Friday, March 17, 2006

The Rulers of the Roost

The critters in my life are two fuzzy-faced cats. Pictured at the left is Baby Cakes, also known as B.C. B.C. was born in January of 1996, my last legislative session. He is the cuddle bug of the two and follows me around like a puppy dog.

Gracie (GREY kitty) is the youngest of the two kitties. Gracie was born in August of 1997. Gracie is learning to land on her feet when she rolls off the counter or off the sofa.

Sgt. Bluff-Luton Community Schools

Fifth grade classroom teacher, Brenda Zahner, took over as the Sgt. Bluff-Luton EA president mid-year when long-time leader Candy Boustead had surgery. Brenda was able to have her building principal cover her class on Wednesday, March 15th to spend about 90 minutes taking me around her 3-5th grade building, then to the Middle School during their lunch time.

Brenda had me start off in her own classroom of 5th graders (pictured at left) reading aloud the first chapter of The Case of the Bad-Luck Bike Ride Across Iowa: A Cody Smith Mystery by Dorothy Francis . Sgt. Bluff is the starting point this year for the Des Moines Register's RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa).

The 5th grade team of teachers took a moment from their classroom to step into the hallway to greet me. The great team of 5th grade teacher/leaders are (from left to right) Brenda Zahner, Noel Henrich, Lesli Lein, Kathy Davies, and Dan Hunter. Thanks for the extra effort you put into your classroom to plan for those great learning opportunities for students!

Before leaving the 3-5 building, Brenda had me read aloud the book Counting on Frank by Rod Clement to Mr. Terry Pomerenke's 4th grade (pictured at left) Math class. It is a darling book (I loved it!) and I know the students enjoyed it a great deal too.

Once at the Middle School, we had the chance to meet a lot of teachers and support staff as they had those few minutes once each day to connect with other adults. One person that was able to take a few moments to share concerns was 6th grade Reading teacher Connie Saunders (pictured at right).

I want to thank Brenda Zahner for creating the opportunity for me to connect with members in Sgt. Bluff-Luton EA. Thank you Brenda for your leadership. How lucky Team ISEA is to have you as a leader on our team!

Sioux City North High School

An emerging leader on Team ISEA is North High's Leslie Dake (pictured at left). Leslie is a secretary in the school's counseling office. Leslie had the opportunity to have a first-hand, close-up experience of Team NEA when she attended her first NEA Midwest Regional back in January 2006 in Indianapolis, IN. I think we have Leslie "hooked"! She said her husband describes her as, "Norma Rae". You go, girl!

Leslie got up extra early to prepare a homemade coffee cake for Marlin Jeffers and me. Here's her delicious recipe:

Leslie's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Cream together the following:

2 cups white sugar

1 cup margarine

2 eggs

Then add:

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together the following then add to above mixture:

2 cups flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

Topping Mix:

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1 tsp. cinnamon

6 Tbls. brown sugar

Pour 1/2 of the batter in a 9 x 13" pan (greased and floured), sprinkle 1/2 of topping on top, pour remainder of batter on next, then the rest of the topping on top.

Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

When cooled, drizzle a mixture of powdered sugar mixed with milk (and a little vanilla). Leslie says that "more sugar is always good"!

Pictured at right is one of the many stairwells in North High School. Avery Brothers signs of Sioux City donated labor and supplies to paint stairwells throughout North High School. I'd say, Avery Brothers, you're a mighty fine school partner to have! Thanks for investing in the students of your community!

A second great para-educator that we met at North High School was Linda Tritz. Linda (pictured at left) is a teacher associate in the Behavior Disorder classroom, "BD Land" as they say at North High. Linda is a leader on Team ISEA, serving North High SCESPA as a building rep and serving on the Negotiations Team. She shared with us that she's been a member of the district for 25 years, 19 of those years as an assistant in a Behavior Disorder classroom and with 18 of those years at North High. She has worked with 4 different teachers. Wow! I'd say, I met one very valuable member of Team ISEA! Thanks for your leadership Linda in the classroom and in the association!

Great Leadership in Siouxland UniServ Unit

Leaders from Sioux City, Western Hills AEA 12, Sgt. Bluff-Luton, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Hinton, and Retired all gathered at Strykers Restaurant in Sioux City for their monthly Siouxland UniServ Unit Executive Board meeting. Leaders represent both certified and support staff from the Sioux City district as well as at Western Hills AEA 12 on the Siouxland UniServ Unit Executive Board.

Team ISEA, you're in great hands with such awesome leadership here in Siouxland UniServ Unit. Thanks for all you do on behalf of members!

Sioux City Education Association Honors Steve Crary with the ISEA TEAM Award

Sioux City Education Association President, Jan Olson, leads off the special awards at the Sioux City Public Museum in an after school event on Tuesday, March 14th. Staff, family, friends and former colleagues gathered to honor Mr. Steve Crary with ISEA's "TEAM Award". The TEAM Award is designed to honor a school administrator who has worked to create a collaborative, collegial working environment for all staff in a school building or school district. Steve Crary serves as the Human Resources Director for the Sioux City Community School District.

Speaking to the nomination of Steve Crary is Siouxland UniSev Unit Director, Bruce Lear. Bruce spoke of how the relationship the district and the association now have has flourished since Steve has joined the district.

Accepting the ISEA TEAM Award are Mr. Steve Crary and his wife Bonnie.

Chatting with me before the ceremony began is Carolyn Goodwin, SCEA building rep and West High School Counselor.

Looking over the agenda for the awards ceremony are (from left to right) Gayle Jeffers, East High School French teacher and NEA Board of Directors; Janet Rohmiller, Assistant Special Education Director; and Jean Peters, Director of Special Education.

Enjoying conversation following the awards ceremony (from left to right) are Leslie Dake, North High School Secretary in the Counseling office and Kris Flewelling, 3rd grade teacher at McKinley Elementary.

Sioux City EA, it was such a treat to be a part of honoring Mr. Steve Crary, someone who you have shared is both flexible and compassionate and exemplifies the concept of TEAM!

Hinton Community Schools

Long-time association activist Terry Dahlquist greeted us on the afternoon of March 14th when we visited Hinton Community Schools. Terry (pictured at left) is retiring at the end of the school year from his position as a High School Social Studies teacher. Terry was able to lead us throughout the building from classroom to classroom as his student teacher was leading instruction in their homeroom.

Terry, we wish you well! Thanks for your leadership in the classroom as well as in the association!

The first classroom in Hinton that I was able to share a favorite picture book with was in Mrs. Laurie Bird's Kindergarten. It was great to reconnect with Laurie(standing at right), as I had a chance to visit her room last year and Laurie has been an association activist too! Pictured with Laurie's Kindergarten classroom is her teacher associate (standing at left) Mrs. Bondrak. Thanks for all you do Laurie as a leader in and outside the classroom!

After finishing reading to two groups of 1st grade, we all posed for our photo. Pictured here are Mrs. Jan Heimgartener (standing at left) and Mrs. Diane Joanning (standing at right) with their homerooms of 1st graders. The children were particularly excited about receiving the pencils from Team ISEA. I always tell students, "This is a reminder that the Iowa State Education Association is working for great public schools for all of Iowa's students."

The last group of students that I had a chance to share a favorite book with at Hinton was Mrs. Diane Culver's 1st grade. Diane (pictured at right) has an enthusiastic group of students that made great predictions as we worked our way through the read aloud.

Thanks Hinton educators for the great work you do every day to involve students in challenging curriculum!

Green Gables Restaurant in Sioux City

If you're ever in the Sioux City area and are wanting a good home-cooked meal, stop by Green Gables. Out in front of the restaurant is how a local artist decorated one of the many "Seaman's" throughout the community. "Seaman" was explorers Lewis and Clark's dog. For a fundraiser for the Sioux City Arts Council, artist have designed their own version of "Seaman".

What follows is the story I found online about "Seaman".

Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale (Lewis & Clark Expedition)

by Laurie Myers

ISBN: 0805063684 (More details...)
Available at: Burnside, Quimby Warehouse

Publisher Comments:

A dog's account of one of the most extraordinary expeditions of all time.

"Dog and man can fit together like no others do. Lewis and I had that fit....How did we get that close? I think the wilderness had something to do with it. Lewis and I would have been close anywhere, but the wilderness brought out the best in both of us. We were made for that territory."

In 1803, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off on a journey to explore the vast territory of the United States west of the Mississippi River. Accompanying Lewis and Clark and their team of explorers through this uncharted wilderness was Lewis' dog Seaman.

Lewis and Clark and Me is Seaman's story. From his first meeting with Lewis, to being mistaken for a bear by Indians who had never seen such a large dog, to his encounters with wild animals both familiar and unfamiliar, Seaman's tales are filled with the joys of companionship and the tingling excitement of adventure.

Seaman's stories are based information provided in the explorers' journals. The book include many of these direct quotes from the original text as well as a detailed map showing the highlights of this amazing expedition.

Meeting with Sioux City School Administration

Jan Olson, Sioux City EA President, set up an opportunity for conversation at the school district's office on March 14th. Larry Williams (pictured at left), Sioux City Schools Superintendent, gathered five district administrators to visit with Siouxland UniServ Director, Bruce Lear; Jan Olson, Sioux City EA President; Marlin Jeffers, Siouxland UniServ President; and me. Our conversations centered around 1) a summary of a survey of SCEA members; 2) work on "Closing the Achievement Gap; and 3) NEA trainings available for working and supporting families.

Also able to join in our conversation was Dr. Linda Madison (pictured at right). Dr. Madison was particularly interested in hearing from my experiences as I've traveled to varying sized school districts throughout the state.

Peg Brady(pictured at left), Certified Media Specialist and Lead Teacher, has given 40 years of her professional service to the Sioux City Community Schools. Peg said with Iowa's General Assembly removing from the state code back in 1993 that districts must have school guidance counselors and media specialists, Sioux City has cut back (especially in the elementary buildings) the number of certified Media Specialists.

Another lead teacher that was able to join our conversation was Alice Marley(pictured at right). Alice is in her first year as the district's Lead Teacher in Art. Alice has been with the Sioux City Community Schools for 21 years.

How lucky Sioux City schools are to have great leaders in instruction as Peg and Alice!

The final member of our group that gathered for a conversation was Janet Rohmiller. Janet (pictured at left) is the district's Assistant Special Education Director and heads up the district's Professional Development.

Thank you Sioux City administration and instructional leaders for taking time to share the great opportunities that you're working together on with the leaders of the Sioux City Education Association to provide for students in your schools.

Lowell Elementary in Sioux City

On Tuesday, March 14th our day started with a visit to Lowell Elementary in Sioux City. We were greeted by school secretary and SCESPA member, Joyce VanWeert (at right). I presented Joyce with a "magic wand" (hand-made by ISEA receptionist Betty Linn) as I have done as I've traveled throughout the state this year to all school secretaries. I thanked Joyce on behalf of the 32,000 members of ISEA for the magic she does every day for Iowa's students. We all know we couldn't do our job in schools without the work Joyce and her colleagues do. Thanks, Joyce for all you do every day!

Amy Snodgrass (at left), Lowell Elementary Special Education teacher and Sioux City EA building rep, organized a breakfast reception for Marlin Jeffers, Siouxland UniServ Unit President and myself to meet with members before the day with students began. Amy also serves on the Siouxland UniServ Unit Executive Board and does so much in her building and in her local to connect members to the association. Thanks, Amy for all you do as a leader on Team ISEA!

I had the opportunity to read in three different classrooms at Lowell Elementary. The first class I shared a favorite book with was Mrs. Anderson's 2nd grade. Thanks students for being such great listeners and helping with our read aloud!

The second group of students I read to their class was in Mrs. Ofert's 5th grade. Before reading aloud I had the chance to observe Mrs. Ofert review with her class terms they had learned in a Science lesson. The students were sharp! Mrs. Ofert demonstrated great skill in drawing out the knowledge from the previous day's lesson.

How lucky we are to have great teachers like Mrs. Ofert and Mrs. Anderson teaching in Iowa schools!

The third great classroom teacher I had the chance to meet was Mrs. Foulk. I was given the opportunity to read aloud to Mrs. Foulk's 3rd grade. The students did a tremendous job of making predictions based on what we had just read and seemed to enjoy the read aloud.

Thanks, Lowell Elementary students for working hard and making your best effort every day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dining Out with Siouxland UniServ Leaders

After a full day of visiting Western Hills AEA 12 and Western Iowa Tech Community College, leadership of Siouxland UniServ Unit were able to gather for dinner at Kahill's. Joining in for conversation and a delicious dinner, seated (left to right) are Flora Lee, Siouxland UniServ Unit Vice President and Western Hills AEA staff development consultant; me; Gayle Jeffers, East High French teacher and NEA Director for Iowa; and Jackie Warnstadt, 4th grade teacher at Leeds Elementary and 2006 Iowa Teacher of the Year. Standing are (left to right) Tim Foix, Sioux City EA and Siouxland UniServ Unit Executive Board and North Middle School Social Studies teacher; Jan Olson, District Mentoring Faciliator, Sioux City EA President, and ISEA Executive Board Rep from Siouxland; Donna Walsh, Sioux City EA Vice President and 2nd grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary; Bruce Lear, UniServ Director for Siouxland UniServ Unit; Diane Cox, North High School English Language Learner teacher; and Vince Cox, Sioux City EA Past President, East High School Math teacher and head football coach.

Thanks, Team ISEA Siouxland leaders for the work you do every day in the classroom and for the work you do on behalf of the association!

Live at Five on Sioux City KTIV Channel 4

Taking time to pose with me following the Live at Five interview is KTIV news anchor Kristi VerMuln. I was able to share with Siouxland viewers ISEA's reasons for its opposition to peformance based pay. As we all know it takes the community of adults to provide a balanced and challenging curriculum for Iowa's students. From bus drivers, food service workers, media specialist, classroom teachers, AEA professional and support staff, guidance counselors, Art, Music and PE teachers, as well as school secretaries and administrators; it takes everyone working together. In education we all work as a team to provide great opportunities for all of Iowa's students.

After I finished the on air interview with Channel 4, Gayle Jeffers, Sioux City East High French teacher and NEA Director for Iowa and I had the surprise of our life when we made our way back to the station's lobby. Visiting Sioux City was TV Talk Show host, Ellen DeGeneres! Ellen was kind enough to pose with Gayle and I before we left the building.

Western Iowa Tech Community College (WIT)

The other portion of our day on Monday, March 13th was spent visiting with ISEA Higher Education members that are faculty at Western Iowa Tech Community College on their Sioux City campus.

Providing leadership for WIT HE Association (at left) is Brian Smith, Instructor in Computer Networking. Brian is serving as vice president this year. Thanks for your leadership, Brian!

Able to join us for a brief conversation between classes was Ann Kock (at right), WIT Math instructor and WIT HE Association member. Thanks, Ann for the great work you do to challenge students every day!

Siouxland UniServ Director, Bruce Lear, arranged for all three network television stations to interview me during my Siouxland visit. Here I'm visiting with a reporter from KMEG TV.

Joining in the conversation between classes are WIT HE Association members (left to right) Jane Clausen, Business instructor; and Helen Lewis, Humanities and English instructor/ WIT representative to ISEA's Higher Education Committee. Bruce Lear (on right), Siouxland UniServ Director was able to join us in listening to member concerns. Thanks, Helen for your leadership on the ISEA Higher Ed Standing Committee! Bruce, I heard from all members I met how grateful they are for the work you do on their behalf. Great leaders of Team ISEA in Siouxland!

Western Hills Area Education Agency 12 in Siouxland UniServ Unit

My first stop on my visit to Siouxland UniServ Unit on Monday, March 13th was to Western Hills AEA 12 in Sioux City. My host and driver was Siouxland UniServ Unit president/Western Hills AEA 12 staff development facilatator/ISEA Executive Representative for AEA's, Marlin Jeffers. Pictured with Marlin is Karlie Mobley, AEA 12 Social Worker. We ran into Karlie again later in the week on our visit to North High School in Sioux City.

We often have Marlin lead Team ISEA's Executive Board in group processing activities, using his expertise! Marlin is a valuable member on Team ISEA!

On our visit to the Sioux City office of Western Hills AEA 12, we happened to find four hard working association members at their desk. Pictured with me are (left to right) Terri Porter, Speech Pathologist; Julie Tucker, Social Worker; Shannon Hall-Schmeckpeper, School Psychologist; and Cyndi Swingen, Early Childhood Teacher Consultant. Thanks for your great work in building our professional development skills and being a vital member of our school building teams that provide great opportunities for all Iowa students!

The Chariton EA Holds a Birthday Celebration for Dr. Seuss

Chariton EA members as well as potential members hosted a birthday celebration for the Chariton community on Thursday, March 2nd at Van Allen Elementary School gym. Pictured (from left to right) are Chariton EA members Rebecca Karr, 5th grade Special Education; Kate Ortiz, Middle School Language Arts; and Cindy Bedford, 4th and 5th grade Homeroom and Science. The three teachers greeted families as they entered the school and guided them towards the 13 stations (similar to a school carnival) to begin their evening of fun!

I got to serve as one of the nine "Celebrity Readers" for the Chariton EA's Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration.

Here a Chariton EA members hands out prizes to two students.

Pictured at right is Chariton EA member and Kindergarten teacher at Columbus Elementary, Mrs. Julie Blake. We had a chance to visit Cindy's room earlier in the day.

Chariton Middle School Band instructor, Oscar Ortiz is pictured here with a group of children that were anxious to have some fun with reading! Oscar serves as the Chair of the ISEA Multicultural Committee and represents Multicultural membes on the ISEA Executive Board. Oscar is also past president of South Central UniServ Unit. Thanks for all you do as a leader on Team ISEA, Oscar!

One of the stations was the cake walk. The theme of the cake walk was from Dr. Seuss's book Green Eggs and Ham. Pictured here are mother-daughter team, Jenna Beatty (left) holding a spot of white almond bark and in the center a green M & M. To the side, you see the slice of "ham", a pretzel stick! All participants received the "green eggs and ham" and the winner earned a decorated cupcake like that Jenna's mother, Sue Rea (Chariton EA member and High School/Middle School Family Consumer Science teacher) is holding.

Within the 90 minute event, Chariton EA hosted 150 members of the school community to their first annual birthday celebration for Dr. Seuss. A huge thanks go out to Mrs. Jane Beatty, Chariton EA president/Elementary Vocal Music instructor. Jane said she was grateful for the dozens of volunteers that planned and help conduct the great event.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Columbus Elementary in Chariton Celebrates "Read Across America"

The entire school district in Chariton, Iowa was celebrating! Students and educators were celebrating reading and celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday! Thursday, March 2nd, marked the annual celebration of author Dr. Seuss's birthday as NEA members throughout the nation celebrated "Read Across America" in their classrooms. Pictured at left are Mrs. Brenda Gillaspy (with the hat), her 2nd grade homeroom, and South Central UniServ Director Jim Crotty (a.k.a.: Dr. Seuss).

Students and teacher alike got into the celebration mode as they all donned a Cat in the Hat hat. Pictured here (at right) celebrating literacy and the fun you can have with language are Mrs. Julie Blake and her Kindergarten class.

The last classroom that I had the chance to read in was Mrs. Claudia Owens' 1st grade. The students loved the repetition and rhythm of Dr. Seuss's work!

Thanks so much Chariton EA teacher/members for the work you do each day to bring the joy of literacy to your students!

At the end of the school day at Columbus Elementary, Mr. Crotty and I stopped in the classroom of Music teacher and Chariton EA president, Mrs. Jane Beatty. Jane, pictured at right, is the mastermind behind the great evening celebration that followed for all Chariton School District children and their parents at Van Allen Elementary. Thanks Jane for your leadership in and out of the classroom. We are lucky to have you as a leader on Team ISEA!