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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

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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Myers is Ames Morning Rotary Teacher of the Year for Ames Schools

IMG 3827Stephanie Myers, a fifth grade teacher at Edwards Elementary School, was awarded Rotary Teacher of the Year on Wednesday, May 17. A Model Teacher in the Teacher Leadership Program, Myers has taught fifth grade at Edwards for the past six years.

Principal David Peterson said Myers’ success as a teacher stems from an array of skills and practices that engage  her students in “thinking with great rigor; sharing their thinking with one another, and reflecting on learning.”

“She implements a connected sequence of content and instructional strategies at a high level,” Peterson said. “Many district teachers observe her classroom, and she reflects on her teaching with them and helps to identify best practice instruction.”

Among best practices, Myers reviews student data regularly with her colleagues in their Professional Learning Community for solid core instruction, re-teaching, and enriching learning, Peterson said. “She also works with  her fifth grade team of teachers to build community learning activities and routines, with practice to make a positive community of learners for the entire year.”

The Ames Morning Rotary is committed to youth education and realizes that teachers are responsible for quality education. To help demonstrate this commitment the Club annually recognizes a teacher from each of these school districts: Ames, Story City and Gilbert.

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Ames High School Young Engineers and Scientists present projects

Sixteen weeks of research and preparation carried out by Ames High School’s Young Engineers and Scientists (YES) culminated in a poster reception in the Ames High School Media Center May 10. The students presented their work to peers, parents and faculty from Iowa State University and Ames High School.

Funded through ISU’s Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), YES is part of CBiRC’s pre-college education strategic plan to form long-standing partnerships with central Iowa school districts and school districts located in relative proximity to CBiRC partner institutions. According to CBiRC’s website, the pre-college programs’ mission is  to “effectively impart in the next generation of students the relevance of engineering professions; the skills required to succeed and the value in our technological society.”

This program is coordinated at Ames High School by ELP teachers Nicole Kuhns and Julie Skaar.  Students receive high school credit as they work on projects conducted under the mentorship of CBiRC faculty. They develop literature research and laboratory recording skills and gain exposure to both academic and career opportunities in engineering.

Rucha Kelkar, in 11th grade, said one of the best experiences from her internship was talking with the university students with whom she worked with about colleges and majors.“One of them was pursuing much of what I was considering for my future and it was great to get first-hand advice from a current college student,” she said. “Chemical/biological engineering is something I’m interested in and am considering continuing after graduating high school.”

The laboratory internship not only imparted 11th grader Natalie Cross important knowledge specific to animal science, but also taught her lab safety, etiquette and basic skills such as pipetting, which are applicable to any laboratory setting.

“Because of this experience my future plans to study something related to animals has solidified and this internship really opened my eyes to some of the diverse possibilities available,” she said.

YES Interns 2017

Pictured (L to R) Dr. Adah Leshem (CBiRC pre-college program coordinator); AHS students: Michael Holm, Melissa Liu, Jourdan-Ashle Barnes, Zachary Lynch, Natalie Cross, Deeksha Sarda, Rucha Kelkar, Kavya Raju, and Jennifer Lillo (CBiRC pre-college program coordinator).

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Colors of Kindergarten (Kindergarten Preview) 5 – 6 p.m., May 25, 2017

To welcome the students of our new kindergarten class and their families and help them prepare for kindergarten, each of our elementary schools is hosting  Colors of Kindergarten,  a kindergarten preview, Thursday, May 25.

Parents and guardians and students enrolled for kindergarten for the 2017-18 school year will meet their principal, the kindergarten team and school staff. Students will do an activity in a kindergarten classroom while parents and guardians attend a presentation to learn about schedules and routines, the education philosophy, and the school community.

Families who have registered students for kindergarten will receive an invitation to Colors of Kindergarten. Pre-registration is required to attend.  To register, Contact: District Registrar, Barbara Peterson


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Ames High School participates in World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute

2017Ames World Food PrizeAmes High School students were among  322 students from 132 Iowa high schools who came together at The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute on April 24, to share their ideas and find solutions to solve the world’s most pressing challenges in food security. Students who participated came away with a deeper understanding of world hunger and the possible careers they might pursue to help alleviate it.

In preparation for the event, the participating high school student wrote a research paper on a key issue that impacts hunger in another country. At the Institute, students proposed their own solutions in small-group roundtable discussions facilitated by academic and industry experts, and  along with teachers, participated in hands-on immersion activities in research facilities and labs.  

From this experience, students will be selected to attend the Global Youth Institute held in Des Moines, in October 2017.

During the research leading up to the Iowa Youth Institute, Ames High School student Kegan Peters said she became a bit overwhelmed by the vastness of the issues of poverty and hunger that their generation will be facing, but that attending the Youth Institute gave her hope.

“The day I spent at ISU was inspirational in that it showed me how many other high schoolers there are who are interested, responsible, and creative enough to already be tackling these challenges,” Peters said.

Ainsley Chrystal said, “It was interesting to learn about how widespread these issues were, and then hear the innovative solutions from students.”

Nicole Kreider said attending the Institute helped her gain a wider perspective of the impact of her daily actions on our world and reminded her to be grateful for the opportunities she has.

“In particular, I was inspired by the message presented by the Iowa Youth Institute: that even though the challenge to alleviate poverty and suffering may seem daunting, everyone has the ability to make a difference in our world whether it be through helping to rebuild a village after a natural disaster, donating to overseas relief missions, or even volunteering at a local food bank,” she said.

Kreider said it is also important to note that though the institute focused on developing countries, these concerns are not unique to foreign nations thousands of miles away.

“Issues such as food insecurity and lack of adequate nutrition are still major concerns in the United States,” she said.

The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Borlaug  envisioned this and other World Food Prize youth programs as a way to inspire the next generation of scientists and humanitarians to go into critical fields and to help solve the challenge ahead: Feeding the 9 billion people who will be on our planet by the year 2050.

More information is available at

(Note: Photos are available and high resolution photos are available.)

The Ames High School students who attended  the World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute were  Ainsley Chrystal, Nicole Kreider, Jayna Misra, Lillian Montabon, and Kegan Peters.

The large group photo L to R (back row):  Ainsley Chrystal (heart), Lillian Montabon (sun), Nicole Kreider (Red Cross), L to R (front row) Jayna Misra (peace sign), and Kegan Peters (school).

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Links to video presentations from pilot materials representatives

Thanks to everyone who came to view our video presentations from the representatives for each of our K-2 foundational skills materials pilot programs.

For those who couldn’t attend, we want to share the links to the Fountas & Pinnell Phonics Lessons presentation and the Reach into Phonics presentation. Unfortunately, due to corporate policy, we weren’t allowed to record the Fundations presentation. However, we have included a link to the Fundations website if you want to learn more about these materials.

Fountas & Pinnell Phonics Lessons presentation

Reach into Phonics presentation

Fundations website

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Opportunity to give feedback on Iowa’s Fine Arts Standards

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.

Artwork by Josh McCunn

Ames High School 10th grade student Josh McCunn won a Blue Merit award for his Digital Photo-Altered in the CIML art competition

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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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