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Articles from October 2015

The Northwood Experience: Keagan’s Story

Note: Northwood Preschool Center has openings for about 20 students in the afternoon session.

AMES—With seven months remaining in the school year, there are plenty of learning opportunities for 4-year-old children at Northwood Preschool Center, and it’s not too late to enroll.

Principal Brandon Schrauth said the Center has room for about 20 students in the afternoon session.

“We want to reach as many families as possible because early childhood education is so important,” Schrauth said.

It’s rewarding, he said, to see what a difference a quality preschool program makes for students as they make steady gains.

Keagan Rood, who has started his second year at Northwood as part of Ms. Kendra’s Learning Group, has begun to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically, for example, Schrauth said.

“He participates in learning activities, shares at snack time and speaks up to his friends about his interests,” he said.

Keagan, who is often interested in cars, gets many opportunities at preschool to use cars as a focus.

“I like to count cars, play with cars and read about cars,” Keagan said.
Schrauth said Keagan’s progress at preschool is by no means unusual.

“Keagan is a typical 4-year-old boy who is benefiting from all the ways Northwood Preschool Center puts students first,” Schrauth said. “What Keagan is experiencing at preschool is laying a foundation for him and his family for his social, emotional and academic growth for the rest of his life.”

According to NAEYC, the national accrediting organization for early childhood education, evidence is mounting that preschool education has far-reaching benefits for all children—from supporting their academic, social and emotional growth, to preventing students from dropping out later in their school career, even to helping them get better jobs as adults, Schrauth said.

Schrauth said Northwood’s program is NAEYC accredited and meets or exceeds the 10 Program Standards set by the organization.

Enrollment at Northwood  is free, and there are openings in the session that runs Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 12:20-3:20 p.m.

Parents and guardians who are interested in enrolling their 4-year-old children may pick up registration materials at Northwood Preschool Center, 3012 Duff Ave.



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School Board to discuss needs of students with dyslexia

The Ames Community School Board of Directors will learn about meeting the needs of students with dyslexia at its next regular meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 26. Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross has arranged for Wendy Robinson, Heartland Area Education Agency’s literacy specialist, and Mary Morton, Ames Teacher on Special Assignment for literacy, to present a history of dyslexia and an overview of the Iowa literacy law that includes language pertaining to dyslexia.

Dr. Ross said the experts will share steps the District has taken to begin teacher training about dyslexia to ensure teachers have the skills they need to meet students’ unique instructional needs, as well as future professional development on the topic. The presentation will also include sharing plans to update district PK-12 literacy.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe the presentation and discussion, although Board protocol does not allow public comment during the discussion.

The Board provides an opportunity for the public to speak during its Public Forum at each regular meeting. The Board President announces the Public Forum as soon as the meeting is called to order and the agenda is approved.

School Board meetings are held in the Ames High School Multipurpose Room, 1921 Ames High Dr.

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Ames Middle School staff deals with student who brought BB gun to school

AMES–A student at Ames Middle School brought a BB gun to school Thursday. The student did not fire the BB gun and another student reported the student’s possession of the BB gun to staff. School officials are dealing with the incident according to the district’s discipline policy.

Ames MIddle School Principal Pam Stangeland said the school’s primary concern is the safety of students and staff.

“As with any situation involving student behavior and discipline, our goal is safety first, and then to encourage students to understand the consequences of their behavior and receive support to modify inappropriate behavior, ” Stangeland said.

Stangeland said she sent a message to parents asking them to discuss with their children that weapons or dangerous objects or items that appear to be weapons or dangerous objects are not allowed on school buses or school property.

“Also, if students see a student with an object that appears to be dangerous, they need to notify an adult, which happened today,”  Stangeland said.

Ames Middle School students and families learn about student conduct and other safety policies through orientation sessions, classroom activities and the student handbook.

The Ames Community School District is considered a “Weapons Free Zone” under chapter 724.4A(1) of the Code of Iowa.

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Ames High School student raises money for cancer research

To develop a simple and elegant marketing plan for a nonprofit fundraiser, Ames High School senior DeVaughn Stringfellow might say “it’s all in the wrist.”

Business teacher Vicki Hales gave Stringfellow’s class an assignment to create a fundraiser that could take advantage of all the themes October has to offer—from Halloween, to Breast Cancer Awareness, to football…

“I started thinking of black and orange and pink and fall,” Stringfellow said. “It just seemed like too much. Then I just blurted out an idea to raise money for cancer awareness. Not just breast cancer, because cancer touches more than that.”

Stringfellow said he got the idea to design a wristband as simple way to convey the clear, compelling message, “Ames High Cancer Awareness.”

“And choosing the colors orange and black will never to out of style at Ames High School,” he said.

Developing a business plan to produce and sell the wristbands taught Stringfellow how to face and overcome the inevitable obstacles.

“I didn’t have any money to fund the project, and I had a goal to get the wristbands in time for the next football game,” he said. “I asked (business teacher) Rhonda Schmaltz what to do, and she recommended talking to Alpha Copies.”

Stringfellow said Alpha Copies was willing to help, but couldn’t produce the wristbands within the timeframe they were needed.

“That’s when Mr. Evans stepped up,” Stringfellow said.

Principal Spence Evans approved using some DECA activity funds to front Stringfellow’s project so he could order 300 wristbands online.

“I didn’t know if they would actually arrive in time for October 16 football game, so I couldn’t promote them in advance,” he said. “They got here just in time for the game, so I sent some emails out and got some of my classmates lined up to sell them at the game.”

Stringfellow said he got more than 30 email responses within two hours.

Estimating he’s sold 250 wristbands so far, Stringfellow said he’s already covered his start-up costs and netted more than $100.

“I’m asking $1, but some people are giving more and treating it as a donation,” he said. “And I have more orders left to fill.”

Stringfellow said he was surprised that high school students would be so enthusiastic in their support of a cancer research fundraiser.

“This experience has me thinking about what it would be like to work for a nonprofit,” he said. “I’ve been involved in mission trips and helping people through my church, Christ Community Church, but this helps me see more of the business side of it.”

Stringfellow said he’s still researching cancer centers to receive the funds.




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You’re invited to Meeker’s Ribbon Cutting and Open House

AMES–Meeker Elementary School will celebrate the official opening of its new building with a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Meeker’s celebration marks the completion of the second of three elementary school buildings targeted for new construction as part of a facilities plan funded by a $55 million bond referendum in 2012.

Meeker Principal Steve Flynn said the ribbon cutting is especially significant for the community.

“Our students and staff have had a few weeks to settle into the new building and gain from the space and features it provides for our learning environment,” he said. “We’re eager for our community members to see it, too.”

Following the ribbon cutting, Parent Teacher Organization members and Family Ambassadors will provide guided tours for families and community members until 6:30 p.m.. Staff and district administrators will explain how the building’s features support education strategies and enhance safety and security.

Meeker Elementary School is located at 300  20th St.  in Ames.

More about the elementary school facilities plan:

  • Sawyer Elementary School, also undergoing renovation, is slated to open August 2016.
  • Fellows Elementary School, which is being rebuilt on its current campus, is also scheduled to open August 2016.
  • Edwards Elementary School, rebuilt at 820 Miller Avenue, opened August 2014.
  • Mitchell Elementary School was renovated over the course of two years and opened August 2015. Mitchell held  a ribbon cutting Tuesday, Oct.6
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Edwards technology teacher and librarian earns Innovative Teacher grant

Teresa Green, technology teacher and librarian at Edwards Elementary School, believes children in grades kindergarten through grades five should have opportunities to fan their curiosity and enthusiasm for technology. Green’s innovating teaching idea, “K-5 Learning with Robotics,” which proposes science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning at a level typically offered in middle and high schools, earned an award as part of Voya Financial’s Unsung Heroes for Innovative Teaching Program.

Green who was selected from a group of nearly 1,000 applicants, is one of only 100 winners nationwide. Her school received $2,000, and she is eligible to compete with other finalists for one of the top three prizes—an additional $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000 from Voya Financial.

Green said she will use the award to develop a class that will nurture STEM learning through a variety of robotics programs.

“Students will meet weekly, working in pairs or groups to program robots to respond to problems and challenges, and will later share with parents, peers and the community what they have learned,” she said.

Carolyn Johnson, Voya Financial’s president of annuities and tax-exempt markets, said her company is “proud to recognize these deserving teachers who have found ways to inspire their students and who raise the bar in their profession each and every day.”


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Ames High School Students live stream event with NASA

Ames High School students in DeAnna Tibben’s Foundations of Earth Science and PreAP Earth Science classes may feel closer to Mars after participating in an interactive, live streamed event with NASA scientists, engineers, former astronauts, and cast members from the movie “The Martian.”

Organizers invited more than 100 high schools nationwide to participate from their classrooms, bringing the “So you want to be a Martian” event, hosted at Kennedy Space Center Thursday, Oct. 1,  to about 10,000 students.NASA

Tibben said the event was designed to spur students’ interest in space exploration and its benefits for science and humanity.

“This event represents a small but critical step in taking humans to Mars, and for making the earth a better place through the discoveries and solutions that happen along the way,” she said.

Tibben has an answer for people who question why we should we care about exploring Mars.

”To get there, we need to learn how to take care of plants, animals, soil, and ourselves,” she said. “We could use those lessons here on earth even if we never leave.”

Some of Tibben’s students said the “So You Want to be a Martian” event helped them connect the high stakes for science learning for humanity’s future.

Ninth grade student Jayna Wanamaker said, “If the Earth becomes unlivable, Mars could be an alternate planet to live on.”

Naomi Biela, also in ninth grade, said she thinks the experience of  contributing their expertise in making the movie “The Martian” helped scientists refine some of the logistics for getting to Mars.

“We still need to work on how to make it feasible to get there and survive,” Biela said. “NASA’s involvement with the movie was important—it sort of helped make a way for a trip to Mars to be even more possible.”

Panelists at the session included:

  • Jim Green, NASA Planetary Science Division Director
  • Bob Cabana, KSC Center Director (and former astronaut)
  • Nicole Stott, NASA astronaut (retired)
  • Mackenzie Davis, actor, “The Martian”
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, actor, “The Martian”


More about “So You Want to be a Martian”

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