Thursday, April 27, 2006

NEA Executive Committee Member Carolyn Crowder Visits Southwest UniServ Unit

Wednesday, April 26, 2006, NEA Executive Committee member Carolyn Crowder was the keynote speaker for Southwest UniServ Unit's Representative Asssembly. Carolyn (center) is pictured here with Barb Cunningham (at left), SWUU leader and Chair of the ISEA Retired Committee and me.

Carolyn Crowder, an elementary and vocal music teacher from Mustang, Okla., was elected to the National Education Association Executive Committee in July 2003. The nine-member governing body oversees the work of the 2.7 million-member Association.

A native Oklahoman, Crowder has taught for 20 years in Oklahoma schools, 19 of which have been in Mustang. Her first year of teaching was as an artist-in-residence with the Oklahoma City Public Schools.

For six years, Crowder served as president of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) leading the organization through some of its most difficult, but ultimately successful, times. During her tenure, the OEA fought for and won the largest compensation increases in state history for teachers and support professionals, including state-paid health benefits for all education employees. Crowder was also a driving force behind the creation and subsequent success of the Oklahoma Education Coalition, which includes every major player in the state’s education community.

In addition to her leadership role in the state Association, Crowder has been an active member of her local Association as well. There she served as president, delegate, and negotiator. The recipient of the OEA Political Activist Award in 1996, Crowder also is a former officer of Delta Kappa Gamma, and a 1999 graduate of Leadership Oklahoma. In 2003, she won the OEA Claude Dyer Award for leadership in education legislation.

Crowder grew up in the Oklahoma Panhandle, graduating from Guymon High School. She went on to graduate cum laude from Southern Nazarene University (formerly Bethany Nazarene College) and received a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Central Oklahoma (then Central State University).

Crowder's husband Terry is a social studies teacher at Emerson Alternative High School in Oklahoma City. Her term on the NEA Executive Committee began on September 1, 2003.

The "SWUU Crew", Marilyn Paul (left) our dynamic and dedicated UniServ Secretary; John Phillips (center) our quirky, fun-loving, hard-working UniServ Director; and Pat Shipley (right) our creative and talented UniServ Director; comprise this great team! Do I sound partial? I am! This is my 'home' UniServ Unit. They are the dedicated professionals that gave support to me as local leader and on into Unit leadership. They do what all our great UniServ Directors and Unit Secretaries do day in and day out, assist members and help guide others into leadership opportunities. Thanks, SWUU Crew!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Seth McGrane of Denison an ISEA Scholarship Winner

Seth McGrane, a junior in Elementary Education at the University of Iowa is the recipient of one of our four ISEA Scholarships for 2006. Seth, pictured with his parents, Cyndy and Tom, was honored by the Denison Education Association with an after school reception on Friday, April 21st to receive his scholarship check from Team ISEA. Cyndy, a High School French and Spanish teacher; and Tom, a High School Counselor; are both long-time association members. Approximately 20 other teachers gathered on this Friday afternoon to give support to one of their former students as well as to their colleagues, the proud parents of Seth McGrane.

Cyndy shared with me a story of one of the experiences Seth had working with an ELL student in the Iowa City schools. The young female student had a fasicination with purses, so Seth walked to a local discount store and purchased a purple plastic purse with a few items to go inside. He then borrowed from the school library the children's book, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. For the few weeks he met with the student, he brought other items to add to the purse to aid in their discussion. Seth is a natural, don't you think?! How lucky we are to have the chance to invest in our profession by investing in Seth McGrane!

Seth is pictured here receiving his ISEA Scholarship check along with Denison EA president, Darin Johnson. Darin is a 4th grade teacher in the Denison Community School District. We are grateful for Darin's leadership in the association as well as in the classroom. Thanks, Darin for all you do as a leader on Team ISEA!

Presidential Hopeful Meets with Educators

Former Governor of Virginia paid a visit to ISEA on Thursday, April 20th for a roundtable discussion with a small group of educators. Governor Mark Warner was in Iowa in part to do a fundraiser for fellow Democrat, Congressman Leonard Boswell. In his three day swing through Iowa he also met with county party organizations. An early supporter of Governor Warner contacted ISEA to invite education leaders to meet with with this potential candidate for President in 2008.

Mark Warner served as Virginia's Governor from 2002-2006. In the final months of his gubernatorial term, Warner's poll ratings indicated that he is the most popular Virginia governor in a generation, with record approval ratings of 75%.

Warner is considered one of the top contenders for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2008 because of his wide appeal to independents and moderate Republicans, and his high popularity in a relatively Republican state.

Although Virginians rejected regional referendums led by Warner to raise the sales tax in 2002 for transportation, Warner worked with moderate Republican legislators and the business community to reform the tax code in 2004, lowering food and income taxes, and increasing the sales and cigarette taxes in 2004, despite his campaign pledge that he would not raise taxes. The action saved the state's AAA bond rating, held at the time by only 5 other states, and allowed the single largest investment in K-12 education in Virginia history. Warner chaired the National Governor's Association in 2004-2005 and led a national high school reform movement. He also chaired the Southern Governor's Association.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Reconnecting With a Friend Now at Ankeny High School

I first became familiar with this great educator when he was a 6th grade classroom teacher at Franklin Elementary in Council Bluffs some years back. Tom Honz's career has now led him to Ankeny High School, a building of 1,500 students, as a certified Media Specialist with five people working on his team.

I visited Tom on Tuesday, April 11th, in the Media Center over lunch along with his wife Kristin; Polk Suburban UniServ Director Randy Richardson; and Mrs. Brenda Colby, High School principal. It was Tom's wife Kristin whose job change brought them to central Iowa. Kristin works for Iowa Department of Economic Development and is the progam director for AmeriCorps in Iowa. I reconnected with Kristin as a member of the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service a year ago. On Tuesday, I joined Kristin as a part of the "site visit" to Habitat for Humanity, located in Ankeny, in which there are 18 AmeriCorps workers assigned.

Tom said when he left the Council Bluffs Community Schools each Media Specialist had 5 buildings they were assigned. As a Media Specialist left or retired, they weren't replaced. This year Media Specialists in Council Bluffs now have 7 buildings they serve. As we all know, the 1993 General Assembly struck from the Iowa Code the requirement to have certified Media Specialist and Guidance Counselors. It has continued to be a legislative priority of ISEA's to re-write the requirement back into the Iowa Code.

Kudos to the Ankeny Community Schools for your acknowledgment in the key role Media Specialist play in a student's success!

Team ISEA Honors the Clear Lake Education Association with the 2006 Beacon Award

The Clear Lake Education Association (CLEA) was selected as the winner of the 2006 Beacon Award by Team ISEA. The award is presented each year to honor a local education association that has demonstrated outstanding leadership and activity in the areas of communications, community involvement, advocacy, and programs. I presented the award to CLEA president, Cheral Morgan (pictured with me), on Wednesday, April 12, in the Lake Room at the City Park in downtown Clear Lake.

The CLEA has undertaken a wide variety of programs which have made it a more effective advocate for students and public education in the community. Among its many activities, the Association helped design a new evaluation procedure for teachers, it hosted a “meet the candidates” forum for school board candidates and members regularly attend school board meetings to keep the lines of communication open, it honors community members with the annual Friend of Education, and it offers two scholarships for local students each year. In addition, the CLEA engages in a number of activities during the school year to help foster better communications, build morale, and create a spirit of cooperation and teamwork among faculty.

Pictured here are just a few of the great "team" members that with their combined effort have produced a great local association. What we do in schools to bring about student achievement takes a team effort; from the work of our support staff, teachers in the classroom, administration, as well as families and community support. Our work in the association is the same; it is a TEAM effort.

“We’re pleased to be able to honor the work of the Clear Lake Education Association and its members,” said Nelson. “They are clearly blazing new trails which lead to increased community support for children and public schools.”

Third Annual Iowa Mentoring & Induction Institute

The third annual Iowa Mentoring and Induction Institute was held April 10-12, 2006 at Maucker Union on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. To kickoff the institute, a banquet was held on Monday evening to award honors to two teacher leaders.

The "2006 Mentor of the Year" honor went to West Des Moines Community School District teacher at Hillside Elementary, Charlene Ondracek.

Char has 38 years of teaching reading in the West Des Moines Community School District. She has served as a mentor in the West Des Moines Community School District during the 1997-1998 school years when the program was locally funded. She has served officially as a state-funded mentor during the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years. Char also has served as a cooperating teacher many times. Pictured at left with me are ISEA East Central UniServ Director, Dave Ulrick (center) and Char Ondracke (right). Congratulations, Char!

The "2006 Mentor Program Leader of the Year" honor was bestowed upon Tammy Wawro of the Cedar Rapids Education Association. The CREA chose Tammy for the position of Mentoring and Induction Coordinator because of her excellent communication skills, her experience and skill as a classroom teacher, the respect she earned from her peers and colleagues, outstanding people skills and her academic achievement including National Board Certification. Tammy's leadership has earned her the respect and confidence of teachers and administration alike. Pictured with me at the right are: Tammy Wawro (left); Dave Ulrick (2nd from right); and Ann Feldman, Human Resource Director for the Cedar Rapids Community Schools. We are so proud of you, Tammy!

Pictured with Tammy Wawro (at left), the 2006 Mentor Program Leader of the Year, is Mildred Middleton for which the awards are named in her honor. Mildred began making first-string players even before receiving her teaching degree in 1943. While a first-year student at Iowa State Teachers College, she was recognized for her gifts of teaching and leading when the President of ISTC helped her promising future as an educator, tapping her as a junior supervisor at the Laboratory School.

She distinguised herself as a teacher; a curriculum coordinator; an author; a speaker; and as a pioneer in program development. With all of her professional accomplishments, Middleton is recognized most, by colleagues and those she mentors as a friend. Thanks Mildred Middleton for setting the bar high for all of us in the profession!

A special thanks to Team ISEA professional staff members Dave Wilkinson and Dave Ulrick for their leadership in the arena of mentoring and induction. Thanks, Dave and Dave!

ISEA PAC Central Committee Met April 8th

Team ISEA members of the ISEA PAC Central Committee met on Saturday, April 8th to receive their "assignments" as we move into the 2006 campaign. UniServ Units that were represented at the PAC meeting were:

1. UniServ Unit 2 (1)

2. UniServ Unit 9 (1)

3. UniServ Unit 10 (2)

4. CedarWood UniServ Unit (2)

5. DesMoines Education Association (2)

6. East Central UniServ Unit (3)

7. Geode UniServ Unit (3)

8. Great River UniServ Unit (3)

9. Hawkeye UniServ Unit (3)

10. JDC UniServ Unit (2)

11. Lincolnway UniServ Unit (4)

12. Mid-Iowa UniServ Unit (1)

13. MississippiBend UniServ Unit (2)

14. NorthEast Iowa Education Unit (3)

15. Siouxland UniServ Unit (2)

16. South Central UniServ Unit (2)

17. Southwest UniServ Unit (3)

**(indicates # of members present--out of four possible)**

Also in attendance: Linda Nelson, President; Bruce Jensen, Vice President; Paula Logan, Treasurer (representing Geode UU); Gayle Jeffers, NEA Director; Jim Young, NEA Director (representing NEIEU) and staff liaison Brad Hudson.

ISEA PAC Central Committee is made up of Team ISEA members from all NINETEEN UniServ Units; TWO Republican ISEA members and TWO Democratic ISEA members. Members were charged with the responsibility of conducting interviews and having all paperwork back to ISEA by June 2nd. Our next ISEA PAC Central Committee meeting is June 15th and 16th.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Marshalltown EA Building Representative Meeting

Preparing for the building rep training meeting on Thursday, are president Frank Ocasio (left); president-elect Meg Sponseller (center); and ISEA Executive Board member Sally Hansen (right).

Building representatives from this school year were honored by out-going-president Frank Ocasio with a certificate of recognition and a hug. We all know that building representatives are the backbone of our organization. It is the building rep that has the initial contact with potential members, keeps current members informed, and attends monthly meetings to make sure they have the most currect information to share with membership. Thank you Marshalltown EA leaders and building representatives for all you do. You are indeed appreciated and recognized as important leaders on Team ISEA!

Education Leaders at Miller Middle School

Visiting Miller Middle School on Thursday marked my second visit in two years with school counselor Mark McVey (pictured in center). Mark was again one of my favorites this year with not only his enthusiasm for the association, but also seeing him connect with students! Student after student reached out to Mark and it was obvious what a special connection he has with all those that he works with! Mark lead Sally Hansen (at right) and myself throughout the building; here stopping to meet another great educator in LaVonne Hildahl (at left). LaVonne is a certified media specialist and was described to us as a tireless advocate for students through literacy opportunities. LaVonne will be retiring at the end of this school year. We are grateful for her many years of providing enriching opportunities to challenge students.

Miller Middle School is undergoing remodeling and new construction and will be ready to greet the 2006-2007 school year as a 7th and 8th grade building. Currently Miller serves 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Thanks, Miller Middle School educators for the great challenges you provide all Marshalltown students!

Hoglan Elementary in Marshalltown Has a New "Look"

Marshalltown EA/Mid-Iowa UniServ Unit leader, Barb Burgess (pictured with president Frank), proudly lead us throughout Hoglan Elementary and described the "before" and "after" rennovation to their facility. Barb is a certified media specialist and shared with us that the Marshalltown Community Schools has "invested" in the future of all Marshalltown students with a certified media specialist in each building! The 2005-2006 school year marked the opening of Hoglan following a year-long rennovation project. What a difference a bright, cheery, spacious facility makes in assisting with student learning! Thanks, Barb for your continued leadership in the association!

Marshalltown EA Visit Returns me to Anson Elementary

Thursday, April 6th took me back to Marshalltown for my 4th visit in two years. I felt like I was returning home! I love seeing familiar faces and reconnecting with members I've met before! My first stop of the day was at Anson Elementary where I met up with Marshalltown EA president, Frank Ocasio (High School Language Arts instructor). Frank was able to take an association day to accompany me on my school visits.

Joining us at Anson Elementary was Sally Hansen (at far left), Mid-Iowa UniServ Unit representative on the ISEA Executive Board. Sally spent her teaching career at Anson Elementary and at the end of the 2004-2005 school year retired. Sally returns often to Anson to substitute teach and reconnect with friends. President-elect of the MEA is Meg Sponseller, pictured with Sally, is a Special Education teacher at Anson Elementary. Sally treated us to lunch with subway sandwiches.

One of the concerns brought forward by many of the educators that were able to join us at Anson over lunch was the new "ELDA" testing: English Language Development Assessment. Educators described the four areas of testing, 3 areas in which the students may be tested in "large" groups (taking 30-90 minutes per test); then a 4th test administered individually taking a minimum of 30 minutes per student. Anson has 192 ELL students, which takes the 2 1/2 ELL teachers several months to test all ELL students. All of that testing time, as we know, takes away from the direct instruction time ELL instructors are able to work with students.

ISEA Publication Awards for 2005-2006

Local associations and UniServ Units were honored with publication awards at this year's Delegate Assembly. We applaud the efforts of the locals and units recognized this year. We all know that it makes a huge difference when we stay connected to our Team ISEA members! Thank you all for all you do as leaders on Team ISEA!

Student ISEA Members Lobby at the Iowa Capitol

On Thursday, April 6th, Student ISEA members gathered at the Iowa state Capitol to lobby members of the General Assembly on issues important to Iowa's students and public education. This was the first time our student ISEA members combined their spring meeting with a lobbying effort. Jean Hessburg, staff liasion for the ISEA Student Program writes, "This is a great photo of how the students felt! On top of the world! They did a terrific job today and I couldn’t be more proud of their passion! Kudos to the students today, they may just carry the day for us and put a real face on teacher’s pay!" Thanks, Jean. Thanks, Student Team ISEA! You really do rock! Team ISEA is in good hands with the efforts of our young leaders!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Alpha Delta Kappa Chapters Hold a Joint Meeting in Council Bluffs

On Tuesday, April 4th, I headed back "home" to Council Bluffs to be the keynote speaker for the joint meeting of the Alpha and Alpha Iota Chapters of Alpha Delta Kappa. I have been a member since 1976, so this fall marks my 30th year of membership!

A little history of Alpha Delta Kappa:
Since 1947, over 125,000 women educators around the world have discovered the many opportunities provided by membership in Alpha Delta Kappa — opportunities for recognition of their commitment to educational excellence, for personal and professional growth and for collectively channelling their energies toward the good of their schools, communities, the teaching profession and the world.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, Alpha Delta Kappa today has over 45,000 members in over 1,600 chapters located in towns and cities in every state in the U.S., and around the world in Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Membership, which is honorary and based on peer recognition, provides a wealth of opportunities for leadership development and networking through workshops, training sessions, conferences and conventions. But, perhaps the greatest opportunity Alpha Delta Kappa provides is the opportunity to make a difference. Around the world, Alpha Delta Kappa members combine their energies and talents to enrich their lives and the lives of others through thousands of heartwarming, community-based altruistic projects.

The theme of this year's dinner meeting was "Hats Off to You!" Pictured at left are several members of both chapter that brought special hats to wear. Members of our two chapters are teachers in the Council Bluffs, Lewis Central, Iowa School for the Deaf, St. Albert's, Omaha Public School districts as well as several retired teacher members.

I'm pictured here with my map depicting the communities I've traveled to over the last two school years. I shared stories from my school visits, but more importantly thanked them for giving me encouragement for all my endeavors over the years. Thank you ADK Sisters for all you do to provide great opportunities for students! I do miss you!