A gold star at the top of a school paper is a powerful symbol to a student. But students are not the only people who can receive a star for a job well done. This year the R. J. McElroy Trust and KWWL Television will celebrate their twenty-seventh award ceremony which recognizes ten area teachers with the “Gold Star Award for Outstanding Teaching.” They will each receive a $1,000 cash award.
As the Trust celebrates its 50th year in 2015, they are also awarding each Gold Star teacher $500 to be spent in his/her classroom.
“Our goal is to affirm the importance of the teaching profession in our communities,” said Dr. Stacy Van Gorp, McElroy Trust Executive Director. “We achieve this by selecting and recognizing ten outstanding teachers in Black Hawk County.”
Nomination forms can be found online at www.GoldStarTeacher.com. Nominations must be postmarked by March 1, 2015. Nominated teachers will be notified and will have until March 24, 2015, to submit an application.
Eligible nominees must be employed as non-administrative staff, hold a current teaching certificate, and be teaching at a state certified pre-school, or an elementary, intermediate, or secondary school approved by the Iowa Department of Education and located in Black Hawk County. Both full and part-time teachers are eligible and encouraged to apply.
“We wish to honor teachers who truly make a difference in the lives of their students,” said James B. Waterbury, trustee, R. J. McElroy Trust, “teachers who instill in their students a love of learning.”
Are we alone in the universe? Does Mars have life near the surface? Attend the 2015 Leland Wilson Endowed Chemistry Lecture at 7 PM, Wednesday, February 25, if you have ever been curious about these questions. Shawn Domagal-Goldman will give his presentation, “The Scientific Search for Life on Planets Near and Far,” in Lantz Auditorium in McCollum Science Hall at the University of Northern Iowa.
Domagal-Goldman is a research space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He will discuss the question that humans have wondered about for ages, are we really alone in this universe? A direct search for life has rarely been undertaken. The next generation of space science missions will approach this question directly with the scientific method.
For more information, contact Laura Strauss, department head and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, at 319-273-2052 or email@example.com
By Pastor Jenna Couch Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee
Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent; the season of penitence, of fasting, of reviewing our sinful nature and journeying with Christ toward the Cross.
The question on everyone’s mind this week: What are you giving up for Lent?
Have you decided? Are you giving up anything? Some take this Lenten discipline very seriously. Many people have different Lenten disciplines that they partake in to help focus on the Sacrifice Christ made for us.
Giving up something for Lent is indeed a good practice, but what happens when those 40 days are over? When choosing a discipline, if we choose to do one, could it be one that we continue past the 40 days of Lent? Could it be something that is life-giving, that maybe even benefits others rather than simply denying ourselves? One of the assigned Scripture readings for Ash Wednesday is Isaiah 58:1-12. This text calls into question certain types of fasting and the reasoning behind it.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice? Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”
I absolutely love reading. God redefines what it means to fast in this text. Fasting is not solely about serving our own interests, or to make us more disciplined or deprived of our favorite treats for five weeks. Fasting, when described in this text, assumes a deep self-examination of ourselves to discover where our heart, and thus, our treasure, really is. Fasting, according to this reading from Isaiah, seems to be a call of repentance from the things that prevent us from serving others and a renewed commitment to fighting injustices in this world.
When we receive those ashes on our forehead, that trace of the baptismal Cross, how will God work in us as we seek to serve our neighbor in love, to uphold our baptismal promises to live among God’s faithful people, to come to the word of God and the Holy supper, to read the Scriptures, work for peace and justice; all in response to the abundant grace and mercy that was given to us in and through the Cross?
Ultimately, in this world, it’s really not about US or what we do. It’s about what Christ has done in this world is FOR us. As we walk in this Lenten journey together, may God walk with us, stirring in us new life in the one who gave his life for us; Jesus Christ our Lord.
By Jason Alderman
Starting Roth IRAs for Your Grandkids
Many grandparents go above and beyond to offer financial help to adult children and grandchildren. If you’re seeking to contribute to your grandkids’financial future, one option might involve opening a custodial Roth IRA (www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Roth-IRAs) on your grandchild’s behalf as soon as he or she starts reporting earned income.
While grandparents often find 529 college savings plans advantageous for their personal estate planning as well as supporting their grandchild’s educational future, custodial Roth IRAs may allow for more flexibility depending on the child’s future needs. For example, a young adult may use tax-free Roth IRA proceeds to fund education expenses not covered by savings or a down payment on a first home. Roth IRAs may also be a useful and collaborative savings tool for important expenses young adults have, such as continuing education or a down payment on a first home.
Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars. That means the account holder doesn’t get a tax break at the time of initial or successive deposits, but the money grows tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free – a benefit for a grandchild who may need a substantial sum in the years to come.
Here’s an example of how much an initial $2,000 deposit in a Roth custodial IRA can grow. For an account opened at the time the child is 16, the $2,000 opening deposit – without any more money added to the account – could be worth roughly $55,000 at the time the child reaches age 65 assuming a 7 percent expected rate of return.
What if the child needs to make a tax-free withdrawal sooner, such as at age 35, for example? Based on the same earnings calculation as above, he or she would receive a less impressive sum of roughly $7,200. Of course, it remains a potential solution if there is a severe need for cash.
In 2015, the annual contribution limit for all IRAs is $5,500. It is possible, though not that easy, for a minor to open a Roth IRA on his or her own, which is why it’s good for grandparents – or any qualifying friend or relative – to shop for custodial accounts with low fees and low investment minimums to start. This is compounded annually.
As you evaluate a decision to open a custodial Roth IRA, check with the broker and the account administrator on any institutional or state rules on custodial accounts and what information you’ll need to open one. Depending on those rules, there’s a chance that grandparents may not be able to open the custodial account directly and you will have to work through their parents or legal guardian to get started.
Also, consider the following:
Make sure you’re financially secure. The MetLife study notes that many grandparents tend to overextend their financial support when it comes to family members in need. Seek advice from financial, tax and estate professionals on how much you can reasonably afford to give and the best means to do so.
Coordinate with your grandchild’s parents or guardian. It is important for family members to remain open about all money issues, particularly in relation to minors. Discuss what provisions the parents have made for the child and whether your idea complements financial strategies already in place. If not, keep talking and discuss other ways you can help.
Consider your grandchild’s potential handling of the account. When your grandchildren reach legal age or meet other key requirements of the account, they can take control of the money. Will they be ready? If not, evaluate other investment vehicles that better meet your objectives.
Bottom line: Setting up a custodial Roth IRA may be a good way for grandparents and grandchildren to work on retirement or other financial goals.