Booster Pak Appreciation, Strategic Plan, Appreciating Teachers


Booster Pak Appreciation

On April 28 at 1:30 p.m. people gathered to show their appreciation for the numerous volunteers who give of their time to make Booster Pak a success. Melanie Menken thanked those in attendance for their service to our students. As we all know, proper nutrition helps our students achieve at higher levels. This program is truly a gift to our students. Thank you to Melanie and to those who support our students.


Strategic Plan Meetings

The strategic plan meetings have been going very well. Most staff are very excited to see what is in the plan and the proposed direction. Teachers are thankful to get the opportunity to give input into the plan. I will continue to meet with buildings throughout the month of May. Here is one comment from a teacher after my presentation: “I wanted to say thank you as a parent in WDM and teacher for the vision you laid out yesterday in the Strategic Plan. I’m figuring those of us who are a part of the TL Team will be putting this into action but I wanted to say how much I personally appreciate the direction of the district based off the vision laid out in your presentation. Count me in for helping the plan become a reality in any way, thanks again!”


Teacher Appreciation Week

May 5th-9th is teacher appreciation week. A great big thank you to our West Des Moines Community School District teachers for their continued dedication to excellence and our students. Thank you for giving of your talents and expertise. There are few other professionals who touch as many lives as teachers do. Teachers are role models for young people. Teaching is a very satisfying profession that brings with it a lot of responsibility. As Horace Mann said, “Teachers teach because they care. Teaching young people is what they do best. It requires long hours, patience, and care.”

Teachers collaborate with many others to make schools the best they can be for our students. They work with students, parents, administrators, other teachers, community members and so many more. Teachers make it a point to share highlights of learning with those involved.

Teachers are advocates for students. They set high standards for students. They bring resources into the classroom to make learning come to life. Teachers are evaluating student work and preparing students for their next step. Dan Rather once said, “The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.”

Teachers show us each day what it means to turn passion into life’s work. To charge each student with the task of making tomorrow better without having the right answers. Teachers never stop looking for new ways to connect with students and inspire motivation. All students need a champion and a teacher can be that person for students.

Thank you once again for giving of your talents to prepare students for their life’s journey.



Annual Staff Recognition Reception May 8

For more than 30 years, the community-based Staff Recognition Committee has organized a celebration to honor the West Des Moines School District retirees and staff with 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40 years of service. This year a record number of more than 160 teachers and staff will be honored at a reception on Thursday, May 8 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Hy-Vee Conference Center, 5820 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines. The citizens organizing the event are Stephanie Burnett, Tammy Cline, Amy Kuennen, Christa Kuennen, Teresa McLaughlin, Karla Simon and Joan Skoog.


WDMCS Retiree Luncheon May 8

This year’s Retiree Luncheon will be held on Thursday, May 8 at the Nature Lodge at Raccoon River Park, beginning at 12:00 noon.


Graduation Information

Walnut Creek Campus: Thursday, May 22, Valley Community Center, 7 p.m.

  • Address/Map: 4444 Fuller Road, WDM;
  • Please arrive at the location 15 minutes early to get a seat
  • There will be a designated area for Board members to sit
  • Staff members will be on hand to assist you in finding your designated area
  • Dr. Kim Davis will introduce the Board members during the ceremony
  • Members will stand where they are sitting for this introduction

Valley High School: Sunday, May 25, Drake Knapp Center, 1 p.m.

  • Valley administration is currently reviewing and updating instructions from last year for the Board. These will be provided in a separate email as soon as they are available.


School Newsletters


Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Board Meetings

  • May 12, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • June 9, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • June 23, 2014: Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • TENTATIVE – July 14, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center


Next year’s Board meeting calendar will be up for review and approval by the Board on Monday, May 12.



No report.



Teacher Leader Positions, Substitute Appreciation and More!

We continue to make great progress in the selection of individuals for teacher leader roles in our district.

We held our Substitute Appreciation Tea this past week at the LRC. Several substitutes were able to stop by, enjoy refreshments and share with us. We are grateful for the quality substitutes we have for our students in West Des Moines.

Thursday we have the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate our district retirees and staff members who continue to serve our district and honor their longevity. Thanks goes to those staff and community members who give so much time and energy to make these events special.



2013-14 World of Choices

Every year the West Des Moines Community School District Extended Learning Department puts on a career awareness event called the “World of Choices”, for the ELP students in fifth and sixth grade. World of Choices on April 21, 2014 was a hit! The students experienced a wonderful morning of learning. We invited a variety of professionals to share their talents. Speakers included an anesthesiologist, artist, author, chef, chemist, computer programmer, mechanical engineer, photographer, veterinarian and a zoologist. In addition, we had a master’s degree student present on spaceflight operations and students from Central Campus present their classwork on marine biology. We were able to meet the diverse interests of our students. All students left with an understanding of possible career opportunities available to them in the future.


United Way Spring Family Literacy Nights

Three Family Literacy Nights were held over the last two weeks as part of the United Way Grant that Clive, Crestview, Hillside and Phenix Elementary schools received this year. Approximately 50 children and their families attended the events. A representative from Clive and Urbandale Public Libraries came to the Family Nights in order to share information about summer library activities available to families and to assist families in signing up for a library card. At the end of each of the evenings parents were asked to complete a brief survey about supporting literacy to their children at home. Additionally every child who attended the Family Nights received up to three books to keep and read at home.






City/Schools Collaboration, Special Meeting, Writing Assessments and More


City/School Collaboration Meeting

On April 9th, Liz and I attended a meeting with various city officials, Waukee Superintendent Mr. Dave Wilkerson, and Gretchen Tegeler. This meeting was an attempt to begin/continue a collaborative relationship between West Des Moines city and the schools. We discussed how to get businesses connected with our schools and students in order to begin internships. We will also explored possibilities around sharing operational services. Finally, we are meeting to increase our communication around facility projects and discuss getting internet access to all residents. I felt the meeting was very positive and there was a willingness to move forward with meetings and collaborative efforts.


Administrative Positions

The following email was sent on Thursday, April 10th, to all current administrators:


On Tuesday we announced the decision to recommend Carol Seid and Kerry Ketcham for their current roles. Now it is time to start the process for the other open administrative positions: Director of Human Resources, Fairmeadows Principal, and Assistant Principal Indian Hills Junior High. If you are interested in one of these positions, please email me a letter of interest indicating your interest in a specific position by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 18th.


After the closing date on April 18th, I will review the applicants and then move forward with the next step in the process. This could include interviews if multiple people are interested in the same position.


Junior Achievement Presentation

On Thursday, April 10th, I presented “Current Trends in Education” to the Junior Achievement Board. The PowerPoint of the presentation I made is available here:



REMINDER! Special Meeting Thursday

There will be a special Board meeting on Thursday, April 17th at 12 p.m. noon in the Phenix Room on the second floor of the LRC.


School Community Network Meets Tomorrow

Approximately seven times a year, the district’s School Community Network meets to talk about a variety of topics related to the district. The group’s next meeting is Tuesday, April 14. Made up of parents, teachers and administrators from across the district, the group provides an opportunity for a face-to-face exchange of ideas and information. Its members also help us share information about district with the community.


Phenix Parent Meeting Held

Phenix Early Childhood Center held a Phenix Transition meeting for families on Tuesday, April 8th. There were approximately 40 parents/guardians in attendance. Dr. Lisa Remy, Paul Bobek, Carol Seid, Elaine Watkins-Miller, Drea Bocook, Mary Jane Stites, Robin Pickard and Doug Neppl were all in attendance to provide information and answer questions. Topics covered included the placement process, transportation, district curriculum, class sizes, transition open houses for students and parents, child care and more.


School Newsletters


Past Board Members List

Ever wonder who was on the School Board in 1975? How about 1985? The School Community Relations Office is gathering the full list of School Board members back to 1975 and will be placing this information on our website as part of the district’s history.


Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Board Meetings

  • April 17: Special Meeting (12 p.m. noon), Learning Resource Center
  • April 28, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Crossroads Park Elementary
  • May 12, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • June 9, 2014: Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • June 23, 2014: Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center



No report.




Teacher Leader Positions Selected

We have been working to post the Teacher Leader positions that have FTE responsibilities outside the classroom. These include instructional coach, mentor coordinator, professional development/curriculum facilitator, multi-tiered system of supports facilitator, and learning supports and family engagement coordinator positions. Review councils/interview teams have been scheduled and most interviews for these positions have been held.


We continue to work with Teaching and Learning Services, Superintendency and the leadership of WDMEA throughout this process.




Technology News


Iowa Writing Assessments

Teachers in grades nine, eight, six and four participated in scoring Iowa Writing Assessments over the month of April. The students took the assessments in February and March. Teachers spent part of the morning looking at the rubric and practicing scoring assessments. The remainder of the day was utilized to score all the writings. Scoring of the writing assessments is an opportunity for teachers to reflect on the teaching of writing and determine strengths and areas for growth in writing in our district.

Trip to China, Phenix Communication, Teacher Leader Update, Music Recognition


China Trip

A total of 28 students and parents traveled to China on March 13, 2014. I would describe our trip as very successful and educational. We arrived in Beijing on March 14th. On March 15th, we traveled to Shijiazhuang. The students were introduced to their host families and then off to homestays. The students really enjoyed staying with the families. Each day students shared how much fun they were having. Students spoke of the food they tried plus places they had visited. The parents visited the Buddhist Temple, Preparatory College for Kindergarten teachers, the city museum and much more.


Sunday through Tuesday, Janelle and I were able to spend time with school officials or at the school. We sat in on classes, conversed with some of the teaching staff and spent time with the administration discussing how we could enhance our relationship. We will continue to discuss the possibility of exchange opportunities for students and staff.


The joint concert was held on Monday. Our students performed extremely well. I was very proud of our students and staff. The concert was a true collaboration between the two schools. Here are a few photos:

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Short Meeting Tonight!

This is just a reminder that we have a brief meeting tonight at 5:15 p.m. in the Fairmeadows Room at the LRC. The topic of the meeting is the pool of candidates for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Site Review Councils.


Promoting Kindergarten Round-up

To help increase awareness of kindergarten registration this year, the School Community Relations Office has done the following:

  • Submitted a news release to the Des Moines Register regarding kindergarten round-up dates and registration.
  • Submitted a blog post to West Des Moines Living Magazine about kindergarten round-up.
  • Placed an ad on Facebook for targeted demographics
  • Placed kindergarten registration materials in preschools throughout the district.

This is in addition to our normal promotion through our website, Informaline, social media and more.


Phenix Transition Communications

The School Community Relations Office has developed a communication plan regarding the closer of Phenix and the transition of students to other schools in our district. Audiences we will be communicating with include parents, staff members, Valley Junction Neighborhood Association, Valley Junction Business District, other West Des Moines parents, other West Des Moines staff members impacted by reassigned students, Phenix alumni, media, West Des Moines Historical Society and more.



The School Community Relations Office has developed a district staff e-newsletter with news from central office departments called “We Are WDMCS,” which will launch this week. This communication vehicle is in direct response to our communication audit, through which staff said they receive too many emails. This internal e-newsletter aggregates the information currently sent by many central office individuals into one easy-to-scan regular e-newsletter.


Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Board Meetings

  • April 7, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • April 28, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Crossroads Park Elementary
  • May 12, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center



No report.



UNI Job Fair

West Des Moines Community Schools was represented at the University of Northern Iowa Teacher Job Fair, Saturday, March 30. From 9:00 a.m. until shortly after noon, cover letters and resumes were accepted from those attending the job fair.


Teacher Leader Selection

We have worked with our administrative leadership team, WDMEA leadership and certified staff to develop a pool of names for the Site Based Review Councils/interview teams. Those names will be presented to the Board at a special meeting Monday, March 31 for approval. Following that, interview teams will be selected from that pool of names. The goal is to begin interviews for teacher leaders as early as April 4, 2014.



National Program Celebrates Exemplary Dedication to Music Programs

The National Association of Music Merchants recently awarded 376 districts and 96 schools across the nation for providing exemplary and comprehensive music programs to their students. It was announced on March 24, 2014 that the West Des Moines Community School District was one of the districts that is being recognized for our exemplary music program. Schools and districts that receive this acknowledgement “are making a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child.”


The program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards and access to music instruction. The NAMM Foundation with the assistance of researchers from The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service evaluate participants on these factors. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and greater access to music education.


The West Des Moines Community School District was one of six districts in the state of Iowa who were identified for this honor. Congratulations to the WDMCS music program.


Celebration of Black History Month

February was Black History Month. Schools, teachers and students participated in several activities and learning experiences focusing on the significant impact that African-American citizens have on our history and growth as a nation. Below is a list of some of the learning experiences that our students were able to take part in throughout the month of February.

  • Read a variety of books about black history extending beyond Martin Luther King
  • Students learned from Carlos Kirby, an African-American Olympic Athlete about determination and will
  • Social studies teachers highlighted specific times and achievements in our history that centered on our African-American heritage.
  • Bulletin board displays in each of the buildings highlighting Black History Month and the important role of African Americans in American history
  • Media Center displays promoting books by and about African Americans
  • Black History collages were created in art classrooms
  • Students created quilt blocks using the style of Faith Ringgold
  • Daily announcements focusing on important periods in African-American history
  • Classrooms discussions about the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King
  • African-American poetry read by students during literacy instruction
  • Videos viewed by students about important points in African-American History


Iowa Statewide STEM Conference III

Shane and Laurene attended the third annual Iowa Statewide STEM Conference in Des Moines on Friday, March 28. The Honorable Kim Reynolds opened the conference with a brief overview of the work of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and the growth in STEM initiatives across the state. The Keynote Speaker was Ben Milne, Founder and CEO of Dwolla. Dwolla is a payments startup company that focuses on efficient and safe methods for moving money. The Des Moines-based company has raised over $22 million from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures.


One of the highlights of the conference was the student panel discussion. Annie Howard, Valley High School senior and the youngest member of the STEM Advisory Council in the state, facilitated the student panel discussion. Valley students Tanvi Yenna and Chase Schweitzer were also on the student panel. There were three additional students on the panel; all from Hoover High School in Des Moines. The students discussed their involvement in STEM and their coursework that led to their interest in STEM.

The students expressed the need to communicate STEM classes in an appealing way. They felt it was important to help students understand the real world application of learning and through this, students would be more engaged in their learning. Their suggestions for education in the future included a focus on problem based and project based hands on learning, creativity and originality. They expressed the importance of teachers learning more about STEM; including opportunities for teachers to participate in externships.


Budget, Stranger Danger, AP, and STEM


Budget Reduction Timeline

I thought I would share with you the timeline for the next couple of weeks. We started the community and staff forums last week to gather feedback on items in the budget reduction list. We will conduct more budget forums this week. We also have an online option for people to provide feedback. The final budget forum is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21. The superintendency will then review all of the feedback received both at the forums and online and put together a recommendation. The recommendation will be shared at superintendent board advisory committee meetings, starting March 3 with TLS Advisory, March 4 with HR Advisory and March 7 with Facility and Finance Advisory. The final budget reduction recommendation will be part of the March 10 board packet which will be ready late afternoon on March 7.


Archery Tiger Shootout

I was able to attend a portion of the Tiger Shootout on Saturday. I was very impressed with the number of archers. Students really seemed to enjoy participating. The number of volunteers that helped make the event such a success was fantastic! Valley came home champions in all three divisions. Jordan Creek won the elementary division, Stilwell won the middle school division and Valley won the high school division. WAY TO GO TIGERS!


Transportation Breakfast

Paul and I provided breakfast to our transportation staff on Friday, Feb. 14. This was to say “thank you” for getting our students to and from school safely this winter season. We are very fortunate to have drivers who care about our students and go the extra mile to ensure their safety. A big thank you goes out to Robin Pickard, Doug Neppl and the transportation staff.



Recent Stranger Danger Alerts

As you are aware, the district has sent out three Stranger Danger alerts since February 4. I thought I would share the protocol we use in determining when and how these are sent out.


First, the School Community Relations Office is typically notified by the buildings when they are made aware by parents of these incidents. Our first step is to ask if the police have been notified. This is our trigger for communicating to all district parents. Due to confirmed erroneous reports made in the past and shared by other school districts, we only send out an all-district email if the incident has been reported to the local police department. If the incident is reported to the school and not to the police department, the family is advised to contact the police.


To ensure accuracy, we reference the police’s report or new release in our notification. We work diligently to get these notices out as soon as possible, but we do take time to make sure we have accurate information and coordinate with the local police department. Based on our work together, the West Des Moines Police Department is now also working with other schools in the city to share information.


Our efforts to communicate Stranger Danger reports are a direct result of conversations with parents about their desire to be notified of incidents in order to be ever diligent in keeping children safe and aware of Stranger Danger rules.


Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Board Meetings

•             Feb. 24, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center

•             March 10, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center

•             March 24, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) Learning Resource Center

•             April 7, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center

•             April 28, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Crossroads Park Elementary



No report.




We have begun the negotiations process with both our associations — West Des Moines Education Association (WDMEA) and West Des Moines Education Support Personnel (WDMESP). We have exchanged initial proposals and will be continuing to negotiate final agreements over the course of the next few weeks.



West Des Moines Community School District on AP Honor Roll

The AP Honor Roll recognizes and honors those outstanding school districts that simultaneously increase access to Advanced Placement course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. Achieving both of these goals is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program because it indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit most from rigorous AP course work. This is the first year that West Des Moines Community School District has been on the honor roll and recognized in the state and nationwide for this achievement. Below is the list of school districts in Iowa that are part of the 4th Annual AP Honor Roll.

4th Annual Honor Roll Districts in Iowa: 5

•             Cedar Falls Community School District

•             College Community School District

•             Pleasant Valley Community School District

•             Waukee Community School District

•             West Des Moines Community School District


Microsoft IT Academy

Valley High School is one of 150 schools that have been awarded, through the state of Iowa’s competitive STEM initiative grant application process, the opportunity to provide students the ability to be certified as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS). This will give Valley High School students an amazing opportunity to validate their skills and gain industry-recognized certification, which will give them a competitive advantage when applying for college or a career. The awarded grant has a total market value of more than $50,000 in academic software, e-books, exam materials, Office licenses and additional ancillary materials such as posters and videos.


Vicky Rossander, business education teacher at Valley High School, submitted the application in late December and was notified of receiving the award in early January. Currently the district, in cooperation with DMACC, is working towards implementing the MOS certification into the business curriculum programming.


Visit with Linda Fandel and Jeff Weld at the Capitol

Lisa and Laurene had the opportunity to meet with Governor Branstad’s Special Assistant for Education Linda Fandel and Executive Director of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Northern Iowa Jeff Weld on Wednesday, Feb. 12 to discuss the district’s current practices and vision for STEM initiatives. Linda and Jeff were very interested in our ideas about future STEM initiatives in the district. They also complimented us in our current offerings to students and our interest in expanding STEM learning experiences for students. We agreed to continue our conversations and look for opportunities to collaborate in the future with the state and STEM Advisory Council focusing on professional learning for faculty as well as possible grant opportunities.



Crisis Management, Grant Application and Math Contest


Building Visits

I continue to visit buildings throughout the district. This past week I was able to spend time at Stilwell Junior High, Fairmeadows, Crossroads Park, and Crestview. I was able to visit with each of the principals and walkthrough the buildings. Once again I was able to see the many wonderful things going on in our classrooms. Students were engaged in the learning activities prepared by their teachers. We are very fortunate to have a great group of teachers who are guiding students in their learning.


Crisis Management Leadership Summit – “Summit II”

On Thursday, Jan. 30, Elaine Watkins-Miller and I attended the Crisis Management Leadership Summit.  The agenda included the following: 

1. Introductions, Chief Shaun LaDue, West Des Moines PD

2. Scope and importance of the issue, SSRA Barry Ferguson, FBI

3. Comments & Objectives from the City Emergency Management Coordinator, Chief Don Cox, West Des Moines FD

4. Update on public safety, Captain T.K. Ouverson, West Des Moines PD

5. Update on Federal programs, Dr. Pitzen, DHS & representative from the FBI

6. Lessons learned from previous events, FBI, DHS, local first responders

7. Review of the “Roadmap,” Captain T.K. Ouverson, West Des Moines PD

8. Collaborative efforts completed and/or needed, all participants

9. Final thoughts – open forum, Chief Shaun LaDue, West Des Moines PD


I felt the summit was very informative. The learning will help guide our emergency management work in the district. The summit also allowed us to connect with others who can support our work.



Special Board Meeting Feb. 5

There is a special Board meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m. in the Community Room at the LRC.


REMEMBER! Rescheduling Strategic Planning Meeting

The rescheduled strategic planning meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 13 from 5:00-9:00 p.m. This meeting was originally scheduled for January 16th, but was cancelled due to inclement weather and challenging road conditions.


Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Board Meetings

•             Feb. 10, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center

•             Feb. 24, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center



No report.



TLC Grant Application Submitted

The Teacher Leadership and Compensation System grant has been submitted to the Department of Education online. Kudos goes to our committee members.  They put in countless hours and effort to develop cohesive and transformational opportunities for our teachers, and our students.  This is a group of extremely professional and dedicated educators who have been willing to share their reflective insight, feedback and expertise with others to benefit the profession of education. Notification of grant awards throughout the state will occur in March, 2014.



We have begun our negotiations process with WDMEA and WDMESP.  Jim Hanks is our chief negotiator with the WDMEA.  The initial proposal was received from the WDMEA on January 29, 2014.  The district will present our initial proposal on February 12.  Negotiations with WDMESP occurs Monday, February 3.  Carol Seid will be the chief negotiator with Paul Bobek with the WDMESP.



DMACC West Information Technology (IT) Pathway Course Program

West Des Moines Community Schools has seven students enrolled in the spring term for the DMACC IT Pathway courses. There are three students from Valley High School and four students from Walnut Creek Campus that are attending classes in the program. The IT Pathway was approved through the Program of Studies process in spring 2013. There are four classes that WDM students will take through the Academy. These are Introduction to System Administration-Linux Server Networking, Telecommunications I, Introduction to Programming Logic, and Introduction to Computer Security.


Secondary Staff Professional Development Day, February 21, 2014

Final preparations are being made for the February 21st professional learning day for secondary certified staff. The focus of the day will be how to differentiate instruction using technology tools and resources. We are looking forward to the day.  For more information please visit the registration site or our Feb 21st PD day info page


West Des Moines Elementary School Students Placed in 1st and 4th Place in Polk County Math Contest

Congratulations to Fairmeadows and Western Hills students who scored in 1st and 4th place in the Sumdog Polk County Math Contest!  Click the link below to see the results>>

School Visits, Budget Process, Online Learning


School Visits

I have scheduled individual school visits during the month of January. I will spend an hour in each building observing classrooms and visiting with the building principal. I have completed visits at Clive, Hillside, Westridge, Jordan Creek, Phenix and Indian Hills Junior High. I have enjoyed being in classrooms. I have seen students engaged in learning. I was able to observe several different teaching strategies during my visits.

Budget Process

The Administrative Leadership Team spent time on January 9 and 16 scoring budget reduction ideas against the established criteria. The Human Resources Office and the Business Services Office are now putting dollar amounts to the reduction ideas. We will move to part four of the Tregoe process in late January early February. We will schedule time for community feedback on our reduction package, which will help us assess risks. We are on track to have the final budget reduction package to the board for approval in March.

West Des Moines Community Schools Foundation

Elaine and I attended the Foundation board meeting on January 16th. The Foundation board is wanting the school administration and School Board to prepare a list of priorities for its financial support. The Foundation would then start a fundraising campaign to support the list of priorities. We will start with surveying our teachers and administrators and then preparing a recommendation for the School Board to approve. I would like our list of priorities to align with our strategic plan.



Rescheduling Strategic Planning Meeting

The last strategic planning meeting originally scheduled for January 16th was cancelled due to inclement weather and challenging road conditions. We are currently looking at rescheduling the meeting for Thursday, Feb. 13 from 5:00-9:00 p.m. Please let Dr. Remy know if this date and time works for you.

Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Board Meetings

  •  Jan. 21, 2014: Special Meeting (5:15 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • Jan. 27, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • Feb. 10, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center
  • Feb. 24, 2014: Workshop (5:15 p.m.) & Regular Meeting (7 p.m.), Learning Resource Center



No report.



Teacher Leader and Compensation Grant Application

Our committee has continued to meet and work with an external grant writer to complete the 10 portions of this grant. We continue to share information with key stakeholder groups and engage our staff. More information will be shared with the Board members at a workshop on January 21.



An overview of the Applitrack system for posting, recruiting and hiring processes was shared with the Administrative Leadership Team members and hiring managers. We are implementing this system and work flow for new vacancies and hiring processes. Information for individualized, deeper learning was provided to ALT members and hiring managers to allow for autonomous learning.


2014-15 School Calendar

Each member of the calendar committee was asked to identify the calendar options from which we should ask the community to choose. Four calendar options were selected most frequently to share with the community. All options are based on a calendar with instructional hours. School start date and professional development are two of the differences noted in the options.

Priorities for developing calendars were based on a review of the fall calendar survey data and informal surveys of Valley High School students. Fall calendar surveys and committee discussion noted the benefit of first semester ending at winter break, fairly balanced semesters, professional development for staff and schedules conducive to families of young students and older students with multiple responsibilities and activities.

Examples of alternate calendar schedules and available research will be provided to principals who have noted interest in pursuing support for an alternate or continuous learning calendar pilot in the future.



Black History Month in February

Posters have been purchased for each school in celebration of Black History Month. The national theme this year is “Civil Rights In America.” Curriculum Directors have asked teachers in their assigned content areas to share ideas with them that could be shared with teachers throughout the district. These ideas along with other resource ideas will be sent out to building principals to share with their teachers.


Early Literacy Implementation Expectations for K-3 Literacy Legislation

Senate File 224 was passed during the 2012 Legislative session. However, funding and specific rules for the legislation were not written at that time and, therefore, there were no expectations at that time for implementation of this legislation by school districts. Funding has now been attached to this legislation and the Iowa Department of Education is responsible for developing the rules and expectations around the legislation for school districts.

The preliminary rules and expectations were shared through webinars to school districts in December 2013. The legislation affects every early literacy program in the State of Iowa. Requirements include:

  •  Minimum of 90 minutes daily of scientifically based reading instruction for any student who is experiencing reading deficiencies in reading.
  • Universal screening assessments for grades K-3 three times a year.
  • Progress monitoring and intensive instruction for students with “substantial deficiency in reading.”
  • Inform parents about their child(ren) reading proficiency and what they can do at home to help their child in the area of literacy.
  • Regular reporting to parents that includes sharing information on progress towards reading proficiency; and
  • Retention if the student is not proficient by the end of the third grade, did not attend the summer program and does not meet “good cause” exemption (good cause exemption will be defined by the Iowa Department of Education). The retention portion of the legislation will not begin until May 1, 2017.

Districts received some funding in order to begin to enact these requirements beginning in the 2014-15 school year. We will be working closely with elementary principals and teacher groups to outline an action plan for implementing these requirements for next school year. The action plan will also be shared with the School Board.


Online Learning Committee Work

The Online Learning Committee, which currently includes representation from secondary school administration, the Director of Technology, members of the Teaching & Learning Services Department and Dr. Remy met on Friday, Jan. 17th. The committee finalized the scenario survey that will be sent to grade 6-12 teachers. The team agreed to send out the survey to teachers in mid-February. The data from the survey will then be analyzed by the group and next steps determined for the work in this area. This will include making determinations on the expansion of the committee (i.e. including teachers, community members, business community and some members of the School Board).



Blogs, China & 2013-14 Board



What is a blog?  Here is the definition from the online Merriam Webster dictionary:  a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.  I was contacted by Lindsey Woody last week asking if I would be willing to write an education blog for the Clive/West Des Moines Living publication. After discussing the idea with Elaine, we agreed to become bloggers. I will write once each month and Elaine’s department will submit information the other three weeks. I believe this is another vehicle for us to share the good news about the West Des Moines School District. The education blog comes out Tuesday mornings.

China Trip/Visitors

On Thursday, Sept. 12, several of our district orchestra staff, administrators, Andi Lipman, Dr. Phyllis Staplin and Matt Roesen met to discuss the visit in October and the upcoming trip. We will be hosting visitors from China Oct. 21-24. Our trip plans to China changed from traveling in June to traveling in March. We believe traveling during spring break time will be a better time for students and families. Steph Wilson will communicate with our contacts from the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School regarding our tentative travel dates. The groups who will be traveling are our junior high orchestra students and students from our Chinese program. We are excited to have Dr. Staplin helping us plan the trip.
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District Safety Committee & More


District Safety Committee

Indian Hills Junior High Principal Shane Christensen has been appointed and accepted the role as the District Crisis Response Manager, which is in addition to his duties as principal.  Shane has sent out reminders to all buildings regarding tasks to be completed at the beginning of the school year including setting dates and times for tornado, fire and other drills.  The district has added a new piece to the emergency plan called ELF (Evacuate, Lockdown, Fight).  Each building will review the information with staff and run practice drills.  The district safety committee met on August 29th and reviewed the steps taken to date regarding building walk-throughs, emergency plans and emergency supply inventory. The group will begin reviewing and updating the current crisis plan and procedures, flip charts and staff training plan.  This work will be ongoing throughout the school year.

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Crestview’s Nidey Named ITEC K-12 Educator of the Year

Crestview Elementary third grade teacher Adam Nidey was named the Iowa Technology and Education Connection’s K-12 Educator of the Year at its annual conference Oct. 14-16. The K-12 Educator of the Year Award recognizes an innovative classroom teacher who uses technology to improve instruction and student achievement.

”I am fortunate to be in a technology-rich district,” said Nidey. “Our tech department is top notch and consistently works to remove hurdles for teachers that are trying to grow professionally and do what is best for the learning of all of its students. Teaching in a building that has over 100 iPads has also allowed me to be challenged in the area of technology.”

ITEC promotes the use of technology in education by demonstrating to its members, other educators and the public, developments in educational technology and how its appropriate use supports teaching and learning. The group annually seeks nominations for excellence in four categories: educator, administrator and local and state technology leadership. Continue reading

WDMCS Board Approves Anti-Bullying Proclamation, Superintendent’s Goals

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education held a regular meeting on October 8, 2012, and took the following action:

  • approved the Title I application;
  • approved a United Way of Central Iowa donor-directed contribution eligibility application;
  • approved an anti-bullying proclamation along with surrounding cities and school districts; Continue reading