3 lines pull the poem together. I would say with students like those in Kathleen Braun's class, Iowa is in good hands!

Barb Tarwater, Marion EA president, and I spent one lunch period in the High School staff lounge. I had a chance to visit with Chuck Clark,(pictured at left) a Nationally Board Certified teacher and High School Biology instructor. Chuck has also served on the Marion EA bargaining team. Thanks, Chuck for your leadership in the classroom as well as in the association!

Vernon Middle School in Marion

On Tuesday, February 21st I traveled to Marion and visited all five buildings along with the Marion EA president, Barb Tarwater (on the right). Pictured with President Barb is Vernon Middle School teacher and association leader, Carolyn Munson (on the left) and "Slim Jim" (center). Students in Carolyn's 6th grade Science class participated in a lab on "Reaction Time" as we observed.

Carolyn shared that most recently her association activities have been leading the Marion EA's effort for their scholarship fund. She shared that the Marion EA gives four (4) four hundred dollar ($400) scholarships to graduating students from Marion High School. Thanks for your leadership Carolyn and thanks for the investment of the Marion EA in your students!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Des Moines Lincoln High School

DMEA Executive Director, Diana Richeson and I visited Lincoln High School at the end of the school day February 15th. Pictured here are DMEA Faculty Reps (left to right) Sharon Boecker, Larry Beal, and Connie Price. We are grateful for your work on developing membership, helping members solve concerns as well as keeping DMEA members informed!

Enjoying the company of DMEA members from Lincoln High School over cake and conversation are Mike Walag, Vocal Music; and Sandy Weldon, Media Specialist.

DMEA members from Lincoln High School gathered in the school's Media Center to visit with me about concerns they hear from news reports of proposed legislation from members of the Iowa General Assembly.

Pictured with DMEA Executive Director, Diana Richeson (at right) is Lincoln High School DMEA Faculty Rep, Jim Ritz. Jim teaches Graphic Arts and Drafting.

Thanks to all DMEA members that could join us for conversation at Lincoln High School after a full day of instruction.

Harding Middle School in Des Moines

On Wednesday, February 15th Des Moines Education Association Executive Director, Diana Richeson; DMEA Secretary, Sharon Nelson; DMEA Associate Secretary, Lori Blake; and I hosted a luncheon at Harding Middle School for DMEA members and potential members. Pictured (at right) is Harding Middle School Math teacher, Yavonne Herndon. Yavonne shared with us the differences between Harding, a School In Need of Assistance (SINA), and her previous teaching position in Iowa City.

Joining us for lunch are Harding Middle School faculty (left to right) Toni Morris, Student Services Coordinator; Meghan Stegeman, 8th grade Special Education teacher; and Travis Tams, 8th grade Special Education teacher. Staff shared with us that they have two planning times each day; one for personal instructional planning and second for team planning. Once each week during team planning they conduct their In-Service.

Pictured (from left to right) are Kathy Bruner, Math instructor; Diana Marron, Special Education/ Read 180 teacher; and Mary Fitzwater, General Education/ Read 180 teacher. In our luncheon table discussions concerns rose regarding Special Education students getting lost in the mix --no pullout time; as well as concerns for disruptive students.

Harding Middle School Team ISEA, you're doing an awesome job! How lucky the students are to have caring professionals that really want to help you succeed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Special Valentine's Day Lunch with the Speaker of the Iowa House

On February 9th Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen suggested House Republicans and ISEA hadn't been spending much time communicating with one another lately. Yepsen continued on to say, with Valentine's Day approaching it might be appropriate the two sides meet. He even went as far to say he didn't think anyone would be seeing Linda Nelson take pot roast and pie to Speaker Rants anytime soon.

Mr. Speaker, Christopher Rants (R) Sioux City, welcomed Team ISEA, offering a lunch of pot roast and pie, into his office. Joining Rep. Rants and I were ISEA lobbyists Brad Hudson and Jon Studer as well as ISEA Communications Director Lana Oppenheim Schlapkohl.

What followed was a rather pleasant and in-depth discussion about teacher salaries and school funding. We are grateful for the opportunity to share Team ISEA's perspective with Speaker Rants.

Great Educators in Earlham EA

At the end of the school day February 13th, South Central UniServ Director, Jim Crotty and I visited educators in Earlham. Pictured here are a few of the Earlham EA members that greeted us for cake and conversation.

Kudos to Earlham EA president Renee Welk (second from left) for her leadership this year! With Renee leading the way the Earlham EA is racking up the awards from South Central UniServ Unit! Not only did they meet (but exceeded) their goal to gain 5% in membership, they nearly doubled their EA size! Way to go Renee and thanks to all Earlham EA members for the work you do every day in the classroom as well as for the association!

Walnut Hills Elementary in Waukee

Monday, February 13th took me to a building in South Central UniServ Unit in Waukee. Walnut Hills Elementary opened this fall with building leader/ principal Deb Snider at the helm. Deb (second from right) greeted me with open arms as she did last fall when I visited Eason Elementary. Also pictured is Becky Pashek, Waukee EA co-president and Walnut Hills Media Specialist (left) and Jim Crotty, South Central UniServ Unit Director (second from left). It was amazing to see the great working relationship Deb (from the administration) and Becky (from the association) have in building the team at Walnut Hills.

Waukee EA building reps at Walnut Hills Elementary School are Shawnel Seifreid (center) and Jen Ghelf (right). Thanks for your leadership in the classroom as well as in the association!

Pictured at left are 3rd grade teacher Kelli McClurg and her homeroom students. I spoke to the class about my responsibilities as ISEA President.

Pictured here on the right are Melissa Peterman and her Kindergarten class. I got to read one of my favorite picture books to the class.

Sandy Cowell and her 1st graders (pictured at left) allowed me to share a favorite read a loud. The children were excited that later in the day they would hold their classroom Valentine's party.

The final group of students that I had a chance to visit with at Walnut Hills was Jenifer Huyck's 3rd grade (pictured at right). Jenifer's class did a great job of making connections to why educators pay close attention to what state policy makers are doing.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Landmarks from Communities around Iowa

In the fall of 2005 I visited locals in Geode UniServ Unit. Pictured at left is Snake Alley in Burlington. It was fun to actually see this street as I often read the book I is for Iowa to elementary students when I visit classrooms and "S" is for Snake Alley!

Pictured at right, I have the Mighty Mississippi River to my back. In the fall of 2005 I visited local associations all along the "eastern seaboard" of Iowa.

Look carefully and you will see me walking out of the cornfield at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville.

I visited Newton in early November of 2005. Here I am in front of the Maytag Headquarters sign.

On my Lincolnway UniServ Unit tour in early November 2005, I visited two elementary schools in Jefferson-Scranton. Pictured here is the bell tower in Jefferson.

Also on my visit to Lincolnway locals I visited the elementary, middle school and high school buildings in Audubon. The landmark for Audubon is "Albert the Bull".

The final landmark of my fall visits was here at my own elementary building, Carter Lake Elementary School. I'm pictured here with our school principal and my good friend, Kim Kazmierczak.