Focus on Excellence – Welcome to a New Year
Welcome to the 2014/2015 school year! This marks the 21st year I have had the privilege of serving the students, staff and families of Waukee Schools in some capacity or another. I’ve worn many different hats during that time period and I’ve had several different job titles as well. During my first year in the district we served just over 1,100 students and had a graduating class that spring of 68. We opened Eason Elementary that year, our second elementary in the district and third attendance center. There has been a lot of change since then. We will serve just more than 8,500 students this year with a senior class of 452 and first grade at 743. We’re still enrolling kindergarten students but anticipate that number being in the 775-800 range. As we enter the new school year, much will be the same: a strong educational program for our students; teachers committed to our children, challenging every one to be the best they can be and a community that supports our schools. Like many of the previous years, much will be new and exciting in Waukee Schools.
We continue to look to the educational future in Waukee, and we continue to research and study how to best prepare our students for life in the 21st Century. Last year at this time I indicated that you would be hearing a great deal about our efforts at increasing the rigor and relevance of our high school experience through programming focused on advanced professional studies for our junior and senior students through partnerships with the business community. I’m happy to report that our innovative CAPS programming launches this fall with four initial programs and a growing interest on the part of our business community to work with us in developing real-world, relevant and authentic learning experiences for our students while at the same time providing a direct value and benefit to our business partners. You can learn more about Waukee CAPS at: http://www.waukeecaps.org
Students in CAPS will spend 2 ½ hours of their school day imbedded with classmates and teachers at their respective business partners, with hands-on support from the experts in the field. This could be a truly revolutionary learning experience for our students and one that we plan to expand into other areas of the private sector for the 2015-16 school year and beyond. Stay tuned for more about these exciting educational opportunities for our students in the future!
Waukee and the rest of Iowa will continue to look at the research, best practice and INNOVATION in education to move forward. We can’t afford to retreat to the themes of “back to the basics” – we must literally go “back to the future.” That change can be uncomfortable, and there will be times when not everyone will agree, there will be times when parents will question the need for the change, and there will be times when it will appear that some educators are charging forward without all their ducks in a row. It’s incumbent upon us all to work together, to ask questions in a civil manner, and to realize that education in the 21st Century needs to look much different than in the past. That includes instructional practice, curriculum and yes even how we report and communicate student progress to parents.
So welcome to the new school year! We are excited to once again fill our hallways and classrooms with students eager to learn and grow!
Waukee Schools – a place to learn, a place to thrive. Welcome to another great school year!
David J. Wilkerson, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools