DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she plans to hold the first meeting of her 16-member teachers’ cabinet next month as a way to elevate their role and give them a more-prominent voice in education policy decisions.
Reynolds said cabinet members will meet quarterly with her, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Ryan Wise, director of the state Department of Education, to offer their advice about how to better prepare students for the knowledge economy, to elevate the teaching profession and to strengthen communication among the governor’s office, schools and Iowa communities.
“They are a diverse group representing a mix of content expertise, grade levels and rural and urban communities,” Reynolds told her weekly news conference. “We want to hear what they would change on the ground in their schools to help them be more effective.”
The governor said Iowa’s nearly 39,000 teachers are “on the front line” in helping students achieve and engage academically and developing skills like innovation and collaboration that will be critical as they prepare for “the workforce of tomorrow.”
“It really is about connecting our classrooms to future careers,” Reynolds said.
Traci Lust, a master teacher in a Saydel elementary school, one of the cabinet members, said she has worked in Iowa schools for more than 20 years and believes teachers are deeply committed to helping students achieve higher expectations.
Teachers, she said, “welcome the opportunity to share their perspectives on how to increase both achievement and engagement,” she said. “This cabinet provides a much-needed forum to allow teachers to have a voice.”
Sheila Graham, a welding instructor at the Pella Career Academy and another cabinet member who attended Reynolds’ news conference, said teachers are committed to making a difference.
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The new governor’s cabinet will be “an important forum to make sure students have access to high-quality, authentic, work-based learning designed by teachers and the business professionals together.”
Other cabinet members are Jed Batterson, Cedar Falls; Maggie Davis, Nevada; Jodie Geist, Mount Ayr; Laura Gilbert-Harwood, Waterloo; Denise Hoag, Council Bluffs; Mary Johnson, Pleasant Valley; Alex Oliver, Riverside; Joni Readout, Central Decatur; Vanesa Sanchez, Denison; Greg Smith, Davenport; Vidal Spaine, Des Moines; Aileen Sullivan, Ames; Shelly Vroegh, Norwalk; and Jordan Young, Cedar Rapids.
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