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Articles from November 2018

Falls Sports Highlights 2018

Fall Sports Recap

Girls Swimming and Diving

The Ames High Girls Swimming & Diving team entered the 2018 Iowa Girls State Championships as the only team to understand what it felt like to be team state champions. Ames High had won 3 straight state titles, and 7 of the last 8 years, heading into the competition this year. Needless to say, this year’s squad not only had the pressure of the competition weighing on their minds, but the pressure of continuing Ames High’s dynasty in girls swimming.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) state meet was held on November 2-3 in Marshalltown. For the first time in head coach Dan Flannery’s storied career, he qualified every entrant, 30 for 30, for the state meet.

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Critical Consciousness: Year Two

Critical Consciousness

Understanding and developing tools to address oppression, implicit bias, and deficit thinking are at the heart of what Drs. Daniel Spikes and Katy Swalwell are hoping to accomplish as they enter their second of three years of critical consciousness training with Ames CSD staff. This year, the work is expanding beyond principals and including instructional coaches and other staff in each building. Next year, administrators, under the guidance of Spikes and Swalwell, will roll out the training to all staff.

In the training, Spikes and Swalwell define a critically conscious person as one who is able to reflect on and take action in the world in order to make it more equitable and just. To make that academic definition more applicable to everyday life, it’s being able to recognize when inequity exists and knowing what steps to take that help address the issue.

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Mental Health Conference 2018

Mental Health Conference

On November 15, the Ames CSD hosted a mental health conference at Ames High that was free to families, students, and educators in the Ames community and surrounding areas. The conference served as a great way to help educate the community on a variety of issues and to connect them with available resources.

The conference was a partnership with District schools, Story County Community Partnerships for Protecting Children, and The Cameron Carico +10 Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “Promote happy and healthy students and families in central Iowa through suicide prevention and mental health education.”

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Collaborative Proactive Solutions

Collaborative Proactive Solutions

If a student is having difficulties in the area of math, no teacher would ever attribute that to the student not wanting to understand the subject. They would simply need additional resources to help them learn the concepts and to practice it. Principal Steve Flynn and his staff at Meeker Elementary are applying that principle to behavior as well based on the book Lost and Found: Helping Behaviorally Challenging Students (and, While You’re At It, All the Others) by Ross W. Greene.

“It really is a paradigm shift to how we address behavior within our school. It goes away from the traditional notion that students will do well if they want to do well, and instead suggests that students will do well if they can,” says Flynn. Last year, Flynn saw that traditional discipline was having a limited impact on students because they were being punished without a gameplan on how to equip students to manage their behavior. “We often assume that behavior is a student choice, so we think we need to come up with a bigger punishment.” Without educating students, the behavior and frustration only continues.

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Establishing Board Priorities

Establishing Board Priorities

Work session: September 26, 2018

On September 26, District administrators partnered with the board of directors during a work session to establish board priorities. Superintendent Risner said, “One of my first goals in joining the Ames Community School District was to bring our leaders together and identify what our purpose truly is. In other words, what is the reason we do what we do. During our toughest times, our purpose should be our foundation or anchor. My second important task was to establish clear priorities to guide our work, decision making, and allocation of resources.”

After many conversations, planning, and research, our administrators and board of directors took an important step and joined together to define our purpose and district priorities which you will see below. The opportunity provided the two groups to share and align visions from a philosophical and practical standpoint. The groups worked in breakout sessions to develop goals around five priorities sections. What they created was a living document that will evolve over time and become embedded in operational and educational practices.

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Reading Portraits

Reading Portraits

Genya Coffey and her 1st grade colleagues at Sawyer Elementary are taking time to teach students how to read portraits. “Reading portraits is a great introduction to several important first grade skills such as making careful observations and drawing inferences based on evidence. Using visual literacy makes these skills accessible to every student regardless of their current reading level.”

After comparing and contrasting dozens of portraits with partners and reflecting as a whole group, students constructed a working definition of portrait, then began considering where portraits can be found. Students discovered that they can be found just about anywhere. Next, students dug into identifying common elements that can be observed in portraits to help describe them.  

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