CB’s Director of Studies ditches the suit and tie and focuses on full-time farming | Education
The old saying goes, “You can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm off the boy.”
Corey Vorthmann, director of studies for Council Bluffs Community Schools, is retiring this year to work full time.
“I think we accomplished a lot of things that I wanted to do,” he said. “I think we’re getting to the point where we need a fresh look at our academic success.”
As Director of Studies, he leads the teaching and learning department responsible for curriculum development, instructional design, summer learning, school improvement, professional learning , assessment, vocational and technical education, early childhood learning and special education. Most recently, Vorthmann was honored by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for developing the TradeWorks Academy as a model for Iowa state schools.
But Vorthmann’s roots are on the farm.
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“My parents grew row crops and had a feedlot of 5,000 head of cattle all my youth,” he said. “At the time, it was not in my career plans to pursue farming full time. I was going to work with my brain and not with my back. I did not appreciate at the time the opportunity that was offered to me when I was young.
Vorthmann graduated from Riverside High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in social science and secondary education from Central College in Pella. He began his education career as a middle and high school social studies teacher in a 120-student school district in the small town of Gilman City, Missouri.
“Then I intended to quit school,” he said.
Vorthmann was working part-time as an assistant manager at a grocery store and figured he could take the company’s management training program and work for the company full-time.
However, life had a different path for him. He got a call from Benton High School in St. Joseph, Missouri, which led him to teach high school history for a year, Vorthmann said.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said.
Sophomore year at Benton High School, Vorthmann became one of the district’s first instructional coaches and led professional development. While at Benton, he also completed a master’s degree in instructional leadership from Northwest Missouri State University.
The following year, he became assistant principal at Spring Garden Middle School in St. Joseph.
“I was way too young to be an administrator, but it was a great opportunity,” he said.
Vorthmann stayed at Spring Garden for five years, during which time he helped launch professional learning communities and standards-based grading and was honored as Northwest Missouri’s Assistant Principal of the Year. .
“It’s been five years since I loved getting up and going to work every day,” he said. “We had an excellent manager.”
It was also during this time that he married his wife, Annie, who was teaching at Benton.
Vorthmann joined Council Bluffs Community School District in 2011 as Director of Secondary Education and earned a doctorate in instructional leadership from Baker University. He received the Living the Mission award in 2012 for his leadership in launching Project Connect, when the district began providing laptops to every student. He was appointed assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in 2014 and director of studies in 2017.
During this time, he increasingly helped his father on the farm.
“I had seen my parents try to retain good employees,” he said. “I had completed some tasks. In 2015, my father had this idea that we could partner on certain cows.
“That’s where things really took off,” he said. “I had forgotten the passion I had for it. For me, there is a particular challenge and satisfaction in following the complete life cycle of an animal. There’s also a challenge in making it profitable – and I like that challenge too.
Vorthmann purchased land, including the plot where his parents’ feedlot was located, and his family moved to their own farm and moved some of the cattle there.
“I wanted my children to experience some of the rewards and challenges of having a family farm – learning the work ethic,” he said.
Vorthmann’s father was still unable to build up a strong pool of agricultural workers, he said. When the pandemic hit, he lost his help with spring planting.
“There was no way my father would have the crop planted if he had to look after the cattle,” he said.
“I kind of knew in 2020 which direction I was going and spoke to (Superintendent) Dr Murillo. The pandemic has disrupted our work here in education so much that I just didn’t think I could leave at the time.
He and Annie, now an elementary teacher at Riverside Community Schools, have two sons: Sutton, 12; and Mathes, 10 years old. Both are involved in 4-H, and Sutton has his own cattle.
“They get to walk beans in the summer – which is not their favorite activity,” Vorthmann said. “When I grew up, I realized that these are the things that made me who I became.”
Vorthmann is chairman of the advisory board of the Iowa Reading Research Center, chairman of the board of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, and past chairman of the board of directors of the Mission in Community Assistance and Housing (MICAH House) emergency family shelter. ) at Council Bluffs. He also served on the Civil Rights Commission for the town of Council Bluffs.