Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

On Tuesday evening, April 29th after a full day of training for the outgoing NEA state presidents, I headed out to the ballpark with fellow midwest regional president from Illinois, Ken Swanson.

This is the inaugural year for the Washington Nationals in the ballpark here in Washington, D.C. Tuesday evening's game had the Nats pitted against the Atlanta Braves.

It was a crisp spring evening and the ballpark filled nearly to capacity. After hotdogs, nachos and beverages, the ballgame was underway.

One of my favorite things about taking in a new ballpark is seeing the team mascots. In the 5th inning four mascots appeared--the four U.S. Presidents that are on Mt. Rushmore! They raced around the infield to the amusement of all gathered!

Then to top it all off, at the top of the 8th inning--over the loud speaker they play "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond! Gee, I thought I was in Fenway Park (or maybe heaven)!

By the way, the Nationals won 6-3. The Nationals have won five out of their past seven games to improve to 10-17.

A Special Stop Here in Washington, D.C.

Today before Team ISEA Executive Director Jan Reinicke and I headed to a day-long meeting at the NEA building here in Washington, D.C., we were able to participate in United States Senator Tom Harkin's weekly constituent breakfast at one of ths U.S. Senate office buildings. U.S. Senator Harkin has always been considered a "friend of education" with his advocacy for students and their families and can back it up with his 100% voting record with Team NEA. Here Team ISEA Executive Director Jan Reinicke (on left) and myself are pictured with Iowa's and NEA's friend of education, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

Today, one last friend I had the chance to say "good-bye" to was one of U.S. Senator Harkin's great education staff person's, Rob Baron. Rob has been extra special to work with as he's always accessible to Team ISEA for calls from Iowa or when our NEA Directors are in Washington, D.C. to call upon the senator. Thank you Rob for your partnership in working with Team ISEA and Team NEA!

Team NEA Provides Training for Outgoing (Nearly Dead) Presidents

In February and again here in April, Team NEA provided the opportunity for two (2) all-day trainings for outgoing (or some teasingly say--nearly dead) state presidents. For many, they have come up through the ranks of their state organization and served 4-6 years as state president. These state leaders are to the point in their careers they still have much to contribute to the association and public education as their term(s) as state presidents come to an end.

For me, my two terms as Team ISEA president will come to an end on June 14, 2008. While it has been a magnificent opportunity to meet members in their worksite and put a face on Team ISEA, it will be time for me to step aside and allow our newly elected leadership team to lead.

Participating in the two training dates in Washington, D.C. are some terrific friends and mighty fine Team NEA leaders who are also leaving office (left to right): myself; Donna DeKraii, president of the South Dakota Education Association; Donna New Haschke, president of the Texas State Teachers Association; Bill Bjork, president of NEA-Alaska; and Roy Bishop (completes his terms 7/09), president of the Oklahoma Education Association. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve alongside these great state leaders!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

39th Annual Iowa Alpha Delta Kappa Convention

On Saturday, April 26th I ventured to Pella, IA for the annual Iowa Alpha Delta Kappa Convention to share my story of serving as ISEA's state president. Alpha Delta Kappa is an honorary Teacher's Sorority; I am a member of Alpha Iota chapter in Council Bluffs.

The convention was held at Graham Conference Center on the campus of Central College in Pella, Iowa. Twenty-six Iowa chapters were represented by 63 delegates at today's convention.

Beverly Fletcher (at left) state president and a member of Alpha Iota chapter, presided over today's convention. The convention received greetings from ADK International as well as from a welcome from Central College.

Presentations were made to Lions Foundation and to the student recipient of Iowa's ADK scholarship.

Dr. Kris Kilibarda (at right) an instructor at Central College and a member of Alpha Iota chapter provided the "welcome" from Central College and made my introduction.

At the break following my remarks, I had many ADK member/delegates share with me their involvement in their local education association. ADK members are also EA leaders in Cedar Rapids, Mason City, New Hampton, Charles City and Boone--to name a few! It should not have surprised me, it sure brought home what we always say, "Team ISEA". We are indeed a team!

Alpha Iota Chapter Members in attendance

Alpha Iota chapter members in attendance (from Council Bluffs); left to right--Jeanette Watson, Alpha Iota president; Marge Kilibarda, state Treasurer; Kris Kilibarda, state convention co-chair; Beverly Fletcher, state president; Linda Cooper, state convention co-chair; and me.

Final Stop on the SWUU Tour Winds Into Shenandoah

Team ISEA leader and Chair of the ISEA ESP standing committee, Toni Graham, made all the arrangements for my Thursday afternoon, April 24th visit to the Shenandoah Community School District.

Toni Graham (pictured at right) is a support staff person working with technology here in Shenandoah and is past president of the Shenandoah Support Associates (SSA) and current Chief Negotiator for her local.

The entire K-8 staff was treated to a delicious luncheon provided by the PTA for Staff Appreciation Day. Boy did I luck out on the day to visit, what a delicious treat for all!

Following lunch, Toni and I headed to the Life Skills program facility. We were greeted by teacher John Hallman who gave me a guided tour of the facility and described their program. Pictured at left is teacher associate, Marsha Stribling, with some of the students in the program. The group had just finished cleaning up after the lunch they made. John and Marsha make a dynamic team in providing a varied program to prepare students for their years beyond school.

Toni and I were next off to the Administration Building. Here the Pre-School program is housed and we had the chance to observe the children wiggling and jiggling as they danced and sang a familiar tune. I had the chance to read aloud a book selected by teacher Christine. The pre-schoolers are pictured (at right) with their teacher. Toni and I stopped in the Superintendent's office so I could introduce myself too.

We were next off to Shenandoah High School. Here we had the chance to meet many of the high school teachers in the school gym as they were conducting registration for next school year. Teachers were set at tables around the perimeter of the gym by curriculum area. Each teacher had sheets in front of them labeled for each class they would be leading in the fall. Student's (and we observed the incoming 10th grade) names were called out and they sat in order on the bleachers to await their turn to sign up. Those with the best attendance were the first in line! It was the first time they had tried this method of registration. It sure looked like it was working to me!

Our Shenandoah visit returned to the Elementary/Middle School building. In the elementary, I found myself in the 1st grade classroom of 20 year Shenandoah EA leader, Mrs. Marcia Johnson (on the left with her homeroom). I read aloud the book The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant. Mrs. Johnson then had students as a group recite a number of poems from their personal poetry collection books. My favorite was when they sang the "Shenandoah Fight Song"!

At the end of their day of instruction, staff joined us in the lounge for cookies, iced tea and conversation. Here are just a few of the three dozen folks that stopped by to greet us.

Anne Travis (above-bottom/right) joined us for a few minutes before heading back to her classroom. Anne is SWUU's representative on the ISEA Executive Board and a Talented and Gifted teacher here in Shenandoah.

Thanks Toni Graham for the great afternoon in Shenandoah! Thanks to all Shenadoah leaders on Team ISEA! It was great to see you all again! Thanks for all you do every day for Iowa's students!

SWUU Tour Begins to Wrap Up With A Visit to Clarinda EA

My final day, Thursday, April 24th of my Southwest UniServ Unit Tour began in the community of Clarinda. My day began at Garfield School, the K-8 Center for the Clarinda Community School District.

I first connected with Southwest UniServ Unit leader and Clarinda EA president, Sharon McAlpin (at left). Sharon is a Vocal Music teacher here. Sharon made arrangements for my visit today. How lucky we are to have Sharon as a leader on Team ISEA!

Eighth grader Sydney R. served as my tour guide of the Middle School portion of the building. She shared with me how not only is she involved in academics, the arts, and athletics, but she's involved in church and her community. I can see why Sydney was chosen as my guide--what a great leader!

Chris Campbell (at left) Chief Negotiator for the Clarinda EA and computer/technology teacher gave me a tour of the elementary portion of the Garfield Center. Thanks for your leadership, Chris, on Team ISEA!

In the school Media Center I was able to read aloud to a group of Kindergarten students. They are pictured (at right) with teacher/librarian Julie Cabeen.

Next, I observed teacher/librarian Julie Cabeen lead 3rd graders in a lesson using reference materials in the school Media Center.

My final classroom visit in Clarinda was in the 4th grade homeroom of Mrs. Diane Campbell. I read aloud the Chris Van Allsburg book Probuditi! The students were a great audience and enjoyed the read aloud. And as all students, they loved the mood pencils from Team ISEA!

Thank you Clarinda EA leaders and staff for your hospitality. You are providing terrific opportunities for all your students. Thanks for all you do!

Getting Roasted and Toasted Back Home in Southwest UniServ Unit

Wednesday evening, April 23rd, I thought I was to briefly address the SWUU Rep Council in Red Oak, only to was me that was to get "roasted" and "toasted" by my best pals--the SWUU leaders!

Some 65 leaders from all over southwest Iowa gathered at the Red Coach Inn in Red Oak for the annual Southwest UniServ Unit Rep Council. New leaders would be elected, local membership chairs and negotiations teams would be given their due recognition, and oh yes...they would give recognition to me--one of their own for my 4 years as ISEA president.

Tom McLaughlin (at left) Southwest UniServ Unit president and Lewis Central High School Speech and Drama teacher, led the evening meeting. Tom McLaughlin and Patti Ford headed up my two campaigns for ISEA president.

Two longtime friends from the Council Bluffs EA that joined in to "roast" me were Cheri Nielsen (left) Math teacher at Wilson Jr. High and JoAnn Tews (right) 6th grade teacher at Walnut Grove Elementary. I give credit to Cheri for taking me to my first SWUU and ISEA meetings. JoAnn and I shared many rides to Red Oak for UniServ meetings and roomed together at many NEA-RA's.

Kate Shipley (at right) one of our young, emerging SWUU leaders and high school teacher in Creston, prepared a powerpoint presentation of a collection of photos from my travels these past four years.

SWUU members presented me with a number of lovely gifts! First (at left) is a corsage made of various denominations of paper money! SWUU Executive Board member, Becky Poen, Art teacher in Stanton, made the beautiful handmade certificate that is matted and framed here too.

Another SWUU gift was this metal cat/planter. My friends know well how important my kitties are to me! This gift has already found a home outside my front door at my townhouse in Council Bluffs!

Joining in to roast me were SWUU UniServ Directors John Phillips and Pat Shipley (two of three of our SWUU Crew). They presented me packets from the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, the Omaha Chamber and various brochures from communities in southwest Iowa. If I have extra time on my hand, they felt I might need to get reacquainted with communities near home.

The third member of the SWUU Crew is SWUU's Administrative Assistant, Marilyn Paul (at right). Marilyn is the first voice our members connect with when calling the ISEA Regional Office in Red Oak. Marilyn is the calming voice that lowers the level of concern for members who have a need. SWUU members honored Marilyn on Wednesday night for Administrative Assistant's Day and the work she does every day on our behalf.

SWUU honored local EA's this evening too! Local leaders (on the left) represent local EA's that saw a membership growth in 2007-2008. Local leaders (on the right) represent SWUU locals that made their bargaining goal this year. Congratulations to all SWUU locals for increasing members and meeting bargaining goals!

As Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz often repeated, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home!" Thank you SWUU friends for your love and support, I am returning home to SWUU in June!

Gunn School Stop Wraps Up Visit in Council Bluffs

Thanks to CBEA leader and member of the Negotiations team, Carol Mattox for making arrangements for my visit to Gunn School on Wednesday afternoon, April 23rd. Carol in a Talented and Gifted teacher in the Council Bluffs Schools and Gunn is one of her assignments.

My first classroom visit at Gunn Elementary was in the 6th grade classroom of Lori Reschly. I had the students join in with first reading, then singing with me the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". I then read aloud the poem, "Casey at the Bat".

I next read to the combined group of two classes of Kindergarten students. Ms. Ruth Rysta (on left) and Ms. Melissa Taylor (on right) invited me to read aloud 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to do Anymore. I have known Ruth as a colleague for many years and it was fun to catch up (even if it was very brief)!

The last classroom visit took me into the classroom of longtime CBEA building rep, 1st grade teacher Kathleen Kruse. It was great to reconnect with this great CBEA leader today!

Thanks to all at Gunn School for your leadership in the classroom and in the association!

Returning Home to Council Bluffs Community Schools

On Wednesday afternoon, April 23rd, I visited Longfellow Elementary on the south side of town. Years ago I taught at Peterson Elementary on the south end, so today's visit was like returning home.

Council Bluffs EA president Sara Dressel (on left) and English Language Learning teacher, made arrangements for my visit to Longfellow today. The CBEA hosted a pizza luncheon for the entire Longfellow staff on Wednesday.

Several dozen staff stopped in for pizza and conversation. Pictured (on right) are two Longfellow teachers and CBEA leaders.

Visiting Longfellow gave me the chance to reconnect with longtime friend/colleague Cindy Goetzmann. Cindy (on left) taught 4th grade at Peterson Elementary when I was a 6th grade teacher there. Cindy has taught 6th grade here at Longfellow and now teaches 1st grade. It was great to see Cindy again! A most pleasant surprise today was reconnecting with a former 6th grade student at Carter Lake Elementary and now a Special Education teacher here at Longfellow, Danielle (Eggett) Alcaraz (on right). It is so exciting to welcome a former student into the profession!

Following our pizza luncheon, I had the opportunity to read in all three 1st grade classrooms. The first visit took me into the homeroom of Cindy Goetzmann. Here (on right) Cindy is pictured with her 1st graders.

Next, I was invited to read to Kelli Reese's 1st grade homeroom. It was a most inviting classroom! Here (on left) Kelli is pictured with her 1st grade class.

The final classroom visit took me into the homeroom of Barb Schmid. Barb had her students first demonstrate a song to give emphasis of an earlier Language lesson. Here Ms. Schmid is pictured (on right) with her 1st graders.

Thank you Sara Dressel for your leadership in CBEA and Team ISEA! Thanks to the entire staff at Longfellow for a warm, welcoming visit!

Lewis Central Schools Visits Leads to Titan Hill Intermediate School

My Wednesday, April 23rd, began in Lewis Central Community School District at Titan Hill Intermediate School. Nearly four dozen members gathered for bagels and juice along with the chance to have conversation with their colleagues. Thanks to all who joined us before your school day began!

Lewis Central is a growing school district on the edge of Council Bluffs. Titan Hill has a student population of 2nd through 5th grade students. Each grade level has at least nine (9) homeroom classes!

LCEA past president and 5th grade teacher, Maggie Bennett (seated in the middle/black blouse) extended the invitation for my visit and made all arrangements for the morning. I had the chance to read to Maggie's homeroom. Maggie is an enthusiastic teacher/leader and we're so lucky to have her as a leader on Team ISEA!

Next I read in the 3rd grade homeroom of Mrs. Susan Drustrup. Mrs. Drustrup (back row/black t-shirt) is pictured with her 3rd grade homeroom. What a great bunch of students! Thanks Susan for your leadership in the classroom and in the association!

The last classroom visit at Titan Hill was to the homeroom of Ms. Joanna Stenlund. After reading aloud to Ms. Stenlund's 2nd grade, I captured this photo (on right) of Joanna and her homeroom.

Before leaving Titan Hill, I connected with someone I saw as I entered the building. Mrs. Tammy (Fiala) Stephens, a former 6th grade student of mine at Peterson Elementary, was volunteering time with other parents in the school's Book Fair. Tammy and her sister, Cindy, have been extra special former students. When they graduated from high school, college, got married, had babies--they invited me to their family celebrations! Tammy (and husband Todd's) daughter, Amanda, is a 5th grader here at Titan Hill Intermediate School.

Thank you Titan Hill and LCEA members for all you do for Iowa's students!