About the Algebra I Group

Algebra I is a foundation course for success in high school mathematics. This course covers traditional Algebra I topics from solving equations to working with linear and nonlinear functions. Our Algebra I work group will be using this course with students this year and looking for ways to improve the course for our students.

Community facilitators
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Facilitator 1
My name is Sue Runyon. I am a K-12 Mathematics consultant for Keystone AEA1. I have been at Keystone for 10 years and prior to that taught middle school and high school mathematics in Cedar Falls and Price Lab school on the UNI campus. Algebra I is a favorite subject of mine to teach and study. I am married and live on a farm near Fayette, Iowa. We have 5 children and 4 grandchildren to keep us busy. I am excited about this project as Iowa moves forward in offering online instruction for our schools. I am looking forward to this year of learning and working with the math educators that are part of this project.
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Mary Beth Murrell
I am a K-12 mathematics consultant for Great Prairie Area Education Agency. I taught middle & high school mathematics for 30 years, and have been with GPAEA for 5 years. I have also trained math & science teachers to use graphing calculators for inquiry & exploration for 20 years as an instructor for Texas Instruments. I love teaching & learning mathematics with students of all ages. I'm interested in technology as a tool to help us gain a deeper understanding of mathematics. My husband & I live on his family farm near Burlington, Iowa, and have 3 grown children and 2 wonderful grandchildren.

Personal introductions
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Hello, my name is Mark Drier and I currently teach math and science at CAL, Latimer. It is my first year here at CAL, but 3rd year teaching overall. I enjoy coaching and trying new things in the classroom.
I am married to Melissa and we have 3 children, Austin, Jack and Abby.
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My name is Connie Jessen. I teach math at Exira
High School. This is my 7th year of teaching. I
am married and have 4 children.
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My name is Janean Hauser. I teach math and science at Urbandale Middle
School. I live in Ames and have 2 children, both at ISU, and 2 dogs, Paco and
Peanut. I teach the algebra 1 and geometry classes. I have been teaching
at UMS for 12 years.
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My name is Justin Barber and I teach math at Newell-Fonda High School. This is my
first year of teaching. For the past 7 years I have worked in several different fields including
insurance, printing and computers. I currently live in Newell with my wife and our 2 kids. I have
been married for 7 years and we have a 6 year old daughter and a 1 year old son. I graduated
from [[#|Buena Vista University]]with a computer degree and am finishing my Masters from
[[#|Kaplan University]]in teaching. I am an avid outdoorsman and love to run and play golf.
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My name is Patty Lien. I teach the Middle School math and social studies at St. Benedict School in Decorah, Iowa. This is my 20th year of teaching. My husband and I live on the family's dairy farm where along with dairy cows, we also raise golden retrievers. We have 4 children, 2 in college and 2 in High School.
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My name is Holly Palmersheim. I teach high school math at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids. I am in my 11 year of teaching, 6th year at Jefferson. I am married with a 2 and a half year old daughter Kendall.
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My name is Gretchen Eastman. I teach Algebra 1, 8th grade math, Pre-Algebra, and English 10 at Springville Community Schools in Springville, IA. In addition to my teaching load, I am also the head volleyball coach, assistant high school girls' basketball coach, and National Honor Society sponsor. This is my twentieth year of teaching, thirteen years of which have been at Springville. I am single (hence the free time to coach!) , often have my nose in a book, and love to follow the Chicago Cubs, the Minnesota Twins, and the Minnesota Vikings. I consider myself an Iowa Hawkeye fan, but also like to see Iowa State, UNI, and Drake win as much as they can when they aren't playing the Hawks. I am a 1989 graduate of Luther College. Go Norse!
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My name is Laura Eklund. I teach math at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids. This is my fourth year teaching, all of which have been at Jefferson. I am married with a 2-year old son, Max.
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John Walsh
I have been the principal of St. Malachy School in Creston, Iowa for the past 18 years. As the principal of a small Catholic school I also get to teach. So, I get to teach an Algebra class and have done so for the past 15 years. The class is taught as a high school class using the same text as that used in the local high school. I also taught high school math for 4 years in the early 80's. My wife and I have six children - one in grade school, one in high school, two in college, one in grad school, and one in the work force.
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My name is Michelle Albert and I currently teach ms/hs math, physical education, and business classes at Cardinal MS/HS. I also coach cross country and track. This is my fourth year at Cardinal. I am married to a wonderful husband, Rich, and have four children, Lindsay, 16; Tyler, 14; Trevor 12, and Trey; 10.
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Jed Alexander
I have taught high school math at Martensdale-St. Marys for the past 8 years. Next year I will be teaching math and coaching boys basketball at Van Meter. I have 2 kids, Seth age 3, and Jennifer 16 months with my wife of 8 years Elizabeth. We live in Urbandale but are looking to move closer to Van Meter which works for my wife too because she is an actuary for Aviva in West Des Moines.
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Tresa Zaragoza
I teach high school mathematics at New London high school. (Since 1997) I currently teach Algebra I, Practical Math, Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry and Calculus. I love finding new ways to reach my students. I have three daughter: ages almost 4, 9 and 12. My husband Juan also works for the school district. We live just blocks from the school.
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Christina Gilpin
I teach high school mathematics at Burlington High School. I have been teaching for 8 years, 7 of them have been at Burlington. I currently teach Algebra 2 honors and average, statistics, pre-algebra and a math seminar course. I am married with 2 sons. They are ages 2 and 5. I just finished my masters degree from Iowa State University in School Mathematics in August.

Kathy Owens
I am in my 11th year of teaching at Spirit Lake High School. I teach Algebra, Accelerated Geometry and Applied Math. My true passion is teaching Algebra. When not teaching, I enjoy reading and playing golf and tennis with my family. My husband Gregg and I have 2 daughters, Maureen who is a senior at SLHS and Rebecca who is in 8th grade
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Angela Olsen
I teach 8th grade math and algebra I in Spirit Lake. I am in my 14th year of teaching math and currently pursuing a master's degree from UNI. I am married and have two children. ages 11 and 9. In our free time, our family loves to do outdoor activites, like running, biking, and camping.

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Michelle Hills
I'm in my 15th year of teaching, and my third year with the College Community School District. I currently teach 9th grade algebra and algebra 1/2 at Prairie Point Middle School & 9th Grade Academy. I am originally from Burlington, but lived for years in Missouri, Wisconsin, and New Mexico before returning "home" three years ago. In my spare time, I love to read, putter around the house and yard, shoot pool (badly), and spend time with friends.


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Sue Cohoon
I teach Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra and Intro to Financial Literacy this year.In the past I have taught special education resource and LD self- contained, at risk students, German to high school and adults, GED classes, and coached girls' soccer. I have enjoyed the over 25 years with Burlington Schools and want to move forward to an administrative position. I am currently working on my Ed D and am finished except for completion of dissertation. I have four grown children ,7 grandchildren. three horses, and have been married to Dennis for 11 years. I love reading mysteries and singing.
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Miguel Badillo
I teach 8th grad math and algebra at Phillips Middle School in Fort Dodge. I have taught here for the past three years. I am married with a 19 month old daughter, Mila.
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I am Brenda Willis. I am an ISU grad (a long time ago!) and got my MEd from Mizzou (don't hold that against me) in technology. I am in my 12th year teaching middle school math. We moved back to Iowa from St. Louis 5 years ago - there are things I miss and things I don't! Currently I teach 8th grade at Clear Creek Amana. I am married and have three yahoos - Ally (8), Drew (6) and Tana (2). We are very involved with a new church plant here in Iowa City which takes a lot of our free time along with the thousands of activities that kids have. I am really excited about this adventure as I am excited to reconnect with several teachers that I previously worked with at the beginning of my career!
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Megan Brown
I am in my second year teaching high school math at Wapello High School in Wapello, Iowa. I teach Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Calculus. I also taught 3 years at Muscatine High School previous to Wapello. I am co-advisor for NHS, yearbook advisor, and I coach the high school and junior high youth soccer teams. My husband teaches Social Studies and coaches baseball and basketball at Wapello also. We have a daughter (3) Alexis and 3 animals that are like children Rogue (7 - Dachshund), Mystique (5 - Cat), and Nanook (1 - Alaskan Malamute). I am looking forward to starting this program and working with other teachers around Iowa.
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Josh Wilkinson
I teach MS/HS math at Northern University in Cedar Falls. I am currently teaching Integrated Math 1, 3, and 4. This is my fifth year of teaching and my third year at NU. My wife, Nikki, also teaches physical education and health at NU. My professional interests include technology integration, assessment, and student motivation. My personal interests include playing just about any sport (especially tennis), playing video games with my brother-in-law, and watching movies. I received my MA from UNI and my BS from Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX) both in math education.

Email: joshua.wilkinson@uni.edu
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My name is Jaralyn Pickar. I teach Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 at Forest City High School. This is my fourth year teaching. I am married and have a 2 year old daughter, Cloe.
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Jennifer Miller
I teach math at Mount Vernon High School. This is my 5th year teaching, but my first year at Mount Vernon, I previously taught in Minnesota. I coach JV girls soccer and am also a yoga teacher. I love being back in Iowa and being close to all of my nieces and nephews!

Mary K. Overholtzer
I teach middle school science and reading at Mount Ayr. As TAG coordinator, I also facilitate AP Chemistry. I also have 5 online Biology students using the Odysseyware program. I am in my 25th year of teaching. I am elementary certified, yet endorsed in math and reading. I have taught all levels of students in Creston, Keokuk, Grand Valley, Mount Ayr, and at Buena Vista University. I enjoy my family. My husband, John, and I have two great kids, Christian(17) and Christiana(14). In my free time, I love to read, travel, learn, and be around my family. We also enjoy life on the farm surrounded my chickens, cattle, hay, corn, beans, and a garden.
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Hello! My name is Tom Laures. I teach upper-level math courses at Union High School in La Porte City. My courses include College Prep Math, Statistics, Math for Liberal Arts, Integrated Math III, Trigonometry, and of course Algebra Concepts. This is my 15th year teaching. I have 2 wonderful daughters and a great dog. I received my teaching degree from the University of Northern Iowa way back in the 90's. I look forward to working with everyone in this course.
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My name is Toni Lacey and I teach Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and 7th grade math at Logan-Magnolia. I have been teaching for 3 years and this is my 2nd year at Logan-Magnolia. I also enjoy coaching middle school volleyball. I attended Morningside College and graduated in 2005 with my teaching degree. I have two children - my son, Justin, is 18 and my daughter, Shayla, is 15.

I am Wayne Gilman, a middle school algebra teacher at West Central Valley in Redfield. I have taught middle school math since graduating from UNI in 1974. Being semi-retired, I am on a 25% contract.
I am married with two grown daughters, one in Clive with 3 boys, the other in Indianapolis expecting their first.

My name is Julia Schreckengast and I teach Algebra I, Algebra II, and Advanced Geometry at Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School. This is my 9th year of teaching. I am married and have a 8 year old son Jackson, and a 6 year old daughter Lily.
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I'm John Arp from CAM High School in Anita. I teach Consumer Math, Algebra 1 and 2, Calculus, and Principles of Engineering (Project Lead the Way). I farmed for 20 years before returning to school for my math teaching certification. I am in my 10th year of teaching. I am interested in learning and creating new ways to engage all of my Algebra 1 kids. My wife Jennifer and I have 3 great kids, Ryan(22), Angela(18), and Ethan(8!). We are currently getting ready for prom and graduation.
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Heather Dutrey
I have been teaching middle school math at Interstate 35 (Truro, IA) for 5 years. I teach one section of Algebra I to 8th graders and I'm looking forward to finding new ways to ensure that these students are getting the same knowledge that highschoolers taking Algebra I get:) My husband, George, and I have three beautiful children Will (5), Josi (3), and James (18 mo). We live on a farm southeast of Osceola and enjoy spending lots of time outside
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Barb Foster
I am in my seventeen year of teaching but this is only my second year of teaching math at Osage High School. Each morning I teach at our alternative school. We currently have about 15 students that attend OASIS. While there I give instruction in Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics, and Consumer Math - - whatever the students need at that time. I then return to the high school where I teach Precalculus and Algebra 1 (last year I also taught General Math 2 and next year I think I get to teach a statistics class). I have a daughter Brooke that will graduate in 3 weeks and a son Brady that is a freshman. We spend most of our time following the kids' activities: sports, 4-H, FFA, music...but there's always time to learn something new, right?? :)
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Jenni Thompson
I am the North Fayette Middle School Math Teacher which includes 7th and 8th grade courses. Outside of the classroom I coach the Math Counts team, the 8th grade girls basketball team and the 8th grade girls track and field team. My husband and I have two and half year old twins, Hayden and Addilynn, that keep us very busy.
E-mail: jthompson@n-fayette.k12.ia.us

Andy Jacobson
I teach Calculus, Pre-Calculus, Geometry, and 8th Grade Algebra at Manson Northwest Webster. Next year I will be giving up all of my geometry to teach the Algebra courses. I am currently finishing up my 2nd year of teaching. I'm originally from Aplington-Parkersburg and I received my teaching degree from Buena Vista University where I also played football while attending classes. Outside of class I coach football, track, and middle school baseball. I also like to spend time with my nephews and niece.

My name is Sarah Danner and this is my second year teaching at North Scott High School in Eldridge. I teach Algebra and Geometry in one of our freshman houses.
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My name is Mary Hunt. I have been teaching at Spalding Catholic in Granville for 23 years. This year I am teaching Geometry, Math Analysis, and a college computer class as well as being half-time technology coordinator. This fall I will be teaching Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Math Analysis, Statistics, and a college computer course. My husband, JD, and I have been happily married for three years. We have 8 children and a daughter-in-law ranging in ages from 11 to 24.
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Bryon Helt
Have taught twenty-four years in upper elementary. For a change of pace, I transferred to an alternative high school within the same school district this year (Iowa City Community School District). At Elizabeth Tate High School, I teach pre-algebra, algebra I, algebra II, and geometry. Outside of teaching I work part-time as an EMT with Iowa County EMS. My wife and I have two teenage girls, one German Shepherd, and a mixed-breed puppy
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Tracy Call
I am a special education and a math teacher. I coteach in Algebra and Geometry. I have taught at Norwalk High School for 8 years. I coach middle school basketball and track, sponsor the student intramural committee at the high school, am a member of the technology committee and sped cadre. I have two children Cody 15 and Alexis 12. My wife is a fourth grade teacher in Des Moines. I love to learn about new things and find ways to do things more efficiently and effectively.
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Donita Clarahan
I have been teaching for eleven years at Sigourney CSD. My first eight years were at the Junior High teaching General Math and Pre-Algebra. I transferred to high school and am now in my third year of teaching Algebra 1A and 1B and Algebra 1 (and may dabble in Geometry next school year). My district is in the fast lane for incorporating technology. I volunteered to join this group to make sure that I'm in the driver's seat (and it's not just on auto-pilot).

When I am not attending to the needs of my children in class, I am crazy busy with my own four children (five if you count my husband) at home. Their ages are 8, 6, 4, and soon to be two years. They are slowly getting homework, slowly getting involved in extra curricular activities that have regular practices/meetings, and (like their Mother) are coming down with a bad case of summer-itis.
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Brandi Merrick

I am a December graduate of ISU with my bachelor's degree in agricultural education. I am currently teaching high school agriculture and serving as the FFA Advisor for Red Oak High School. Next fall I will be teaching Alg I, Math Fundamentals, and Intro to Chemistry at Denison High School. I am looking forward to teaching in areas where I am a little more comfortable (I don't know very much about restoring tractors or welding, which is making my current position exceptionally difficult) and where I will be closer to home.

In my free time I love to read, be outside, do anything sports related, and hang out with family and friends.
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Mike Bevelacqua
I have been a mathematics educator for 22 years. Currently I am employed by the Iowa City Community School District working as a K-12 Mathematics Curriculum Consultant at the Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

I am married, have three daughters, and one granddaughter. My oldest daughter (Kate) is married and a new mother (my granddaughter Blake) and owns her own Aveda Salon in Ottumwa, IA. My middle daughter (Hayden) loves socializing with her friends, playing volleyball & tennis, singing in Choir, Social Networking, and giving her Dad a hard time (typical teen). My youngest daughter (Finley) loves to imitate her older sister (good and bad), dance, and playing with Dad and the family dogs (Annie & Jovi). My wife Kris works for the University of Iowa, runs our household, and keeps me grounded.

In the summer you will find me relaxing at the pool, playing tennis, or playing golf.
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Tera Schechinger
I am a math consultant with Green Hills working in the secondary buildings in the Council Bluffs Community Schools. I have worked in a consultant role for 6 years. Prior to this work I was a middle school and high school math teacher in a small district in Nebraska.

I am married and have 3 boys, 4 yr old, 3 yrs old, and 10 months. Our family enjoys camping and swimming so we look forward to our summers together. We live on a farm and enjoy the laid back life in the country.
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Julie Hukee
I am in my 8th year working as a mathematics consultant with Heartland AEA. I am also part of the state-wide Iowa Core Network team and work with district leadership teams to help them implement the Iowa Core. Before coming to Heartland, I taught high school math for 26 years in four Iowa school districts. I have been married for 31 years, have 3 grown children and 3 beautiful grandsons who bring more joy to my life than I ever thought possible!