About the English 1 group
Welcome to the English/Language Arts group. We will be looking at ways to teach reading, writing, viewing, speaking, and listening in a blended classroom.
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Facilitator 1: Heather Feuerhelm
I am a literacy consultant for Grant Wood AEA. My roles there include anything concerning reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and viewing, and I work with students, staff, and AEA teams to support success for all learners. One of my roles is as a technology lead team member, working with technology of all kinds. I previously taught for 15 years as a high school language arts teacher and head swim coach. I also work as an adjunct at Mt. Mercy University and Morningside College. As a third job, I am a reporter for metrosportsreport.com, writing about area high school athletics.
Outside of teaching, I spend time with my 17-year-old, Ben, and my 13-year-old, Elijah. My husband, Randy, is retiring from education after 34 years. I look forward to working with all of you!
Facilitator 2: Fran McVeigh
I am a literacy specialist for Great Prairie AEA (Southeast Iowa). In that capacity, I have worked collaboratively with teachers and administrators to improve reading and writing instruction PK-12. My learning passions include: the use of research, data-based instruction, and technology to enhance literacy. None of those can exist in isolation as they are required for effective teaching and learning that meets the needs of the students! I have had the pleasure of "feeding my book habit" by teaching adjunct graduate literacy or special education classes for Drake, Morningside and Viterbo. Educator Roles: Teacher (general ed. and special ed.), elementary principal, district Curriculum and Professional Development Director, and mentor. Family Roles: Mother of a soldier in Afghanistan, wife, step-grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt, and cousin as a "Baby Ruth" and "A'Marek'N". I'm excited to work with a talented group of peers who are ready to tackle changing instruction to improve learning!

Personal introductions


Shawn Miller, Forest City High School English

Hi. I am the one on the right in the purplish shirt. I guess I don't have any pictures of just me! I am completing my fourth year as a 9th grade English teacher at Forest City High School. I also teach a version of Second Chance Reading to help students who may struggle with reading improve their skills. Prior to this, I worked as a guidance counselor and teacher at the Mason City Alternative School for three years. Even though I've only spent seven years in the classroom so far, I feel like I've found my calling. After working in the corporate world in sales, I decided to pursue my dream of teaching, and I've been doing it ever since. I love it! I have a passion for educating today's youth, and I want to come up with more effective strategies to help connect with, motivate, and engage my students in the learning process. I think as educators we can bring a wealth of knowledge to the table, and I'm excited for us to learn from each other. In addition to teaching, I am also the student council advisor and a team leader for my PLC group. I love being involved in my school. Outside of the that, I spend my time with my daughter, Raina, who will be eight this summer, and my son, Tommy, who just turned six. There is never a dull moment with them around, not to mention the 100 students I get to work with every day. I want to continually improve as an educator, and I think this is going to be a tremendous opportunity for me!
Way to go! You were the very first teacher to sign in to ANY of the content groups, not just our ELA! It sounds like you keep busy at school and at home so your love of involvement will serve you well in next week's learning!

Tami Tomkins, Tripoli Middle/High School, Language Arts

Hi there. I am really excited to be part of this group and look forward to meeting everyone next week. I teach English courses at Tripoli Schools and have been there for 4 years. Prior to that I taught at Estherville Lincoln Central School in western Iowa. Currently I teach Middle School and High School English courses including a Publications Course. I am finishing my Master's in Library and Information Science in May and will be the part time Media Specialist in my school beginning in the fall. I am looking forward to implementing the online component and teaching in a blended classroom. I took many of my distance courses online and really enjoyed the forum. I took a class through PBS Teacherline for teaching online classes for Professional Development, etc...Because technology is at the forefront of education (and of the students) it is important to try to give them opportunities to prepare for an online learning environment. I have two children, my son Brett is 21 and my daughter Amanda is 14 and a freshman this year. The time goes by so fast and kids grow up before our eyes. I find myself a perpetual learner and technology is the area to be in when it comes to education. I want to be able to share information with others to help all faculty move forward, to fear technology less, and to want to provide every opportunity that is available in educating our students.

Welcome, Tami! Your online experience and your Media Specialist knowledge will allow you to pursue a wide variety of connections as you continue on this learning journey!

Hi! My name is Ellen Wagner, and I am a second-year teacher. I graduated from the University of Iowa in 2009 with a double major in English Education and Theater; the week before graduation, I was hired at Gladbrook-Reinbeck high school to teach all English 9 and 10 classes, as well as 2 senior elective courses. This year, I also took on the role of drama director, which is a blast. I absolutely love teaching 9th and 10th grade, because the kids grow so much as learners and human beings through those years. I try to keep technology at the forefront of my curriculum, but I am very old-school in terms of writing mechanics, and learning to write in preparation for college. I look forward to being a part of of this program, as I am always looking for new ways to reach students and new strategies to use in my classroom.

Outside of school, I love spending time with my family (I am the youngest of seven kids!), and I am training for a half marathon.

Hi, Ellen! Your many experiences in terms of family, "marathoning" and the variety in your teaching will be helpful because of your belief that kids grow as learners and human beings. See you next week!

Hello. I am Denny Hennigan and I teach 9th grade English at North Scott High School in Eldridge. I have been here for 33 years (a total of 36 years teaching). I am always looking for new ways to help the students achieve and reach their goals. I am part of a 9th grade transition team at the high school. We have core teachers working within a "freshmen house" concept.

Welcome, Denny. I'm thinking you might be from Washington, IA originally. As a literacy person, I don't do the numbers anymore because they are getting too big. We are hearing some good results from one of our districts with a "freshman house". - Fran
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Greetings! I am Jessica Hartz. I am a Theatre and English teacher at Waterloo East High School. This is my fifth year teaching at East High School. For the last five years I have taught mostly 9th, 10th, and 11th grade English with one or two Theatre electives. I decided last year that I LOVE, LOVE the underclassmen so this past year and next year I will only teach 9th and 10th grade English (and Theatre). I am very passionate about doing what is best for my students and getting them to love to read, discuss, and write. I am very excited to be working on such a cool project; I know I will learn some new stuff that will benefit my students and keep me on my toes. I have a one year old son, a husband, and a very hyper dog (who can do all her tricks to sign language or verbal commands). In my free time I READ, and READ, and READ! I also like to watch baseball, go to the Theatre, play with my son, go on walks, eat ice cream (who doesn't?), and watch movies.

Hi, Jessica. I can't wait to see if you think the technology pieces will encourage the underclassmen to dream bigger possibilities for their lives. How many books do you have on your FAVORITE list? We'll have to compare. You sound busy but I'm pretty sure that picture was NOT taken in Iowa!

Hello, I am Julie Blomme. I graduated from Iowa State University with a BA in English/journalism. About 10 years later, I graduated from Drake University with my Masters degree in Education. I have taught for the past 27 years. I have taught English, journalism, talented and gifted, served as curriculum director, and even coached golf in various school districts in northern Iowa. Currently, I teach at Central Springs High School in Manly, Iowa. I teach sophomore English and the post secondary option composition/speech college classes for North Iowa Area Community College. I also teach for Performance Learning Systems in the summer. I live in Forest City, Iowa, with my husband, a second grade teacher for the Forest City district. I have a daughter that is a junior at Iowa State and my son is a junior at Forest City High School. I enjoy going to movies, golfing, reading, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends. I especially enjoy quilting and currently own my own long-arm quilting business.

Welcome, Julie! You have a wide variety of interests that would really connect to students' lives especially the community college teaching. My mom is already on her sixth quilt for this year, but hers are the old-fashioned ones - almost 100% hand-stitched. I'll be curious to hear about your favorite patterns.

Hi! I'm Amy Johnson. I teach high school English classes at Sidney Jr/Sr High School. Though I am only in my second year teaching, I have a few years of age on Ellen! My passion lies in improving opportunities for my students through technology and education. In this neck of the woods, without technology or education opportunities are few. As for this endeavor, I love the character and spunk of my freshmen, and I am thoroughly looking forward to this experience! I also have a Masters degree in Divinity, and in my spare time enjoy life as an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. Before my eight years pastoring churches in Eastern and Southwest Iowa, I spent four years as a private social worker in Sac City. I am a graduate of Buena Vista University (go Beavers!) and the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (go Spartans!). When I'm not swamped with teaching and preaching I enjoy spending every waking moment with my husband and children. My daughter is in 4th grade, and my son, whose birthday was yesterday, is in 2nd grade. They love reading mythology, going to the Omaha zoo, gardening, sewing, hiking, cheering for the Green Bay Packers, and cooking with me. Who could ask for a better life?

Welcome, Amy! Your description of the "character and spunk of freshmen" really does speak to that "new enthusiasm" that freshmen bring to our lives. It's such a time of change for the students. I am looking forward to hearing more about "your spare time" and your family!
Sounds like a wonderful, busy life! Welcome to the group!--Heather

Hi! I'm Holly Soboroff. This is my eighth year teaching English and Journalism at Washington High School in Washington, IA. I advise the newspaper and yearbook, and we're doing our best to keep a website going. I did undergrad at the University of Iowa, and I'm almost finished with my M.Ed. at Mizzou - I've been taking classes online for the last two and a half years, so I'm looking forward to seeing how I can use some of that technology in my own classroom.

I have two children, Charlotte, 5, (who starts kindergarten this fall, yikes) and Henry, almost 2 (who wanted to help me take my picture). My husband, Shane is finishing his degree in Sociology at the University of Iowa. My hobbies are reading, watching movies, baking and other exciting things like that.

Welcome, Holly! Glad to see you are going to join us--and it's good to "meet" Henry here, too! --Heather

My name is Ashley Jorgensen. I am in my fourth year of teaching at Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls. I currently teach 9th and 10th grade language arts. As our school is currently in the process of transitioning to Iowa's Research and Development School, we are undergoing many exciting (and sometimes overwhelming) changes. One of these changes is a 1:1 computing initiative that will put a laptop or IPad2 in the hands of all of my students. This, plus a newly revamped schedule allows many opportunities for technology and blended learning. I am looking forward to learning with all of you.

This picture is of the most important 'change' I experienced this past year. My husband and I had our first son, Cruz, October 12. Life has been busy since, but so fun!

Welcome, Ashley! There are teachers in our group who are already a part of 1:1 computing so I'm sure you will hear some of their hopes and challenges. . . And welcome to Cruz!
My name is Kirstey Ewald (I'm the one in the burgandy sweater on the left). I have been an English/language arts teacher for fifteen years. My undergrad degree is from Wartburg College, and my Master's degree in English, with TESS emphasis, is from UNI. My current position is at Charles City High School, and I LOVE working here! My colleagues are great, and my students are some of smartest, funniest, and entertaining teens in the state. I'm very lucky!

My teaching context for this year has included the following English courses: English I, creative writing, and technical writing. I also spend half of my time with at-risk students in a program called CCAAP (Charles City Alternative Academic Program). In these three sections of my day, I work with kids on a variety of subjects. I've had to refresh my algebra and science skills a lot! In addition to these teaching responsibilities, I further my professional development through the Iowa Writing Project, for which I am a facilitator, and the Iowa Council of Teachers of English, where I am the President-Elect.

When I'm not teaching, I'm usually traveling across Iowa and Minnesota in order to spend time with my fella, John. He farms in Oskaloosa and is a musician in Minneapolis. Living in Waverly puts me directly in the middle of these two locations. I also read, watch a lot of tv (don't hold the reality shows against me *smile*), and try to find good bands to go see live.

I'm looking forward to learning with all of you. It is my hope that the curriculum we create will allow all students to construct meaning as they read, write, speak, listen, and view.

Welcome, Kirstey! Wow! A farmer in Osky (30 minutes from me) and a musician in Minneapolis. I really don't do math but I can count those miles! It's great to have your expertise on behalf of the IWP and ICTE!

Hello! I'm Nikki Donnenwerth and I'm a 9-12 English teacher at Hampton-Dumont High School. This is my 4th year of teaching and also my fourth year at HD. I have also served as the head softball coach for the last 3 years and I am the drama director. I graduated from Simpson College in 2006. Go Storm!

My husband and I live in Hampton and have a two-year old son named Jacob. We're very excited to add another little one to our family next October.

Welcome, Nikki! You will have a lot of excitement next year, with both this project and a second child!

Hello, everyone. My name is Shawn Hyer, and I am a 7-12 English teacher in Van Meter, Iowa. This is my 17th year as a reading/English teacher. I am an UNI graduate and have a Master's Degree in Education. I currently teach 7th grade reading, 9th English, and college pre English at Van Meter. Van Meter is a school with a 1:1 computer ratio in grades 6-12. It is exciting to use technology as a teaching/learning tool in the classroom on a daily basis. I am looking forward to being part of this project and finding new ways to engage students in learning.

Aside from teaching, I live in Van Meter with my wife and two little girls, ages 2 and 4.

Welcome, Shawn! You are the fifth person with a 2 year old or younger! That means many of you have your very own "digital natives" at home who will never be afraid of technology. Excitement at home and at school is on your agenda for next year!

Hello! I am Bev Berns, an English teacher at Waukon High School . Currently, I teach Second Chance Reading, Business Writing, Creative Writing, Seminar in Shakespeare, American Literature and Communications and Culture. I have been teaching for 10 years, graduating from the University of Northern Iowa in December of 2000. I am working toward my Masters in the Teaching of English through UNI, and will complete the program this summer! My extra curricular activities include coaching 8th grade volleyball and large group speech, advising student council, organizing and presenting professional development, and being a part of various leadership committees. Next year, our district will be 1:1. Overall, I LOVE experimenting with technology integration in the classroom and look forward to learning and collaborating with others!

Welcome, Bev! I think you will find our ecurriculum work to be helpful. Once you start working with technology, the students will keep pushing for more so that will fit in with your 1:1 work!

Hello! My name is Robin Kuhn. I have been teaching at Riceville Community School for 9 years. I teach a little bit of everything. I teach English for 6th, 7th, and 9th grades. I teach reading for 6th, 7th and 9th grade. I also teach publications and an applied writing class for juniors and seniors. I have a k-6 license with a 5-12 all English endorsement. I also have endorsements in reading and social studies. I am the varsity volleyball and boys' and girls' golf coach. I have a master's in education from BVU. I also teach classes for AEA1 in my spare time. Most importantly, I am the mother of five unique children. I have two children with learning disabilities, two children who are in TAG, and the youngest is.... well he is the youngest! My husband works for a pharmaceutical company. We enjoy camping with the family in our free time. I am looking forward to using an online curriculum that is aligned with the Iowa Core instead of trying to create my own each year. Our district hopes to be 1:1 next year.

Welcome, Robin. It's good to hear that your district has reading for freshmen. You will find some very interesting ideas within the ecurriculum!


My name is Mary Carlson and this is my first year teaching language at Red Oak Middle School. In the last 21 years, I have taught first grade, second grade, fifth grade and middle school science. I am excited about this project as our school is planning literacy blocks teaching reading and language together at the middle school level. I am always looking for more ways to engage the students. Our district is also looking at becoming a 1:1 school for 6-12th grades.
My husband and I have four children: Jackie (20) in college, Danny (17) 11th grade, Nick (14) 8th grade, and Katie (10) 4th grade. We keep very busy trying to keep up with all of their activities.

Welcome, Mary! As the ecurriculum evolves, and includes the Iowa Core, you will see the inter-connectedness of Reading (Fiction and Informational Text), Writing, Speaking, Listening, Viewing, and Language across the day for students. Exciting learning times for students and adults are just around the corner!

Hello everyone! My name is Joleen Louwsma, and I teach at Sigourney High School. This is my second year teaching. I had a midlife crisis and decided to go back to school to be an English teacher. I don't regret my decision (most days, lol). I teach English 1, Second Chance Reading, American Literature, Communications, and World Literature I, II. I am looking forward to learning a new dimension of teaching.
My husband and I live near Fremont, Iowa on a farm. We have four daughters; three of my daughters are married and number four is currently finishing her junior year at Iowa State. We have also been blessed with one granddaughter, Olivia, and another one on the way. Being a grandma is the best!!! I'm looking forward to meeting you all and working with you throughout the next year.

Welcome, Joleen! We have a variety of experience levels represented in our community so you will fit in very well. And yes, being a grandma is so much fun!

Hi, my name is Karen Kayser-Kemp, and I am finishing my 26th year of teaching. In my career, I have coached sports, directed plays, coached speech, advised the newspaper and the yearbook, and been a sponsor for prom, book club, writers club and peer helpers. Oh….and I also teach English. Truthfully, my heart and soul, and my energy are spent teaching and the rest are just extras that I did to learn and grow and to help kids.

Most of my years have been spent at New Hampton High School where I currently teach English and Composition II and Foundations of English. I’m constantly looking for new and interesting ways to use technology in the classroom and am not afraid of experimenting.

My family and I live on an acreage near Tripoli. My oldest son, Neal, is in his second year at Claremont-McKenna College in California. My son, William, is in tenth grade, and my daughter, Katherine, is in sixth grade. Both attend Tripoli Schools. My husband, Rick, and I spend most of our time going to their various athletic and fine arts activities. When I do have free time I enjoy quilting, scrapbooking, and tending my overgrown flower beds.

Welcome, Karen! Your heart, soul, and energy will be assets for you to draw upon as we explore a variety of technological uses!

I am on the one in back with the glasses on!
Amy Oberfoell
Hello, my name is Amy Oberfoell. I am delighted to be taking this journey with all of you. I love the new technology that has found it's way to the education arena, and I am anxious to learn and discover. I am currently teaching 7th grade reading at Regis Middle School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition, I have taught high school AP English, Literature, Creative Writing, Grammar and various other subjects as well. I have coached boy's tennis, volleyball, track, and I am currently a speech coach. I have five lovely daughters. Yep, that's right, five. We keep my husband very busy. We have one in her first year of college and our youngest is in second grade.
My spare time tends to find me either watching one of my daughters' sporting events, attending a show choir performance, playing board games with my family, biking, jogging or just sitting down to a quiet book. On occassion I pretend I can still play the piano, and I try to bang out a song or two.

Welcome, Amy, and your entire family! It sounds like you have a very busy life.

Hello! I am Kathryn (Kelly) Panoch. I teach Read 180 and language arts at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids. I see a variety of different types of learners throughout my day, and I love helping high school students become better readers. I have been teaching at Jefferson for 9 years. My husband and I have 3 children, 2 boys and a little girl. They all keep us very busy, but we love every minute of it! I am excited to be part of this opportunity.

Welcome, Kelly! This is an exciting adventure for ELA teachers in Iowa.

Good Evening! I am Meg Schutjer, a wife, a mother of 3, a step-mom of 2, a teacher, a coach, and ready for a new adventure. I've been teaching for 17 years. Sixteen of these 17 years have been teaching 7th and 8th graders. Everyday is a new adventure. This year I've been teaching 100% in the area of language arts including ESL responsibilities. Past years I have also taught 7th & 8th grade math. I almost forgot, I teach in Osage and live in St. Ansgar where my husband is the police chief. I coach volleyball, track, and have just recently retired my duties as 7th grade basketball coach. Sorry no picture from me, the one thing I avoid the most is a camera! :)

Welcome, Meg! We will be "guessing" what you look like!

Hello! My name is Erin Olson. I teach high school English courses at Sioux Central in Sioux Rapids, IA. We are a 1:1 school, and I am loving the opportunities and access. I taught middle school for three years, and I have been teaching high school for five years. I also coach large group speech. I have my Master's degree in Instruction and Curriculum from Buena Vista University. I am our PLC team leader, and I serve on the DLT-helping to implement Common Core. I am a passionate educator, and I truly love the profession. We must equip our students with the ability communicate: face to face and online. I work to connect my students to the world, and I hope they are inspired to better the world through their passions and their talents. I am looking forward to connecting with and learning from other educators sharing my enthusiasm.

When I am not teaching, I am playing with my children, writing, whipping up batches of fudge/cookies/candy, camping or gardening. My husband and I live on a farm with our two children, ages 7 and 8.

Welcome, Erin. It sounds like you and your family are busy!

Hi! My name is Sarah Schultz, and this is my third year teaching English classes at Marion High School and my fifth year teaching overall. Before Marion I taught both middle and high school courses, but I'm really enjoying my opportunity here to teach the Advanced Placement English Literature course as well as a variety of freshmen and sophomore courses. I have my undergraduate degree from Luther College and am now starting to work on my Masters of English Education at UNI this summer. I'm on a variety of teams here at the high school including the Building Leadership Team, Character Committee, as well as the Literacy Team, all of which I've enjoyed working on to dig deeper into a variety of topics and work. I love the excitement that teaching English brings each day and believe it is truly a subject where students can see and express themselves as individuals but also know, understand, and cooperate with other people, not only in their own classroom community, but also in the greater global community and possibly even in the literary communities about which they read. I'm excited to work with others who feel as I do and grow in my knowledge!

Outside of school information about me, I am originally from Wisconsin where I love to visit friends and family and enjoy the beautiful surrounding scenery throughout the year and for a length of time each summer. I'm a classics junky when it comes to literature, and I love watching the Huskers, Badgers, and Hawkeyes in sports, which I realize is ridiculous but true. I also have the cutest Beagle named Bo, who is in my picture to the left. He enjoys peanut butter, napping, and sitting under coffee tables.

Welcome, Sarah! Your level of excitement will aid you in this project!

Valerie Blunt, West Central Valley Middle School-7th & 8th Reading

Hello! This is my twelfth year in the teaching field. I taught two years in Houston, Texas, as an eighth grade English teacher and ninth grade reading teacher. From there I taught two years at Don Bosco High School as a ninth and eleventh grade English teacher and a Speech teacher. Currenty, I am at West Central Valley where I have taught as an eighth grade language arts and reading teacher, a careers teacher, a comprehension and fluency pull out teacher, and am the head of the English department. I work on quite a few building and district committees, which I really enjoy. I graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in English Education. I have my MSE as a Readig Specialist from Drake University as well as my Administative Masters from Drake University. I have worked a lot with students not meeting state standards in reading, and I am looking forward to going in the other direction to work with eighth graders who need a differentiated curriculum to fit their advanced needs. Sometimes I think we forget about those students since they are meeting the requirements, but I also think they need to be pushed and challenged as well. Hopefully, this experience will enable this to happen more effectively for them.

Welcome, Valerie! This experience should help you with all learners!

Hi! My name is Deb Ritchie. I've been teaching high school English at Bedford for the past 15 + years. Before that I've taught here and there around the state, so Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Storm Lake and many places others have mentioned sound like home to me, too. Originally I got my degree from UNI in Cedar Falls.

Here at Bedford I direct plays as well as teaching freshmen, juniors, and seniors. We are in our second year as a 1to1 laptop school. I've been diving into lots of new technology such as MOODLE sites and green screen documentary projects. The youngest of my three children just finished college, so I am keeping busy by teaching this summer at nearby Clarinda Academy. It's a school/placement where young men and women (high school age) who have gotten on the wrong side of the law are placed by the courts. Any given day can be interesting.

I don't have a picture handy, but I'm looking forward to meeting you in person tomorrow.

Welcome, Deb! Your 1:1 experiences will aid you in this opportunity!

Hello all, I m Curtis Lambson
It's soooo good to be in this collaboration.

I am currently teaching at Diagonal Community School. This is my fourth year in Iowa and my 14th year in teaching. I currently am teaching 6th, 9th, 11th, and 12th Language Arts, Second Chance Reading, and Yearbook. I don't coach sports anymore but love doing the spring play and coaching the Speech Team. Can't wait to dive into this.

Like most of you I see that-times they are a changin- and this e-opportunity is to get on the leading edge of education in Iowa. I was involved in the innovation of charter schools in Arizona and was the first to apply for a school. I see the huge opportunity to revolutionize the way things are done in the classroom here and am anxious to be a part of that with all of you!!!

Welcome, Curtis! It sounds like you will be leading us in song sometime!

Hi. My name is Vince Hrasky. (I’m the one on the left.) I teach 9-12 Language Arts at Tri-County High School. In addition to teaching, I also direct the speech and drama program. This is my third full year at TC, but my 14th year teaching. I grew up in Massachusetts. After high school I headed to the Midwest and attended Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin. Then shortly after graduating (and getting married)I followed my wife to Iowa...I guess I’m heading East to West! We now live in Iowa City and I really love it there. However, I do miss the ocean and the Red Sox.

TC High rolled out the computers for the students about two months ago and I feel that they’ve been a positive change in my classroom, but I’m looking forward to learning to use them more.

Welcome, Vince! What a friend you have there!


Hello, I am Judy Holmes from Union High School in LaPorte City. I have taught for 30+ years in the areas of English I, Creative Writing, and Public Speaking. I have also taught middle school language arts and reading in Illinois. Other activities that keep me busy include volunteering for Pet PALS where I visit three local nursing homes every week with my Alaskan Malamute for pet assisted therapy. Two years ago, I traveled to Alaska for the Iditarod (as a spectator!). My other hobbies include bicycling, reading, and quilting. My husband, my two children, and I have all graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. I am looking forward to this opportunity.

Welcome, Judy! It sounds like you have a variety of activities that keep you busy.

I am Beverly (Bev) Hall from Thomas Jefferson High School. I have been with the Council Bluffs District for about 6 years and have been in various positions. This was my first time ever in a large high school. I have always taught in small rural schools and attended a small rural school 50 miles east of Council Bluffs. I started as a Literacy Strategist at the 2 junior high schools and at that time became a state trainer for Second Chance Reading. I missed working with students, so I had the opportunity to move to TJ and be the Second Chance teacher there for 4 years. I also had the opportunity to teach sophmore English and Exploring Teaching. This past year I was moved to the freshman team to teach freshman English on one of the three teams and also teach Exploring Teaching and dual credit Public Speaking for Iowa Western Community College. My team happened to be one of the groups to get classroom sets of computers to teach our curriculum. It has been a big learning experience, frustrating, and enjoyable all at the same time. I also am the Speech Team Coach and F.E.A. sponsor.

I have been teaching for about 30 years and not all in one state. I enjoyed moving from state to state learning new things and experiencing small districts in other states. I taught in Nebraska and coached various sports. I moved to Colorado for ten years and taught in south eastern Colorado and in the San Louis Valley where I completed my administrator's degree at Adams State College. While in Colorado, I taught first grade, 6th grade, 5th grade, jr. high English, and secondary English. Talented and Gifted Education and Title I Reading and math are also areas I taught in Nebraska and Iowa.

Free time is something that I don't have a lot of, but when I do, I participate in two leagues. One is a bowling league and the other is an archery league, my latest hobby. I did hunt when I was growing up and in Nebraska and Colorado. I have decided to give that up and target shoot with my bow and my shot gun. I enjoy biking, hiking, swimming, and reading. I also belong to several organizations.

I am looking forward to this experience and the new things I can learn to better improve my skills as a teacher and the learning of my students.

Welcome, Bev. You are in the right place to continue to add to your experiences.
Shaelynn Farnsworth
Eleven years ago I took my first teaching job at BCLUW in Conrad, Iowa, and never left. Working in a small district has provided me with many rich opportunities. First, with only two teachers in the English department, I am able to observe a student's progression in reading and writing by teaching them both their freshman and senior years. Second, I have a lot of freedom in my curriculum and am able to get what I need for my classroom without a lot of hoop jumping! Courses I teach: freshmen English, senior Creative Writing, senior Advanced Composition and Research, AP Literature, and Second Chance Reading.
I am also a cheer coach, NHS advisor, and newspaper sponsor. I am on the District Leadership Team, Junior Class sponsor (Prom Rocks!), and part of our 1:1 Laptop Committee.

This is the second year BCLUW has been a 9-12 1:1 Laptop School. I can't imagine going back to mobile labs! I am passionate about blending technology into my classroom and using social media to connect my students and myself globally!

I am a blogger, and an avid tweeter, I am working on my Masters through The University of Northern Iowa! I live in Conrad with my husband and 2 children. And when I have free time (ummm what's that) we love to travel, golf, and spend time with our families and friends.

Welcome, Shaelynn! Your 1:1 experiences will be an asset to our community.
Jim De Mott, Abraham Lincoln High School
Hi, I am Jim De Mott (the shorter one in the middle) . I teach at Abraham LIncoln in Council Bluffs. I teach Language and LIterature, Creative Writing, 11 English and Dual Credit American Literature. I have been at ALHS for seven years. Before that I was at Creighton University teaching a class and running a program. Before that I was at a high school in Nebraska and before that I taught English as a foreigh language in Seoul South Korea and before that I was a suicide prevention crisis intervention counselor in Omaha, before that... That goes back far enough. I am looking forward to this opportunity and time together.

Welcome, Jim! This is a great opportunity as we build our community collaboratively.

Michelle Barker, Midland High School
I have spent the past year teaching middle and high school English at Midland Schools in Wyoming, IA. My role will change to high school this next year, including American Literature, Freshman Literature, Second Chance Reading, and other electives. My husband also teaches and we have two boys, 7 and almost 9 years. A collie/greyhound mix rounds out our family. We spend our time away from school biking, hiking, camping, and generally enjoying being outdoors. We spent a fair amount of last summer mountain biking and practicing yoga in the Yukon Territory in Canada. Not sure how to top that one!

What else about me? Lived in Bellingham, WA, hence the Mac loyalty and Starbucks habit, have a vast collection of books, enjoy new foods/cooking, and find it interesting to meet new people.

I am excited to begin our adventure in technology over the upcoming days and look forward to bringing many things back to my classroom. It is always exciting to collaborate with a group of professional educators in your field!

Welcome, Michelle! It sounds like you are busy at school and with your family.
Denise McAleer, Central Community High School, DeWitt
My name is Denise McAleer. I began my teaching experience in a corporate setting, instructing thousands of sales and marketing representatives around the country about their customer’s habits and how to use market research to sell. Four years ago I moved my love for teaching to the education realm. I received my Masters of Education from Kaplan University. I have taught four years of American & British literature for the Central Community School District, three years of Composition I and Introduction to Literature at the Eastern Iowa Community College in Davenport, Iowa, and am going on my third year at Ashford University teaching Child Family & Society & Philosophy of Education. What I like to bring to the students' learning experience is my practical approach and “real-life” practices. I earned my degree online, and loved every minute of it.

I have five children ranging from ages 10 to 16 years old. I grew up on the beaches of Lake Michigan just north of the Windy City, Chicago; but moved to Iowa after graduating from college about fifteen years ago. There are pros and cons, but I definitely miss the city living.

I love to travel! I started a travel program for my senior high school students three years ago. Every year I offer them a graduation present to Europe! We fundraise all year and in June are rewarded with an incredible experience traveling overseas. Last year we hit the Emerald and British Islands, this year we head back to Rome and south to Greece. It is a wonderful traveling with young students!

I look forward to this new experience because I really feel our classrooms need to change their approach. I hope I can keep up with it all!

Nice to meet you all.

Welcome, Denise! Your experiences earning your degree online will be helpful as we embark on this journey.
Hi all,

My names is Carla Lee. I am an instructional coach and a reading consultant at Northwest Area Education Agency. My instructional coaching takes me to North High School in Sioux City two days a week. The other three days of the week, I do a number of other activities, including supporting Second Chance Reading teachers in Northwest Iowa, supporting numerous SINA schools and supporting a DINA district and anything else that comes my way.

When I'm not working I really like riding my bicycle and reading. I also love spending time with my family. Now that both of my boys are out of the house, it really is nice when they can visit or we can visit them. I also like to travel. My husband and I traveled to Ireland a few years ago and love to spend time at the Arkansas lakes in the summer.

I'm looking forward to meeting all of you!

Welcome, Carla! It sounds like you are quite busy supporting literacy!
Melody Cassidy: for the past 5 years, I've been a literacy consultant at Grant Wood AEA in Cedar Rapids. I provide professional development in k-12 settings in the area of literacy. Prior to working at GWAEA, I was a reading specialist in Anamosa; I also taught in the state of Washington. When I'm not working, I enjoy golfing, walking, reading, and spending time with my family.

Welcome, Melody! Thanks for working with us in the field of English Language Arts.
Hi, friends! My name is Barb Shutt and I serve as a Curriculum Consultant-Reading at Heartland AEA 11. I work with districts in our western regions in the area of PK-12 reading/literacy. I am also engaged in work that supports the Instructional Decision Making model for school improvement. I am excited to learn more and be engaged in this process. Before coming to the agency I taught elementary and middle school for 16 years. I am married to an educator, so "talking shop" is a way of life for us--and our kids. Two teenagers keeps us on our toes! Looking forward to working with everyone and learning along the way.

Welcome, Barb! Thanks for being a part of this process!
I'm Teri France. I am currently teaching English I and IV at North High School in Sioux City. This is my 16th year of teaching. (Yikes.) I have also taught at Twin River Valley in Bode, IA and in South Sioux City, NE. I earned my bachelor's degree from Buena Vista College in Storm Lake and my master's degree from Wayne State in Nebraska. My husband Scott and I live in Sioux City with our two children: four-year-old Avery and 10-year-old Ethan. I'm excited about this opportunity to learn and grow as an educator!
Hi everyone! I am currently a Quality Learning Media Consultant at AEA9 in Bettendorf, IA. I have taught English to grades 8-12 (everything from skills to AP) and I've been a K-12 Teacher Librarian. I have a Bachelor's in English and a Master's in Secondary English Education from the University of Florida, as well as a Master's in Information Studies from Florida State University. My husband is graduating from Palmer College of Chiropractic in June and we will be relocating back to Florida. I have two wonderful children--Mia and Dylan. While I didn't get to participate with you during the April sessions, (I was supporting the Social Studies group), I sincerely want to be a part of the English community.

Greetings from Mark Bunt
I guess the phrase better late than never doesn't truly apply here. I did try to post my introduction last Sunday, but I did not hit the save button. Well, I started teaching in 1982 after graduating from Ashland University. My masters degree is in Teaching and Learning with Technology (a total online experience) from Ashford University, Iowa. Life events moved me to Coffeyville, Kansas and finally to Eldora, Iowa. At South Hardin High School, we are a 1:1 school and a whole grade sharing school. It is a fast paced environment and the technology has reinvigorated my Language Arts 1, Language Arts 2, American Lit. Contemporary Lit. and Second Chance Reading classes. I can honestly say that I have learned as much techno speak from the students as they have learned from me. This next year promises to be a busy and as exciting as ever.