Tuesday, October 31, 2006

U.S.Senator Joe Biden Rallies Friends in Davenport for Get Out the Vote

At noon on Tuesday, October 31st UniServ Director Linda Schneider and I joined others at "The Hat, Pub and Eatery" in Davenport to hear from U. S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. Senator Biden worked the crowd, making connections with long-time friends from past campaigns. He spoke eloquently of the opportunities before us, but not to be complacent. We have a full week ahead, much work yet to do and absentee ballots to gather!

Many local candidates were also present. Pictured (on the left) here is Elesha Gayman, candidate for Iowa House District 84. Alesha is an ISEA recommended candidate that I first met when we were both delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, MA in 2004. Alesha also serves with me as member on the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service.

Two seated legislators at the "Get Out the Vote Rally" were state Representative Jim Lykam, HD 85, (pictured on the left) and state Senator Frank Wood, SD 42 (on the right). Representative Lykam is up for re-election on November 7th and truly a proven advocate for students and public education. Senator Wood, a school administrator in North Scott Community Schools has been a shining star in the Senate Democratic Caucus. We are lucky to have two such great advocates for public education!

Davenport West High and the Business Academy

On Tuesday, October 31st UniServ Director Linda Schneider and I headed to Davenport West High School to meet Business teacher Steve Verdon. Steve met us in the office and lead the way to his office. Here (on left) Steve and I chat about proposed alternative certification for teachers in shortage areas. Steve shared how he was a part of the buisness world for 16 years before he took 36 hours to earn his teacher certification. Mr. Verdon was clear that we shouldn't lower our standards in allowing short cuts to certification.

Joining us in Mr. Verdon's office before the 2nd hour class began was John Kealey, West High Government teacher and president of the Davenport Education Association. John (pictured on the right) displays a few articles from his Boston Red Sox collection that he has in his classroom. As you recall, because the Iowa delegates at the NEA Representative Assembly met the challenge of contributing on an average of $150 per delegate, John Kealey and I wore New York Yankee gear at Summer Conference.

As the bell rang for changing of classes, students gathered for Mr. Steve Verdon's Block 2 class. Members of the class were all seniors, looking forward to higher education opportunities. I shared with the students my passion has always been to teach elementary school. I told the students that I made the connection early on in my career that state public policy decisions directly impacted my classroom and my profession, so I worked to help elect pro-public education candidates. I shared my experience of serving in the Iowa House as well as my reasons for seeking the office of president of ISEA.

Pictured above are the keenly interested and very much engaged students at West High. It is always a treat to have a chance to visit with young leaders. Here I am (on the left) pictured with Steve Verdon and his class of seniors from the Business Academy at West High.

After class was dismissed, senior student Travis Varner (pictured at right) interviewed me for the school newspaper. Travis shared with me he is a St. Louis Cardinal fan. He didn't want to talk about the 2004 World Series.

Thanks Mr. Verdon for your leadership in the classroom in providing such 'real world' opportunities to engage your students with the world around them! Thanks too for the West High School Business Education coffee mug!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Muscatine EA Leaders Make Phone Calls to Members on Behalf of a Friend of Education

After a full day of staff development on Monday, October 30th, Muscatine EA leaders gathered at Strawberry Farms Bed & Breakfast in Muscatine to make phone calls on behalf of Representative Nathan Reichert. Pictured (on the left) are Kathy Haltmeyer, ISEA Executive Board Representative from Mississippi Bend UniServ Unit and Randy Naber, Muscatine EA Treasurer.

On the road with me all day and then making phone calls this evening is Mississippi Bend UniServ Director, Lynette Claeys (on the right).

Making calls on behalf of our great friend of students and public education Nathan Reichert is Muscatine EA president, Carol Kula (pictured on left).

Serving as our hostess at Strawberry Farms Bed & Breakfast was owner Linda Reichert(pictured at right), Rep. Nathan Reichert's mother. Linda has worked every bit as hard at door knocking as any volunteer on the campaign. This being her 2nd campaign, Linda is a seasoned veteran of knowing the nuts and bolts of campaigning. Representative Reichert's father, Carl, was busy making a big pot of homemade chili that we all enjoyed when the calls were complete.

And finally, the recommended candidate himself, Representative Nathan Reichert! Representative Reichert is a proven advocate for students and public education. When he campaigns and promises to invest in Iowa schools and raise salaries of educators, he has a voting record that matches. Thanks, Representative Reichert for your continued great work on behalf of Iowa's students and educators!

Mississippi Bend UniServ Visit Leads Us to Louisa-Muscatine Community Schools

On Monday, October 30th the association road took me to Louisa-Muscatine Community Schools. The two buildings (Elementary and Middle/High School) is situated out in the country between the communities of Fruitland, Grandview and Letts. Here over 1,000 students attend Pre-School through 12th grade in this growing district.

Volunteering to be the driver for the day was Lynette Claeys (pictured on the left) Mississippi Bend UniServ Director. Pictured with Lynette is our hostess for the morning, Aimee Wedeking (on the right). Aimee is the Louisa-Muscatine EA President and 1st grade teacher.

One of the first classroom visits we had was in the Computer Lab lead by Technology teacher Andy Crozier. Andy (pictured at left) is a 2nd year teacher and determined to stay in Iowa. He shared how both of his parents are school administrators here in Iowa. How we hope we keep this great educator in the classroom!

Andy shared with us that a year ago educators in the district worked hard in putting together a grant application for the use of I-Pods and they weren't successful in obtaining the $10,000 grant funding. The school district felt so strongly that it was a worthy investment, the district found the funding to fulfill the project. We watched 5th graders take a Math test by using the I-Pod. I put on a set of headsets and listened as the test was read to me, saw the same information on the I-Pod screen, and had the paper test in front of me. Kudos to the Lousia-Muscatine Community Schools leadership for investing in this cutting edge technology!

We were off next to visit the 4th grade classroom of Jill Cochran. I had the chance to read aloud Counting on Frank by Rod Clement (author/illustrator). Mrs. Cochran's homeroom were great listeners and seemed to enjoy the book. Here Jill is pictured (at left) with her homeroom. They especially loved the "mood" pencils!

The last elementary classroom I had a chance to visit was of 1st grade classroom of Mrs. Clevenger. In Mrs. Clevenger's room I read aloud Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens (author/illustrator). Students made predictions and easily caught on to the pattern in the book. Here (on the right) is Mrs. Clevenger and her homeroom of 1st graders.

Before leaving the elementary building I had an appointment to set down with 6th grade student, Lakin Curry. Lakin (pictured here on the left) prepares her laptop computer to conduct an interview with me that will become a "podcast". Wow, is this young woman technologically savy!

You can hear Lakin's podcast with me by downloading the free software (first link) then clicking on the second link to listen.

iTunes Link: https://mail.isea.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/

viewPodcast?id=93321551Web link: https://mail.isea.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://homepage.mac.com/lmelem/websites/Menu23.html

We were then off to the Middle School/High School building. Here local EA president Aimee gave us a tour of the building, stopping along the way to make introductions.

We then headed down the hallways on the 1st day of the new quarter to the Government class. Here I am (pictured on the left) speaking to the students about how state government impacts their lives as a student and what movtivates folks to run for public office.

As we dropped President Aimee Wedeking off at the Elementary building, we gave big hugs to thank her for the great work she's doing as our local EA president! How lucky we are to have her enthusiasm and leadership! Thanks too Aimee for the great morning meeting your colleagues and seeing the magic that goes on here in Louisa-Muscatine Community Schools!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Muscatine EA Leaders Meet & Greet a Friend of Education & ISEA President

Randy Naber, 4th grade teacher in Muscatine, opened his home Sunday evening, October 29th to approximately 3 dozen folks to host an event for new association members and EA leaders to have the chance to meet and greet Rep. Nathan Reichert and me. Randy (pictured at right) is the Muscatine EA Treasurer and serves on the MississippiBend UniServ Unit Executive Board. Randy will be honored as a "Finalist" for the Excellence in Education Award at a special banquet in Des Monies on November 9th. Congratulations, Randy! And thanks for all you do every day for Iowa's students!

It was fun to have the chance to see where Randy makes his home and taste some of the delicious foods that he makes. He has quite the reputation as a gourmet cook and I can tell you first hand, he cooked up some delicious dishes! Pictured here (on the left) is Randy's mother who was also a guest in her son's home.

Also in attendance was ISEA Executive Board member Kathy Haltmeyer. Kathy is a Special Education teacher at Muscatine High School. Kathy (pictured on the right) is a long-time friend a long-time association activist.

Guest of honor was state Representative Nathan Reichert (D) Muscatine, pictured here (on left) with me. In the fall of 2004 when Nathan first ran for the Iowa House, I was out on behalf of members going door-to-door with him. I remember it was a drizzling, fall evening...and we still knocked the doors! Nathan has proven that he works just as hard every day serving as a member of the Iowa House. We'll be making phone calls for him tomorrow night too!

Among others that attended the meet and greet were two more Muscatine EA leaders. Carol Kula (standing at left) is the Muscatine EA President and High School Chinese Language teacher. Pictured with Carol is Dolores Silva (on the right) is also an association volunteer and a High School Spanish teacher. Thanks to both Carol and Dolores for your leadership in the classroom and in the association!

An Extraordinary Day in Fairfield

Early on Thursday morning, October 26th State Unit Nine UniServ Director Carol Hauptert and I left Ottumwa headed for a day in Fairfield. Upon our arrival at the Fairfield High School we were introduced to Superintendent of Schools Mr. Triplet and High School principal Tom Voorhees.

With schedule in hand, we were off to first period in Mrs. Staci Ross’s Government class. Here Mrs. Ross is pictured (at right) as she made my introduction to her class filled with seniors. Students had prepared a list of questions the day before to ask about my duties as ISEA president and about my experience in serving in the Iowa House.

As first hour at the High School came to a close, we were off to Pence Elementary where I spoke to the combined 5th grade classrooms about evidence of the upcoming election and what motivates individuals to run for public office. Pictured with their homeroom classes are Michele Weber (on left) and Jennifer Donels (on right).

We were next off to Washington Elementary where we were greeted by Principal Joe Carr. Principal Carr made gave me the greatest introduction when introducing me to the two groups of 5th grade classes in the school’s Media Center. Thank you Principal Carr for your leadership! Students came prepared with questions about my service in the Iowa House and how legislation really does get enacted. Pictured with their 5th grade homeroom classes are Melinda Lyon (on left) and Sharon Leach (on right).

The third elementary building we visited was Lincoln Elementary. At Lincoln I had a chance to first visit with the 5th grade homeroom of Tari Euling. Here (pictured below at left) Tari is pictured with her homeroom of 5th graders.

Also while at Lincoln Elementary I was able to share a favorite read aloud with Sue Carr’s 1st grade homeroom. They were delightful students and such great listeners! Here Sue is pictured with her 1st graders (at right, below).

UniServ Director Carol (pictured below on right--on far left) and I then got to have a special lunch with staff in the school’s lounge. Staff had pitched in together to buy pizza for a staff luncheon. Not only did we enjoy the special lunch, but of course the staff very much enjoyed the pizza too! Thanks for your generosity and thanks for the chance to visit with Lincoln Elementary staff about issues important to you! While at Lincoln Elementary Principal Sue McCracken stopped in the lounge to introduce herself too.

Back to Fairfield High School and to the 5th hour class of Mrs. Staci Ross. Students (as in 1st hour) were most engaging. It was a huge class-every seat was filled!

Following 5th hour, an interview had been set up with local radio station KMCD. Here I am being interviewed by KMCD reporter (at left) Emily Humble.

My school day ended back in Mrs. Staci Ross’s 7th hour Government class. I don’t know if it was the fact that this was the last group of the day or that the students were exceptional (I am certain that they were very bright!), but I had the most fun of the day visiting with this group of seniors! Here (pictured at right) a few students were dressed for the Red Ribbon Week theme of wearing red. After having had the chance to visit with the seniors of Fairfield High School today, I’m convinced Iowa is in great hands with students in Fairfield ready to step up and be Iowa’s leaders!

At the end of our school day in Fairfield we headed to the Fairfield High School Media Center for a reception hosted by the Fairfield EA. Here we were greeted by our host for the day Diane Goudy, Fairfield EA President. Diane Goudy, (standing at left) is pictured here with teacher associate and her good friend Karla Rebling (on right).

The reception began by enjoying delicious home-made goodies, fresh coffee and juice. Several dozen educators as well as Superintendent Triplet attended. My remarks were taped to be played at a later date on the local cable access channel too.

Fairfield EA President Diane Goudy is not only a great association leader, but a tremendously respected educator/leader in the classroom. Diane finds out during American Education Week (November 17th) if her work towards National Board Certification is successful. In addition, the Fairfield EA membership increased from 92 up to 106 members. I just don’t know how you do it all, Diane! We had the most fantastic day in Fairfield due in a large part of the planning by President Diane. Thanks too to the awesome team of Fairfield educators for opening your classrooms and sharing with us the great things you continue to do every day!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Road Winds On To Washington and Reconnecting With Friends

As our school day was nearing the end on Wednesday, we were off to Stewart Elementary in Washington. Here I had a chance to meet a great first year teacher, Jill Bader. Jill had the presence and a command of her classroom as if she were a seasoned veteran. I had the chance to share a favorite read aloud with her Kindergarten class. Here Ms. Bader (on the right) is pictured with her Kindergateners. Our future looks bright with such quality folks entering the profession as Jill Bader!

I then had the chance to reconnect with a long-time association activist and friend, Elementary Media Specialist Kathleen Kishel. Here Kathleen (seated at left) is pictured reading to a group of 4th graders in the Stewart Elementary Media Center.

After the school day was over and all of the students were well on their way home, the Washington EA hosted a meet and greet in the Stewart Elementary Art room for state Senate candidate Becky Schmitz. Members gathered to enjoy some "Dutch Letters" from Pella and fresh juice over conversation. Maria Haberer, long-time association activist and friend (standing at right) is pictured with colleagues.

Another long-time friend and association activist to join the reception was Fred Stark. Fred is Geode UniServ Unit's representative on the ISEA Retired Committee. Fred also serves the community of Washington as member of the Washington City Council. Fred is pictured on the left.

The guest of honor is retired AEA association leader and candidate for the Iowa Senate Becky Schmitz. Becky (pictured on the right) has been working hard for the last year and a half. She's knocked on over 5,000 doors in the rural district which touches 3 different counties. We are so proud to give our support to one of our own, Becky Schmitz!

Thanks go out to our friends of the Washington EA for the great event that you hosted for Becky. Thanks too for all you do every day for Iowa's students!