Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Southern Cal in Lake City

The end of our day took us to Southern Cal—that’s Calhoun County, in Lake City. Our first stop was at Lincoln Elementary in the classrooms of Kindergarten teachers of Deanne Grantham and Rita Frank. It was fun to see the great things going on in your classrooms as well to share a favorite read aloud.

Off to the Southern Cal Middle-High School. Here we connected with local EA president Lynne Gentry (standing on left). Lynne is an 8th grade Language Arts and Reading teacher and a candidate for the Iowa House of Representatives. Lynne gave us a tour of two floors of the High School building, stopping to introduce us to members along the way. Before the school day ended we also had the chance to meet both the High School Principal and the district’s Superintendent of Schools.

One member we met along our tour of the school was Denise Brobst, Language Arts, Reading and Math teacher. Denise (standing on right) is pictured visiting with Lynne.

Gathering with us after school to enjoy conversation and cookies were EA members Pam Feld, Health and Middle School Counselor who also has long-served as the EA Secretary (seated on the right) and High School and Middle School Spanish teacher, Brenda Griffin (seated on left).

Thanks, Southern Cal EA for all your great work every day on behalf of Iowa’s students!

Newell-Fonda's Elementary Building in Newell

Off to Newell to Newell-Fonda’s Elementary building—Lincoln Elementary. In Newell I read to two groups of 2nd graders from Mrs. Thompson’s and Mrs. Freese’s classes.

Before heading to the staff lounge for lunch, I was interviewed by the Buena Vista County newspaper out of Pocahontas. It is a weekly paper that is published each Wednesday.

Joining us at lunch is Newell-Fonda EA President Mary Kohnen. Mary is a teacher-librarian and has a very busy day. Mary works with elementary students of 4-8th grade in the morning, Kindergarten through 3rd grade students in the afternoon, then High School when she can. Wow, more then enough to do! Thanks for your leadership, Mary!

The last class I visited was in Jean Bellinghausen’s 1st grade homeroom. What a delightful group of students! The students were great listeners and what fun we had together! Jean is a long-time EA member. Thanks for your leadership in and out of the classroom Jean!

Manson Northwest Webster Welcomes Me Back With Open Arms

On Thursday, September 21 my Unit 10 tour took me to Barnum to the 5-8 building of Manson Northwest Webster. I was welcomed with open arms by Elementary and Middle School Principal Marlene Johnson. Principal Johnson had previously served as Middle School principal. Here I'm pictured with Elementary and Middle School Principal Johnson. Thanks for your leadership, Marlene Johnson!

The first members I reconnected with were Molly Berns, K-6 Music teacher (on left) and Diane Scheffler, 6th grade teacher. Both leaders attended Summer Conference in Storm Lake this past summer. The Manson Northwest Webster EA hosted a breakfast reception that had a great number of members gathered.

The first class of the day found me in Mrs. Ginny (pictured at left) Miller’s 7th grade Social Studies class. I discussed with students some of the things a candidate must do to run for office—including getting nomination papers filled with signatures and filed with the Secretary of States office; putting together a committee; raising money; going door-to-door; participating in forums; and so much more. They shared concerns for negative advertising, but certainly could recite what the messages on the negative ads were. It is unfortunate, negative ads do stick with people! Here I'm pictured in front of Ginny's 7th graders.

My next class visit took me to the gym where all 5th graders were gathered. I read aloud a favorite children’s book, When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. One of the 5th grade teachers that I’ve known for several years now is Jan Nelson. I'm pictured with Jan here on the left. It was great to reconnect with this great EA leader! I'm pictured with Jan and her class in the school gym after the other classes had gone back to their homerooms.

Following our time in the Barnum building, we headed to Manson. At the primary building of Manson Northwest Webster I had the chance to read aloud to two groups of Kindergarteners gathered from Tricia Larson’s and Jeanne Ross’s rooms. Also a part of the class leadership is teacher associate Michelle Ruhland. Thanks for allowing me to share a favorite read aloud!

All Member Meeting in Swea City of the North Kossuth EA

The last stop of the day was in Swea City at the North Kossuth Community Schools. By now, it is after school hours and co-presidents Jennifer Thilges (on the right) and Amy Walter (pictured on left) arranged an all-member meeting and reception.

Team ISEA UniServ Director Steve King (standing, wearing yellow jacket) of Unit 10, addresses the all member meeting in North Kossuth.

Local leaders made home-made apple crisp and had ice cream to top it off as our treat. For a small local EA, they had not only a great turnout, but the North Kossuth EA has great things going on! They are involved in so many areas of not only school, but being visible in their communities. Thanks for your leadership, Jennifer and Amy!

Media Opportunities in Spencer

Unit 10 takes in a lot of territory, so in 3 days I nearly logged on 1,000 miles! Upon leaving Britt, we headed to Spencer. In Spencer UD King had arranged for two interviews. The first took me to the Spencer Daily where I sat down with reporter Kris Todd.

Once the newspaper interview was complete, we were off to KICD radio. Here I felt I was being poked in the eye for the entire 45 minutes. Gee, why don’t public schools support vouchers, tuition tax credits, and performance based pay? Then the radio person goes on to tell me how they home-schooled their own children. Gee, why do public schools feel that there’s not a problem that throwing money at can’t fix it—and in the same breath the reporter shared how since they are a little station surrounded by really huge stations, they bought dopler radar, goo-gobs of computers and other technologies---in which I quickly reminded him that it sounded like they fixed their problem by throwing a lot of money at it. It was painful, but a quick reminder that not everyone supports public schools and as public school advocates, we have much work yet to do!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wednesday's Travels Lead Us to Britt and West Hancock

On Wednesday, September 20th UniServ Director Steve King and I drove to Britt to visit West Hancock Community Schools. The first class I had the chance to meet with was Robin Kudej's “Public Speaking” class filled with Juniors and Seniors. I shared with the students that my first and only public speaking class was my first year of college. I told the students that I never imagined one day I would hold the position I do today. They agreed they don’t know where their life-path will take them! We had a great exchange with their questions--good thinking, kids!

While in West Hancock I got to read aloud to Betty Kobes’s first grade. The students got involved in making predictions as they followed the story pattern, then checking back as we read the book together.

Another great group of students that I had the chance to share a read aloud with was Mrs. Roxanne Savoy’s first grade. Pictured with Mrs. Savoy is her student teacher, Mrs. Squier.

I had the chance to share a favorite read aloud with a great group of third graders from Jolene Bruns' class on Wednesday. The students did a terrific job of making predicitions and as we read on, checked back to see if their predictions were correct. Great listening skills, kids!

The last class where I shared a read aloud with at West Hancock was Mrs. Linda Tangemann’s 2nd grade. Pictured with Mrs. Tangemann’s class is teacher associate Lisa Beachy.

Before heading out, UniServ Director Steve King and I had a few minutes to visit with local West Hancock EA President Mary Clark. President Clark is the K-12 Guidance Counselor in West Hancock. Thanks for your leadership, President Mary!

Unit 10 Leaders Gather in Whittemore for the Annual President's Dinner

On Tuesday, September 19th at the end of a full day the evening took me to the Whittemore Golf Club where Unit 10 leaders had gathered.

The Unit 10 Executive Board met prior to dinner that nearly 50 leaders throughout the unit attended. It was my third visit to Unit 10 in three years, so it was a great opportunity to reconnect with familiar leaders. I have been in leader's school hallways, school classrooms, now the AEA and the community colleges and have seen the great opportunities they are leading for Iowa’s students. It was so great to see you all again. I feel so welcome when I visit throughout all of Unit 10! Thanks for the great hospitality Unit 10 and for all you do every day for Iowa's students!

Great Leadership in the West Bend-Mallard EA

Down the road a piece we came upon another central Iowa landmark, the mallard at Mallard, IA. I made the mistake of telling someone later that I had my photo taken next to the “duck” and was quickly corrected—it is a mallard!

Once in Mallard, we went immediately to the West Bend-Mallard 3-8 building where we met up with Claudia Koch. Claudia is the Unit 10 representative on the ISEA Building Support for Public Education committee. Claudia is a K-12 TAG instructor and district TAG coordinator. Claudia is responsible for having the academics recognized in the grand hallway of the high school right alongside the athletic trophies. Great leadership, Claudia!

Claudia took us to the gym where the 3-4-5 graders were all waiting patiently for me to read aloud. They liked the book, Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, author and illustrator (which I thought appropriate to share since harvesting has begun). But the students really loved the “mood” pencils I left with them best. I always tell students before handing out the pencils, that “this is a reminder that the Iowa State Education Association is working hard so that all Iowa students have a great public school”.

We next scurried off to the West Bend building where afternoon recess was just finishing. Kindergarten, first and second graders gathered to hear the read aloud. I so enjoy sharing a favorite book with children! Even though they aren’t my homeroom students, I do feel it keeps me somewhat connected to the children!

After school, members of the West Bend-Mallard EA gathered for an ice cream sundae reception at the West Bend building. Pictured here is the president of the West Bend-Mallard EA, Deb Specht. Deb is the Pre-K through 12th grade Art teacher.

While in West Bend, I drove on over to the “Grotto of the Redemption” You can get more information about the grotto by going to mailto:info@westbendgrotto.comom or visit the grotto’s website at http://www.westbendgrotto.com/dgrotto.com/ .

Prairie Lakes AEA and a Well Known Central Iowa Landmark

Our next stop in Unit 10 took us to Pocahontas to the brand new building the community constructed for the Prairie Lakes AEA. We took ourselves on a self-guided tour and ran into EA member Linda Linn (pictured at right), a School Improvement Consultant. Linda serves as co-president of the Prairie Lakes AEA EA. Thanks for your leadership, Linda!

Of course, driving into Pocahontas one can’t miss the huge statue of the “Squaw”. Here I stopped to have my photo with the well-known central Iowa landmark. Don’t you think I look especially thin standing in front of the Squaw?

Unit 10 Tour Begins With Visit to SE Webster-Grand

On Tuesday, September 19 my day began in Burnside. EA President Barb Peterson (pictured in blue t-shirt), a High School Art teacher, had a morning schedule filled for UniServ Director Steve King and me.

It was homecoming week in SE Webster- Grand on Tuesday students were dressed in colors according to their year in school. Pictured here is a group of Juniors all dressed in pink. In the middle of the group (dressed in a blue staff t-shirt) is teacher Kendra Breitsprecher.

The first class that I met with was Kendra Breitsprecher’s “Writing for Media” class. Pictured here are (from left to right) Chris, Gary and Rebecca. Their actual article will appear in the Dayton community newspaper on October 11th.

The 2nd class I visited was teacher Rob Zigrang’s Junior and Senior Government class. Rob shared with me that he once taught in the Council Bluffs Community School District at Wilson Junior High—the school that my elementary fed into! How fun to see a colleague from my home district that had moved on! Here Rob (with a tie on) is preparing to introduce me to his class. I shared with the students the impact state government has on their lives as a student and the education setting in our schools.

The last class I spoke to was Jori Lizer’s 10-11-12 graders in her “Entrepreneurship” class. Jori, as you see, is all decked out for Homecoming week too! She is pictured here with UniServ Director Steve King. In this class UniServ Director Steve King joined with me and sharing with students the development of Unions as well as reasons unions continue today. Jori has long-served as the local’s Chief Negotiator.

Before leaving SE Webster Grand, President Barb Peterson introduced us to Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mike Jorgensen. Dr. Jorgensen shared with us that he is the director of the Iowa Central Charter High School in SWG. It is the first of its kind in the state and the most significant thing is it provides underclassmen in high school with the opportunity to begin their college career at no expense to themselves. For more information, go to the district’s website at http://www.se-webster.k12.ia.us/

Friday, September 22, 2006

Association Members Gather to Meet Recommended Candidates

At the end of a full school day on September 18th, Team ISEA members gathered at the Ft. Dodge Senior High Media Center to meet area recommended candidates. One of the first to arrive was Media Center Associate Jacqueline Bahr (pictured at right).

Other association leaders to join us were (from left to right) Branwyn Greathouse, Elementary Special Education teacher at Duncombe Elementary. Branwyn is the association's Vice President, co-chair of the Membership Commitee and on the Negotiations Team. Brianne Lytle, an Elementary Special Education teacher at Hillcrest Elementary, is co-chair of the Membership Committee with Branwyn. And Maria Smith, a Kindergarten teacher at Hillcrest Elementary, is the EA Social Committee Chair.

Pictured with Maria Smith is Claudia Harms (on the right), a member of the Negotiations Team whose students from "Intro to Food Service Class" made the yummy bars. Thanks Fort Dodge leaders on Team ISEA for all you do!

Area recommended candidates that were able to join us were state Representative Helen Miller (standing at left); state Senator Daryl Beall (standing at microphone at right), and to learn more about Daryl's campaign go to www.beallforsenate.com ; and candidate McKinley Bailey (seated at left), and to learn more about McKinley go to www.baileyforstatehouse.org .

It was a grand day in Fort Dodge! I am most grateful to President Doug Brightman for putting the great schedule together, then escorting me around the education community all day. After the candidate meet and greet was over, Doug and I then made calls at the local party headquarters on behalf of Senator Beall. Thanks for all you do every day for Fort Dodge students!