As I reflect on the 18-19 school year and begin to look forward to the 19-20 school year, I continue to be impressed by the new and engaging opportunities we are offering our students. Our students continue to be involved in project-based learning and authentic projects within our school and community.
During the 18-19 school year, our students have:
• Organized a Stem Fair
• Created a conference through the Area Education Agency (AEA) that will be held on July 5 to engage school and business leaders in a discussion around reimaging school
• Interviewed and created podcasts of our local veterans as part of a project-based learning project leading to a community showcase of our veterans.
• Designed, produced and sold benches made out of metal, which are now sitting in front of a business in eastern Iowa
• Presented at Gov. Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa Summit
• Presented for the third straight year at a Capturing Kids’ Hearts flagship training.
In addition, we will be hosting the first ever Camp Invention in Nevada on June 24-28. All of these opportunities are the direct result of our staff working to provide opportunities for our students to engage in authentic learning experiences. These experiences are helping students develop the community-developed learner outcomes we want them to demonstrate before they graduate.
The goal of providing multiple pathways for our students to find an area of interest and complete their graduation requirements continues to drive our work as a district. Currently, we are in the process of creating a Registered Apprenticeship Program in Nevada. In this program, our juniors and seniors will be able to work in a paid apprenticeship program and earn credit towards graduation, as well as an Associate’s of General Studies at DMACC during their junior and senior year. The Registered Apprenticeship Program is part of Gov. Reynolds’ Future Ready Iowa Initiative. Working with the Department of Labor, DMACC and local business partners, we will be able to create opportunities for our students to earn while they learn and develop the “soft skills” that will better prepare them for college and careers once they graduate. We are excited about the opportunity this will provide for some of our students and the willingness of our local business partners to engage with us in this work.
Lastly, I would like to highlight our efforts to address the growing need for mental health, behavioral support and development for our students. I am sure most of you have heard about the challenging behaviors that teachers in Iowa and across the nation are dealing with due to the local media coverage surrounding this topic. We are not immune to these challenges in our district; however, we have taken a proactive approach in helping our teachers and students deal with these issues. Our districtwide investment in Capturing Kids’ Hearts has created a common language and set of tools our teachers implement each and every day to form relationships with our students and help our classrooms become self-managing groups based on mutual respect. We have trained and implemented yoga in the classroom at our younger elementary to help students develop self-regulation. We currently have several classrooms and teachers who have undergone mindfulness training to provide our teachers and students with tools to self-regulate, better control their emotions and manage stress. The high school has engaged in a buildingwide focus on helping our students develop executive function skills that help them manage their time, learn to organize themselves and increase productivity as students. All of these efforts have been led by our teachers who, based on the needs of their students, have researched and used their Individual Career Development time to learn about and implement these strategies. Our efforts to address the social-emotional needs of our students is going to continue this summer, as we are sending a team of teachers to a national conference on schoolwide social-emotional learning in Chicago, with the hope that they will gain useful knowledge and tools to help us implement social emotional learning across our district. Our staff truly cares about each and every one of our students and will continue to work to address the needs of the whole child. As always, if you would like to learn more about any of the items outlined here, please don’t hesitate to let me know.