The Cornerstone – October 2016


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#Room21C Partner Schools & Chat

21c-partner-badge-half-boldGreat Prairie AEA’s 21st Century Classrooms are getting a lot of attention and we want to share the spotlight! Launching this month is 21C Partner Schools, a showcase of our partner schools’ redesigned learning environments. We want to build a digital community that supports educators in the shift of instructional practice toward 4C (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity) and modernized 21st century student centered learning.


Need ideas for your redesign? Interested in connecting with other innovative teachers? Check out our Partner Schools and join us at 3 PM CST the First Friday of every month for #Room21C on Twitter.


Selking Receives Friend of Mathematics Award


GPAEA Mathematics Consultant Lynn Selking received the Friend of Mathematics Award at the ICTM-ISTS Math-Science Conference on Monday, October 10, 2016.

The Friend of Mathematics Award honors an individual who has shown support of mathematics education over an extended period of time. This person is selected and voted on by the executive board of the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Lynn is pictured receiving this award from Brooke Fischels the President of the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Brooke is also a high school math teacher in Ottumwa.

Congratulations Lynn – GPAEA is very proud of you and your work!

Celebrate Physical Therapy Month – October 2016

October is National Physical Therapy Month and an opportunity for Great Prairie AEA to celebrate and recognize our seven physical therapists and three physical therapy assistants for the work they do with children birth to 21 in our area.

Great Prairie AEA’s Physical Therapy program provides therapeutic services to maximize children’s functional motor abilities through assessment, intervention, advocacy and education related to their unique needs within the educational atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation. Physical therapists design interventions that improve a student’s physical ability to access and participate in their educational program.

Thank you to our Physical Therapists (PT) and Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA):

Physical Therapy Month is sponsored through the American Physical Therapy Association and is celebrated nationally. For more information see

Register for Understanding Dyslexia – November 29


November 29, 2016
8:00 am – 3:30 pm
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center 


Keynote Speakers:

John Alexander, M.Ed.
GrovesAcademy, Head of School
Head of School of Groves Academy, a private school for students from second through twelfth grades diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.

Dr . Deborah K. Reed
Iowa ReadingResearch Center
Director of the Iowa Reading Research Center and an Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of Iowa.

Participants will:

  • gain a greater understanding of what dyslexia is and isn’t
  • identify the characteristics of good reading and spelling instruction for students with dyslexia
  • use data from oral reading fluency measures, such as FAST CBM-R, to plan high quality reading instruction
  • review additional assessments and how they might contribute to the overall picture of students’ reading abilities

Download: understanding-dyslexia-fairfield-1

Autism Services Informational Meeting in Burlington on October 13

info-meeting-handout-burlingtonThe Homestead, an autism-specific services provider in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, and Quad Cities is exploring the potential of expanding autism services in the Burlington region.

Join a conversation with Steve Muller, Executive Director of The Homestead, Evelyn Horton, Youth Community Services Director, and Dan Budd, Admissions Director, on Thursday October 13th. Hear about The Homestead’s experience with ABA services for children in their 5 locations throughout the state and discuss what types of autism services may be needed in the Burlington community.

Who: Anyone interested in services for individuals with autism (parents, educators, case managers, service providers, etc.)

What: Informational sessions with Executive Director of The Homestead to discuss autism services needed and explore options

When: 2 meetings will be held Thursday, October 13th: 4:00pm-5:00pm and 6:00pm-7:00pm

Where: Burlington Public Library- Meeting Room A, 210 Court St., Burlington, IA 52601

How: To register, contact Dan Budd at or (515) 957-3344

Download: info-meeting-handout-burlington

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.

Public input sought on Every Student Succeeds Act

Public Meeting at GPAEA’s Ottumwa Office on Monday, Nov. 7 from 5-7 PM

Originally posted at

Iowa Department of Education leaders will hit the road this fall as part of a statewide tour to gather public input as they develop a plan to meet the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

ESSA, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and will be fully implemented starting in the 2017-18 school year, provides a more reasonable balance between the role of states and the federal government in accountability for the success of all children. Under the reauthorized law, the federal government sets expectations, and states determine how schools will reach them.

Nine public input meetings will be held across Iowa from September through November. Each meeting will open with an overview of ESSA and the Department’s goals for developing the state plan.

“We all have a stake in the success of our students and schools, and engaging Iowans will be key to successful implementation of ESSA,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “Our goal is to build a system of accountability and support that drives student achievement and makes sense for Iowa. These public input meetings are one important way the Department is listening to what Iowans think student success should look like.”

The Department is also engaging education stakeholders in following ways:

  • Facilitating a state advisory committee representing the K-12 education system and parents. The ESSA Advisory Committee will provide input on pieces of Iowa’s ESSA plan.
  • Consulting representatives of education associations, state legislators, the higher education community, other state agencies and the business community.
  • Incorporating stakeholders’ voices into Department-led work teams that are drafting components of the state plan.

State plans must address academic standards, assessments, school and district accountability, and special help for struggling schools. Iowa’s state plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education no later than July 2017.

30th Anniversary of IDEA Part B, Section 619 and Part C

30-years-icon-640This October marks the 30th Anniversary of the passage of Public Law 99-457, which established Part C and mandated Part B, Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These programs have played a critical role in improving results and upholding the rights of infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.

Throughout the week of October 3–7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) will run a campaign showcasing many perspectives from the field, including researchers, families, practitioners, and even individuals who participated in early childhood services through Part C early intervention, and Part B, Section 619 preschool. The week will culminate in a Google Hangout to discuss how the law has impacted the early childhood field, on Friday, October 7th at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Follow the 30th Anniversary on Twitter with the #babyIDEAis30 hashtag.

Learn more at

National Principals Month – October 2016


Celebrating Principals Across the Country

Join the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the American Federation of School Administrators as we honor the hard work and dedication of America’s principals all month long. Gov. Branstad has also issued a proclamation declaring Principals Month in Iowa.National Principals Month is your opportunity to say “thank you” to principals everywhere and to share with the community all the great things that principals do.

As you plan your National Principals Month activities, be sure to check out our resources for celebrating and share what you’re doing by posting to social media with #ThankAPrincipal.

The key to student success is a great school, and the key to a great school is a great principal.

Google 4 Doodle Contest Announced


Students in grades K-12 are invited to take part in the 2016 Doodle 4 Google contest, and create a doodle that tells the world “What I see for the future.” From crayons to clay, graphic design, or even food, young artists can utilize any materials to bring their creation to life. Like all Google Doodles, each doodle must incorporate the letters G-o-o-g-l-e. One national winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship. The contest is open for entries from September 14, 2016 to December 2, 2016.

You can read the Google announcement on their blog, and students can download the Google template and contest rules there, too:


The Cornerstone – September 2016


Click here to see email version or click on a link below to begin reading!

Second Grader Finds Success Using Assistive Technology


Ellie Hamilton, Assistive Technology Specialist

Zeke will be in third grade this year at New London Elementary and has been using different assistive technology devices since receiving early access services  in the birth to three setting. An eight person team works together to assess Zeke’s needs and update his Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and last year they began to see progress with the devices that they had been trialing. The New London district recently purchased a new Rifton dynamic pacer gait trainer with multi-positioning capabilities for his classroom work. He also uses talking brix to communicate yes/no messages; activated with his hands or head with the assistance of a support staff member.

When the team first met and considered Zeke’s needs and access to the curriculum, they wanted to experiment with additional assistive technology items borrowed from Great Prairie AEA. After the trial and reviewing data, the school district purchased the Gooseneck Wobble switch and a Big Mack Switch.

In the video, Zeke is using a Big Mack single message recordable switch. He is telling Ashley to turn the page by activating the switch with his hand. This switch was incorporated into Zeke’s weekly reading probes for him to respond to questions in the classroom setting.

The New London district team has incorporated assistive technology beyond the classroom into his everyday activities with his peers. Zeke used a Gooseneck Wobble Switch to participate in the second grade Winter concert. He activated the switch to introduce a song during the concert.  He had the support of his teacher and paraeducator to setup and ensure his assistive technology items were ready for the concert.

Before Zeke was dependent on adults to determine his wants and needs. Now he is able to communicate using switches in a supported environment with his team.

A special THANK YOU to Zeke’s team last year:

  • Bridget Swailes, Special Educator
  • Mrs. Mrs. McAllister, General Education Teacher
  • Teresa Roberts, Paraeducator
  • Ashley Hobbs, GPAEA Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Shannah Sullivan, GPAEA Occupational Therapist
  • Carol Kottensette, GPAEA Physical Therapist
  • Kandys Dameron, GPAEA Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Catherine Benitz & Kim Richert, GPAEA Core Team
  • Dana McIntire, GPAEA Speech Pathologist

GPAEA’s Crisis Response Team Available for Area Schools


Each year students and educators in Great Prairie AEA are impacted by incidents involving traumatic stress. These situations can result in disruption of the normal learning experience for students, as well as relationship problems, anxiety, and depression. The Crisis Response Team consists of consultants, school psychologists and social workers who have received specialized training in critical incident stress management and grief recovery.


Brianne Stuchel
School Social Worker
800-622-0027 Ext. 5392 Ottumwa Office

Kibbon Rumohr
School Social Worker
800-622-0027 Ext. 5331 Ottumwa Office