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Community Education News

Summer of Learning 2017

Summer of Learning Catalog Cover - Boy Holding Globe in front of chalk board

Are you wondering how you’re going to keep your kids busy this summer? We have many fun, enriching, and affordable learning opportunities available! Whether your children need a little extra help in reading, writing, or math, or simply a fun way to expand their knowledge in several subjects, WDMCS Community Education provides a wide variety of activities to choose from.

Summer of Learning Catalog PDF

List of Summer of Learning programs

Register Online


Instructor Tips: Dennis Kelly—Downsizing by Design

Community Education Instructor Dennis KellyIt seems like one of the biggest 2017 trends may be downsizing and decluttering. Experienced downsizer and Community Education class instructor Dennis Kelly is passionate about helping others downsize and declutter their way to less stress. Whether you are cleaning out your closets or your contact list, he can offer practical help and tips for taking on these challenging tasks. Here are four tips for anyone looking to get a head start on their spring cleaning!

Tips from a Downsizing Expert

  1. Take it slow. Downsizing can be hard to tackle because it takes time and introspection. Give yourself permission to slow down long enough to truly get in touch with yourself.
  2. Look at your life. As spring approaches, ask yourself if your home, career, and relationships are where you want them to be. Think about which things you are ready to freshen up.
  3. Start with positivity. The goal of downsizing is to make room for more joy and happiness in your life. With that in mind, decide what kind of changes you want to implement.
  4. Embrace change. Downsizing takes courage because it is all about new beginnings. Face your downsizing fears, and get excited about making a fresh start!

Service Programs Help Students and Families Give Back

WDMCS Community Education’s service programs offer West Des Moines Community Schools students community service opportunities starting in third grade. Program coordinator Rosemary Brandt sees these opportunities as a chance for students to learn about and fulfill their roles as members of the community, while also gaining confidence and career skills. With four other coordinators, Brandt organizes all five service programs, including the annual Personal Care Collection, taking place this week.

Personal care drive image croppedThe collection restocks the Booster Pak pantries with personal care items like regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and lip balm. Items will be collected and then distributed to WDMCS students through the Booster Pak Program.

“We want all our kids to have the things they need to feel confident, healthy, and comfortable,” Brandt said.

The other service programs—Read to Me, I-CARE, the Walnut Creek Campus Service Program, and the Silver Cord Award program—are valuable opportunities for specific age groups, but the Personal Care Collection is a way for all students, staff, and families to give back. Help make a real difference in your school—there are still two days to bring your items to your building and place them in the designated box.

Thank you for your support of the Personal Care Collection!

See some of the donation boxes WDMCS students have decorated.

Learn more about:

Students Decorate Boxes for WDMCS Personal Care Collection

West Des Moines Community Schools students have been decorating boxes for next week’s WDMCS Personal Care Collection! Staff, families, and students are invited to participate in the WDMCS Personal Care Collection next week, Feb. 20-23. Please bring your items to school and place them in the student-decorated boxes.

The most needed items are regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and lip balm. Items will be collected and then distributed to WDMCS students through the Booster Pak Program.

Thank you for your support for this very worthy cause! The WDMCS Personal Care Collection is coordinated by WDMCS Community Education’s Service Learning Program.

WDMCS Personal Care Collection

West Des Moines Community Schools – Personal Care Collection

Personal care drive image cropped

West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) is making a difference the week of Feb. 20-23. WDMCS staff and students can participate in a personal care collection for those in need. Items most needed are regular-size shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and lip balm. The donated items will be collected and distributed throughout the WDMCS school buildings in partnership with the Booster Pak Program.

Elementary students and Silver Cord students from Valley High School and Valley Southwoods Freshman High School participate by decorating a collection box, distributing posters, and counting and organizing donations at their building.

The personal care collection is coordinated by WDMCS Community Education’s Service Learning programs. For more information on Service Learning, please visit

Meet Intercultural Outreach Coordinator Jeanna Bauer

Photo of Jeanna Bauer, WDMCS Community Education Intercultural Outreach Coordinator.Please join WDMCS Community Education as we welcome Jeanna Bauer, the newest member of the Community Education team. She is the first person to fill the newly created Intercultural Outreach Coordinator position.

As the Intercultural Outreach Coordinator, Jeanna will partner with Community Education departments to identify programming needs and facilitate programs that are accessible and relevant to multicultural and historically underserved populations in our district community. She will also work to introduce our community to its new and unknown neighbors through cultural awareness opportunities. Her favorite part of her new position is being part of Community Education’s commitment to inclusion, welcoming, and accessibility.

Before joining the WDMCS Community Education team, Jeanna worked with refugee communities developing programming for ethnic community-based organizations in the Midwest and international non-governmental organizations. A cultural exchange experience in Rwanda and Tanzania inspired her to connect with and assist the world’s most vulnerable populations. Her work has taken her to 12 countries, including time spent living in Thailand and Egypt. She enjoys going for coffee with friends, reading, and recreating foods she enjoyed during her travels.

For more Community Ed. Highlights, stay up-to-date with the WDMCS Community Education blog!

Rec’s and Reviews: Three Colorful Books About Fall

  • We review: three colorful books about fall
  • These books are for: kids in preschool and early elementary school
  • Summary: With fall coming to a close and winter weather setting in, it’s the perfect time to stay in and curl up with a book. Here are three books that capture the fun of fall while also educating young readers about the changing seasons.


"Awesome Autumn" by Bruce Goldstone. (Image source:

“Awesome Autumn” by Bruce Goldstone. (Image source:

“Awesome Autumn”
by Bruce Goldstone
For readers in preschool through third grade.

Bruce Goldstone’s “Awesome Autumn” lets readers explore autumn through comparisons, the five senses, fall activities, and more. Readers will learn about why leaves changes, ponder how autumn feels and sounds, and study hibernation and migration. Fall activities like leaf rubbings, hand turkeys, and roasting pumpkin seeds round out this fun book.


"Re-Cycles" by Michael Elsohn Ross. (Image source:

“Re-Cycles” by Michael Elsohn Ross. (Image source:

by Michael Elsohn Ross, Illustrated by Gustav Moore
For readers in preschool through third grade.

A Yosemite National Park naturalist and educator, Michael Elsohn Ross introduces young readers to the natural soil and water cycles, as well as the compost cycle, in “Re-Cycles.” Ross’s simple but lyrical prose and artwork from Moore will help readers understand the three different cycles in this fourth installment in the “Cycles” series. Ross also gives readers tips for assisting nature by using recycling centers and composting.


"Leaf Jumpers" by Carole Gerber. (Image source:

“Leaf Jumpers” by Carole Gerber. (Image source:

“Leaf Jumpers”
by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Leslie Evans
For readers in kindergarten through second grade.

“Leaf Jumpers” celebrates the beauty of autumn leaves. With short rhymes and close-up leaf illustrations, Gerber and Evans teach readers to tell which leaves are which. The last page of the book also describes photosynthesis and how it leads to the changing colors of fall.





Work Out with Ashley Tapps

Ced lw ashley tappsMeet Ashley Tapps, owner of AllFit Health and Fitness and the new instructor for Little Hip Hoppers and Stroller Time Fitness! Ashley is originally from Urbandale, Iowa, and finished her undergraduate degree in business and master’s degree in sports and recreation at the University of Iowa. Ashley is a certified ACSM Group Exercise Instructor with over five years of experience teaching and coaching dance, teaching kids’ and adult fitness classes, and working with clients of all ages and abilities.  She is looking forward to bringing fun fitness and recreation programs to kids and adults in the Des Moines area.

New! Stroller Time Body Buster

Looking for a great workout while keeping your kiddos close? This class is a perfect way to connect with other local parents while getting a whole body workout! Stroller Time Body Buster will incorporate cardio and multiple major and core muscle exercises to get you on your way to becoming a leaner and healthier you. Exercises will include squats, lunges, plank exercises, push-ups, yoga balances, and much more including countless modifications that will allow anyone to feel challenged and engaged. Come ready to work hard and have fun with your child in a stroller/car seat by your side! Please bring a towel/blanket/yoga mat, as we will be venturing outside, and feel free to bring your kiddo(s) in their stroller or car seat. Course taught by Ashley Tapps of AllFit Health and Fitness.

Tuesdays, 9/20-10/11, 11-11:45 a.m., $37. Learning Resource Center. WEL03.

Register Online

Fall Learning Opportunities

LW-Fall-2016-Catalog-CoverFall is right around the corner, along with fresh opportunities for personal growth and lifelong learning. Our quality learning opportunities are for students of all ages and many interests. All our classes are offered locally in our school district community, so sign up with a friend or on your own. We invite you to explore our programs, find something new, and register today!

This year, we combined the youth and adult catalogs to make it easier for you to find engaging, affordable programs that interest you and your family. You can also find information about our class offerings on our website, Facebook page, and other social media accounts.

We would like to extend a special thank you to our excellent teachers. They work with us to keep our wide variety of classes engaging and valuable for everyone. Thank you to all our LEARNwest and Adventures teachers for sharing their time, talents, and skills with our community!

If you would like to join our talented teachers or have an idea for a new class, give us a call or send us an email. We are always looking for new classes and activities, and we would love to know what you are looking to learn—or even teach—as we start planning for the winter session.

Sue Otte, Program Coordinator

View Classes Online

View Catalog (PDF)

Rec’s and Reviews: “The Jungle Book”

Poster for "The Jungle Book."

Poster for “The Jungle Book.” (Image source:

  • We review: “The Jungle Book,” directed by Jon Favreau and starring Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, and Idris Elba
  • This movie is for: kids in third or fourth grade and older
  • Summary: “Man-cub” Mowgli flees the jungle with help from family and friends when he is threatened by vengeful tiger Shere Khan in this revisiting of the classic “Jungle Book” tale.

Most notable for its hyper-realistic visual effects and star-studded cast, “The Jungle Book” is a good lesson in how to tell an old story a new way. Promoted as a live-action remake of the animated Disney classic, “The Jungle Book” is a gritty and engaging take on the classic tale.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) with the wolf pack that adopted him.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) with the wolf pack that adopted him. (Image source:

Though it takes its plot from the animated Disney movie and Rudyard Kipling’s original stories, the visual effects make “The Jungle Book” feel all-new and completely different in tone. It is intense and action-packed, even edging into scary territory at times. Viewers share Mowgli’s awe when presented with majestic elephants, but also his sense of peril when he’s on the run. They get an up-close view of injuries sustained by Mowgli and witness an important character’s death.

The strong cast is another highlight. Idris Elba thrills as the villainous but relatable tiger Shere Khan, while veteran Ben Kingsley provides a reliable presence for Mowgli and the audience as Bagheera. It is practically impossible to look away from Mowgli’s wolf family, especially when Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Raksha, is on screen.

Neel Sethi (Mowgli) filming "The Jungle Book."

Neel Sethi (Mowgli) filming “The Jungle Book.” (Image source:

Even amongst such talented co-stars, newcomer Neel Sethi stands out as the scrappy Mowgli. His enchanting and natural performance is even more impressive knowing that, throughout filming, he often acted opposite puppets in a blue room far from the jungle.

It is undeniable that the visual effects
are the star of the film, but its hopeful message should not be overlooked. Mowgli’s character arc promotes acceptance and creativity, and the overall
story has simple but positive messages about environmental respect and all types of families.

Have you seen “The Jungle Book”? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!


Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media