September 2020 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

Month Year

Leading and learning amid uncertainty

Director Ann Lebo, Iowa Department of Education

As we embark on the new school year and the challenges ahead, I am reminded of a quote from John F. Kennedy.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

Navigating the new school year, we have no choice but to rethink assumptions, navigate rapidly changing circumstances and learn from each decision point along the way. And as if starting the school year during a pandemic wasn’t challenging enough, many of our schools are also dealing with the aftermath of Iowa’s devastating derecho..

Equity series kicks off Sept. 23; licensure renewal credit available

Social Justice and Equity in Education Series

The inaugural webinar for the Iowa Department of Education’s Social Justice and Equity in Education series kicks off on Sept. 23.

The session, which will be opened by the Department’s Director Ann Lebo, will feature A’ndrea Wilson, a professor at Grandview University, who will deliver “It’s Okay to be Uncomfortable: Moving Toward Racial Equity in Education in Iowa.” The session is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m.

The series will include two sessions each month, culminating in a conference in March.

Register now to participate in the first webinar. Look for future links on both social media and in the School Leader Update.

Licensure renewal credit is available for those who want it. To register, individuals will need to log into the AEA Learning Online website using their current user name and password. If a new account is created, the course will not be accessible until the following business day.

The purpose of the first webinar is to provide information to educators on the impact of racism on students of color, and how participants can unintentionally contribute to the problem and actively contribute to the solution. Attendees will be given concepts, resources and tools to aid them as they explore their own behaviors and commit to the process of creating more racially inclusive educational environments.

For planning purposes, participants should also put down on their calendars two other already scheduled webinars:

  • Oct. 8, 3 to 4:30 p.m., featuring the Department’s Attorney Thomas Mayes, who will present “COVID-19: Class Disparities”;
  • Oct. 22, 3 to 4 p.m., featuring the Department’s Janet Boyd, Pam Spangler and Jeanette Thomas, who will present “Equity Coordinators Refresher and Updates.”

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Reminders for fall student reporting

don't forget post it note on a keyboard

As we gear up for Fall Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI), just a few reminders and highlights:

  • Training opportunities:
    • Using Cedar Connect, Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. – will walk through the Snapshotting process, cleaning up validations and submitting to SRI
    • SRI for New Users, Thursday, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. – introduces you to the array of reports housed in SRI
    • Certified Enrollment and Supplementary Weighting Review, Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. – will walk through the Certified Enrollment application and offer hints and reminders prior to clicking the Certify button
  • Please make sure to update your District Contact Information on SRI Fall as soon as possible – this is our contact list for emailing updates, announcements, etc.
  • The SRI webpage is a tremendous resource for Dates to Remember, training opportunities this fall, recorded webinars of past trainings, and 2020-21 documentation – including the 2020-21 SRI Data Dictionary and updated addenda. Please share this link with all staff working on student reporting through the year and/or certified enrollment this fall.

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Constitution Day resources

Constitution Day

Congress enacted legislation requiring all public schools to set aside one day during the week of Sept. 17 to teach all students about the U.S. Constitution and about citizenship.

This year is the 233rd anniversary of our national Constitution. While compliance is mandatory, the implementation details are left to local districts. See Constitution Day resources for ideas.

If your district is planning something special to celebrate Constitution Day or you have any questions, contact Stefanie Wager, social studies consultant, at, or 515-725-7842. If you have legal questions about the matter, contact Thomas Mayes at

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Virtual training: Diving deeper with Individual Career and Academic Planning (ICAP)

team planning session

Join Lauren Jones, a national speaker and trainer for ICAP, to learn more about bringing a holistic process to ICAP implementation in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Education and Jones are joining forces to supply engaging and encouraging training on creating meaningful ICAP implementation practices that can be integrated into everyday learning environments.

The two-part virtual training sessions will offer multiple virtual sessions that will:

  • Explore the foundational facets of career development and successful ICAP implementation;
  • Uncover the expectations and competencies that Iowa wants as a picture of your high school graduates (Career and College Readiness/Postsecondary Workforce Readiness) and how this fits into Iowa’s economic future (Future Ready Iowa);
  • Discover CTE and Career Pathway development connections - School counselors as CTE champions;
  • Practice and emulate Meaningful Career Conversation Training;
  • Address opportunities for work-based learning and experiential opportunities where Career Conversations exist naturally;
  • Apply an equity-and-inclusion lens to this work; and
  • Facilitate a “Yes, and....” mindset when conversing about barriers, strengths, challenges and celebrations.

Here are the details:

Session 1: Sept. 9 or 10 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Session 2: Sept. 16 or 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. (Prerequisite: Session 1)

Register or contact Katy Blatnick-Gagneat at or 515-681-6733 for more information.

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Save the date! Iowa Early Learning Fall Institute

Save the Date

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children will be moving the 2020 Early Learning Fall Institute to a virtual event. Our goal is to continue to provide high-quality professional development while keeping everyone safe and comfortable.

Save the date for the virtual event which will be held Oct. 1-3. Pre-institute sessions will take place during the week of Sept. 28.

Additional information will be available at Iowa AEYC or you can contact Betsy Lin at with questions.

Emerging Educators Academy: Online this December

Emerging Educators Academy

Save the date for the upcoming Emerging Educators Academy, which will be held virtually on Dec. 5.

The academy is aimed at preservice teachers and their instructors, as well as teachers in their first-to-third year of teaching and their mentors.

Sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education, the academy is run by teachers who have received high recognition in their fields, including past and present Teachers of the Year.

More information will come at a later date.

High school students wanted to join equity committee

hands on a laptop computer

The Iowa State Board of Education is seeking seven high school students who would like to be a part of its equity committee during the upcoming school year.

The committee, comprised of 50 percent students in 10th through 12th grade, needs the student voice to help navigate equity issues by identifying and improving disparities. Other committee members are State Board members, legislators, teachers and consultants from the Iowa Department of Education.

Deadline for applications is Sept. 9.

The State Board of Education Equity Committee will hold regular meetings during the school year 2020-21. Iowa students selected as members of the committee are expected to attend meetings from 5:00 to 6:30 pm (virtually or in-person).

Meetings dates:

  • Sept. 17 (Virtual)
  • Nov. 18 (Virtual)
  • Jan. 28
  • March 25
  • May 6

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