Friday, May 10, 2013

Putting Action to Words- Facility Renovations Will Help Van Meter Schools Reach Its Vision

I am tired of all of the rhetoric around school reform.  As educators, we can talk about changing the system all we want.  We can discuss what needs tweaked, what needs to go, what needs added, etc. in multiple forums for years.  However, until you put those words to action, it is for nothing. Talking about improving the system is just that, talking. At Van Meter, we try to limit the talking and focus on the the doing.

On April 2, 2013, the residents of Van Meter Community School District showed their support for our school by voting to pass a bond referendum that will allow us to renovate and improve our facilities. Though there are obvious needs for the renovation including improvements to the HVAC, plumbing, fire safety, etc. another primary driver for our design, is to create a collaborative and flexible learning environment that will allow us to better personalize the learning for each of our students success today, and tomorrow. Our community is committed to implementing an action step that will truly impact our student learning. Facilities matter if we are going to improve our system.

The vision for Van Meter Community School District is to empower students to be learners who:
  • Communicate 
  • Collaborate 
  • Create 
  • Innovate 
  • Solve 
  • Problems 
  • Adapt 
  • Think Globally 
  • Live Ethically 

These are some of the action steps that have been implemented to support our vision:
  • Lead and mentor teachers at all levels
  • K-12 Spanish beginning 2013-2014
  • Competency/standards based grading system K-12
  • Hybrid class schedule with no bells
  • 1:1 learning environment 6-12 moving to K-12 beginning 2013-2014
  • Regular global communications led by Shannon M Miller
  • PLCs, AIW, IPI, PBIS, RTI, and other alphabet soup learning and teaching initiatives
  • VREP
  • Advisory
  • Partnerships with neighboring districts to provide learning academies
  • and many others

One key ingredient we are missing is the space needed to effectively implement a truly collaborative and innovative competency-based learning system that is flexible and comfortable enough to allow for learning in a variety of ways.  The space we work and learn in matters. If it didn't matter we wouldn't have people building $300,000 homes with all of the amenities known to man.  McDonald's wouldn't be providing soft seating with free WiFi. The mall wouldn't have couches and comfy chairs in every nook and cranny.  People want to be happy and comfortable when they work.  Why do we think students are any different?

We are committed to enacting steps to provide the best environment to personalize learning for our students and staff. We strive to be a model for other districts to follow.  We want to continue to be a school of choice.  The people at Van Meter are what make our school such a great place.  Visitors come to see how we grade, how we use technology, and how we are implementing a competency based learning system, but they always leave with an understanding that it is about the people in our building that makes it happen. The relationships our teachers have with our students is second to none. "There is something different about Van Meter" has been said to us on numerous occasions. We want to continue that tradition, and we truly appreciate all that our teachers do for our students. However, we are confident that we will be able to provide an even better learning and living experience for our students, teachers and community once we have finished our newest building project. Facilities matter, and we are thankful that our community feels the same way.

This blog will be updated regularly on our building project.  Expect more information via mail this summer.  Work will begin soon and all should be completed by the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

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