Perry teachers vie for gift card by donning Tyson togs


Perry Community School District Superintendent Lynn Ubben gave straights A’s to last week’s professional development activities and speakers, the annual back-to-school warm up for the new academic term.

“The multicultural learning was very interesting,” Ubben said. “I knew little of EMBARC Iowa and thought Amy Doyle did a great job.” Doyle gave an informative presentation on the unique challenges faced both by Burmese refugees in central Iowa schools and the teachers longing to help them but largely ignorant of Burmese language and culture.

The thoroughly Americanized Doyle gave an upbeat and engaging account one young teacher described as “relatable.”

Ubben was also pleased with information presented by Terry Wilkerson, chaplain at Tyson Fresh Meats near Perry.

“Even though Tyson has been in Perry for quite a few years,” Ubben said, “I always learn something new when their employees share information. I will certainly keep the “How to Best Communicate with Parents at the Plant” handout. Chaplain Wilkinson did a nice job.”

Wilkinson also brought humor to the process when he had Perry Middle School teachers Kathy Pantzar and Jonathan Hoefer take the Tyson Togs Challenge. The test for the teachers aimed to see who could most quickly don the full outfit of a Tyson cut floor worker, including gown, armor, gloves, apron, boots, hairnet, hat and a few more items.

The winner got a gift card and much praise from his or her peers. After numerous humorous wardrobe malfunctions, Mr. Hoefer took the prize.

Ubben also had praise for the talk delivered by Dr. Thomas R. Guskey, professor of educational psychology at the University of Kentucky and previously the director of research and development for the Chicago Public Schools.

“We were also quite lucky to have had a nationally renowned speaker on Monday in Dr. Guskey, who not only has a wealth of information but cares about kids and our educational system,” said Ubben, who is herself in her eighth year at the helm of the Perry Community School District, her 13th year as an Iowa superintendent and her 27th as a school administrator.

She thanked the many people who helped plan and execute the back-to-school event for staff members, including Director of Teaching and Learning Kevin Vidergar along with instructional coaches, mentors, administrators and teachers.

“Great job, and thanks again to all who helped plan this successful experience,” Ubben said.

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