The Cornerstone – September 2012

The September 2012 issue of The Cornerstone is now available! Scroll down to read articles or click on titles below. Enjoy!

Click here to download a PDF copy of the September Issue

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True Partners in Education

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Dr. Jon Sheldahl, Chief Administrator,

For most of its nearly 40 year history, Iowa’s area education agencies have focused on the mission that was prescribed by the original legislation that created those agencies in 1974.  The Iowa AEA’s were created to assure that every student, regardless of zip code, family income, or disability would get access to a free and appropriate public education.  The agencies were to organize around three different divisions, special education, education services, and media.  Until recently, agencies performed those functions with little need for adapting to changing education landscape.  Special education services assured that students were protected by the procedural safeguards that assured access to a free and appropriate public education.  Education services consultants planned and implemented teacher and administrator training workshops and attempted to respond to the professional development needs that were presented by local school districts.  Media services created distribution systems that pooled resources so that all districts had access to expanded collections of educational materials.  These were the functions for which AEAs were created and, over the years, each agency became quite proficient at performing those functions.  Nowhere in that original legislation did it say that AEAs were to be charged with improving student achievement.  My how times have changed.

AEAs today have suddenly found themselves being asked to perform a very different function and it is causing us to stretch and grow in ways that couldn’t have been imagined a few short years ago.  No longer can we be satisfied with assuring that students and educators have access to the services they need to provide a free and appropriate education.  We now share a collective responsibility with the districts we serve to see that all children are learning at high levels.  Like local school districts, our mission has become less about access and more about outcomes.  Just as it is no longer acceptable for school districts to say, “We teach it, it’s the kid’s responsibility to learn it,” it is also no longer acceptable for AEA’s to say, “We provide the services, it’s up to someone else to see that those services translate into high levels of student learning.”  This is a paradigm shift that is causing some pain, but it is growing pain and that’s a good thing.

So how can AEAs and local districts grow together in a way that allows us to all take responsibility for student learning?  The first and most important thing we must all do is share in the moral imperative of student learning.  We have a moral responsibility to put faces on the data and work together to make sure that all students get the instructional interventions and learning supports they need to successfully transition into adulthood.  That is OUR responsibility no matter who our employer is.  The second thing we must all do is to recognize that it is the adults in the system who have to change before the kids change.  For many years, we have focused on fixing kids in the system.  It’s misguided effort.  Learning is much more a result of the instructional task that is designed than it is a function of student ability.  AEA and LEA educators need to work together to design quality tasks for students and then to specially design further interventions for students who do not perform proficiently during core instruction.  Finally, we can all work together to improve how we collect and use data in the classroom.  All of us need to be quicker and more efficient users of not only student performance data, but teacher data as well.  We can help one another measure what it is that the adults in the system are really doing (not what we say we are doing, because those are often two different things).

If we are going to meet the charge that has been set before us, we can no longer take an “it’s not my job” stance toward owning student outcomes.  I challenged AEA staff on opening day to “be where the learning is” and that’s in the buildings and in the classrooms.  AEA’s are as exposed to external accountability for student learning as is any local school district.  We are all partners in education regardless of who signs our paycheck.  Let’s grow together this year and truly team up to meet the needs of all kids.  Have a great year!

2012-13 Professional Development Courses

Register for these courses online using the GPAEA Course Catalog.

Mentoring and Induction Dates

Ottumwa Year One Mentors:
*Day 1:  August 7 9:00-4:00
Day 2:  August 8  9:00-4:00
Day 3 :  October 22  9:00-3:30
Day 4:  February 6  9:00-3:30
Day 5:  April 11  9:00-3:30
*Mentees are invited for the first day of training in Year 1 only.  Lunch will be provided for year 1 day 1 only!

Ottumwa Year Two Mentors:
Day 1:  September 13  9:00-3:00
Day 2:  November 6   9:00-3:00
Day 3:  March 4  9:00-3:00

Burlington Year One Mentors:
*Day 1:  August 7  9:00-4:00
Day 2:  August 8   9:00-4:00
Day 3 :  October 1  9:00-3:30
Day 4:  January 29   9:00-3:30
Day 5:  April 9   9:00-3:30
*Mentees are invited for the first day of training in Year 1 only.  Lunch will be provided for year 1 day 1 only!

Burlington Year Two Mentors:
Day 1:  September 12  9:00-3:00
Day 2:  November 15   9:00-3:00
Day 3:  March 12  9:00-3:00

Para Educator Dates

In order to be certified as a para educator, all three classes must be completed.

Para Educator Course 1 Ottumwa GPAEA
August 6   8:00-1:00 PM
August 7   8:00-1:00  PM
August 8   8:00-1:00  PM

Para Educator Course 1 Burlington GPAEA
February 6   4:00-8:30 PM
February 13  4:00-8:30 PM
February 20  4:00-8:30 PM

Para Educator Course 2 Ottumwa GPAEA
August 30   5:00-9:00 PM
September 6   5:00-9:00 PM
September 13   5:00-9:00 PM

Para Educator Course 2 Burlington GPAEA
March 6  4:00-8:30 PM
March 13  4:00-8:30 PM
March 20  4:00-8:30 PM

Para Educator Course 3 Ottumwa GPAEA
September 27   5:00-9:00 PM
October 4   5:00-9:00 PM
October 11  5:00-9:00 PM

Para Educator Course 3 Burlington GPAEA
April 3 4:00-8:30 PM
April 10  4:00-8:30 PM
April 17 4:00-8:30 PM

Para Educators in Early Childhood Settings Burlington (Must hold a para certificate for this class)

  • September 8  9:00-2:00 PM
  • September 15  9:00-2:00 PM
  • September 22  9:00-2:00 PM
  • September 29  9:00-2:00 PM
  • October 8  9:00-2:00 PM

Para Educator Certification Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration:  Special Needs – Burlington  (must hold a generalist para certificate)

  • Oct. 13  5:00-9:00 PM
  • Oct. 15 9:00-4:00 PM
  • Oct. 18  5:00-9:00 PM
  • Oct. 20 9:00-4:00 PM
  • Oct. 22  5:00-9:00 PM
  • Oct. 29  5:00-9:00 PM
  • Nov. 1  5:00-9:00 PM
  • Nov. 5.  5:00-9:00 PM
  • Nov. 8  5:00-9:00 PM
  • Nov. 12  5:00-9:00 PM

Assessing Academic Rigor Evaluator Approval III Dates

Evaluator III Assessing Academic Rigor Burlington
August 30  8:00-4:30
August 31  8:00-4:30
September 18  8:00-4:30
September 26  8:00-4:30

Evaluator III Assessing Academic Rigor Ottumwa
October 31 8:00-4:30
November 5 8:00-4:30
November 19  8:00-4:30
November 26  8:00-4:30

Substitute Authorization Dates

Substitute Authorization Ottumwa
August 23   5:00-9:00 PM
August 30  5:00-9:00 PM
September 6  5:00-9:00 PM
September 13  5:00-9:00 PM
September 20  5:00-9:00 PM

Substitute Authorization Burlington
August 28  4:30-8:30 PM
August 30  4:30-8:30 PM
September 4  4:30-8:30 PM
September 6  4:30-8:30 PM
September 11  4:30-8:30 PM

Please contact our office with further questions:

Katie Gavin, Coordinator of Media & Professional Development
800-382-8970 Ext. 1267 Burlington & Ottumwa Office

Julie Hannam, Registrar
800-622-0027 Ext. 5239 Ottumwa Office

Megan Cramblet, Professional Development Secretary
800-382-8970 Ext. 1261 Burlington Office

Student Events 2012-13

Future Problem Solving
January 22, 2013
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA

Young Writers’ Conference
Secondary Day (7-12) – March 5, 2013
William Penn University, Oskaloosa, IA

Young Writers’ Conference
Elementary Day (3-6) – March 6, 2013
William Penn University, Oskaloosa, IA

History Day
March 19
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA

Math Bee
– TBD –

Summer Enrichment
Iowa Wesleyan College, Mt. Pleasant, IA,
June- 10-20, 2013

Summer Enrichment
Southeastern Community College, West Burlington, IA
June 24-July 5, 2013

Questions? Contact Shannon Johnson at or 800-382-8970 ext. 1136

Science Support Available

Tami Plein

Rosemary Peck

Great Prairie AEA Science Specialists, Tami Plein and Rosemary Peck, are here to help schools provide high-quality instruction in science for your students. Science Literacy Services include: Iowa Core curriculum development, alignment, assessment, instructional strategies, and resources; support for professional learning communities and data teams; inquiry science, backwards design lesson planning, and formative assessment professional development; kit-based science instruction; district/school-site instructional strategies assistance & follow-up; walk-through support and classroom visits.

Please contact to schedule a meeting or if you need any assistance:

Tami Plein, or 800-382-8970, ext. 1162
Rosemary Peck, or 319-385-9005, ext. 3012

Science areas of focus:

  1. Support Iowa Core Literacy. Science is a great place to help teach for transfer.  “…when literacy skills are linked to science content, students have a personal and practical motivation to master language as a tool that can help them answer their questions about the world around them” (Thier, 2002).  Research indicates that using an interdisciplinary or integrated curriculum provides opportunities for more relevant, less fragmented, and more stimulating experiences for learners.
  2. Iowa Core Science Standards.  Have you been following the current development of the Next Generation Science standards?  Iowa is one of the leading states and has pledged to give “serious consideration to adopting the resulting Next Generation Science Standards as presented.”  These standards look quite different from the current Iowa Core standards in not only their format, but with the inclusion of engineering practices.  If your district is in the process of developing/revisiting your science curriculum, it is a good idea to have your teachers contact Rosemary and Tami to help you with this process.

Quick Facts: Do your science teachers know…?

  • In the Iowa Core English Language Arts legislation there is a separate section on reading and writing standards for science?
  • Iowa is one of 26 lead states that have pledged to give “serious consideration to adopting the resulting Next Generation Science Standards as presented”?
  • The public will have another opportunity to provide input into the Next Generation Science Standards Fall of 2012?
  • There is an email list serve available through GPAEA that provides information concerning science-related grad and relicensure classes, student enrichment opportunities, grants, and resources?
  • Only 1.5% of 25-34 year-olds in the workplace gained a higher education degree in a science related field, putting the U.S. in the bottom third of all OECD countries? (April 2012 report from the Jobs Council to the President)

You Have Options with GPAEA Media!

With Great Prairie AEA’s Media Center YOU have options! We provide print and digital content in an assortment of mediums, ranging from K-12 books, audio books, professional books and materials, journals and videos.

Using SNAP, our online catalog, educators can reserve media items for delivery throughout the school year. Orders should be placed at least a week in advance. The AEA provides weekly van delivery to public and accredited nonpublic schools. Check with your van contact or the AEA media site for van schedules.

Educators are provided a member username/password by the Media Center. Contact us directly at or phone 800-622-0027 x5264 with any questions.

K-12 Print: 

  • Trade/Library books (thousands of titles with multiple copies – both fiction and nonfiction)
  • Audio Books (including the new Playaways – preloaded audio players)
  • Boxed Book sets (up to ten copies of a single title)
  • Big Books (over 600 different titles)
  • Checkout period of six weeks.

K-12 Non-print: 

  • Study kits/Multi-media (1000 different items including history, science and literacy book props)
  • Assistive Tech resources
  • Checkout period of two weeks.

Professional materials:

  • Journals (over 60 print journals)
  • Professional Books
  • Professional Non-print including DVD, Audio and Video

Digital Video: 

  • Over 500 titles from independent producers are available using our TOMMs player in SNAP. Educators can stream or download content from this GPAEA Digital Video Collection.
  • Learn360 digital video can be searched through the SNAP catalog, as well.
  • NBC Learn

Digital Audio: 

  • Downloadable audio books from Recorded Books can be downloaded to Mp4 players or listened to via the computer and SNAP.
  • Learn360 digital audio clips (music, speeches) can be searched through the SNAP catalog, as well.

Digital Images: 

  • Learn360 digital images can be searched through the SNAP media catalog.


  • Simultaneous, multi-user access to eBooks – K-12 science / history titles. Search through SNAP.

K-12 Online Databases:

Students are provided username/password access for these subscription online databases. All available at school, at home or anywhere else they may have access to the Internet. Check with your teacher librarian or the AEA Media Center for more information.

Iowa AEA Online:

Funded by Iowa’s Area Education Agencies for K-12 students, the following online databases are available from the IAO site –

  • AEA Digital Library – Iowa’s Area Education Agencies are pleased to offer you access to a growing collection of K-12+ educational digital media resources.
  • AP Images – You and your students have access to over two million contemporary or historical photographs and images dating back to 1826 up to minutes ago from Associated Press photographers.
  • Atomic Learning –Video clip tutorials cover hundreds of software & web2.0 products. Atomic Learning’s 21st Century Skills Collection includes professional development resources and curriculum materials to empower educators to integrate 21st century skills into the classroom. Educator accounts have been provided for teachers.
  • BookFlix – Interactive literacy resource pairs classic fictional video storybooks from Weston Woods with nonfiction eBooks from Scholastic to reinforce reading skills and develop essential real-world knowledge and understanding.
  • Britannica Digital Learning – A suite of encyclopedia databases for K-12 students.
  • CultureGrams – Cultural and statistical snapshots of every country recognized by the United Nations — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
  • iClipart for Schools – Access over 7 million clipart images and fonts
  • Gale-Cengage Learning – A series of journal databases including Academic One File for educators’ professional use and multiple options for students including: General One File, InfoTrac Student Edition, Health and Wellness Resource Center, InfoTrac Junior Edition, Kids InfoBits
  • Learn360 – Top educational publishers include A&E/History/Bio, PBS, National Geographic, Sunburst Visual Media, Reading Rainbow, Britannica Concise Encyclopedia and many more. The videos are also searchable through SNAP, the AEA online media catalog. Educator accounts are provided with access to playlists and slideshow resources.
  • SIRS Issues Researcher – Relevant, credible resources aligned to learning standards that tell the whole story on the major issues of the day.
  • Soundzabound – Download copyright free music tracks that your students can use in developing podcasts, blogs and presentations.
  • Teen Health & Wellness – This award-winning resource provides students with non-judgmental, straightforward, standards-aligned, curricular and self-help support.

Additional GPAEA Online Database:

Funded by Great Prairie AEA for K-12 students, the following online database is also available from the AEA Media page:

  • PowerKnowledge – Life Science (3-8)
  • PowerKnowledge – Earth & Space (3-8)
  • PowerKnowledge – Physical Science (3-8) 
  • CyberSmarts (3-7) 
  • CQ Researcher
  • Visual Thesaurus
  • OneClickDigital (downloadable teen audio books)

Download a copy of “You Have Options”

Great Prairie AEA – YOUR AEA!

The 2012-13 school year is in full swing and we are excited to partner with you to make a difference for southeast Iowa students! We want to make sure that you are informed of programs, services, courses and news throughout the year and the easiest way to do that is through social media, so take a minute to ‘Like’ GPAEA on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter.

Get to know Great Prairie AEA – YOUR AEA!

  • Not sure where to start? Download ‘An Educators Guide to GPAEA’ for information about our services, programs and the Iowa AEA system or visit our Teachers page to get started!
  • Did you know GPAEA serves 33 school districts and 6 non-public school districts? Approximately 300 staff members provide service in three regions to over 36,000 students and 3,700 administrators and teachers. Check out our 6,360 square mile service area and find your region! GPAEA Regions & School Districts
  • Download or search our Directory for a complete listing of staff members and school districts. Please note our email addresses are

If at anytime you can’t find what you need or have a question contact us on Facebook or email Have a great and successful year!

Apply for STEM Scale-Up Programs NOW!

Learn more at

To help improve learner interest and achievement in STEM area, 12 STEM programs were selected through a competitive process to be “scaled-up” in Iowa. Our state has been divided into six regions each headquartered by a “Hub.” Each Hub houses a Regional Manager and an Advisory Board, and it is their job to get these great programs into the hands of educators and learners within their regions. 

Briefly, the programs span elementary, middle and high school levels; many can be implemented during the school day while several of the others are best suited for before or after-school programs; some programs provide either stipends for teachers/coaches or curriculum materials or both; and many of the programs also provide a level of training related to the provided materials.  Attached you will find a short summary of each of the 12 programs with a link to their respective websites.

The scale-up programs will be awarded to local educators, both formal and informal, on a competitive basis. A brief application follows. [Please note this is not a monetary grant application. All financial arrangements are taken care of by the Regional Managers.] A scoring rubric follows the application, for your information.

The application deadline is September 14, 2012. Selected applicants will be notified by October 1, 2012, and can immediately commence implementation. Applications are done online at:

Online Courses from Drake University Extension Education

Need EDMA credit? Check out the three online courses developed by Drake University Extension Education: Anti-Bullying, Human Relations, and Teacher Leadership Strategies.

All three are offered this fall and still have seats available. Teacher Leadership Strategies is the newest course and will be offered for the first time starting on October 15. All of these courses are offered for three hours of EDMA credit and are affordable ($550, not including the text).

For more information about these and other online offerings, please visit Drake University’s online course web page at:

PDF – ExtensionEducationOnline

Register Now for RESPECT Training in Fairfield

View the RESPECT Training flier Sept. 2012 for more information about materials and credit.

RESPECT in the IEP Process: Recognizing Everyone’s Strengths by Peace building, Emphasizing, Communicating and Trust Building

RESPECT is a four-day curriculum designed to teach IEP team members, including parents, special educators, general educators, service providers, and administrators a number of skills to prevent conflict that can typically arise in IEP team meetings. Participants learn to meaningfully resolve differences that arise in ways that build, grow, and preserve relationships. Each session builds on the skills and concepts learned to teach IEP team members how to resolve differences early on, and strengthen working relationships between families and schools. Participants become more comfortable and proficient with conflict resolution and early stages.

The training days are spread out to allow participants time to absorb the material they’ve learned, complete brief assignments, practice skills and reflect on their practice. Participants are expected to attend all four sessions. 

RESPECT Class in Fairfield, IA
Participants are expected to attend all 4 days of the class

  • Monday, September 10th 8:30 a.m.— 4:30 p.m. 
  • Monday, October 1st 8:30 a.m.— 4:30 p.m. 
  • Monday, November 12th 8:30 a.m.— 4:30 p.m. 
  • Monday, December 3rd 8:30 a.m.— 4:30 p.m. 

Contact ASK Resource Center to Register!
515-243-1713 or 

GPAEA Welcomes New Staff

Great Prairie AEA is excited for the 2012-13 school year and our new staff members! Help us welcome the following professionals to GPAEA:

Dee Carlson, Audiometrist, Mt. Pleasant Office

Megan Chan, Speech‐Language Pathologist, Ottumwa Office

Kate Cole, School Psychologist, Mt. Pleasant Office

Megan Cramblet, Professional Development Secretary, Burlington Office

Michelle Cross, School Psychologist, Fairfield Office

Janice Dix, Special Education Consultant, Oskaloosa Office                 _

Erika Ensminger, Speech‐Language Pathologist, Ottumwa Office

Laura Farrington, Physical Therapy Assistant, Fairfield Office

Denrita Harris, Teacher of Hearing Impaired, Ottumwa Office       _                                     _

Teresa (Teri) Hockenson, Special Education Consultant, Albia Office

Joe Hudson, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Ottumwa Office

Marty Hudson, Occupational Therapist, Ottumwa Office       _                                       _

John Kerr, Mathematics Specialist, Burlington Office

Michelle Klas, Early Childhood Behavior Intervention Project Coordinator Assistant, Oskaloosa Office

Liz Long, Reading Specialist, Burlington Office _                             _                             _                             _                             _

Nicole Meierotto, Early ACCESS Home Interventionist, Fairfield Office

Lori Mueller, Mathematics Specialist, Mt. Pleasant Office

Cassandra Mitchell, Audiometrist, Ottumwa Office   _                                  _                                  _

Pratiksha Patel, School Psychologist Intern, Albia Office

Rosemary Peck, Science Specialist, Mt. Pleasant Office

Debbie Reiter, Audiometrist, Oskaloosa Office   _                                   _

Alan Schwarte, Regional Director, Albia Office                 _

Deena Smith, Orientation & Mobility Specialist, Ottumwa office

Jenny Smith, Reading Specialist, Mt. Pleasant Office     _                                 _                                 _

Shawn Stringer, Regional Director, Mt. Pleasant Office _

Doreen Underwood, Talented & Gifted Specialist, Keokuk Office

Daniel Zaccaro, School Psychologist, Burlington Office