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Edwards Elementary News

Dr. Valerie Nyberg named new Ames High School Principal

Valerie Nyberg New Ames High Principal

The Ames Community School District is excited to announce Dr. Valerie Nyberg as the new principal of Ames High School. Dr. Nyberg is currently the Associate Principal at George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, a position she has held since 2013. 

As an associate principal in Cedar Rapids, Nyberg has experience in both curriculum and instruction as well as buildings and grounds. She was responsible for the evaluation of certified staff, development of the master schedule, and directly supported multiple departments such as English, special education, and Career/Technical Education, among others. As associate principal of building and grounds, she attended weekly construction meetings and worked closely with various departments to ensure that instructional programming was not compromised during construction. In her role as associate principal of curriculum and instruction, she worked diligently to ensure that students have multiple pathways open to them and this required working closely with special education teachers. 

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Iowa Department of Education releases Iowa School Performance Profile

Iowa School Performance Profiles

On January 29, 2020, the Iowa Department of Education released updates to its online school accountability reporting system called the Iowa School Performance Profiles. The website shows how schools are performing on multiple measures and meets federal and state requirements for publishing report cards. 

The Iowa School Performance Profiles include scores and ratings on a set of accountability measures, such as student growth and graduation rate, and additional data that are required by law but do not count toward school accountability scores. New to the 2020 profiles are updated school scores and ratings, post-secondary readiness is now factored in accountability, and the scores include performance on the new state test, the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP). The website also specifies schools that have been identified for additional support and improvement based on their performance.

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PBIS at Edwards Elementary

PBIS Edwards

When students are learning how to read, add, or how to spell, we teach them. That same principle must apply to how students behave throughout the day at school. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a “philosophy intended to guide the behavioral support and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional, and academic success.” It is a school-wide framework that focuses on the positive things that students are doing. This is an examination of what that looks like at Edwards Elementary School. 

School discipline has traditionally responded to specific student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies that may include reprimands, loss of privileges, and office referrals. This approach, especially when applied inconsistently and without other positive strategies, is proven to be ineffective. With PBIS, consequences will still occur, but are not the focus; teaching expected behavior and rewarding those behaviors consistently is the focus. PBIS looks to establish a climate in which safe and appropriate behavior is the norm. 

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Elementary Reading: FUNdations and Reading Units of Study

10 Elementary Reading

After an extensive review process including feedback and input from staff, students, and community members, Ames CSD purchased the research-based Reading Units of Study for all EK-5th grade classrooms. Reading Units of Study utilizes a reading workshop model where students spend significant time reading books of their choice and writing about those books. Students also learn with teachers in one on one conferences as well as in small group instructional teams. Finally, collaborative and sharing opportunities are built into the reading workshop.  

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Official Online Apparel Store

Online Apparel Store

We are excited to announce the launch of the official Ames Community School District online apparel store. Starting today, you can order Little Cyclone apparel representing every school building across the District. The store has a wide variety of options to choose from with the convenience of ordering online and having the items delivered directly to your door. Many of the items on the store have the ability to customize the logo you prefer.

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Multicultural Books

Multicultural Books

This year, Heartland Area Education Agency (AEA) offered three separate Title III mini-grants and the Ames Community School District is proud to have received all three of them. Totaling $15,000, these grants have allowed the District to purchase books in a variety of languages to help support students who are English Language Learners.

One of the mini-grants from Heartland is specific to family and community engagement and aligns with one of our main goals this year that came out of conversations with staff and families who participated in our Lau Plan review last September. The group identified making the school environment more welcoming for students and their families as an area of need. One of the specific aspects of the goal was to have more diverse books in the native languages of English Learners in schools and classroom libraries.

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Safety Patrol at Edwards Elementary

Safety Patrol at Edwards

If you visited Edwards Elementary School this year in the morning during student drop off time, you were likely greeted with a friendly smile and saw students high-fiving each other. This is the work of Safety Patrol, a rotating team of nearly 30 fifth graders who are taking the lead on establishing a positive environment in their building by greeting students at the front door and at designated points throughout the school.

Principal Kristi Mixdorf saw this concept modeled at another school and approached fifth-grade teacher Chris Douglas about implementing it at Edwards. Douglas said, “I told her I wanted to continue looking for leadership opportunities for our 5th graders so I decided to take the lead on this and told the kids and parents what we envisioned this looking like.”

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Executive Directors of Curriculum Announced

Executive Directors

The Ames Community School District is excited to announce Dr. Jeff Hawkins as the new Executive Director of Secondary Education, and Dr. Chad Dumas as Executive Director of Elementary Education. Both are new positions as part of a district office reorganization that will provide a more focused approach to aligning curriculum efforts across the District.

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Academic Calendar Updates 2019-2020

Calendar Updates 2019-2020 school year

Updates to the 2019-2020 school year calendar were approved by the Ames school board on Monday, February 25, 2019. A couple of the key updates include the start date and how professional development is organized at Ames Middle School and Ames High School.

Start date – School will officially begin on Friday, August 23, 2019 for most grades across the District. This includes 1st – 5th grade, as well as 6th and 9th graders, and all other students at the middle and high school who are new to the District. This start date aligns with other Districts across the state and is the first day that school can officially start according to state law. This is a change from the originally scheduled Monday, August 26 start date.

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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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