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

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

Monthly Motivation: Family Literacy Month


(Image source: National Center for Families Learning)

November is Family Literacy Month, and we wanted to help all the families in our community get motivated to read and learn together.

Family Literacy Month is organized by the National Center for Families Learning, which defines family literacy as two or more generations in one family actively learning together. It is a time to “lift up and celebrate the tireless efforts of family literacy and family-focused programs.” The Center offers several resources for families who want to learn about something new together, from healthy habits to fun facts. They also provide “30 Days of Family Learning,” a guide to celebrating the month with different activities each day. Activities include puppet shows, group storytelling, art projects, and a mystery dinner.

For more ideas, visit online resource partnership ReadWriteThink. ReadWriteThink encourages families to expand their bedtime reading repertoire by having parents and grandparents share their favorite childhood book with children in their family.

Let us know how you are celebrating and learning together this month!


Monthly Motivation: Happy Handwashing Day!

GlobalHandwashingDay2015Happy Global Handwashing Day! Global Handwashing Day is celebrated annually on Oct. 15. The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. This year’s theme is Raise a Hand for Hygiene, and events are being held in countries all over the world including Argentina, Kenya, and Pakistan.

The day serves to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of washing your hands with soap (that’s the extra important part). Handwashing with soap is an fast, inexpensive way to prevent disease and save lives. The day is used to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage with-soap handwashing!

To make handwashing a little more exciting, you can watch this TED Talk video from Joe Smith, lawyer and “powerful advocate for proper paper towel use,” He teaches viewers how to end up with completely dry hands without overusing paper towels.

Monthly Motivation: National Preparedness Month

NPM15_logo_v6Final-nationalSeptember is National Preparedness Month, a month dedicated to planning for disasters and emergencies. This year, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are asking people to make a plan now, for anything that might happen in the future. They suggest making plans with your community, your family, and for your pets. Plans can include what to do, how to stay safe, and how to communicate during a crisis. The months ends with National PrepareAthon! Day, on September 30. 

The Ready campaign offers resources like plans and plan templates, hazard education, and supplies and documents for families that want to participate in preparedness activities. Explore their website to find out more about getting ready and National Preparedness Month.

Monthly Motivation: Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. As families are getting ready to go back to school, remember to get their eyes checked before school starts. Children entering kindergarten and third grade in Iowa must have completed an eye screening before starting school.

This month is a good chance to talk to children about their vision and eye safety. If you and your child are curious about how eyes work, the National Eye Institute has a series of educational resources geared specifically to children, including this video on vision in the dark:

Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month is also a good time to remind children to wear protective eyewear when participating in sports and to take wearing goggles in science class seriously. Make sure younger children are playing with age-appropriate toys that do not have sharp or protruding parts. Students may even need reminders about wearing sunglasses that have full coverage and protection.

Most children have healthy eyes and good vision, but the things that threaten good vision are not always immediately noticeable. The best way to make sure your child’s eyes are healthy is a setting up an eye exam.

Some things parents can look for are:

  • wandering or crossed eyes
  • a family history of childhood vision problems
  • disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects
  • squinting or turning the head in an unusual way when watching television

Health Alliance Plan
Prevent Blindness
National Eye Institute

Monthly Motivation: Enjoy the Outdoors

One of the best things about summer is enjoying time outside with your family. Warm weather and long days provide plenty of opportunities for playing, hiking, going on picnics or bike rides, and exploring. The season also brings plenty of bugs. Some of the most prevalent are ticks and mosquitoes. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put together some helpful tips for preventing and treating bites from these insects.


Going Outside

  • Wear protective clothing. Hats, long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks are a good idea. Tucking pants into socks offers even more protection. Hair should be covered. Long hair should not be worn loose.
  • Ticks like humid environments, so avoid wooded areas, and even areas with higher amounts of shrubs, plant litter, and tall grass. Walk in the center of trails. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so limit outdoor activity at these times.
  • Always apply insect repellent before going outside. The CDC recommends various repellents for ticks and mosquitoes and provides a list of every registered repellent brand in the U.S. There are safe and effective repellents for every budget, age, and preference.

Coming Inside

  • Any mosquito bites should be treated promptly.
  • Tick bites are not as immediately apparent as mosquito bites. To prevent them:
    • Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for one hour soon after coming inside. This should kill any ticks left on clothing.
    • Shower or bathe within two hours of coming inside. This will help to remove any ticks remaining on the body and is a good chance to perform a full-body tick check. Pay special attention to hair, under arms, belly button, behind the knees, around the waist, the groin area, and in and around ears.
    • Check pets and any gear as well. Ticks can enter the house on animals or equipment, then attach themselves to people later.

Young children pose outside of tent

After a Bite

  • Mosquito bites can be itchy, but will go away in time. Try to avoid scratching. For itch relief, use hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. An ice or cold pack might also help.
  • Mosquitoes can pass on West Nile virus, which has a variety of symptoms. If you think you have been infected with West Nile virus, see a healthcare professional.

    West Nile virus (WNV) neuroinvasive disease incidence reported to ArboNET, by state, United States, 2013 (Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

    West Nile virus (WNV) neuroinvasive disease incidence reported to ArboNET, by state, United States, 2013
    (Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

  • If you find an attached tick, remove it as soon as possible. Grasp it with tweezers, getting as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. Clean the bites and your hands with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or an iodine scrub.
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

  • In the weeks following a tick bite, watch for signs of illness like a rash or fever. See a healthcare professional if they develop. Knowing information like when the tick bit you, where you live or picked up the tick, and how long the tick was attached may be helpful.


CDC:  Stop Mosquitos
CDC: West Nile virus site
Mayo Clinic: Treating Mosquito Bites
CDC: Stop Ticks
CDC: Tick Removal

Enjoy the outdoors this summer, and watch this blog for more ways to stay healthy and happy!

Monthly Motivation: Sun Safety Tips

sunglassesStronger sun is associated with summer, but UV rays start to increase in spring, even before the temperature starts to rise. Playing outdoors is a great way to keep kids active, but protecting their skin from harmful rays can be a challenge. Here are some sun safety tips from the Center for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society :


Find shade
This seems obvious, but is still important. Keep this in mind especially when the sun is strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., or when your shadow is shorter than you are.

Protect your skin
There are many ways to do this, including covering up with clothing and hats and wearing sunscreen. Make sure sunscreen is an appropriate SPF, and that you can’t see sunlight through clothing. If you can, it can also get through to your skin.

Wear sunglasses
Wearing sunglasses is common, but wearing sunglasses that truly protect eyes is not. Many people wear fashion sunglasses or sunglasses that do not wrap around far enough. Find glasses that cover the whole eye area and that block both UVA and UVB rays. The best sunglasses will block 99-100 percent of the rays.

Rec’s and Reviews: A Guide to Social Media

In today’s constantly changing social media culture, it can be hard to know how to tell your story best. Digital consultant and bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk addresses that challenge in his book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World.”

Cover of "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook."

Cover of “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” Source:

The title of the book comes from an analogy that Vaynerchuk carries through the entire piece. He equates social media use to boxing, with different types of content categorized as jabs and right hooks. Jabs are the “lightweight pieces of content” that entertain followers and draw them in. Right hooks are calls to action that benefit the source. The comparison is simple but applicable, neatly explaining all the content Vaynerchuk includes.

It is important to note that Vaynerchuk’s book was published in 2013. Two years may sound fleeting, but it’s several social media lifetimes. For example, Vaynerchuk gives solid advice for using photos in social media posts, but barely mentions videos, the real social media currency today. This may be because pictures are easier to demonstrate on paper than video, but in a culture that is rapidly moving beyond videos to livestream content, so much emphasis on photos seems dated. Vaynerchuk does mention Vine and Snapchat as “emerging networks,” but any teen can tell you that they are now on the way out.

With that in mind, it is still more than possible to take Vaynerchuk’s excellent lessons and examples and apply them to social media today. His book is geared toward companies, so he emphasizes content and brand voice. He has an almost preternatural understanding of what works for each platform he covers. This knowledge is displayed in his chapter titles: Storytell on Facebook, Listen on Twitter, Create Art on Instagram, etc. The titles are also good examples of Vaynerchuk’s writing style. The entire book is full of similar buzzwords and written with a snappy, clear voice that makes the wealth of information easy to absorb.

“Jab, Jab” covers a huge amount of information. It can seem overwhelming, and it is not a fast read. Vaynerchuk’s voice keeps the book from dragging, but the amount of detail warrants a thorough reading. Though slightly dated, the information holds up, and can be applied to the new platforms and trends of today. For companies and individuals looking to gain a deeper understanding of how to use social media well, this book is an effective and accessible resource.

Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur and author of "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook." Source: Author

Gary Vaynerchuk is a businessman, co-founder of digital consulting agency VaynerMedia, and self-proclaimed “storytelling entrepreneur.” He has been a consistent early adopter of new developments in technology, from email to social media. He was chosen as one of the top 20 people entrepreneurs should follow by Businessweek. Vaynerchuk has 1,139,135 followers on Twitter and 63,651 followers on Instagram.


Community Education features a book or movie in our blog every month. Watch the blog for reviews, recommendations, and more!

Monthly Motivation: World Health Day

April 7 is World Health Day, a campaign sponsored by the World Health Organization. World Health Day 2015 focuses on food safety around the world. Follow #safefood on Twitter and look for slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe” to find out more about world food safety. This quiz on some food safety basics is a good place to start exploring World Health Day:

A quiz on food safety from the World Health organization.

World Health Day Tablemat Quiz

The quiz is also available to print as a tablemat.