Leading Learner Newsletter

Fall 2014 Edition

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.


Huckstadt takes on new adventures on campaign trail and as new assistant professor


Kim Huckstadt has always had a plan “A” in his life: to teach and be an educator. In coming on board to the department this fall, Kim has continued to fulfill his passion for teaching in his new role as an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership program, specifically working with students in the superintendency program.

Before Kim arrived at UNI, he spent most of his teaching career in the Maquoketa Community School District, serving as a science instructor, assistant principal/activities principal at the middle school level, and most recently, superintendent of the school district for the last 13 years before retiring in 2014.

With the exception of a few short years to attend Beloit College, and a service opportunity to teach in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with his wife for one year, Kim Huckstadt has always been a part of the state of Iowa.  

Looking to his father, who was a teacher and a coach, Kim knew very early on that he wanted to follow the same path into education. During his early years teaching and coaching in the Maquoketa school system, he really never thought seriously about taking on a leadership position.

However, “After leaving and coming back from my experience in Lake Charles, Louisiana, my passion to continue a career in education was reaffirmed, and when the opportunity to serve in a leadership role as associate principal presented itself, everything from that point on seemed to fall in place,” says Kim.

Last spring, with the support from family, friends, and members of the community, Kim decided to campaign for a seat in the Iowa House of Representatives in District 58, which encompasses all of Jackson County, and parts of Dubuque and Jones Counties in east central Iowa.

“With the announcement of my retirement in November, several colleagues and close friends felt that the unique experiences I had as a superintendent would be an asset in the Iowa House.  That I would bring a unique perspective to the job and would be a strong, yet realistic advocate for education in the legislature.”

At the same time, the opportunity opened up for a faculty position at UNI. Kim still wanted to stick with plan “A”, and get back to being a teacher.

“I was very appreciative of the flexibility of the university and department, which allowed me to pursue both opportunities as a faculty member and as a candidate.”

Even though the election results did not end up in his favor, Kim appreciated a lot of the experiences he had in the process.

“Iowa is a unique place in the fact that people genuinely care about their neighbors, schools and the state,” says Kim. He also appreciated the opportunity to participate in door-to-door campaigning, talking with people in person. Kim smiled and noted that this experience was be great opportunity to gain insight and build background knowledge for the Power, Politics, and Ethics course he is scheduled to teach next spring.  If the election had turned out favorably, serving in the legislature would have been a great experience. However, from Kim’s perspective, whether it were Plan A or Plan B, it was truly a “win – win” opportunity either way.

In this new position, Kim looks forward to spending more time with family, possibly doing more traveling to national parks and attractions around the country. Kim also looks forward to getting involved more at the university, attending fine arts and athletic events, and being a part of the Panther community.


Marlene Shea retires after 46 years of service to UNI



After serving UNI for an amazing forty-six years, Marlene Shea retired as secretary for the Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education in October. Her start came at nearly the same time that the institution transitioned from being known as the State College of Iowa to UNI. At that time, colleges within the University were established, along with individual departments.

Through the years her friendly smile and helpful spirit helped thousands of students who passed through the office doors seeking help with registration, licensure, paperwork or just making their way through the iconic Schindler Education Center. An avid quilter and crafter, Marlene plans to spend more time with family and some travel.

Upon her retirement, faculty and staff alike noted the impact she’s had on students, programs and the culture of the department. Former Department Chair Mike Waggoner reflected, “Marlene was the quiet, steady key to our cohesive culture as a department.  She was invariably kind, patient, and hard working.   I could not have worked as department head for 13 years and maintained any semblance of sanity had it not been for Marlene.  We will go on without her, but the absence is deafening.”  

Dr. Waggoner’s successor, current Department Chair Vickie Robinson added, “We can’t thank Marlene enough for all she did for our graduate students and for the faculty. She played an integral role in the success of our programs and people.”

Faculty and staff helped celebrate the start of her new life chapter in October with a 5th floor potluck, complete with cards, emails and stories of appreciation from generations of faculty, students and staff.


Montgomery brings experience to position as administration coordinator of educational leadership programs


Loleta Montgomery joined the Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education in the spring of 2014. Her primary responsibility is the coordination of the Principalship and Superintendency programs. For 15 years prior to her work at UNI, Loleta served in several positions within the Waterloo Community School District, including elementary principal and coordinator of elementary curriculum for the district. Loleta also worked in the Guthrie Public Schools in Oklahoma for 8 years in various positions, including director of curriculum, director of elementary education, and as an elementary principal. Loleta's early teaching years were in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Community School Districts.

Loleta's other work experiences include - instructor in the Department of Education at Wartburg College, director of the Black Hawk-Grundy Head Start program (now Tri-County Head Start), and editor at Houghton Mifflin Educational Publishing in Iowa City.

Outside of the office, Loleta enjoys traveling when possible and spending time with her family, especially her four grandchildren. She volunteers as a CASA (court-appointed special advocate) with foster children in the Cedar Valley. Loleta also enjoys reading recipe books and cooking interesting recipes.


Schares presents at National Rural Education Association Annual Convention, Iowa Association of School Boards


During this past semester on top of her role as a faculty member, Denise Schares has been busy attending and presenting at a few conferences. In October, Denise attended the 106th National Rural Education Association Annual Convention and Research Symposium in San Antonio, Texas. This year’s particular theme at the conference was IMAGING, looking at different innovative practices and research ideas related to the changing needs of rural students and the changing face of rural education. Denise’s presentation was entitled “Answering the Call to Teach: One States Collaborative Effort to Address Alternative Licensure.”

This week, Denise is presenting at the Iowa Association of School Boards conference in Des Moines; the presentation is entitled “The Board-Superintendent Relationship: Extending the Honeymoon.” This particular presentation addresses specific actions that can help the board-superintendent relationship to be productive and long lasting. Denise will be part of a team of five experienced practitioners outlining five basic principles and accompanying specific practices that will help to maximize the potential for a unified effective working relationship between superintendents of all experience levels and their district boards of education.


Back to India: Gilson, Martin make return to celebrate the first MAE international teacher leader graduates


Drs. Leigh Martin and Tim Gilson continue their work with the MAE program for international teacher leaders. This November marks their second trip to Mumbai, India to complete work with the first MAE cohort of students. Having started the program in the spring of 2013, this cohort is now completing their requirements and will be presenting their portfolios in person to Martin and Gilson. There will also be a mini graduation ceremony and celebration to honor the graduates. Along with this India 2013 cohort, the second cohort that began in the spring of 2013 are also completing their degree requirements and presenting their portfolios via Adobe Connect. They too will graduate in December. The third cohort, comprised of students from South Korea, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Germany are completing their first year in the program with aspirations to graduate next December. The next cohort is currently being solidified for a start this coming spring and will contain students from S. Korea, India, and Mexico, along with a few additional countries. We look forward to our continued work connecting UNI's Educational Leadership department with future teacher leaders all across the globe!


Welcome, Carol!


The Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education would like to welcome Carol Bean as the new department secretary. Carol comes to our department after serving several years as the secretary for the School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services. We are excited to welcome Carol to the Educational Leadership team!


Prepared Panthers: UNI Ed Leadership Graduates Move into New Roles

Emily O’ Donnell is the new assistant principal at North Central Junior High in the Iowa City CSD.

The new secondary principal in the Wapsie Valley CSD is Ross Bauer.

Jeremy Jones is the new assist principal at Peet Junior High in the Cedar Falls CSD.

Irving Elementary School in the Waterloo CSD welcomes Amy Schmidt as the new principal.

Josh Payton is the new assistant secondary principal in the Independence CSD.

Travis Schueller joins the East Buchanan CSD as the new middle and high school principal.

Travis Druvenga is the new assistant principal and activities director at Oelwein High School in the Oelwein CSD.

Jason Strub is the new K-12 dean of students in the Gladbrook-Reinbeck CSD.

Matt Leeman is the new assistant principal at Clear Creek Elementary in the Clear Creek-Amana CSD.

St. Edward’s Elementary School in the Cedar Valley Catholic Schools system welcomes Aaron Becker as principal.

Stephanie Mohorne is the new director of professional development in the Waterloo CSD.

Benton Community High School in the Benton Community SD welcome Rob Arnold as the new assistant principal and activities director.

Rick Snyder has taken on a new position as an assistant professor of education at Wartburg College in Waverly.

Benita Gonzales is the new instructional coach in the science department at Victoria East High School in the Victoria ISD, Texas.

George Washington Carver Academy in the Waterloo CSD welcomes Cary Wieland as the new middle school principal, and Steve Thune as the new assistant middle school principal.

Loren Valesquez is the new assistant principal at Camelback Academy in Glendale, Arizona.

Ryan Zurbriggen is the new K-12 curriculum coordinator and instructional coach in the Postville CSD.

Dr. Walter Cunningham School for Excellence in the Waterloo CSD welcomes new assistant principal, Ryan Christoffer.

Lucas Ptacek is the new principal at Franklin Middle School in the Cedar Rapids CSD.


Andrea Christopher is the new principal at Orchard Hill Elementary School in the Cedar Falls CSD.

George Washington Carver Academy in the Waterloo CSD welcomes new middle school principal, Mike Landers.

Jamie Cranston is the new principal at Columbus Elementary School in the Chariton CSD.

Miller Middle School in the Marshalltown CSD welcomes new associate middle school principal, Pat Rial.

Erika Ramirez is the new school improvement leader at Roosevelt High School in the Des Moines CSD.

Beaman-Conrad-Liscomb-Union-Whitten (BCLUW) CSD welcomes the new director of innovation and curriculum, Matt Switzer.

Brian Petullo is the new middle school dean of students and activities director in the South Tama County CSD.

Stilwell Junior High School in the West Des Moines CSD welcomes Brady Weber as the new assistant principal.

Traci Shipley is the new principal at River Woods Elementary School in the Des Moines CSD.

Washington Elementary School in the Davenport CSD welcomes Morgan Brewer as the new school administrative manager.

Amy Sandvold is the new elementary principal in the Denver CSD.