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Archive for 2012

Connecticut Elementary School Tragedy

Superintendent’s Message Monday, Dec. 17, 2012
Dear West Des Moines Community Schools Families:

My heart remains sad with the continuing news from the Connecticut tragedy. Given the Holiday Season, I was able to spend  time with family and friends, and I hope you were able to do so as well. Life is truly precious. The victims and their families continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

I want to assure you that we are doing all we can to make sure our schools are a safe place to work and learn. Here are actions we are taking:

  1. Reviewing Emergency Protocols: We are asking all district staff to review emergency protocols, which are posted in every room of our buildings. The protocols include lockdown procedures.
  2. Reviewing the Crisis Management Plan: All building administrators will be reviewing the district Crisis Management Plan to ensure all emergency preparation steps outlined are being followed. This includes conducting drills for several emergencies, including lockdowns. General information about our plan is available here:
  3. Full Review of Crisis Management Plan: This fall, the district began a full review of the Crisis Management Plan and protocols. We will continue this work, which will involve local law enforcement agencies, fire departments and other crisis experts throughout the process.

Please also know that resources about how to talk with your children about such incidents are available here: We will continue to update this page with resources. Also know that our school counselors are here during school hours to help students, if needed.

We are also listening to feedback, concerns, ideas and more that are being provided to us about crisis preparedness, crisis response, safety, and communications. We are doing our best to gather resources, answer questions, and more. Please feel free to contact me or your principal if you have any questions or concerns.

Dr. Peter Ansingh,
WDMCS Superintendent


Superintendent’s Message Friday, Dec. 14, 2012
Dear West Des Moines Community Schools Families;

Today, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of the Connecticut elementary school tragedy. As we hear such news we are reminded how important it is for our schools to provide the safest possible learning and working environments for our students and staff.

Please know that the West Des Moines Community Schools has safety and crisis protocols for such situations in place that were developed with input from law enforcement.  We will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep our students and schools safe.

In addition, we know such news can be confusing and difficult for children. If you are seeking information about how to help children at home deal with tragic news, please feel to reference the resources below. Also know that our school counselors are here during school hours to help students.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can help in any way.

Dr. Peter Ansingh,
WDMCS Superintendent

Resources for Parents

WDMCS Crisis Plan Information

Topics: Superintendent

How can I keep my student focused during winter break?

Bethene Songer, Kindergarten Teacher at Western Hills Elementary
Congrats!  You’ve made it to winter break!  A well-deserved break from home work and school obligations.  To help prepare for a smooth transition back, you can help your child stay mentally active over break with these fun family activities;  READ for pleasure, WRITE thank you notes, JOURNAL your travels or activities, COOK together, GAME nights, CRAFT for fun and most of all….ENJOY your time and MAKE wonderful new memories!

Jackie Scieszinski, Math Teacher at Indian Hills Junior High
Take advantage of daily routines to include a little mental math…for example…it is 8:57.  You have an appointment at 10:15.  How many minutes before your appointment?  It takes 10 minutes to get there. What time should we leave? (more…)

Topics: Uncategorized

Board Recognition 12/10/12

The Board of Education of the West Des Moines Community School District is pleased to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of district students and staff.

Congratulations to Kerrigan Owens who advanced to the state level for the Voice of Democracy contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Her speech “Is the constitution still relevant?” won at both the local and district levels. Also competing well at the local level were seniors Dylan DeClerck and Hannah Beuse.

The Crestview First Lego League team won the High Quality Team Performance award at a regional competition. Team members are Cael Elmore, Mark Breiner, Jerry Breiner, Sukhman Virdi, Grant Rieker, Gwyn Chilcoat, Lindsay Wirta, Chloe Thorn and Hans Bunn. (more…)

Topics: Uncategorized

Instructional coaches work to nurture great performances

WDMCS Instructional Coach Jenni Freeman (left) works with fifth grade teacher Skye Wakefield.

When Western Hills teacher Leslie Welter was looking for a different way to teach math in her first grade classroom, she decided to get a coach.

She wasn’t looking for someone to explain baseball statistics, she wanted an instructional coach. (more…)

Topics: Education

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Ansingh Thanks Community for Hillside Assistance

The following was submitted to the Des Moines Register from WDMCS Superintendent Dr. Peter Ansingh.

Dear Editor:

As superintendent of the West Des Moines Community Schools, I am proud that the word “community” is part of our name. It is a reflection of how the citizens of our district come together to support our children.

A recent example of this was the outpouring of offers this summer from individuals, businesses and organizations to assist when we were looking to temporarily relocate the students of Hillside Elementary. (more…)

Topics: Superintendent, Uncategorized

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Board Approves Valley Phase 3 Base Bids

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved base bids for the last phase of the Valley High School project October 24, 2012, with a total contract amount of $25.4 million. This phase of the project primarily includes a new 1,140 seat auditorium, new performing arts practice space and a renovated north academic wing. (more…)

Topics: School Board News

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Advisory Board & “SAMs” Program Approved by Board

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education held a regular meeting on October 22, 2012, and took the following action:

  • approved the consent agenda including personnel resignations, recommendations, support staff new hires, certified staff initial contracts, minutes from the Oct. 8 workshop and meeting;
  • approved a minor modification application for Hillside Elementary for the addition of a 1,500 sq.ft. concrete pad and an 200 sq. ft. expansion of the existing wood mulched swing set area located on the south side of the facility with the use of Site funds; (more…)

Topics: School Board News

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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; (more…)

Topics: Education

Features of the New District Website

We are a couple weeks away from the launch of the new district website and because I am not very good at waiting I thought I would give you a sneak peek of some features of the new site. As mentioned in a previous post during the planning process we surveyed students, parents, employees, and the community to gather data about their use of the current district  website, along with their likes and dislikes. The main objective was to create a website that is audience centric, has up-to-date information, and is easy to navigate. We are accomplishing this in several different ways, but a couple of the ways we are doing this is through the top and side navigation as seen here. Depending on what category you fall into you can go directly to “your” page and find the information that is relevant to you. The information that is provided on this page was decided after looking at Google analytics and user research.

Top Navigation

Another objective for the new site was to create an awareness of the happenings within our district. The main way that this is being done is through the news feed seen here. Up-to-date information and events will be announced on the home page along with press releases and happenings.

What's New NewsNews Full Page

A request that was mentioned in the survey over and over again was a more user online calendar system. The new site will have a very robust and user friendly online calendar system. You will now be able to have a more accurate calendar of the districts events year round. You will be able to search by month, day, activity and school. We will then carry this even one step further as we continue into phase two with the redesign of individual school websites. Each school will have a calendar on  their home pages which will include their own events.

Calendar on home page

The last item I am going to share today is the Staff Directory. This is something that I hear repeatedly, that people have a hard time using and finding the information they need in our current staff directory. Brian Abeling, Director of Technology worked closely with Flying Hippo Web Technologies to create, what we think, is a very useful and robust staff directory.

Staff Directory Search Box
I am looking forward to sharing the new and improved site with you in the next couple of weeks. We still have a lot of things to do in order to launch the new site so better get back to it!

Topics: Education

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WDMCS Board Approves Retirement Plan, Fresh Fruit Program and More

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education held its annual meeting Sept. 10, 2012, and took the following action:

  • approved the proposed 2013-2014 Early Retirement Plan, which has no changes from the previous year’s plans, to allow eligible district staff to have the opportunity to plan further in advance when making a decision concerning retirement; (more…)

Topics: Education

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