Iowa Reading Association 2014 Fall Newsletter

A busy and productive June brought a successful end of the 2013-2014 year for the Iowa Reading Association. Check out the highlights below.
Leadership Workshop, June 23, 2014
Welcome to Iowa Reading Association local council presidents for 2014-2015. Wendy Hammrich, President 2013-2014, waits to welcome local council leaders. 
Nancy White, Vice President 2013-2014, shares the 2015 Conference theme and information about a 2015 Keynote speaker, Eric Litwin, author of Pete the Cat. Deb Mortensen, President-Elect 2013-2014, presents “Did you know?” facts about the Iowa Reading Association and its Literacy mission.
State Membership Director, Diane Bean, and Past President 2013-14, Tony Pieper, share “Grow Your Council Membership & Develop Leadership” ideas with local council Leadership Workshop attendees.  A huge “Thank You” to Tony for serving as an Executive officer for Iowa Reading Association the last 4 years.   It is no surprise to hear that Tony is still very involved in his local reading council. Michelle Swanson, Treasurer 2014-15, shadows Robin Brierly, Treasurer 2013-14.   Good luck to Robin as she starts as an Instructor at Chadron College in Chadron, Nebraska.
Iowa Reading Association 2014 Conference
June 24-25, 2014
"Literacy is All Write"

Iowa Reading Association Literacy Awards presented at the Award Banquet, June 24, 2014.
Iowa Reading Administrator of the Year
Mr. Dirk Borgman, BCLUW Middle School Principal
Iowa Reading Teacher of the Year
Karla Bronzynski, Eldora-New Providence Elementary Teacher
Iowa Literacy Award Winner
Marlys Lien: The “Story Lady” and owner of Once Upon a Time bookshop.
Marlys Lien accepts the Iowa Literacy Award from Clark Goltz, Iowa Reading Association Executive Director.
Iowa Service Award
Debra Wake, Freemont Mills Elementary
Iowa Reading Technology & Literacy Grants
Joyce Tucker, Eastern Iowa Reading Council
Lisa Denney, Jeffferson Van Buren Reading Council
Angela Holt, Northeast Iowa Reading Council
Iowa Reading Scholarship Awards
Lauriel Weekly, Glenwood Community Schools
Heidi Meyer, MFL MarMac, Monona
Teresa Schaffer, proud winner of Author chair at the Iowa Reading Association 2014 Conference. Patti Edwardson, winner of ipad giveaway at the Iowa Reading Association 2014 Conference with President-Elect 2013-2014 and 2014 Conference planner, Deb Mortensen.

President's Column
Greetings from your 2014-2015 Iowa Reading President
By Deb Mortensen

Welcome to another school year! Thank you for being a member of the Iowa Reading Association. As President, I hope to let you in on a few “secrets” about our Association and make you feel even more proud to have joined us. We have 7 purposes and I plan to address 2 in this article. The first is “to serve as a professional organization concerned about reading.” As witnessed in last summer’s conference, literacy is all “write” in Iowa. The summer conference provides you with a professional development like no other in the state. Speakers shared strategies for struggling readers and writers. The networking that happens at state conference is great too. We organized the keynotes so that participants were able to go to sessions that applied to their grade level/interest. If you were unable to attend, you still have some wonderful opportunities to learn from Iowa’s leaders in literacy. Do you belong to a local council? If so, you have the chance to participate in programs that pertain to literacy. Also, the Iowa Reading Association hosts a “Creative Writing/Poetry” contest each year. Encourage your students to write and share their talents with a greater audience. Perhaps you are a “state only” member. You can also get information from the Iowa Reading Association website  This website has so many things to offer but check out the tab called “Strategy Corner”. Under this tab you will find reading/writing strategies that have been performed in classrooms across the state. Consider writing one of these for an upcoming newsletter. Also, if you have a professional development speaker or topic that is outstanding, share that with Nancy White, our 2015 conference chair. We are always striving to provide quality professional development at our summer conference. We also are on facebook and twitter. More than once I have learned something about literacy from a post. I am always inspired when I visit those two places via technology. The International Reading Association is also a great resource for professional development regarding literacy.

The second purpose of the Iowa Reading Association is to “stimulate and promote the study of reading at all educational levels.” The Iowa Reading Association promotes a variety of projects and awards. This past year we worked with the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International (Upsilon State Chapter) to create a booklet of writing ideas for teachers of all levels. This can also be found on our webpage under the conference handouts tab. Our International project this year involves improving a school in Haiti (See enclosed article). One of our conference speakers, Alison McGhee will create a haiku for you.  The money you pay for this beautiful “one of a kind” gift will go towards Life and Hope Haiti.  Also, we offer several scholarships for those of you taking graduate classes. Please download the form from our website so that you can receive the stipend for your coursework. Many of you belong to other organizations that are interested in pursuing literacy projects. Consider working with the Iowa Reading Association to make both groups stronger as we serve this purpose.

This year’s conference theme was “Literacy is all WRITE”. I believe that literacy is all WRITE in Iowa. This quote by Dorothy Barnhouse captures my thoughts. “If we focus on where students need to be without paying attention to where they are, we will surely fail”. Allow your membership as an Iowa Reading Association member to guide you towards making ALL of your students successful this year. Will you help me in fulfilling our purposes? In the next issue I will share more secrets with you.
Save the Date for the "Stamp Your Passport with Literacy" Summer 2015 Conference
By Nancy White, President Elect and Conference Chair

How did you travel this summer?  Were you flying, driving, cruising, sailing, or biking?  Now that school has begun are you already dreaming of next summer’s travels?  As you consider journeys for next summer, make one of your destinations be the Iowa Reading Association’s summer conference June 23-24, 2015.   The theme of the conference is “Stamp Your Passport with Literacy” and the location of this literacy voyage is the Scheman Conference Center on the beautiful Iowa State University campus in Ames.
We have outstanding keynote speakers both days that will inspire you.  Kelly Gallagher will motivate and delight grades 5-12 teachers while Jennifer Serravallo will help elementary teachers analyze, synthesize, and make sense of all the data they collect.  Books by both of these authors will be used in the state-wide book study during the 2014-2015 year.  More information about this opportunity for our members to earn an hour of recertification or graduate credit will be posted soon on the website.
A highlight of many conference attendees is meeting published authors.   Eric Litwin will entertain primary grade teachers with stories of his Pete the Cat series and his new The Nuts series.  You may have met former guidance counselor and author Julia Cook at this year’s conference.  She will be back next summer as a keynote speaker and has had new titles published.  Devin Scillian is an award-winning author and broadcast journalist.  His P is for Passport book fits the conference theme perfectly!  Among the ten books he has written is Memoirs of a Goldfish and Memoirs of a Hamster. Another author at the conference is Mike Graf whose Adventures with the Parkers series takes place in twelve of our national parks.  Internationally known poet and anthologist Bruce Lansky will show you how to get children (and yourself) excited about reading and writing poetry.  He will also be working with the student winners of the state creative writing and poetry contests on Wednesday.  Books will be for sale in the exhibit area and all of these authors (and more) will be available for book signings.
 Conference attendees will enjoy listening to internationally-known educator, author and humorist Mary Bigler as she shares the joys and challenges of bringing literacy to the next generation.  Todd Whitaker is one of the nation’s leading authorities on staff motivation, teacher leadership, and principal effectiveness.  Middle school language arts teacher Jane Feber will be sharing her innovative approach to instruction.
Make plans now to attend this conference next summer!  The registration form will be posted on our website soon.  Stay tuned for additional author and speakers who will be traveling to Iowa next June 23-24, 2015 so that you can “Stamp Your Passport with Literacy”.
Nancy's Nuggets -- News from the State Coordinator
By Nancy Wright, State Coordinator

It is a pleasure to be writing this article to all of our Iowa Reading Association members!  I am so excited about the great opportunities this coming year will offer to all of us in the association.

If you belong to a local reading council, your council leaders are already planning a schedule of meetings for this school year and have lined up most – if not all – of their speakers.

If you do not yet belong to one of the 12 local councils in Iowa, I hope you will find one near you and get involved.  (Council information is on the Iowa Reading Association web site with contact information.)  The reading councils offer four or more meetings per year with sessions that will enhance your professional development.  The collaboration is outstanding and the company is uplifting!  Come on and join in!

Leadership Workshop: I was disappointed that I was unable to “travel” to the June 2014 Leadership Workshop in Ames to meet and visit with the reading council officers.  I was very touched by the gift of the autographed book bag with all of your words of encouragement as I began my cancer treatments.  I am almost finished with the treatments, and I am often encouraged by your lovely gesture.  I hope you carried “nuggets of information” back home with you from your trip to Leadership.         
I’d like to thank the Iowa Reading Association state officers, board members, zone directors, and our executive director, Clark Goltz, for stepping in to run the Leadership workshop for me last June.  Your support and willingness to take the ball and run with it were greatly appreciated!  A very special thanks to one of our new co-vice presidents of Iowa Reading Association, my friend Debra Wake.  Debra has attended several Leadership Workshops in the past as a reading council officer.  When I asked her to emcee for the June Leadership workshop in my place, she did not hesitate to say yes.   Thank you, Debra!

And that, my friends, is an excellent reason to be active in a local reading council.  The friendships that you will form will carry you through days when things get hard.  Laughter shared and teaching ideas traded with one another will keep you fresh and motivated in your classroom.  The support from your reading colleagues just can’t be beat!    
Local Council Officers – here are some reminders for you:
Council program and meeting schedule shared.

Please send your meeting schedule so it can be posted on the Iowa Reading web site.
September 15, 2014 Nancy Wright,
State Coordinator
Bulk of new memberships submitted.

Earn 2nd half of Local Council Grant -- $125
October 1, 2014 Clark Goltz
Executive Director
IRS report 990-N epostcard submitted.

Simple online report that your council is a non-profit with less than $10,000 in assets. Your council EIN number is in the state-wide directory.
November 15, 2014 IRS -- instructions are on the IRA website.
Honor Council application submitted. November, 26, 2014 International Reading Association – online submission.

Honor Council
The Honor Council Program annually recognizes local, student and special interest councils that organize and conduct well-rounded programs serving the council members, the community, the state/provincial council, and the International Reading Association.  Councils are being recognized for accomplishments of the previous year (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014).

In order to qualify for Honor Council status, the council must be in good standing according to IRA Bylaws. Specifically, the council must demonstrate that (a) all reported council officers are members of the International Reading Association, and (b) at least 10 council members are also members of the International Reading Association. Council officers for the year may be counted in this total.

Our Iowa Reading Association Executive Director, Clark Goltz, was able to attend the second International Reading Association Council Leadership Academy in July.  You can read more about the 2014 CLA by logging on to and going to the Council Leaders resources.  Look for the August edition of “Leadership Connection”. (Log in as an IRA member, then look for “Information for:  Council Leaders” in the tool bar on the left.)
The 2014 Council Leadership Academy was a huge success! Over 120 leaders from across North America gathered in Tampa, Florida for a two and a half day intensive training session. The area of focus centered on effective nonprofit management. Council leaders not only had an opportunity to learn from IRA Board Members and Staff, but also had an opportunity to connect and network with other councils leaders.
While you are on the IRA website, check out the collection of “Back to School Essentials” – articles you can use in the classroom!  
Membership Matters
By Diane Bean, Director of Membership Development

It was great to see so many of you at the Iowa Reading Summer Conference in June.  Many people stopped by to look at International Reading Association materials, chat about Iowa Reading, get freebies and buy $1.00 books.  The person that I'm sitting with in the picture above is President-elect Nancy White who has been putting together next summer's conference.  We will be having some super presenters and exhibitors.  You won't even have to make substitute plans since it's a summer conference!

One of my goals this year was to visit all 14 councils.  I accomplished that in early May and was very impressed with the variety of programs in the different councils.  Each council had something that made their council special.  I would like to visit about four councils each year so please let me know if you would like me to come to your council.   Please make sure to send your council's programs to Nancy Wright so that she can get them posted to the website and interested people can come to your meetings.

The goal that I haven't met yet is to reach 900 members in Iowa Reading.  Our statewide class is a strong draw for many of our councils.  This year's class is ready to start.  Spread the word to teachers that would like to get an extra hour of graduate or recertification credit.  Several councils offer their meetings for another hour of credit (with some outside activities).  At the summer conference you can get yet another hour of credit if you attend the entire conference and do a few additional things.  

Don't forget to get a bulk of your memberships into Clark Goltz by October 1st to get your "On-time Award" of a free Iowa Reading membership.  Have a great fall!
A “Win/Win” International Project

This year we had the opportunity to meet Alison McGhee (author of “Snap” and “Someday”). Alison worked with our young authors at the state conference on June 24.  We are partnering up with her for our International project this year. She will create a beautiful handwritten on cardstock (and signed) haiku for your special occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, holiday gifts) with 100% of the “Haiku for You” profits donated to the Life and Hope Haiti project.  Your contribution will go towards uniforms, books, teachers, electricity and other operating expenses. The cost of this beautiful gift is $31.89 ($27.00 plus tax and $3.00 shipping). You can either download a jpeg photo of the recipient or Alison will allow space for a photo. You may pay via Paypal. Contact her at

Life and Hope is a nonprofit organization registered in New York State. It operates the Eben Ezer School which educates more than 300 children in a rural town of Milot in northern Haiti. The school was founded in 2003 by Lucia Anglade, a Haitian American woman who wanted to give back to her home country.  Check out the presentation for Life and Hope Haiti fundraisers you tube to meet the kids you’ll be helping and to learn more about this project. Viewing this website would make an excellent addition to any council program.

If you wish to do this as a council International project, order a haiku and tell a council leader that you did this. When it arrives, take a photo of the gift. Share this project in some way (, local newspaper, council website etc.). Write up your project for Merit Council. This is a “win/win” as you will receive a beautiful gift and the children of northern Haiti will get some financial assistance. If you have further questions contact Deb Mortensen (Iowa Reading Association President,, Julie Ortner (International Project chair,  or Lois Van Houwelingen (Merit Council chair,  IMPORTANT: :Monetary donations from councils are also welcome.

Thank you to Alison for presenting at conference and for contributing 100% of your fee to such a worthwhile project.
Michelle Swanson
Iowa Reading Association Treasurer, 2014-2015

I have been with West Sioux CSD for eight years as an upper elementary (4th and 5th grade) Special Education teacher at the Hawarden Elementary Building.  I have now taken on and am teaching a Multi-Age Kindergarten/First Grade Combination Classroom at the Ireton Elementary Building.  

My 16 year old daughter, Kelsey, and I live in Hawarden.  I have been a member of my local reading council, NWIRC, for a few years, and became Membership/Treasurer Chair two years ago.  As Iowa Reading Treasurer, I look forward to getting to know the other Iowa Reading Board Members better, as we build firmer foundations in Literacy at the state level and local levels.
Iowa Reading Association State-wide book studies

Iowa Reading Association offer 3 state-wide book studies for its members.   The three book studies are available at the Heartland AEA website for registration.

Go to:
Click on: Professional Development
Click on: Heartland AEA PD Catalog
Enter the Appropriate Activity Number for your book study:
  1. Literacy Teacher's Playbook K-2: SG100699991501
  2. Literacy Teacher's Playbook 3-6: SG100799991501
  3. Readicide:  SG100399991501
Iowa Reading Association Committee Chairs 2014-2015
  • Awards: Deb Saylor
  • Budget: Michelle Swanson
  • Bylaws, Policies and Procedures: Debra Wake and Heidi Stangl
  • Creative Writing/Poetry: Luella Heilman, Carolyn Rubsam and Sue Schutte
  • Iowa Merit Council: Lois Van Houwelingen
  • Legislative: Wendy Hammrich
  • Long Range Planning: Deb Mortensen, Diane Bean, Karla Bronzynski, Lynette Kruger
  • Membership: Diane Bean
  • Nominating: Megan Benson
  • Program: Nancy White
  • Student Membership: All board members
  • Studies and Research: Ed Starkenburg
  • International Project: Julie Ortner
  • Technology and Literacy Project: Renee Thomas
  • Publications: Carol Duehr
Book Review
Reviewed by Megan Benson, Zone D Director and Quint County President

Ida B. . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World
By Katherine Hannigan

Katherine Hannigan tells this beautiful tale from the viewpoint of a child in an almost magical way. As the reader, you get to see the thinking process of a child whose blissful world is blown to bits when her mother is stricken with cancer. Ida B. has been home-schooled up until this point so when she is made to go to school she views it as punishment from her parents. Ms. Washington (her teacher) is the most patient person on the planet! She gives Ida B. time but lets her know she is around if she ever needs to talk. And when they do finally talk Ms. Washington gives all readers a lesson on how to listen!!! She also gives Ida B. a mission which helps to melt the hardened heart that's helped Ida B. survive. This book will make you laugh and cry!

Katherine Hannigan will be at the Iowa Reading Conference this summer! Please visit her website:
Just for Me
Reviewed by Joyce Tucker, Eastern Iowa Reading Council

Ms. American Pie by Beth Howard

Included in this book are recipes, anecdotes and Howard’s story that began in nearby Ottumwa, took her to the West Coast and eventually brought her back to Southeast Iowa.
For the past several years, Howard has rented the house Grant Wood made famous in his “American Gothic” painting.  Inside the historic house, she peels, crimps and bakes her many pies.
“I volunteered to judge the pie contest at the Iowa State Fair in 2010 and I guess I had a nostalgic Iowa summer,” Howard says.  “I came down here after the fair, and two weeks later, I moved into this house.”
She got her start in pie making in an unorthodox way. Howard and a friend were caught stealing apples at the age of 17, while on a biking trip down the West Coast.  The owner of the orchard was also a retired pastry chef and instead of turning them in, he invited them into his house for a pie-making lesson.  She has been making pies every since.   Howard eventually attended college and entered in the communication field.  She went to a café in Malibu, California which was to be well known for their pies but they didn’t have any because they were too busy to make them.  So, she started making pies for them and served Barbara Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson, and Robert Downey Jr.   She returned to Seattle after a year along with her husband.  He later unexpectedly passed away and she once again returned to pie making to ease her pain.  She came to Iowa and soon after moved into the American Gothic house and opened the Pitchfork Pie Stand.  She was amazed how many people helped her to make her pies.
Howard has also written Making Piece: A memoir of Love, Loss and Pie.  Howard talks about how making pie helped her through the loss of her husband.  Ms. American Pie is her second book and is sold through Race Point Publishing.  It is also sold at other websites and in bookstores across the country.  She loves writing and might do a little traveling to try and find that inspiration to write another book.  She says you might not know what direction life might take you.
Council Corner
By Julie Ortner, Zone C Director

Members of the Eastern Iowa Reading Council (EIRC) are getting prepared to Stamp their Passports with Literacy through their exciting council programs. They will be kicking off the year on a journey with author Kay Woodhouse to explore the writing process. Members will gain new strategies and ideas to get students excited about writing!

EIRC members will meet in October to fill their literacy backpack with books, technology and activities with library media specialist, Kris Hart. Ms. Hart will be showing and demonstrating the latest books, apps, websites and more that members can take back and use in their own classrooms.

In early December EIRC will embark on a technology excursion with Bev Berns of Keystone AEA. The latest and greatest apps, websites, and technology tools will be presented.

Members will gather again in January to discover ways to bring math and literacy together. Speakers Peggy Magner and Dawn Schechtman will be helping members navigate their way to bringing math and literacy together in the classroom.

EIRC members will close the year gallivanting around and celebrating student writing. At this final meeting, winners of the local writing and poetry winners are rewarded for their achievement and given the opportunity to share their winning pieces with their family members, teachers, and members of the EIRC council.

The Eastern Iowa Reading Council has been fortunate to have many members and excellent programs for many years. We hope this year is no exception and that we will continue to grow and have many, many members join us in stamping our passports with literacy.
Strategy Corner
By Lori Vicker, Zone A Director

Writing Organizer
The following writing suggestion was gleaned from a session I attended at the Reading is All "Write" reading conference this summer in Ames.  The speaker suggested the following format to help students organize their story.  Fold a blank sheet of paper into thirds and label each section as follows:

To add “bling” to your story, considering incorporating the following:
  • A fascinating fact or statistic
  • Use a very short sentence
  • Use a question
  • Use a quote
  • Give a comparison or example
  • Use humor
  • Use alliteration

Check out Iowa’s Conservation Education Grant Opportunities

Got an idea to advance environmental literacy, but lack funds?  The Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP) annually awards $350,000 for conservation education in Iowa. Plan now for the November 3 grant deadline. The average grant award is approximately $21,000, and mini-grants for $3,500 or less are also available.
For more information about the application process and the types of programs funded, go to the REAP Conservation Education website. For a quick overview, go to

Susan Salterberg
Center for Energy and Environmental Education, UNI
Calendar Reminders
By Carol Duehr, Secretary & Newsletter Editor


  • Check out award deadlines on Iowa Reading Association website
  • Sign up for State-wide book study through Heartland AEA
  • Board of Directors Meeting, Saturday, October 18, 2014,  10:00 a.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, October 18, 2014, 1:00 p.m., Pizza Ranch, Ames


  • Board of Directors Meeting, Saturday, January 17, 2015,  10:00 a.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames (Snow Date January 25)
  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, January 17, 2015, 1:00 p.m., Pizza Ranch, Ames (Snow Date January 25)


  • Board of Directors Meeting, Saturday, April 4, 2015,  10:00 a.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, April 4, 2015, 1:00 p.m., Pizza Ranch, Ames


  • Executive Board Meeting, Saturday, May 2, 2015, 1:00 p.m., Pizza Ranch, Ames


  • Board of Directors Retreat, Sunday, June 21, 2015,  3:00 p.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Board of Directors Meeting, Sunday, June 21, 2015,  5:00 p.m, Pizza Ranch, Ames
  • Leadership, Monday, June 22, 2015, 10:00 a.m., The Hotel at Gateway, Ames
  • Iowa Reading Association Conference, June 23-24, 2015, ISU, Scheman Conference Center, Ames, IA


  • International Reading Association Meeting, July 17 -20, 2015, New Orleans, LA
Our mailing address is: Iowa Reading Association | P.O. Box 16 | Ossian, IA 52161