GPAEA Science Specialist Tami Plein Receives ESTA Award

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At the 126th Iowa Academy of Science’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 12, in Fort Dodge, Great Prairie AEA Science Specialist, Tami Plein, was recognized and presented with the first Excellence in Science Teaching (ESTA) Award for Science Supervisory.

This is the first year for a Science Supervisory category. Nominating letters for Tami focused on her ability to work tirelessly as an innovative science teacher and as a leader, role model, and collaborative colleague and mentor for teachers throughout Great Prairie AEA.  Under her leadership a small group of teachers has grown into a network of 40 high school and 30 middle school teachers striving toward the improvement of curriculum and teaching for their students. She serves on the state science leadership team, and on the STEM Advisory Council’s Professional Development subcommittee. Tami believes effective teachers must build relationships, have good communication skills, a love of learning, exhibit the ability to assume multiple roles, and have a deep understanding of science, teaching, and learning.

Tami Plein is currently Science Specialist at Great Prairie Area Education Agency in Burlington, Iowa. She also serves as T3 National Instructor, Educational Technology Division, Texas Instruments Incorporated. From the fall of 2000 to spring 2008 she taught AP Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, Physical Science, Science Research, General Chemistry, Biology, and was Water Quality Project Coordinator at Burlington Community High School. Her teaching career began in 1982, teaching Biology, Math, and Spanish at Fairfield Community High School. She has been involved in science education since then in Mt. Pleasant, Southeastern Community College, Great Prairie Area Education Agency and Burlington. Her educational background includes a BA in Biology from Central College, and a MS in Science Education from the University of Iowa.

Congratulations Tami!

April is Occupational Therapy Month

OT webApril has been designated as Occupational Therapy Month nationally and is celebrated throughout the country.  Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants are part of an important profession that helps people across their lifespan to participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.  Their customized approach to evaluations, interventions, and outcomes help a child with disabilities participate in school and in social situations, and offer the specialized support and services to people of all ages and in all circumstances that only occupational therapy can provide.

We want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank our own Great Prairie AEA Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants for the services they provide throughout our service area.

Occupational Therapists

  • Lynn, Coppage
  • Carol Havelka
  • Marty Hudson
  • Kathy Jaske-Gardner
  • Shanah Sullivan
  • Joe Whalen

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants

  • Vonn Gould
  • Ashley Hobbs
  • Joe Hudson
  • Michelle Mihalovich
  • Deb Mueller
  • Chris Williams

Learn more about OT services from Great Prairie AEA at

GPAEA Schools in the News – April 2014

A list of the April 2014 headlines featuring a Great Prairie AEA School District:

Did we miss something? Send your school news to

Note: The articles compiled in this list come from independent media sources who are solely responsible for their content. GPAEA staff did not participate in writing any of these articles and GPAEA does not necessarily endorse the content of the articles.  Some articles may be available only by subscription.

New Director of Instructional Services Hired

Dr. Lonna Anderson

Dr. Lonna Anderson

We are pleased to announce and introduce to you the Agency’s new Director of Instructional Services, Dr. Lonna Anderson.  Dr. Anderson comes to us from her most recent position as Assistant Superintendent in the Dunlap School District #323 in Peoria, Illinois.  She is no stranger to Iowa and our area, however, as prior to moving to Illinois in 2009, she served as Curriculum Director for the Oskaloosa Community School District from 2001 – 2008.  Dr. Anderson is from Iowa and attended Ottumwa High School as she was growing up.

Director Anderson’s educational background includes a BA in Secondary Education:  Social Studies major, English and Global Studies minors from the University of Iowa; an Educational Administration Masters and Texas Mid-Management Degree from the University of Texas; an Educational Specialist and Superintendent’s Certification and a Doctorate of Education from Western Illinois University of Macomb, Illinois.

Dr. Anderson has extensive experience in leading large-scale initiatives.  Recent examples include the district-wide implementation of:  the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, Standards-based Grading, Continuous Improvement systems and tools, Response to Intervention, and Professional Learning Communities.  Dr. Anderson shares that she believes in and practices transparency, teamwork, collaboration, and shared leadership.  She is committed to ensuring a student-focused environment and data driven decision making.  She has high expectations for all students and works collaboratively to develop appropriate educational services to meet the diverse needs of all students.

Dr. Anderson will make her home in Burlington and begin her duties as our new Director in July, 2014.

GPAEA Receives Communication Awards

Great Prairie AEA received two communication awards from the Iowa School Public Relations Association last week at their spring conference in West Des Moines:

Entries had to be created for the current school year and judging is based on design/appearance, clarity/focus, quality in writing, overall effect and evaluation. A Blue & Gold Award is given for best in category. The entries were judged by the Oklahoma School Public Relations Association.

Special congratulations to Jennifer Woodley, Communication Specialist, for her work on behalf of the Agency!

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The Cornerstone – April 2014

Enjoy this month’s The Cornerstone by scrolling down or clicking on an article below.

Summer Institute 2014 – MTSS: Literacy & Student Engagement

Summer Institute 2014 Postcard_Page_1Join us for Great Prairie AEA’s 2nd Annual Summer Institute! Two outstanding keynote speakers will help educators review and plan for working in systems that involve multi-tier systems of support (MTSS) for students in the areas of early literacy and student engagement.

June 16 & June 17, 2014 • 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Register now at
No cost. Recertification Credit available. Lunch included.


Mission Possible: Teaching Literacy to All Students
Shannon Harken, Professional Learning & Leadership Consultant, Heartland AEA

Literacy includes a skill set upon which all formal education depends. Students need to be taught in an organized, systematic, efficient way by knowledgeable teachers using a well-designed instructional approach.

Secondary Systems for All
Beth Steenwyk, System Design Facilitator & Implementation Consultant

High School graduation is a significant marker of achievement in a young person’s life and a critical factor for success in postsecondary life. The journey toward graduation begins long before a student even enters secondary school. This strand will explore the following topics; challenges and solutions to creating secondary school cultures that meaningfully engage and support ALL learners.

An opportunity you don’t want to miss! 

Download the PDF flier.