SHENANDOAH, Iowa – The Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation invites the public to attend a free & fun reception on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Elks Lodge to salute the teachers, support staff and all others who are preparing our students and communities for better futures.
The reception begins with social time at 5 p.m. The free meal is being served at 5:30 p.m., and the program and awards will follow.
At this reception during American Education Week, the foundation will join the Shenandoah Education Association and the Shenandoah Support Staff Association Plus in recognizing their 2018 Teacher of the Year, Support Staff Member of the Year, and from the public a Friend of Education.
And the education foundation will present “mini-grants” of up to $500 each to three teachers for special projects or equipment to enhance learning opportunities for students. The mini-grants, made possible by the public’s donations, are now being given each semester.
Featured speaker will be Dan Kinney, the president since 1994 of Iowa Western Community College and one of the most respected educators in the region.
Under his leadership, IWCC has grown from about 3,000 students to more than 6,500. Classes are now held at the Council Bluffs campus, Clarinda center, Cass County Center, Page/Fremont County Center in Shenandoah, and the Shelby County Center. And the college is involved in education and development programs all across southwest Iowa.
Also during Kinney’s tenure, IWCC’s endowment has grown from $234,000 in 1994 to more than $30 million now. Best of all, the IWCC academic program, extracurricular activities and economic development activities have achieved record levels of success and recognition. President Kinney has led all that and – important for us on Nov. 14 – he’s a grand storyteller!
“This guy has been transformational for this college,” said Gregg Connell, of Shenandoah, who earlier this year became a member of the IWCC board of directors. “Here you have a college that is doing incredible things in its academic program, its athletics program and everything else they’re involved in. But before I would say yes to joining the board, I asked to see the financials. After I looked them over, I told President Kinney, ‘Congratulations – these financials are absolutely, stunningly good.”
Even better, Connell added, “when you walk the campus with him, I think he knows the name of every student there.”
Kinney, 71, is a native of Blue Hill, Neb., south of Hastings. His undergraduate college degree is in business and economics from what is now the University of Nebraska at Kearney. His master’s and doctorate degrees are from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in educational administration.
“I was planning to be a banker because that’s where the money is and I wanted to be close to the money,” he said with a chuckle. “But when I graduated from college, the Vietnam War was going on, and I found out I was going to be drafted. I decided I’d enlist in the Army, because that would let me go to Officer Candidate School.”
In the meantime, he got a one-year teaching deferment, taught business at Central Community College in Hastings “and that’s how I became an educator,” he said.
Kinney then served two years of active duty with the Army, and became an officer. “At the end of the two years, the Army decided it had enough second lieutenants, so I moved over to the Army Reserves in Nebraska for the next six years. Then he transferred to the Kansas National Guard, eventually climbed the ranks to full colonel and commanded a brigade of five battalions. He retired from the military in 2001.
As an educator, he joined Colby Community College in Kasnas as academic vice-president from 1982-’85, then served as president of Coffeyville Community College in Kansas from’85 to ’94.
His son Dan Kinney Jr. has followed him into community college education, and Dan Jr. is now in his ninth year as president of Iowa Central Community College, which has its main campus in Fort Dodge. When their football teams play each other, the traveling trophy is called the “Kinney Cup.”
Dan Sr. says “at my age, I am often asked when I’m going to retire. My answer is that my father lived to be 94 years old, I’m really healthy and I’m currently younger than the president of the United States, so I’m going to stick around at Iowa Western a while longer.”
Last week, President Kinney joined education foundation vice-president Alan Armstrong on an interview with KMA’s Dean Adkins, talking about the Nov. 14 reception in Shenandoah.
“You know, education has evolved somewhat in the last five years or so,” Kinney said in that interview. “Educators are struggling more than ever before with funding our programs, and what we’re doing is so important – we’re developing our workforce and our future leaders. So we all have to look for financial help, and our education foundations will be a mainstay to the future of our schools and our communities.”
Yes, the event Wednesday is free to all.
Officials of the Shenandoah foundation want to pack the Elks and show our educators how much we appreciate all that they do for our students. We will, however, encourage free-will donations of any amount to the education foundation, if that fits your budgets.
Last year, about 160 people attended a similar reception, and the foundation hopes the crowd grows to 250 this year.
As you’ve seen and heard, our special promotion right now is our “$100 Club.” More than 50 people have joined it since late last summer, but we want 1,000 members! We’re building an endowment, we’re making available some specially-endowed scholarships for graduates, we’re doing the mini-grants, we are positioning the foundation to help with future building projects. And it’s all aimed at enhancing the educational and career experiences of our young people – today and for decades to come.
Here’s the time schedule for the Wednesday reception:
5 p.m. – social time.
5:30 p.m. – welcome & meal.
6:30 p.m. – speaker.
7 p.m. – awards.