Seniors Come Home – Class of 2016

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 23, 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.

Summer of Learning

ced_sol_catalog_coverAre 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 Programs and Information

Catalog (pdf)

Registration Information

Register Online

Instructor Tips: Dennis Kelly — Tips from a Downsizing Expert

ced_blog_DennisKellyTipsDennis Kelly is an experienced downsizer passionate about helping others declutter and destress. Whether you are cleaning out your closets or your contact list, he can offer practical help and tips for downsizing without feeling overwhelmed. 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!

Rec’s and Reviews: “How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids”

  • ced_blog_BucketBookWe recommend: “How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer, with illustrations by Maurie J. Manning
  • This book is for: kids in preschool through fourth grade
  • Summary: When Felix wakes up one morning, he finds an invisible bucket floating overhead. A rotten morning threatens his mood — and his bucket — drop by drop. Can Felix discover how to refill his bucket before it’s completely empty?

“How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids” is a kid-friendly retelling of Tom Rath’s book of the same title for grown-ups. It’s based on the idea that everyone has an invisible bucket of water that follows them around and represents their emotional energy. Every positive interaction adds to the bucket, while negative experiences dip from the bucket.

ced_blog_BucketBook-pageIn this version, main character Felix learns about buckets from his grandfather. The next day, he can see everyone’s buckets, but he has a rough morning, and his bucket empties as he goes. The afternoon takes a turn for the better, and his bucket fills up again. He later adds to his little sister’s bucket by inviting her to play with him, becoming a true bucket-filler.

Using a story to spread the concept of bucket-fillers is a great way to remind kids to build people up. Manning’s artwork highlights the story perfectly, especially the kids’ colorful and unique outfits. (Keep an eye out for Felix’s sister’s tutu, and his Laser Ant backpack.) The writing may be a little simple for older readers, especially on some of the montage pages, but the lesson is a good one for readers of all ages.

Source How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids

Instructor Tips: Amy Schafer — Tips for Buying a New Home

ced_blog_AmySchaferLicensed since 2001, Amy Schafer is the vice president of sales for the Betsy Sarcone real estate team and a WDMCS Community Education LEARNwest instructor. She has an extensive history in not only selling homes but also exceeding expectations and providing stellar customer service. Amy joined the Sarcone team in 2015 to further her passion for helping buyers find their dream home. Amy is a native of southeast Iowa and holds a degree in interior design from Iowa State University.


Amy Schafer’s Five Home Buying Tips and Secrets

  1. Get pre-approved! Having your financing in order will save time, make you look like a rockstar buyer, and make the home buying process much more enjoyable.
  1. Set your criteria. Create a needs and wants list so you have direction on what you would like to purchase. The list can change, but it helps to start with a vision.
  1. Hire a professional realtor. An agent becomes the gatekeeper of your strategy, motivation, and finances. Pick one to guide you through the process.
  1. Don’t rely on the Internet. The assessor’s website and sites like Zillow and Trulia (just to name a few) can be filled with inaccurate information. Rely on your realtor to verify information and availability.
  1. Write an offer! When you find a house you like that also fits your needs, write an offer. Homes are selling fast and can be gone in moments. If you do choose to wait, make sure you are comfortable with possibly missing out on that home. The homes at the best price and in the best condition sell fast in any market.

Happy home hunting! To learn more of Amy Schafer’s home buying tips, register for her LEARNwest class, Top Home Buying Tips and Secrets.

Class Information and Registration

Monthly Motivation: Make a Friend Day

ced_blog_MakeaFriendFeb. 11 is National Make a Friend Day. Friends are such an important part of our lives. They support us and make us laugh and lend a helping hand when we need it. Celebrate National Make a Friend Day by sharing these quotes about friendship on social media using #NationalMakeaFriendDay, and of course, by making a new friend.



“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” — William Shakespeare

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” — Helen Keller

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” — Henry Ford

“A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.” — Maya Angelou

CE Today: February 3 — Jacques-Yves Cousteau Publishes “The Silent World”


(Image source:

French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau published one of his most famous works, “The Silent World,” on Feb. 3, 1953. The book detailed his early underwater explorations, made possible through his own invention: the Aqua-Lung, or the first scuba.

Cousteau served in the French navy and wanted to develop a self-contained underwater breathing device, so divers did not have to be tethered to the surface. He designed the Aqua-Lung with help from engineer Emile Gagnan, then developed underwater cameras and photography. He used his new inventions to explore shipwrecks for the navy, and explored ancient wrecks and sea life as a hobby.

He published a memoir, “The Silent World,” in 1953, and began work on a film version with director Louis Malle. It was released to global acclaim three years later, winning Best Documentary at the Academy Awards and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The film revealed the underwater world to the public for the first time.

Cousteau went on to earn many awards and accolades, develop several additions and improvements to scuba, and become a passionate environmentalist. He died June 25, 1997, at the age of 87, but his message has been preserved in his many books and films, and by the Cousteau Society and Equipe Cousteau.

Sources: “The Captain” “Cousteau publishes The Silent World”

CE Highlight: Heart Connection Collection

ced_blog_heart-connectionWDMCS staff, families, and students are invited again this year to participate in the Heart Connection to help restock the Booster Pak personal care pantries.

The most needed items are regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and ​lip balm. Please bring your items to school the week of February 22-25 and place in the Heart Connection ​donation ​box. ​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 Heart Connection is coordinated by WDMCS Community Education’s Service Learning Program.

Tweeting? Tag us using #heartconnection16 and/or #IheartWDMCS.

Instructor Tips: Diane Browne — D.I.Y Repurposing and Restoring

ced_blog_tips-jan2016The January instructor tips come from LEARNwest instructor Diane Browne, who will be teaching the “Rescue, Restore, and Redecorate Your Furnishings” class. Browne grew up in a family of antique lovers, auctioneers, appraisers, and furniture restorers. She now works in the paint department at Johnston Ace Hardware and enjoys helping people pick out colors to enhance their homes and teaching chalk painting and furniture restoring classes. She is always on the lookout for a garage sale or curbside find just waiting
to be repurposed!

Six Repurposing Tips for the D.I.Y. Enthusiast

  1. Use your imagination! If you have a piece of furniture that is outdated, scratched, or does not fit in, try to visualize what it could become or what you could use it for in another area of your home.
  2. Go to consignment or antique stores for inspiration. They are a great place to find repurposing ideas. Then use those ideas to create new pieces out of your own furniture.
  3. Always look for curbside items. Keep an eye out when you are driving down the street — you might see something unique you can repurpose for your home.
  4. Go to garage/estate sales with an open mind. Something that you never would have pictured in your home might just jump out at you as perfect for repurposing.
  5. Always make sure that the pieces you want to work with have good “bones.”  As long as the basic structure of the piece is sturdy, the sky is the limit as to what it can become.
  6. Think of all the possibilities, not just the first one. An old headboard does not have to be repurposed as a headboard; it can be turned into a unique bench.

Once you start the process of repurposing things, you will never see “junk” again! Every piece is full of possibilities. Check out Diane Browne’s upcoming class to start seeing those possibilities for yourself.

Check Out Session 1
Check Out Session 2

Mythbusting Monday: National Thesaurus Day

Education in dictionary.Jan. 18 is National Thesaurus Day, and to
celebrate the day, we decided to bust some myths about words. English is a flexible and ever-changing language, but it’s always a good idea to brush up on your language skills.

We chose three words from Harvard cognitive scientist and linguist Steven Pinker’s latest book, “The Sense of Style,” which addresses several misunderstood words.

This is an easy one to mix up, due to another word: uninterested.

  • What people think it means: bored or indifferent (synonyms for uninterested)
  • What it actually means: impartial or unbiased

How to use it: “The dispute should be resolved by a disinterested judge.”

People often miss some letters in the middle of this word and think it’s “homogenous.”

  • How people often say it: huh-MAHjenus
  • How it should be said: homo-genius

Homogenous actually isn’t a word at all, but a “corruption of homogenized.”

  • How to use homogeneous correctly: “The population was not homogeneous; it was a melting pot.”


  • What people think it is: a synonym for simple
  • What it really is: basically, a slam

Simplistic truly means naively or overly simple, so if someone’s answer or explanation is simplistic, it means they may not have a full understanding of the topic.

Urban Legend
Who or what counts as an urban legend? Pinker’s definitions make it clear: urban legends are stories, not legendary people.

  • What people think it means: someone who is legendary in a city
  • What it actually means: an intriguing and widely circulated but false story

Word myths, busted. To wrap up this Mythbusting Monday, we’ll leave you with this quote:
A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the word you first thought of.
— Burt Bacharach