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What I Learned Working With WDMCS School/Community Relations (05/19/21)

May 19, 2021 | This past semester I’ve had the pleasure to work with Laine Mendenhall-Buck, Alexandra Wade, and Aaron Young as a part of my senior field experience at Valley High School. They work at the Learning Resource Center and make up the School/Community Relations Department for the West Des Moines Community Schools. They have been the best mentors and have provided me with amazing experiences. 

I started working with Laine at the end of my junior year doing various projects and then again at the start of my senior year. I helped build the beginning stages of the new WDMCS website during the fall and winter. Not only was this process super interesting, but I also learned a new skill set that will help me in college at the University of Iowa as well as my future career aspirations in business and communications. I initially did this work for Silver Cord hours, but at the end of first semester, we started to discuss an internship opportunity for the rest of the 2020-21 school year. 

aaron young, leah jones, and laine mendenhall-buckI have always been interested in the business field. I like technology along with videography, journalism, and communication. My interest in all of these fields created a perfect fit for the senior field experience I did with WDMCS School/Community Relations. They gave me freedom to define what I wanted to do and see. We met weekly to discuss their jobs and duties, and we planned what work I could contribute to and learn about as part of my experience. 

There have been some key moments in working with WDMCS School/Community Relations that stand out to me, which excites me about my possible future in a similar field. One of these moments was writing my own article. This was by far the most interesting and exciting project I did. I was given the lead to interview Valley junior Nathan Steimel for an article about restoring our high school’s greenhouse that would be published online. Throughout that experience, Alexandra and Aaron were such a huge help with answering any questions I had. They edited my work and taught me about what all goes into publishing a story. The entire process of interviewing, writing, editing, and publishing to the district website and posting to social media was eye-opening because I have never seen the background work and how much actually goes into everything this team does. All these experiences and time spent with each Laine, Aaron, and Alexandra has led me to see how much time and effort is put into each project they do. 

A second project I contributed to was the grand opening of a local store, Burlington, that donated $5,000 to Crestview School of Inquiry. WDMCS School/Community Relations was asked to distribute a press release to celebrate the donation. Aaron led this task. I joined him at the store for its opening ceremony, captured photos, and then went to Crestview when the check was presented to teachers at the school. Afterwards, I watched Aaron work on the actual press release back at the LRC, edited photos from the event, and sent the information to district and school leadership and local media, and posted to the district website and social media.

Honestly, I loved soaking up everything Alexandra, Aaron, and Laine shared with me. Every aspect of their jobs from day to day intrigued me. They let me sit and just watch them work, and I asked them questions when I was curious about something. They took time out of their day to sit in a conference room with me once a week and discuss random topics that I wanted to know more about. They are all truly amazing people and fantastic at what they do.

If you have the opportunity to do a senior field experience in something you are interested in, I highly recommend it. Contact your counselor. There is so much knowledge gained from this experience that I get to carry with me throughout the rest of my life. I also feel a step closer to figuring out what I want to do with my career, thanks in large part to WDMCS School/Community Relations.

leah jones senior picture

Valley High School senior Leah Jones.