District News

Demo Teacher Spotlight

Meet Gretchen Fackler, this year’s Demonstration Teacher Coordinator. You should already be familiar with Gretchen, as she has worked in the district for almost 17 years. She began her career at Jordan Creek, where she spent 11 years, then served as an instructional coach before returning to a third-grade classroom at Hillside Elementary three years ago.

Gretchen is passionate about the Demo Teacher program because she believes it gives teachers an avenue to learn from each other.

“I love to collaborate, and something I love doing with teachers is brainstorming,” Gretchen said. “If they see something in my classroom, [they can consider] how they can incorporate that into their teaching style and into their classroom.”

She encourages teachers to observe, take notes, and be open-minded to what they can learn from their peers. A few of the topics include:

  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Flexible Seating
  • Classroom Management
  • Project Based Learning
  • Canvas
  • Technology Integration

To sign-up to visit any of the more than 30 demo teachers across the district, visit the website link below.

Demo Teacher Website

WDMCS Superintendent Response to DACA Repeal

In the West Des Moines Community Schools, our mission is to graduate students who can “thrive in and contribute to a diverse and changing world.”

Read More

Homecoming 2017: Sept. 11-16

Homecoming 2017 theme image.Homecoming 2017 festivities start next week and include activities for our schools, WDMCS families, and the entire community. This year’s homecoming theme is “Valleywood.”

Find out more about Homecoming 2017.

School Board Election Sept. 12

School board elections will be held this year on Tuesday, Sept. 12. There will be three seats on the ballot, as well as a Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) renewal.

Learn more about the school board election.

Welcome! A Message from the Superintendent

A headshot of Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D.The beginning of a new school year is one of my favorite times of the year. I hope you were able to enjoy opportunities for fun and learning with your children this summer. As we begin this new school year, I am filled with hope, vision, and excitement.

This year has brought many new district administrators to the West Des Moines Community Schools. They have been working to learn our system and get to know each other this summer, and I know they are excited to meet each of you. As a district, we will be focusing on effective grading practices, equity, and 1:1 implementation this year. We will share progress updates on these topics with you throughout the year.

Thank you for joining us for the 2017-18 school year. We will work every day to teach your children new things and challenge them with interesting questions. I wish you a year filled with great success and great learning!

Welcome to the 2017-18 school year,

Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D.

Focused on Student Wellness in the WDMCS

The West Des Moines Community Schools is making student health and wellness a top priority. To help guide the district in this effort, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education recently approved revisions to the district’s wellness policy (Policy 608.1).

These changes focus on districtwide health initiatives, including:

  • providing access to healthy nutritional food and beverage options for all activities within the school day.
  • fostering daily physical activity that embraces a healthy lifestyle.

Classroom Events

Choose snack items from one of the district snack lists for activities during the school day and up to 30 minutes after the last bell.

  • The snack lists are available below to download or as a flyer in your school.
  • Meals at school events must include a fruit or vegetable to align with the district’s wellness policy.

Support Physical Activity

Teachers and staff will support an active, healthy school environment for students.

  • Teachers will seek out physical activity options in place of candy or food rewards.
  • Teachers will not withhold physical activity as a punishment.

Fun Alternatives

Teachers and families can seek creative options when planning classroom events, including
non-food celebrations for birthdays and achievement parties.

  • Start a birthday library where families donate books on their child’s birthday and they get to choose a book to read.
  • Create a list of games involving physical activity that birthday students can choose to play.

Snack Lists

The following snacks lists are to reference when selecting snacks for activities during the school day and up to 30 minutes after the last bell.
Note: These lists are not required for a student’s personal lunch or snack.

Snack LIst/Order Form: Items Purchased Through WDMCS

Snack List: Items Purchased in Stores

Questions?

Please contact your building principal or email Willow Dye, Nutrition Services Director.

Back to School 2017-18

Welcome to the 2017-18 school year! We look forward to seeing you in our hallways again, starting Wednesday, Aug. 23. The first day of school this year will follow the collaboration schedule and be an early out day. Please contact your school if you have any questions about the first day of school.

Here are several links that will help your family have a great year in the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS).

Back-to-School Toolkit, School Supply Lists & More

Make Lunch Payments and Pay Fees Online

Check Your Calendar! Upcoming Events & Important Dates

  • Elementary Back-to-School Dates: Find your elementary school’s open house date and time here.
  • Secondary Back-to-School Dates: Find registration dates and times for high school and junior high here.
  • Calendar At A Glance: The WDMCS online at-a-glance calendar is available as an easy-to-print document with the important 2017-18 dates.
  • School-Year Calendar: The full 2017-18 calendar of events is now online.  
    • Customize Your Calendar: Personalize your online calendar view by choosing the categories relevant to you.
    • On-Demand Print Feature: Our full online events calendar will allow you to print a customized list of dates. 

For information about the first day of preschool and preschool programs in our district, visit the Tiger Cubs Preschool webpage.

Reminder! Meningitis Vaccine Required for Grades 7 & 12

The State of Iowa has passed a new law, requiring the meningococcal (specifically A,C,W,Y) vaccine for students entering grades seven and 12, beginning with the 2017-18 school year. All incoming seventh- and 12th-grade students will need to submit a completed Certificate of Immunization with the Meningococcal (A,C,W,Y) vaccination.

Seventh- and 12th-grade students must submit documentation of the vaccine before the first day of school to start school on Aug. 23. There will be no grace/extension period for these requirements. Your school must have documentation for your child, or they will not be able to start school until documentation is submitted.

Find out more.

WDMCS Welcomes New District Administrators

West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) welcomes several new district administrators for the 2017-18 school year. New leaders will join the district as the Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services, Teaching and Learning Services Executive Director, Human Resources Director, School/Community Relations Director, Special Education/504 Plans Director, Elementary Curriculum Director, and Data Management Director.

Some of these positions are part of the Learning Resource Center reorganization approved by the Board of Education in February. The Executive Director and Data Management Director positions are new, and the district’s curriculum director positions were restructured.

(Updated Sept. 2017)

Michelle Lettington is the new Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services.
Administrator head shot photo of Michelle Lettington.
Lettington previously served as the Director of Elementary Schools for the Des Moines Public Schools. She began her career as a fifth-grade teacher in the Waukee Community School District. She later served as the Dean of Students at James B. Morris Elementary in the Des Moines Public Schools. Lettington has served as Assistant Principal at Northeast Elementary and Westwood Elementary and Principal of Terrace Elementary in the Ankeny Community School District. In addition, she was Principal of Maple Grove Elementary, Principal of South Middle School, and then Executive Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning in the Waukee Community School District. Lettington earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa, her master’s degree in Elementary Education and PK-12 Principal and Evaluator License from Viterbo University, and her Superintendent License from Iowa State University.

Joseph Libby, Ed.D., is the new Teaching and Learning Services Executive Director.
JoeLibby
Libby formerly served as the Assistant Director of Inclusive Education for the Kent School District in Kent, Washington. He began his career in education as a sixth-grade science teacher at Ruby Reed Intermediate School in Houston, Texas. He later served as the Assistant Principal/Athletic Director for the Albert Lea High School in Albert Lea, Minnesota and Assistant Principal/Athletic Director for the Thornton High School in Thornton, Colorado. He then served as a principal in the Brighton 27J School District in Brighton, Colorado; the 5-6 and 7-8 Schools Principal in Fort Dodge, Iowa; and the 6-8 Principal in the Moffat County School District in Craig, Colorado. Libby earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Coaching from Iowa State University, his master’s degree in Education Administration and Leadership from St. Cloud University in Minnesota, and his doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota.

Josie Lewis, J.D., is the new Human Resources Director.
JosieLewisLewis served as the Policy and Legal Services Director and Human Resource Services Director with the Iowa Association of School Boards from 2014-17. She collaborated to provide a high-quality program for school district leaders with updated information and tools to address legal responsibilities. She has consulted with state agencies, school superintendents, and school board members regarding personnel, student and policy issues. Lewis began her professional career as an elementary teacher in the Ankeny Community School District from 2005-11 before earning her law degree. During and immediately after law school, Lewis worked for both Pearson Education and a local civil rights law firm. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2003 with a bachelor of arts degree and attained her master’s degree from Drake University in 2005. Lewis graduated from the Drake University Law School with a juris doctorate in 2013.

Laine Mendenhall-Buck is the new School/Community Relations Director.
LaineMendenhallBuckMendenhall-Buck previously served as the Director of Alumni Relations at Grand View University in Des Moines, beginning in 2015. Prior to Grand View, she worked as a Senior Project Manager at Visionary Services, Inc. for more than seven years, and as a Division Manager at e-Dentity for five years. She currently serves as a member of the Children and Family Urban Movement Executive Committee, and has previously served on both of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and the Des Moines East and South Chamber of Commerce boards. In addition, she completed the Community Leadership Program and Community Connect Mentor Program through the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. Mendenhall-Buck earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Grand View University. She is completing her master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Grand View University.

Kandi Hensel is the new Special Education/504 Plans Director.
KandiHenselKandi has served as the Coordinator of Special Programs for the Ankeny Community School District since 2013. She has been responsible for overseeing 504 plans, allocated district resources for special education services, directed homebound instruction, ELL programming, at-risk programs and was the Neveln Alternative High School program administrator. Prior to her work in Ankeny, Hensel served from 2011-2013 as the Hampton-Dumont Middle School Principal. She also served as the Computer Applications teacher in Waukee Schools from 2006-11. Hensel began her teaching career as a special educator in Waukee Schools from 2003-2006. She graduated from Simpson College in 2003 with a bachelor of arts degree in Elementary and Liberal Arts and Special Education. She attained her master’s degree from Iowa State University in 2009 in Educational Leadership, with administrative licensure for PK-12 Principalship and Special Education Supervision.

Beth Brewer is the new Elementary Curriculum Director.
Administrator head shot photo of Beth Brewer.
Brewer previously served as an Instructional Coach for the Waukee Community School District and an Adjunct Professor at Drake University. She began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher at Kreft Primary in Council Bluffs. She then served as a kindergarten teacher in the Ankeny Community School District. She taught first, third, and sixth grade in the Waukee Community School District before becoming an instructional coach at the elementary and middle school level in the Waukee district. Brewer earned her bachelor’s degree in Early/Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa and her master’s degree in Elementary Education and PK-12 Principal and Evaluator License from Viterbo University.

Mike Sherman is the new Data Management Director.
Administrator head shot photo of Mike Sherman.
Sherman formerly served as an Instructional Technology Coordinator for Des Moines Public Schools. He began his career as a Behavior Disorder teacher in the Focus Program at Cowles School in Des Moines. He later taught Digital Communication and served as an Instructional Coach at Brody Middle School in Des Moines. He has also served Des Moines Public as a Special Education Support Teacher and Assessment Coordinator. Sherman earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Simpson College, his Special Education Certificate from Grand View University, Master’s degree in Education from Graceland and an CAS in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Iowa.

District Veterans in New Roles
Two familiar faces will return to the district in new roles for the 2017-18 year. Former Curriculum Director Shane Scott, Ed.S., is the Secondary Curriculum Director, and former English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Professional Development/Curriculum Facilitator Natalie French is the ESOL Director, starting July 1, 2017.

Administrator head shot photo of Shane Scott.Shane Scott is the new Secondary Curriculum Director.
Scott was previously a West Des Moines Community Schools curriculum director, overseeing curriculum and instruction in the areas of K-12 math, science, career and technical education, and more. He has held this position since 2011. He started his career in education as a science teacher in the Freeport School District in Freeport, Illinois. He came to the West Des Moines Community Schools in 1998 as a science teacher at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School. He later became an Associate Principal/Team Leader at the district’s ninth-grade school. Shane earned his bachelor’s degree in Earth Science Education from the University of Northern Iowa and his master’s degree and his educational specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Drake University.

Administrator head shot photo of Natalie French.Natalie French is the new English for Speakers of Other Languages Director.
French was previously as the West Des Moines Community Schools’ K-12 ESOL Professional Development/Curriculum Facilitator, creating and facilitating district and building professional development and guiding ESOL professional learning communities at the district and building levels. She began her career in education as a Spanish teacher at Indian Hills Junior High. She became an ESOL teacher at the school in 2013 before becoming the ESOL Professional Development/Curriculum Facilitator. Natalie earned her bachelor’s degree in Education and her master’s degree in Education Leadership from Drake University.

Please join us as we welcome these administrators to their new positions.

WDMCS Earns Seven National Communication Awards

news-NSPRA-logoThe West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) earned seven national communication awards in the 2017 National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) National School Communication Awards Contest. The district earned four Golden Achievement Awards and three Publications and Electronic Media Awards for its branding and marketing materials. WDMCS was one of just two Iowa educational organizations to earn Golden Achievement Awards this year.

The four Golden Achievement Awards were earned for the the district’s new branding and imaging package, its brand development work and materials for kindergarten enrollment and the 2016 Career and Apprenticeship Showcase. Golden Achievement Awards are earned for exemplary public relations activities, programs, and projects.

The district’s brand development work and kindergarten marketing publications also earned Publications and Electronic Media Awards, along with the district video. Publications and Electronic Media Awards recognize outstanding education publications, marketing materials, videos, social media, and more.

Recognized as a leader in school communication, NSPRA has honored the best work in school communication for more than 50 years. Districts across the United States submit their work to the NSPRA National School Communication Awards Contest each year, with more than 980 entries submitted to this year’s contest. Each award is judged again a set of criteria depending on the type or category of the award.

A full list of this year’s winners can be found on the NSPRA website at www.nspra.org/nspra-recognizes-2017-national-school-communication-award-winners.