Welcome to another great school year!
Welcome to the 2013-14 school year! This marks my 20th year 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 had several different job titles. During my first year in the district, 1994, we served slightly more than 1,100 students and had a graduating class that spring of 68. We opened Eason Elementary that year, our second elementary school in the district and third attendance center. There has been a lot of change since then. We will serve more than 8,000 students this year, with a senior class of 466 and first grade at 777. As we enter the new school year, much will be the same: a strong educational program to teach our students; teachers committed to our children, challenging every one to be the best they can be; a community that supports our schools. Like in many of the previous years, much will be new and exciting in Waukee Schools.
Each year we add new staff. We also regularly add new facilities. This fall we are opening our seventh elementary facility, Woodland Hills Elementary, located at 1120 S. 95th Street in West Des Moines, to serve a PK-5th grade population of approximately 450 students in the southern portions of the district. We are also “reopening” our newly-named and remodeled Vince Meyer Learning Center (originally opened in 1917) to serve the fifth grade students in the Waukee Elementary attendance area. We continue to be the fastest growing school district in the state of Iowa, averaging 450 new students per year for the past ten years.
But enough about the growth. 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. We’ll be working ambitiously to implement the requirements of the recently passed education reform legislation, although many items in the legislation are already in place in Waukee. You’ll also 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. A district committee of parents and staff recommended those proposed changes to the Board of Education in July, with the goal of implementing new program opportunities for students for the 2014-15 school year. Look for much more on this exciting undertaking throughout the school year!
School Board elections around the state will be held on September 10. The challenge for the successful board candidates in Waukee and the rest of Iowa, will be to continue to look at the research, best practices and INNOVATION in education and to have the courage to continue 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