2018 Staff Recognition

Congratulations to WDMCS district staff who were recognized at the 2018 Staff Recognition Reception on May 10. Community Education staff members included: Jackie Ebling-30 years, Mildred Knee-30 years, Elizabeth Bruner-20 years, Philip Hamm-20 years, Sue Otte-20 years, and Gary Larson-15 years. Retirees Jackie Ebling, Rebecca Harless, and Mary Shelhamer were also honored. Thank you for your year’s of service.

three women being honored

Community Education’s retirees, (from left to right) Mary Shelhamer, Rebecca Harless, and Jackie Ebling.

Two women standing

Twenty-year honoree, Sue Otte, with Shahna Janssen at the Staff Recognition Reception.

Four women

Kids West honorees, (from left to right) Mary Shelhamer-retiree, Elizabeth Bruner-20 years, Amy Dvorak, and Jackie Ebling-20 years and retiree.

 

2017-18 Susan Asklof Enthusiasm Award Presented to Nic Hoover

A head shot of Nic HooverThe 2017-18 Susan Asklof Enthusiasm Award was presented to Nic Hoover at the West Des Moines Community School’s welcome back celebration on Monday, Aug. 21. Nic is a third-grade teacher at Clive Learning Academy.

WDMCS Community Education began giving this award in memory of Susan Asklof, the district’s wellness supervisor from 1986-91. Susan helped many students and staff understand the importance and reward of a healthy lifestyle. The recipient of this award is an employee who exemplifies her amazing qualities: Lives Life Fully, Loves Unconditionally, Learns with Joy, Laughs Heartily, and Leaves a Legacy.

Here is excerpt from Nick’s nomination form:

“When people think of Clive Learning Academy, they think of Nic. He is always willing to lend a helping hand or listening ear. He co-sponsors Student Council and Circle of Friends, is in charge of PBIS, serves as the WDMEA representative, and has served on countless other committees. Whether earning his master’s degree with coworkers or leading through the implementation of New Tech, Nic is always up for a new challenge and approaches everything with a positive attitude. He makes a lasting impact on students because of his dedication to making them feel important and like they belong to the school community.”

Congratulations, Nic!

Nick Hoover Susan Asklof Award

Made in the Shade: Helping Kids Keep Cool This Summer

People in swimming poolAs temperatures rise this summer, make sure you know the best ways to keep your children safe. A child’s body will not cool down as quickly as an adult’s, and children may not recognize that they are getting too hot or be able to explain it to an adult. Here are some tips from the Polk County Health Department’s 2017 Extreme Heat Toolkit that families and caregivers can use to help keeps kids safe during summer:

  Signs of Heat Exhaustion   Signs of Heat Stroke 
  • Heavy sweating
  • Feeling weak
  • Dizzy
  • Headache
  • High fever (greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Flushed/red skin
  • Lack of sweating
  • Muscle weakness/cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Skin that feels cool and moist
  • Rapid breathing/rapid heart rate

While heavy sweating is a sign of heat exhaustion, a lack of sweat is a sign of heat stroke. Heat stroke can also make a person’s skin feel cool, instead of hot.

Ways to Keep Cool
Beat the heat with light clothing, sunscreen, and fluids. Even if you are not thirsty, drinking water is a great way to stay cool. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and light, loose clothes made of cotton will protect kids from the heat and let sweat evaporate to keep them cool. Spending just two hours a day in the air conditioning can also help prevent heat-related illnesses.

The Polk County Health Department recommends families sign up for CodeRED, an automated system that sends out notifications during emergency situations, including extreme heat. Learn more about CodeRED online.

Find more tips and information in the Polk County Health Department’s 2017 Extreme Heat Toolkit.

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: imdb.com.)

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.

Rec’s and Reviews: Three Colorful Books About Fall

  • We review: three colorful books about fall
  • These books are for: kids in preschool and early elementary school
  • Summary: With fall coming to a close and winter weather setting in, it’s the perfect time to stay in and curl up with a book. Here are three books that capture the fun of fall while also educating young readers about the changing seasons.

 

"Awesome Autumn" by Bruce Goldstone. (Image source: us.macmillan.com.)

“Awesome Autumn” by Bruce Goldstone. (Image source: us.macmillan.com.)

“Awesome Autumn”
by Bruce Goldstone
For readers in preschool through third grade.

Bruce Goldstone’s “Awesome Autumn” lets readers explore autumn through comparisons, the five senses, fall activities, and more. Readers will learn about why leaves changes, ponder how autumn feels and sounds, and study hibernation and migration. Fall activities like leaf rubbings, hand turkeys, and roasting pumpkin seeds round out this fun book.

 

"Re-Cycles" by Michael Elsohn Ross. (Image source: www.lernerbooks.com.)

“Re-Cycles” by Michael Elsohn Ross. (Image source: www.lernerbooks.com.)

“Re-Cycles”
by Michael Elsohn Ross, Illustrated by Gustav Moore
For readers in preschool through third grade.

A Yosemite National Park naturalist and educator, Michael Elsohn Ross introduces young readers to the natural soil and water cycles, as well as the compost cycle, in “Re-Cycles.” Ross’s simple but lyrical prose and artwork from Moore will help readers understand the three different cycles in this fourth installment in the “Cycles” series. Ross also gives readers tips for assisting nature by using recycling centers and composting.

 

"Leaf Jumpers" by Carole Gerber. (Image source: www.scholastic.com.)

“Leaf Jumpers” by Carole Gerber. (Image source: www.scholastic.com.)

“Leaf Jumpers”
by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Leslie Evans
For readers in kindergarten through second grade.

“Leaf Jumpers” celebrates the beauty of autumn leaves. With short rhymes and close-up leaf illustrations, Gerber and Evans teach readers to tell which leaves are which. The last page of the book also describes photosynthesis and how it leads to the changing colors of fall.

 

 

 

 

Rec’s and Reviews: “The Jungle Book”

Poster for "The Jungle Book."

Poster for “The Jungle Book.” (Image source: www.imdb.com.)

  • We review: “The Jungle Book,” directed by Jon Favreau and starring Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, and Idris Elba
  • This movie is for: kids in third or fourth grade and older
  • Summary: “Man-cub” Mowgli flees the jungle with help from family and friends when he is threatened by vengeful tiger Shere Khan in this revisiting of the classic “Jungle Book” tale.

Most notable for its hyper-realistic visual effects and star-studded cast, “The Jungle Book” is a good lesson in how to tell an old story a new way. Promoted as a live-action remake of the animated Disney classic, “The Jungle Book” is a gritty and engaging take on the classic tale.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) with the wolf pack that adopted him.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) with the wolf pack that adopted him. (Image source: www.imdb.com.)

Though it takes its plot from the animated Disney movie and Rudyard Kipling’s original stories, the visual effects make “The Jungle Book” feel all-new and completely different in tone. It is intense and action-packed, even edging into scary territory at times. Viewers share Mowgli’s awe when presented with majestic elephants, but also his sense of peril when he’s on the run. They get an up-close view of injuries sustained by Mowgli and witness an important character’s death.

The strong cast is another highlight. Idris Elba thrills as the villainous but relatable tiger Shere Khan, while veteran Ben Kingsley provides a reliable presence for Mowgli and the audience as Bagheera. It is practically impossible to look away from Mowgli’s wolf family, especially when Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Raksha, is on screen.

Neel Sethi (Mowgli) filming "The Jungle Book."

Neel Sethi (Mowgli) filming “The Jungle Book.” (Image source: thewaltdisneycompany.com.)

Even amongst such talented co-stars, newcomer Neel Sethi stands out as the scrappy Mowgli. His enchanting and natural performance is even more impressive knowing that, throughout filming, he often acted opposite puppets in a blue room far from the jungle.

It is undeniable that the visual effects
are the star of the film, but its hopeful message should not be overlooked. Mowgli’s character arc promotes acceptance and creativity, and the overall
story has simple but positive messages about environmental respect and all types of families.

Have you seen “The Jungle Book”? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!

Sources:

Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media
Metacritic
RogerEbert.com

CE in Photos: Kids West Makes Tin Can Phones

Incoming second-grade students in Kids West at Hillside Elementary experimented with tin can telephones earlier this week. They used cans, styrofoam cups, and strings with different thicknesses to make their “telephones.” They also got to decorate and test their creations.

Seniors Come Home – Class of 2016

fb_seniors_come_home
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.

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.

Disinterested
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.”

Homogeneous
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.”

Simplistic

  • 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