Ann Mack points out Iowa on a map while Terri Richie and Jo Ebrey point out Wales in a Valley Southwoods' classroom.

UK Partners Visit WDMCS for Olympic Dreams Live Program

The international Olympic Dreams Live partnership that began in the United Kingdom last January brought new friends together once again as four representatives, three teachers and one student, from the United Kingdom visited the West Des Moines Community Schools Oct. 20-27.

After getting the opportunity to visit their partner schools in the UK last year, the WDMCS ambassadors had the opportunity to show off their own schools. Valley High School Teacher Becky Krieg, Valley Southwoods Teacher Ann Mack, then VSW freshman (now VHS sophomore) Megan Cox and Westridge teacher Rob Chapman traveled to the UK for the January kickoff of Olympic Dreams Live, a school partnership program related to the 2012 Olympics in London.  Plans for their UK visitors included:

  • Spending time at school with teachers and students
  • Visits to historic Valley Junction and Living History Farms
  • A trip to the Iowa vs. Indiana football game in Iowa City
  • A visit to Chow’s Gymnastics’ training center

Jan Cunningham, a teacher at Herbert Thompson Primary School in Cardiff, UK, spent time with Chapman at Westridge Elementary. She was presented with a donation for her school’s technology department. Last year, fourth graders at Westridge produced goodie bags and sold them to their classmates as part of an economics unit. The students were able to raise more than $1,400 for the donation. Watch the video below of Westridge sixth graders performing the Interlude Dance during the assembly


Terri Richie and Jo Ebrey, a student and teacher from Valley Southwoods’ partner school Ysgol Bryn Alyn in Wrexham, UK, spent the day in Ann Mack’s social studies classes at VSW sharing about life and learning in Wales. Richie talked about famous Welsh people, some of her favorite music groups and described her school schedule. Students asked many questions ranging from cell phones and fast food to the weather.


Students in Brian Rhoades’ PE class at Valley High School learned to play netball, a game similar to basketball but with no dribbling, from Jo Ebrey and Michelle Harris. The letters on the students’ jerseys identify which position they are playing.

PE students at Valley learned to play a new game from Ebrey and Michelle Harris, who is a teacher at Valley’s partner school, Chase Town Sports College in Burntwood, West Midlands, UK. They taught the students the game of netball, a sport similar to basketball played between teams of seven players. Students first did some passing drills before learning the rules of the game, which does not allow dribbling. Students will be playing the sport in their PE classes for the next two weeks. Watch videos of the students doing drills and playing netball on our YouTube channel at

This visit is part of the partnering project that has continued since January and will continue throughout this school year, with teachers serving as program education n leaders for their buildings. Students also serve as a representative for the project to the student body, encouraging peers to participate in the project and interacting virtually with students from the partner school.

The British Council and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) selected 45 schools from around the world where athletes participating in the 2012 Olympics have attended and paired them with schools in the UK. Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson is a former student of each of the selected Iowa schools.

The British Council is the UK’s international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations. They work in over 100 countries worldwide to build opportunity and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people. The BBC is a public service broadcaster, established by a Royal Charter and funded by the license fee that is paid by UK households.