Student Safety and Security Is Our Number One PriorityPosted by Dr. Matt Adams on 4/3/2019
I recently watched an episode of “S.W.A.T.” called ‘School.’ This episode is centered around the school shootings occurring throughout the United States. In the episode, a S.W.A.T. team faces difficult reminders of a past school shooting when trying to stop a copycat. The ‘School’ episode, through flashbacks, showed what it felt like to be a student victim and hostage and how students cope with these traumatic school shooting events. School shootings are a sensitive and serious topic that need to be addressed to improve our students safety.
Ankeny Community School District’s number one priority is student safety and security. That is why our school district is implementing a new safety measure called A.L.I.C.E. The A.L.I.C.E student training will begin in spring 2019 and will add another level of security to our schools.
A.L.I.C.E. teaches safety strategies that enhance the traditional lockdown method. We often do not consider it, but we have tactical advantages in violent intruder situations and A.L.I.C.E. teaches us how to make the most of them.
A.L.I.C.E. is an acronym that stands for:
Each letter of A.L.I.C.E. provides a set of strategies that will be used only as needed. The optimum goal we are trying to obtain is evacuating and putting distance between a violent intruder and our students and staff until law enforcement can contain the situation. This program will help to further ensure the safety and security of our Ankeny Community School District Students.
If you have any questions about A.L.I.C.E. Training this spring, please contact your building administrators or the district’s safety manager Jason Albrecht at (515) 965-9600.
- Parent Q&A Video
- Parent Packet
- “I’m Not Scared...I’m Prepared”
The "Behind the Scenes" Players in School DistrictsPosted by Matt Adams on 12/19/2018
A school district is made up of many individuals. There are countless people who work tirelessly to help run our schools. The most obvious key players are our dedicated teachers and principals who work with students and staff to ensure that our students receive the best education possible.
We can compare a school district to a football team. The most visible individuals representing a football team are the players and coaches. However, behind-the-scenes there are individuals who help the players and coaches make the team what it is like the training staff, nutrition experts, and equipment managers. We have team players like these in our school district whose work may not be as visible.
Some of the “behind-the-scenes,” team members who help make our school successful include:
Custodians: The custodial staff works round-the-clock to keep each of our 16 schools looking clean and pristine. They come in before the first bell rings and stay long after the last student leaves. They work during teachers’ lunch hours and after-school activities to take care of what’s left behind by the bustle of the day. Their hard work makes the work of students and staff easier.
Nutrition Services: A proper diet is essential to a student’s educational success. Our Nutrition Services staff prepares and serves breakfast and lunch to students 179 days a year. Their work allows students to focus on their class time, activities, and homework to set them up for a bright future.
Construction: Facility Construction and Development provides input and assistance in long-range facility planning, constructing facilities, and real estate transactions. The goal is to provide functional and attractive buildings that meet the long-term needs of the district in the most economical and cost-effective way. We focus on developing safe, practical, attractive, and functional learning environments that maximize learning, conserve energy, and respect the environment.
Maintenance: The Ankeny Community School District operates 16 public education facilities and various administrative buildings, totaling more than 2.3 million square feet of floor space and 418 acres of grounds that need ongoing care. The Maintenance & Operations department is responsible for a number of vital functions that allow teaching and learning to proceed smoothly and uninterrupted in our facilities.
Central Printing: The district operates an in-house print shop to assist with the production of the district’s instructional materials. With a staff of seven, the team has produced more than 27,000 print orders totaling more than eight million copies just this school year.
Technology: The Information Technology (IT) department is responsible for meeting the hardware and software needs of the Ankeny Community School District and ensuring the technology resources available are instructionally supportive. This includes repairing devices, maintaining the network and user accounts, planning for future technology purchases, and much more. Through their work, they support all staff’s electronic devices and the Chromebooks for the district’s 1:1 initiative grades 5-12.
How District Staff Deals with ChangePosted by Matt Adams on 11/28/2018
Recently, I read the book Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems. The book deals with leadership and how school districts can work together to build consistency throughout the system.
Change is a common theme within our school district. Whether it’s boundary changes, building renovations, or internal staff innovation, Ankeny is constantly facing new developments. One of the questions the book poses is, “How do we help people through the change process and get greater coherence while we are at it?”
Change is never an easy task, as it is a process and not an event. Authors Fullan and Quinn assert that it’s a leader's role to manage the transition from the current to future reality. A leader can be anyone within the school district. Change is best dealt with as a team, and Ankeny has a strong team of leaders ready to deal with whatever change is thrown their way.
The book illustrates a coherence framework, which includes focused direction, secured accountability, cultivated collaborative culture, and deepened learning.
Cultivating a collaborative culture is one of our biggest goals. In fact, one of our core values is community. We hope to build a culture of not only growth and leadership, but also positivity and teamwork.
Communicating Effectively Within an OrganizationPosted by Matt Adams on 11/2/2018
In a school district as large as Ankeny, it’s extremely important to make sure that effective communication is a priority. Our staff works diligently to ensure that each and every member of our team, along with every member of the community, feels comfortable and valued in the district. There are many ways to do this, along with many situations where it may be necessary.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind when communicating within a school district:
- Begin with a foundation of trust: if you have the base foundation of trust, it will make communication easier and more honest.
- Build on shared values: a school district aims to serve the community in the best way possible. Reminding stakeholders what the values and visions are for the district can result in a common understanding.
- Give credit where credit is due: no accomplishment is too small to show appreciation for. A high-five or an encouraging email can go a long way in motivating a hardworking staff member. I’ve been learning to use Twitter to encourage and support my colleagues. You can follow me @MAdamsIowa.
- Always show respect: last but not least, respect is essential in any organization. Making each and every staff member, parent, and student feel valued is key.
Practicing Trust in AnkenyPosted by Dr. Matt Adams on 1/18/2017
Ankeny Community Schools is unified in its commitment, passion, and vision so every learner is prepared to achieve a lifetime of personal successes.
This is the district’s core purpose and what we aim to achieve each day. I recently read The Speed of Trust. Covey asserts that with trust, speed and momentum are created and enable a business to run smoothly. Trust is integral to the district’s functionality.
The Speed of Trust focuses on four cores of credibility:
- Integrity: Do they do what they say they’re going to do? A person has to be a good person and act in alignment with their values. In Ankeny Schools, this means acting in alignment with our values of community, challenge, excellence, inspiration, and leadership.
- Intent: Does their agenda fall in line with ours? As I reflect on our agenda, it is really spelled out in our vision. Our vision statement talks about the culture of the district we intend to create of achievement and responsiveness in our students and innovation and professionalism in our staff.
- Capabilities: Is this person able to get the job done? We anchor our work around our strategic plan to ensure we are planning for the resources, skills, and development needed to achieve the district’s mission of preparing ALL learners.
- Results: Does this person’s track record fulfill our mission statement? In general, a person’s credibility hinges on their past achievements and ideas.
Our success can be attributed to the trust we have with our staff and our educators and their commitment to our students.
One way I have been encouraging our staff to rally around our mission statement is through the pursuit of individualized learning. If each of us are truly committed to this, it increases our efficiency. For example, if a custodian is committed to their best work, it keeps the school clean and sanitary. This decreases illness, which helps keep students in school. When students are in school, they are in front of highly qualified teachers, who are helping them receive the instruction to achieve a lifetime of personal success.
This is just one example of hundreds that shows how each individual focusing on the importance of individualized learning, increases trust and efficiency throughout the district.
With the start of the new year, I challenge everyone to think about the four cores of credibility and consider what they are doing in their roles to help build trust. If everyone is working toward the same goal, we will ALL be able to focus on creating success in our lives and in our classrooms.
Bringing business strategies to educationPosted by Dr. Matt Adams on 8/25/2016
We are excited to be back to school in Ankeny Community School District. Throughout the summer, our staff worked tirelessly to explore new ways of thinking in order to increase performance for our growing school district. One of the ways I like to expand our thinking is by pulling concepts from the business-world and adapting them to education.
This summer, I read Agile Methodology, a book about project management. This concept is something we will be working into the way we do business at Ankeny Schools. The overview is to start with a prototype, test it in the market, and then refine the product. This past spring, we reworked our table of organization. Part of my new role as Chief Officer of Operational Performance and Continuous Improvement will be to take the concepts and research brought forth from academic services and field test them to ensure efficiency when implemented across the district.
This work will increase our performance against our strategic plan and allow us to deliver on our promise of preparing every learning to achieve a lifetime of personal success. One way this has been done effectively already in our district is through our work with Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). When we adopted the PLC model, we first defined the Ankeny tenants of a PLC, beta tested it, and then implemented it throughout the district. We are currently going through the refining years, but have already seen great success from our work in this area.
Agile methodology assumes that you start with the least amount of knowledge on a topic and the more you work through it, the smarter you become. When you think about it, that is not really a business concept after all. It is the way we approach learning. I look forward to the great work that will be done in Ankeny Community Schools this year, and to working alongside all of you to achieve our mission.
Long-Term Facility PlanPosted by Dr. Matt Adams on 2/19/2016
Last month, the Ankeny Board of Education approved the district’s recommendations for a long-range facility plan. School officials proposed expanding three of our elementary buildings- Prairie Trail, Rock Creek, and Ashland Ridge- the board accepted this proposal at the January 18 school board meeting. The expansion would allow the schools to grow from 640 students to 750. Based on the information from demographers and projected enrollment, this plan solves the positive growth of our district without having to move boundary lines. This strategy allows the district to meet the educational standards it has established, improve school buildings, and utilize existing budgets, delaying the need for a bond referendum.
In the last decade, the boundary lines have been continually changed. With the new long-range facility plan, our students who are currently in 2nd grade will be the first in 10 years to go through elementary school without boundary changes.
We want to be sure we are utilizing funds and spaces in the most efficient ways possible. It is important to us that we try to keep our students within their current boundary lines for as long as possible. Right now, they will stay put until the next elementary is built.
We do still need to be planning for the continual growth of our district. Our current plan includes the following projects:
- Elementary additions: The addition of four classrooms to Prairie Trail, Rock Creek, and Ashland Ridge. The expansions will begin at Prairie Trail and Rock Creek to be ready for the 2017-2018 school year. Ashland Ridge will add classrooms to be completed in time for the 2018-2019 school year.
- Terrace Elementary: Updates to Terrace will include the addition of a gymnasium, an attached classroom with a stage, and bathrooms to be completed in time for the 2017-2018 school year, with additional maintenance projects throughout the school year.
- Activity facilities: The activity facility updates will include the completion of the athletic fields at Ankeny Centennial High School to mirror that of Ankeny High School, and the completion of the next phase for the Ankeny stadium project at Northview Middle Schoolnext phase for the Ankeny stadium project at Northview Middle School. Additionally, Ankeny Community School District has partnered with Des Moines Area Community College for the use of a new competitive swimming pool with diving area on the DMACC campus.
- Land: The demographers are only projecting continued growth. In light of that, the district will still move forward with purchasing land for an 11th and 12th elementary. It is currently anticipated that the 11th elementary will be needed by the 2020-2021 school year to accommodate growth, with the district pursuing a bond referendum in 2018.