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Archive for August, 2014

Informaline – Aug. 18

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Welcome back! We hope you had a great summer! It was a busy one in the district and our staff is excited to welcome back students on Aug. 20. A special welcome to those families new to our district this year. As we start out the school year, we want to give you an overview of all the ways to stay informed — whether it be from your school or the district.
What would the start of the school year be without a trip to Valley Stadium to see the Tigers on the gridiron and the Marchmasters’ halftime show? In an effort to make these exciting games and other events at the stadium safe and enjoyable for everyone, we will be implementing new safety procedures at Valley Stadium this season. These procedures will begin with the Dial Bowl on August 21.
It’s back to school time for students of the West Des Moines Community School District.  One of the highest priorities of the West Des Moines Police Department is to provide a safe and secure environment for the children and members of our community.  With that priority in mind officers of the department will be present, in uniform, at most of the schools in the West Des Moines Community School District, within the City of West Des Moines, during the first week of school and periodically throughout the year.  More details at the above link.
On August 11, the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education approved a revised plan for delivering services to students eligible for special education.
During the upcoming school year, the parents, teachers, city representatives, business leaders and school board members will research a new way to structure classrooms and support learning in the district. The district is studying the New Tech school design, which provides an instructional approach centered on project-based learning, a culture that empowers students and teachers, and integrates technology in the classroom.
Join the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, try out for a choir, Just Yell Fire Self Defense and more!

Topics: Informaline

Inspiration Strikes Valley High School Orchestra Directors in Vienna

Written by Alexandra Wade

peters-philValley High School orchestra directors Phil Peters and Michele Senger found fresh inspiration this summer, as they took part in a three-week program through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They were both selected as NEH Summer Scholars from a national applicant pool to attend “Mozart’s Worlds: The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.” It was hosted in Vienna, Austria, Mozart’s home for the last ten years of his life.

The interdisciplinary Institute focused on the two operas, but also enriched them with context: Vienna’s history and its culture at the time. The course was taught by multiple instructors from Vienna and the U.S. There were 25 students enrolled in the course, and they represented a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, from music to history and languages.

senger-michele“One of the things I really liked about the class we took was the variety of disciplines represented,” Senger said. “There was a lot of wealth in that diverse of a group.”

Classes were held every morning from 9 a.m. to noon, with afternoons, evenings and weekends free for exploring the city and its history. There were planned activities and field trips with relevance to the course, like a trip to Mozarthaus, the apartment where Mozart lived with his family from 1784 to 1787. Peters and Senger also participated in architecture tours and group dinners with their instructors and fellow students. They visited every museum they could find in their free time, from institutions honoring music and art to a museum dedicated to Sigmund Freud, famed psychoanalyst and another of Vienna’s well-known historical residents. Through taking public transportation and their sightseeing, Peters and Senger soon became familiar with Vienna, even commenting that it was somewhere they would feel comfortable living.

Peters had first heard of the NEH Summer Scholars program from other Valley High School teachers who had enjoyed various courses through NEH. He felt the class was informative and enjoyable, but also offered him a fresh start to music.

“This was a way of reigniting the passion I had for music at the beginning of my career. I was glad to find that again,” said Peters, who has been teaching for 29 years.

Both instructors have brought the information and enthusiasm the course sparked in them back to the community. The last part of the program was to come up with curriculum projects, due at the end of December. Senger and Peters have already begun deciding what they want to focus on. Senger is arranging four arias each from Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro for string ensembles, using the harmoniemusik of the time as a model. Harmoniemusik was the popular music of the era, and often consisted of arrangements of music from operas, symphonies and ballets. Wind ensembles would perform the arrangements at balls and other events as entertainment.

Peters is hoping to work with a guest instructor at Drake University on a production of The Marriage of Figaro. He would help supplement the university orchestra with students from Valley High School, assist with the production and act as a guest conductor when needed. He is still waiting for Drake University’s approval for the project.

Both Senger and Peters praised the class and NEH program as a great opportunity for educators to continue learning themselves. Whether it is through newly-arranged music, an opera production or a rediscovered passion for music and teaching, Peters and Senger will use what they learned in Vienna to keep growing music education at Valley High School and in the community.

Topics: Staff Achievements

School Board Meeting Highlights from Aug. 11

Special Education Services Updated
On August 11, the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Board of Education approved a revised plan for delivering services to students eligible for special education.

A major change will be the terms used to describe services. The new terms are designed to be easy to adopt and clearly define the services provide. Services will now be described as Supplementary, Targeted, Intensive and Concentrated. Prior to this, the terms used were Level 1, 2, or 3.

WDMCS Director of Special Education Kerry Ketcham said the goal was to create more flexible services to meet student needs. For example, he said a student receiving special education services may be highly functional in academics, therefore not need academic assistance. However, the student may need extensive socialization services. Services provided will match this child’s unique needs. In addition, the tools used to document services will now reflect students’ needs rather than funding levels.

The five-year plan was updated by a 25-member committee made up of special education teachers, general education teachers, parents of students receiving special education services, administrators and area educational agency representatives. In addition, the committee gathered input on the plan through a survey send to all parents in the district this summer. For more information on WDMCS Special Education Services, please contact Ketcham at 633-5072 or

Meeting agendas and full minutes are available on the district website:

Follow informal board highlights on Twitter @WDMCS.

Topics: School Board News

Back-To-School Pre-Service Schedule

August 11-19, 2014

Friday, August 15 – Classroom Prep and/or Principal Meetings


Monday, August 18 – Welcome Back at Valley Southwoods

Shuttle Buses Leave From:

  • VHS, Indian Hills at 7:15 & 7:30  a.m.
  • Operations 7:15 a.m.

7:15 – 8 a.m. – Breakfast

8 – 9 a.m. – Welcome Back Program

9 – 11 a.m. – Emergency Preparedness Drill

Shuttle Buses Leave from VSW at  11:15 a.m.


Tuesday, August 19 – Classroom Prep and/or Principal Meetings

New Teachers

Monday 8/11

7:45 a.m. – Welcome/Breakfast at Valley Southwoods Media Center
(Lunch On Your Own)
Elementary: Technology Training (a.m. & p.m.) and  Benefits Meeting
Secondary:  Common Core AM & EEI Intro (Learning  Targets) PM (w/ 45minutes for SpEd & ESL)

Tuesday 8/12

Elementary:  Common Core  AM (Assessment Training) & EEI Intro (Learning Targets) PM (w/ 45minutes for SpEd & ESL)
Secondary:  Technology Training (a.m. & p.m.) and Benefits Meeting

Wednesday 8/13

Elementary: a.m. – Benchmark Literacy Training & Every Day Math (EDM) p.m.
Secondary:  Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW)

Thursday 8/14

AM – Elementary & Secondary:
Handbooks/Agreements; Social Media; Instructional Management & Motivation and Meet WDMEA Officers
Noon-1 – Lunch for All @ Valley Southwoods
1:30-4 p.m. Lesson Plans @ Mentors’ Rooms


Wednesday  8/13

Mentors of 1st Year Teachers Training 8 AM – 4 p.m. (at VSW)

Thursday 8/14

Mentors of 1st Year Teachers Lunch @ VSW (Noon-1)
1-4 p.m. Work with New Teachers in Classrooms

Mentors of 2nd Year Teachers Training 1-3 p.m. (at VSW)


Topics: Uncategorized

2014-15 Welcome Back

Welcome back to school–truly the best time of year.  I hope everyone had a great summer and a chance to rest, relax and reflect. As I take time to reflect back on the past year, I am reminded of the challenges we faced, but more importantly all the great work that happened in our schools and district.  Thank you to all of you who contributed to a successful 2013-2014 school year.

The West Des Moines Community School District staff has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming school year and we look forward to welcoming our 9,000 plus students into our schools.

Our summer has been filled with learning and preparing to implement our teacher leadership program.  I spent two and a half days with administrators and teacher leaders learning about best practices around instructional coaching.  I could see the excitement in the room. The workshop was very valuable and will be helpful as we move forward with implementation.

The Board approved our district’s strategic plan at the June 23rd Board meeting.  The plan has four major focus areas:

  • culture for learning,
  • professional learning,
  • teaching for learning and
  • systemness.

I am looking forward to working with all of you to put the action steps into motion.

We have also been working to enhance the safety of our schools.  On August 18th we have an opportunity to increase our knowledge and to feel more prepared for an emergency situation by conducting an emergency preparedness drill.  This type of exercise will guide us in our emergency planning by helping us to identify areas of strength and weakness.

As we all know there are many challenges with each new school year. This year we will address reducing our budget, changing our schools’ boundaries and possibly adjusting start and end times, just to name a few.

Continuing to bolster our partnerships with families and community stakeholders is vital to meeting these challenges and to creating a successful school setting.

Our greatest endeavor, however, should always be to do our best to meet the needs of each and every student. We are here to serve our students.

Thank you for your dedication to our students.  I look forward to a great school year!

Lisa Remy

 Back-To-School Pre-service Schedule

Topics: Superintendent