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Articles from April 2017

Opportunity to give feedback on Iowa’s Fine Arts Standards

Artwork by Josh McCunn

Iowa’s Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team, convened by the Iowa Department of Education earlier this year, has requested broad public feedback on the National Core Arts Standards, which were developed by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. 

Feedback gathered through spring public forums and an online survey will be used to provide guidance to the Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team, whose charge is to recommend fine arts standards to the State Board of Education.

Public forums have been scheduled statewide on April 25 and April 27, and an online feedback survey is open through May 12 .

If adopted, fine arts standards would be recommended, but not required for Iowa school districts.

The public forum for our area will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 25, at  Heartland Area Education Agency, 6500 Corporate Drive, Johnston.

Click to open a PDF with full details of public forum dates, times and locations.

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Brandon Schrauth announced as next Fellows principal

Pending Board approval, Schrauth will assume leadership July 1.

Superintendent Tim Taylor announced April 19 that he will be recommending to the Board of Education the appointment of Mr. Brandon Schrauth as the next principal of Fellows Elementary School.  

Brandon.Schrauth16 17“After a great deal of reflection and discussion with Mr. Schrauth, it was clear that he has the experience and skills to assume leadership at Fellows,” Taylor said.

Schrauth is currently serving as principal at Northwood Preschool Center, where he has collaborated with his staff to create a caring community that understands and embodies the attributes, behaviors, and supports necessary for all students to learn.

Alicia Ortner, Northwood’s Direct Instruction/Inclusion Teacher, said Schrauth’s leadership helped staff work together to “create a framework that is simple, clear and memorable.”  

Schrauth said he believes believes his experiences and skills can contribute to the elementary level as well as to the systemic goals for every stage of learning in the district.

“It’s my goal to build on the strengths of the Fellows staff and community to continue to prepare students for the lifetime of learning offered by the experience of Ames Schools,” he said.

Prior to coming to Northwood, Schrauth was an Instructional Coach at Horizon Elementary School in Johnston, Iowa. Before becoming an Instructional Coach he was an early childhood teacher (K-2) for 11 years.  After earning recognition as a National Board Certified Teacher , he obtained a M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction in 2009 and a M.S. in Educational Leadership in 2015, both from Iowa State University.  

Schrauth has been honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the Channel 13 “Golden Apple Award”, and the Channel 5 “My Favorite Teacher”.  In 2016, he received the Dan Woodin Excellence in Education Award, given to Ames district educators based on input from their colleagues.

 

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Ames High School graduation rates trending upward

State data on four-year graduation rates released by the Iowa Department of Education last week show continued improvement of graduation rates for the Ames Community School District. For the past four years, Ames High School graduation rates, especially rates for most student subgroups, have been trending upward and exceeding state graduation rates.

Overall, 93.2 percent of Ames High School seniors graduated in 2016—an all-time high in the past five years.

Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross said the steadily improving graduation rates in Ames are the result of systemic work to ensure that students meet milestones that are predictors of graduation, such as reading at grade level by third grade and attending school regularly beginning in preschool.

“Doing the work to ensure students graduate begins long before high school,” Ross said.

Besides supporting academic achievement, the District takes proactive measures using an Early Indicator System (EIS) to identify students in middle school and high school who are at risk for failing or dropping out based on attendance, academic performance, or office referrals. Implemented in 2013, the EIS is now used District-wide.

At the high school level, the EIS helps staff identify students who need support to meet graduation requirements. These students receive coordinated interventions that may include Additional Instruction, Alternative Learning Programs and Credit Recovery plans. Since the EIS was implemented, Ames High School graduation rates have improved and exceeded state graduation rates for all student subgroups except Asian students.

Highlights of the report:

  • The graduation rate for black students in Ames High School has improved from 53 percent in 2013, to 70 percent in 2015 and to 95.2 percent in 2016. The state’s 2016 graduation rate for black students is 79.7.
  • The graduation rate for students with individualized education plans (IEPs) has improved from 63.3 percent in 2013, to 75 percent in 2015 and 77.78 percent in 2016.
  • The graduation rate for students with low income backgrounds has been rising since 2012 when 73.6 percent of students graduated, to 85.4 percent graduating in 2016.
  • Hispanic students at Ames High School graduated at a rate of 95 percent in 2016, a rate higher than their white peers but down from 100 percent from 2015.
  • For the first time in five years, graduation rates for Asian students in 2016 dropped below state averages, to 87.5 percent.
  • While still above the state average of 92.93 percent, graduation rates for white students dipped slightly from 94.3 percent in 2015 to 93.15 percent in 2016, maintaining a narrow range between 92.98 and 94.3 percent for the past five years.

Fluctuations in the subgroup percentages often indicate a change in the number of students in the group in addition to overall performance.

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Ames High School Spring Play explores the complexities of love

The Theatre Department presents “Love/Sick, 7 p.m., April 28 and 29.

Sometimes we find who we are in a relationship; sometimes we lose who we are in a relationship. Sometimes we get what we want in a relationship, and sometimes the relationship is not our destiny. These are the themes the Ames High School Theatre Department will explore when it presents John Cariani’s “Love/Sick.” Following the popularity of “Almost Maine”, “Love/Sick” is nine vignettes that examine the lifecycle of love in various relationships. Beginning the evening is a one-act pre-show, “The Fifteen Minute Hamlet,” by Tom Stoppard.  Nine actors will recreate Shakespeare’s most infamous play in fifteen minutes.

Shows start at 7 p.m., April 28 and 29, in the Ames High School Auditorium.  Tickets are $4 for middle school aged children and younger and $5 for high school aged students and adults.

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District halts email phishing attempt

Recently an Ames Community School District email account was compromised and used to send out thousands of phishing-type emails that contained attachments that do not align with the District’s policies, vision and mission. District leaders are sincerely sorry that the message reached our staff and community members. The district took immediate action to stop the emails and secure the rogue account.

Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details, and social security numbers, often for malicious reasons, by posing as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. (This Wikipedia article explains more about phishing.)

District Technology Director Karl Hehr said phishing attempts use tactics that are becoming more and more realistic.

“It’s important to stay vigilant when reading and responding to emails, and to know how to spot a phishing attempt.” Hehr said.  

Signs of phishing:

  • Odd or incorrect “from” accounts. For example, the email may say it’s from John Smith, a known colleague at Ames Community School District, but clicking on the email address to expand it reveals it is not based on John’s District domain address.
  • Misleading or abnormal subject lines designed to get you to respond to the email. If the email concerns a subject and uses vocabulary and tone you wouldn’t expect from that sender, be wary of it.
  • Requests for usernames and passwords. No reputable company, the District included, would ask for login credentials via email or even provide a link to a site to enter them. NEVER provide user names, passwords or other sensitive information by email.
  • Misleading links embedded in the emails. 

What to do:

  • If the email looks suspicious, delete it. Don’t click on embedded images or links.
  • Contact the sender by PHONE, do NOT respond to the email. There are a number of times where the compromised account will be used to try and convince you that it is indeed real.
  • Enable 2-Factor Authentication on your chosen email platform
  • If the email looks suspicious, delete it. (This is worth saying twice.)
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Program representatives will give live video presentations of Literacy Pilot materials

Watch live video presentations 5:15 – 6:15 p.m, Monday, May 8

Representatives from Fountas & Pinnell, Fundations, and Reach into Phonics will provide live video presentations of the Literacy Pilot materials from 5:15 – 6:15 p.m, Monday, May 8. They will give a brief overview of each program and address questions. 

Submit question in advance

To allow the representatives to tailor their presentations to our needs, all questions must be submitted in advance through this survey: bit.ly/ACSDPilot

Watch for the video link

We will provide the link to the live video presentation in advance. The video will be archived for future viewing.

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Public invited to review new science textbooks for Ames High School

The Ames Community School District invites the public to review new textbooks for Ames High School science courses. All of the textbooks available for review support the newly revised Ames High School Science curriculum and essential standards that align with the Iowa Science Standards.  

Textbooks available for review:

A Natural Approach to Chemistry–(2016, LAB-aids). This text will be used as a resource for the Science of Physical Systems, Foundations of Chemistry, and Advanced Chemistry courses.

Pearson Chemistry–(2017, Pearson). This text will be used as a resource for the Foundations of Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry courses.

Physics, by James S. Walker–(2014, Pearson). This text will be used as a resource for the Foundations of Physics course.

The Criteria for Reviewing Textbooks Form will be available along with the textbooks.

Times and locations for viewing textbooks:

  • 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, April 11-17, at Ames High School, 1921 Ames High Dr., in the Student Services Center,
  • 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, April 11-17, at the Ames Community Schools District Offices, 2005 24th Street.
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District employees honored for 25 years of service

2017 25 year awards

2017 25-year service honorees: L-R, Kim Burnett, Judge Johnston, Dan Wright, Gina Isenbrands, Mary Harrison, Jane Ripp (accepting on behalf of her daughter, Cami Helgeson), Susan Norris, Linda Nerdig, and Tim Taylor.

Employees who began their work for the Ames Community School District in 1992 were honored at a reception, Wednesday, April 5. Superintendent Tim Taylor, who is among that cohort, expressed his appreciation for their dedication and contributions. Each honoree’s principal or director presented a personal message of appreciation. The employees represent the areas of general education, special education, health education, art education, athletic administration, maintenance and central administration.

2017 25-year service awards:

  • Kim Burnett, Ames High School health teacher
  • Steve Hosch, Ames High School special education teacher
  • Mary Harrison, Beloit special education teacher
  • Gina Isenbrands, Fellows first grade teacher
  • Susan Norris, Meeker art teacher
  • Linda Nerdig, Mitchell special education teacher
  • Cami Helgeson, Meeker first grade teacher
  • Tim Taylor, District Office, Superintendent
  • Judge Johnston, Ames High School Athletic Director
  • Dan Wright, Maintenance, Maintenance Tech IV
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Pancake printer interfaces with food, technology and art

Student and pancake printer

Ames High School freshman Cole Malone points out features of a pancake design he programed for a 3-D printer.

Cole Malone has a passion for figuring out how things work. The Ames High School ninth grader typically applies his grit and creativity—and engineering and design skills—to science, math and art classes. In his spare time, he’s likely pondering animation design or gaming software. But when he had the opportunity to try out the Ames High School’s new  3-D pancake printer, Malone couldn’t resist the challenge.

Yes, there is such a thing as a 3-D pancake printer. Carol Van Waardhuizen, who teaches Family and Consumer Science classes at Ames High School, arranged to purchase the pancake ‘bot with a Perkins grant (provided under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006) as a way to introduce her students to technology in food preparation.

“I was researching food trends for 2017,” Van Waardhuizen said. “I learned that even Barilla has a 3-D printer to make pasta. I wanted my students to have a chance to learn how computers interface with food and design.”

Malone, who’s part of Van Waardhuizen’s Housing and Interior Design class, said accomplishing the learning goals between computer interface and food and design required solving problems in physics, thermodynamics, software programming and common logic.

To print his pancake designs, in the shape of houses with intricate features, he had to find drawing software to add to the pancake ‘bot’s menu. He  had to make sure the air pressure in the feed hose was set to deliver the batter at the correct speed and volume, that the viscosity of the batter was compatible with the design, and that the darker colored batter printed first so the lighter colors wouldn’t burn on the griddle.

“I think it’s most important for people my age to learn how to solve problems quickly, to figure out what works and discard what doesn’t work,” he said. “In engineering and science and design, you need to know the basics and then keep working to solve things.”

Despite the high tech process, Malone remembered, in the end, the art of pancake making depends on at least one basic principle.

“No matter how fancy the design, when a pancake bubbles, it’s ready to flip, he said.”

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