The Cornerstone – May 2021

“To teach is to touch a life forever!”

May 3-7 celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week! Thank you for everything that you do in the lives of children – you are truly appreciated!

Resources for Mental Health Awareness Month (May)


Mental health professionals from Iowa’s nine AEAs recently collaborated to create a website for Iowans who are searching for mental health assistance. The website at came from a request by the state legislature to help educators, parents, and students navigate resources related to mental health and well-being in Iowa. In addition to AEA contacts for the schools, the site provides contacts for the home setting from Iowa’s Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS).

The website features vetted sources to educate visitors about addiction and substance abuse; anxiety and stress disorders; attention deficit disorder; depression; eating disorders; and self-harm.

“A call was put out by educational committee legislators last year to offer support to Iowa families and educators in the area of mental health,” said Tom Lane, a lobbyist for Iowa’s AEAs. “The site was designed to alleviate the frustration of finding contacts for services. When educators visit the site, they will find a point of contact at their respective AEA and family members can reach out to mental health regions of MHDS.”

A listing of Iowa groups and agencies that advocate for children and families is part of an education component of the site, as well as reducing the stigma associated with mental health.

The site also provides information about proactive measures people can take for self-care.

“People who pay attention to their own physical and emotional health are better able to handle the challenges of supporting someone with mental health issues,” said Lane.

School employees are encouraged to check out the site, especially the “Find Support” page, in order to demonstrate how to navigate the resources. Schools should contact their local AEA for assistance with students who need mental health supports.

Visit for more information.


Educators, parents, healthcare workers, and citizens of Iowa who experience a mental health crisis are encouraged to contact their county’s mobile crisis provider for assistance within 60 minutes. Please see the map for more details.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May is “Better Hearing and Speech Month” and we invite you to learn more about services and supports available from Great Prairie AEA.

Hearing services at Great Prairie AEA include screenings for young children and direct services for students who have been identified as deaf or hard of hearing. Learn more at

Shoutout to GPAEA’s Hearing/Audiology Team! Thank you for all that you do for the children and families of southeast Iowa.

GPAEA Audiologists
GPAEA Audiometrists
GPAEA Teachers of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Great Prairie AEA Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) work with children, birth to 21, who have a variety of communication needs. Most of these needs fall into the areas of articulation, language, voice, fluency, and early literacy. Learn more at

Shoutout to GPAEA’s Speech-Language Team! Thank you for all that you do for the children and families of southeast Iowa.

GPAEA Speech-Language Pathologists

GPAEA Speech-Language Assistants

May is School Board Recognition Month

Our Agency Board of Directors and the Board members of the local school districts in our Area volunteer countless hours of their time each year to serve their communities and schools. Please consider thanking the school and AEA Board members that you know! Click here to learn more about the Great Prairie AEA Board.

A special THANK YOU to our Great Prairie AEA Board of Directors:

GPAEA Board Members

District 1    Lora Wolff
District 2    Melissa Ballard (President)
District 3    Patricia Miletich
District 4    Matt Greiner (Vice President)
District 5    Cindy Kurtz-Hopkins
District 6    Margaret Kelly
District 7    Janet Smith
District 8    Rhonda Frevert
District 9    Victoria Stephenson

May Celebrates

Celebrate these events in your classroom this May with resources from Iowa’s AEAs: Asian Pacific Heritage Month, Iowa/National School Board Recognition Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, Better Hearing & Speech Month, National Physical Education Week (May 1-7), National Music Week (May 2-8), National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3-7), National Teacher Day (May 4), Cinco de Mayo (May 5), National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 7), National School Nurse Day (May 12)

2021 Battle of the Books Winners

Congratulations to this year’s Battle of the Books winners! This was an entirely virtual event and hosted teams from all over the state. Students participated in tests about the booklist and heard a presentation from author, Terry Lynn Johnson. Terry writes middle grade adventures based on her experiences living in northern Ontario, Canada. She might have fallen through ice a time or two, been dragged by a dog team, blown up a wood stove, been attacked by a sloth (slowly), nearly drowned on a portage, and chased a bear with a chainsaw. Terry’s keynote left students (and teachers) laughing and craving adventure.

Thank you to all of the schools who participated in the Battle of the Books – see you next year!


25 teams participating

  • 1st Place – Logan-Magnolia Cocoa Nerds
    • 1st Place – Logan-Magnolia Cocoa Nerds
    • 2nd Place – Fairfield BOB Squad
    • 3rd Place – Holy Trinity Catholic Book Busters
    • 4th Place – Oskaloosa I Read Past My Bedtime
    • 5th Place – Mediapolis Book Masters

    Middle School

    25 teams participating

  • 1st Place – Mediapolis Team Billy BOB
    • 1st Place – Mediapolis Team Billy BOB
    • 2nd Place – WACO Reading Rebels
    • 3rd Place – Lamoni Insignificant Events in the Life of a Spaghetti
    • 4th Place – Kuemper Catholic Beyond of the Books
    • 5th Place – College Community Book Busters

    HS Field Test Opportunity for OpenSciEd – Applications Open until April 30

    The OpenSciEd HS Field Testing project in Iowa is gearing up for this summer!

    The free, publicly available OpenSciEd middle school science curriculum has entered the final stages of field testing.  Throughout the development process, Iowa educators have played a variety of roles to support the field testing, revision, and professional learning for teachers around these materials.  

    As this project comes to an end, the OpenSciEd team is extending their work into the high school arena.  The HS project is focused on the development and implementation of high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials for high school Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  This resource will provide a 3-year pathway for Iowa students because of the integration of Earth and space science standards into the three courses. As a partner state, Iowa will again play a role in the development and revision process by field testing and providing feedback on classroom units. 

    Up to 36 Iowa teachers will be selected to field test the units and provide feedback to OpenSciEd for each unit and participate in the research’s data collection (i.e. interviews/learning logs, collecting student work/exit tickets, pre/post surveys). 

    The application period for interested districts and teachers will be open until April 30th. Here are links to the DISTRICT and TEACHER application forms. For more detail, please review the Project Overview document.

    An informational Zoom meeting with a Q&A will be held on April 22, 2021, from 4 PM-4:30 PM for those interested in learning more about the project.  You can use the following link to join the meeting:

    If you have any questions, please contact Iowa’s OpenSciEd Field Test Coordinator, Tami Plein (

    2021 Global Education Institute for Teachers – Register by May 1

    The 2021 Global Education Institute for Teachers: Global Perspectives on Social Justice, will be held on virtually on June 7-28, 2021.  The institute is organized by the Global Education Program at the Stanley Center and the University of Iowa International Programs and presented by the UI Stanley Museum of Art and College of Education. 

    K-12 teachers of all disciplines are invited to attend this year’s virtual institute, a month-long, one license renewal credit experience taught by University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art curators Kimberly Datchuk and Brady Plunger and UI College of Education’s, Will Coghill-Behrends.

    There will be mandatory live sessions every Monday from 9-10:30 a.m. and many other sessions (small-group discussions; videos; office hours; etc.) throughout the month.

    FREE tuition and course materials for everyone!

    Registration deadline is May 1, 2021

    *Priority preference will be given to teachers who have not participated before.

    More information may be found on our website at

    Please contact Amy Green at or 319-335-1433 with any questions.

    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.

    Helpful Resources for Educators and Families – i3 website

    Annette Clarahan, Family & Educator Partnership Coordinator

    It is essential that all parents, educators, and families have access to resources and tools to support their understanding of the special education and early intervention processes in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Education, Area Education Agencies (AEAs), local school districts, and community partner agencies have collaborated to provide valuable resources on the i3 website.

    The i3 Resources page has recently been updated and information can be found in the following two ago groups:

    • Early Intervention, Birth – 3                                   
    • Special Education, 3 yrs to graduation/21 yrs

    You will find a column for Educators, and one for Parents and Families. With the following topics you can easily search for the appropriate resource.  

    • Evaluations    
    • IEP/IFSP Meetings
    • IEP/IFSP Services and Supports
    • Procedural Safeguards & Rights
    • Forms & Model Letters

    Click here to see what you’ve been missing out on.

    The Cornerstone – April 2021

    Click on a post title below or scroll down to view all.

    April Celebrates 2021

    April Celebrates: Occupational Therapy; Autism Awareness; World Autism Awareness Day – April 2; International Children’s Book Day – April 2; National Library Week – April 4-10; Week of the Young Child – April 11-16; National Student Leadership Week – April 18-24; Administrative Professionals Day – April 21; and Earth Day – April 22.


    April has been designated as Occupational Therapy Month nationally and is celebrated throughout the country. Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants are part of an important profession that helps people across their lifespan to participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Their customized approach to evaluations, interventions, and outcomes help a child with disabilities participate in school and in social situations, and offer the specialized support and services to people of all ages and in all circumstances that only occupational therapy can provide.

    We want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank our own Great Prairie AEA Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants for the services they provide throughout our Great Prairie AEA service area. Thank you!