Paraeducator Certification Available in Burlington, Keokuk, & Ottumwa

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ATTENTION Paraeducators! We have upcoming certification courses at GPAEA. We also have a new area of concentration for working with English Language Learners. Please see the registration links for more information. Contact if you have questions about registration.

Para Certification Course in Burlington

Para Certification Courses in Keokuk


Para Certification Course in Ottumwa

Paraeducator Area of Concentration

Keokuk, New London, and North Mahaska join the 33 Iowa districts chosen to attend National Postsecondary Strategy Institute

Iowa’s Area Education Agencies and AEA PREP have been working to embed Future Ready Iowa’s goal of having 70 percent of Iowans with postsecondary credentials by 2025 in Iowa high schools.  AEA PREP, a service of Iowa’s AEAs, kicked off this year with a two-day institute, involving national experts on improving postsecondary attainment and increasing credentials with an equity focus on low-income, minority, and students with disabilities.

On Monday and Tuesday, more than 200 education leaders, representing 33 districts and all nine AEAs came together for the National Postsecondary Strategy Institute (NPSI) – Iowa. This event, held at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, helped school districts develop their internal capacity to support every student toward attaining a successful postsecondary pathway.  

NPSI – Iowa advances the work already started in the many districts that have embraced the notion that postsecondary success is not only critical to Iowa’s workforce and economic development needs, but also for each and every student in Iowa who deserves equal opportunity and access to succeed in earning a postsecondary credential,” said David Ford, Director, AEA PREP.  

Representatives from every Area Education Agency and school districts across the state heard remarks from both Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise. They also worked together to:

  • Increase understanding of factors that contribute to a strong district-wide college and career readiness framework aligned to school-based accountability measures.
  • Provide examples of how to use data, research, and community-based partnerships to increase student-level outcomes.
  • Work toward building a college and career readiness framework for their district.

All participating districts applied to attend this conference. Districts from Great Prairie AEA were scheduled to have representatives in attendance include Keokuk, New London, and North Mahaska

NPSI – Iowa was made possible through the generous support of Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, Iowa College Aid, Bright Foundation, Des Moines Area Community College, Vermeer Corporation, and the Iowa Culinary Institute.

Courses for Educators from Drake

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Drake University’s Continuing Education and Professional Development department is gearing up for a great school year. View a few of the offerings listed below:

NEW – Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom: A Clinician’s Perspective: This one-credit hour face-to-face course will explore key components and stages of social and emotional learning (SEL), related brain anatomy and function, and factors that may impact SEL development. Additionally, participants will be able to demonstrate an understanding of factors that may impact a child’s use of social and emotional skills across the school day along with techniques and strategies that will assist children in making use of these skills. Through the use of a variety of materials, in-class assignments as well as out of class assignments, participants will be able to better assess, understand and teach social and emotional learning in the classroom. This course meets on October 5 and November 2, from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at ChildServe, 5406 Merle Hay Road, Johnston, IA. This course is offered for both graduate and license renewal credit. Follow this link to register: Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom:  A Clinician’s Perspective

NEW – Inspiring Investigations through Citizen Science: Discover how citizen science and student-driven investigations meet Next Generation Science Standards and support student learning. After completing this course, students will be able to: Explain the benefits of teaching with citizen science and inquiry; Identify the science practices developed through citizen science and inquiry; Describe the complexity of the scientific process; Support students in developing their own investigations and create an implementation plan for using citizen science and science investigations with students. This one-credit hour online graduate course is being offered through a partnership between Drake University Continuing Education and Professional Development and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It will meet October 21 – December 1, 2019. Follow this link to register: Inspiring Investigations through Citizen Science

NEW – Leadership for Sustainable School Development: This four-credit hour online graduate course develops leadership capacities for systemic and sustainable school development to foster the preparation of youth for success in this global age of living. The program fuses together the concepts of system thinking, sustainability, quality management, and global competence as essential elements for leading schools in a global age. Course expectations include participation in a three-hour synchronous live session during the second week of each module throughout the course. This course meets online, October 7, 2019 – May 17, 2020. Follow this link to register: Leadership for Sustainable School Development

Suicide Prevention for Educators and Administrators: This two-credit hour online graduate/license renewal credit course will start on September 30. Educators will learn building and district level strategies for developing a suicide prevention plan to include awareness, prevention, intervention, and postvention. Follow the link for more information and to register for this important course: Suicide Prevention for Educators and Administrators

Licensure Specific Courses: This fall the Continuing Education and Professional Development department will continue to offer Human Relations and Elementary Social Studies online for graduate and license renewal credit. Follow the below links for more information and/or to register:
– Elementary Social Studies
– Human Relations

Facets of Gifted – ITAG 2019 Conference: If you attend this conference then you can also earn two hours of graduate credit by completing additional assignments and online coursework. The conference is October 14 and 15 at the Holiday Inn Airport Conference Center, Des Moines, Iowa. This counts towards the Psychology or Programming strand of the Iowa TAG Endorsement No. 107. It is also accepted for all TAG Certification and renewal programs. Follow this link to register for this course: Facets of Gifted – ITAG 2019 Conference Credit Registration

The Domino Effect Program: Our highly successful Domino Effect program has been converted into a one-credit hour (graduate or license renewal) online course. This course was developed using video and other content from last fall’s event at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. This POWERFUL course is designed to provide insight to those who serve at-risk populations though it is valuable to all teachers, counselors, and administrators. Check our website in September for more information:

Links to Other Continuing Education and Professional Development Courses and Programs

– Courses for Coaches and Physical Educators  (Online and Video Correspondence)
– Online Courses for Teachers and Administrators
– Certificate in Online Teaching Pedagogy
– Special Events, Conferences, and Courses
– FAQ’s for students

Drake University School of Education

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.

Optimizing Outcomes for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing face many unique challenges throughout their school careers because of a lack of access to auditory information which can impact their educational programming and social interactions. The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDE) has created guidelines for addressing the unique needs and requirements of these students called “Optimizing Outcomes for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.” This document can be found in its entirety at  or by using the following link Optimizing Outcomes for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.  Some of the key points of the document are summarized below.

PDF: Digital document NASDEDigital document NASDE

The Cornerstone – September 2019


Welcome to the 2019-20 School Year!


Nine GPAEA Districts Awarded Computer Science Grant

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Nine GPAEA Districts have been included in Iowa’s Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund grant that has recently been awarded to GPAEA for this school year. These districts include Cardinal, Centerville, Central Lee, Fairfield, Fort Madison K-8, Keokuk, North Mahaska, Pekin, and WACO. This grant is funded by state appropriations to support the Governor’s goal to expand computer science within the state. Training will be provided by NewBoCo, our state-level designated partner and facilitated by GPAEA.

Link to press release from the Governor in mid-July:

Resources for Educators for National Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and there are many resources available to educators, as well as your students. Please share with anyone who you feel would benefit from this information.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between 10 to 24. Learn more and get help at

Children’s Safety Network

Click here to access the Children’s Safety Network Newsletter with Resources for National Suicide Prevention Month.

National Training: Youth Suicide Prevention

Below is a link to a national training that we are making available to our schools at no costs. This is a two-hour training and participants receive a certificate upon completion from the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS). Some Great Prairie AEA staff have taken the training and found it to be of high quality.  There will be a one-hour training developed by the AEA system team available in late October.

Here is the link to the free national training:


Authentic Learning/Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning Course & Webinars

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Sept. 18-19 Authentic Learning and WBL Immersion
Ottumwa GPAEA (Room 21c) 9am-4pm

  • Register here. (Audit, Renewal, Grad Credit available)

Wednesday Authentic Learning Cohort
Wednesdays Online via Zoom from 2-4pm
Starts: 9-4-2019
Ends: 10-30-2019 (totaling 15 hours)

  • See agenda for specifics.
  • Register here. (Audit or Renewal credit available)

*Each Wednesday will focus on a particular question. Anyone may join for independent sessions without registering if you wish to learn more about a particular Wednesday’s topic.

Who should attend: Any K-12 Educator who is invested in creating more authentic learning experiences with local and statewide partnerships to allow for more student-centered learning and development of 21st-century skills while still meeting the demands of academic standards. Participants will be trained on using the new Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning as well as project management techniques in order to support student learning.

Centerville/WMU Instructional Coaches Present at Coaches Forum with GPAEA

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On September 10, 2019, Shelli Blazic from GPAEA along with Jenny Durham, Instructional Coach, Centerville CSD, and Patricia Jones, Instructional Coach, Winfield Mt. Union CSD, presented at the Coaches Forum held in Ames. The three partnered together to present data each district collected using the Comprehensive Classroom Management Checklist, which evaluates critical classroom management features and provides objective ratings of classroom management for more effective coaching conversations.

Thank you to both districts for allowing their data to be shared, as well as the knowledge and expertise of their coaches, and to the Iowa Department of Education for hosting the event!