AEA 267 Hall of Fame award winners selected for November

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nominations for the the AEA 267 “Hall of Fame” recognition program. All nominations will remain on file for consideration during future months.

Please join us in congratulating our November winners!


1446644047816Deb Culp began working for AEA 267 in the 1970’s when the organization of intermediate service units, now known as AEAs, were called the “Joint County System”.  She began working in the Media Center in the ‘film department’ and has had the opportunity to grow and expand her knowledge and learning as the agency has transitioned over the past four decades. Deb worked in positions in Media and later in Print/Production and in the mid 80’s, left the agency to work for Apple Computer as an Education Support Specialist. Fortunately for us, she eventually returned to the agency affirmed that her passion remained being part of a service-based organization.

“I feel very blessed to have been given opportunities to learn and support the agency and my colleagues in many different areas as we (AEA) have expanded services and modified direction,” said Deb. “Through it all, we’ve always kept our eyes on how to support our teachers and students.”

Currently, Deb is the Administrative Assistant with Information Technology Services, with a key focus on supporting the AEA Media program along with overseeing and facilitating access to our digital online resources for our schools and AEA staff.

“What I find most rewarding about my position is the variety of work I get to do, along with continuing to look at new ways we can enhance and better our Media services to our school clients. Change can sometimes be hard, but if we can embrace it and look at it as an opportunity to better serve our clients, along with the chance for personal growth, it makes the job fun and enjoyable.”

FullSizeRenderLori Thomas attended NIACC two separate times; the first time for journalism and then 25 years later for nursing. She is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in communications. Prior to joining AEA 267 as an Audiometrist, Lori managed a business for over 10 years. While going to school and raising her three children, she worked in health care. She has been a volunteer at the Free Health Care Clinic in Mason City for the past five years dedicating her Saturdays to those who depend on these important health services.

Currently, Lori serves as the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Communications/Site Superintendent in the Clear Lake Office.

“Lori has a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude toward customer service,” said her supervisor, Beth Strike. “She has high expectations for herself and is a model of lifelong learning. She is a valuable asset to AEA 267.”

When asked what she likes most about her job, Lori stated: “The most rewarding aspect of my work is the feeling that I am part of a team that is dedicated to doing everything possible to help students succeed in their education. My work is done behind the scenes; however I enjoy supporting those who do work directly with children and the schools we serve. I am passionate about promoting the services our agency provides.”


Unknown-1Rachelle (Rusti) Sparks
began her career working in disability services over 32 years ago. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa. While working as a special education teacher for the Waterloo Community School District, Rusti completed her master’s degree.  

Rusti currently serves AEA 267 as a Special Education Consultant and Team Representative. She is a member of both the Behavior Resource Team and East Sector Leadership Team.

“I find the most joy on the days that I have helped teachers find the best strategies, the perfect assistive tech or develop and implement a behavior plan that unlock the barriers to learning for the students that we teach.”

Rusti gave these words of wisdom for staying positive and dedicated to our mission, “My advice is to find joy in everything that we do and that it’s in the difficult conversations that we find solutions.”

Congratulations to Deb, Rusti and Lori! You set the bar high for all of us.

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