District News

Six WDMCS Educators Recognized for Expertise

Six West Des Moines Community Schools educators have received recent recognition for their success and expertise as teachers and coaches.

beranekm.jpgstearnsb.jpgValley Southwoods Freshman High School Associate Principal Bryan Stearns and Western Hills Elementary School teacher Mike Beranek were both named to Iowa’s Every Student Succeeds Act Advisory Committee. The committee is providing input on the development of Iowa’s plan to meet the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

allison kroisIndian Hills Junior High School language arts teacher Allison Koontz and Valley High School language arts teacher Ryan Penning also received recognition this summer. Koontz earned the 2016 Iowa Communication Association Outstanding New Teacher Award based on her service, leadership, and dedication to speech and theater education.

Ryan penningPenning received the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Dr. Robert E. and Phyllis M. Yager Exemplary Teaching Recognition Award, which highlights UNI graduates who have gone on to excellence as K-12 teachers in Iowa. He will speak at a special luncheon with the UNI president in December and receive $3,000.

bakeyt.jpgTwo Valley High School coaches were honored after successful seasons. Softball coach Tom Bakey was named to the Iowa Girls Coaches Association (IGCA) Hall of Fame in July 2016. He has coached softball in the West Des Moines Community Schools for 30 seasons, including 20 seasons as the program’s head coach. During those 20 years, Bakey and his teams have earned a .802 winning percentage and five state titles. He was previously recognized by IGCA as Softball Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2010.

azizhaffarValley High School boys’ soccer coach Aziz Haffar was selected as the 2016 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) State High School Coach of the Year. Haffar has been the head boys’ soccer coach for 27 years and has led the team to a .86 winning percentage and five state championships. He was previously named the NSCAA State High School Coach of the Year in 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2006.

Congratulations to these excellent WDMCS educators!

Greenspon Elected School Board President

The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education elected Tali Greenspon as its president and Melinda Dunnwald as its vice president on Monday, Sept. 26.

our school board members_GreensponGreenspon was elected to the school board in 2013. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in marketing from Drake University and has extensive experience in sales, marketing, and account management. Greenspon’s daughter, Ellie, is an eighth-grader at Stilwell Junior High and her sons, Daniel and Jonathan, are in second grade at Jordan Creek Elementary.

our school board members_DunnwaldDunnwald was elected in 2015. She received her bachelor’s degree in speech communications from Iowa State University and her master’s degree in business communication from the University of St. Thomas. She was a top sales performer as well as sales manager at the Xerox Corporation and an adjunct instructor at Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. Dunnwald and her husband, Jeff, have two children: Dayna is a ninth-grader at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School, and Drew is an eighth-grader at Stilwell Junior High School.

Each year, the School Board chooses a president and vice president. The president presides at all meetings of the board, signs contracts and school district warrants approved by the Board, and more. The vice president serves in the absence of the president.

The Board also appointed Dunnwald and School Board Member Elizabeth Brennan to serve as the Board’s representatives on the district’s School Community Network, which is a committee of parents, teachers, and administrators. Board member Vicky Poole, Ed.D., was appointed as the Board’s representative on the West Des Moines Community Schools Foundation, and Liz Cox was appointed as the Board’s representative on the Iowa Association of School Boards’ Delegate Assembly.

Find out more about the WDMCS Board of Education on our district website at www.wdmcs.org/district/our-school-board/.

Students Launch “Profriend” Campaign

More than 1,400 students from the West Des Moines Community Schools gathered on the Valley Stadium field Tuesday, Sept. 27, to create the largest human formation of the word “friend.”

“Today, we are launching our ‘Profriend’ movement designed by students for students to be able to positively impact the conversation about bullying to promote kindness and friendship in action,” said Valley Southwoods Freshman High School student Job Vander Weide.

Students involved in service learning wanted to create a new movement to prevent bullying. The students identified friendship as a powerful and positive action.

“Many of us have heard a lot about ‘anti-bullying,’ ‘stomping out bullying,’ ‘standing against bullies,’” said Vander Weide. “This is important, but we thought there might a better way, a positive way to prevent bullying.’”

Student ambassadors from each building in the district that attended the event will go back to their schools to bring people together, connect with each other, encourage people to be considerate of one another, and spread friendship.

“This Profriend Campaign will help us build empathy and kindness, which allows us to create new relationships, understand through the perspectives of others, and focus on creating solutions while having fun,” said Dayna Dunnwald, a ninth-grader at Valley Southwoods.

City leaders from West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, and Clive joined the event. West Des Moines Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Sandager and Windsor Heights Mayor Diana Willits announced that their respective cities will proclaim the week of October 17 as “Profriend Week.”  Students will present at the Clive City Council meeting on October 13.

For more information about Profriend, please visit wdmcsprofriend.com.

See a timelapse of the word formation on the district Facebook page. 

See photos and drone video of the event on the district Flickr. 

Life in the WDMCS — Sept. 21, 2016

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings.

District Explores New Grade Configurations & Space Usage

Teachers and parent group representatives from each WDMCS elementary and junior high school and Valley Southwoods will meet with architects from Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering over the next few months to explore new ways to use space in our school buildings to support learning.


WDMCS Making Positive Changes for Education Equity

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) has released its plan to address education equity in its schools.

“Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change” outlines short- and long-term steps the district and Valley High School will take during the 2016-17 school year and beyond.

The WDMCS will  assemble a district equity team and a Valley High School equity team. The district team will identify an equity framework and an outside entity to assist with providing professional development, improving student programming and curriculum, and evaluating the effectiveness of the work. In addition, the district will work to recruit and hire highly-qualified staff from a wider range of racial and ethnic backgrounds to better reflect our student population.

The goal of this work is to improve the district climate and culture in order to establish equitable practices for all students that:

  • eliminate systemic racial inequity,
  • provide equitable educational opportunities for students of color, and
  • nurture authentic and trusting relationships between staff and students and between students themselves to make a positive difference in how students of color experience school.

The full equity plan, the equity audit commissioned by the district, and a video of the workshop session are available below.

Equity Action Plan (Full Document): “Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change”

Equity Action Plan (PowerPoint): WDMCS Board of Education Workshop Session Presentation

Equity Audit (Full Document): “Developing an Action Plan for Creating a More Equitable School”

Equity Audit (PowerPoint): “VHS Racial Equity Report” Presentation

All About Homecoming 2016

Homecoming 2016: September 19-24
“What’s Up, Valley?” This year’s homecoming festivities start Sept. 19 and include activities for our schools, WDMCS families, and the entire community. This year’s homecoming theme is “What’s Up, Valley?”

All proceeds from homecoming T-shirt sales, the carnival, the powderpuff football toss, and the $5 barbecue, as well as any free-will donations, will benefit this year’s homecoming charity: The Native Fund. The Native Fund was created by Ashton Kutcher and Dallas Clark. Their mission is to have Iowans help Iowans with natural disasters. Learn more about The Native Fund and how you can help online.

Dunbar Receives Susan Asklof Enthusiasm Award

Congratulations to Hillside Elementary English as a Second Language teacher Kim Dunbar who was selected as the recipient of the 2015-16 Susan Asklof Enthusiasm Award!

dunbark.jpgDunbar goes above and beyond to make students’ school experience special, especially those affected by poverty. She founded Hillside’s Cooking Club, helped obtain soccer goals for recess, and co-commissioned a soccer clinic for over 170 Hillside students. Dunbar brings joy to others, while enjoying life. She plans social committee events for staff and is known for her creative Halloween costumes. Her passion for life, love of learning, and compassion for others have a far-reaching impact. Her endless efforts to add new clubs, experiences, and technology into students’ lives engage both Hillside staff and students.

Further congratulations are extended to Tamara Tjeerdsma, assistant principal at Jordan Creek and Westridge elementary schools, who was the runner-up for the 2015-16 Susan Asklof Enthusiasm Award! An excerpt from her award nomination read:

tamara-tjeerdsma_headshot_edited“Tamara’s job titles are endless….Leader, Wife, Mother, Nanna, Confidante, Encourager, Advocate, Cheerleader, Spiritual Adviser, and most importantly ~ friend. Tamara radiates love and kindness. She has a heart for all children, especially for the “underdog” and will advocate for whatever they may need, whether it be a child who struggles with academics, behavior, or social skills. She lovingly invests her heart into them, making sure they know how much she believes in them, and is not giving up on them. A quote found in her office states, “A Teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, touches a heart, and shapes the future.” Tamara has truly done all of these things over the years, both as a teacher, and now as an administrator. What a valuable asset she has been to every staff she’s been a part of, and is to our entire (district).”

Congratulations to all of this year’s Susan Asklof Enthusiasm Award nominees!

Since 1991, the Susan Asklof Enthusiasm Award has been a testament to many amazing individuals who have blessed, influenced, and encouraged students, families, and colleagues in the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS).

WDMCS staff members can continue this tradition by nominating a colleague who is a source of inspiration and encouragement to others, lives life to the fullest, and shares their enthusiasm with everyone around them. WDMCS Community Education will be accepting nominations at the Learning Resource Center after spring break this year.

View the Nomination Form

If you have questions, please contact Julie Lundy at 515-633-5006 or lundyj@wdmcs.org.