Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Leadership at Van Meter Schools

On Monday, September 21, three newly elected community members will be sworn in as Van Meter School Board Members. Congratulations, to Liz Thompson, Lance Lauterbach, and to Brian Gordan. They will join returning members John Seefeld and Maureen Fisher to form the new school board for Van Meter Schools. I want to welcome all of the new board members to our team, and I look forward to working with each of them.

The Van Meter School District has gone through significant changes in it leadership in the last three months. The District has a new Superintendent in John Carver, a new Secondary Principal, Deron Durflinger, and a new Director of Teaching and Learning, Jen Sigrist along with a school board that has 60% of its team being first-time board members leading the district. My guess is that not many districts have gone through that kind of overhaul in its leadership team this year.

As schools throughout the state are challenged with declining enrollments, less money to work with, and struggling programs. It could be concerning to see so many new faces leading the Van Meter Community School District. Van Meter has always provided a high-quality education to all of its students. Grade levels regularly see over 90% of its students at the proficient level on ITBS and ITEDS. Last year the state average on the ACT was 22.4, Van Meter's was 23.6. While some school struggle getting kids through school, we regularly see a graduation rate of near or at 100%. These are all great indicators that our students are receiving a good education. So one might ask, with all of these new people and new ideas, how can we continue to provide such a good education? The answer is simple, get better at what we do. As Stephen Covey said, "Good is the enemy of Great."

Van Meter Schools must continue to be innovative and be a trend setter for other districts in the state of Iowa to ensure our students are receiving the best education possible. We are currently establishing a network with other districts involved in the 1 to 1 laptop programs. We will be leading a meeting of the leadership teams of those districts in October. We have partnered with Rockwell Collins, Mechdyne, ISU, UNI, Iowa, Marshalltown Community College, IHCC, and DMACC as well as other districts in the state of Iowa to form a committee to determine how schools with virtual reality systems can improve the quality of education students receive.

So, even though new people are leading the district, things really haven't changed. Van Meter Schools will continue to be a high-quality district and a leader in the state of Iowa because of the visionary leadership of our Superintendent and our dedicated Board Members, each of whom is committed to providing the best education for the students of Van Meter.

It is an exciting time for me as a professional, because I get to be a part of so many innovative ventures that I believe will help shape changes in public education. And it is an exciting time for me as a parent, because my own kids get to come to a school that is committed to providing the best education possible for all students with a community and a school board that is willing to do all it can to support Van Meter Schools.

If you have any questions/concerns, or if you would like to discuss things that are going on at the Van Meter Secondary Building, email me at deron.durflinger@vmbulldogs.com or call me at (515) 996-2221. I look forward to working with you and GO DAWGS!

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