School Leader Update Winter 2021

School Leader Update

Winter 2021

Moving forward

Director Ann Lebo

As we approach the end of 2021, I’d like to take time to share my appreciation for the many school employees across the state who are helping to meet the needs of our students in Iowa, but most particularly, for our teachers.

Teaching is not a career found by chance. It is a challenge taken on by passionate, life-long learners who see opportunities in obstacles and inspire each next generation. Teachers are the anchors of our schools and I am humbled by their hearts, their talents and their commitment to the families and communities they serve.

Every achievement, every opportunity and even every obstacle is a stepping stone, moving us forward to an even better tomorrow. But to get to tomorrow, we must get through today, so I would like to highlight just a few of the many ways Iowa is moving forward.

Register for Emerging Educators Academy at Drake University Jan. 22

Emerging Educators conference graphic

Registration is under way for the 7th Emerging Educators Academy at Drake University on Jan. 22. 

The conference, sponsored by the Outstanding Educators’ Academy of the Iowa Department of Education, along with the Iowa State Education Association and Drake University's School of Education, is for all pre-service and first- through third-year teachers and their mentors.

This year attendees will work on “Filling in the gaps” that students and educators are navigating after last year. The breakout sessions will focus on building classroom culture and community, mental health and fostering a love of teaching. Participants will also spend time with both student and teacher panels exploring classroom responses to the unique challenges of the last year in education.

The keynote speaker will be Juliana Urtubrey, the 2021 National Teacher of the Year.

The academy is run by outstanding teachers from across Iowa, including several Iowa Teachers of the Year.

The $30 registration fee covers lunch and materials.

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Does your student want to serve on the Iowa State Board of Education?

Iowa State Board of Education Seal

Applications are being accepted for the student member of the Iowa State Board of Education. Each year the Governor appoints a student to serve as a nonvoting member of the State Board. At the time of application, the student must be a full-time, regularly enrolled tenth-or eleventh-grade student in an Iowa school district. The term of the student member starts May 1, 2022, and ends April 30, 2023. The State Board meets at least seven times during that term, with most meetings taking place in the Grimes State Office Building in Des Moines. The deadline for submitting an application with all required documents is Jan. 31, 2022.

Visit the Iowa State Board of Education webpage for additional information.                   

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Nominate a mathematics, science or computer science teacher for top honor

Logo for President's Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching

Do you have a top mathematics teacher? A science teacher? Or how about a computer science teacher? Nominate them for a prestigious national award.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is accepting nominations. Nominations are due Jan. 7. Only K-6 elementary teachers can be nominated in 2022; middle and high school teachers can be nominated in 2023.

Those who are nominated must fill out applications by Feb. 6.

Recipients of the award receive:

  • A certificate signed by the President of the United States.
  • A paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities.
  • A $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
  • An opportunity to build lasting partnerships with colleagues across the nation.

Awards are given to science, technology, engineering, mathematics and/or computer science teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, or the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands).

The award recognizes teachers who have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas. Since the program's inception, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the nation's teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

For more information, contact Iowa Department of Education Consultant April Pforts at 515-314-6243 or

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Future Ready Iowa: Accelerating Learning webinar series

Future Ready Iowa logo

The Accelerating Learning webinar series is for leaders who are training, coaching and supporting teachers to optimize universal instruction. This learning is recommended for educators who intend to be part of the Future Ready Iowa Leadership Academy. However, all educators are welcome. 

The series will focus on equitable universal tier instruction through “just-in-time” scaffolds during grade-level learning. Supporting materials: Enhance Universal Instruction Through Accelerating Learning (5 STEPS TO ENGAGE TEACHER TEAMS TO SUPPORT UNFINISHED LEARNING)

Visit  the Department’s Future Ready K-12 webpage for additional information.

  • Foundations for Accelerating Learning (recording available on webpage)
  • Accelerating Literacy (Dec. 16: 3:30-4:30 p.m.)
  • Accelerating Math (Jan. 13: 3:30-4:30 p.m.)
  • Accelerating Social-Emotional-Behavioral Health (Feb. 10: 3:30-4:30 p.m.)

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Iowa Exchange Visiting Teachers from Spain Program

Photo of 2021-22 Visiting Teachers from Spain

The Iowa Exchange Visiting Teachers from Spain (IAVTS) Program enables foreign teachers to have the opportunity to teach in an accredited school in the United States under a J-1 Visa for up to three years. The purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to promote cultural and educational exchange between citizens of the United States and those of other countries. The program provides foreign nationals with opportunities to participate in exchange programs in the U.S. and then return to home countries to share their experiences. This program provides local school districts and accredited nonpublic schools with the opportunity to fill vacant Spanish and dual language teaching positions. Local institutions are responsible for ensuring that exchange visitors and their host schools abide by the strict program rules and requirements established by the U.S. Department of State and Homeland Security. Teachers are hired in accordance with all other local policies in terms of salary scale, licensure, and local system requirements. 

The Iowa Department of Education will be taking applications for the 2022-23 school year from Jan. 1 to March 25. Go to the Visiting Teachers from Spain webpage to find information about the program and the IAVTS application. Applications are due March 25.

For more information, contact Isbelia Arzola at or 515-326-5962. 

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Serving nonpublic school English Learners

English Learner students in school library

Iowa has a continually growing number of English Learners (ELs) in its K-12 schools. They attend both public and nonpublic schools. There have been many inquiries about nonpublic EL students accessing district programs. The updated guidance, Serving Nonpublic ELs, should be helpful. It is a reminder of the law and recommended procedures for nonpublic ELs accessing district EL programs.  If you have questions, contact Pam McDonnell at or 515-380-5115.

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Student Reporting in Iowa

Staff working on report documents.

Another season of Certified Enrollment has closed.  The Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) team commends and thanks you all for your patience and hard work during that process.

Upcoming dates to remember for Student Reporting in Iowa:         

  • Cedar Connect and SRI open for winter SRI on Dec. 1
  • Dropout Verification opens Dec. 1
  • Dropout Verification certification deadline is Dec. 15
  • SRI winter certification deadline is Jan. 28.

If you are not familiar with the Dropout Verification application, or want a refresher, view this short webinar.

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

Iowa Teacher of the Year graphic, logo

Thousands of talented Iowa teachers lead and inspire their students every day, but only one is chosen annually as the state’s ambassador to education. This year the deadline to nominate a classroom teacher who could serve as an ambassador for all teachers is March 1, 2022.

This 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 2023.

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.

Sara Russell of Pleasant Valley was named the 2022 Iowa Teacher of the Year in October of 2021.

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Career and Technical Education Year 3, Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment

People in business meeting sitting around conference table.

The new Year 3, 2021-22 Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) was  released on Nov. 29. All individual school districts, school districts that are part of a consortium, and community colleges that receive Perkins funding will complete the CLNA at the local level. 

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act for the 21st Century (Perkins V) introduced the concept of the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA). The needs assessment is to be used by each eligible recipient as a guidepost, informing the development of the local application and, in particular, how the eligible recipient uses its federal Perkins funds.

The CLNA focuses on six broad elements:

  • Student Performance
  • Size, Scope and Quality; and Implementation of CTE Programs/Programs of Study
  • Labor Market Alignment
  • Recruitment, Retention, and Training of CTE Educators
  • Equity and Access
  • Safety for CTE Program(s)/Building(s)/District(s) 

The CLNA is to be used by the eligible recipient to inform the development of the Perkins V local application. The CLNA is intended to ensure eligible recipients are using federal Perkins funds to advance the priorities established in the law, with a focus on better serving special populations, robust stakeholder engagement and ensuring that quality CTE programming is aligned with education and workforce needs.

Visit for additional information or contact Katy Blatnick-Gagne at or 515-281-8353.

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Iowa Department of Education
400 E 14th Street
Grimes State Office Building
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Ph: 515-281-5294