Friday, August 25, 2006

First District Congressional Candidate Bruce Braley Greets Supporters in Davenport

Bruce Braley (D) Waterloo greeted supporters from Iowa's First Congressional District in a downtown Davenport eatery on Thursday afternoon. Braley spoke with great passion about the importance of a quality public education for all of Iowa's students. Braley, raised on a farm near Brooklyn, Iowa, spoke of his mother and how she traveled to the University of Northern Iowa to earn her teaching degree with three youngsters at home. He learned at that young age we often make sacrifices to provide for our families and that the work of educators is done by caring individuals. At the age of 78, his mother continues as a substitute teacher in Brooklyn today!

Team ISEA leaders showing their support for Bruce Braley are (from left to right) Lynette Claeys, UniServ Director for MississippiBend; Linda Schneider, UniServ Director for Great River; and Chris Eichmeier, Clinton Community College instructor/Eastern Iowa Community College HE EA President. After a full day of working on behalf of Team ISEA, we all enjoyed the conversation and the chance to support someone that will make a difference for all Iowans.

Congressman Stenny Hoyer (D) Maryland was in Davenport on Thursday to encourage constituents of the 1st Congressional District to contribute time, energy and monetary resources to make the difference in helping Bruce Braley be the victor on November 7th.

In June, a bipartisan group of Team ISEA members from the 1st Congressional District interviewed both Bruce Braley and his Republican opponent. The group's recommendation was brought forward to the ISEA PAC meeting later in the month to support Bruce Braley. The Iowa recommendation was then taken to the NEA PAC meeting late in June and Bruce Braley was given support by the 2.8 million members of the National Education Association.

Muscatine EA Reaches Out to Educators New to Their Learning Community

Team ISEA leaders of the Muscatine Education Association were hard at work well before the school year began! Muscatine EA leaders pictured here (back row, left to right) are Dan Kitchen, High School Art instructor/ MEA Grievance Chair; Carol Kula, Chinese Language instructor/ MEA President and (front row, left to right) Becka Jones, Counselor at Jefferson Elementary/ MEA Past-President; Lisa Kroll, High School Spanish instructor/ MEA Volunteer; and Dolores Silva, High School Spanish instructor/ MEA President-elect.

MEA leaders prepared a lunch of a baked potato bar and desserts for incoming educators new to the Muscatine Community Schools. Pictured at left are long-time friends and association leaders Randy Naber, 4th grade classroom teacher/MEA Treasuer and Kathy Haltmeyer, High School Special Education instructor/ ISEA Executive Board representative from MississippiBend UniServ Unit.

This group of dedicated Muscatine EA leaders not only prepared lunch, but worked with district administration to make an association membership presentation as they dined. Of the 28 new educators gathered, 24 joined the MEA following the membership presentation. Way to go President Carol Kula and your great team of Muscatine EA leaders!

Having the chance to speak briefly to the new educators to the Muscatine Community School District gave me the opportunity to reconnect with an educator that I greatly admire, that is Superintendent Dr. Tom Williams. Dr. Williams and I were members of the first commission in 2000 that did part of the initial groundwork for the 2001 Teacher Quality-Student Achievement Law. Dr. Williams shared with me that he has been asked to serve on one of the two workgroups (part of the Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce) looking at teacher compensation and in particular "performance based pay". Dr. Williams is truly a champion of quality public schools that provide challenges for all Iowa students. Thanks for your leadership, Dr. Williams!

See what the Muscatine Journal had to say:

ISEA Recommended Candidate Culver Welcomes Educators to the New School Year

ISEA recommended gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver rode into Sioux City on Sunday, August 20th and was greeted by educators looking forward to the new school year and to the possibilitiy of Chet Culver as our next Governor.

A former teacher and coach at Hoover High School in Des Moines, Culver said if he's elected, he'll be the only governor in the nation who has actually been in the classroom in the last 20 years.

On Monday, August 21st Chet Culver rode into the parking lot of Des Moines North High School in a school bus at the end of the first day back for staff to announce his plans to boost education in Iowa. The bus was filled with educators and other supporters of Secretary of State Chet Culver.

Culver reminded the crowd that Iowa ranks 41st in the nation in teacher salaries and he wants to raise teacher pay to at least the national average. Secretary Culver said to help make that happen he plans to devote an extra $20 million toward raising teacher salaries his first year in office.

Team ISEA's recommended candidate Culver said Iowa's community colleges have the ninth highest tuition in the nation and he wants to do what he can to make community colleges and public and private colleges more affordable.

Chet and I are pictured here in front of the campaign bus in the parking lot of Des Moines North High School. Local members of the Des Moines Education Association and other supporters of public education were apart of the crowd.

Back in June, the bipartisan members of ISEA PAC inteviewed both Secretary of State Culver and Congressman Nussle. As a result, ISEA has chosen to recommend Secretary of State Culver as the best candidate for Governor.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

UniServ Unit Two Leading Members Through "It's a Jungle Out There"

UniServ Unit Two Team ISEA staff led local leaders through "It's a Jungle Out There" for their annual membership workshops on Monday and Tuesday, August 7-8. Leaders met at Harriman's Park in Hampton for an afternoon that was fun-filled and an information-packed workshop! Leading members through the "Jungle" are (left to right) UniServ Director Joann Mackin, UniServ Director Cindy Carroll, and UniServ Secretary Michele Alden. This trio is a dynamite team and we are so lucky to have them on Team ISEA!

Leaders from Clear Lake EA that attended the Monday workshop are Cheral and John Morgan. Both are wearing a safari hat to designate to others that they are "Leaders" whom they can follow--UniServ Unit Two Executive Board members. I first got to know Cheral and John when I visted Clear Lake in the winter of the 2004-2005 school year. They arranged a marvelous schedule that put me in their community and school early in the morning until late in the afternoon. It was a memorable day in many ways, but most especially because of the genuinely caring individuals that Cheral and John (as well as all Clear Lake EA folks I've met!) truly are. Thanks for your leadership and thanks for your friendship!

Leaders from Hampton-Dumont EA that I sat with at Tuesday's workshop are (left to right) Carol Snell, Hampton-Dumont EA Membership Chair and Jen Koenen, Hampton-Dumont EA President. It was a delight to see these leaders pour over the materials and chat as to how they can "make it work" in their own local. Thanks Carol and Jen for your leadership!

In total, approximately 75 leaders from all across UniServ Unit Two (north central Iowa) participated in one afternoon of the membership workshops. Unit Two staff as well as Team ISEA staff across the state offer local leader trainings at multiple sites, trying to best accommodate the needs of our leaders. Thanks Unit Two for including me again this year!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Off We Go, Ready to Have a Great Association Year!

And the final curtain came down on the 2006 ISEA Summer Conference before noon on Thursday, August 3rd. It was an awesome gathering of new and emerging leaders, sprinkled in with experienced leaders from all regions of Iowa. We learned from our colleagues and from Team ISEA staff, things that work---in building membership and involving members to elect pro-public education candidates in November.

To "fire up" the leaders before they headed home was state Senator Mike Gronstal (D) from Council Bluffs. Senator Gronstal shared with Team ISEA leaders the difference it makes in who leads the Iowa General Assembly and the importance of having a real advocate for students and public education in the Governor's office.

Thanks, Senator Gronstal for your continued advocacy for the students and families of Iowa!

We All Rely on Great Mentors, Me Too!

Just as you mentor a new colleague, taking them under your wing, I too have a mentor in my role as ISEA President. Judy Briganti, President of the Indiana State Teacher's Association, has served as my NEA Mentor since I began serving in June of 2004. Judy is an elementary classroom teacher and in her second term as president of the Indiana educators. I was honored to have Judy join Team ISEA in Storm Lake. She was able to attend our ISEA Executive Board meeting on Monday afternoon; participate in the dinner meeting with Executive Board members and members of our four state committees; be present throughout all day Tuesday--our kickoff with Wavelength and picnic with Senator Edwards; and took off for a meeting right before lunch on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

President Briganti was able to share the suite at the dorms with me, so we had additional time to reflect our "Iowa tradition" to how she has tried things in her home state of Indiana.

And just like when you mentor someone in your building or local association, friendships happen. I consider Judy not only a mentor, but also a great friend. Thanks Team ISEA for showing our great hospitality to a colleague from Team NEA!

Between the Work, Team ISEA Makes Time to Connect With Colleagues

Leaders from East Central UniServ Unit stop to pose for a photo before heading into the banquet at Summer Conference. East Central leaders (from left to right) are: Nancy Notton-Stumpff/Benton EA and ECUU Executive Board; Karen Hartlep/Benton EA and ECUU president; Dave Ulrick/ECUU UniServ Director; Coy Marquardt/ECUU UniServ Director; myself; and Bill Hynds/ECUU representative to ISEA Retired Committee. Those gathered here are only just a few of the many ECUU members that participated in Summer Conference. Thanks, ECUU for the great things you continue to do to involve members!

Pictured at right with me is Sheryl Ballard from our great Team ISEA Headquarters staff. Sheryl's official title at ISEA is "Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Executive Director". Sheryl and Kathy Bosovich together headed up our efforts in organizing yet again another great Summer Conference. Thanks, Sheryl, Kathy and all the great staff that worked so hard back home in our regional offices to encourage and sign up members to attend, for those that presented such awesome and innovative sessions that reached across all of Team ISEA's membership, and for the work you did to make our entire conference go so smoothly. You make it look easy, but we know it takes yeoman's work. Thanks for all you do as members of Team ISEA!

And talk about some innovative sessions! Team ISEA UniServ Directors Cindy Carroll/Unit Two and Jeremy Kunz/NEIEU presented a session on "Party With a Purpose" on Thursday morning. Ideas were shared and plans were made to encourage members to be active in their local association. Thanks Cindy and Jeremy and all our professional staff (and leaders too) that led sessions at Summer Conference.

Meet Team ISEA's Reigning PAC Queen

For the past 10 years Team ISEA has given the responsibility of our fundraising efforts at the NEA Representative Assembly to retired Council Bluffs Earth Science teacher, Wanda Synhorst. Wanda served as the Grievance Chair for the CBEA for a good share of her career and into her first years of retirement. She was "hooked" on fundraising for delegate expenses early on--after attending one of her first NEA Representative Assemblies. This year at Summer Conference I decided it was time to honor Wanda Synhorst and bring recognition to her efforts in raising money for the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Wanda (pictured in the center) was properly "crowned" ISEA PAC Queen--given a sash and crown at the Summer Conference banquet. Also pictured are Vice President Chris Bern/Knoxville EA and South Central UniServ Unit and myself.

For years Wanda has gone to garage sales, picking up items for the "silent auction" held each morning of the RA in the Iowa caucus--filling an extra suitcase with all the items she is donating. She has been known to "access" her friends over lunch or coffee a dollar or two--continuing to "fundraise for expenses for the RA". Wanda is also the person that hand-makes the old-fashioned sock monkies that we auction each RA for hundreds of dollars!

Thanks Wanda for all you have done and continue to do to bring awareness of "raising funds back home for RA expenses". You are indeed Team ISEA's "PAC Queen"!

Team ISEA's Recommended Candidate for Governor Addresses Summer Conference

Iowa's Secretary of State Chet Culver was our keynote speaker at the Summer Conference banquet Wednesday evening, August 2nd.

Team ISEA recognized back in June at the ISEA-PAC Committee interviews that Chet Culver was the best candidate to serve as Iowa's next Governor and made that recommendation to ISEA's membership. Secretary Culver is a former High School Government teacher at Des Moines Hoover High School and truly is one of us! His rousing remarks got members excited about going back home and getting colleagues to join in campaign activities.

Chet Culver was greeted by nearly 400 members of Team ISEA all wearing the brightly colored "Educators for Culver" t-shirts! Team ISEA members were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the candidate first-hand and not only share their education concerns, but to pose for a photo with Iowa's next Governor!

Chet Culver's remarks hit home with Team ISEA members.

Angela Tjaden, Student Program member from Mt. Mercy College in Cedar Rapids/East Central UniServ Unit, demonstrates her excitement with Team ISEA's recommended candidate Chet Culver!

U.S. Senator John Edwards Addresses ISEA Summer Conference

Former U.S. Senator from North Carolina and 2004 Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards addressed ISEA Summer Conference as Team ISEA gathered for an evening picnic in Storm Lake on Tuesday, August 1st. Senator Edwards is pictured here with Team ISEA Bargaining Speciaist Betty Fuller, who will be retiring as of August 31st. Thanks Betty for your service on our team, Team ISEA! Members throughout the state have the greatest respect and admiration for the work you do for all Team ISEA.

Senator Edwards spoke of two Americas, those that have and those who have not. All educators know that we must first address the human needs of our students before we can address their academic needs. Thanks, Senator Edwards! Your message resonated with the nearly 400 leaders gathered!

Keeping A Promise to NEA RA Delegates

Team ISEA Delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly in Orlando were challenged by me to contribute $150 per delegate to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. I promised that if they would on an average contribute at that level, I would appear throughout Summer Conference in New York Yankee gear (as a long time Boston Red Sox fan). Team ISEA delegates rose to the challenge and exceeded that minimum level with an average per delegate contribution of $202.00! They exceeded the challenge, so I lived up to my promise! Trying on the gear before the delegates arrived, I just can't seem to get into the spirit of Yankee gear!

John Kealey, president of the Davenport EA and life-long Red Sox fan, joins me in wearing Yankee gear throughout ISEA Summer Conference in Storm Lake, IA. Thanks, John for your support of a great cause--contributing to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education! You helped keep the promise and are a great team player!

State Committee Members Meet to Set the Course for the Association Year

On Monday evening, July 31st, members of the four state committees met to hear the goals of Team ISEA for our association year ahead and connect with their ISEA Executive Board over dinner. Our association goals for the year are: 1) Building Membership; and 2) Electing (or re-electing) pro-public eduacation candidates to the state legislature, to the Governor's office, and to the halls of Congress.

On Tuesday morning (prior to the kickoff of Summer Conference) members of the state committees met to chart the course for their year ahead. Pictured (at left) is Tammy Duehr, president of the Dubuque EA/JDC UniServ Unit--and chair of Better Teaching and Learning Environment Committee. Also serving in a leadership role for this committee is board liaison-Marlin Jeffers, president of the Northwest Iowa AEA/Siouxland UniServ Unit president/AEA Chair--Rep to the ISEA Executive Board; ISEA Staff Liaisons--Bob Brown/UniServ Director JDC, Stan Burke/UniServ Director Mid-Iowa, and Dave Wilkinson/ISEA Professional Staff.

Chair of Protecting Member Rights Committee is Bill Ricketts/Southwest UniServ Unit Executive Board/Iowa Western Community College HE EA/NEA's Higher Education Committee--national membership chair (pictured at right). Also serving in a leadership role on this committee is board liaison Al Mattison/Unit Two Executive Board representative/Belmond-Klemme EA; ISEA Staff Liaisons: Lynette Claeys/UniServ Director MississippiBend UniServ, Jim Crotty/UniServ Director South Central, and Joann Mackin/UniServ Director Unit Two.

Chair of Strengthening Local Associations Committee (pictured on the right) is Melissa Keeney/Johnston EA past-president/Polk Suburban UniServ Unit Executive Board/Nationally Board Certified Teacher. Also serving in a leadership role on this committee is board liaison Jean Swenson/NEIEU Executive Board representative/New Hampton EA/Nationally Board Certified Teacher; ISEA Staff Liaisons: Jean Hessburg (pictured on left)/ISEA Professional Staff, Jeremy Kunz/UniServ Director NEIEU, and Pat Shipley/UniServ Director Southwest.

The final committee is chaired by Kristi Keast (pictured at right)/Mount Vernon EA/past president of CedarWood UniServ Unit/Nationally Board Certified Teacher. Also serving in a leadership role on this committee is board liaison Gary Anhalt/CedarWood UniServ Unit Executive Board representative/Cedar Rapids EA President; ISEA Staff Liaisons: Brad Hudson (pictured on left)/Administrative Lobbyist, Randy Richardson/UniServ Director Polk Suburban and Lincolnway, and Linda Schneider/UniServ Director for Great River.

Thanks to all Team ISEA leaders and committee members for the work you continue to do on behalf of our entire team!

Leadership Development Provided by NEA Midwest Regional

On Monday, July 31st, 2006, the ISEA Executive Board had the opportunity to pariticipate in training on "Fundamentals of Effective Board Involvement". Team ISEA was fortunate to call upon Mary Canty Merrill (pictured at right) from our NEA Midwest Regional office, who facilitated our morning long training.

With new members joining the ISEA Executive Board, I felt this would be a great opportunity to also have a "refresher" for our returning board members.

Training segments included: Role of Board Members; Accountability; Knowledge-based Decision Making; Keys to sustaining Success; and Lessons learned.

All board members engaged in the process and came away with polished skills and a renewed purpose for serving Team ISEA. Thanks, Mary! You did a tremendous job of getting us all involved. Please come back to Iowa soon!