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Articles from August 2017

Ames High Junior Performs at Prestigious Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Julie-Michelle Manohar, a 16-year-old junior from Ames High School, recently performed at the world-renowned Sydney Opera House as part of the prestigious 2017 High School Honors Performance Series (HPS) honor choir. The HPS program provides a selective learning and performance opportunity to qualified high school musicians who are invited to apply after being nominated by music teachers/directors familiar with their accomplishments. Students are accepted after a review by the Honors Selection Board based on their talent and achievements demonstrated in the application and audition recording.

Julie-Michelle (pictured right) auditioned and was selected to sing Soprano-1. HPS processed 18,000 nominations this year for their various programs at the Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House. According to the director, Nancy Richardson, 750 of these nominations were for the 2017 High School HPS at the Sydney Opera House of which only 150 were selected- 80 for the HPS choir, and 70 for the HPS orchestra. This was an international program; performers arrived from 44 states within the United States, Guam, several provinces of Canada, Australia, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Korea.

Dr. Jeffery L. Ames, a distinguished conductor and composer, serving as Director of Choral Activities at Belmont University, conducted the choir. On July 10, the honor choir performed “Goin’ Home” by Antonín Dvořák, arranged Paul Langford, “Three Australian Bush Songs” by Iain Grandage, “My Wordless Prayer” by Craig Courtney, “Tshotsholoza,” a South African Freedom Song, arranged by Jeffrey L. Ames, “The Call of Music” by Joseph Martin at the Sydney Opera House. Their final number was a gospel tune: “Let Everything That Hath Breath,” by Dr. Jeffery Ames himself. After a pre-screening and a second round of auditions, Julie-Michelle was one of two people selected to sing a solo in that piece.

In her own words: “I was accepted into the 2017 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House, but I chose to do the Sydney program instead. I feel so honored to have been able to work with outstanding musicians and directors from all over the world. To be able to come together to perform at the beautiful Sydney Opera House is an experience I’ll never forget.”

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Little Cyclone Teacher Academy

Little Cyclone Teacher Academy for Blog

During the week of August 7-11, teachers from every building, 135 in total and nearly 40% of our teaching staff, voluntarily participated in the Little Cyclone Teacher Academy at the Ames High School. The week long Academy offered a variety of courses to teachers, allowing them to select from professional development opportunities that they would want to focus on. Examples of the courses included Differentiation for all Learners, Calibrating Conversations, Incorporating Technology into a Gradual Release of Responsibility, Advocacy: a Counter Narrative, Twice Exceptional Learners, and many more.

The courses were primarily led by Teacher Leaders in the District, a few administrators, along with Area Education Agency (AEA) staff. It was a great way for teachers to get back into the swing of things, collaborate with colleagues, and brainstorm about the upcoming school year. On Thursday of that week, the entire group participated in a PLC Workshop led by Jack Balderman from Solution Tree. He provided practical ways to effectively implement the professional learning community (PLC) process in their buildings, with a focus on developing strategies to make it as authentic and useful as possible.

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Northwood Principal Kirstin 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.”

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