LEARNwest Instructor Spotlight – Bob Neff

written by Sue Otte, Continuing Education Specialist

Learnwest Instructor Bob NeffOne of the best things about being the Continuing Education Specialist for Community Education is that I am able to meet and work with so many amazing and talented instructors. With the start of our new blog I want to share with you from time to time information about LEARNwest’s instructors.

For this first spotlight I would like you to meet Bob Neff. Bob is teaching our Juggling 101 class being offered now at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School.

A Des Moines native, Bob Neff learned to juggle in high school, waiting for an open tennis court. Why get bored standing around when there are three balls, also with nothing to do?

Bob joined a juggling club 18 years later. That’s when the fun really began – passing balls and clubs, learning passing patterns, enjoying the camaraderie of his juggling pals. The cardio and mental benefits from juggling are another plus.

As much as he enjoys juggling, teaching others to enjoy this pastime comes naturally to Bob. From the first toss, through buddy juggling and the thrill of that first three-ball run, Bob shares the joy of juggling.

LEARNwest Adult Classes

Spring Break Activities

written by Michelle Greenough, Early Childhood Iowa Preschool Quality Coach

As much as all of that wintry white stuff outside your window may hint otherwise, spring is fast-approaching and Spring Break is already upon us.  If you are the parent of a young child or two, like I am, you may be faced with some stay-cation time off of work while your kiddos are taking a break from their studies.  “Thank goodness for the internet, TV, and video games.” you say?  Hold it right there!  Here are some fun and easy ideas that will leave a lasting impression on your little ones and have them begging for more.  (Sorry!)

  1.  Sidewalk Chalk Paint – I have to assume that we will be able to see the concrete once again in the near future so here is a must-do for that day.  If sidewalk chalk is too “last season” and paint in the house has you in a cold sweat, this three ingredient recipe is a win-win!  Not only does it dry quickly, it also washes away from the ground (and skin) easily.  Get inspired and look online for more outdoor art projects!
  2. Pigs in a Blanket – Now, who doesn’t love a good dog?  Children love to get down and dirty in the kitchen, but the too-busy parent in all of us sometimes has a hard time letting go and surrendering ourselves to the process and the mess.  Come on, you can do it!  Check out these ideas for kid-friendly lunches that they can create on their own with just a little help from you.  http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/kids-cooking/children-cooking-kids-meals-can-make/mini-pancake-cinnamon-rolls/
  3. The Science Center of Iowa – When was the last time you came face to face with 47 foot T. rex named Sue?  Field trips have all but disappeared from school curriculum for a variety of reasons so, why not do some exploring on your own?  Not only will you be able to pick where you go, but you will be able to individualize your adventure based upon your child’s interests.  Who knows, maybe you will even learn something yourself!

It really does not matter what types of activities you choose to do with your child, so feel free to stray from these suggestions and come up with something fun on your own.  It really is not about what you do, but about the sweet little people you are doing it with.  Now, hurry up, and go make some memories (and sidewalk chalk paint)!

Still Learning

Written by Shahna Janssen, Director of Community Education

I always thought of myself as a really good student. I was well behaved (most of the time), took my assignments seriously, and got good grades.  But in hindsight, I also completely missed the point!

I missed the point because my goal as a student was to get an A, but it was never actually about learning.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really value learning, or learn how to learn until I was an adult, and until I stopped getting grades.

Today I’m energized by the learning process,  and I am blessed to be part of a learning organization. My role as the Director of Community Education gives me the opportunity to learn about many amazing things in our community and to learn from equally amazing people in WDMCS and our community at-large. I’m looking forward to sharing glimpses of that learning through this blog. While I regret that I  didn’t value learning earlier in my life, I’ve LEARNED that it is better late than never!

Heart Connection Collects Over 3,000 Personal Care Items

Items Collected

Over 3,000 personal care items were collected through the Heart Connection drive.

Thank you to everyone that participated in the 2013 annual Heart Connection personal care item drive. Over 3,000 personal care products were collected for WDM Human Services..

Special thanks to the Silver Cord volunteers that made boxes for the collection site, picked up, and delivered the items to Human Services. Items donated included soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, diapers, laundry detergent, paper products and more.


A shout out to Silwell Students that collected over 2,300 items. Way to go Stilwell Junior High!