Waterloo, IA: (319) 232-1156 | Cedar Falls, IA: (319) 266-3593

Tag Archives: Waterloo Community Schools


(Cedar Valley of Iowa) – WATERLOOOrange Elementary has been designated by FranklinCovey as only the second Lighthouse School in Iowa.

FranklinCovey visited Orange last week to confirm Leader in Me has been implemented as a whole school transformational model. It involves academics, leadership and a culture where you can see, hear and feel the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

“Our entire learning community (students, staff & parents) are honored and proud to be

chosen as a Lighthouse School. The keys to our mission, to educate, inspire and lead – make the world a better place, have been brought to life on this journey,” says Orange Principal, Teri Trask, “It has been exciting to be a part of the culture shift as we see students empowered through authentic leadership opportunities.”

Orange is now one of only 123 Lighthouse Schools in the world. The official announcement will be made at the Leader in MeR Symposium at UNI this week where Sean Covey, Senior Vice President of Innovations and Products at FranklinCovey will address educators and congratulate Orange on their achievement.

Orange will have a special celebration when the banner is presented.

The Leader in MeR Lighthouse School title is awarded by FranklinCovey to honor the attainment of a well-rounded leadership model. Lighthouse Schools serve as models of leadership and mentors to other schools by meeting these standards:

  •     Lighthouse Team
  •     Leadership Environment
  •     Integrated Curriculum and Instruction
  •     Staff Collaboration
  •     Student Leadership
  •     Parent & Community Engagement
  •    Leadership Events
  •    Goal Tracking

Currently, there are 122 Lighthouse Schools internationally which serve as models of leadership and mentors to other schools. Orange Elementary is the first Cedar Valley school to receive the designation, the second of the forty-four participating schools in Iowa.

Orange Elementary is one of the first 17 schools implementing the Leader in MeR through the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber’s Leader Valley initiative. Leader Valley is the talent development initiative of the Alliance & Chamber. Leader Valley’s primary focus is implementation of Leader in Me across school districts in the Cedar Valley. The Leader in Me R, based on the Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is creating leadership cultures in schools and instilling 21st Century soft skills of effectiveness in Cedar Valley students.

Trask adds that she believes the Cedar Valley will be celebrating more Lighthouse Schools in the near future thanks to the support of the Leader Valley.  “We truly appreciate the positive synergizing with so many other Cedar Valley schools who are focused on improving academics, leadership and culture and empowering students with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st Century. Leadership is definitely a TEAM SPORT in the Cedar Valley! ” says Trask.

For more information on Orange Elementary and the Waterloo Schools implementation of the Leader in Me, contact Tara Thomas, Communications Director by email to thomast@waterlooschools.org.

For more information on Leader Valley initiative and the Leader in MeR, contact Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director at the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber by calling (319)232-1156 or by email at mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.com. You can also visit








Local Organizations and Community Leaders Implement a Wide Range of Environmental Improvements to Enhance the Well-Being of Residents and Achieve Community Transformation

Waterloo, Iowa (Sept. 10, 2014) — Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) and Blue Zones, LLC, today announced that Waterloo, Iowa, has been named a certified Blue Zones Community®. Certification recognizes Waterloo’s community transformation through successful implementation of the Blue Zones Project®, a first-of-its-kind population health program that brings the world’s best practices in food policy, built environment, purpose and social networking to participating cities.

The community is invited to share in this success at a certification celebration on Thursday, September 25, 2014. The celebration will take place at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex, with an announcement taking place at 4:30 p.m.

Brought to Iowa through an innovative sponsorship by Wellmark in collaboration with Healthways and Blue Zones, the Blue Zones Project encourages all communities in the state to change their built environments to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The Blue Zones Project is the centerpiece of the Healthiest State Initiative, designed to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016.

Community leaders, volunteers and organizations throughout Waterloo have been working to reach this milestone since May 2012, when the community was named one of the first Blue Zones Project demonstration sites in Iowa. As a result of its efforts, Waterloo can celebrate the following outcomes:

  • The Complete Streets policy passed by city council in 2013 was named one of the top policies in the country by Smart Growth America.
  • The city adopted policies to support healthy food, beverages and vending at city-sponsored youth sporting events. Sales have remained consistent since the policies were adopted.
  • Lou Henry, Orange, Kittrell, and Irving Elementary Schools made healthy choices easier for students through Blue Zones challenge curriculum and a new lunchroom design.
    • At one school fourth and fifth grade students used the Blue Zones challenge to chart fruit and vegetable consumption as a mathematics assignment. Students reported a 33 percent increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables and a 50 percent increase in physical activity when comparing week one to week four.
    • Lou Henry experienced a 15 percent increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables after making simple changes to its lunchroom design, such as positioning fruits and vegetables more prominently.
  • Healthier dining options are now offered in 12 Blue Zones Restaurants®, including smaller portions and lower-calorie desserts. Cu Restaurant has seen a 60 percent increase in customers splitting plates and a 50 percent increase in lunchtime salad sales since servers have begun promoting those options, both suggestions from the Blue Zones Restaurant pledge.
  • From 2012 to 2013, 88 percent of employees at Bertch Cabinet Manufacturing improved their health risk factors substantially, and employees collectively lost more than 1,660 pounds.
  • New walking paths at local worksites, including Allen Memorial Hospital, John Deere Engine Works, Tyson, Veridian Credit Union and Hawkeye Community College, are encouraging employees to move naturally throughout the day.
  • More than 450 residents participated in Walking Moai groups to expand their social networks in small-group settings while getting exercise.

“The Blue Zones Project has opened many doors of opportunity for Waterloo’s citizenry to live healthier, happier, longer lives,” said Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark.

“In supporting a commitment to healthy environmental changes, Waterloo has made a wise investment in its future, and I am thrilled to recognize the community’s achievements,” said Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner.

Waterloo achieved Blue Zones Community status after reaching the following key milestones designed to improve the community’s well-being, all of which are required improvement goals for Blue Zones Project demonstration communities seeking certification:

  • 50 percent of the top 20 identified worksites became designated Blue Zones Worksites®.
  • 25 percent of schools became designated Blue Zones Schools®.
  • 25 percent of restaurants became designated Blue Zones Restaurants.
  • 25 percent of grocery stores became designated Blue Zones Grocery Stores®.
  • 20 percent of citizens committed to Blue Zones Project and completed at least one well-being improvement action.
  • Waterloo successfully completed the Blue Zones Community Policy® pledge, which requires the passing of local policies to promote Blue Zones Project initiatives. Examples in Waterloo include the newly passed Complete Streets policy and healthy vending policy.

“Waterloo has embraced the philosophy of creating well-being for its citizens,” said Laura Jackson, Wellmark executive vice president. “Becoming a certified Blue Zones Community required a tremendous commitment and effort from the entire community, and we are proud of the example Waterloo has set for other Iowa communities.”

“As one of the largest and most diverse Blue Zones Project communities in Iowa, the progress made by Waterloo has been particularly exciting,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways president and chief executive officer. “Waterloo has clearly demonstrated its dedication to improved well-being and is highly deserving of Blue Zones Community certification. The successful promotion of healthier food options at schools and youth sporting events is particularly encouraging, as the adoption of healthy habits at a young age greatly improves the odds of higher well-being in the future.”

Fifteen Iowa communities are part of Blue Zones Project and are receiving assistance from experts to develop and implement a Blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives. Five of the communities have achieved Blue Zones Project Community certification to date. For more information, please visit www.bluezonesproject.com.

About Wellmark

Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Blue Zones

Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company’s work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive – both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.

About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.healthways.com.



Blue Zones Project

620 Mulberry Street

Waterloo, IA 50703


Tel: (319) 287-8177



Cedar Valley’s CUNA Mutual Group and Veridian Credit Union collaborate, fund implementation of Leader in Me in two area middle schools

Cedar Valley of Iowa – Two regional financial services organizations are collaborating to help ensure an effective leadership development initiative reaches the students of two more Cedar Valley area schools. CUNA Mutual Group and Veridian Credit Union have pledged to contribute a total of $105,000 to the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber’s Leader Valley initiative to further implement The Leader in Me program

The Leader in Me builds valuable 21st century personal skills that correlate to success in education and the workplace.  As students put into practice the principles of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, they become more self-confident and take ownership for their lives. Schools where The Leader in Me is implemented successfully see higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems, and increased engagement among teachers and parents.

CUNA Mutual Group, through its foundation, committed $75,000 to sponsor implementation of The Leader in Me at George Washington Carver Academy Middle School and Kittrell Elementary, both in Waterloo, Iowa. Veridian Credit Union committed $30,000 to Kittrell Elementary.   Veridian also participates with Kittrell Elementary in the Partners in Education program. The sum will be distributed over a three year term. Initially, the gift will provide extensive training and materials to the staff and educators at these sponsored schools.

The addition of Kittrell and Carver the total number of participating schools in the Cedar Valley is currently 14, with an anticipated impact of 6075 students and 842 educators during the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. This number represents more than one third of total students and educators in the Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Cedar Valley Catholic Schools.

“At Veridian Credit Union, we believe that everyone is a leader,” said Jean Trainor, Veridian Credit Union’s CEO and Chief Inclusion Officer. “The Leader In Me program demonstrates that same belief and benefits our entire community as much as it does the students who participate.” Reid Koenig, Vice President of CUNA Mutual Group adds, “When one interacts with students who have been impacted by The Leader in Me, you quickly realize the effect the program is already having in transforming their lives. Our communities and businesses will reap the benefit of building great citizens and leaders for years to come.”

Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is encouraged by the additional participation of the business community, “One of the Alliance & Chamber’s primary goals is to develop a strong, highly talented and skilled workforce to help businesses of all sizes grow and prosper in the Cedar Valley. This significant investment by two of the Cedar Valley’s most engaged and visionary businesses, underscores the recognized value and effectiveness of the early results from The Leader in Me initiative. It is very important that businesses of all sizes, as well as individuals and other organizations join Veridian Credit Union, CUNA Mutual Group, and CBE Companies as Leader Valley sponsors. It is only through gifts like these that it will be possible to expand The Leader in Me throughout the region.”

The combined contribution of $105,000 will be presented Aug. 15 at the New Teachers Breakfast to be held at Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall. To accept the check on behalf of the Alliance & Chamber is Board of Directors Chairman and Leader Valley champion Tom Penaluna, CEO of CBE Companies, Inc. , who said; “with this kind of forward thinking funding from Foundations and businesses such as CUNA and Veridian, The Leader in Me can change, in a very positive way, the results of education in the Cedar Valley!”  Representatives from CUNA Mutual Group, Veridian Credit Union, the Alliance & Chamber, and the Waterloo Community Schools will make comments.


About The Leader in Me

The Leader in Me incorporates leadership lessons into Cedar Valley school’s curriculum and everyday language. With reference to Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leader in Me prepares students with key life skills, self-confidence, and accountability.

The Leader in Me, offered through Leader Valley, is an initiative of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.  Through Leader Valley, strong partnerships amongst Cedar Valley businesses, school district administrators and school boards, parents, and the community are being built to make the Cedar Valley a better place for students to excel and become well prepared for citizenship and their future careers.



The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a private, non-profit corporation representing and advocating for the interests of business, industry and institutions operating in the Cedar Valley. The Alliance & Chamber was created to coordinate the resources allocated to economic development in the Cedar Valley, and provide a platform for shared services wherever possible. Alliance & Chamber programming includes Business Growth and Recruitment, Workforce & Talent Recruitment and Development, Downtowns, Districts, Tourism, and Chamber. This work is coordinated through more than 10 organizations, and in partnership with many other organizations whose purpose is to encourage economic growth in the Cedar Valley of Iowa. More information is available at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com.

ABOUT CUNA Mutual Group

CUNA Mutual Group insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group’s vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner who delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at www.cunamutual.com.



Veridian Credit Union, founded in 1934 in Waterloo, Iowa, is a not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members. The credit union offers a full range of consumer financial services and employs more than 560 Iowans throughout 26 branches. For more information, visit www.veridiancu.org or call (800) 235-3228.


Links to media Coverage


Courier #1

Cedar Falls Times

Courier #2



Melissa Reade, Leader Valley Program Director, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
mreade@cedarvalleyalliance.om, (312)232-1156
Steve Dust, CEO, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
Tom Penaluna, CEO, CBE Companies; Board Chair, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
nmhamer@cbecompanies.com, (319)234-6686
Reid Koenig – CUNA Mutual Group
Reid.koenig@cunamutual.com, (319)352-1000
Andrea Hudnut – Veridian Credit Union
AndreaLH@veridianCU.org, (515) 289-5561
Crystal Buzza – Waterloo Community Schools
Buzzac@waterloo.k12.ia.us, (319)433-1800


Be part of something greater - The Cedar Valley of Iowa

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees