Friday, November 30, 2007

A Visit to the Russell Community School

On Wednesday, November 28th the second local SCUU Director Jim Crotty and I visited was to Russell. Here we were greeted by Russell EA president Arick Anderson (pictured at left). Arick is the K-12 Music teacher.

Arick arranged for me to read to the Kindergartners as they ate their lunch. Aren't they just pretty darned cute? I forget how full of questions little children can be!

Following the read aloud, UniServ Director Crotty and I had a chance to visit with two other great Russell EA members. Pictured at left is Alice Lunbergs. Alice teaches Title I Reading. Also joining us was Jamie Ginkens, elementary teacher (who said she didn't like to have her picture taken)!

Director Crotty and I had the opportunity to listen to these great educators share their concerns for their district of shrinking enrollment and what they see as possible opportunities for their students and for themselves as professionals. This is an ever increasing concern in many areas of the state.

South Central UniServ Units Declares, "Leave No Local Behind!"

South Central UniServ Unit has twenty-five (25) locals in their UniServ Unit. On Wednesday, November 28th, South Central UniServ Director Jim Crotty and I "completed" our tour of the final four--visiting all 25 locals in my four years of office! Quite an accomplishment, Jim! Thanks, Jim Crotty for your leadership on Team ISEA!

A Visit to East Union Community School District

Our fist visit on Wednesday was to Afton to the school district of East Union. Here we were greeted by school superintendent Steve Clark and elementary principal Joan Gordon.

Joan has been serving as the elementary leader for the past four years. Prior to this leadership role Joan served as an association leader! Joan was gracious enough to put together our schedule for classroom visits! How lucky we are to have Joan serve in her school leadership role!

One of the first persons I ran into was a long-time association leader from my days in Southwest UniServ Unit--Judy Woods! Judy taught most recently in the Creston Community Schools, retiring from there as an Elementary Principal. Judy (at left with me) is now the English Language Learning teacher here in East Union. It was such a treat to reconnect with this great leader!

I read a favorite read aloud in all four classes here in East Union--Counting on Frank.

Our first classroom visit took us to the 3rd grade room of Ms. Jennings. Ms. Jennings is pictured here (at right) with her homeroom of 3rd graders! School principal Gordon shared with us that this is Ms. Jennings's 40th year of teaching! Great accomplishment, Ms. Jennings!

Next, I was off to the classroom of 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Wuebker. Mrs. Wuebker is pictured (on the left) with her homeroom of 3rd graders!

The final two classroom visits were to 2nd grade rooms. On the left is Ms. Tussey and her homeroom of 2nd graders. Don't you just love their tree! On the right is Mrs. Donner and her 2nd grade homeroom.

A special thanks to East Union EA President Deb Jenson and her leadership. East Union EA membership is up by five and they have 93% of their potential! Outstanding work, East Union EA leaders! Thank you East Union teachers for your leadership in the classroom on behalf of Iowa's students!

Polk Suburban UniServ Visit Leads to Heartland AEA

On Tuesday, November 27th, I joined UniServ Director Wayne Bauman at the Johnston office of Heartland AEA. Here we were greeted by the "Dynamic Duo" of Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell (on the left) and Frances Budreck Davis (on the right). This two-some serve as co-presidents of the Heartland AEA-EA.

Gilmara and Frances gave Wayne and I a tour of two of the Heartland AEA office locations before Wayne had to head out to participate in "Evaluator's training".

At the Johnston office we wound throughout the huge facility set up in a maze-like arrangement. It didn't take me long to figure out I couldn't retrace our steps! In the Media Center I learned that they have children's books in five languages in addition to English! They have print books available in Bosnian, Vietnamese, Arabic, Russian and Spanish!

Frances is a school Psychologist and works exclusively in the Waukee School District with secondary students. Gilmara works "agency-wide" as a Program Learning and Leadership Consultant. Part of Gilmara's job is to see how staff can serve students' better through cultural competencies.

Pictured (above) with Gilmara and Frances is Wayne Bauman, Polk Suburban UniServ Director.

Following our tour of the Johnston office, Wayne and I joined our "Dynamic Duo" for a tour of the Woodside office.

The last Heartland AEA office we were able to visit on Tuesday was in Newton. I learned a great deal by having this chance to visit with our great leaders! Heartland AEA serves some 126,000 students in central Iowa; which is approximately 33% of all students in Iowa! Gilmara, Frances and I then had lunch together in Newton before heading out our separate ways.

Thanks, Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell and Frances Budreck Davis for your leadership on Team ISEA!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not On The Test by John Forster and Tom Chapin

Here's a song about school testing that John Forster & Tom Chapin wrote. It helped usher in the New Year on National Public Radio, appearing on "Morning Edition" on January 1, 2007.

Not On The Test by John Forster & Tom Chapin© 2007 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)

Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math. Forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.

Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers. Their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.

The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they're caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school 'cause they're not on the test.

Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You'll learn there's a lot that is not on the test.

Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you're in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.

Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to, but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The 2007 Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner

On Saturday night November 10th nine thousand from across Iowa (and from across the nation) met at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines to hear from the leading six Democratic candidates running for President of the United States.

ISEA-PAC purchased five tables in which I distributed to Team ISEA members that have long made a difference in their communities in electing pro-public education officials. The Iowa Democratic Party then gave ISEA-PAC two seats at a VIP table. My good pal from home, Margaret Clapper, a BD teacher at our school-Carter Lake Elementary got to sit with me at this Very Important Persons table!

As the dinner was about to begin, Vets Auditorium was brimming with excitement and filled to capacity with enthusiastic supporters from the various candidate campaigns. One of the first "stars" to be spotted was Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press". Mr. Russert is pictured with Margaret (Cookie) Clapper (on the left); on the right (from left to right) Carol Hammill, Maquoketa EA; Cindy Weise, Maquoketa EA; and Cindy Fitzgerald, Boyden-Hull EA; and there I am in the bottom photo.

Not far from our table, I spotted U.S. Senator Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. When I approached their table, Dr. Biden threw her arms around me and thanked Team ISEA for the opportunity to speak at our Community College Faculty Conference. I reported to Senator Biden how proud he would have been to hear his wife speak from her heart about the passion she has for her work as a Community College instructor.

Joining in for a photo with the Bidens is an Extra Special Person, Team ISEA ESP member and President of the Sioux City Support Staff, Leslie Dake. This was Leslie's first time to attend a JJ Dinner!

Prior to the start of the dinner, I had a chance to visit with both Congressman David Loebsack of Iowa's 2nd Congressional District (on the left) and Governor Chet Culver (on the right). On behalf of Team ISEA I was able to thank Congressman Loebsack for helping to slow down the process of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. Cong. Loebsack has heard from countless Team ISEA members to not rush, but to get it right this time!

In addition I was able to thank Governor Culver for his leadership in signing into law SF 277, the Iowa Teacher Quality law. Margaret Clapper personally thanked Governor Culver for the $4,200 raise she is seeing this year. Governor Culver gave her a "high five" and said, "You deserve it".

Team ISEA members that joined us were (on the left) Paul Swenson, recently retired from Sumner EA and Jean Swenson, New Hampton EA. Pictured with me (on the right, left to right) are Chris Bern, ISEA Vice President and Knoxville EA; Margaret Clapper, Vice President of SWUU and Council Bluffs EA; Kim Muta, SWUU Executive Board and Lewis Central EA; and Leslie Dake, Siouxland UniServ board and President of Sioux City Support Staff.

Team ISEA members attending an event for U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton prior to the start of the JJ Dinner had the chance to have their photo taken with tennis sensation Billie Jean King! Those pictured (from left to right) are Cindy Weise, Ms. King, Cindy Fitzgerald, Kathy Williams (NEA Director and Davenport EA) and Carol Hammill. Both Carol and Cindy W. are tennis coaches and it was a thrill for them to meet someone they have admired over the years. What fun!

Now back to our VIP table....we were seated with the Governor of Kansas, Governor Kathleen Sebilius (pictured on the left), Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (picture on the right, she's on the left) and First Lady of Iowa Mari Culver (on the right).

Okay, if that weren't special enough.....I was seated next to our governor, Governor Chet Culver! It was truly a memorable ocassion! It was a very long evening (dinner starting at 7:00 p.m. and the last speaker completed around 11:20 p.m.), but ever so much fun!

ISEA Community College Faculty Conference Held on DMACC Campus

On Friday, November 9th nearly 80 Team ISEA Community College Faculty gathered at the Ankeny campus of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). It was a beautiful, crisp, fall day whereas a year ago a snowstorm had swept through central Iowa closing many schools the day of our annual Community College Conference. It was a new day and the outlook was for change.

As Community College faculty filed in for registration, others enjoyed the continental breakfast provided prior to the opening of our conference.

Lee Skeens, ISEA Higher Education Executive Board Representative, opened the conference with introductory remarks then a brief welcoming from both Dr.Rob Denson, DMACC President and me.

Dr. Jeff Berger (at left) Iowa Department of Education Legislative Liaison, kicked off the conference with remarks around, "Rigor and Relevance: The Community College Role". Rigor and Relevance has become a very hot topic at the national and state level. The discussion is usually centered on the K-12 students. Dr. Berger discussed how the community colleges will play a role in the Rigor and Relevance debate in Iowa.

Key to a great conference is the great staff that works both behind the scenes as well as at the event. Jon Studer, ISEA Research Specialist/Lobbyist/Liaison to the Higher Education Committe (pictured at left) worked hand in hand with the Higher Education Standing Committee to put our 7th annual ISEA Community College Faculty Conference together. Working with Jon in the Research Department is support staff, Ellen Stone. Ellen (pictured at right) worked to make all arrangements prior to the conference as well as worked the day alongside Jon at the event. Thank you Jon Studer and Ellen Stone for all you do on Team ISEA!

There was a tremendous range of breakout session choices throughout the day for participants to select from.

At noon the keynote address was made by Dr. Jill Biden (pictured at right). Dr. Biden is in her 15th year at Delaware Technical and Community College in Wilmington, teaching English composition. She spent 13 years in the public schools, where she was a Reading Specialist and English teacher as well as part-time with Rockford Psychiatric Hospital Adolescent Program. Dr. Biden is married to U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, candidate for President of the United States.

Team ISEA guests throughout the week were the leaders of the Delaware State Education Association, President Barbara Grogg (on the right) and Vice President Diane Donohue (on the left) pictured with Dr. Jill Biden. DSEA does not represent Higher Education in Delaware so it was a treat for them to see the great relationship we have with our Community College Faculty members.

One last photo, ISEA Executive Director Jan Reinicke (on the left) and I are pictured with Dr. Jill Biden. It did our hearts good to hear from a practicing Community College instructor about issues that others from across the country are also faced with.

It was again yet another great ISEA Community College Faculty Conference! We are grateful for the leadership of the ISEA Higher Education Standing Committee as well as to all those who presented and participated. Know that Team ISEA stands with you in working to bring Community College Faculty salaries to 25th in the nation!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Always a Highlight to Visit the Campus of Kirkwood Community College

Following my first two stops on Thursday morning, Cedarwood UniServ Director Kathy Krehbiel and I headed to the Cedar Rapids campus of Kirkwood Community College.

The Kirkwood Faculty Association (KFA) conducts a monthly Faculty Rep meeting over the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) connecting (at least) three other campus locations.

KFA President Maggie Thomas (leading the session--facing us) called upon KFA leaders to share their committee work on the Kirkwood Futures Initiative/Strategic Action Framework. This discussion was only part of the agenda for KFA leaders.

Near the end of the meeting KFA President Thomas called upon guests from Delaware, DSEA President Barbara Grogg and Vice Preisdent Diane Donahue to speak briefly about their favorite son, U.S. Senator Joe Biden, candidate for President of the United States.

KFA leaders hosted a luncheon for our guests from the Delaware State Education Association (pictured below).

Breakfast at Oarkridge Elementary in Linn-Mar

Our day started early on Thursday, November 8th. East Central UniServ Directors Jeremy Kunz (on the left) and Coy Marquardt (on the right) met me at Oakridge Elementary in the Linn-Mar Community School District at 7:15 a.m. Coy had made an earlier stop at a bagel shop and brought in bagels, cream cheese and coffees for all the staff to enjoy.

Members and potential members stopped in the staff lounge to check their mail boxes, run off materials, then joined us for conversation and a special snack!

Linn-Mar co-president Carol O'Donnell (at right) greeted us at the front door to welcome us to Oakridge Elementary!

Diane Nieland (at left) also serves as co-president of the Linn-Mar EA. How lucky we are to have two great leaders that step forward to serve as leaders on Team ISEA!

It was a great opportunity to meet Team ISEA members and hear about the work they are doing in their classrooms! Thanks Carol and Diane for your leadership and thanks Oakridge Elementary for your hospitality!

I had the chance to stop in the ISEA Regional Office in Cedar Rapids following our visit to Oakridge Elementary. We have two UniServ Unit offices housed here--Cedarwood and East Central as well as three UniServ Directors--Kathy Krehbiel of Cedarwood; and Coy Marquardt and Jeremy Kunz of East Central. Key to our Cedar Rapids office are our two great support staff--Connie Esser (on the left) and Regan Bloomquist (on the right). Just as in our school buildings, our secretaries are the first voice our members hear. They are the calming voice that first walks a member through a crisis or directs them on to a UniServ Director. Thanks Connie and Regan for all you do on Team ISEA! You make Team Eastwood complete!

Wednesday Afternoon Takes Me to Cedarwood UniServ Unit

On Wednesday afternoon November 7th I was off to Cedar Rapids to the Linn Area Credit Union to be a part of the Cedar Rapids Education Associaton and Cedar Rapids Organization of Classroom Associates Faculty Rep meeting.

Gary Anhalt (at left) is the Cedar Rapids EA President and the ISEA Executive Board Representative from Cedarwood UniServ Unit.

Ray Feuss, a 4th grade teacher (at right) and CREA Membership Chair thanked the Faculty Reps for their great effort and congratulated them on a membership increase.

Cedarwood UniServ Director Kathy Krehbiel (on the left) and Cedar Rapids Assistant Superintendent Dr. Christine Rauscher (on the right) made a joint presentation to the Faculty Reps regarding attendance center professional development plans. The duo had made a similar presentation to district administrators. How about that for finding ways to partner! Nice work Kathy and CREA and nice work Cedar Rapids Community School District!

Following the various reports and presentations to the CREA/CROTA Faculty Reps, association leaders led everyone in a "World Cafe" conversation around their attendance center professional development plans. It is a rare chance that elementary, middle school and high school leaders have the opportunity to share as a group. I believe many were surprised how similiar their issues really are!

It was certainly a neat technique to facilitate discussion! Every table had poster paper and markers and tablemates added their thoughts to the paper throughout their discussion. After a certain period of time (approximately 10-15 minutes), time was called. One person from that first group stayed at the table and then would describe to the new incoming group where their discussion had taken them. Others from the table then scattered throughout the room, finding a new table to continue their conversations.

Over fifty CREA/CROTA leaders participated in the Faculty Rep meeting! The leadership of the association honors the time of their leaders too. The meeting began at 4:30 and was adjourned by 5:30 p.m. So many good things going on here in CREA and CROTA!

Following the Faculty Rep meeting, I had the chance to have dinner with a dozen leaders from Cedar Rapids. It was a great opportunity to have them share what is going in in their buildings as well as in their local.

Thanks CREA and CROTA leaders for all you do as leaders on Team ISEA! You are a great model for all Team ISEA!