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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 23, 2017

Van Buren teacher finalist for teacher of year; Bruen executive director at Pathfinders; Tenco names new executive director

Sep 26, 2016

Van Buren middle school teacher finalist for Iowa Teacher of Year award

KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School District middle school science instructor Amanda Schiller is one of five finalists for this year’s Iowa Teacher of the Year Award.

“What makes Amanda special is her passion for students, learning and giving it 100 percent every day,” said Van Buren secondary principal Chuck Banks.

Schiller teachers seventh- and eighth-grade science and one high school course at Van Buren this year.

Schiller has been instrumental in the increase in the interest of science at the school, especially in the number of students in the science club and science fair. Several of her students have won state, national and international awards for their projects.

“She gets kids excited every day,” Banks added.

Schiller was scheduled to be interviewed Sept. 16 for Teacher of the Year, and the award will be decided within two weeks, according to Banks.

The Iowa Teacher of the Year serves as the Iowa ambassador to education, acting as an education liaison to primary and secondary schools in the state. Although that could take her out of the classroom part of the time, it’s a win-win situation for Van Buren, according to Banks.

“She will be a great ambassador for this school and community and education in general,” he said. “And if she isn’t Teacher of the Year, the fact that she’s a finalist is a tribute to her and this community.”

Schiller was nominated by Heather Sheets, a substitute teacher in the district.

The Iowa Teacher of the Year Award was established in 1958 and is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education through an appropriation from the Iowa legislature. The award provides an opportunity to recognize an Iowa teacher who motivates, challenges, and inspires excellence; who is respected by students and peers; who is a dedicated professional that helps nurture hidden talents and abilities; who is a creative, caring individual; who takes teaching beyond textbooks and blackboards; and who is an exceptional teacher helping to redefine American education.


Bruen executive director of Pathfinders

Anna Bruen is the new executive director of Pathfinders Resource, Conservation & Development Inc.

Bruen has worked at Pathfinders since 2014, first as a watershed coordinator and then environmental planner. She has successfully written and managed multiple grants, facilitated strategic planning, and worked collaboratively with area partners to help move diverse community initiatives forward, such as watershed protection, housing development, solar energy production, and local foods production.

The board of directors unanimously chose Bruen to succeed outgoing executive director Detra Dettman after a regional search and selection process. Dettmann, who had been affiliated with Pathfinders for 11 years — five as the executive director — stepped down to work on community development as the executive director at the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bruen officially assumed duties at the end of August. She has a Master of Science from Iowa State University in community and regional planning/sustainable agriculture.


Tenco names new executive director

OTTUMWA — Cheryl Plank has been named executive director at Tenco and will begin her duties Oct. 3.

Plank has more than 27 years experience in the human services field, currently as chief operating officer at Vera French Community Mental Health Center in Davenport. Prior to Vera French, she served in a variety of positions with Lutheran Services in Iowa for 18 years, the last six as vice president of programs and services.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Iowa Wesleyan College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Drake University. She is a current member of the Iowa Association of Community Partnerships Board of Directors and serves as its children’s advisory chairwoman. Most recently, she was elected to serve a new term on the IACP board.

Plank brings many abilities to her new leadership position at Tenco, to include a solid history of producing results within a limited budget, working with multiple funding sources, successfully managing staff, and effectively working with customers, executives and stakeholders throughout the state of Iowa.

Tenco is a nonprofit corporation, founded in 1965, that currently serves nearly 300 people with disabilities. Tenco operates vocational programs in Centerville, Fairfield, and Ottumwa; Adult Day Habilitation services in Centerville, Fairfield, and Ottumwa; and residential services in Centerville, Keosauqua, Fairfield, Knoxville, Ottumwa, and Oskaloosa. Tenco also manages a Transition Home in Fairfield and Residential Care Facilities in Keosauqua and Knoxville.

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