On March 28, 2019, Iowa’s AEAs presented their third annual AEA Awards to three deserving recipients. The awards are an opportunity to recognize and celebrate outstanding candidates for their contributions to education and the AEA system.

Friend of the AEA Award

Dr. Tom Lane, executive director from Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, received the 2019 Friend of the AEA Award. 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.

For the past two years, Tom has served as Iowa’s AEA’s Executive Director after serving as legislative liaison for four years. One of Tom’s greatest strengths is building relationships and the AEAs have benefited from his experience as a teacher, counselor, principal, and superintendent.

Tom, we are grateful for your leadership. Our system is stronger thanks to you.


Creative Innovator Award

Diane John, speech-language pathologist from Great Prairie AEA, received the 2019 Creative Innovator Award. The Innovative Creator award celebrates innovative and creative thinking and actions to enrich student learning. She received multiple nominations from co-workers, colleagues, and friends including the following:

  • Diane John goes above and beyond her job! Not only does she do an amazing job with her speech students, she also will take her own time to help teachers plan, brainstorm, and develop ideas to better the learning of the students.
  • I am the instructional coach and Diane has helped me in so many ways to be more effective with my work with teachers and that in turn helps all of our students.  She helped me develop an intervention system to look at our students closer and make instructional decisions we need to sooner, she helps me to develop those interventions with teachers, and the development of a program with dialogic reading with our mentors coming from the high school working with our students.  
  • She has been instrumental in teaching classes to our staff on vocabulary and strategies to use in their classrooms and she is always on the lookout to find any way that she can help.  She is positive, shares strategies, and problem solves with staff about student needs. She is a great asset to our school!
  • Diane is always willing to find supplemental resources and share her vast knowledge to better the learning experiences for our students.  On a personal level, I was able to go to her with a question about my 2-year-old at the time and she told me about the Early Access program. Because of that, she helped my son receive speech intervention faster than if I would have waited until he began school. Now he is thriving in preschool and it’s all because Diane was an advocate for the AEA.
  • Diane is a great speech pathologist, who goes above and beyond to make sure students receive the best services available and teachers have adequate resources to support learning.  She is a phenomenal asset to our school district and someone who brings happiness wherever she goes! We love her and so do the students.
  • She is our sunshine!


E. Robert Stephens Award

Kim Owen, regional administrator from Grant Wood AEA, received the 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.

Kim has been the catalyst of innovation to put a system of support in place for AEA partners to collaborate and work across AEAs in service to accelerating and advancing teacher classroom practices that support the academic, social, and emotional needs of students. Kim has dedicated her career to creating partnerships with staff from AEAs to collaborate and work together in building the capacity and efficacy of instructional coaches and mentors that impact teaching and learning.