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:
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.
We Are WDMCS
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
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.
TEACHING & LEARNING SERVICES (TLS)
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.