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Third Graders ‘Own’ the Classroom

new_wh_beranek_constructionOn the first day of school at Western Hills Elementary, an orange construction sign stood outside Mike Beranek’s third grade classroom.

The sign was a hint to the activity inside.

Students sat on the carpet in the room with clipboards, floor plans and pencils in hand. Desks and chairs were stacked neatly nearby.

The students were working on their first assignment of the year – to design their room. Each student marked where he or she wanted the desks, a whiteboard, a rocking chair and other items placed. Next, students reported their design idea to the group. Beranek took notes and tallied each student’s suggested design to gather consensus for the room’s setup.

“Though this activity, students take ownership of their classroom,” Beranek explained.

He projected the results on a screen in the front of the room. The 2014-15 class chose to arrange its desks in groups, with the rocking chair at the front of the class and the whiteboard close by.

Then, the hard work began. Students were divided into four groups to make the afternoon snack, get books from the library and design the bulletin boards around the room. One group unstacked chairs and desks and placed them in the agreed upon layout.

When they were finished, third-grader Mitchell surveyed the room and said the layout looked pretty good.

The classroom set-up was all done, but the work to learn and impact their world is just beginning for these third graders.





Diebel Appointed Temporary Principal

boydaClive Elementary is happy to share with you that new Clive Elementary Principal Drèa Bocook recently welcomed a new baby girl. Please join us in congratulating Mrs. Bocook on her family’s new addition.


We are also pleased to let you know that Dr. Lori Diebel will serve as temporary principal of Clive Elementary for approximately 12 weeks starting August 1st while Mrs. Bocook is on maternity leave.


diebellDr. Diebel earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a doctorate from Iowa State University in educational leadership. Dr. Diebel began her career in education as a fifth grade teacher in the Nora Springs-Rock Falls school district and later taught in Waverly-Shellrock. She came to the West Des Moines Community Schools in 1987 to teach third grade at Western Hills Elementary. She later served one year as assistant principal for both Western Hills and Westridge and then served three years as principal of Rex Mathes. She was hired in 1996 to open Valley Southwoods a year later and served as the school’s principal until 2007, when she became the director of human resources for the West Des Moines Community Schools. Dr. Diebel retired this past spring, but is looking forward to returning to the district for this temporary assignment.


Dr. Diebel and Mrs. Bocook have been colleagues for several years and will keep in close contact during the first few months of school to provide a smooth transition.