Making a Difference in Education: Iowa’s AEAs Award Recipients

On April 5, 2018, Iowa’s AEAs presented their 2nd annual AEA Awards to five deserving recipients. This is the second year for the awards, which are an opportunity to recognize and celebrate outstanding candidates for their contributions to education and the AEA system.


Evan Abbey, Janet Stutz, Cindy Cavanagh, Teresa Wyant and Miller Roskamp

E. Robert Stephens Award

Evan Abbey, Project Director of AEA Learning Online, was awarded the Dr. E. Robert Stephens Award. The Dr. E. Robert Stephens award acknowledges contributions in the areas of innovation and support to local districts, AEAs, the Department of Education and other partners/organizations.

Over 50 years ago, Stephens was a graduate student at The University of Iowa. He was asked by the Iowa Department of Public Instruction and rural superintendents in the state to direct a study to find a prototype to distribute instructional services equitably and efficiently across Iowa. His vision eventually found its way to the Iowa Legislature in 1974, when Iowa’s AEAs were passed into law. This award is named after “Dr. Bob” to honor exemplary work by those associated with educational service agencies and AEAs.

Evan has been the driving force behind instruction in the areas of online and personalized learning in Iowa. His vision for AEA Learning Online has transformed how schools in Iowa use blended and online learning opportunities. With Evan’s support and expertise, AEA Learning Online has developed multiple systems with learning opportunities for adults and students.

“We are honored to present this award to Evan Abbey,” said Tom Lane, Executive Director of Iowa’s AEAs. “Evan provides strong leadership for this work and his vision benefits Iowa’s educational system.”

Friend of the AEAs

Miller Roskamp was named a Friend of the AEA. The Friend of the AEA 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.

Roskamp was nominated for his support of the River Hills School, a public sponsored special school for students with moderate, severe and profound developmental disabilities. The school serves students from age 3 through age 21. Approximately 120 students from local school districts within Central Rivers AEA attend River Hills School. The parent of a Rivers Hills graduate and respected community philanthropist, Roskamp took on a leadership role in renovating the infrastructure and spirit of River Hills. His motivation and leadership with a variety of initiatives and campaigns has resulted in significant building and grounds improvements. Students now enjoy safe and modern outdoor adapted playgrounds, and the learning environments in all 24 of the building classrooms have been enhanced.

“Miller is not only a friend of the AEA but also a friend to all children with special needs,” said Sam Miller, Central Rivers AEA Chief Administrator. “His support for the integrity-filled work of River Hills School and the larger community it represents has literally changed lives.”

Friend of the AEAs

Dr. Janet Stutz, superintendent of Grinnell-Newburg Community Schools, was also named a Friend of the AEA.

“Each day finds Janet focused on doing the best for the students of Grinnell-Newburg,” said Sam Miller, Central Rivers AEA Chief Administrator. “She openly admits the district can’t do the work that needs to be done without the support and cooperation of the AEA. Her administrative team meets regularly with the AEA regional administrator, who is always viewed as a partner at the table. Janet supports the AEA staff assigned to her district and believes they play an important part in the achievement of students.”

Innovative Creator Award

Cindy Cavanagh and Teresa Wyant, staff at Mississippi Bend AEA were selected for the Innovative Creator Award by Iowa’s AEAs. The Innovative Creator award celebrates innovative and creative thinking and actions to enrich student learning. Cavanagh and Wyant  were instrumental in creating the Assistive Technology Team at Mississippi Bend AEA. For over 25 years, they have worked with teachers, students and families to ensure each child has voice and an environment in which to thrive.

“It is with great appreciation that we present Cindy and Teresa with this award,”  said Tom Lane, Executive Director of Iowa’s AEAs. “We also thank you for the creative ways you offered students to stretch their minds in school and engage them in thoughtful, meaning activities.”

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