The Cornerstone – September 2015

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Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training Workshops in Burlington & Ottumwa

A schoolboy and his teacher reading a book in classParticipants will be trained in a safe, non-harmful behavior management system designed to help them provide the best care, welfare, safety and security for students who may be anxious, disruptive, assaultive, or otherwise in crisis. Emphasis is given to de-escalation and personal safety techniques.

Certification is good for two years. Refresher training will no longer be offered through our agency. You are encouraged to register with a school/district team. There will be a maximum of 40 people allowed in each workshop. Continue reading

Professional Development Opportunities – Sept. 2015

Reading Recovery: Intentional Teaching – BURLINGTON
Location: Burlington: Great Prairie AEA (Burlington, IA) – GPAEA: Burlington[map]
Audience: First grade: Reading Recovery teachers affiliated with SE Iowa Reading Recovery site. Must be trained in Reading Recovery.
Dates: 9/3/2015 to 5/4/2016
Location: GPAEA: Burlington

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Tier 1 Training – BURLINGTON
Location: Burlington: Great Prairie AEA (Burlington, IA) – A & B[map]
Audience: Members of school PBIS Leadership teams and AEA coaching staff
Dates: 9/8/2015 to 12/10/2015
Location: A & B

Substitute Authorization (Grades K-12) – OTTUMWA
Location: Ottumwa: Great Prairie AEA (Ottumwa, IA) [map]
Audience: Individuals that hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution or holds a paraeducator certificate from an approved paraeducator certification.
Dates: 9/8/2015 to 9/22/2015

Continue reading

GPAEA Welcomes New Media Integration Specialist – Tricia Slechta!


Dr. Sally Lindgren, Coordinator of Technology & Innovation

Tricia is our new Media Integration Specialist replacing Kristin Steingreaber, who retired after many years of service to Great Prairie AEA this past spring.  Tricia has a strong background in both library science and technology integration. Tricia comes to GPAEA from Southeast Polk School district near Des Moines where she served as a Media Specialist. However, Tricia is not a newcomer to our area as she started her library career in the Fairfield CSD where she continues to reside.  Tricia received her library certification from the University of Iowa and has presented several times at the Iowa Technology Education Connection (ITEC) conference on technology and the use of technology in the classroom. Continue reading

Register for MTSS for Secondary Schools Events

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Middle and High School Leadership Teams are invited to participate in Great Prairie AEA’s Collaborative Leadership Academy focusing on MTSS within secondary schools.

Practitioner and author, Austin Buffum, will kick off our leadership academy with a 2 day training, September 29th and 30th at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center. Leadership teams comprised of instructional coaches, secondary teachers, counselors and administrators are invited to attend. Bring your data, daily schedule, and building school improvement plan. Prepare for interactive learning around how your school supports all learners. Continue reading

ParaEducator Certification Course Available

Para Educator Certification courses in Ottumwa, from 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Click to Register!

TBD: Para Educator Certification course in Burlington, Working on dates with instructor.

  • Para Educator Course I
  • Para Educator Course II
  • Para Educator Course III

Register for Substitute Authorization Courses this Fall

Substitute Authorization Courses are available for registration in Ottumwa and Burlington:
  • Ottumwa – September, 8, 14, 15, 21, & 22 from 5 – 9:00 pm (FULL – WAIT LIST)
  • Burlington – October 20, 22, 27,29, & November 3 from 5 – 9:00 pm

(Click on Location to Register)

A substitute authorization allows an individual to substitute in grades 6-12 for no more than 5 consecutive days in 1 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.

Parent & Educator Connection Program (PEC)


The Parent & Educator Connection (PEC) would like to share with you the services we offer to help make your year a positive and productive one. The PEC is part of a statewide network of parents and educators working together since 1984 to support educators and parents of children and young adults with special needs.


The PEC provides one-on-one assistance to parents or educators when there is a need for information or direct support. We provide information through our library on topics including disabilities, parenting, and instructional and behavior management strategies. The PEC shares information about community resources and supports with parents and educators as requests are made.

Support of the IEP or IFSP Process

One of the primary ways the PEC serves parents and educators is by supporting good home-school communication. This includes providing support to families so that they can more effectively participate in the IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) or IEP (Individual Education Plan) process. This may include:

  • Explaining IFSP/IEP process
  • Reviewing procedural safeguards/parent rights
  • Helping parents organize their thoughts in preparing for a meeting
  • Attending IFSP/IEP/or other school meetings after being asked by the school, parents or AEA staff

Newsletters Continue reading

Districts Can Now Access Required Notifications and Postings From AEA Website

School districts know they are required by state and federal law to post or send out a number of notifications to keep parents, teachers, other staff and the public informed. Districts now have a one-stop-shop they can access to find a compilation of these required postings and notifications.

Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) are pleased to add a “Required Notifications and Postings” page to their website where districts can access these important documents.

The notifications and postings categories include:

  • Facility
  • ESEA Title 1 Part A
  • ESEA Title IX, Section 9532
  • Human Resources
  • Federal
  • Business Office
  • Students
  • Childhood Nutrition

This online repository will be in a continuous state of modification, and district personnel are encouraged to provide input on additional items for inclusion or needed modifications to the existing documents.

Development of the Required Notifications and Postings was facilitated through the work of Dr. Clifford Ehlinger, a former Grant Wood AEA executive director.

If you have any questions, contact Valerie Taylor Hill, GWAEA public information specialist, 319-399-6824.

GPAEA Schools in the News – August 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.


From the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University 

A new In Brief Video Series on Resilience from the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University provides an overview of why resilience matters, how it develops, and how to strengthen it in children. The series features three two-minute videos that provide a brief overview of Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience, a 2015 working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.

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.

Let’s Celebrate! Summer Enrichment 2015

T-Shirt Design Contest Winner: Hannah R., 5th Grade from BlackHawk Elementary, Burlington

Congratulations to our T-Shirt Design Contest Winner: Hannah R., 5th Grade from BlackHawk Elementary, Burlington

Great Prairie AEA’s Summer Enrichment Program Held at Iowa Wesleyan College and Southeastern Community College

Summer Enrichment Program is a “college-for-kids” type program for students in grades 3-6 who live in southeast Iowa.  To qualify, students need to be in a talented and gifted (TAG) program, or have high ITBS test scores, or be recommended by a teacher, counselor, or building principal. Or recommended and accepted for their artistic and creative characteristics by an art and music teacher.

The Great Prairie AEA Summer Enrichment 2015 program was held June 8 – 18 at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mt. Pleasant and June 22 – July 2 at Southeastern Community College, West Burlington.

Approximately 180 students from 16 area school districts attended Summer Enrichment in Mt. Pleasant and  379  students from 16 area school districts and 6 non-public schools attended in West Burlington. These students have the opportunity to participate in more than 90 classes, taught by area educators. Classes cover the fine arts, languages, literature & writing, mathematics & logic, science, social studies, and computers.

Great Prairie AEA thanks Southeastern Community College for generously donating the use of their campus for this year’s program! Special THANK YOU to Brittney Leach
Summer Enrichment Coordinator!

Introducing AEA Purchasing

AEA_PurchasingThe Iowa Educators Consortium (IEC) and the Iowa Association of Educational Purchasing (IAEP) food program have united as AEA Purchasing! Iowa’s Area Education Agencies launched statewide purchasing services in 1999. To date, these services have saved Iowa schools and non-profit educational organizations over $100 million dollars! In an effort to streamline statewide AEA programs, all cooperative purchasing responsibilities will now operate under AEA Purchasing. The names have changed, but the goals remain the same:

  • Save Iowa schools time and money
  • Research products and form vendor partnerships through a competitive process
  • Offer a wide range of value added services
  • Remain a self-supporting organization and give back to participating organizations through food rebates and funding of statewide projects
  • Collaborate with AEAs and school districts to develop synergy that can’t be attained through individual efforts
  • Help both large and small school districts acquire quality products and training at an equitable price

All vendor partners, contracts and pricing will remain the same. Visit the website for product categories, vendor partners, contacts, how to order and pricing! Subscribe to the monthly newsletters to stay informed.

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.