Front of ParentQuest postcard.

WDMCS Community Education Launches New ParentQuest Program

West Des Moines Community Schools Community Education is launching a new learning opportunity for district parents: ParentQuest. Designed specifically for parents and other caring adults, ParentQuest aims to answer questions about raising children and connect people to helpful resources.

“Parenting is challenging,” Community Education Director Shahna Janssen said. “There are so many things to know and figure out. Each age and stage brings something different. I think there’s a lot of value in supporting each other as much as we can.”

ParentQuest was developed in response to the 2015 Community Needs Assessment, a comprehensive assessment conducted by the Community Education Advisory Council (CEAC) every five years.

“One of the themes that came out of the needs assessment was, ‘How can we support and engage parents?’” Janssen said. “That led to a lot of brainstorming.”

To find out what parents wanted to know, Community Education and the CEAC offered an online survey and talked with parent and community groups about what they wanted to learn. Using the feedback, Community Education decided on five different class areas:

  • Academics
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Health and Well-being
  • Parenting
  • WDMCS 101

“We can be more responsive to parent needs with an ongoing program that lets parents pick and choose what is relevant to them,” Janssen said. “We want to customize ParentQuest on an ongoing basis to meet the needs of parents in our district. We want to have a wide array of offerings so, no matter who you’re parenting, there’s something for you.”

It was also important to Community Education and the CEAC that the classes were completely free to attendees. The classes will be taught by community organization professionals, teachers, and district staff. Each one will be funded completely by Community Education.

“(The classes) are designed to help parents who are supporting our students’ success,” Janssen said. “We wanted them to be accessible to all parents and other caring adults in their lives.”

While parents share many common experiences, Community Education recognized that the path to success looked different for every child and therefore for every parent. The goal of ParentQuest is to support students by supporting their parents and other caring adults in their lives.

“As parents, we’re all on a journey to help our children succeed,” Janssen said. “Each child’s pathway looks so different, and we wanted to help parents navigate that.”

You can help develop ParentQuest! Have a topic you want to learn more about or an idea for a class? Contact Community Education at or 515-633-5001. Watch for upcoming ParentQuest opportunities on the Community Education website and social media.