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Community Education News

Promoting Connections Between Generations

The WDMCS third grade classes visit metro area retirement communities, where students read to the residents. Students prepare by selecting their favorite picture books, reading out loud to peers, and writing interview questions. During their visit, students are paired with a senior and they spend an hour reading and getting to know one another.  The Read to Me program promotes connections between generations, and gives both students and seniors an opportunity to grow and learn.




Meet Kids West Program Assistant Kris Gardner

Kris GardnerThere are still a few days to register for Kids West 2017 Summer Day Camp and the 2017-18 school year! Any West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) child in grades K-6 is eligible for this safe, affordable, and convenient before- and after-school care. Kids West registration materials are due April 7 for returning families and April 12 for potential participants.

All Kids West registrations are managed by Program Assistant Kris Gardner. She has more than 20 years of Kids West knowledge and experience and can help families with registration, financial aid, and any questions they have. She also oversees the new family lottery, which will take place on April 13 this year. While she enjoys all aspects of her job, one thing has always stood out during her 23 years with Kids West.

“My favorite thing is the people I work with,” Gardner said.

To see a full registration timeline and find out more about Kids West registration, please visit our “Registration” page. You can also contact Gardner at 515-633-5018.

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.

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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