Substitute Authorization Class Offered in Burlington


DATES: February 22, 27, 2017 and March 1, 6, 8, 2017


Substitute Authorization (Grades PK-12) – BURLINGTON

A substitute authorization allows an individual who holds a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution to substitute in a elementary, middle school, junior high school, or high school (grades PK -12) for no more than five consecutive days in one job assignment. An individual who holds a Para educator certificate and completes the substitute authorization program is authorized to substitute only in the special education classroom in which the individual Para educator is employed.

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Para Educator Courses Offered in Burlington

Teacher Smiling and Helping Students With SchoolworkClick on a link below to learn more about Para Educator Courses. 

Blended Learning Coaching Academy with Marcia Kish

Lisa Jacobs, Instructional Technology Specialist

Changing the way students learn one student at a time.


Academy Format:  Two full days of training for coaches and teachers, monthly Zoom sessions, and a Keynote address for Superintendents in the spring.

Marcia Kish is a Blended Learning Specialist providing professional development across the United States. She is now bringing her message, experience, and practical tools to teachers, coaches, and administrators in Great Prairie AEA. Marcia has a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology and her experience includes 11 years working as a classroom teacher and technology teacher in Worthington, Ohio, 5 years as a professional development coordinator, and one year as the Director of a blended learning high school, Learning Without Limits. Marcia is well known for her “cookbook” approach to blended learning. According to Marcia, “Blended learning tends to resemble cooking in the kitchen—As long as you are willing to start and have some key ingredients; you can whip up something amazing in the blended learning classroom.” Continue reading

Professional Development Opportunities – February 2017


Click on a course to register or visit our Course Catalog to view more opportunities.

Visit our Course Catalog for updates throughout the month.

Credit Options for 28 Days of OLLIE: Powering Up Personalized Learning Participants


The 28 Days of OLLIE: Powering Up Personalized Learning is only a few weeks away. In an effort to personalizing learning for 28 Day participants we are offering both formal and informal learning opportunities focused on how to further implement personalized learning with students.

Formal Learning Opportunity (Credit Option): Individuals who would like to participate in the 28 Days event for license renewal (2 credits) or graduate credit (2 credits) can do so by registering here. As an added bonus, the credits will be offered at a reduced rate:

License Renewal (2 credits): $70
Drake Graduate (2 credits): $150
Viterbo Graduate (2 credits): $110
Morningside Graduate (2 credits): $150
No Credit $0
Individuals who select this option and register will receive information from the course instructor in early February.

Informal Learning Opportunity (No Credit=No Cost): Individuals who would like to participate in the 28 Days of OLLIE event, but

  • Are interested in personalized learning, but not do not need license renewal or graduate credit at this time
  • Aren’t certain how the course will fit into their schedule
  • Haven’t participated in online learning opportunities and want to “dip their toes” in before taking a online course

Can choose to participate informally. The benefit of participating informally, is that participants have access to all of the learning (discussions, resources, activities, etc.), but can choose how to engage each of the opportunities presented during the 28 Days.

It is up to you, the participant, to choose which learner path works best for you. We can’t wait to connect with you during the month of February.

For more information about the 28 Days of OLLIE: Powering Up Personalized Learning

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GPAEA Schools in the News – January 2017

Post updated throughout the month. 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.

Let’s All Hang Together


Dr. Jon Sheldahl, Chief Administrator

Perhaps no one in our great national history is more quotable than Benjamin Franklin, who stated prior to signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately”.  This statement was made during what is arguably the most politically uncertain time in our nation’s history.  No one knew if the signers of that document would go down in history as great statesmen or be hung as traitors.  It was a time when unprecedented uncertainty led to unprecedented levels of purpose, unity, and courage.

Continue Reading: Let’s All Hang Together

Meet Skyler

Jennifer Woodley, Public Relations Coordinator

“She’s walked herself right out of physical therapy!” exclaims Janet Hurt, Physical Therapist for Great Prairie AEA.

Now 18 months old, Skyler has received Physical Therapy Services from Great Prairie AEA since she was 7 months. Doctors feared the twin wouldn’t live past birth, but her spirit proved everyone wrong.

Skyler’s parents Lindsey and Charlie made numerous trips to the University of Iowa for consultation. “We went to the University at 18 weeks [of pregnancy] and the first thing they told us was that she probably had down syndrome and she was so small she probably wouldn’t live to birth,” Lindsey explained. “A month later we came back for a checkup ultrasound and they said well, we’re sorry to tell you but, we don’t think it is down syndrome, we think that most likely it is triploidy, which is not compatible with life.” Determined to carry to term, Lindsey said that at 34 weeks and 2 days after a checkup she was induced because Skyler’s umbilical cord was failing. “After delivery they said, oh, she looks just fine, we don’t need to do genetic testing.” The parents insisted and the results came back totally normal.

Skyler and her twin Madison are both doing well and Skyler has even advanced ahead of her sister in some areas. She has been doing so well that Great Prairie AEA Physical Therapist Janet Hurt will no longer schedule official sessions, but will instead check-in on an as needed basis, “[Skyler] has such a strong will… she’s just tough!”

Click here to learn more about Physical Therapy Services from Great Prairie AEA.

Thank you to Lindsey and Charlie for allowing us to share Skyler’s story and a very special thank you to Janet Hurt and the entire Physical Therapy team at Great Prairie AEA for all that you do for area children and families. 

Woodley awarded NSPRA’s 35 Under 35

December 19, 2016 – The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) announced its third class of 35/35 awardees recognizing young professional members who are making a difference for their school districts or education-related employers. Nominations were made by current NSPRA members.

Congratulations to Great Prairie AEA’s Jennifer Woodley for being recognized!

As the Public Relations Coordinator for Great Prairie AEA, Jennifer has assisted many districts in the area of school communication. From social media management to crisis communication her consultation and assistance is aimed to improve relationships with internal and external customers for school districts.

NSPRA Executive Director Rich Bagin, APR, noted, “It is exciting to see these young professionals step up to meet the challenges of our school communication profession. They continue to grow and also have much to share with all NSPRA members.”

The program was started in 2012 and many of the awardees continue to provide leadership for their state chapters and NSPRA. Each awardee’s profile will be featured in NSPRA’s e-newsletters during a span of 35 weeks in 2017. The awardees also receive a $100 discount for NSPRA’s Annual Seminar to be held in San Antonio, Texas this July.

Check out the 35/35 Class of 2016!

Costume Making Makerspace at Ottumwa

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Joni Nicholson, Ottumwa Teacher-Librarian

How do you get elementary students to come back to school on a beautiful Saturday morning in October? Well,the idea of creating a costume and learning how to use a real sewing machine was just the right combination to get 50 students out of bed and back to school. They were attending a volunteer-run event called “Makerspace” which is part of a movement to get students interested in STEM careers and tap into kids’ creative side. This event was offered to fourth and fifth grade students in the Ottumwa School District.

Elementary teacher-librarians, Joni Nicholson and Stacy Moran have done several Makerspace events using electronic snap kits, Makey Makey computer tools, robots, construction blocks and numerous other STEM related activities in the past. This time the two librarians decided to take a “low tech” approach and invite students to make their own costumes using everyday items and material scraps. A recent Scale-Up STEM grant also gave several of the OCSD sites sewing machines and other tools that made this event even more enticing.

If the thought of school age kids using hot glue guns and sewing machines scares you, rest assured that the two teachers spent a good bit of time talking about safety prior to turning kids loose with these tools. With such a large number of students showing up for this event, extra volunteers (including other teachers and a local high school sorority group) were on hand to assist and supervise the students in this creative endeavor.

Moran and Nicholson both donate their time and many of the materials for their Makerspace. They also asked for material donations prior to the costume making project. Students were given time to look at the materials available as well as some costume ideas from Pinterest prior to digging into their individual projects. One entire room was dedicated to fabric choosing and pattern cutting. Other materials included: cardboard boxes, poster board, yarn, feathers, foil, t-shirts, socks, gloves, etc.

Over two hours of cutting, gluing, trying on and in some cases, starting over, it didn’t take students long to repurpose these items into unbelievable creations. A cardboard box and solo cups helped one girl turn herself into a human Lego block. Another participant made a creepy monster with a 3D hand reaching out of his torso. Capes, angel wings, Pokemon characters, superheroes and emoji faces were all popular costume themes. With such a wide variety of materials, no two projects were alike.

At the end of the session students were allowed to take all of their creations home with them. The best outcome, however, was the lasting impression that students had about this Makerspace session. Several students were very proud of the fact that they had used a sewing machine for the first time ever. Others commented on how much they accomplished with a glue gun. In fact, one boy asked enthusiastically, “Where can I go to buy one of these? I want to do this at home too!” Comments like that are exactly what Stacy Moran and Joni Nicholson like to hear. After all, the goal of the Makerspace is to generate excitement about STEM and bring out the “maker” in all participants.

Iowa’s AEAs seek nominations for AEA Awards


Do you know someone who has made outstanding contributions to education and the system of Iowa Area Education Agencies (AEAs)? Please take a few minutes to nominate this person for recognition by Iowa’s AEAs. Iowa’s Area Education Agencies bestows three awards to outstanding candidates for their contributions to education and the AEA system.

To submit a nomination, please complete this application by Feb. 3, 2017. Anyone is welcome to submit a nomination. The nominations will be reviewed by a selected group of AEA personnel in February. Both the nominating individual and those who are selected to be recognized will be notified by March 1. The awards will be presented at the Iowa AEA Boards of Directors’ Conference on March 30-31, 2017 in Des Moines.

The three awards and criteria can be found in the attached link on the Iowa AEA website.

Write Women Back into History Video Contest – Deadline March 1

Write Women Back into History Video Contest


Students and Teachers/Organizations: Compete for a chance to win prizes!

To celebrate Women’s History Month in March, the Iowa Department of Human Rights’ Office on the Status of Women (with financial support from the Friends of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women) is hosting its 2nd annual Women’s History Month video contest to celebrate women’s history.  Entries are open to students in grades 5-12 and schools/organizations that work with students in grades 5-12.

Video Submission Deadline: Wednesday, March 1, 2017


The dissemination of information from external organizations by Great Prairie AEA does not infer sponsorship or endorsement of the information. It is being passed on to our stakeholders for its educational value.