Congratulations to Our 2015 Retirees!

Congratulations and best wishes to our 2015 retirees! Thank you for your service to Great Prairie AEA as we strive to improve the learning and well-being of children and youth in southeast Iowa!

Tammie Allsup, Speech-Language Pathologist
Nancy Brown, Communication Specialist/Board Secretary/Administrative Assistant
Susan Nollsch, Early ACCESS Home-Interventionist
Mike Peters, School Social Worker
Ernie Ragen, Special Education Consultant
Kathie Stanton, Special Education Secretary
Kristin Steingreaber, Media Specialist
Althea Weems, Audiologist
Toni Welch, Teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing

GPAEA Schools in the News – June/July 2015

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.

Preparations for August 2015 Online Trainings from AEA PD Online

aeapdonlinelogo2013Here are some tips and tricks for districts to consider when planning their online trainings for their employees in 2015-2016.

  1. Encourage employees to take trainings earlier. If your district sends out a welcome-back to school letter in July to employees, encourage them then to take the trainings. July is a down time for usage of the server.
  2.  If you are having staff complete the training in August, avoid the heavy usage dates. To the right, you can see our projected usage chart for August, the darker the color, the heavier the usage.
  3. Avoid having your entire staff take the training at once. While this practice might be very convenient for the planning of pre-service days, it also greatly enhances your chances of hitting the cap, meaning some will be logged into the site and some will not. Plus, all the individuals from your school accessing the same training could impact your own district bandwidth, slowing down the experience as well.
  4. Target district inservice days throughout the school year. Waiting until your first early-out can save a lot of frustration for your teachers.

Originally posted at

GPAEA Schools in the News – May 2015

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.

PD Opportunities – Summer 2015

Looking to update your professional development resume?  Check out classes coming this summer to an AEA office near you!  Course Catalog Link can be found at or by clicking HERE!  Start date is listed in parentheses.

This list is not all inclusive, but highlights some courses for the summer. Classes are being added on a daily basis! Please visit the course catalog for details!

Climate, Culture and Behavior

  • Check and Connect  (June 3)
  • Bullying Investigation Round 2 (June 1)
  • Human Relations (June 18)
  • A Behavior Tool Box for Your Classroom (June 18, July15)
  • Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training (start dates vary)

Early Childhood Highlights

  • Getting Started with Project Work “A Day of Learning and Observation” (June 5)
  • Re-Use it! Creating Art with Natural and Recycled Materials (June 15)

Iowa Core Highlights (Literacy, Math, Science, Writing)

  • UbD = Increasing Implementation of Quality Iowa Core (June 4 and June 11)
  • Building a Writing Toolkit (June 10, July 27, Aug. 3)
  • NGSS Science, Reading, Writing Integration for varying levels (start dates vary)
  • Iowa LETRS-  a variety of modules (start dates vary)
  • Science Fiction in the Classroom (June 22)
  • K-2 Counting and Cardinality/Operations and Algebraic Thinking (June 22)

Technology Highlights

  • Assistive Technology Summer Institute (June 2)
  • Communicating and Collaborating with Google Docs (June 4)
  • Self-Directed Professional Learning in Online Communities (June 9, June 24)
  • Pushing the Boundaries (July 6)
  • Mobile Devices in the Classroom:  Practicing the 4Cs (June 10, July 17, July 20)
  • Excel for Educators (June 29)
  • Google Training Levels 1-5 (start dates vary)
  • Tri-State Technology Boot Camp (July 30)

Vocational Education Highlights

  • Educators in the Workplace (June 22)
  • Teacher in the Workplace XVII (June 22)

The Cornerstone – May 2015

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Also, check out PD Opportunities for the Summer!

Hitting, Kicking and Screaming… Now What?

Dr. Angelisa Fynaardt, Associate Administrator

Elementary school teacher holding file

Learn to think like a Behavior Detective!

Hitting, kicking, swearing, throwing chairs and refusing to work are examples of problem behaviors in schools. These occur in general and special education, across locations, and with a wide variety of adults and peers. Is it happening in your classroom?

We have seen an increase of calls and emails about students with problem behaviors, the need for more professional development and on-site support, and contacts from lawyers and advocacy agencies about services for students with challenging behaviors. Great Prairie AEA is here to help you become a “Behavior Detective” and learn more about strategies that you can use in your classroom/school to address behavior problems.

Learn how to think like a Behavior Detective!

We know that we can change students’ demonstration of problem behaviors by impacting what we do before or after a problem behavior occurs. We also know that behavior occurs in a context.   It does not occur in isolation. Behaviors occur in response to what is happening in the context of the situation. It is often helpful to think about “The 5 W’s.” Knowing information about who, what, when, and where of the problem behavior helps us to figure out the why for the behavior. As a behavior detective, ask yourself the following questions: Continue reading

Early ACCESS – Family Guided Routines Based Intervention and Caregiver Coaching

Linda Boshart, Early ACCESS Regional Liaison 

EA logo (new)

Early ACCESS Vision: Every infant and toddler with or at risk for a developmental delay and their families will be supported and included in their communities so that the child will be healthy and successful.

Early ACCESS Mission: Early ACCESS builds upon and provides supports and resources to assist family members and caregivers to enhance children’s learning and development through everyday learning opportunities

Early ACCESS is Iowa’s system for children and families from birth to age three years who have some kind of special concern. Services are provided in the child’s natural environment, which means that providers go where the child is, such as the home, childcare center, or grandparent’s home. Early ACCESS service providers have training in various professions – early childhood education, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, social work, psychology, and others. Continue reading

Summer Institute Series: Thinking Functionally About Behavior, June 15 & 16

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Are behaviors in your building causing you and your staff to have high levels of stress? Do you want to know more about how to manage those behaviors? How can we see the behaviors we want to see from our students?

Join us on June 15 & 16 to learn how to think functionally about the behaviors you encounter on a daily basis so you can match your interventions and strategies effectively. Throughout the two days, we will talk about behavior assessment and behavior intervention. We will share content and strategies to support your work with students who demonstrate problem behaviors in your schools.

Download a PDF: Behavior SI 2015 Postcard

Summer Institute Series: Leading and Sustaining the Work of the Collaborative Team Process, June 8 & 9

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Join Solution Tree Consultant, Tim Brown in learning how to lead the work of collaborative teams.

Tim Brown will guide your teams in answering the following questions:

  • How will you establish common understandings and expectations for collaboration across your system (district, school, & teacher teams)?
  • How will you train collaborative team leaders?
  • What does the work of a collaborative team look like?
  • What is the role of common assessments in the work of the collaborative team?
  • What is your long-range plan for implementing a collaborative system?
  • How will you monitor, support, and evaluate the effectiveness of the collaborative process?

Register at

Download a PDF: STPLC SI 2015 Postcard

Straight Talk About Literacy Leadership

Dr. Susan Hall Flyer - 1 Column Flyer-BlueTuesday, August 18, 2015 – Fairfield Arts & Convention Center
8:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Featuring Dr. Susan Hall, Consultant, 95% Group Inc.

The workshop is designed to support instructional leadership. Topics include:

  • Building intervention blocks into the master schedule
  • Approaches to promote and provide time for grade-level team collaboration
  • Ways to support teachers as they learn these new instructional strategies with small groups
  • Hallmarks of effective reading instruction
  • Maximizing core reading instruction
  • How to conduct a walk-through and observation visit

Register at:

Download Dr. Susan Hall Flyer

This is Eli…

Jennifer Woodley, Communication Specialist

A little over a week ago, I visited Jamie Reifsteck’s first grade classroom in the Fairfield Community School District to participate in an Autism Awareness activity. I was welcomed by a group of smiling faces and blue shirts! “We are all wearing blue today – for Eli!” they told me, “Eli has Autism.”

Eli’s family (mom, dad, and sister) visit the class a couple of times a year to share information, lead awareness activities, and encourage the kids to ask questions about Eli and Autism. “All this is to help build a community around Eli. We don’t want the kids scared or confused, and we want them to be comfortable interacting with Eli anywhere at any time,” explained Eli’s dad and Great Prairie AEA School Improvement Specialist, Mike Stiemsma. “It’s great when they see him at Hy-Vee, they run up and give him a high 5 and say “hi” even if he doesn’t say “hi” back.” Continue reading

Local students compete at Tater Toss Catapult Competition

Originally shared in Lee County Economic Development Group Newsletter - April 2015

Originally shared in Lee County Economic Development Group Newsletter – April 2015

The competition was flying at the first Tater Toss Catapult Competition Wednesday, April 8th in the SCC gym. Thirtythree students from schools throughout Southeast Iowa designed and built working catapults to compete. Catapults earned points for accuracy, distance and design. SCC Work-Based Learning Specialist, Leanne Krogmeier, says the event is a fun way for students to showcase their imagination and represent their schools. “There’s a lot of talented kids out there who were busy building some pretty clever contraptions.” Krogmeier says the event allows students to learn more about the fields of science, architecture, construction and engineering.

Accuracy of the catapults was tested as the teams aimed for targets at 15 and 30 feet. New London High School placed 1stat the 15-foot distance and WACO Middle School placed 1st at the 30-foot distance. Keokuk High School focused their efforts on the longest distance, winning first place in this category. Team coach Matt Hodges stated their practice shots were in the 170 ft. range. The WACO Middle School 7th grade team placed first overall and there was a tie for 2nd place overall between WACO Middle School 8th grade and Wapello High School. Continue reading

UbD = Increasing Implementation of Quality Iowa Core

UbD June 15 (1)If you are looking to increase the effectiveness of unit planning by using a process that can be used in any content area or if you have already begun using UbD and would like more time to collaborate and continue learning this workshop is for you. Collaborate among content areas and across districts.

Who should attend?  PK-12 Teachers (all content areas), Teacher Leaders, Coaches,Curriculum Directors, and/or Principals

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Lunch on your own

One recertification credit $50