Grant Wood AEA Chief Administrator Wins UNI Educational Leadership Legacy Award

On Wednesday, May 9 Grant Wood AEA Chief Administrator John Speer received the UNI Educational Leadership Legacy Award for his leadership in education.

This award recognizes graduates of the UNI Education Leadership program who demonstrate exemplary practice of the program’s core values of leadership of learning, service and change.

John has earned all of his degrees and certifications from UNI. He earned his BA in English Education in 1994, his Masters in Educational Administration in 2000, his Advanced Studies certification in Superintendency in 2002 and his Doctorate in 2017. John began teaching in 1994 and was a high school principal by 1999. He was superintendent at Allamakee, Ballard, and College Community school districts before transitioning to the Chief Administrator role at Grant Wood AEA in 2018.

Upon learning that John received this award, many colleagues who have worked with John reflected on John’s leadership:

“Whether he knew this or not, John played such a big role in helping me become the leader I am today. He epitomized what servant leadership is all about. John has always been a leader who put those he worked with first. John always led by example. So many leaders will say the right thing, but john always DID the right thing and those he worked with - including myself - saw that and appreciated that more than he’ll ever know.”

-Marty Jimmerson, West Branch Superintendent

“I have known John since his days as a teacher in Independence. It has been fun to watch his career evolve… through all of [his] positions, he has always had a true passion for students and schools. John is a great visionary and an exemplary communicator in his quest to provide high quality education for all students. John’s true commitment to education is inspirational to all that get the opportunity to work with him.”

-Shannon Bisgard, Linn-Mar Superintendent

“John’s leadership at Grant Wood AEA has been focused on service to students, guided by a strategic plan aimed at the most critical issues school districts are experiencing.John and his administrative team continue to focus on the culture of the organization, resulting in the organization being named among the Top Workplaces by the Des Moines Register for ten consecutive years.”

-Jim Green, Grant Wood AEA Board of Directors

“Working with Dr. Speer has been one of the highlights of my career. John is a visionary leader in education. He speaks openly with staff and colleagues about our important work, gathers data, and leads by building consensus.He works hard to ensure all stakeholders have a voice as we make decisions that best meet the needs of the children, families and educators we serve.”

-Dr. Maria Cashman, Associate Chief Administrator and Director of Special Education, Grant Wood AEA

“I had the pleasure of serving as John’s mentor when he was a beginning superintendent back in 2004. Due to John’s excellence as a leader and passion for the profession, it can be viewed as a statement of fact that, although I was a mentor, I learned far more from John than he ever learned from me.”

-Roark Horn, SAI Executive Director (retired)