Welcome Phil Simmons to the Facility Use Department

Please join WDMCS Community Education as we welcome Phil Simmons, our new Facilities Use Coordinator.

PhilSimmons eAs the Facilities Use Coordinator, Phil will oversee the scheduling of district buildings that are available to community members outside of the regular school day. He will also supervise the facilities schedulers and building supervisors. The part of his job he is most looking forward to is connecting community members with accessible spaces for their activities.

Phil most recently worked with the YMCA as a program director and coordinator of the Fatherhood Initiative. Before officially joining the WDMCS Community Education team, he worked in collaboration with Community Education on the intramural program and was a member of the Substance Abuse Prevention Community Coalition and the Community Education Advisory Council. He is excited to be back in the district and working with Community Education.

Phil and his wife, Aubrey, have four children: eight-year-old Harper, six-year-old Amelia, and four-year-old twins Elam and Ezra. They enjoy outdoor activities like camping, fishing, and hiking, and are involved in their church community.

For more Community Ed. Highlights, stay up-to-date with the WDMCS Community Education blog!

Community Ed. Highlight: Michelle Campos Joins Facility Use Department

written by Alexandra Wade

ced_michelle_campos'For the first Community Education Highlight, we are featuring Michelle Campos, who recently joined the WDMCS Facility Use Department. She worked as the I-Care Coordinator for Stilwell Junior High for 5.5 years before starting her new position on Aug. 11.

As part of the facilities department, Michelle is responsible for scheduling all school facilities, including gyms, cafeterias, auditoriums and classrooms. Her favorite part of her new position is working to meet the needs of people in the district. People who need to reserve facilities can contact Michelle directly at (515) 633-5014 or camposm@wdmcs.org, or they can visit Community Education’s ‘Reserve a Facility’ page.

In her free time, Michelle likes to watch her three sons play football and other sports. She also likes to run, walk her dogs and play volleyball. She enjoys reading, when she gets the time to sit down.

Michelle thinks “Team Unity” is the most important Community Education value because she sees the community as a team. It also reflects one of her favorite sayings: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

For more Community Ed. Highlights and other fun posts, keep checking in with the Community Education blog!

Communication Intern

Caroline Havekost, Community Relations Intern, 1 week

comed_caroline_havekostI have the wonderful opportunity of working with the communications team at WDMCS. My role as Community Relations Intern allows me to attend several different events throughout the district to take photos and write stories about the events, and all of the great things the community has to offer. My goal this summer is to write a wide variety of stories to keep students, parents, and community members informed about what is going on while school is out of session, and to interest them in new things. I hope to make each story different and exciting, and show case the many great things our district and community have to offer. Although I have only been here a short amount of time, I have already been at work covering events and writings stories. Outside of working, I enjoy swimming, running, crafting, and spending time with my friends and family, especially on the lake boating or jet skiing.

The Faces of Community Education – Part 7

Service Learning

The Service Learning programs provide opportunities for students to impact our community through volunteerism. Students gain confidence and skills while recognizing their roles as contributing members of their community. Our hope is that students will embrace the concept of service before self throughout their lives.

Rosemary Brandt, District Service Learning Coordinator, 4 years

I started working for Community Education in the fall of 2009 when I was hired as the Valley Southwoods Service Learning Coordinator. In the summer of 2011, I was hired as Community Education’s Service Learning Coordinator, and I am responsible for the 3rd grade Read to Me Program, the WDMCS Heart Connection collection, and Seniors Come Home. I also supervise the Service Learning Coordinators at Valley, Indian Hills, Stilwell, and Walnut Creek.

Most people don’t know that I am the person responsible for the content on our Silver Cord webpage. Community Education works really hard at keeping the web page up-to-date and it has become a great resource for WDMCS students and resident to find fun volunteer opportunities.

We are very fortunate to live in a community that supports older youth and encourages civic responsibility and volunteerism. The Silver Cord students are able to lend thousands of hours of their free time back to the community. Last school year and over the summer the Silver Cord students from Valley and Valley Southwoods volunteered over 30,000 hours. I am very proud of my role in coordinating community connections for our students!

I think the most important Community Education value is “Enriching”. We continually strive to enrich the lives in our community by offering affordable classes for all ages through LEARNwest, high quality child care through Kids West, civic opportunities through Service Learning and wellness activities through student intramurals and the Iowa Senior Olympics.

When the weather is good I enjoy riding my bike. Des Moines has a great trail system and it’s getting better all the time. Two of my favorite rides are WDM to downtown and the High Trestle Trail near Woodward. I also like to cook, try new restaurants, and spend weekends at the Iowa Great Lakes.

Cyndi Bonus, Silver Cord Program Coordinator, 8 months

I coordinate the Silver Cord Program for the 9-12 grade students in the West Des Moines Community School District. The Silver Cord Award is a distinguished graduation award available to Valley High School seniors who volunteer a minimum of 50 hours during each year of high school. My favorite thing, hands down, is working one on one with the Silver Cord participants.

All of the Community Education values are important in my role. I will say “Respect” is probably the most important of all. I try very hard to respect that all of the Silver Cord participants are different and each one has various interests, passions, and goes about how they approach volunteering in their own way. I definitely respect all the students as they work hard to achieve their goals of volunteering many hours while leading busy lives and all that they do to lift up others in our community.

I am married and have three children at three different schools in the district, so I spend a lot of time with my family doing various activities. I also really enjoy traveling, home décor, and being outdoors as much as possible. If I could live anywhere else in the world, it would be Ireland.

Michelle Campos, Stilwell Service Learning Coordinator, 4 years

comed_staff_michelle_camposI-CARE is a program that allows junior high students to volunteer in the community. The students give up one study hall a week and go with me to perform community service. We are trying to have the students become involved in their community and make community service part of their normal routine. We are also preparing them to take part in the Silver Cord program. I would love for each one of the students to become a life-long volunteer!

My favorite part of my role is watching the students get to know each other and interact with other students that they would not normally get a chance to meet. I-Care is one of the few activities that 7th and 8th graders participate in together. I also enjoy watching the students as they form a relationship with our volunteer site. Listening to the students talk in the van is fun too!

Of the Community Education values “Team Unity” is the most important. Our community is like a team and if we all participate and do everything to the best of our ability then the team will thrive. It also reflects one of my favorite sayings, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

I have three boys that all love to play football. We have two dogs and one kitten. When I am not working, I like to watch my children (and other people’s kids) participate in athletics. I also enjoy running, playing volleyball, and walking my dogs. I like to read when I have a chance to sit down. I also like to eat A LOT of candy!

Shelley Clayton, Indian Hills Service Learning Coordinator, 8 months

I help junior high students become involved in volunteer opportunities. During study halls the students volunteer at various locations including: WDMCS elementary schools – Creastview, Westridge, Clive, and Crossroads, a senior community center, Montessori, and the National Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. We also plan school wide service projects like “Feed the Pod” and “Pennies for Patients”.

My favorite aspect of my job is seeing the kids interact with the community and when they get to visit their old elementary schools to help out. They are very eager to help when asked.

“People Focus” is the most important Community Education value. I feel it is important to show our youth that they are a valuable part of our community and can truly make a difference.

I enjoy spending time with my three girls and husband. I love swimming, running, and biking! I’m training for my first ever sprint triathlon. I have a master’s degree in marine biology and once I started having a family I wanted to be more involved in the district.

Kelley Fifer, Walnut Creek Service Learning Coordinator, 5 years

I coordinate a program that is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection. Service Learning is designed to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

My favorite part of my job is teaching students how to be part of a solution.

“Relevance” is the most important Community Education value. Programs need to evolve and change to meet changing needs. Community Education is very relevant in today’s society.

When I am not at Walnut Creek Campus, I enjoy sporting events (anything with the Hawkeyes), traveling, golf, cooking, and spending time with the my family, especially the grandbabies!

The Faces of Community Education – Part 6

Facility Use

We have a number of spaces available for community usage outside the regular school day including: auditoriums, cafeterias, classrooms, conference rooms, and gyms. These facilities can be used by community members who are seeking accessible, convenient, and affordable space to hold their activities. Meet our Facticity Use Team who will be happy to help you schedule and coordinate your reservation.

Nate Lingren, Facilities Use Coordinator, 8 months

comed_staff_nate_lingrenAs a school district, all of our schools are publicly funded through the community that supports it.  It is the Facility Use department’s responsibility to make these facilities open to the public for use and appreciation. Community members can rent gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, conference rooms, and other spaces through us.

The best part of my role is: giving youth the chance to participate in many different activities at familiar facilities; giving adults the chance to continue both education and physical fitness; and getting the opportunity to meet so many different members of the community.

Adaptability is my favorite strength. Being a source of “opportunity” for your community means you have to realize trends, needs, and alternatives.

I enjoy family time with my daughter and wife, and attend many Cyclone games. I also enjoy motorcycle riding, slow pitch softball, golf, hunting, and fishing.

Rebecca Harless, Facilities Scheduler, 14 years

comed_staff_rebecca_harlessI schedule meetings, building usage for scouting groups, and I make sure buildings have adequate staffing for evening usage.

My favorite part of my job is making the facility usage process run smoothly and effectively. I find satisfaction in helping the schools to be open for community usage and many different types of activities with affordable prices, clean facilities, and helpful staff.

Respect is my favorite Community Education value.

When I am not scheduling facilities I like to read, workout, and dance.

Jim Wallace, Facilities Scheduler, 21 years

comed_staff_jim_wallaceI schedule facilities in the WDMCS district and mainly focus on scheduling gyms. The most rewarding part of my job is finding a room or gym for someone that has had no luck finding a space before they contacted me.

My background is in computer repair: first repairing them, managing the computer repair technicians, and then financial management.

My favorite thing to ask people is, “Do you like chocolate?” because I am not allowed to eat it.

The Faces of Community Education – Part 5

Intramurals and Wellness

Gabe Carlson, Wellness Specialist, 11 years

comed_staff_gabe_carlsonI coordinate the staff wellness program for the West Des Moines Community School District as well as the intramural sport program for 7th – 12th grade students. I love being in a service position where I can help people learn about their health status and help build a safe and nurturing culture for our teachers, staff, and students. It is also a pleasure to interact with our students and help connect and integrate them into our schools through intramural sports.

Community Education is about service to our community and providing needed education and support, so being people focused is our top priority.

When I am not at work I enjoy being outdoors in nature, whether that is camping over a weekend with my wife and two daughters, or taking my two dogs out pheasant hunting. I also enjoy playing basketball a couple times a week and staying active.

The Faces of Early Childhood – Part 4

Holly Burns, Preschool Programs Coordinator, 13 years

I work with families and preschools in our community to facilitate placements and funding of preschool- aged children that are one or two years before Kindergarten.

I love finding just the right preschool spot for a child.  The right spot involves knowing available openings, locations, teachers, days and hours, as well as funding and enrollment. It can be tricky, and I like to help families make good decisions that work well for their family.

“People Focus” is my favorite Community Education value.  I think kids and parents are at the heart of all that I do. The world is full of regulations, rules, paper work and procedures and I like to treat each person like I would treat a good friend if they were seeking advice for their child and preschool.

I like to shop, cook, and create things with my hands.  My favorite thing to do is visit and play with my 15 month old granddaughter, Camden who lives in southern California. During her first year of life I managed to see her every 2 months.  She is my joy.  My husband John and I have been married for 36 years.  I have a daughter, Lindsay in California and a son, Nick who is getting married in September and lives in Denver.

I am a certified Parent Educator. One of the programs I support personally is PERIOD of PURPLE Crying, which is an educational program for parents of newborns. I knit little purple hats to donate to newborns through Blank Children’s Hospital that are then given out each November to help parents understand newborn crying. The hats each have a bookmark tag with the acronym “PURPLE” which has suggestions and info regarding newborn crying.  The program is aimed at not only educating parents so that they know what to expect, and eliminating shaken baby syndrome by educating frustrated and exhausted new parents.

Sonja LeSher, Brighter Beginnings Program Coordinator, 6 years

I coordinate and facilitate Brighter Beginnings, which is a free program for WDMCS parents of children ages 12 months to 5 years. Parents choose a class according to their child’s age and we meet once a week. This is a fun, relaxed environment to learn about basic child development and discuss and share parenting styles.

I love meeting new people! I enjoy making new friends and watching the families make new friends too! As each session progresses, parents are more at ease to share their joys and concerns about parenting during our discuss time. It’s great to hear them really support one another.

Of the Community Education values “People Focus” is the most important. We serve our community best when we have their needs in mind.

I love watching my kids participate in their activities!  I enjoy being outside in my garden or walking my dog, Lola.

Michelle Greenough, Early Childhood Iowa Preschool Quality Coach, 7 years

Since my position is unique and I serve all Polk County School districts, I see my role as an ambassador of and an advocate for WDMCS Community Education as I am out in the community.

I love getting to visit all of the different preschool environments and meeting teachers who love what they do. It is amazing how a quality preschool education can look so different from classroom to classroom and teacher to teacher.

I believe that that the strength of all six of the Community Education values combined is what makes us special. However, if I had to pick one above all the others, I would say that “People Focus” is the one that stands out.  It is the people of our community that make us relevant and it is the people of our community that we aim to please!

I love to spend time with my two girls in my free time!  Anything that involves them is fun!

I am in love with old houses!  My dream is to lovingly restore and live in a Queen Anne Victorian in order to give her another 100 years!

The Faces of Community Education – Part 3

The Faces of the Kids West Office

Kids West provides safe, affordable, and convenient before-and-after school care for WDMCS children in grades K-6. At Kids West, kids can play, create crafts, learn new team games, and make friends across all ages.

Amy Dvorak, Program Supervisor, 23 years

I hire, support, and supervise the staff that take care of the children in the Kids West program. My favorite part of my job is the overall support we give to families. I enjoy hearing that parents go to pick up their kids and they don’t want to go home. I love knowing that our staff build trusting relationships with our families and that they are able to see some children grow up through seven years of their lives.

Of the Community Education values people focus is what we are all about, serving and supporting people in the community to live their lives in a more fulfilling way.

When I am not working at Kids West I enjoy spending time with my family, it is the most important thing to me. Just being with them – most of the time doing nothing special, but making sure they know that they matter most to me.

KJ Yaeger, Program Coordinator, 22 years

Well, I’m not really sure the public should know too much about my job – most of it is top secret information. What I can say is that I set up field trips, order supplies, and keep track of expenses for Kids West. My favorite part of work is spending time out at the sites with the kids and coming up with fun events for them.

FUN is the most important Community Education value. Life is too short not to have fun 🙂

When I am not out at the Kids West sites I enjoy hanging out with my kids and my husband. I also love to garden in the spring and summer.

Kris Gardner, Program Assistant, 19 years

I process all of the registrations, attendance, and financial assistance for Kids West. I also handle parent correspondence. I like to help new families register, and I like helping our Kids West staff keep our children safe and happy with accurate attendance records. The staff are better able to care for the children because they know when to expect them. My favorite value is fun! I like to come to work each day, and I love the group of people I work with! They are a fun-loving, friendly group! When I am not registering new families for Kids West I like to spend time with my family. I also like to sew, knit and crochet.

Keri Remsburg, Account Clerk, 10 months

I process the payments for Kids West, and help parents with questions regarding the program or their payment status.

I enjoy having conversations and getting to know the parents on the phone or in person. I enjoy the environment I work in, with great people who have a strong passion for helping people in our community.

I believe the most important value that Community Education represents is, working together as a team to build relationships with customers and help serve the community in the most effective way possible, with positive results. The Community Education team is strongly compassionate about helping others in the community and provides many services for a variety of needs.

I love to spend time with my family and friends. I enjoy time with my kids and attending their sporting activities. I also love to exercise, shop, and watch movies.

I grew up in West Des Moines and attended Stilwell Junior High and Valley High School. I have two kids, who attend Westridge Elementary. Prior to WDMCS Community Education, I worked as a Special Ed associate at Jordan Creek Elementary.

The Faces of Community Education – Part 2

The Continuing Education Department

Our continuing education department provides classes for all age groups. The programs that fall under the continuing education department are LEARNwest, Adventures, and Summer of Learning

LEARNwest offers a wide range of classes for adults who want to expand their skills, make everyday life better, and want to try something new. LEARNwest classes are offered evenings and weekends.

Our Adventures program has fun classes, fun teachers and fun, enriching experiences for K-8 students after school, in the evenings and on the weekends. Adventures provides a way for students to expand their knowledge or skills in an area of interest and try something beyond the classes that they have during the school day.

Our Summer of Learning programs provide fun and enriching educational experiences during the summer months for students completing grades K-12.

Meet the continuing education department.

Sue Otte, Continuing Education Specialist, 13 years

I coordinate the classes for the LEARNwest program. The favorite part of my day is hearing from the students who really enjoy the classes they take. My hope is that the LEARNwest classes offer opportunities for people to enrich their lives and learn something new. When I’m not planning LEARNwest classes, I enjoy spending time with my family, going to movies, and trying new restaurants.


Jess Lieb, Youth Programmer, 5 years

I plan the after school and weekend classes for kids along with many of our summer children’s programs. The favorite part of my job is being able to offer fun and enriching classes/programs for kids to enjoy! People Focus is the most important Community Education value because without focusing on the needs of the people we serve, we can’t make the positive impact on the community that we strive for. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading books, watching movies, and finding ways to be creative.


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The Faces of Community Education – Part 1

Staff at WDMCS Community Education operate programs and services provided to the community. Over the next few blog posts we are going to introduce ourselves to learn little more about us and what role we have in the Community Education office.

Shahna Janssen, Director, 6 years

Shahna Janssen, DirectorI have the privilege of working with our citizen-based advisory council as well as providing support for each of the programs and services offered through Community Education. I really enjoy the people I get to work and collaborate with and I believe that our efforts make a meaningful difference in our community.  I love the process of helping ideas that matter, become realities that serve the needs of others. I think all of the CE values are very important. If I have to pick just one, I’d say People Focus because at the end of the day, the programs and services that we offer through Community Education need to have a positive impact on the people we serve. When I am not working I enjoy going out for Mexican dinners with my family, relaxing at home, shopping, and an occasional pedicure.

Julie Lundy, Administrative Assistant, 10 months

Judy Lundy, Administrative AssistantI am many times the first person you will talk to or see when contacting Community Education. I work mainly with Learnwest, the preschool programs, and the facilities department. The thing I enjoy most about my job the variety of things I am involved in. People Focus to me is the most important our values. I love the idea that we are working towards the good of the community and offering enrichment for their lives. When I am not at the office I love to watch my girls participate in their activities and I enjoy running.

Jamie Evans, Communications Specialist, 5 years

Jamie Evans, Communications SpecialistI think I am the luckiest person Community Education department! I have the exciting role working with all the great people, programs, and services that make up WDMCS Community Education. I prepare the communications, design the brochures, update the website, and post to social media. I honestly see the importance in all of our values, but if I had to pick one I would say Enriching. I love that we work towards expanding the life experiences of the community members. We are always looking to identify and provide opportunities which may not routinely be available without our programs, services, and spaces. When I am not at my computer I like to spend time with my family, read, scrapbook and go to movies.

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