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AEA Awards

Iowa’s AEAs bestow three awards annually to outstanding candidates for their contributions to education and the work of Iowa’s AEAs.

2020 Award Recipients

Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) are recognizing individuals who are amazing ambassadors for Iowa’s education system and Iowa’s Area Education Agencies. Each year, Iowa’s AEAs seek nominations for three awards as a way to celebrate those who are making a difference for kids, families, schools and communities. Whether it be helping keep our communities strong and thriving, volunteering in schools, standing up for causes they believe in, helping a friend or neighbor, being a mover, a shaker and a motivator, it’s important to honor and thank those who make a difference in the lives of our students.

  • Innovative Creator Award – Shandra Meyer, Central Rivers AEA
  • Dr. E. Robert Stephens Award – Carlene Lodermeier, Heartland AEA
  • Friend of the AEA Award – David Hammer, Aaron Cook, & Jenny Ugolini from Heartland AEA

Innovative Creator Award – Shandra Meyer

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The 2020 Innovative Creator Award is presented to  Shandra Meyer from Central Rivers AEA. Shandra serves as both the Lead Teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing at Central Rivers AEA as well as the state leader for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing teachers. The Innovative Creator Award celebrates innovative and creative thinking and actions to enrich student learning.

Shandra was nominated by Anna Crenshaw and Melissa Schossow, who wrote:

“Shandra is a hard worker who supports so many different people and groups within and outside of Central Rivers AEA. She is the discipline lead for the Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing where she leads and supports her team with grace and dedication. Shandra directly serves students across multiple districts. She writes excellent IEPs and supports her team members in doing the same. Shandra also serves as the Co-Chair for Hearing State Leadership in Iowa. Even with all of these responsibilities, she always has time for a quick chat or problem solving session. Shandra goes above and beyond for everyone that she interacts with in all of her different roles and deserves recognition for this work.”

Dr. E. Robert Stephens Award – Carlene Lodermeier

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Known to many as “Dr. Bob” and the father of Iowa’s AEAs, this award acknowledges contributions in the area of innovation and support to local districts, AEAs, the Department of Education and other partners/organizations. This year’s award is presented to Carlene Lodermeier, a regional director at Heartland AEA, who serves Des Moines Public Schools. 

Carlene’s nomination included a letter of support from many administrators with Des Moines Public Schools:

From Superintendent Tom Ahart: “Carlene’s leadership has been instrumental in establishing a relationship between Heartland AEA and DMPS that is more beneficial to our students and staff than it has ever been.”

From Brenda Colby, Chief Academic Officer: “Three words I would use to describe Carlene: dedicated, determined and devoted. She is a servant leader for all!”

From Gilmara Mitchell, Heartland AEA Professional Learning & Leadership Consultant who serves on Carlene’s DMPS team: “Carlene is authentic, honest and trusting. She rolls up her sleeves and works alongside us serving DMPS. We have reached unimaginable milestones in our partnership with DMPS under Carlene’s leadership.”

Friend of the AEAs – Jenny Ugolini, David Hammer and Aaron Cook

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Each month, leaders from Iowa’s nine AEAs meet at the Heartland AEA campus in Johnston.  From meeting room organization to tech support in two buildings to making catering reservations and assisting with meal set-up, we want to recognize three members of the Heartland AEA team for going the extra mile. Jenny Ugolini, David Hammer and Aaron Cook may prefer to work behind the scenes and away from the spotlight. 

The Friend of the AEAs Award is a fitting way to recognize this team for all that they do to support the AEA system. This honor is given to those who demonstrate strong support for furthering the mission of Iowa’s AEAs and who serve as an advocate on our behalf. Iowa’s AEAs are grateful to them, and the entire Heartland AEA team who welcome us each month.

Congratulations to our 2020 award recipients!

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Friend of the AEA Award

Acknowledges contributions by policymakers, citizens, board members, school district partners, businesses and organizations who have been great partners and demonstrate strong support for furthering the mission of Iowa’s AEAs. Open to all policymakers, citizens, board members, school district partners, businesses and organizations.

E. Robert Stephens Award
Dr. E. Robert Stephens, better known as “Dr. Bob” and the father of Iowa’s AEAs, acknowledges contributions in the area of innovation and support to local districts, AEAs, the Department of Education and other partners/organizations. There should be evidence of outstanding contributions to the well-being of the educational community including:

  • Benefits of this individual’s leadership;
  • Creative leadership in inspiring and motivating others to achieve and contribute;
  • Strong commitment to the profession by active participation in professional activities; and
  • Evidence that the individual is respected by his/her colleagues and the community.

Open to AEA staff who serve in an administrative role and AEA board members.

Innovative Creator 
Celebrates amazingly innovative and creative thinking and actions to get results for students, educators, Iowa’s AEAs, school districts and other partners. Open to all AEA staff, board members, educators, policymakers, students…all of us are creators!

Click here to view past winners.

For more information, contact Connie Johnson, Iowa’s AEAs Communications Director.

In 2017, it is estimated that schools saved over $11.3 million as a result of AEA Purchasing’s programs.