A career with lasting impact

Seventeen years ago, Bea Niblock thought Anson Elementary School was another stop in her career in education. She didn’t think it would also be the place where it ended.

Niblock is retiring June 28 after serving as principal for the past 17 years at the school.

She said her admiration for the Anson staff and students kept her in Marshalltown.

“The Anson staff is bright, and they are willing to go the extra mile for kids,” Niblock said. “They believe that all kids can learn.”

That is a common mantra at Anson as it has to deal with plenty of learning barriers, many dealing with the poverty level of the students.

When Niblock arrived 17 years ago, the school was made up of 40 percent English Language Learners and 60 percent of students were on free and reduced lunches due to low household income.

Now, that number is 60 percent ELL and 90 percent free and reduced lunch students. Niblock takes pride in being able to serve these students and still see growth in achievement. She said the key has been a collaborative effort with the staff.

“Our students have been needier and more at-risk.” Niblock said. “We’ve still managed to move student achievement up.”

Anson has also piloted a number of initiatives in the school to help the people it serves. One started six years ago and it provided breakfast in the classroom to students to give them full stomachs to start their learning day.

“We’ve trained our staff to learn to teach different to children in poverty,” Niblock said.

Anson teacher Kim Hurley has spent 17 years working for Niblock and has a great deal of respect for her.

“Bea has always been forward thinking in all of the ideas that she has brought to Anson Elementary,” Hurley said. “She has been an advocate for learning since day one and she will be greatly missed.”

Niblock is originally from Maquoketa and began her career in education 41 years ago as a third grade teacher in the eastern Iowa town of Preston.

She said one of the more enjoyable parts of her job at Anson is being able to impact children.

“You truly make a difference in kids’ lives every day,” Niblock said.

Marshalltown Schools Superintendent Marvin Wade said Niblock has been a dedicated educator through the years.

“Ms. Niblock will be missed for many reasons, though her legacy will remain through the huge impact she has made on countless individuals,” Wade said. “I’ll always remember Ms. Niblock for her steadfast belief that physical wellness contributes to academic success and for the countless times she has asked the critical question of, ‘Is it good for kids?'”

Niblock said she will miss the students and staff and has no specific retirement plans.

“I’m going to see what the universe presents to me,” Niblock said.

Ronnie Manis will take over as Anson principal on July 1. He comes from the district central office where he served as instructional application specialist.