Agency Updates – August 2017

GPAEA Welcomes New Chief Administrator Dr. Cindy Yelick 

JUNE 9, 2017 – The Great Prairie AEA Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of a new chief administrator for the Agency. Dr. Cindy Yelick, who is currently the deputy chief administrator at Heartland AEA, will succeed Dr. Jon Sheldahl.

“Dr. Cindy Yelick will be a great addition to Great Prairie AEA team,” said Vicki Stephenson, president of the Great Prairie AEA board of directors. “She brings a wide range of experiences and leadership in her work with Iowa’s AEAs and the State of Iowa.”

As the chief administrator of Great Prairie AEA, Dr. Yelick will oversee over 270 full and part-time staff members who provide special education services, instructional services, professional learning, library and digital resources, technology support and more to over 36,000 students and 2,700 educators throughout the 14 southeast Iowa counties the Agency serves.

Dr. Yelick has previously held positions as executive director of instructional services, administrator for Iowa Core Curriculum, executive director of teaching and learning, and a regional coordinator at Heartland AEA; director of early childhood, assessment, and special education and elementary principal at Ames Community Schools; elementary principal at Des Moines Public Schools; director of McPrep Middle School Academy at Drake University; and assistant administrator at Spring Branch ISD in Houston, Texas. She received a doctorate in educational leadership from Drake University, master’s in curriculum and instruction, second language education from the University of Houston and bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa.

“My career has centered around ensuring that all students have the opportunity to thrive,” Yelick said. “I am excited to work with the quality staff and leadership at Great Prairie AEA who continue the course for improvement and enhanced learning outcomes for all children throughout southeast Iowa.”

Yelick was selected for the position after the search firm G. Tryon & Associates conducted a nationwide search. She will assume the responsibilities of chief administrator contingent upon release from her current contract in July 2017.

GPAEA Opening Day – August 16

Great Prairie AEA will welcome back all staff on Wednesday, August 16.

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Instructional Services – August 2017

FAST Bridge
Please make sure your district representatives join the webinars for management training and start-up. Information from IDE linked here. GPAEA literacy consultants will be able to support your teachers, however, they are not “official trainers.” The webinars will be essential. See External Partners post for more information. 

GPAEA 2017_18 Dates of Networks & PD Events

August 8 & 9 – Student Centered Coaching with Julie Wright
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center

  • Audience: TLC coaches, model teachers, and administrators
  • Follow-up includes on-site coaching labs in October & February

August 18 – Visible Learning in Literacy with Doug Fisher & Anita Allan
Bridgeview Center, Ottumwa

August 22 (closed) & 23 (limited space) – Transforming School Culture, the Will to Lead with Anthony Muhammad
Bridgeview Center, Ottumwa
Follow-up with Dr. Muhammad on October 30th for Leadership Teams

Curriculum Network:

  • August 28 – GPAEA Ottumwa, Room 21C
  • August 29 – GPAEA Burlington, Room 21C

September 6 – Superintendent Network
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center

September 13 & 14 – 504 Training

In September, GPAEA has set aside two days to work with local districts to help create or refine your 504 processes.  Fred Kinne from the Iowa Department of Education will be there to help your team solidify a meaningful process to work with identification and monitoring of 504 plans.  The dates are as follows:

September 13

  • 8:00-11:00 AM – Burlington AEA
  • 12:30-3:30 PM – Fairfield AEA

September 14

  • 8:00-11:00 AM – Ottumwa AEA
  • 12:30-3:30 PM – Albia AEA

Iowa Testing Programs, Informational Sessions: ordering, test security, reports

  • September 19 – GPAEA Ottumwa, 12:30 to 4:00 PM
  • September 20 – GPAEA Burlington, 12:30 to 4:00 PM

September 21 – Blended Learning Coaching Academy
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center

  • GPAEA will be hosting a Blended Learning Coaching Academy with Marci Kish for Instruction Coaches on Sept 21st, Jan 9th, & April 6th
  • Audience: All TLC coaches, model teachers, and administrators

Coming in September (date TBD):  

  • GPAEA will host a training for staff using the Kuder Navigator Career Planning System.  Look for an email with the date and details in the near future.

School Improvement – a change in structure

  • GPAEA welcomes two new school improvement consultants to our team and will say goodbye and good luck to Cory Johnson. Jamie Cranston, a former K-2 Principal at Chariton, will be joining Mike Stiemsma in serving districts on the West side of the agency. Doreen Underwood, current Gifted, Counseling, and TLC lead will join Evan McCormick in serving districts in the East.
  • GPAEA also welcomes new Literacy Consultant, Amanda Evans and Science Consultant, Craig Leager to its service team. Amanda and Craig will be serving districts on the western side of the agency.


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Media, Technology & Science – August 2017

Registration links for the Iowa Science Standards Module 3: Gathering and Using Evidence of Student Learning in the Science Classroom will be available soon!  If your teachers have not attended Modules 1 and/or 2, please contact Tami Plein ( or Craig Leager ( for information.

Here is a link to this year’s Iowa Science Standards PD offerings.  Please note that ALL are K-12 sessions, but we are encouraging grade-band attendance to facilitate networking: 

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Special Education – August 2017

Special Education Director Network

Special Education Director Network meetings will occur three times throughout the school year. Special Education Directors, building administrators, and special education coaches are welcome to attend to learn more about current issues in special education. Meeting dates and locations are listed below. Register at

  • Burlington
    Sept 27, 1:00 – 3:30
    Dec 7, 1:00 – 3:30
    April 11, 1:00 – 3:30
  • Ottumwa
    Sept 28, 1:00 – 3:30
    Dec 8, 8:30 – 11:00
    April 12, 1:00 – 3:30

Special Education Procedures Manual and Release Notes

The 2017-18 Special Education Procedure Manual and the corresponding Release Notes were published this month. Please make sure that you and your special education teachers have the updated version of the manual. In addition, the Release Notes will provide you with a summary and highlighted text to indicate the changes from last year to this year. Both documents are available to download at Iowa IDEA Info. If you have any questions about the procedural changes for this year, please contact your Regional Director for more information.

New Teacher IEP Training

IEP training for new special education teachers will be available this year in two different formats. You may decide if you prefer to have your teacher(s) complete the online training or if you prefer that they attend the 2-day face-to-face training in Burlington or Ottumwa. Information about how to register for both options is provided below.

Option 1 – Online Training

Your new teachers may complete online training on the Web IEP. You are strongly encouraged to require staff to give you a Certificate of Completion if you pick this option. Directions for registration are:

  • Go to:
  • Click on 1st time user to Register or enter login information
  • Click on House Icon on the left
  • Click on red catalog icon
  • Type in the search bar: IEP Training for AEA/LEA staff
  • Click the Register button for the course
  • Click the continue button to enter the course and complete it

Option 2 – Face-to-face Training

Your new teachers may attend in-person training on the Web IEP.  Training will be provided in Burlington on August 29 and September 7 or in Ottumwa on August 31 and September 12.  All sessions will begin at 9:00 and end by4:00.  Registration links are below.

Foundations of Special Education Course

Great Prairie will offer Foundations of Special Education course this fall. This course will provide principals and other district administrators an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in the supervision and administration of special education services. Sessions will be held in Ottumwa on October 10 and 24 from 8:30 – 4:00. Sessions will be held in Burlington on October 11 and 25 from 8:30 – 4:00. Registration links will be coming soon.

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External Partners – August 2017

Reminder: FASTBridge K-6 Literacy Training Underway

The Department of Education is transitioning to a new statewide data system for K-6 literacy through FASTBridge Learning. To help school districts with this transition, comprehensive training via webinars and regional face-to-face meetings are being offered now through the end of October. These training slots are limited and information needed to register for the training is being distributed to district participants by their principals or superintendents.

Here are a few key answers to recent questions the DE has received about the training and the transition:

  • The DE has the capacity to train a few people from each school or district, and the expectation is that the people who receive training will use the available resources to help train others in their building.
  • The DE is still considering how to collect screening data from schools not using the FAST system.
  • The screening windows for 17-18 for all schools (other than the three Iowa year-round schools) are defined by the IDOE and shall not be changed by the district:

Fall: September 11 to October 6
Winter: January 15 to February 9
Spring: April 23 to May 18

The Department will provide ongoing communication and support throughout this important transition. District staff who are interested in more frequent updates can sign up to receive regular Early Warning System email updates.

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Agency Updates – June 2017


Enjoy the May issue of The Cornerstone at

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Instructional Services – June 2017

State TLC Opportunities

Federal Title Program Regional Meeting

June 5Maximizing School Counselor Impact: A Module for School Leaders


Early Childhood

June 19 – July 31 – Fierce Conversations – OTTUMWA

June 20 & 22 – Fierce Conversations – CORYDON

August 18 – Visible Learning in Literacy with Doug Fisher – OTTUMWA


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