GPAEA Schools in the News – October 2019

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.

FAFSA Completion Data & GPAEA Districts


Jessica Vance, School Improvement Consultant,

Last year, Iowa became the first state to ensure all high schools have the opportunity to receive and review FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion data, through partnerships with AEA PREP and Iowa College Aid.  At Great Prairie AEA, three (3) districts who use these reports significantly increased the percentage of seniors who completed the FAFSA, from the previous year.

  • Keota: 14% increase in FAFSA completion
  • New London: 19% increase in FAFSA completion
  • Oskaloosa: 8% increase in FAFSA completion

Why is FAFSA completion so important?  According to the FAFSA Completion Initiative, 90% of students who complete the FAFSA proceed directly to college.  Additionally, “checking in” on FAFSA completion gives caring educators multiple opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations with students – ensuring all students have a postsecondary goal and plan.  

New London school counselor Rita Alspach stated, “Having the weekly report helped me reach out to every student, and it was exciting to see our completion rates increase.” She also encouraged working with partners. New London partnered with Southeastern Community College (SCC) during their conferences, which meant the staff was available to support completing the FAFSA – both at New London or at the SCC campus.  

October brings the opening of a new FAFSA season and schools can look forward to receiving FAFSA completion data again, starting in late October or early November.

The Cornerstone – October 2018


Click on a link or scroll down to view a post.


Professional Learning Courses Available – October 2019

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Click on a course number to be directed to the AEA Professional Learning System to login and register. Learn more at

180859 GP – EL Network 2019-20 Michelle Dickey 10/08/19 05/20/20 R
180859 GP – EL Network 2019-20 Michelle Dickey 10/09/19 05/21/20 R
167502 GP – Substitute Authorization Grades Pk-12 (CL) Kim Ensminger 10/11/19 10/25/19 R
180578 GP – GPAEA Science Networks 2019 Tracy Jarrett 10/14/19 10/15/19 R
168090 GP – PBIS Tier 1 Booster Workshop Rachelle Blazic 10/15/19 10/15/19
181369 GP – Early Childhood Network 2019-2020 Dawn Johnson;; Anne Michel 10/16/19 05/06/20 R
181377 GP – Big Ideas of Early Mathematics Study Group Dawn Johnson;; Anne Michel 10/16/19 01/31/20 R
168090 GP – PBIS Tier 1 Booster Workshop Rachelle Blazic 10/17/19 10/17/19
181525 GP – Implementing Iowas Social Studies Standards-Year 3 Seth Denney;; Alana Hutchinson 10/17/19 10/18/19
181600 GP-ESSA MTSS Data System (Panorama Student Success) Panorama and TC/SSIT Co-Led Mark Crady;; Angelisa Fynaardt;; Jaci Jarmes 10/17/19 10/17/19
181600 GP-ESSA MTSS Data System (Panorama Student Success) Panorama and TC/SSIT Co-Led Mark Crady;; Angelisa Fynaardt;; Jaci Jarmes 10/17/19 10/17/19
160422 GP – Substitute Authorization Grades Pk-12 Stephanie Vititoe 10/19/19 10/26/19 R
181273 GP – LinoBlock Printing Gail Hunter 10/19/19 11/02/19 R
168015 GP – PBIS Supplemental Tier 2 Rachelle Blazic 10/21/19 01/21/20 R
180649 GP – Iowa Science Standards Boot Camp Workshop for Teachers Tracy Jarrett 10/21/19 10/22/19
181633 GP – ESSA MTSS Data System (Panorama Student Success) TC/SSIT Led Mark Crady;; Angelisa Fynaardt;; Jaci Jarmes 10/22/19 10/22/19
181633 GP – ESSA MTSS Data System (Panorama Student Success) TC/SSIT Led Mark Crady;; Angelisa Fynaardt;; Jaci Jarmes 10/22/19 10/22/19
180578 GP – GPAEA Science Networks 2019 Tracy Jarrett 10/24/19 10/25/19 R
181525 GP – Implementing Iowas Social Studies Standards-Year 3 Seth Denney;; Alana Hutchinson 10/28/19 10/29/19
181633 GP – ESSA MTSS Data System (Panorama Student Success) TC/SSIT Led Mark Crady;; Angelisa Fynaardt;; Jaci Jarmes 10/28/19 10/28/19
181633 GP – ESSA MTSS Data System (Panorama Student Success) TC/SSIT Led Mark Crady;; Angelisa Fynaardt;; Jaci Jarmes 10/28/19 10/28/19
181525 GP – Implementing Iowas Social Studies Standards-Year 3 Seth Denney;

Alana Hutchinson

10/30/19 10/31/19


Celebrating Principals during October #ThankAPrincipal

NASSP18NPM-0008_SocialMedia_Insta_P1cJoin the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the American Federation of School Administrators this October as we honor the hard work and dedication of America’s principals all month long.

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.

We at Great Prairie AEA wish to say THANK YOU to all of our area Principals for their dedication to the students of southeast Iowa!

Learn more about National Principals Month at


October is Dyslexia Awareness Month


October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. There are many definitions of dyslexia, including the Iowa Code definition that can be found on the home page. The following is the International Dyslexia Association’s definition which you may see when searching for information. “Dyslexia is a neurological condition that is caused by different wiring within the brain. It is characterized by poor spelling and decoding abilities as well as difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition.” Dyslexia can have a mild, moderate, or severe impact on learning. There is no cure for dyslexia, but with appropriate instruction, almost all can learn to read.  

Here are a few resources to help you create awareness within your District:

Thank you GPAEA PTs & PTAs – October is National Physical Therapy Month

October is National Physical Therapy Month, and an opportunity for Great Prairie AEA to celebrate and recognize our five 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 with 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. Learn more about GPAEA Physical Therapy service at

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

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

drake education logo

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

International female friends studying at the library together

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: