District News

Staff Test Call: Get Notifications, Update Your Information

To help our employees, the district provides notifications of inclement weather or emergency situation school closings to staff members. To prepare for the upcoming winter season, we will be conducting a test of this weather notification system for district staff at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The call will come from 515-633-5599. This is ONLY A TEST.

 

To make sure you receive the call:

  1. Have an Infinite Campus account. If you have a district email account, then you have an Infinite Campus account.
  2. Enter your preferred number into Infinite Campus.


If you are unsure about either of the above steps, follow these instructions:

To Access Your Infinite Campus Account:

  1. Log in to Infinite Campus (https://campus.wdmcs.org/campus/westdesmoines.jsp)
  2. Your user name is the first part of your email address (before the @). Nutrition, Operations, Kids West: Your password is happy1234. Please change your password once you log in. Teachers and building support staff: Please use your district network (email) password.
  3. Follow the directions below to edit your phone information.


To Update Your Preferred Number in Infinite Campus:

  1. Log onto Infinite Campus (https://campus.wdmcs.org/campus/westdesmoines.jsp).
  2. Once in Infinite Campus, click on ‘Census’ and then ‘My Data’ on the left. Your information will come up on the right.
  3. Click ‘Request Demographic Update’ at the top of your information.
  4. Make your appropriate changes. At the bottom is a table of checkboxes. Any numbers you check as High Priority will be the numbers that receive the notification calls.
  5. Click on ‘Save Request’ at the top.
    REMINDER: your changes are not automatic. This is simply a request to change your information, and it will need to be approved by the district before it will be active. Depending on the number of requests for changes, the approval can take up to 12 hours, so please submit your changes prior to 4 p.m. on Oct. 16.
  6. More detailed instructions can be found here: https://wdmtech.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/staff-contact/

 

If you can’t log in to Infinite Campus or change your information, contact your school’s office or Susan Tiemens for assistance.

There are many employees who do not regularly access their Infinite Campus accounts. If you do not have or use your Infinite Campus account, please contact your supervisor to ask about weather notification procedures. Also, please remember that anyone can call 515-633-5555 at any time to check for weather announcements.

 

Community Education’s 2014-15 Annual Update

Community Education provides program and service highlights from 2014-15.

Life in the WDMCS 10/12/2015

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Clive Learning Academy

Clive Learning Academy fifth-grade learners got to eat lunch with and interview veterans during a luncheon panel in their learning space on Oct. 6. The fifth-graders ate in small groups with the veterans and asked questions about their experiences and what freedom meant to them as a veteran. The luncheon was part of a larger unit on freedom that will culminate with a Veteran’s Day assembly.

Clive Learning Academy artists have been hard at work creating artwork for the Art to Remember fundraiser this year. Each learner creates an individual piece of artwork. Through Art to Remember, they then have the opportunity to order various gifts and items adorned with their incredible work. With visions of their own art on cool items, the learners are excited to see this fundraiser get started.

Crestview School of Inquiry

First-grade makers at Crestview School of Inquiry are exploring their new MakerSpace. Karen France’s first-grade class spends time there each week. They work on collaboration and creativity exercises, including designing and creating courses for a Sphero robot. Learners take turns using an iPad to control the Sphero and steer it through the courses.

The MakerSpace movement encourages students to think, explore and make. Crestview started their MakerSpace this year, and it includes recyclable materials, building materials, electronics and used electronics equipment. These items give learners opportunities to be inspired and make whatever they can dream up.

Crestview first-graders also embarked on an investigation into health and wellness. They want to communicate great ways to stay healthy to their community. They are studying healthy eating, keeping their bodies and teeth strong, and ways to fight germs for their first project-based learning unit. They are also interviewing experts in their fields to gather information for their projects. Learners will present and display their projects, including videos, songs and reader’s theater performances, at the end of the unit.

Eat, Compete, and Have Fun!

Elementary Pupils Collecting Healthy Lunch In CafeteriaFrom Oct. 12-19, the WDMCS district will be celebrating the school lunch program with National School Lunch Week.

The week will emphasize the healthy foods that are offered daily at our schools and include fun lunchtime activities for students and their families.

Here’s how we are celebrating:

Have Lunch With Your Child! at elementary schools all week

  • Parents are encouraged to visit school and eat lunch with their elementary-aged children. Each school will also host a police officer and Valley student-athletes in their uniforms who will eat with students.

Fun Games with Food Prizes! at Indian Hills Oct. 13, Stilwell Oct. 12, and Southwoods Oct. 15

  • Nutrition employees will visit these schools with nutrition trivia and estimation games. Winner of the “How Many in the Jar?” contest will receive a la carte credit, and students who participate in trivia will get a free sample of a smoothie or mini-bagel pizza bite.Stickers will also be placed on random trays. Students with the stickered trays can collect a free a la carte item.

Special Pizza Delivery! at Valley Oct. 14 and Walnut Creek Oct. 16

  • Nutrition employees will visit Valley High School and Walnut Creek Campus with activities, and students will also get a special meal. Domino’s Pizza will deliver special Domino’s pizzas that meet school lunch guidelines! It will be served as part of a reimbursable lunch or an a la carte item.

Please join us in celebrating National School Lunch Week, Oct. 12-19!

Meet Our Instructional Coaches

Jones meeting with second-grade teacher Amy Drake for a coaching session.

Crossroads coach Jenni Jones meets with a teacher.

The West Des Moines Community School District was one of 39 districts in the state selected in spring 2014 to implement a new leadership system during the 2014-15 school year. The Teacher Leadership and Compensation Grant system, was designed to improve student growth, provide more career opportunities for teachers, support teachers, and strengthen instruction in schools. Prior to receiving the Teacher Compensation grant, the district implemented a pilot instructional coach program at the elementary level. During the pilot, the district had three elementary instructional coaches working with individual schools in the district. As a result of receiving the teacher leadership compensation funds, there are now instructional coaches in every West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) building.

The elementary instructional coaches are: The secondary instructional coaches are
  • Sheila Hudson, Clive
  • Sara Costello, Crestview
  • Jenni Jones, Crossroads Park
  • Maria Anderson, Fairmeadows
  • Shana Olson, Hillside
  • Mackenzie Nichols, Jordan Creek
  • Stephanie McNamara, Western Hills
  • Breck Menz, Westridge

 

 

  • Sarah Gould, Indian Hills
  • Melissa Gress, Indian Hills
  • Katie Seiberling, Stilwell
  • Megan Thomsen, Stilwell
  • Rob Wedebrand, Valley Southwoods
  • Carrie Jacobs, Valley Southwoods and Valley
  • Natasha Davis, Valley
  • Jamie Ehlert, Valley
  • Shannon Johnson, Valley
  • Jim Martin, Valley
  • Tammy Zenti, Walnut Creek
Valley and Valley Southwoods coaches Tess Davis, Carrie, and Shannon Johnson.

Valley and Valley Southwoods coaches Tess Davis, Carrie Jacobs, and Shannon Johnson.

The various ways coaches can be involved in the classroom and the term “instructional coach” have potential to confuse students, but the coaches are able to explain it in very simple terms. They tell students they are there to partner with and help teachers, the way an athletic or vocal coach would. They compare instructional coaching to a group project, where the teacher and the coach are working together on the students’ learning. The most common description of the relationship between coaches and teachers is “partnership.”

“The instructional coach can be someone to talk through ideas, collaborate with, and co-teach with in any subject area,” Jones (Crossroads) said.

Stilwell coaches meet with social studies teacher Leslie Nedved.

Stilwell coaches plan with a teacher.

All the coaches share a main goal: raising student achievement. The coaches work with teachers to respond to requests to meet with teachers, support teachers in analyzing information, and model core-area instruction. They are also involved with professional development in their building and at the district level. One thing they try to do is bridge the gap between large-group professional development and classroom implementation.

“Instructional coaching really is all about the students,” Gress (Indian Hills) said. “Instructional coaches get the privilege to partner with other teachers to maximize desired student outcomes in the classroom.“

Hillside coach Shana Olson and second-grade teacher Kayla Woodke discuss lesson plans.

Hillside coach Shana Olson discusses lesson plans with a teacher.

A coach’s daily duties may include modeling instructional practices, planning curriculums and lessons with teachers, and assisting teachers with working on community building and classroom management. Coaching is invitation-only, so coaches only come into classrooms when asked. Instructional coaches also work in partnership with building principals and leadership in identifying and meeting professional development needs. As a result of these collaborations, instruction changes to meet the specific needs of students, and ultimately, student achievement is positively impacted.

VHSTL-present-1-edited

Valley coaches Jim Martin and Jamie Ehlert.

A large part of coaching is finding out which teachers are interested in getting instructional coaching. Some teachers contact the coaches by email, but most of their invitations are through conversations. At the secondary level, the coach who is approached can either set something up themselves or refer another member of the team, if they have skills that would be a better fit. The coaches emphasize that it is about helping and supporting the teachers who come to them, not an evaluation system.

“We are not authorities,” Martin said. “We are colleagues, peers, and supports.”

It is only the second official year of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program, but the instructional coaches are continuing to learn and collaborate with teachers, students, and administration in the Teacher Leadership and Compensation system. While still learning about coaching themselves, the coaches are contributing to the long-term goal of increased student achievement by connecting with and supporting classroom teachers throughout the district.

Life in the WDMCS 10/05/2015

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

Clive Learning Academy

Kindergartners at Clive Learning Academy are learning about safety, respect, responsibility, and caring at school. They are also practicing their reading skills. They have talked about three ways to read a book, building reading stamina, and are practicing reading to self.

Hillside Elementary

The West Des Moines Fire Department visited kindergarten and first grades students at Hillside Elementary. They talked about fire safety, including the importance of smoke detectors and how to stop, drop, and roll. They learned how and when to dial 911 to report a fire, and practiced saying their full name, address, and phone number when talking to a dispatcher. Students were also able to see a fire truck and learn about firefighting equipment.

Jordan Creek Elementary

Fourth-grade students from Jordan Creek Elementary took a field trip to Red Feather Prairie. Naturalists from Polk County Conservation led the students through a variety of activities to teach them about prairie plants and animals and how Native Americans and early pioneers experienced life. They were able to see common prairie grasses, go on an insect hunt, and play the Thicket Game. They also learned about animals who live on the prairie now, and animals that used to live on the prairie, like the bison and wolf. The students’ favorite activity was working in small groups to build tipis, and then sitting inside an actual tipi.

It’s Fire Prevention Week!

It is Fire Prevention Week, from Oct. 4-10 this year. The theme this year is,“Hear the Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm.” According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half.

In case of a fire, children need to know they can trust firefighters. Some children may find firefighters and their equipment intimidating, so it is important to remind them that firefighters are community helpers. Young children may benefit from this NFPA lesson, and these videos featuring Sparky the Fire Dog.

beBetter Health Begins October 1, 2015

WDMCS is launching the 2015-16 Wellness Program tomorrow Oct. 1, 2015. This year will bring exciting new programs and challenges, and even more on-site wellness activities.

New for the 2015-16 WDMCS Wellness Program, employees who complete the requirements of the program will receive cash! Cash incentives will be issued and taxed in the June 6, 2016 paycheck. All employees on the WDMCS health plan are eligible to earn up to $275. The first challenge of the year will begin Oct. 19. Register for the No Gym, No Problem Challenge beginning Oct. 1. This challenge encourages you to spend four weeks jump-starting your muscle training by focusing on each of the important muscle groups using convenient, inexpensive exercises.

Everyone can benefit from these routines, whether you are a beginner or a workout regular. Complete the program requirements to earn 100 Wellness Points.

beBetter Health

Life in the WDMCS 09/28/2015

Life in the WDMCS is a weekly feature that highlights what is happening at each of our buildings. If a school is not listed, there was no submission from that building this week.

District

David J. Brown, Liz Cox, Melinda Dunnwald, and Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D., have officially been elected to the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education.

The Polk County Auditor’s Office conducted the official vote canvass on Friday, Sept. 11, and the elected Board members were sworn into office Monday, Sept. 21.

Crestview School of Inquiry

Crestview School of Inquiry preschool students have been studying trees this year. As part of the unit, students have been discovering different parts of the trees and outside and studying them.

Valley High School

Journalists from 20 countries visited a Valley High School Advanced Placement (AP) World History class on Friday, Sept. 25. They visited Iowa as part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, which brings professionals who have been identified as having contributed to the progress of their field to the U.S. Each reporter met with students in two AP World History classes taught by Kelsey Hudson and two American Heritage classes taught by Greg Hudson and Cameron Gale.  The reporters were from Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, China, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Italy, Nigeria, Paraguay, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Tunisia, and Turkey.

Valley Hosts International Journalists

news_VHS_InternationalJournalists3Valley High School sophomore Jade Miller has yet to travel the world, but she and other social studies students recently experienced international relations when journalists from 20 countries visited her Advanced Placement (AP) World History class.

“It was cool to learn about where they come from and the politics of their country,” Miller said.

The journalists visited Iowa as part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, which brings professionals who have been identified as having contributed to the progress of their field to the U.S.

news_VHS_InternationalJournalists5The reporters were from Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, China, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Italy, Nigeria, Paraguay, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Tunisia, and Turkey.

The goal of the visit was to learn more about the
U.S. political system and highlight the significance of a free and independent press to the democratic process. During their three-week visit, the journalists visited several states and the District of Columbia.

They also wanted to visit with students here in Iowa to get their perspective of life in America and its political system.

news_VHS_InternationalJournalists4After arriving at Valley, each reporter met with two to three students in two AP World History classes taught by Kelsey Hudson and two American Heritage classes taught by Greg Hudson and Cameron Gale.

The conversations between the teenagers and veteran reporters covered topics ranging from the prevalence of Starbucks and McDonalds in America to international politics and the current U.S. presidential candidate campaigns.

news_VHS_InternationalJournalists6“It was good to hear that high school sophomores can be interested in global issues,” said Serkan Demirtas, Ankara Bureau Chief of the Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.

Kelsey Hudson isn’t surprised by her students’ interest. “Global
understanding is the goal of the course, which is an elective,” she said. “But to have a global influence like these conversations is amazing.”