Summer Online Courses from Drake

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Register Now for a Summer Online Course!
You can receive a Drake University education regardless of your location through Continuing Education & Professional Development. You may take Drake developed online courses for graduate credit or Iowa License Renewal credit. All of our courses are interactive and include practical information. Click on any of the below course titles for additional information including offering dates.

Summer Online Course Listing
Additional Drake Online Offerings Developed by PLS 3rd Learning
Visit or call 1-800-76-TEACH (8-3224) for more information about our offerings.
Students seeking to use these courses for recertification or salary advancement should seek prior approval from their school district or appropriate licensing agency.
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.

Nicole Herdrich of Central Lee is Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year


Nicole Herdrich

Congratulations to GPAEA Principal Nicole Herdrich!

Nicole Herdrich, Central Lee High School principal, has been named the 2020 Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year by School Administrators of Iowa.

Summarizing the mission of the school she leads, Herdrich said, “As high school educators, we focus on academics, the content learning piece of instruction—the facts, figures, dates and formulas. A second piece we are also responsible for is filling the students’ ‘toolbox’ with learning tools and strategies they can use in new and novel settings to learn outside of the classroom. The third focus of successful education is raising teens with sound character, well-developed soft skills and leadership skills; in other words, educating the heart of the student. When we balance our instruction between these three vital areas—academics, learning tools and growing good people, we have a comprehensive framework for meeting the needs of today’s high schoolers and tomorrow’s workforce leaders.”

“Congratulations to Nicole Herdrich on her award! Her passion for her staff and students resonated with the selection committee. Nicole is that special leader who models each day the importance and value of building strong relationships with others,” SAI Executive Director Roark Horn expressed.

Herdrich has led the school since 2014 and was previously elementary principal in the district. Her education career began as an elementary special education teacher in Fort Madison. She holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and an additional special education endorsement from Western Illinois University and her master’s in educational leadership from Viterbo University.

View original post on SAI’s website at

“I’m going to do my best”

Annette Clarahan, Family & Educator Coordinator

Landing airplane. Landscape with white passenger airplane is flying in the blue sky with clouds at colorful sunset. Travel background. Passenger airliner. Business trip. Commercial aircraft. Concept

Last March, I was flying into Cedar Rapids from Richmond, VA. Iowa had just received several inches of wet heavy snow overnight and it was still coming down. Sitting in the airport in Virginia I’m thinking our flight will be cancelled due to the snow in Iowa. To my surprise, we had a short delay but our flight was not cancelled. As we were sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off, the pilot made an announcement. “Welcome aboard United Airlines. Cedar Rapids is experiencing some light snow with several inches on the ground overnight.”  It’s what he said next that alarmed me and several around me. “We’re going to do our best to get you there and land safely.” I love to fly, but I have to admit that made my anxiety level rise. As I’m telling myself we’re fine, several passengers around me were apparently thinking the same thing. One said, “I don’t want him to do his best, I want him to do it!” The flight to Iowa was calm. As we were preparing for landing the pilot said, “Welcome to Cedar Rapids, it’s 28 degrees with light snowfall. They’ve just cleared the runway for us and I’m going to do my best to land safely. It might be a little rough but I’ll do my best.”  My mouth dropped open as I’m holding on for life and praying for a safe landing. As I looked around most of the other passengers had the deer in the headlights look. Everyone was so quiet upon landing you could have heard a pin drop. We landed safely and the chatter amongst the passengers once again went back to, “I didn’t want him to do his best, I wanted to hear we’re going to land safely.”

So why am I telling you this story? When the stress and tension is high in an IEP meeting how often do we tell parents “We’re going to do our best?”  With the circumstances of the weather on this flight, my anxiety level along with many others, hearing the words “going to do my best” was not good enough. I’ve flown many times over the years, not once did the words “going to do my best” to land safely ever crossed my mind.  I’ve sat in many 504 and IEP meetings and heard staff including myself say we’re going to do our best. Parents, coworkers, and family members want to know that decisions made during the meeting are being taken care of and followed through. IEP meetings are events and milestones for parents, not just a meeting. Stress and anxiety could be high during these times and they want to hear from those working with their child/grandchild that they matter and not just doing our best.


FEP coordinators work with parents, educators, and local school districts to provide FEP programs, services, and activities; they are also parents of children or young adults with special needs. Please call your coordinator for more information about what the FEP can do for you. Learn more at

Substitute Authorization Offerings in Ottumwa and Albia – March, June & July

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Are you interested in being a Substitute Teacher? GPAEA is offering authorization courses in Ottumwa and Albia. Register today!

Substitute authorizations are issued to candidates who have completed a bachelor’s degree but have not completed a teacher preparation program.  They must complete a substitute authorization course and apply for the authorization. They may serve up to 5 consecutive days and no more than 10 days in a 30-day period in one job assignment in any classroom PK-12.  Learn more about requirements at

Click on a link below to be taken to Iowa Professional Learning System to register.

Celebrate National School Social Work Week – March 1-7

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School social workers confront some of the most challenging issues facing students and their families. National School Social Work Week is always celebrated the first full week in March, and we wish to acknowledge and thank our team of dedicated school social workers!

Great Prairie AEA School Social Workers: Shelli Blazic; Shaunda Campbell; Nancy Cristoforo; Shannon Dameron; Tana Fourdyce; Katherine Horn; Jessica Johnson; Amanda Larkin; Lindsey Long; Heather Main; Jodi Marlette; Carie Masters; Heather McAtee; Abby McGuire; Amy Molyneux; Kim Richert; Kibben Rumohr; Lynn Sheagren, Samantha Smith; Brenda Starr; Cindy Starr; Brianne Stuchel; Joan Summer; Kathy Utterback; Katie Vansickel; Ashley White; and Kacie Wood

Stay tuned for a special news post featured in this month’s The Cornerstone to be published at the end of the week. 

Thank you for all that you do for GPAEA and area students and families!


2020 STEM Summit “Transforming Education for the Workforce” – April 14

Attention Educators! Attend the 2020 STEM Summit “Transforming Education for the Workforce” in Des Moines on April 14th!

FREE Registration for PK-12 Educators! Register at

Free Optional Renewal Credit & Substitute Reimbursement Available! (Register here). *Renewal Credit requires attendance at the summit and completion of online self-paced learning activities.


For questions, please contact Laura Williams at

STEM BEST Application Open Feb 10 – June 15, 2020

STEM_LogoA priority for the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council for 2020-2021 is to expand the community of innovative, replicable STEM work-based learning models, known as Iowa STEM BEST® (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) Program.

The goal of STEM BEST® Program is to unite educators and employers to expand the learning continuum from school to careers. STEM BEST® programs bring educators and employers together to expand and invigorate learning and create a bridge between preK-12, post-secondary and community careers. Working side-by-side, educators and industry professionals will craft curriculum and projects that prepare students for an exciting future.

The program features flexible funding (up to $25,000) that can be used to explore potential, create programs, or expand existing successes. Overarching guidelines are provided to assist proposers. These guidelines allow for ample flexibility in design to encourage and support organic development of STEM BEST® Programs that match local strengths, challenges, and resources.

Learn more at

Iowa Superintendents Campaign for State Support

[DES MOINES] – Today, more than 100 superintendents representing school districts across the state of Iowa combined forces in Des Moines this morning to rally legislators to provide adequate support for their students in advance of Friday, February 14  – the deadline in Iowa Code for the Iowa General Assembly to determine supplemental funding for public schools.

“The narrative has changed dramatically over the years,” shared David Ludwig, Executive Director of Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs). “Our superintendents regularly share that they need more than three percent in Supplemental State Aid (SSA) to maintain pace with projected expenses. This year superintendents are hearing legislators debate between 2.1 and 2.5 percent, a number that isn’t adequate to support student needs.”

“Quality public schools strengthen our communities and are the cornerstone of any sound economic development policy. Today, Iowa school superintendents are asking legislators for adequate support and hoping their voices are heard,” Ludwig added.

This annual event, coordinated across Iowa by the Area Education Agency system, provides an important opportunity for school leaders to have productive conversations with elected officials about the local impact of diminished funding and what’s needed to maintain quality programming for all of Iowa’s students

Representatives from every AEA and about 100 school districts across the state spoke with legislators about the demands of public education. As they talk about their funding needs, they also are asking for additional funding to support the changing classroom dynamics experienced in every corner of the state.

“Nearly every school leader we talk to shares the struggles that teachers are having with the mental health needs of their students,” added Ludwig. “Iowa’s AEAs were appropriated $2.2 million last session to start training and support services for districts to support this need. We are encouraged by conversations with our legislators that our solutions are already positively impacting students in both urban and rural districts.”

“Today is a great day for united outreach, with educators from both rural and urban districts across the state. We look forward to working closely with our legislators to help them understand the impact of their decisions on the families and children in their respective districts,” said Ludwig.

The Cornerstone – February 2020


Click on a link below or scroll down to read all articles. Enjoy!

ICYMI: Past Headlines

Iowa Authentic Learning Network Spring Opportunities

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Download ALNOpportunitiesFlyer20200110-2 (1) to register for the following Iowa Authentic Learning Network Opportunities:

  • Feb 11 Best practices in STEM #Reboot
  • April 1-2 Agile for Education: A Scrum Play by Play
  • April 8th Iowa ALN Professional Learning & Student Expo
  • April 22nd Iowa ALN Professional Learning & Student Expo

For questions please contact:
Laura Williams, 21st Century Learning Specialist

-> Student ALN Expo Set up Instructions

Does your district have the next Iowa Teacher of the Year?

Thousands of talented Iowa educators lead and inspire their students, but only one is chosen annually as the state’s ambassador to education. The deadline to nominate the 2021 Iowa Teacher of the Year is April 1.

The award is an opportunity to recognize an exceptional Iowa teacher who is helping redefine education. Nominations will be accepted from anyone, including students, parents, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members, and associations (self-nominations, and nominations from family members are not accepted).

Nomination forms can be found at Iowa Teacher of the Year 2021.

The Iowa Teacher of the Year serves as an ambassador to education and as a liaison to primary and secondary schools, higher education, and organizations across the state.

George Anderson of Cedar Rapids was named the 2020 Iowa Teacher of the Year last month.

See original post at

Microbits for Teaching Coding and Makerspace Projects

Lisa Jacobs & Seth Denney, GPAEA Instructional Technology Coaches

Microbits are small battery-operated circuit boards that students can write programs for on a computer or Chromebook. Beginners love writing code to make the screen (25 tiny led lights) spell out words and display simple pictures.  As their programming skills develop, students can create interactive games, connect to motors, or speakers, use the built-in light, temperature, and motion sensors. The devices also have a built-in radio feature so they can send messages to other Microbits or connect via bluetooth.  

Students can use block coding, Javascript, and Python programming languages.  There are many tutorials, lessons, and example projects available on this website  

Here is a link to information for purchasing Microbits from Amazon.

Contact or to schedule Microbit and Coding demonstrations for you and/or your students.

Spring 2020 Semester Offerings from Drake

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Happy New Year from Drake University’s Continuing Education and Professional Development Department!  We are excited to spring into 2020 with some new offerings and also some reinvented offerings in different formats.  Registration is now open for most of the courses listed below and you can always check our website for more information:

Power of Play: Learning, Communicating and Engaging Learners

Saturday, March 28 and Saturday, April 18

Registration Opens Tuesday, January 21st

Instructor: Susan Dannen

The purpose of this one-credit face-to-face experiential course is to explore the importance of play in learning.  To the observer, students look like they are “just playing”, but together we will unravel the big picture to find the underlying learning taking place through play.  Participants will acquire tools on how to observe play, while learning techniques to interact and respond to play themes.  Attendees will understand concurrently about the rationale behind the importance of play in child development and in education settings, how students use play as part of their social-emotional language and how to effectively observe and respond to messages in play.  This course will be offered for both relicensure credit and graduate credit.

Connecting with African American Students in the Classroom:  A Culturally Responsive Approach to Learning

Saturday, April 4 and Saturday, April 25

Registration Opens Monday, February 3rd 
Instructor: Jeanette Thomas

This one credit face-to-face course examines the educational experiences of African American students in Iowa schools.  Educational practices and organizational structures provide insight into how inequalities due to social, class, race, and other social differences shape educational outcomes.  Individual student experiences in schools are considered with a focus on K-12 public education with an emphasis on urban schools in low-income communities.  Research based strategies with data driven results are studied to provide a framework for analysis for students to incorporate into the classroom setting.  Collaborative partnerships between educators, parents, community service agencies, mental health and social services are highlighted in an effort to illustrate best practices and what works to address the needs of marginalized African American students.  This course will be offered for both relicensure credit and graduate credit.

Teacher Self-Care: Learn Strategies for Yourself and for Your Colleagues

Monday, June 22 and Tuesday, June 23

Registration Opens Monday, February 24th 

Instructor: Judi Mireles

This one-credit course offered for relicensure credit is a self-care workshop for educators!  We will spend the first day learning techniques and strategies for your own self-care and then spend the next day turning outward to think about how you can support the self-care of your colleagues.  Prepare to fill up your motivational gas tank and think about the upcoming year.  You will not be required to purchase a text, however, there is a materials fee due to the make-and-take nature of the course.

Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom:  A Clinician’s Perspective

Thursday, June 25 and Friday, June 26

Registration Opens Monday, February 3rd 
Instructors: Leslie Rogers and Kirsten Smith

This one-credit hour face-to-face course will explore key components and stages of social emotional learning (SEL), related brain anatomy and function, and factors that may impact SEL development.  Participants will learn about a host of factors that may impact a child’s social emotional affect across the school day along with techniques and strategies that will assist teachers, counselors, and administrators in understanding SEL motivators. This course is taught by two ChildServe clinicians who have had the opportunity to work with children one-on-one and want to help educators understand children’s individual SEL needs.  This course is offered for both graduate and license renewal credit.

The Domino Effect Program is Now an Online Course

Registration is Now Open, See Below

Our highly successful Domino Effect program has been converted into a one-hour online course. This was done using video and other content from our fall, 2018 event at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. Students will experience the entire program from the eyes of an audience member with insights from incarcerated women, guardians serving children of incarcerated women and Dr. Jerome Greenfield who is an expert on mental health. This new class will be offered later this spring (April-May), use the following link to register:  NEW ONLINE WOMEN’S DOMINO EFFECT CLASS

The Domino Effect Program at the Men’s Penitentiary in Fort Madison

Registration is Now Open, See Below

We are excited to continue this program at the men’s prison this spring on Wednesday, April 22nd.  This course may be taken for license renewal or graduate credit.


Inspiring Investigations through Citizen Science

March 23-April 27, 2020

Registration is Now Open, See Below

This one graduate credit online course allows students to 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; create an implementation plan for using citizen science and science investigations with students. This course is being offered through a partnership between Drake University Continuing Education and Professional Development and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Follow this link to register for this course: Inspiring Investigations through Citizen Science 

The Drake Summer Music Institute will offer four opportunities this summer:
Registration information will be posted on our website soon: CEPD Special Events, Conferences, and Courses

Popular Music Pedagogies: Modern Band in the Classroom

June 17-19, Instructor: Dr. Bryan Powell

Bel Canto Solfeggio (this will be two, 2-day courses)

June 22-25, Instructor: John Armstrong

Music Literacy

June 10-11, Instructor: Dr. Carol Krueger

Kodaly Certification, Levels I, II, III

July 13-24, Instructors: Tom Sletto, Barbara Sletto, Sandy Miller, Kris VerSteegt

Drake’s Education Leadership Symposium will Highlight Standards Based Grading:

Registration Opens Monday, February 10th

National assessment expert and author Rick Wormeli will be the keynote speaker in the morning and the afternoon will include breakout sessions focusing on best classroom and leadership practices.

June 17 – Hy-Vee Hall (Room 101), Des Moines.  Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. and the event ends at 3:00 p.m.  Cost $199 which includes continental breakfast and lunch.

Quick links to additional Continuing Education and Professional Development resources

Courses for Coaches and Physical Educators  (Online and Video Correspondence) 
Online courses for teachers 
Special Events, Conferences, and Courses
FAQ’s for students

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.

The Cornerstone – January 2020


Happy New Year! Enjoy this issue of The Cornerstone. Scroll down to begin reading or click on a news link below.