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Community Education News

Join Us for the Summer of Learning!

Summer of Learning Catalog Cover - Boy Holding Globe in front of chalk boardAre you wondering how you’re going to keep your kids busy this summer? Join us for the 2017 Summer of Learning! We have many fun, enriching, and affordable learning opportunities available—whether your children need a little extra help with schoolwork or want to expand their knowledge in a wide variety of subjects. Help your child find a program that sounds interesting, fun, or rewarding, and register today!

Check out the 2017 Summer of Learning catalog.

Register for a Summer of Learning class.

Community Education Advisory Council Seeking Representatives for 2017-18

The WDMCS Community Education Advisory Council (CEAC) is a volunteer group of citizens who identify community needs and find ways to meet those needs. The council consists of volunteers who represent the schools and other organizations in the West Des Moines Community School. The CEAC meets monthly during the school year.

About Us

The CEAC operates at the community level to understand and represent the needs of the broader community.

CEAC Graphic Where We Fit

CEAC members are selected to serve because they are involved citizens willing to support programs and processes that uphold the philosophy of Community Education.

Representatives include:

  • Schools
  • Neighborhoods
  • Police Departments
  • Youth/Students
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Library
  • Human Services
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Seniors
  • and other citizens

We currently need representatives from Clive Learning Academy, Crossroads Park Elementary, Stilwell Junior High, and Walnut Creek Campus.

Responsibilities of CEAC members:

  • Attend an orientation meeting (new members).
  • Attend a minimum of six CEAC meetings (September-May).
  • One-year renewable term
  • Serve on a project committee and work cooperatively to achieve goals.
  • Serve as an advocate for WDMCS Community Education.
  • Share emerging community needs, ideas, and concerns that impact the quality of life in the community.
  • Maintain two-way sharing of information between the CEAC and represented group, as appropriate.
  • Review the budget and ensure fiscal responsibility.

If you are intersted in learning more about becoming a member of the Community Education Advisory Council, please contact Shahna Janssen, Director of Community Education, at 515-633-5004 or

Rec’s and Reviews: Thirteen Resources for Talking About “13 Reasons Why”

Official "13 Reasons Why" image: Teenage boy wearing headphones stands in front of a mirror. The mirror shows a reflection of a teenage girl. Text: A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES. BASED ON THE BEST SELLING MYSTERY. 13 REASONS WHY. IF YOU'RE LISTENING, YOU'RE TOO LATE.

(Image source:

Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” based on the young adult novel by Jay Asher, has initiated a lot of discussion surrounding teenage mental health. In the series and book, the teenage characters learn about their classmate’s reasons for dying by suicide after her death. The series has proved popular with teenagers and been renewed for a second season.

There is concern in the suicide prevention community that the series glamorizes suicide, sends detrimental messages about mental health, and could be triggering, especially for young people. The series graphically depicts suicide, rape, survivor’s guilt, and other emotionally complex topics that students may not be prepared to process on their own.

District counseling staff want to provide West Des Moines Community Schools families with resources to support discussions about suicide, trauma, and the “13 Reasons Why” series. Please let your school staff and counselors know if there are other ways we can be of assistance to your family.

13 Resources for Talking About “13 Reasons Why”

Tips and Talking Points

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why Talking Points” from SAVE and the Jed Foundation
  2. “Tips for Parents for Talking with Their Children About 13 Reasons Why and Suicide”  from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  3. “Netflix 13 Reasons Why: What Viewers Should Consider” from the Jed Foundation
  4. “‘13 Reasons Why’ Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators” from the National Association of School Psychologists
  5. Teachable Moment Using “13 Reasons Why” to Initiate a Helpful Conversation About Suicide Prevention and Mental Health” Video from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists
  6. Preventing Youth Suicide” and “Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents & Educators” from the National Association of School Psychologists

Also remember to make sure your children have access to local and national crisis resources:

  1. Your Life Iowa Hotline: 1-855-8111 (24/7)
  2. Your Life Iowa Text Line: Text “TALK” to 855-895-TEXT (8398) (2-10 p.m. daily)
  3. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (available 24/7)
  4. ReachOut USA
  5. Download the free “A Friend Asks” app from the Jason Foundation

You may also be interested in:

  1. “13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons” (on Netflix)
  2. “Prevention: The Critical Need” by Jack Pransky (a great book that addresses this topic and more)

Open discussions between adults and young people are a powerful way to help students see problems through a different lens. When talking with young people about suicide, remember to focus on wholeness and well-being, rather than on fear. Encourage them to see the feelings they’re experiencing as a storm cloud: noticeable but temporary. Remind them they can make it through the rain.

Thank you to our district counselors for their assistance with this post.

Seniors Come Home 2017

Seniors Come Home May 22, 2017

Students who attended a West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) elementary are invited back for Seniors Come Home. This special event gives high school seniors the opportunity to visit their home elementary schools so teachers and fellow students can wish them well on their upcoming graduation. Seniors Come Home has been a tradition in the WDMCS for more than 20 years.

On Monday, May 22, graduating seniors are invited back to their home schools at the following times:

  • Jordan Creek and Western Hills at 3 p.m.;
  • Crestview at 3:15 p.m.;
  • Clive and Hillside at 3:30 p.m.;
  • Fairmeadows at 3:45 p.m.; and
  • Crossroads Park and Westridge at 4 p.m.

All retired elementary teachers and staff are welcome.

Seniors Come Home is coordinated by Rosemary Brandt (515-633-5012), Service Learning Coordinator. Service Learning is a program of WDMCS Community Education.

Promoting Connections Between Generations

The WDMCS third grade classes visit metro area retirement communities, where students read to the residents. Students prepare by selecting their favorite picture books, reading out loud to peers, and writing interview questions. During their visit, students are paired with a senior and they spend an hour reading and getting to know one another.  The Read to Me program promotes connections between generations, and gives both students and seniors an opportunity to grow and learn.




Meet Kids West Program Assistant Kris Gardner

Kris GardnerThere are still a few days to register for Kids West 2017 Summer Day Camp and the 2017-18 school year! Any West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) child in grades K-6 is eligible for this safe, affordable, and convenient before- and after-school care. Kids West registration materials are due April 7 for returning families and April 12 for potential participants.

All Kids West registrations are managed by Program Assistant Kris Gardner. She has more than 20 years of Kids West knowledge and experience and can help families with registration, financial aid, and any questions they have. She also oversees the new family lottery, which will take place on April 13 this year. While she enjoys all aspects of her job, one thing has always stood out during her 23 years with Kids West.

“My favorite thing is the people I work with,” Gardner said.

To see a full registration timeline and find out more about Kids West registration, please visit our “Registration” page. You can also contact Gardner at 515-633-5018.

Summer of Learning 2017

Summer of Learning Catalog Cover - Boy Holding Globe in front of chalk board

Are you wondering how you’re going to keep your kids busy this summer? We have many fun, enriching, and affordable learning opportunities available! Whether your children need a little extra help in reading, writing, or math, or simply a fun way to expand their knowledge in several subjects, WDMCS Community Education provides a wide variety of activities to choose from.

Summer of Learning Catalog PDF

List of Summer of Learning programs

Register Online


Instructor Tips: Dennis Kelly—Downsizing by Design

Community Education Instructor Dennis KellyIt seems like one of the biggest 2017 trends may be downsizing and decluttering. Experienced downsizer and Community Education class instructor Dennis Kelly is passionate about helping others downsize and declutter their way to less stress. Whether you are cleaning out your closets or your contact list, he can offer practical help and tips for taking on these challenging tasks. Here are four tips for anyone looking to get a head start on their spring cleaning!

Tips from a Downsizing Expert

  1. Take it slow. Downsizing can be hard to tackle because it takes time and introspection. Give yourself permission to slow down long enough to truly get in touch with yourself.
  2. Look at your life. As spring approaches, ask yourself if your home, career, and relationships are where you want them to be. Think about which things you are ready to freshen up.
  3. Start with positivity. The goal of downsizing is to make room for more joy and happiness in your life. With that in mind, decide what kind of changes you want to implement.
  4. Embrace change. Downsizing takes courage because it is all about new beginnings. Face your downsizing fears, and get excited about making a fresh start!

Service Programs Help Students and Families Give Back

WDMCS Community Education’s service programs offer West Des Moines Community Schools students community service opportunities starting in third grade. Program coordinator Rosemary Brandt sees these opportunities as a chance for students to learn about and fulfill their roles as members of the community, while also gaining confidence and career skills. With four other coordinators, Brandt organizes all five service programs, including the annual Personal Care Collection, taking place this week.

Personal care drive image croppedThe collection restocks the Booster Pak pantries with personal care items like regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and lip balm. Items will be collected and then distributed to WDMCS students through the Booster Pak Program.

“We want all our kids to have the things they need to feel confident, healthy, and comfortable,” Brandt said.

The other service programs—Read to Me, I-CARE, the Walnut Creek Campus Service Program, and the Silver Cord Award program—are valuable opportunities for specific age groups, but the Personal Care Collection is a way for all students, staff, and families to give back. Help make a real difference in your school—there are still two days to bring your items to your building and place them in the designated box.

Thank you for your support of the Personal Care Collection!

See some of the donation boxes WDMCS students have decorated.

Learn more about:

Students Decorate Boxes for WDMCS Personal Care Collection

West Des Moines Community Schools students have been decorating boxes for next week’s WDMCS Personal Care Collection! Staff, families, and students are invited to participate in the WDMCS Personal Care Collection next week, Feb. 20-23. Please bring your items to school and place them in the student-decorated boxes.

The most needed items are regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and lip balm. Items will be collected and then distributed to WDMCS students through the Booster Pak Program.

Thank you for your support for this very worthy cause! The WDMCS Personal Care Collection is coordinated by WDMCS Community Education’s Service Learning Program.