Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dancing Across Iowa

Now this is one way to see all the great sites across the state of Iowa!

Watch the YouTube video of Where in Iowa is Jeff?

Road to MBUU Locals Leads Us to Durant

Our Thursday morning led MBUU Director Lynette Claeys and I to Durant to visit several classrooms in the Middle and Elementary schools.

After checking in the office, we stopped by the Art classroom of Dawn Cunningham (pictured at right). The 6th graders in Dawn's Art class were using tools to cut into linoleum for print making. There were some pretty intent looking faces! The projects were very detailed and will make some awesome prints!

Dawn made arrangements for our visit today. Thanks, Dawn!

We were next off to the classroom of Sandy Allender. Sandy (on the left) is pictured with MBUU Director Lynette Claeys (on the right). Sandy teaches 5th and 6th grade Math, Reading and English. Half of her day is spent working with the 6th grade, the other half with 5th graders. She shared how she love "looping"--where she works with the same students in 5th grade and again when they are 6th graders.

I spoke briefly to the class then we had the chance to observe Sandy working hand-in-hand with a Special Education teacher in their Math class. Today's lesson was on improper fractions. One teacher took the role of Ms. Pictoral and drew pictures to make sense of the Math lesson. The other teacher took on the role of Ms. "Anna" lytical where she went directly to a mathmatical equation to solve the problem. The team of teachers working together was a great example of how "inclusion" can work!

The last classroom we had the chance to visit was that of Katie Rezac. Katie (pictured at left) leads a Level 3 classroom. This is Katie's first year here in Durant. Previously Katie taught a Life Skills class for 2 years in Tipton. The Durant Community Schools had paid tuition for the students in Katie's room (now) to participate in classes in other districts. Now the students whose homes are in the Durant district are here in their home school district.

As the class period came to an end, students from general education classes entered the room to walk with students in Katie's room to the next class where they would be in the same classroom next hour. Neat things are going on here in Katie's room and in the Durant Community Schools!

The last important "student" that we met was Kirby (short, black furry guy here on the right). Kirby belongs to the school principal and he's a "therapy" dog. Mrs. Rezac shared with us that when Kirby comes into their classroom and lies down in the front of the room, students gather around and read to him or do their Math facts for him. Like I said, great things are going on in the Durant Community Schools!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NEA Member Benefit Partners Make Presentation Before Quad City School Districts

At the end of the school day today educators and district administrators in the Quad-City metro area gathered at the Pleasant Valley High School Media Center to hear about IRS changes.

John Roloff (from left to right), Craig Schutte, and Kent Schutte all from Educators Financial Services, Inc. presented changes to 403(b) and on 457 compliance.

School Superintendents, Business Managers, Association bargainers as well as teachers and support staff attended the hour long information session.

It was great to see our NEA Member Benefit partners have the opportunity to share their knowledge of recent IRS changes to area educators!

Mississippi Bend UniServ Unit Tour Begins in North Scott Community Schools

Mississippi Bend UniServ Director Lynette Claeys and I started our day today in the North Scott Community Schools at Neil Armstrong Elementary.

Our first classroom stop was in the Kindergarten classroom of Joyce Orcutt. Joyce is a long-time association leader and continues to serve Team ISEA on the ISEA-PAC Central Committee.

Today I read the book 17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore to Joyce's Kindergarten class. The students were great listeners and often gasped at the many things the main character did!

The second classroom stop was in the Special Education classroom of teacher Jodie Brotherton. Jodie shared with us the difference her direct instruction using "Corrective Reading" by SRA is making with her students. She then demonstrated a lesson with 5th grade student Bryce (pictured at left). Jodie's students have made tremendous growth using this technique over their scores from last school year!

Mrs. Brotherton worked with 4th grade student Paul (at right) on word recognition. Paul demonstrated his skills in "chunking" word parts.

There are great things happening here at Neil Armstrong Elementary! I am always so impressed in how teachers know each and every one of their students strengths and what skills they need to focus their instruction on. Thanks for your leadership in the classroom and in the association, Joyce and Jodie!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Return Trip to Children's Village West in Davenport

On Tuesday morning, January 29th as Great River UniServ Director Linda Schneider and I arrived at Children's Village West, this (below) is what nearly knocked us off our feet!

The children's giggles were infectious! They were all so intent in peddling, they weren't really watching where they were going! Doesn't this look like fun?!

Children's Village West had originally been built as a grocery store! Four years ago the Davenport Community School District opened the doors to numerous pre-school programs here all under one roof! The center part of the building is where the multi-purpose room is located with classrooms around the outside rim.

Today we were here to visit the classroom of long-time DEA activist and a first class educator, Nancy Gesy (pictured with me on the left). UniServ Director Schneider and I had the chance to observe Nancy direct instruction to high school Juniors and Seniors from the three Davenport high schools.

Ms. Gesy's lesson walked the high schoolers through a music activity where all gathered in a circle and proceeded to sing and act out the various gestures to go along with the song. The students then all moved to tables where they wrote out the activity on to cards in which this activity will be added to their collections. Their cards included not only the step by step process, but materials needed, and benchmark/goals.

Before we (Great River UniServ Director Linda Schneider on the left)moved on to another classroom, Nancy Gesy led her dozen students into the room of toddlers where the high school leaders snuggled up to read with individual children! The high school students are gaining tremendous skills not only to make them terrific parents, but to prepare them for a profession to work with children!

Our last classroom visit introduced us to Shirley McLemore (pictured at right). Shirley is a "coach" for the Fast Forward program. The Davenport Community School District secured a technology grant for all five Children's Village centers to have the youngest students have the opportunity to use computers.

Coaches Shirley and Julie here at Children's Village West have done preliminary work--working with students on matching games and shapes to prepare them for their first visit to the computer lab.

Thanks for your leadership to all Team Davenport EA here at Children's Village West. You have such exciting opportunities for all your students!

Davenport EA Holds Monthly Faculty Rep Meeting

On Monday afternoon, January 28th I drove to Davenport in time for their 4:15 p.m. monthly Faculty Rep meeting held at North High School. As I entered the Media Center the first to greet me was Davenport Community School District Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Julio Almanza. Mr. Almanza addressess the DEA Faculty Rep meeting each month! He is pictured here with Davenport EA President Jodie Tupper.

As Davenport EA Faculty Reps arrived they had the opportunity to purchase snacks and beverages--the entire profit going to help with expenses for DEA members when attending ISEA and NEA events.

I was very impressed with the many reports presented by leaders within the DEA! Five years ago Team ISEA began the process of realigning our state committees. Team ISEA has four state committees in which it was our hope this would be mirrored throughout the organization--at the UniServ Unit level as well as at the Local EA level. Well, Davenport EA--BRAVO! Committee leaders reported from all four committees!

The Davenport EA does so many things right! How lucky we are to have great, dedicated leaders serving Team ISEA! Thanks for all you do DEA leaders!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lincolnway Tour Wraps Up With Visit to Audubon

The snow was flying, but as all good Iowans...we are hearty folk and braved the elements with a visit to Audubon on Wednesday afternoon.

Once each month the Audubon High School staff brings dishes for a noontime potluck. We are in luck, they had their monthly lunch of homemade goodies to share with us on Wednesday!

We walked our lunch off with a tour of the new addition! Giving us a tour of the building was Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Brett Gibbs. The building that once housed only the High School is now also home to the Middle School. Beautiful new classrooms for the Middle Schoolers and an all new Media Center were some of the highlights of the tour! We also were guests in the 5th grade classroom of Nicki Olsen. The 5th graders all did a shared reading for Black History Month which highlighted parts of famous speeches. The students did an awesome job!

One more school to visit! UniServ Director Myron and I were next off to Audubon Elementary. The elementary also had some major renovations and additions! I had the chance to read to Monica Jones' class in the new Media Center. The center is a most inviting area!

Just off to one side of the elementary Media Center is the school's Computer Lab. Here we had a chance to see the 4th grade class of Chris Jensen practice their keyboarding skills.

On the right I am pictured with longtime friend and association leader, Chris Jensen. Chris is a 4th grade teacher at Audubon Elementary.

Our day ended back at Audubon High School in the Vocal Music room of Gary Kellar. Gary (pictured on the left) is a longtime member of ISEA-PAC Central Committee.

Members of the Audubon EA gathered in Gary's room for an association meeting at the end of their school day.

Audubon EA President LaDona Jergenson (seated at left) led the monthly meeting of the Audubon EA. In addition to her local leader role, LaDona serves as the Lincolnway UniServ Rep on the ISEA Executive Board. Thanks LaDona for your leadership on Team ISEA!

Thanks to all in Audubon for the great afternoon. You have much to be proud of in your growing school district! Thanks for all you do for Iowa's students!

Wednesday Begins In IKM

On Wednesday, January 23rd our day began in Manilla at the IKM Middle School. I was the guest speaker for the entire student body of 5th through 8th graders and my topic, leadership and responsibilities! They were a friendly audience and the teachers helped out a great deal by adding additional avenues for the conversation to head.

I had met many of the teachers the night before in Manning at the reception for the beginning of a new era where Manning and IKM will join as one district next year. It was great to see the teachers on their own "turf" doing their magic, working with students!

The Lincolnway UniServ Unit Tour continued in IKM with a visit to the elementary building in Irwin. Here I had the chance to read a "p" book on penguins to Bonnie Cairney's Pre-School class. They were just so cute!

Next, I read to Sally Simdorn’s class who had a substitute teacher for the day. Here are the classroom of 4th graders (on the left)!

The next read aloud was in the homeroom of Jennifer Rasmussen. Jennifer and her 1st grade are pictured on the right.

Next, I read aloud to Tanya Gaer's homeroom. Tanya and her 2nd graders are pictured on the left.

The final classroom read aloud here in Irwin was in the homeroom of Dian Schmiedeskamp. Dian and her 1st graders are pictured on the right.

Thanks for your hospitality, IKM! Your students are receiving a top-notch education because of your leadership! Thanks for all you do for Iowa's students!

A Reception Honoring Two Districts Entering a New Era

At the end of our day on Tuesday, January 22nd, the association road led us to Manning High School. The Manning EA hosted a reception in the Media Center for teachers in the IKM Community Schools (Irwin, Kirkman, and Manilla) to meet their teachers as next school year begins a new era for them....they will join together as one district.

Nearly forty teachers from the combined two districts attended. There was time for introductions, conversation and snacks!

This evening also marked the last time that Manning and IKM basketball teams would face off on the court as opponents. The FFA was hosting a spaghetti dinner prior to the start of the game too.

Association leaders explained to us that they have been sharing programs in High School for a number of years as well as jointly conducting staff development. It was fun to listen in on conversations as planning was taking place with teachers that will be working alongside one another next school year!

One last photo for the day(below) of the joint leadership of IKM EA and Manning EA. From left to right-- Nancy Kloewer, IKM EA; myself; Jinny Rasmussen, IKM EA; and Kathy Lage, Manning EA.

We wish you the best as you continue down the path of building greater opportunities for all your students. You are to be held up as models for so many other districts that are in the intial stages of sharing.

Thanks for all you do as instructional leaders as well as for your leadership on Team ISEA!

Tuesday Afternoon Takes us to Carroll

Following a full morning in the ArWeVa Community Schools, Lincolway UniServ Director Myron Halverson and I were off to Carroll.

Our first afternoon stop was at Carroll Middle School where we had the chance to drop in on four different 7th grade homerooms and talk about the importance of assessments; ITBS in particular.

We next were given a tour of the Carroll Middle School, then had a chance to sit and visit with the 7th grade team of Karen Schouten, LaJean Olson, Jolene Stork, Katie McQueen, and Barb Hoffman as they finished their lunches.

Before heading out, I spoke to Dale Schmidt's 8th grade social studies class. The students had prepared questions for me about the role of ISEA for Iowa's educators as well as on the impact state government has on Iowa's schools.

Back in the van and off to Fairview Elementary where I read aloud to Jewel Proctor's 1st grade. Here Mrs. Proctor is pictured (on the right) with her students.

Next stop, Adams Elementary to read to Tonia Onken's class. For a late in the afternoon visit on a snowy Iowa day...the children really involved themselves in the read aloud and we had a delightful time!

We returned to Carroll Middle School to speak to Jana Rector’s homeroom class on "leadership and responsibility" before the end of the school day. As students left, I sat down with the Carroll newspaper for an interview.

Thanks, Carroll EA for the invitation to visit. It was a treat to meet you all and see the great things going on in your classrooms!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lincolnway Tour Begins in ArWeVa

On Tuesday, January 22nd, Lincolnway UniServ Director Myron Halverson and I headed to Westside to a before school reception (at 7:15 a.m.) with the ArWeVa EA. The communities of Arcadia, Westside and Vail make up the ArWeVa Community School District. Pictured here (on the right) is ArWeVa EA President Dan Spooner. Dan is a Technology Specialist both in ArWeVa and Coon Rapids/Bayard. Thanks, Dan for your leadership on Team ISEA!

ArWeVa EA members stopped in at the High School building on this wintry Iowa morning before heading to their classrooms throughout the district. We enjoyed pastries, coffee, juice and conversation!

UniServ Director Myron and I were next off to Vail to visit elementary classrooms and read aloud a favorite book.

The first classroom visit took me to the Pre-K room of Janet Edward (below on left). Next we were off to the 1st grade room of Jane Clarke (pictured on the right).

The last classroom visits here in Vail was to the 2nd grade classrooms of Pam Dunsmore (on the left-below) and Lori Oeser (on the right).

Our last stop in the ArWeVa Community Schools is in Arcadia. Here UniServ Director Myron carries in the box of ISEA pencils! The "mood" pencils are always popular with students and leave a reminder behind that ISEA works hard so all Iowa students have a great public school!

Classroom visits here in Arcadia included reading to Ruth Noelck's 5th grade (on left, above) along with school principal Rosemary Cameron Kunze. Donna Ricker's 4th grade is on the right.

Final classroom stops included Lodean Kastner's 3rd grade (on the left, above) and the Phys Ed class of Dayne Teske (on the right).

Our visits to all three communities of ArWeVa gave us a great start to my Lincolnway UniServ Unit tour! Thanks to all ArWeVa EA members for opening your classrooms to visitors to see the magic you do every day!