Two long and winding roads intersected Friday morning in the governor’s private office at the Iowa State Capitol.
Vidal Spaine is a man of the world who was born in Sierra Leone and educated in Russia, among other places. He’s taught in Japan, also among other places.
Kim Reynolds is a small-town Iowa girl who started a personal journey in Osceola that’s taken her all over the globe, too.
Now Spaine is a teacher at East High School, one of 16 Iowa educators named to the state’s first Governor’s Teachers Cabinet by Iowa Gov. Reynolds last December.
The cabinet meets periodically with Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise to offer input on educational issues and policymaking.
But Spaine decided to try and leverage his position more directly on behalf of students at East.
“I invited the governor to come to East,” he said, “but she wasn’t able to fit it into her schedule while the legislature was in session. Instead, she invited us here.”
So there they were, Spaine and a select delegation of six Scarlets (Michaela Aunspach, Emma Kelly, Kade Dolphin, William Chhim, Marissa Thompson and Pablo Rios), waiting to take their seats at the governor’s table.
Once inside the ornate private office space, the group talked about everything from how adjournment of a legislative session is like the last day of school to state funding of schools.
Aunspach had the chance to relay greetings from Aaron O’Tool to Gov. Reynolds. He’s a math teacher at East who, like her, hails from Osceola.
And Thompson, who was part of our story last week about the national champion drill team from Central Campus, got to share her ambition of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point after high school. That led to a promise from the governor’s office to put in a good word for her with the office of US Senator Joni Ernst, since congressional nominations are required for service academy appointments (Sen. Ernst’s own daughter also attends West Point).
Spaine was named one of The Des Moines Register’s People to Watch in 2017 and he still bears watching as the 2018-19 school year winds down.
“It was good of you to make time in your busy schedule for us,” he told Gov. Reynolds as the group that also included Lt. Gov. Gregg, East counselor Natalie Madsen, Scarlet Squad Advisor Fred Niebaum and sign language interpreter Adam Stempin posed for a photo together. “We’ll have to do this again sometime.”
Maybe the next time, East can host the governor. After all, they’re practically next door neighbors.