Thursday, November 30, 2006

Southwest UniServ Hosts Legislative Dinner

On Wednesday night, November 29th, Southwest UniServ Unit hosted a dinner for association members to dine and have conversations with area state legislators. SWUU President and Lewis Central High School teacher, Tom McLaughlin, welcomed the over 50 SWUU members Wednesday evening at the Red Coach Inn. President Tom (on the right) reads from a letter received from Governor-elect Chet Culver addressed to the Southwest UniServ Unit.

Four southwest Iowa state legislators participated in the dinner and discussion with area educators. The first to address the group was Rep. Mike Reasoner (D) from Creston. Representative Reasoner (pictured at left) was elected by his caucus as an Assistant Majority Leader.

The next legislator who addressed the assembled group of educators was Rep. Cecil Dolecheck (R) of Mount Ayr. Rep. Dolecheck (pictured at right) had served in the majority party as chair of the Education Appropriations Budget Sub. Committee.

Re-elected to his second term in the Iowa House is Representative Richard Anderson (R) of Clarinda. Rep. Anderson (pictured at left) shared with SWUU educators that in his own family his mother was more like House Democrats in that she wanted to be nice to everyone and take care of all their needs, while his father was more like House Republicans and be more fiscally responsible. His remarks drew many questions.

The last state legislator to address us was Iowa Senate Majority Leader-elect Mike Gronstal (D) of Council Bluffs. Senator Gronstal has served in the General Assembly 24 years and has always been a leading advocate for children and public education. Sen. Gronstal addressed raising teacher's salaries to 25th in the nation and raising the minimum wage.

Team ISEA's Lobbyist, Brad Hudson, shared with legislators ISEA's Legislative priorities. Brad (pictured at left) also addressed questions from our members regarding Teacher Quality money, Open Enrollment, the so called No Child Left Behind (federal law), additional paperwork issues and Staff Development. Brad shared with SWUU members now that we know who has been elected to the General Assembly, our real work begins. He encouraged members to participate in area Legislative Coffees, email legislators and invite legislators into their schools to better understand the impact the policies they've put in place have upon students and schools.

Thanks southwest area legislators for the work you'll be doing on behalf of all Iowans! We look forward to working with you in the coming legislative session.

Thanks too to Southwest UniServ Unit for turning out a great crowd and continuing to engage members in issues that impact them in the work they do for Iowa's public school children.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's Beginning to Sink In

November 7th, 2006 has come and gone. So many worked so hard in getting to that date.....we were like children anticipating Christmas and at times we thought it would never arrive.

Public education emerged as the big winner! At the head of the class is ISEA-recommended candidate Chet Culver who was overwhelming elected as Iowa's next governor. A former high school government and history teacher and coach, Chet Culver will be the nation's first governor to have taught school within the last 20 years.

And in a stunning victory, pro-public education candidates also took over both chambers of the Iowa General Assembly! In the House, Representative Pat Murphy of Dubuque (pictured at left) will become the next Speaker of the House. Joining Speaker Murphy in the Iowa House are the following newly elected members of the majority party:

McKinley Bailey, District 9
Andrew Wenthe, District 18
Doris Kelley, District 20
Art Staed, District 37 (Jr. High Social Studies teacher/ISEA member)
Tyler Olson, District 38
Ako Abdul-Samad, District 66
Eric Palmer, District 75
Elesha Gayman, District 84

In the Iowa House, 54 of the 72 ISEA recommended candidates were elected for a 75% win.

In the Iowa Senate, state Senator Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs will become the next Majority Leader and Senator Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg, the Senate President. Pictured with Majority Leader Gronstal and Senate President Kibbie are (left to right) Becky Schmitz of Fairfield(retired AEA/ ISEA member); Bill Heckroth of Waverly; Gronstal; Staci Appel of Ackworth; Rich Olive of Story City; Kibbie; and Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids.

In the Senate, 19of the 22 recommended candidates won for an 86% success rate.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Making Phone Calls to Clinton EA Members for Friends of Education

On Wednesday afternoon as the school day ended, MBUU UniServ Director Lynette Claeys and I headed to Clinton to make phone calls on behalf of two incumbent legislators that are great friends of education. Greeting us as we drove up was state Representative Polly Bukta. Rep. Bukta (pictured here on the left) is a retired teacher from the Clinton Community Schools. Polly was first elected to the Iowa House in 1996. I share a connection with Polly---the wonderful person, Eileen Tyler, that served as my clerk for the 4 years I served in the House--has been Rep. Bukta's clerk ever since.

Another educator that we ran into in the county party headquarters was Jeff Michel. I first met Jeff when I visited Clinton last year. Jeff teaches high school History and Government at Clinton High School. Jeff (pictured at right) was making sure things were all in place for his precinct on election day.

Stopping by the headquarters to say "Hi" was former state Representative Art Ollie. Art (pictured on the left) was a favorite of mine when I served in the Iowa House. Art, now retired from teaching, chaired the House Education Committee in the 1980's through 1992 when the Democrats were in the majority party. Art and his wife Joyce, also retired from teaching, continue to give back to the community of Clinton by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and for their church. Gosh it was so good to see you, Art!

Both MBUU Director Lynette Claeys (on left) and I made phone calls to all Clinton EA members that live in the district of state Representative Polly Bukta and state Senator Roger Stewart. It was especially fun to chat with members and first, thank them for their membership and secondly, ask how their school year was going.

The final teacher that we found in the headquarters working to elect great candidates was Jean Pardee. Jean (pictured on the right) is a retired teacher from Clinton.

An Afternoon in Pleasant Valley Community Schools at Pleasant View Elementary

The afternoon of Wednesday, November 1st, Mississippi Bend UniServ Director Lynette Claeys and I traveled to Pleasant Valley Community Schools to visit Pleasant View Elementary. As we entered the building we were greeted by 4th grade student Jake Williamson. Jake helped us sign in and put on our visitor tags, then lead us through the hallways on a school tour.

Our first classroom stop was in the 4th grade classroom of Becky Roller. I visited with all four of the 4th grade classrooms about the responsibilities of serving as ISEA president. In addition we reviewed the three branches of the federal government and talked about how our state government follows that same model. Mrs. Roller and her class are pictured here on the left (with me in the middle!).

We next visited the 4th grade classroom of Lisa Barfnecht. Lisa along with Elementary Media Specialist Bev Anderson were instrumental in initiating the invitation for my visit. Thanks, Lisa and Bev! Lisa and her 4th grade homeroom are pictured here on the right.

The third classroom visit took us to the homeroom of Katie Welling. Katie was absent and retired teacher Louise Jesson was subbing. Louise had taught at Pleasant View Elementary and loved returning to see her former colleagues and former students. Pictured (on left) is the 4th grade homeroom of Katie Welling.

Our last classroom visit at Pleasant View Elementary took us to the homeroom of Monica Belby. Monica is pictured here (on the right) with her 4th graders.

It was such a treat to have time with 4th graders! They are indeed my favorite! The children asked if I had found an ideal school in all of my travels. I told them as Dorothy from The Wizzard of Oz said, "There's no place like home"! Although I miss my own school back at Carter Lake Elementary, I have discovered so many great places I would be comfortable in being a part of the staff....and Pleasant View Elementary was one of them!

Thanks Pleasant Valley EA members at Pleasant View Elementary for your warm hospitality!

Davenport Community School's Children's Village West

In the fall of 2004 NEA's Bus Trip with our Team NEA's President Reg Weaver visited Davenport Community School's Children's Village West. I vividly recall President Weaver grabbing hold of puppets he saw in a classroom and handing one off to Iowa's Lt. Governor Sally Pedersen, then entertaining us all with a puppet show. I really did look forward to returning to Children's Village West!

When I visited the facility in 2004, teacher Nancy Gesy had her pre-school classroom housed at Davenport West High. This fall marked the move of Nancy's program moving to the Children's Village West facility. Here (at right--and 2nd from right) is Nancy Gesy and several of her students. Nancy's Early Childhood Class has 15 students in the morning program that are Juniors and Seniors from the three Davenport High Schools. High School students earn 11 credits for the semester for the 2 Block morning class. Three days of the week the students have direct instruction from Mrs. Gesy on child development, followed by the students all developing a lesson plan that they will implement on the other 2 class days.

Pictured (on left) are more of the students from Nancy's morning group as they ham it up for me. I had a chance to visit with the group about their aspirations once they leave High School. Serveral of the students hope to enter a college of education to work towards becoming a teacher.

On our tour of the Chidren's Village West facility we got to see groups of children enjoying the large play areas. It was such a treat to see Nancy Gesy fitting in to her new classroom and new facility and continuing to love every minute of leading High School students and the early childhood program!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Art Education at Eisenhower Elementary

My day on Wednesday, November 1st took me to Eisenhower Elementary in Davenport. Here I met a talented Art educator that just oozed enthusiasm at 8:00 a.m.!

Stacey Houk (on the left) is pictured here with Great River UniServ Director Linda Schneider. Linda and I had the chance to observe two of Stacey's morning classes.

Mrs. Houk's first class of students was of 5th graders. Her lesson with the class was on surrealism. Stacey discussed with the students how this particular form of art begins with the ordinary and realism, then moves to the surrealism. Mrs. Houk also shared with the students their 5th grade benchmark expectation as she moved through the lesson. Below the 5th grade look over their text for examples of surrealistic artists Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali.

We next observed a 2nd grade room in Mrs. Houk's Art classroom. Mrs. Houk explained to us that the 2nd graders theme for the year is "Neighborhoods". Second graders began their Art year drawing self-portraits to set in place their "historical record of their life". Throughout the school year they will continue to expand upon the idea of relationships and personal relevance. Here 2nd graders gather around UNI student teacher, Renee Rios. Rene's parents are both teachers in the Davenport Community Schools!

As student teacher Renee Rios lead the 2nd graders in Art instruction, Stacey Houk was able to take Great River UniServ Director Linda Schneider and I for a tour of student work in the hallways of Eisenhower Elementary. Here (at right) I'm pictured with Stacey in the entryway of Eisenhower Elementary near the Grant Wood Mural. Stacey explained, two years ago all of the 5th graders had an in-depth study of Grant Wood's work. When the unit was completed, students initially made drawings that would later become the foundation for this beautiful mural in the main hallway.

Stacey Houk is another terrific example of Iowa's dedicated educators! She shared with us that her two children are also teachers in the Davenport Community Schools; her daughter a 4th grade teacher at Monroe Elementary and her son an Art teacher at Jefferson-Edison Elementary. Thanks Stacey for all you do every day for Iowa's students!