Education & Schools
5 Reasons Why Dogs Make Great Reading Partners For Children PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 11:40
Studies Track Improvements in Grade School
Language Studies

It turns out dogs are not only good for our health; finding missing people; and helping disabled people live independent lives – they’re good for kids’ report cards, too!

Canines have been found to improve the immune system and reduce blood pressure, among other health benefits. They help rescuers and law officers, blind people and those with limited use of their hands and arms. Now we have another reason to celebrate man’s best friend.

“Dogs not only help children learn to read, they help children learn to love reading,” says Michael Amiri, coauthor with his wife, Linda, of the children’s book, Shellie, the Magical dog ( “And that’s true of for children with and without learning disabilities.”

A Minnesota pilot project called PAWSitive Readers finds that trained therapy dogs helped 10 of 14 grade-school participants improve their reading skills by one grade level. Additionally, a University of California study showed that children who read to the family dog improved their ability by an average of 12 percent.

Amiri discusses five reasons why dogs help kids learn to love reading:

• No embarrassment: “Most of us have memories of reading out loud in class,” he says. “Though we may have been proficient readers, the fear of stumbling on a word in front of everyone was a constant source of anxiety.” Dogs are excellent for unconditional, nonjudgmental love; they won’t laugh if and when mistakes happen.

• Confidence boosters: “I never had a dog while growing up, which is too bad because I think I would have had an easier time gaining self-confidence,” says Amiri. As an adult, he discovered the many benefits of dogs through he and his wife’s very special Maltese, Shellie. She’s often the center of attention in their community at pet-friendly restaurants, where she laps her water out of a martini glass. And she has a full-time job as the greeter at Linda’s hair and nail salon. “If a little dog can give me, a grown man, more confidence, imagine what it can do for kids,” he says.

• Polite listeners: Like humans, dogs are social creatures and most enjoy the sound of a calm voice speaking to them. Many – except perhaps the most energetic breeds – seem to enjoy curling up on a rug and listening to a story being read aloud. They don’t interrupt (except for the occasional ear scratch or to sniff a body part) and they often show appreciation for the attention.

• A fun approach to schoolwork: Too often, when children think of studying, they think of time spent hunched over a desk struggling alone to work out problems and memorize lists. Interacting with a lovable, fuzzy friend for an hour of homework is an appealing alternative.

• Win-win: A canine-student reading program is a great way to help service dogs-in-training learn patience and discipline. Dogs are trained to help veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, the blind, and people who use wheelchairs, among others. These dogs in training help children, while children improve a dog’s service abilities.

About Michael and Linda Amiri

Michael Amiri grew up in New York City and became an actor in local theater productions and television commercials. Linda Amiri is an entrepreneur, the owner of a successful hair and nail salon. Their personality-plus Maltese, Shellie, is a popular community character, who puts in a full day of work every day as a greeter at her “mom’s” salon. She’s the inspiration for the first in a series of children’s books that will address topics and issues of concern to children.

Absentee Ballots Now Available; Vote By Mail or In-Person at Auditor’s Office. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Roxanna Moritz   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:51

DAVENPORT – Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz announced today that absentee ballots are now available for the September 11, 2012 North Scott Community School District Revenue Purpose Statement Special Election.

Absentee ballots can be voted in the Auditor’s Office, or voters may request ballots be mailed to them. A fill-able Official Absentee Ballot Request form is available at the Auditor’s webpage Voters can also call the Auditor’s Office at 326-8631 and request that a form be mailed to them. Once the form is completely filled out voters need to sign the form and return it to the Auditor’s Office, 600 West 4th Street, Davenport, Iowa 52801. Ballots are mailed within 24 hours of receipt of the request.

For more information contact the Scott County Auditor’s Office at 563-326-8631.

Stefanie Meersman Earns M.P.H. Degree from DMU at Summer Commencement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Jordan Bahnsen   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:09

DES MOINES, IA (08/20/2012)(readMedia)-- Des Moines University awarded 16 degrees at a summer commencement ceremony held on August 17 at 3 p.m. in the Medical Education Center, 3200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines. The dean from each of the three DMU colleges presented their classes and DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., conferred degrees.

Stefanie Meersman from Moline, IL earned a M.P.H. degree. She is the daughter of Steve and Melanie Meersman of Moline, IL.

The College of Osteopathic Medicine awarded the doctor of osteopathic medicine degree to one graduate. The college also conferred the master of science in anatomy to four graduates and the master of science in biomedical sciences degrees to two. The College of Health Sciences recognized nine degrees to graduates from the master of health care administration and master of public health programs.

Des Moines University has three colleges (listed below). An explanation of degrees awarded follows:

College of Osteopathic Medicine:

Osteopathic Medicine Program – Graduates of this program earn a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) degree. They complete a comprehensive four-year medical education program, including 18 months of clinical training.

Anatomy Program – Graduates of this program earn a master of science (M.S.) degree in anatomy. This is a 40.5 credit hour program. Graduates will be listed as having earned a M.S. (A), but this is just to differentiate the program completed. The actual degree earned is a M.S.

Biomedical Sciences Program – Graduates of this program earn a master of science (M.S.) degree in biomedical sciences. This is a 40 credit hour program. Graduates will be listed as having earned a M.S. (BS), but this is just to differentiate the program completed. The actual degree earned is a M.S.

College of Health Sciences:

Health Care Administration Program – Graduates of this program complete at least two years of education, attending full- or part-time, and earn a master of health care administration (M.H.A.) degree. The degree provides an educational foundation for careers and leadership in management, planning policy analysis and similar roles in long-term care or other health care settings.

Public Health Program – Graduates of this program complete at least two years of education, attending full- or part-time, and earn a master of public health (M.P.H.) degree. The program provides students with the skills to lead community efforts in improving health.

Des Moines University is the only private medical school in Iowa, offering graduate-level, professional degree programs in osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, health care administration, anatomy, biomedical sciences and public health. Founded in 1898, the institution offers superior academics in a collaborative environment. DMU students' pass rate on national examinations and board certifications is consistently higher than the national average and the rates at similar institutions.

International Competition Should Drive School Reform PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Shawn Hamerlinck   
Monday, 20 August 2012 15:36

With two high-profile Olympic competitors — Lolo Jones and Gabby Douglas — plus a host of other athletes with Iowa ties to cheer on, Iowans were into the patriotic spirit of the Olympic Games.

As a teacher and elected official, I wish our nation showed more of this drive and ambition when it came to our academic standing in the world. We have much to be proud of when it comes to our athletic accomplishments, but our students are significantly missing the mark on key international benchmarks.

One of the most disconcerting statistics highlights our poor performance in science and reading. U.S. students rank 17th and 24th, respectively, out of 34 developed nations in those subjects. Likewise, our teens didn’t do particularly well in math on the international assessment, which had us at 25th.

Iowa’s schools can become among the best in the nation. But we must remember that our children, while attending some of America’s top schools, are competing with students around the world. That’s why we have to ensure our schools are globally competitive and that our students are prepared for the “innovation economy.” A strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be a priority of our school leaders.

International performance rankings aren’t alone in showing our education system is in need of continued reform. The Council on Foreign Relations recently issued a report warning that the state of U.S. education has put America’s national security at risk. It cited high dropout rates, low test scores and large disparities in achievement levels between poor and minority kids and their wealthier, white peers.

What do we do to regain our footing as an academic leader in the world? We should start by tapping into the competitive spirit that was on display at the Olympics. Let’s set high expectations for every single student in our most critical academic subjects and push our children to reach farther and dig deeper.

We also need to look at the policies that are holding kids back. There’s little doubt that the work our teachers do in the classroom is the most critical factor impacting how well students learn. State law should mandate that staffing decisions be based on teacher effectiveness, not seniority, and reward the teachers who perform the best. By evaluating our teachers we’ll ensure that the needs of our students remain a top priority.

We need to look at these policies now and make changes quickly. We simply can’t wait any longer. While our international rankings are troubling, what’s worse is the direction in which we appear to be headed: We’re falling farther behind each day.

Let’s work together to reverse that trend. I can’t think of anything more patriotic or a bigger rallying point for Iowa’s children.

Thank you for letting me serve you in Des Moines.  Feel free to contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .gov or visit my website at

hamerlinck signaturesmall.jpg
Shawn Hamerlinck
State Senator
District 42

Iowa State University awards 831 graduates PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Jackie King   
Monday, 20 August 2012 14:39

AMES, Iowa - Iowa State University awarded 831 students degrees at the end of the summer term. The university awarded 519 undergraduate degrees, 195 master's degrees, and 117 doctor of philosophy degrees.

Of the students receiving bachelor's degrees, 50 graduated "With Distinction" (cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude) and 5 students graduated "With Distinction" and as members of the Honors Program.

Those graduates from our area include:

from Bettendorf:

Emily Kristine Bisbee, BS, Kinesiology and Health
Brett Thomas Bueker, BS, Kinesiology and Health;
Drew Allen Iannone, BS, Biology
Abigail Marie Kline, BS, Child, Adult, and Family Services
Andrew Kyle Marsh, BS, Management
Justin William Rice, PHD, Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (LAS)
Carleigh Ann Rose, BS, Apparel Merchandising, Design, and Production
Joseph Anthony Tisinger, BS, Accounting
Joseph Anthony Tisinger, BS, Finance
Sarah Brianne Tisinger, BS, Journalism and Mass Communication

from Davenport, IA:

Jennifer R. Curta Leptien, PHD, Human Development and Family Studies
Matthew Jeffrey Schlue, BS, Management Information Systems
Aaron James Sedam, BS, Finance

and from Moline, IL:

Courtney Elizabeth Carson, BS, Apparel Merchandising, Design, and Production
Mark Andrew Krismanits, Finance
Mark Andrew Krismanits, BS, Management;

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