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Northwood Principal Kristin Barber

NW Principal; Kristin Barber

On June 19, the School Board accepted the appointment of Kristin Barber as the new Principal at Northwood Preschool Center. Kristin graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education with an emphasis in special education, and began her career at the North Polk West Elementary School as a first and second grade teacher, then later as a Master Teacher / Instructional Coach in the district. While in that role, she completed her Masters in Education from Viterbo University with a Reading Endorsement and started to find a passion in educational leadership.

“As an instructional coach, I always wanted to find ways to impact more students, more staff, and more parents by ensuring that everyone has a voice. When you are an administrator or lead learner, you can put structures in place in a child’s education to make sure that we’re meeting all needs in all areas, whether that is through academics, language, socially-emotional, cognitive or physical.”

She recently completed her second Masters in Education, this time from Iowa State University in Educational Leadership and Administration. While at Iowa State, part of her studies focused on social justice in education and meeting the needs of all students. This emphasis is something she is passionate about in education and will be her primary focus this year at Northwood. She believes it was also something that allowed her to distinguish herself during the interview process.

Associate Superintendent, Dr. Mandy Ross said that “Kristin stood out in a strong pool of candidates as someone who was very knowledgeable about early childhood education and how it connects to the elementary program. Her experiences and understanding of cultural competency and professional learning communities showed alignment with the District’s philosophy. She was extremely organized, including sharing an entry plan, which she is currently in the process of implementing.”

With the school year approaching, Kristin is placing an emphasis on ensuring that students and parents have a good experience while at Northwood. For many, this school year will be their first time in an educational setting, and having a positive experience can foster a desire for lifelong learning. “It’s important that parents feel welcomed and connected to the school, whether through social media and knowing that they can reach out to me with questions and concerns.” Kristin is taking over as principal of Northwood from Brandon Schrauth who transferred to the principal role at Fellows Elementary School.

You can get more information about Northwood on our website and follow the school on Facebook and Twitter (@NorthwoodPkEk).

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Public Tours of AHS Scheduled


          Good Afternoon, 

On behalf of the Ames School Board, I invite parents and community members to join us for informational meetings about the construction or renovation of Ames High School as well as tours of the Ames High campus. We are providing three different opportunities to accommodate everyone’s schedules: June 28, July 12, and July 19. Each meeting starts at 6:30 PM at the Ames High Cafeteria. 
On June 5, 2017, the Ames Board of Education recommended pursuing a referendum in April 2018 that would lead to the construction of a new high school building on the current AHS site. The Board’s recommendation was based on data review and results of a Phase I architectural study by Haila Architects of Ames. 
The District’s next task is to inform and stimulate community discussion and awareness and assess the community’s level of support for the Board’s recommendation. These meetings are intended to do just that and help answer questions from the public. 
While each meeting is designed to provide the same information, please feel welcome to join one or all of these meetings. I hope you can join us. 

Tim E. Taylor, Superintendent

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School meal price policy FAQs

The Ames Community School Board on June 5, 2017 carved into a separate policy its procedures for dealing with unpaid meal account balances, which had been in place since 2015. However, the Board plans to revisit the policy to find a long-term solution. Watch this page for updates.


Why is the School Board acting on an Unpaid Meal Policy?  

The USDA is requiring all school districts nationwide to have a policy in place by July 1, 2017 that details the procedures for unpaid meals. The Board approved unpaid meal procedures in June 2015 as part of another policy after the school district began to run large lunch account deficits, including $109,473 in the 2015 fiscal year. Since then, the negligent balances have fallen by more than $60,000. The Board drafted a separate policy in 2017 to meet the new USDA requirements. On June 5, 2017, the Board approved Policy 710.4 Meal & Snack Charges.

How do families know if they qualify for free or reduced school meal?

The district provides access to the application for free or reduced price school meals each year with other annual notices, and to all new families who enroll students in the district. When applications are processed, the district notifies families about their qualification status.  Income guidelines are established by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Students who qualify for reduced meals are charged the difference between the federal reimbursement for free meals and reduced meals, which is currently 40 cents.

To determine the price a school district must charge students don’t qualify for free or reduced price school meals, the USDA has established a formula through its Paid Lunch Equity Tool.

How do families know if their child’s lunch balance is low?

The district sends a weekly notice by email or regular mail to families when a student’s account reaches a positive balance of $25 or less.

What happens if students who don’t qualify for free meals don’t have money in their meal accounts?

Under the policy that has been in place since 2015, if a student’s account balance reaches negative $25, the student isn’t permitted to charge further meals, extra milk or a la carte items until the negative balance is paid.  

Elementary students who do not qualify for free meals and whose account balances are negative $25 may pay for their meal or receive an alternative meal at no cost. To prevent overt identification of students with insufficient funds to pay for their meal, the alternative meal consists of a sunbutter sandwich, unlimited fruits and vegetables, and choice of milk,  which are always offered as  menu choices at elementary schools. Middle school and high school students who do not qualify for free meals and whose account balances are negative $25 must pay to receive a meal, milk or ala carte items.

The Board is considering changes to these procedures. Watch this page for updates.

What if I can’t pay all my balance at once?  

The District encourages parents to contact Business Office at 515-268-6646 to set up a payment plan that will allow students to continue to charge meals to their account.

Does the District send delinquent accounts to collection agencies?

The District sends delinquent accounts to collection agencies when the account balance reaches negative $25.  

Why doesn’t the Ames Community School District subsidize its school meal program?

Unlike some other states, it is illegal in Iowa to subsidize the school lunch program using the general fund, which is the budget fund that covers staffing and programming for instruction. The federal program also doesn’t allow federal funds to subsidize students who do not qualify for free meals.

Some school districts offer free meals to all students. Why  doesn’t the Ames Community School District offer free meals to all students?

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. A key provision of The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA, Public Law 111-296; December 13, 2010), CEP allows the nation’s highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without the burden of collecting household applications. Instead, schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students participating in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Ames Community School District does not qualify for CEP.



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Maker Camp at Edwards School connects technology and imagination

School may be out for summer, but there won’t be a learning slump for students participating in a Maker Camp hosted by Edwards Elementary School.

Technology Teacher Librarian Teresa Green, who organized the camp, said the four-day camp engages students in making unique projects using technology, recycling used materials and leftover items, and using everyday items in new and interesting ways.

“Opportunities are available for students to experience soldering electronics, sewing electronics, 3D production using technology such as 3D pens and a MakerBot printer, as well as robotics programming with various modular robotics tools,” Green said. Students will also experience team-building and problem-solving through “Breakout Edu.”

Students worked with the Central Iowa section of Institute for Electrical & Electronics Engineers to learn electrical skills through several soldering projects.

The camp is offered to students from Ames and surrounding schools who are entering grades 2-5 for the 2017-18 school year.

Watch Allison Metschke explain her project that involves using a sewing machine and constructing a series circuit and a parallel circuit to connect LED lights to a battery using conductive thread, 

Student demonstrates tech project

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Black Hawk lands at Mitchell School to spur STEM learning

A Black Hawk Army helicopter swooped onto the grounds at Mitchell Elementary School, Thursday, June 1, marking the last day of school and inspiring students to keep engaged with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning over the summer—and also spurring questions.

“Why does it have so many buttons?” “What is a co-pilot?” And a serious question from kindergarten student Max Nordman.

“What happens if you forget how to do something?”

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jim Funk, a Black Hawk instructor pilot with the Army National Guard Charlie 147 Aviation Company based in Boone, arranged with Mitchell Principal Justin Jeffs to provide the larger-than-life learning event.

Funk said since he returned from several deployments to Iraq, Kosovo, Egypt and southwest Asia, connecting students with STEM has become a priority.

“The STEM initiative is a great opportunity for us to establish a rapport with the kids,” Funk said. “Everything we do in our occupation as pilots uses science, technology, engineering and math.” 

Jeffs said giving students the chance to see, hear, touch and explore the helicopter will reinforce the importance of STEM knowledge as the basis for designing, building and flying it.

Visiting schools helps members of  the Iowa National Guard establish a healthy connection with the community, said Funk, who also mentors a student at Mitchell through YSS.

Black Hawk Helicopter and students

Captain Aaron Rosheim shares with fifth grade students how important STEM learning is for a career as a helicopter pilot, at Mitchell Elementary School, Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Along with Funk, the Black Hawk crew complement included Captain Aaron Rosheim, of Ames and Staff Sergeant Dan Lennon, of Boone.


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Creating digital magazines brings nonfiction to life for sixth graders

Ames Middle School sixth grade students are ready with an answer in case anyone asks what they learned this year.

In their hands are printed versions of digital magazines the students researched, wrote, and designed for literacy class to show what they learned studying nonfiction text structures and writing processes throughout the year.

Literacy teacher Drew DeJong said the literacy team, as a professional Learning Community, created the magazine project so students could demonstrate understanding of sixth grade learning standards such as identifying the author’s purpose and the structure of a text. The students were expected to create two articles over a topic they chose, using a different text structure for each article.  

Chris Douglas, who also teaches sixth grade literacy, said, “I loved teaching the project because it truly incorporates all the elements of literacy that we cover throughout the year.”

The magazine project kept student Abby Cuva engaged in learning all year.  “We had a lot of freedom and we spent a lot of class time focusing on writing about things that interest us,” she said.

For Ally Donavon, the magazine project presented unique opportunities to use technology. “The project let us explore some new programs on our computers,” she said.

When students finally pulled together their project in a digital magazine, they created their own cover page, table of contents, fun pages and other magazine features. The finished files were sent to District’s production coordinator for printing.

“The looks on the students faces when they receive their magazine is something really neat,” DeJong said. “Since each text structure is so different, this project really lets the students show off what they have learned over the year and put their own creative twist on it!”

For Ally and Abby,  the creative twist for their digital food magazine was baking and bringing to class a batch of cyclone-themed cupcakes.


Ames Middle School sixth graders Ally Donavon, L, and Abby Cuva, R, display their digital food magazine and presentation cupcakes

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Ames High School teacher Kirstin Sullivan recognized by Iowa Secretary of State

Sullivan2017Kirstin Sullivan, who teaches AP European History, AP Government and Politics, and U.S. Government at Ames High School, was recognized by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate for organizing Ames High School’s participation in the statewide Iowa Youth Straw Poll for the 2016 general election.

In a press release, Pate said Sullivan “stepped up and registered to include our students’ voices in the statewide straw poll, and as a result of her efforts, students received a unique civic education experience.”

Sullivan said participating in the Iowa Youth Straw Poll gave all students at Ames High School a chance to be engaged.

“A vital part of my job is for students to know how important it is that they are engaged in their community and in their government at all levels,” Sullivan said. “In both U.S. Government and AP Government and Politics classes, we spend the semester learning about civil liberties and how to best advocate for oneself and one’s community.”

Sullivan said some high school seniors were able to participate in the actual election, as they were 18 years old by election day, but the majority of students could not.

“This was a way for them to be a part of the country’s conversation and to see how their voices aligned with students across Iowa,” she said.

Sullivan’s message to her students on their last day with her is to “be present, be engaged, and to vote.”

“My hope is that activities like the Youth Straw Poll help support that message,” she said.

The leadership of Iowa teachers like Sullivan earned the Iowa Youth Straw Poll national recognition, Pate said. The National Parent Student Mock Election awarded the Iowa Youth Straw Poll its National Association of State Boards of Education Award for Outstanding Leadership in Voter Education.Iowa Youth Straw Poll

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Literacy Pilot results will be shared June 12

UPDATED JUNE 12, 2017: The Word Study Team presented its findings to the Teaching and Learning Committee on June 12. Based on the WST recommendations, the Teaching and Learning Committee at a special board meeting June 12 will recommend that the Board approve using Fundations.

The Ames Community School District has concluded a pilot of program materials for kindergarten through second grade teachers to use when providing instruction around foundational skills in reading. The pilot was established after K-2 teacher representatives met in the spring of 2016 and recommended that all K-2 teachers have common materials for Tier 1 instruction across schools in phonics and phonemic awareness.

To determine which program best meets the phonemic awareness and phonics needs of students and teachers in grades K-2 for Tier 1 instruction, the District piloted three sets of materials: Fountas & Pinnell’s Phonics Lessons, Wilson’s Fundations, and National Geographic Learning’s Reach into Phonics.  All students in the pilot received instruction from their teacher using all three sets of pilot materials.

Data were collected on student performance before the pilot and at the end of each pilot segment. Additional data came from rubrics used to review the components of the three programs, teacher surveys, administrator surveys, and parent surveys.

The timeline and processes for announcing the results of the pilot study are as follows:

  • June 5: The Word Study Team will present to the School Board a review of the Word Study process and pilot structure. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the District Boardroom.
  • June 12:
    • The Board Teaching & Learning Committee will receive pilot data results from 1-3 p.m. at the District Offices, Conference Room C.
    • Parents and community members are invited to a presentation sharing pilot data results, from 5-6 p.m., in the District Boardroom.
    • Pilot data results and the Teaching & Learning Committee recommendation will be shared with the Board. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the District Boardroom.
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