Thursday, October 11, 2018

FREE Literacy Resources for Parents



Superintendent News & Views
FREE Literacy Resources for Parents
By David Hill, Gladbrook-Reinbeck Superintendent

Imagine if there was a “one-stop shop” where families could access free literacy resources for PreK-6th Grade children.  Now, imagine if parents and caregivers could use a search and filter tool to select specific types of resources, targeted literacy skills to work on, and an appropriate age range.  You don’t need to use your imagination any longer, as these resources exist and are just a click away. 
The Iowa Reading Research Center (IRRC) has developed a wonderful website to provide these types of targeted resources. The website continues to be expanded regularly to meet the needs of children of all ages. This high-quality collection of over 200 learning activities, videos, articles, and parent guides is a great resource that families can use to practice and build critical reading skills.
IRRC is collaborating with educators and parents across Iowa to make a multitude of resources available for families on their website at http://www.iowareadingresearch.org/.  IRRC has worked extensively with trained educators and parents who have reviewed hundreds of resources for content, quality, and accessibility. Only those resources receiving the highest ratings are hosted on the IRRC website. The resources are free and no log-in is required. Visitors can search the collection by literacy skill, age/grade, and resource type, or search by keyword to find learning tools that are just right for each and every child.
Whether your child is a struggling reader or is one of the most skilled readers in his or her class, he or she will benefit from the resources provided on this website and the time spent with parents or other adults while using these tools.  I encourage parents to visit the IRRC website regularly for current information and additional resources.
Parents and others who support children in their reading may also want to subscribe to the IRRC’s weekly blog at http://www.iowareadingresearch.org/blog/ Blog readers will learn more about the individual resources in the IRRC Family Resources Collection, get specific information how to best utilize the IRC family resources, and have the opportunity read about parents’ real-life experiences with using the tools from the collection.
You can also follow the Iowa Reading Research Center’s Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/IAReading or their Facebook posts at https://www.facebook.com/iowareadingresearchcenter
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, older sibling, daycare provider, or anyone else who supports young readers, I hope you will take advantage of these free, high-quality tools.
I encourage your feedback on this column, along with any questions you may have. These SUPERINTENDENT NEWS & VIEWS columns, in addition to my blog and Twitter postings, are part of my plan for open communication with the community. If you’ve missed any of my columns or would like to re-read or share them with your friends and family, you are welcome to visit my blog at http://rebelsupt.blogspot.com/ where they are all posted. You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter (@DavidRobertHill) where I occasionally post updates or other information not found on the blog.

Monday, September 10, 2018

G-R Welcomes New Teachers


Superintendent News & Views
G-R Welcomes New Teachers
By David Hill, Gladbrook-Reinbeck Superintendent

The 2018-2019 school year started on August 23, and the first few weeks of school have been GReat!  We welcomed six new teachers to the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebel family for the 2018—2019 school year. I’m pleased to introduce each of our new teachers in the paragraphs below.

Mrs. Emily Biederman, Teacher-Librarian:  Mrs. Emily Biederman is the district’s new K-12 Teacher-Librarian. A native of Tama County, she grew up in Dysart and graduated from Union High School in La Porte City.  She holds a bachelor's degree from UNI in English Education with a 5-12 reading endorsement and a minor in creative writing. She is also currently attending UNI working on a Master's degree in School Library Science. This is Mrs. Biederman’s first full-time teaching position, having previously worked in the private sector. G-R is sharing her time with the Grundy Center Schools, where she is also serving as a Teacher-Librarian.
Commenting on the positive, welcoming environment at G-R, Mrs. Biederman said, “From the minute I stepped into the door on my first day of new teacher orientation, I was greeted by a member of the maintenance staff, who said she is there if I have any questions. As I am meeting each new teacher and member of staff, everyone has let me know they are there for support with any questions I may have, no matter how ‘silly’ my question is. G-R is not just a group of people dedicated to the education of students, but also a family who treat each other with respect and are constantly helping each other be the best educator they can be. I look forward to being in an environment which facilitates personal educational growth, but also enjoys each other's company.

Mr. Ryan Smiley, Jr. High Special Education:  Mr. Ryan Smiley joins the Rebel Nation this year as the new Jr. High Special Education teacher at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Jr./Sr. High School.  Coach Smiley has also joined the football program staff.  He’s a 2015 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, with a major in PE/Health and a minor in coaching. He has experience as a teacher in the Valley Lutheran School System in Cedar Falls, where he taught K-12 Physical Education, high school health, and served as the athletic director.
Having attended the Northern University High School and taught at Valley Lutheran School, Coach Smiley appreciates and feels right at home in G-R’s small-school environment.  Asked why he is excited about becoming part of the G-R Rebel family, he said, “I’m excited to be part of a small school that offers a ton of opportunities for kids. I am also excited to be coaching football again.”  Mr. Smiley and his wife Alicia have two children that are attending Gladbrook-Reinbeck schools: daughter Ellie is in 9th grade and son Nathan is a 5th grader.

Mrs. Lacey Degener, Kindergarten:  Mrs. Lacey Degener recently relocated to our area to join us as a new Kindergarten teacher at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary School. She is a native of Minden, Iowa and a graduate of Tri-Center High School as well as Iowa State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.
At Audubon, she taught 5th grade for the last five years and 6th grade English for one year prior to that. She coached 8th grade volleyball for 4 years, 9th grade volleyball for 1 year, 7th grade basketball for 2 years, and varsity tennis for 5 years. When asked about her initial impressions of Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Mrs. Degener stated, “Everyone has been very welcoming and I'm excited to start a new adventure with G-R!”

Mrs Mackensie Sauerbrei, Secondary Spanish:  Miss Mackensie Sauerbrei is the new Spanish teacher at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Jr./Sr. High School. Miss Sauerbrei taught high school Spanish and coached middle school volleyball at Tipton for one year before joining the G-R staff. She has also coached high school volleyball at Waverly Shell-Rock. She is a graduate of Iowa Valley High School in her hometown, Marengo. 
Miss Sauerbrei attended Wartburg College in Waverly, where she majored in Secondary Education and Spanish. Her educational preparation also included a period of studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain which deepened her understanding of other cultures and the importance of learning a second language.  She hopes to provide one or more international learning opportunities for G-R students.  Miss Saurbrei is pleased to have the opportunity to become a G-R Rebel, explaining, “I’m excited to be a part of such a welcoming school district and community.” 

Mrs. Laura Sabotta, 5-12 Band & 4-6 Music:  Mrs. Laura Sabotta is the new band director for grades 5-12.  She is also teaching music to students in grades 4 & 6. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Music Degree from the University of Northern Iowa in Music Education, as well as an Artist Diploma in Bassoon Performance. She’s a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota and a graduate of Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School. 
While this is Mrs. Sabotta’s first year as a teacher, she did previously serve as a graduate assistant in the music program at UNI and teach lessons while working on her master’s degree at UNI. She explained that she’s excited to be at G-R because, “The staff and students are kind and easy to work with. I feel appreciated and supported in what I do.” 

Mrs. Sydney Kauten, 5th Grade:  Mrs. Sydney Kauten joins G-R this year as a 5th Grade Teacher at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary School. A native of Iowa City, she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education with minors in Mathematics and Literacy. Prior to teaching at G-R, she taught for six years in the Waterloo Community School District.
When asked about her initial impression of the school after her first few days at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary, Mrs. Kauten replied, “It’s been phenomenal.  The students are respectful and come to school excited to learn.  The staff has been extremely welcoming and act as a team so that students receive the best education possible.”  She went on to add, “When I interviewed for the fifth grade position last spring, I told Principal Bradi Johnson that I was looking for a home -- and I think I have found that in Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary.” 

More Fun & Interesting Facts About Our New Teachers:  Which of these new teachers didn’t like the subject they are currently teaching when they were a student in school?  Which one enjoys reading comic books and playing strategy games?  Which one can be found on YouTube lip syncing badly?  What are our new teachers’ favorite books of all time?  Why did these teachers decide to pursue a career in education?  Find the answers to these questions and more in the “Get to Know…” series of blog posts, which includes a separate, more detailed article focusing on each of the new teachers:

I’ve always believed TEACHERS are a school’s greatest resource, and G-R employs some of the very best in the business! These new additions to the Gladbrook-Reinbeck teaching staff have been carefully selected for the skills, abilities, and aptitudes that they will bring to our educational community. We’re excited to have these new Rebels on board, and I encourage everyone in our educational community to help them to feel welcome and supported in the important work they do. Welcome, new Rebels!
You are welcome to visit my blog at http://rebelsupt.blogspot.com/ where this column and all columns I submit to the Northern Sun Print and Reinbeck Courier are posted. I also welcome you to follow me on Twitter, where my handle is @DavidRobertHill.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Get to Know…Mr. Smiley!


Mr. Ryan Smiley joins Gladbrook-Reinbeck this year as the new Jr. High Special Education teacher.  He feels right at home in G-R’s small-school environment, having graduated from Northern University High School and taught at Valley Lutheran School in Cedar Falls prior to joining the G-R staff. He’s a 2015 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, with a major in PE/Health and a minor in coaching. At Valley Lutheran, he taught grades K-12 Physical Education, high school health, and served as the athletic director.  Here are a few interesting facts about Mr. Smiley:
Why did you become a teacher?  To help teach young people to become men and women of empathy and integrity who will lead, be responsible and change the world for good.
Your favorite teacher:  Jann Miller, Neil Phipps, Bob Lee, Tracy Johns. All of them played a very important role in my education but also in what kind of person I wanted to be. They were able to fill gaps when I was struggling with things at home/Life
Hobbies:  Hunting, Fishing, Camping, Kayaking, Golf, Disk Golf, Watching football
Favorite subject when you were a studentPE/Anatomy
Favorite activity while in high school:  Football-Track
Favorite Superhero:  Superman 1978
Favorite sport/team:  Notre Dame
Last book you readSacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story by Mark Tabb‎
All-time favorite book:  InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann. In his book, he talks about how impactful coaches can be IF they are coaching for the right reasons, and how to examine yourself before and during your coaching/teaching to help ensure that the kids are getting the best out of you and you are getting the best out of the kids.
Initial impressions of G-R:  I am excited to be part of a small school that offers a ton of opportunities for kids. I am also excited to be coaching football again.
What did I forget to ask?  Wife- Alicia; Daughter-Ellie 9th Grade at G-R Jr./Sr. H.S; Son Nathan (Nate)- 5th Grade at G-R Elementary.

The #RebelNation welcomes Mr. Smiley and his family to Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community Schools!  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Get to Know…Mrs. Degener!



Get to Know…Mrs. Degener!
We welcome Mrs. Lacey Degener to the district as a new Kindergarten teacher at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary School. She recently relocated to the area after teaching and coaching in Audubon, Iowa for the past six years. She is a native of Minden, Iowa and a graduate of Tri-Center High School as well as Iowa State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. Here are a few interesting facts about Mrs. Degener:
Initial impressions of G-R:   Everyone has been very welcoming and I'm excited to start a new adventure with G-R!
Prior Teaching Experience:  I taught 5th grade for the last five years in Audubon as well as 6th grade English for one year. I coached 8th grade volleyball (4 years), 9th grade volleyball (1 year), 7th grade basketball (2 years), and varsity tennis (5 years).
Favorite subject when you were a studentHistory
Activities while in high school:  Volleyball, Basketball, and FFA
Favorite sport/team:  Kansas City Chiefs, Iowa State Cyclones
Your favorite teacher:  My high school biology teacher, Miss Keogh. I wasn’t a fan of Science, but she helped me understand it and she is part of the reason I became a teacher as well.
Last book you read: Just starting Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
All-time favorite book:  Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  I read this book with my 5th graders every year and the conversations we had while reading, after reading, and referring back were amazing. The book made such an impression on me both personally as well as seeing my kids sympathize and empathize with Auggie and grow as individuals as well.

We’re excited to welcome Mrs. Degener to Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary and to the Rebel family! 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Get to Know…Mrs. Biederman!



Get to Know…Mrs. Biederman!
Mrs. Emily Biederman is the district’s new K-12 Teacher Librarian. A native of Tama County, she grew up in Dysart and graduated from Union High School in La Porte City.  She holds a bachelor's degree from UNI in English Education with a 5-12 reading endorsement and a minor in creative writing. She is also currently attending UNI working on a Master's degree in School Library Science.  G-R is sharing her time with the Grundy Center Schools, where she is also serving as a Teacher Librarian. Here are a few fun facts about Mrs. Biederman:
Favorite subject when you were a studentEnglish
Favorite sport or activity in high school:  Show choir or the musical
Hobbies:  Playing piano, cooking and baking, golf, reading, watching new movies (whether seeing them in the theater or watching movies from my own DVD selection repeatedly!
Initial impressions of G-R:   My initial impression of G-R was how welcoming all the staff is! From the minute I stepped into the door on my first day of new teacher orientation, I was greeted by a member of the maintenance staff, who said she is there if I have any questions. As I am meeting each new teacher and member of staff, everyone has let me know they are there for support with any questions I may have, no matter how "silly" my question is. G-R is not just a group of people dedicated to the education of students, but also a family who treat each other with respect and are constantly helping each other be the best educator they can be. I look forward to being in an environment which facilitates personal educational growth, but also enjoys each other's company.
Prior Teaching Experience:  This is my first year as a teacher. I had previously student taught at North Tama JH/HS in the fall of 2013 and substitute taught for North Tama and Union until accepting a non-teaching position for a Waterloo company. After being accepted back at UNI for my Master's degree, I am very excited to get back into teaching!
Your favorite teacher:  Mrs. Ford, my now retired English teacher from Union High School. Some students thought she was too harsh, and I agree that she had a tough grading scale, but I learned more in one of her classes than I learned from other teachers in an entire school year. She was honest when grading my papers and by the end of each unit, I felt like I had grown and would grow even more in the next unit. She was constantly pushing each student to challenge themselves; if they didn't agree with the grade she had given them, or wanted to know why they had earned it, she took the time to sit down with us and explain her rationale. All she wanted was for her students to succeed, and if that meant tough love, that's what she did.
A funny story from your school days:  I earned the role of the Statue of Liberty for my fifth grade spring concert, but the night before the concert I slept in the wrong position and woke up with a sore neck. I went to the chiropractor and still could not straighten it by showtime, but I was not giving up this role that I had auditioned and memorized lines for, so I was the Statue of Liberty with a crooked neck!
Why did you become a teacher?  My aunt, who taught middle school language arts, and was my teacher for three years, inspired me to become a teacher. She was an engaging teacher and made learning fun! I looked forward to coming to her class each day, not only because she was my aunt or because English was my strongest subject, but because of the way she taught her lessons. I wanted to have that same impact on students of my own someday.
Favorite Superhero:  Ironman - he is smart but still has a great sense of humor!
Favorite author:  Shel Silverstein
Last book you read: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
All-time favorite book:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling is probably my favorite book. It was really hard to choose my "absolute favorite" book because I have read so many good ones! I ended up choosing the first book in the Harry Potter series because the first time I read it, I remember thinking it was unlike any book or series I had ever read. The author had created an amazing new universe that was completely realistic. The book was written in such a manner that I was unable to put it down! I remember reading this in the summer after my sixth grade year and cozying up in my living room to read instead of going to the pool with all my friends. I not only read this book once, but have read the entire series at least three times (not including the most recent "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" book - I've only read that one once at this point)! I like that this book (and series) is enjoyed by audiences of all ages - from elementary kids to adults!
We’re pleased to have Mrs. Biederman join the faculty and the G-R family! Welcome to Gladbrook-Reinbeck! 


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Get to Know…Mrs. Sabotta!



Get to Know…Mrs. Sabotta!
We’re pleased to welcome Mrs. Laura Sabotta as a new member of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck teaching staff. She is our band director for grades 5-12, and she is also teaching music to students in grades 4 & 6 at the elementary school. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Music Degree from the University of Northern Iowa in Music Education, as well as an Artist Diploma in Bassoon Performance. Here are a few fun facts about Mrs. Sabotta:
Hometown:  Minneapolis, Minnesota
High School:  Cedar Rapids - Kennedy
Hobbies:  Reading comic books, playing puzzle & strategy games with friends.
Favorite subjects when you were a student:  Math and music
Why did you become a teacher?  I enjoy problem-solving, being creative, and helping others - becoming an educator fits all three of those interests!
Prior Teaching Experience:  I taught lessons as a music graduate assistant for the past two years while completing my Master's degree at UNI. I also substitute taught at Wapsie Valley CSD when my college classes were not in session.
Initial impressions of G-R:   I'm excited to be at G-R because the staff and students are kind and easy to work with. I feel appreciated and supported in what I do.

All of us in the #RebelNation are pleased to welcome Mrs. Sabotta to Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community Schools! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Get to Know…Mrs. Kauten!



Get to Know…Mrs. Kauten!
This is the second in a series of blog posts introducing students, staff, parents, and district patrons to the new teachers at Gladbrook-Reinbeck. Each of the new teachers has answered a few questions to help us get to know them better - watch for a new blog post each weekday until all six of the new teachers have been introduced.  Up next is the new 5th Grade Teacher at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary School, Mrs. Sydney Kauten. Please join me in welcoming her to the G-R Rebel Family!
A native of Iowa City, Mrs. Kauten graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education with minors in Mathematics and Literacy. Prior to teaching at G-R, she taught for six years in the Waterloo Community School District. Here are a few interesting facts about Mrs. Kauten:
Last book you read: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Favorite subject when you were a student: Science
Favorite sport or activity: Baseball
Prior Teaching Experience:  I taught for six years in the Waterloo Community School District.
Why did you become a teacher?  I became a teacher because I love working with kids and feel that making learning fun is vital to developing lifelong learners.
Initial impressions of G-R: My first few days at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary have been phenomenal.  The students are respectful and come to school excited to learn.  The staff has been extremely welcoming and act as a team so that students receive the best education possible. When I interviewed for the fifth grade position last spring, I told Principal Bradi Johnson that I was looking for a home -- and I think I have found that in Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary.
We’re pleased to welcome Mrs. Kauten to G-R Elementary and to the Gladbrook-Reinbeck School System!