Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day in South Central is Topped Off With Visit to Wayne Community Schools

Our visit to South Central UniServ Unit locals was complete with a visit to the Wayne Community Schools in Corydon. We were greeted by Kandi Hackett (at right) Developmental Kindergarten through 6th grade Art and Computer teacher. Oh yes, past president of the Wayne EA and a member of the Negotiations team. I'd say she does a lot! Two Student Council leaders led us to our first classroom visit.

The first classroom visit was in the homeroom of 3rd grade teacher Sandra Young. Here (at left) is Sandra pictured with her 3rd graders.

The other classroom visit took us to the 4th grade homeroom of Lynne Nekvinda. Lynne is pictured with her 4th grade homeroom (at right).

At the end of a full day of teaching, members of the Wayne EA gathered in the Elementary building for a reception and a time to enjoy conversation with their colleagues.

Nearly two dozen members were able to join us in the Media Center. I shared Team ISEA's goals of 1) building membership, 2) working to implement SF 277 Iowa's Teacher Quality Law, and 3) work for needed changes to No Child Left Behind Law.

We had something to celebrate too! With so many school districts experiencing declining enrollment and staff reductions, the Wayne EA was able to rise above it all and gain two members! Congratulations to all Wayne EA members for your gain!

Wayne EA President Ann Jackson (at right) led the contingent of members from the Middle and High School building to join in. Ann teaches High School Band and Vocal Music.

Thank you South Central UniServ Unit leaders for your warm hospitality! You perform magic every day in your classrooms and find energy to take on leadership roles in the association. Team ISEA is grateful for all you do!

Tuesday Afternoon Begins With Visit to Seymour

Following lunch in Corydon on October 30th, UniServ Director Jim and I were off to Seymour. The community of Seymour is just a stone's throw from the Missouri border and it was a lovely drive on this late October day.

We were greeted by association leader and K-6 Resource Room teacher Laura Horton. Laura is pictured (at right) with South Central UniServ Director Jim Crotty.

Laura had put together a great schedule which included visits to three classrooms. The first room to visit was Cheryl Housh's Kindergarten class. The children loved the book, 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore.

Next we visited the classroom of Sarah Zintz. Sarah was absent this day, so leading instruction was Lori Jewett (at right) with Sarah's homeroom of 1st graders. All the children get excited when we give them one of our "magic" pencils--they turn from purple to pink in your warm little hands!

The final classroom visit in Seymour was in the 2nd grade of Jennifer Miller. I read aloud the new Chris Van Alsberg book, Probuditi! I got the feeling that at least one of the children was going to try and hypnotize a younger sibling following the read aloud. Afterall, it was the eve of Halloween! Jennifer shared with us that she just celebrated her 100th victory as a girl's volleball coach. Way to go, Coach Miller!
Thanks, Seymour EA for all you do every day for Iowa's students!

South Central Tour Leads Us to Mormon Trail EA

On a beautiful fall morning on Tuesday, October 30th, South Central UniServ Director Jim Crotty and I headed to Humeston to visit the Mormon Trail Community Schools. It was such an enjoyable drive, fall harvesting nearly complete and the beautiful fall colors reflecting the bright morning sun!

The first classroom visit took us into the Pre-K class of Mormon Trail EA President Carol Jones. Here I read aloud a Halloween book Carol had for me. The children were adorable!

Next we were off to the 4th grade classroom of Mrs. Trimble. She is pictured (at right) with her homeroom.

The next classroom to visit was Danielle Miller's 6th grade. Danielle Miller is in the back row with Becky Stripe seated in the front row amongst the 6th graders (at left).

The final classroom visit took us to Ms. Hunter's 5th grade. Here the 5th graders are pictured at right.

Thanks, Mormon Trail EA leaders for all you do as instructional leaders for Iowa's students!

2007 Excellence in Education Awards Banquet

On Monday evening, October 29th, Iowans from around the state gathered at HyVee Hall to say thanks--thanks to the countless teachers who each and every day make a difference and touch lives of their students.
ISEA was proud to once again be able to work with our partners on the Excellence in Education Awards program --WHO Radio, KDSM Fox 17... and the Iowa Farm Bureau who so graciously provided a lovely dinner along with the free tours of the Iowa Hall of Pride. Pictured (at left) is Craig Lang, President of the Iowa Farm Bureau. This was our ninth year to honor Iowa teachers with the Excellence in Education Award.

The keynote speaker this year was Judy Jeffrey, Director of the Iowa Department of Education. Judy was appointed director of the Iowa Department of Education in November 2004. In this role, she provides leadership and supervision for an educational system that includes 520,000 students in public and private accredited K-12 schools; 115,000 credit students in 15 community colleges; and 3,500 employees in 11 area education agencies.

Before serving as director, Judy had been the state's Early Childhood, Elementary & Secondary Division administrator since 1996. Before that, she served 24 years in the Council Bluffs Community School district in various administrative and classroom teaching positions. Judy has also been an instructor at Creighton University, and she taught in other Iowa districts including Cedar Falls and Goldfield, where she began her teaching career.

At the banquet, we honored the 2007 Excellence in Education Award winner as well as the four runners up.

The first runner up to be recognized was Rhonda Baker (at left), a special education teacher at Scranton Elementary School. She was nominated by Sonya Wills whose three autistic children have benefited from Rhonda’s caring and expertise. Sonya wrote, "Rhonda just has this ‘knack’ and is creative in implementing teaching methods,” she said.

Next we honored Laura Craft, a second-grade teacher at Central Decatur school in Leon. She was nominated for the honor by Tonya Lindsey whose daughter, Mary, flourished in Laura’s second-grade classroom last year. Tonya, who herself was once one of Laura’s students, says that a thousand-word essay cannot begin to explain how much of a positive influence Laura has had on her family. In fact, she has inspired Tonya to consider going back to college for an elementary education degree.

Our next honoree was Duane Hahn, a long-time science and computer teacher at South Hardin High School in Eldora. Duane was nominated for the honor by several students and co-workers. Their stories reveal a dedicated teacher who routinely goes above and beyond in order to help all students succeed. Always among the first to arrive and school and the last to leave, Duane won’t give up on anyone -- whether it means taking a late-night phone call or tutoring a student one-on-one.

Our final runner up is David Lillie, a fifth-grade teacher at Irving Elementary School in Sioux City. A beloved teacher at Irving for more than 17 years, David is known for his ability to connect with students -- particularly those who are in need. He was nominated for the honor by Jamie Myers whose five children have all been students in David’s classroom. “He has a real heart for our kids and goes over and above what is required in his teaching contract,” Jamie wrote.

This year’s winner of the Excellence in Education Award -- Blake Hammond, a sixth grade science teacher extraordinaire at Merrill Middle School in Des Moines. Known for his boundless energy and enthusiasm, Blake’s work on behalf of his students extends well beyond the typical classroom and school day.

Last year, for example, he spearheaded an effort to create a new computer lab in the Merrill library. He not only helped raise funds, but he set up the entire computer lab himself. Then he worked with local businesses to get them to donate library furniture. Here are just a few of the many other projects he’s championed:

A sixth-grade orientation process which gives both students and parents a smooth transition into middle school; a youth Ambassador program, which helps students plan school pride activities; and a “School Store,” which helps students and parents purchase discounted school supplies.

Blake is just as concerned about his students’ physical well-being as he is with their academic achievement -- because they two go hand-in-hand. He collaborates with the physical education department and team teaches units on the importance of healthy eating and living habits.

He actually creates an “obstacle course heart” in the gymnasium and the students scoot through the obstacle course the same way blood flows through a heart!

Congratulations again to Blake Hammond and our four runners up as well to all the great teachers that were nominated!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Make Plans Now for American Education Week

November 11–17
Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility

Red Sox Nation Celebrates A World Championship

How sweet it is!

Who would have thought after a dry spell of eighty-six years Red Sox Nation would be celebrating a second World Championship twice within three years!

I almost headed to bed early on Sunday night thinking that if Boston loses there would be another game tomorrow. Then I suddenly realized, if Boston wins tonight.....this would be the last game and the world champions would be crowned!

There was dancing in the streets of Boston, MA as well as in Norwalk, IA (where my two kitties and I have an apartment) last night when the Red Sox swept the Rockies in four games. As a long-suffering Red Sox fan, I am certainly savoring the joy in victory while it lasts!

Friday, October 26, 2007

2008 Iowa Teacher of the Year Luncheon Held

Today at 11:30 a.m. QWEST Communications co-hosted with the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Legislature a luncheon honoring the 2008 Iowa Teacher of the Year as well as the four finalists, at the Science Center of Iowa. Executive Director Jan Reinicke and I represented Team ISEA at the event.

The 2008 Iowa Teacher of the Year Finalists

Peggy Hall Beatty, Decorah Middle School, Decorah

Claudette Vernel Bees, Hempstead High School, Dubuque

Sheila Coyle, North Middle School, Sioux City

Debora Masker, Kirn Junior High, Council Bluffs

The 2008 Iowa Teacher of the Year
Andy Mogle, Norwalk High School, Norwalk

Andy Mogle is a Family and Consumer Science teacher at Norwalk High School. He has taught grades 9-12 at Norwalk since 1999. Mogle has a Bachelor of Science degree in liberal studies and a Master of Education degree in Family and Consumer Science Education Studies from Iowa State University. Mogle was the Norwalk Teacher of the Year in 2007. Prior to becoming a teacher, Mogle was a chef and restaurant manager for more than 15 years.

Here I am at the luncheon today presenting Andy a check from his 32,000 colleagues of Team ISEA.

Wednesday Afternoon Leads Us to Manchester and the West Delaware Community Schools

Following my very first meal at a Pizza Ranch for lunch, UniServ Director Kevin and I were off to Manchester on Wednesday afternoon.

Manchester is the home of the West Delaware Community School District. The district was having a staff work day (no students), so we were given permission to stop into classroom, introduce ourselves and visit briefly. Here (at right) is the entrance to the West Delaware High School.

The building to the left is the High School Annex. Here we had the chance to visit with a number of teachers as well as my all time favorite, Dave Schultz. Dave teaches Government and History and his room is up the steepest set(s) of stairs, on the THIRD FLOOR. Dave was kind enough to meet us on the first floor to chat.

We were next off to the elementary building where we had the chance to meet and visit with quite a number of staff. We spent the most time sitting down to visit with Diane Bean (on the left) and Leann Van Dyke (on the right). Both Diane and Leann are Title I Reading as well as Reading Recovery teachers. They shared how funds have been cut so drastically for Title I programs that they are not able to serve all the students that qualify. The beauty of the blog, is I may add to it at a later time and today is one of those (October 29th). I copied this one segment from my blog regarding the conversation with the two Title I teachers and sent it with a message to U.S. Senator Tom Harkin's staff. I requested the staff to contact these great educators and listen to their concerns. Today I received a note from Rob Barron, Senator Harkin's education staffer in his D.C. office saying he had a great conversation with Diane and appreciated the opportunity to hear from the classroom practioners. Thanks, Rob Barron for the great work you do on behalf of our great U.S. Senator Tom Harkin!

We were next off to the Middle School (at left) to walk through the hallways and introduce ourselves to staff. We probably had the chance to meet at least a dozen or more before stopping by the office to see a long-time association leader and friend, Jan Schultz.

Jan (pictured at right) is the Middle School Secretary and one of our great paraeducator leaders in West Delaware as well as in NEIEU.

At the end of the staff work day, association members from across the district gathered in the Middle School cafeteria for conversation with their colleagues along with cookies and juice. Kelly Jared (on left) chairs the West Delaware EA Leadership Committee and Chris Mundy (on the right) Spanish teacher and association Secretary, together organized the after school social.

Nearly two dozen members joined us during the hour or so that folks stayed around to visit. Pictured below (from left to right) are Tammy Bolsinger, West Delaware EA Membership Chair and Coleen Laubenthal, Elementary Art teacher (and yes, she has 500 students for instruction each week)!

West Delaware EA Co-Presidents (pictured below) are Marcia Powell and Jason Guyer.

The last of the photos I took are (below) of Jim McDermott, high school Behavior Disorder teacher and Linda Carlson, Elementary Math Strategist. I got so excited when I saw Jim walk in with the Red Sox t-shirt, I threw my hands in the air and howled (Boston was just about to play their first game of the World Series that evening).

We had some great conversations Wednesday afternoon over those cookies and juice! We visited about Teacher Quality salary distribution, Teacher Quality Professional Development plans, as well as a variety of local issues.

I truly had a lot of fun meeting our leaders here in West Delaware! All are dedicated professionals that care deeply about making a difference for the students they work with.

Mid-Morning Takes Us to East Elementary in INDEPENDENCE

On Wednesday morning following our breakfast at the Middle School, my visit with the Government class at the High School, UniServ Director Kevin McDermott and I were off to East Elementary in INDEPENDENCE. East Elementary is a K-2 building.

We arrived a bit early for our first classroom visit so had a chance to sit a spell in the staff lounge where we were greeted by Buster (here at the right).

I first read to Julie Flickinger's 2nd grade. Julie and her class are pictured at left.

Next, we were off to the Kindergarten class of Kathy Meyer. When I finished reading aloud, they read two short pieces as a group to me. Here Kathy and her Kindergartners are pictured at right together. They were just delightful!

We then had 15 minutes to join staff in the lounge to enjoy some munchies and conversation before our last classroom visit. It was recess time for many of their children and they gave us the few free moments they had to join us!
The last classroom we visited at East Elementary was that of Music teacher Pat Thomas. Pat is pictured (at left) working with a group of Kindergarten students. I don't know how Pat keeps up her enthusiasm, but she does and the children's voices and activities were most enjoyable!
Thanks, Independence EA for all you do for Iowa's students!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Independence EA Hosts Visitors on Wednesday Morning

On Wednesday morning October 24th, NEIEU UniServ Director Kevin McDermott (at left) and I were guests at breakfast of the Independence EA at the Middle School. Nearly three dozen members joined us for juice, coffee, fruit and sweet rolls.

Joining us in the Middle School Media Center were Holly Mueller (on the right) a 4th grade teacher and Amanda Bock (on the left) a 7th grade Language Arts teacher.

Gary Water, high school Science teacher and member of the Independence EA Bargaining Team along with Judy Spinler, joined in on the conversation.

Serving as our host, Independence EA President Susan Henkes (at right) greeted everyone as they arrived. Susan is a 6th grade Language Arts teacher. By the looks of things, I'd say Susan is a great president!

Nancy White (at left) was also a part of the great leaders to take part in our breakfast conversation. We had a chance to visit about the distribution of Teacher Quality salary money as well as progress being made towards the professional development piece. We celebrated the high membership of the Independence EA as well as over 70% of the membership contributing to ISEA-PAC.

We were most grateful for the hospitality in INDEPENDENCE as well as the opportunity to have a conversation with Team ISEA leaders before their school day began.

We were next off to the high school as the beginning of the school day drew near. I had the chance to speak to Joel Dinger's (pictured at left)Government class 1st period. I spoke to the students about leadership opportunities within the school community and also responsibilities beyond the school house doors.

Here (at right) is Mr. Joel Dinger pictured with his 11th grade Government class. I felt the students and I had a good exchange of ideas. I do believe we are in good hands with these student leaders taking on more leadership roles.