Grant Wood AEA logo


Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015
Agency closes at 3 p.m. in observance of Thanksgiving

In This issue:


GWAEA PRIDE: Ambre Bernards
United Way Campaign Kicks Off Next Week
Network Upgrade Moved to Friday, Nov. 6
American Education Week 2015
Bookshare: An Introduction for Districts
Grant Wood AEA Job Readiness Fair
Education Directory Update
AEA/DE Customer Satisfaction Survey
Standards-Based Grading Conference with
Dr. Thomas Guskey
Your Child's Future... The Possibilities are Endless - Monticello 
Digital Learning Tech Tip - Uploading a Document to Google Drive
iPad Care Reminder
GWAEA GROW News/Upcoming Events
- Weight Watchers Anniversary
- Weight Watchers at Work
- November is American Diabetes Month
- New GWAEA Yoga Club
- Blue365 Member Discounts
- Core Fitness Member

- Lunch and Learn
- Mindfulness 101:  Stress Reduction and Wellness
Special Education Staff Fall Opportunities to Retool and Refresh
GWAEA Professional Development Opportunities


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 Mission: To ensure success for all learners.


GWAEA PRIDE: Ambre Bernards
Iowa School Social Worker of the Year




Congratulations to Ambre Bernards, GWAEA school social worker, who was recently named the Iowa School Social Worker of the Year by Iowa School Social Workers' Association.


Ambre has been a school social worker at GWAEA for 10 years. She has a passion for ensuring that all students receive appropriate support and services while maintaining their independence.


Ambre has served as a discipline lead, supported and organized school social work meetings with a focus on skill development in best practice approaches to behavior. She has provided support and training to new staff, planning and developing professional development, and creating systems of support.


Congratulations, Ambre!

United Way Campaign Launches Tomorrow


We will be launching our GWAEA employee campaign for charitable giving tomorrow- and it will function differently from previous years.


All GWAEA staff will receive an email from Benjamin Hoover with United Way of East Central Iowa . Through this email staff can make a secure contribution to United Way of East Central Iowa or to United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties. Additionally, staff will be able to see their giving history with United Way.


Paper donation forms also will be available upon request (email Renee Nelson). Additional information about our United Way campaign is available here from The Bulletin Board,
Oct. 29, 2015.

Network Upgrade Moved to Friday, Nov. 6, 2015

A network outage is planned on Friday, Nov. 6 at 6:00 a.m. The outage is expected to last no longer than 30 minutes. For questions, contact Brandon Watson, GWAEA network administrator.


Bookshare: An Introduction for Districts

This workshop will provide an introduction to Bookshare resources and reading tools for use by eligible students in our local school districts. Area school districts and/or buildings are encouraged to have at least one trained staff person to support the management and use of Bookshare materials. Those individuals attending this workshop should already possess a Bookshare Username and Password for their school account. Contact Bookshare for more details. Demonstration and use of reading tools needed to download and to access these digital materials will be provided. Hands-on opportunity to download and utilize these accessible instructional materials will be provided.

Number: 19104-15-02

Date: 12/04/2015 12:30-3:30 p.m.

Assignment Due: 12/04/2015 

Location: Grant Wood AEA, 4401 Sixth St. S.W., Cedar Rapids

Audience: K-12 Adminstrators, General and Special Education Teachers, Media Specialists

Registration Deadline: 12/01/2015 06:00 a.m.

Grant Wood AEA Job Readiness Fair, Jan. 26, 2016

Grant Wood AEA will be hosting a Job Readiness Fair, a demonstration-based learning event that will apply career education lessons from the classroom. Registration is open to teams of 10th and 11th grade special education students, accompanied by a teacher from their school.
(See the flyer for complete details.)


During the event students will:

1. Practice completing a job application

2. Participate in a face-to-face mock interview

3. Participate in a telephone or “skyped” mock interview

4. Interact with and receive feedback from area employers

5. Attend informational sessions regarding employment in the 21st century


For information, contact Susie Green, GWAEA student programs specialist or Megan Burke-Brunscheen,
GWAEA special education consultant.



2015 Job Readiness Fair flyer

(Registration deadline: Nov. 30)


Education Directory Update


There are two ways to access information about our LEA partners. You can access details:


1.  Through this map on our website, which is in the process of being updated with this year's information,


2. Access the 2015-16 education directory. This data has been updated and is current for the year. We are no longer printing large quantities of this document, but will coordinate hard copies for staff who would like one. You can make requests for the directory here.

AEA/DE Customer Satisfaction Survey



The 2015-16 AEA Customer Satisfaction Survey will be available beginning
Monday, Oct. 19. The Iowa Department of Education conducts this annual statewide survey. The survey provides us with insight on what the AEA is doing right and what we can do to improve our services.

Educators are invited by email to participate in the AEA Customer Satisfaction Survey.
We ask that you encourage the teachers you work with to participate so that we can gain valuable input about our programs and services.


Please mention to LEA staff about this survey. If they haven't seen it distributed through their district, please let Renee Nelson know and share this link with LEA staff.

Standards-Based Grading Conference
with presenter
Dr. Thomas Guskey

March 23, 2016
8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Grant Wood AEA Northern Facility
4401 Sixth Street S.W. 
Cedar Rapids Iowa


See flyer for details.

This conference is designed to help educators learn how to effectively develop, design and implement a standards-based grading system that aligns with current instruction and assessment practices, and supports the Iowa Core Curriculum and Iowa's Competency Based Education model. Classroom practitioners will share resources and practices that have led to successful implementation.

Registration fee for educators in Grant Wood AEA, $150.


This year's conference will feature Dr. Thomas R. Guskey. Dr. Guskey is Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky.
A graduate of the University of Chicago, he began his career in education as a middle school teacher, served as an administrator in Chicago Public Schools, and was the first Director of the Center for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning, a national educational research center. He will share with participants the key elements to reform assessment, grading, and reporting practices in schools.


Number: 19272-15-01

Location: Grant Wood AEA Northern Facility, 4401 Sixth St. S.W., Cedar Rapids

Audience: K-12 Administrators, Teachers, Consultants

Registration Deadline: 3/9/2016, 06:00 AM 


  • Educators in Grant Wood AEA area, Total for non-credit $ 150

  • Outside of Grant Wood AEA area,Total for non-credit $ 175

  • Registration is not complete until all fees are paid in full.

Your Child's Future... The Possibilities are Endless - Monticello 

Nov. 12, 2015

6:00-8:00 p.m.


Jones Regional Education Center
Monticello, Iowa


Number: 19052-15-01

Registration recommended but not required.


See flyer for details.


Digital Learning Tech Tip- Where does my Google file live?

Quick tech tip to figure out about where your Google file is located in Drive.

iPad Care Reminder

This is a friendly reminder to be careful with your iPad! Even if it is in a case the devices can’t uphold a lot of weight and pressure or be 100% protected if they are dropped. Please don’t leave it out in extreme temperatures, don’t keep it outside of a protective case for extended periods of time,  and keep the off the floor.


We understand that accidents happen, but we have run out of spare devices due to a large number coming in damaged this fall. If you do have a damaged device, please contact
Stacy Behmer,, as soon as possible.

GROW News/Upcoming Events

- Weight Watchers Anniversary

- Weight Watchers, Sept. 22, 2015 - Feb. 2, 2015
- November is American Diabetes Month

- New Yoga Club to Meet at GWAEA

- Volunteering - Discover the Benefits of Giving Back

- Volunteers Needed for Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

- Blue365 Member Discounts

- Core Fitness Member Discounts

- Grant Wood AEA Blood Drive, Friday, Oct. 23

- Lunch and Learn with a Hy-Vee Dietician,
Nov. 9, 2015

- Mindfulness 101:  Stress Reduction and Wellness



Contact a member of the GROW Team for more information.

Visit these Facebook links for upcoming activities and events:

Cedar Rapids Blue Zones Project

Iowa City Blue Zones Project

Marion Blue Zones Project


Keep improving your well-being by participating in one of the many Blue Zones Project events in the Cedar Rapids, Marion and Iowa City areas.


Weight Watchers At Work – Everyone is Welcome to Join


The excitement just keeps growing …

New 19-week session:  9/22/2015 – 2/2/2016 (you may join any time during the session)


Membership Opportunity extended to staff, family and friends

(find a location that works for you -- GWAEA on Tuesdays or any community location)


Payment options – payable to Weight Watchers at time of registration

one check or credit card payment ($186 total for the 19-week session – prorated for remaining weeks) or three checks submitted at time of registration to be deposited - week 1, week 5, and week 9


Contact:  Kim Martin /399-6710/

November is American Diabetes Month


November is American Diabetes Month®. During their 75th anniversary year, join the
American Diabetes Association® and put good food and good health on the table with this year’s focus – Eat Well, America!


Each week during November, visit to find recipes for every meal, including snacks and special occasion treats, tip sheets and shopping lists. Take the guesswork out of planning, preparing and plating healthy and delicious foods every day – from start to finish.

New Yoga Club at
Grant Wood AEA

Mondays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. 
Media Center (outside the Glass Classroom


A group of GWAEA staff is beginning a new yoga club that will meet Mondays and Thursdays at 
4:30 p.m
(unless the agency is closed) in the
Media Center area outside of the Glass Classroom.


Nicole ClymerTara Johannsen and Cathy Kearns will facilitate the weekly sessions with the assistance of yoga DVDs. Bring your mats, blocks and straps if you have them. There is no fee or sign-up required to join. The sessions began Sept. 28.



Volunteering - Discover the Benefits of Giving Back

Aside from the emotional benefits of volunteering, there are significant health benefits associated with giving your time. Studies have noted lower rates of disease as well as reduced healthcare costs among people who volunteer regularly. It seems that volunteers gain as much as they give!


Area volunteer opportunities include:

United Way of East Central Iowa

United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program for Linn & Jones Counties - CASA for Children is a network of 949 community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities.


See these flyers for additional information: CASA Volunteer, National CASA Infographic.

Volunteers Needed for Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Please consider helping low-to-moderate income workers by providing free tax preparation assistance. Classroom or online training is provided for volunteers (at no cost) and no accounting experience is necessary. For more information, please contact Cliff Ehlinger at or 319-398-5372 ext. 835.

Available Volunteer Positions:

Volunteer Tax Preparers help individuals and families prepare their tax returns and ensure all eligible taxpayers receive their qualifying tax credits. Multilingual tax preparers are also needed.

Volunteer Greeters welcome VITA participants to the site and ensure that they are prepared with all required documentation to meet with the tax preparer.


As a VITA volunteer, you will receive:

  • Professional tax and software training

  • Flexible volunteer hours - daytime, evenings or weekends (volunteer services provided from January 19-April 9)

  • The satisfaction of helping others in our community to navigate the often complex federal tax returns.

2015 VITA Volunteer and Client Handout

Blue365 Member Discounts

Individuals covered under the Agency's group health insurance plans with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield are eligible to participate in the Blue365 discount program, which offers savings on products and services for healthy living. Discounts include fitness center memberships, workout apparel and healthy eating programs. Click here for more information and to check out some of the discounts available! The discounts and services are always changing, so please visit the Blue365 website for a list of current vendors.

Core Fitness Member Discounts

Core Fitness, with three locations in North Liberty/Iowa City, offers GWAEA employees a discounted membership of $39 monthly with a $49 one-time enrollment fee. If employees sign-up for a year contract, Core Fitness will waive the enrollment fee for a $49 savings.


All memberships include:

- All group fitness class including: Les Mills, cycling, yoga, ZUMBA, aerobics and aquatics classes
- A FREE fitness assessment with a personal trainer
- Steam room and sauna at all locations
- 24/7 access to the North Liberty location
- Pool and spa access at the Mormon Trek location
- Women's only workout area at the North Liberty location


Nov. 9, 2015, Noon-12:30 p.m., Linn/Johnson Room, Sixth St. facility

Topic: Healthy food options to make it through the holidays.

Mindfulness 101:  Stress Reduction and Wellness

Location: Grant Wood AEA Southern Facility
2301 Oakdale Blvd., Coralville

This nine-week opportunity is supported through the agency's GROW Committee. The class is designed to help you cultivate your inner resources through mindfulness meditation practices to respond more skillfully to stress and find greater ease and peace of mind.


Research suggests that mindfulness practice can positively affect stress resilience, physical and mental health, interpersonal skills, academic skills and promote overall well-being.

This class is based on a model developed by Jon Kabat-Zinnm, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and will be led by GWAEA retiree Christine Allen as the instructor. This model has been used with diverse groups around the world including corporate employees, CEOs, educators, students, attorneys, judges, prison inmates, health care professionals, teachers and professional atheletes.


Christine has practiced mindfulness meditation for many years, received training in MBSR for health care professionals from Jon Kabat-Zinn, Saki Santorelli and staff at the Center for Mindfulness, and has attended several extended mindfulness meditation retreats. She has taught Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses at University Hospitals and Clinics since 2004 and helped develop and teach a credit course on mindfulness meditation for undergraduates at The University of Iowa for several years.

These links include video clips that provide more information.

Anderson Cooper - "60 minutes Reporting on Mindfulness"

Jon Kabat-Zinn - "What is Mindfulness"

Andy Puddicombe - "All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes"

Dan Harris of ABC News - "Changing Your Life Through Meditation"

Class dates are Jan. 14, 21, 28, Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25, March 3, 10, 2016. Registration fees are $125, a reduced fee through the support of the agency's GROW Committee. License renewal credit is available. Register on the Grant Wood AEA PD website under the Grant Wood Employee link.

Leadership for Continuous Improvement Learning Sessions

See flyer for presenters, dates and fees.



Special Education Staff Fall Opportunities to Retool and Refresh

The following workshops are available for special education staff as an opportunity to refresh your skills and knowledge. Please review and discuss these opportunities with your supervisor.  Additional professional learning workshops with national, regional and agency presenters and courses for credit are listed under the professional development listing below and on the professional development webpage.

2015-2016 TQ Dates

Dec. 2, 2015, Feb. 24 and May 25, 2016
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.


TQ funds are available to support professional learning. All contracted staff in a position that requires educational licensure are eligible. Funds can be used to support learning time and resources for agency-wide proposals, region/discipline/program proposals and individual proposals. During the 2014-2015 school year, 31 proposals were approved to support professional learning in Literacy, Math, Early Childhood, Autism, Behavior, Science, Coaching, Mentorship, Speech Language, ELL, and Leadership Development. The application documents can be accessed on the Staff Portal. Committee members are happy to answer questions about proposal development. Contact Sherry Sines, Terri McGraw,
Lisa Haverkamp, Hillary Prall, Susan Parker, and a member to be determined.

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. Pre-registration is required for all participants including practicum, interns and student teachers.





November 2015

December 2015

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.


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.

facebooktwitter rss pinterest