Grant Wood AEA logo
Bulletin Board


Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

Agency closes at 3 p.m. in observance of Thanksgiving


In This issue:


Changes Will Allow GWAEA's Career Connections Program Continued Growth
Agency Closings- Winter Storm Advisories
Flexible Spending Accounts – 2015 Plan Year Enrollment
Welcome, New GWAEA Staff!
Agency Holiday Potlucks
33rd Ave Renovation Update
Thank you
Have you signed up to join the Blue Zones Project™?
Blue Zones Project Purpose Workshops
Second Annual Cropping 4 Kids - Quota International
GWAEA Professional Development Opportunities
Buy, Sell or Trade


Agency Advisory Minutes

Grant Wood AEA Staff Openings

The GWAEA Board Book

The GWAEA Board Minutes


Past Issues








Articles for The Bulletin Board are due end of the day on Wednesdays. Submit your items email to
Valerie Taylor Hill
GWAEA Public Information Specialist.



Grant Wood AEA


To ensure success for all learners.

Grant Wood AEA Goals:

1. Increase the academic performance of all learners.

2. Increase the percentage of students who perform at the proficient level.

3. Increase student acquisition and application of 21st century skills and knowledge.


Changes Will Allow Grant Wood AEA's Career Connections Program Continued Growth

Career Connections was initiated by Grant Wood AEA more than a decade ago when the agency recognized a need for career planning, training and job coaching for special education students who had unmet needs in the areas of living, learning and working.

Since then, the program has established strong support among our community partners. This strong standing has opened doors for GWAEA to streamline some of the program’s administration. In 2014-15 we will begin making changes to the GWAEA’s Career Connections program.

"Career Connections is a valuable program, and no longer requires the administrative support our agency has provided in the past," explained Maria Cashman, GWAEA associate administrator.

We will be closely working with our community partners through a three-year transition process that will transition Career Connections into programs that are supported by GWAEA, but fully managed by five individual partnering agencies in our communities.

"This change is a more efficient use of GWAEA resources, and also allows additional options for the agencies we partner with," said Maria. "For example, Career Connections is currently funded from special education funds: with this transition, a partnering agency may utilize other funds to provide the Career Connections program, allowing them to provide service to at-risk or other populations of kids."

GWAEA will utilize a change management plan to gradually reduce and eventually eliminate GWAEA’s role in supporting the program while enabling it to become a standalone partnership between the existing partner agencies: Advancement Services of Jones County, Goodwill of the Heartland, Rural Employment Opportunities in Conroy, University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development and Optimae Lifeservices in Washington County. The GWAEA staff assigned to support the Career Connections program will remain contracted and will be reassigned according to needs of the agency.

Please contact Special Education Procedure Facilitator Melissa Tandy or Maria Cashman with questions about this transition.

Agency Closings - Winter Storm Advisories

When severe winter weather comes, staff is urged to make the decision whether or not to go to their assigned work site or leave work early, using the following criteria:

  • Is/are my school(s) closed?

  • Is there work I could be doing at my agency center?

  • Is it endangering my safety for me to travel?

Here is how the agency will respond to winter storm conditions. As a general rule, if a school remains open during a winter storm, the Agency will likely remain open.  If most of the schools are closed, it’s possible one or more of the agency centers may also close.



Most of the agency staff have the flexibility to make adjustments to their calendars to respond to bad weather situations.


Staff who work in the schools should pay close attention to morning school announcements for any announced closures or late starts. In the instances where the schools have closed for the day, staff serving those schools need to consider the circumstances. In some cases, the schools ask staff to report to the buildings. If this is productive time for you to be in the building so that you can meet with staff, you are encouraged to go in – as long as you feel the driving conditions are safe for you to travel.


If staff are not asked to report or the road conditions are not passable for you, consider making a calendar change and take a non-work day. When a school or Agency Center closes, staff members may see a need to work from home for all or part of a work day, in which case the staff member is to provide advance notice of this schedule change to their supervisor and receive prior approval of the intent to work from home.  This communication best serves all involved and provides clear understanding regarding staff schedules and time worked.  (As a general rule, hourly staff are not authorized to work from home.) Staff need to be the judge of what is safe or not safe driving conditions in your area. 


In the event an Agency Center closes, a voice mail message will be sent to all staff via the SchoolReach system. We will also do an all agency voice mail system message. If the decision is made to close one or more of the Agency Centers, the communications office will also contact KCRG-TV and place information on the agency Web site. Through the all-call voice message, staff will be informed regarding (a) which centers are affected, (b) when the center(s) will close, (c) when the agency anticipates reopening the center(s), and (d) when the next employee update will be available.


Employees scheduled to work during the time an agency center has been closed will be required to make up the work time missed while the Agency Center was closed. The primary options for making up the work time include: calendar change, emergency leave, personal leave or leave without pay (please see your Master Contract or terms and conditions of employment for additional options that may be available). Employee calendar and leave requests are subject to supervisor approval, so please work with your supervisor to determine the option that is appropriate for your situation.  In the event an employee performs assigned or approved work during a closing, the amount of time spent performing such services will be recognized and considered as work time.


When a staff member is not scheduled to work during an Agency closing because the closing occurred on a non-work day or other leave was scheduled to be used at the time of the closing (such as personal, illness/disability, vacation, etc.), these schedules are not affected by the Agency closing and are reported as usual.


As always, be smart, pack appropriate emergency supplies in your car, and plan ahead for bad weather.  If you have any questions about how you should respond to a weather delay or cancellation, talk to your supervisor before the weather turns bad to confirm how you should plan to act in such an emergency.

Flexible Spending Accounts – 2015 Plan Year Enrollment

This is a follow up to the e-mail communication sent to employees November 13.  We are in our enrollment period for the 2015 Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plan year.  The FSA program allows you to set aside money from your paychecks on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified health and dependent care expenses.  The following documents are available for further guidance and enrollment:

Employees must complete the ASI Flex Enrollment Form if electing to participate in a health and/or dependent care flex account for the 2015 plan year.  Please submit the enrollment form to Cathy Kearns, Grant Wood AEA Business Services, by  December 3,  2014.   


Remember:  Our FSA program runs on a calendar year basis, January 1 through December 31.  Participants must re-enroll in the FSA program each year, even if you don't want your election amount to change.


Questions can be directed to Cathy Kearns, Grant Wood AEA Business Services.

Welcome, New Grant Wood AEA Staff



Anna Darville
Science Center Technician
B.S., Ag Systems Technology, Iowa State University

Anna's background includes positions as a fulfillment agent with Nordstroms Direct, June - November, 2014; as a customer service rep with Sedgewick CMS, June 2013 - May 2014; and as a research laborer with Monsanto, Jan. 2006 - May 2013.




Patrick Mahoney
Clerk - VAST Center
B.B.S., Business Management, University of Iowa

Patrick has held positions with the University of Iowa Community Credit Union, July 2013-May 2014, and with Hy-Vee, Inc., Jan. 2010 - June 2013.




Shaun Majid
B.A., University of Iowa

Shaun's background includes positions as a business analyst with Bank of America, 1998-2002, and as a substitute teacher with the Iowa City Community Schools, 2007-2014.




Cynthia Strang
B.S., Moorhead, Minnesota

Cynthia worked in special education and as a supervision counselor for juveniles in Madison, Wisconsin.




Michelle Wyman
Clerk - VAST Center


Agency Holiday Potlucks


Please join us for good food, good friends, good fun. Bring a dish to share.

Sixth Street Potluck

Monday, Dec. 8

11:30 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.

Scale Up Classroom

Coralville Potluck

Wednesday, Dec. 10

8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Coralville office

33rd Ave Renovation Update


The concrete work continues at 33rd Avenue.

Work continues on the floor finishing.



The VAST Science Curriculum Units are returning in preparation for the next distribution.


Watch for additional information and photo updates in The Bulletin Board.


Patty Soldner, GWAEA occupational therapist, is sharing the joyful news of the birth of a granddaughter, Alana Joy, arriving Nov. 8, to her daughter and son-in-law, Rachel & Andy Marass of Cedar Falls. Alana weighed 7lbs. 3 oz., 20.5 in. long. Patty shared that, "she is a beauty and perfect in every way!"

Thank You


Grant Wood AEA Staff,
Thank you for all the hygiene products you have shared. Jan and Myra will continue to collect items until Monday, Nov. 24. Jamie and her class will benefit greatly from your generosity.

Thanks much!


Myra Hall and Jan Baburek

On behalf of the conference planning committee, I would like to thank you for your generous support of the Playology Institute on Nov. 1, 2014.You have a beautiful facility and it proved to be a wonderful venue for the conference.


The use of your facility allows HACAP to provide much needed continuing education hours for the early childhood teachers who are caring for our youngest citizens. We have had a wonderful response to our conference. Once again, I would like to offer a very heartfelt thank you.




Amy Bruner

HACAP - Conference Planning Committee

Have you signed up to join the Blue Zones Project™?

Participants have access to an online well-being community available at no cost. See the May 8 issue of The Bulletin Board for a list of well-being community activities. Sign up today at (remember to use the Grant Wood AEA code: GWAEA) and take the personal pledge. And, receive a Grant Wood AEA water bottle for signing up.


Contact a member of the GROW Team for more information.


See flyer for details


Soundness with Sayde

Grant Wood AEA Sixth St. facility


Class dates:

Monday, Nov. 17, 4:30-5:30 p.m.


Cost: $5 for each session; $15 to attend all four sessions. Bring a yoga mat and blanket.

Blue Zones Project
Purpose Workshops


A PD opportunity is available that will also count towards employees' Blue Zones pledge actions! Staff are invited to review the Blue Zones Purpose Workshop offerings and may consider attending

one of the workshops in Cedar Rapids or Iowa City as a PD event, upon approval of the supervisor. Purpose is one of the foundational pillars vital to creating a worksite environment that supports well-being. People with purpose live longer, are happier and more productive. A sense of purpose makes a difference!

Second Annual Cropping 4 Kids

Quota International of Cedar Rapids


Jan. 23-24, 2015

Friday, 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Held at Grant Wood AEA, 4401 Sixth St. S.W.,
Cedar Rapids

Cost: $20 Friday, $35 Saturday, $45 both days.


See the information and registration flyers for details.


New TQ Dates 2014-2015

Feb. 18, May 27, 2015
The TQ proposal template and directions are available on the GWAEA Staff Portal under the
Teacher Quality Committee
link. Please submit your proposal electronically to Sherry Sines at by the dates listed above. Proposal reviews are typically completed by the
TQ committee within 7 - 10 days after the due date.

Grant Wood AEA Professional Development Opportunities


Information for Professional Development National Speakers is now available on the link to
GWAEA Featured PD
on the homepage.

Evaluator Approval Information

Professional Administrator Licenses require approved Evaluator Approval coursework as a part of the licenses renewal credits.  The course options include Assessing Academic Rigor and iEvaluate.A letter from the DE/BOEE is attached for additional information. Please contact the PD office if you have further questions.

Buy, Sell or Trade

For Sale: The Kennedy High School Band is selling fruit, garland and poinsettias through 11/17. Order forms are available in the staff breakroom. For more details, contact Susie Green. Items will be delivered the week of 12/1.


For Sale: One year old Canon EOS Rebel T5i, 18-55mm STM Lens, EF-S 55-250mm STM IS F/4-5.6 Lens, Filter, Cleaning Kit, 2 yr. Warranty Extension, 8 GB Extreme SDHC. New at Photo Pro in Cedar Rapids (Dec 2013) - $1,312.62 ------ For Sale - $847.00. Call Jerry at 350-2728 or 399-6741.


Wanted: Stacy Murphy is collecting Pink Yoplait lids for the Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives program. Collection containers are in the Sixth St. facility staff break room or send to Stacy by office mail.


GW logoAEA logo

Grant Wood Area Education Agency extends equal opportunities in its employment practices, educational programs and services, and does not discriminate on the basis of color, gender, race, national origin, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status or as otherwise prohibited by law. If you believe you or your child has been discriminated against or treated unjustly, please contact the Agency’s Equity Coordinator, Maria Cashman, at 319-399-6847 or 800-332-8488 or TDD 319-399-6766, Grant Wood AEA, 4401 Sixth St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.

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