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Fall 2011

The Leading Learner

University of Northern Iowa Educational Leadership Newsletter


The Educational Leadership Faculty at the University of Northern Iowa develop and nurture reflective Leaders of Learning, Service, and Change who positively impact student achievement and school improvement.


UNI Educational Leadership Welcomes Dr. Charles McNulty


Charles McNulty


This fall, the Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education Department welcomes Dr. Charles McNulty as an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership.  Most recently, Dr. McNulty served as the superintendent of Black Hawk School District in southwest Wisconsin.  Prior to that, Dr. McNulty worked as a middle school principal and in various other positions in K-12 education, as well as serving as an adjunct faculty member at the University of British Columbia and Portland State University.

Dr. McNulty received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his Master’s from Portland State, and completed his undergraduate work at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon.

Dr. McNulty was drawn to UNI because of the College of Education’s focus on social justice.  His dissertation is entitled Indicators of Successful Social Justice Leadership, and he plans to continue pursuing paths associated with social justice in leadership and pedagogy.  Other areas of interest include exploring how decisions are made in schools, and the relationship between educators and students. 


UNI Acknowledged for Top Masters Programs


In rankings produced by Washington Monthly, UNI is ranked number 56 of 553 Masters Institutions, ranking 17th of those in the public sector.  UNI received an overall score of 61 out of a possible 100.  Notably, UNI is ranked 20th in Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support for Community Service.  To see the complete rankings, please visit: 


Free Professional Development Webinars Offered


The University of Northern Iowa has a rich history in teacher education and is involved in many state and national efforts to enhance teacher preparation and student learning. As part of UNI's College of Education outreach efforts, educators will benefit from free professional development webinars taught by UNI faculty and staff. These professional development presentations include education topics such as classroom management, leadership, innovation in the classroom, curricular development and other hot topics nationally recognized hot topics. Registration is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis. These webinars will be archived for educators to use as resources in their work. For more information, contact Dr. Mary Herring, in the Associate Dean’s Office at (319) 273-2719.

The next Educational Webinar will be offered on October 27, 2911 from 4-4:50 pm and is titled “Exercise and the Brain: New Research on how Exercise Sparks Learning and Mood.”

Visit the webinar site at for more information and to register. 


Teaching, Scholarship and Service That Impacts Iowa and Beyond


Drs. Robinson and Gilson recently contributed chapters to a new educational leadership book entitled “Organization and Administration of Iowa Public and Private Schools.”  Robinson's chapter addressed Iowa's Evaluator Approval system, while Gilson's chapter discussed laws that impact school administrators. The book is available from Kendall-Hunt Publishing. 

Dr. Gilson is currently working with Pearson Education to develop a School Law course for their upcoming Ed Leadership In-Practice on-line series of coursework.

Rowman and Littlefield Publishing expects to release Dr. Pace’s book, “The Principal’s Hot Seat: Observing Real World Dilemmas” on October 28, 2011. The book features video footage of 15 scenarios from the last four years of the Day in the Office Role Play.^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=161048472X 


Day in the Office Role Play Helps Aspiring Principals Prepare for the Real World

Article and photo courtesy of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, 6/23/2011


CEDAR FALLS --- For students of the University of Northern Iowa's Principalship Program, Tuesday's "A Day in the Office" was full of scenarios, simulations and learning.

"About six years ago I was searching for a way to have my students experience something that was really similar to what they are going to experience when they're principals," said Dr. Nick Pace, associate professor of educational leadership and Principalship Program coordinator. "They needed to do something other than write a paper and say 'this is what I'd do if.' ... They needed something experiential."

Pace and Dr. Victoria Robinson, associate professor of educational leadership and interim department head, have found a way to give their students the ultimate principal experience --- by putting them in the hot seat.

"Just like teachers practice teaching under guidance and coaching of veterans and colleagues, future principals also need that same type of practice in dealing with various kinds of issues that often come into the principal's office," said Robinson.

From 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, participants were faced with various situations that any administrator might face. Participants sit at a desk and an actor or actress (usually one in an administrative field) is invited in and the role playing begins.

Todd Coulter, associate principal and athletic director at Waterloo East High, has participated as an actor ever since the program started. "It's kind of fun; you get to take on an alternative personality," he said.

Coulter played the father of a boy who was taught never to walk away from a fight. "If he walks away from a fight he walks into one at home," Coulter told the principal-in-training.

Students had to deal with hot-headed parents, manic teachers and anything else that the pros had dealt with in prior experiences.

"It gives you an understanding that anything could come through your door at any time," said program alum Jeff Dieken, who is principal at Hudson. "I think that everybody that you talk to --- students, faculty --- would say the same thing, that it prepares you for the big picture."

Within the scenarios it's not just the student in the hot seat who is learning from the experience, it's also the students watching, observing in the audience.

"I've been really impressed with my classmates --- how well they've handled the situations and how they've kept their composure and kept calm," said Paul Rea, a Principalship student and teacher at Expo Alternative Learning Center in Waterloo. "I think I've learned stuff from watching them and hopefully they've reciprocated."

"Being unprepared, not knowing what to expect I had a lot of anxiety," admitted Joanna Letz, a Principalship Program student and teacher at Council Bluffs Community School District. "It is real life and it's a real-life situation they're preparing us for."

Pace's book "The Principal's Hot Seat" is scheduled for fall 2011 release from Rowman and Littlefield Publishing.  Besides giving guidance, the book also features video footage of some of the best and most difficult scenarios from the past four years of the Day in the Office exercise, according to Pace.

TIFFANY RUSHING / Courier Staff Photographer
Connie Starr of Cedar Rapids, left, a principal-in-training, deals with a role-playing parent played by Todd Coulter, who is athletic director at Waterloo East High, during a simulation at the University of Northern Iowa in June of 2011.

Health, Physical Education & Leisure Services Welcomes Three to Hall of Excellence


The following UNI graduates were inducted into the UNI Hall of Excellence on August 27, 2011: 

Dr. David L. Long (UNI BA 1961).  He served as principal and superintendent in numerous Iowa and California school districts and as California's Secretary of Education (6.2 million students) from 2007-2009. He is currently president and CEO of Dave Long and Associates.

Dr. Gaylord E. Tryon (UNI BA 1959).  He served as teacher, coach and principal in numerous Iowa school districts. He was the first Executive Director if the School Administrators of Iowa, a statewide organization representing 2,000 superintendents, principals, central office administrators and area agency administrators. He is currently president of G. Tryon and Associates Superintendent Search Firm. 

Dr. Robert C. Rice (UNI BA 1960). He served as principal and superintendent in Iowa and Louisiana and special assistant to the superintendent, Washington, D.C. Public Schools, assistant state superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education and adjunct professor at Tulane, Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana Universities. Dr. Rice is deceased.


Leading Learners: Principalship Program


Rob Arnold is the new Middle School Assistant Principal and Activities Director in Independence.

East Marshall Elementary welcomes Principal Cathy DeBondt. 

Ann Langenfeld now serves as Lincoln Elementary Principal in Iowa City.

Technology Coordinator Geoff Tessau joins High School Principal Jeff Snider and Elementary Principal Casey Christensen at Interstate-35 Community Schools.

Durant Elementary’s new principal is Dave Larson. 

Kim Harmon has begun duties as K-12 Principal in Sigourney.

Waterloo’s Irving Elementary welcomes Principal Steve Thune and Assistant Principal Michael Landers.

The Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels welcome new High School Principal Matt Leeman. 

Robb Beane serves as a Distance Learning Consultant with Iowa Learning Online. 

Andy Petersen has begun duties as principal at Lamoni Elementary School. 

Jeni Roadcap is the new Director of After-School Programs for Waverly-Shell Rock.

The Cedar Falls Community School District welcomes Christine Mangrich as Coordinator of Instructional Services.

The Union Knights have a new Dean of Students and Activities Director—Josh Johnson. 

Mark Snavely has joined Keystone AEA as a School Improvement Facilitator.

Fort Madison High School welcomes Principal Greg Smith.

Assistant Principal Jeremy Jones joins Principal Eric Townsley at South Tama County Middle School. 

Deb Donlea has begun duties as Dean of Students at Center Point-Urbana Elementary School.

Southeast Polk welcomes Director of Curriculum and Instruction JoEllen Latham. 

Tim Veiseth has begun duties as 4th and 5th grade Principal in Oskaloosa. 

Joe Divoky is a new Learning Facilitator for the Cedar Rapids Community Schools.

Amy Griffin has transitioned from School Administration Manager to Assistant Principal at Fair Oaks Middle School in Fort Dodge.


Leading Learners: Superintendency Program 


Congratulations to the Superintendent Preparation Students who have started their first superintendent positions this fall:


Matt Patton is the new superintendent of Baxter Community School District.

Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District welcomes Tara Paul as their new superintendent.

Ben Petty is the shared superintendent of the Green Mountain and Garwin (GMG) and Beaman, Conrad, Liscomb, Union, and Whitten (BCLUW) Community School Districts.

Benita Gonzales has begun her duties as the shared superintendent of the Sigourney and Tri County Community School Districts.

West Branch Community School District welcomes new superintendent Kevin Hatfield.


The following have moved into new superintendency positions:


Allan Nelson is the shared superintendent of the Clayton Ridge School District and Central School District.

Scott Grimes is now the superintendent of the Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District.

Essex Community School District has a new superintendent—Jim Dick.

Lindsey Beecher is the new superintendent of the Gilbert Community School District.

Keystone AEA welcomes Gary Stumberg as its Chief Administrator.

Bob Cue now serves as superintendent of the North Tama County Community School District.

The Okoboji Community School District welcomes Superintendent Gary Janssen.
Greg Ebeling has begun duties as the superintendent of the Pella Community School District.

Jeff Hiser is the new superintendent of the Shenandoah Community School District.