Fall 2017 Blog Post

Fall 2017

The 2017-2018 school year is off to a great start!  As we wrap up the successful completion of the first quarter of the school year and fall sports season, we can reflect on our great students and staff who are doing fabulous things in our school.

During professional development time this year, our staff has been working on breaking down the Iowa Core Curriculum to identify the essential skills students need to be successful. Through this work, they are establishing new ways to identify the essential curricular components, methods of instruction and the appropriate assessment to monitor student growth.  Our district has also created an intervention system (MTSS- Multi –Tiered System of Support) that we are utilizing during our “Warhawk Time / WIN Time” which is scheduled into every school day.  During this time, many students are getting support on the specific skills they may need and for students who have demonstrated mastery of those skills they are being provided with enrichment activities to take them above and beyond. This instructional work coupled with the support of our district-wide Teacher Leadership Program has paved the way for rising achievement levels for all learners.

Recently, our district received accolades from Central Rivers AEA for our student achievement gains in literacy.  During the spring of 2017 all elementary students in the state were assessed by a suite of progress monitoring tools designed to help educators screen, monitor progress, and analyze reading skills.  Based on data from Central Rivers AEA, 70% of all students statewide in grade K-3 met the benchmark.  At West Fork, 79.6% of our students in this same grade span met the benchmark.  Since literacy is considered a gate keeping skill in life, the efforts of our staff and students toward continuous improvement should be commended.

Academics + Extra-Curricular = Excellence.  This has always been my belief throughout my career as an educator. At West Fork, we continue to see a high level of participation and engagement in our extracurricular programs such as music and fall sports.  For instance, over 40 % of our students in grade 7-8 are involved in the band program while 60% of that same grade span participated in a fall sport such as cross country, volleyball or football.

At the high school level this fall, we have students enrolled in 28 different college courses.  67% of the senior class is enrolled in at least one college course while 63% of the juniors are engaged in learning at this level as well.  This involvement represents a big change in learning from a decade ago when schools saw only a handful of students participating in college level work.  Students today, are becoming career focused at a younger age and this aggressiveness toward higher level programming will be very rewarding for these students as they enter college, vocational programs, and the workplace in the future.

School transportation is a big part of our district since it encompasses 314 square miles. I feel it is important to always provide a reminder to students and adults meeting school buses in our district. The Iowa Legislature has passed a school bus stop law.  Iowa Code section 321.372(3) states:

  • Two-lane road and the school bus is displaying flashing yellow lights: Flashing yellow lights are an indication that the bus is going to stop. It is illegal to pass a school bus from behind when yellow lights are flashing. When approaching a school bus traveling in the opposite direction, a driver must slow the vehicle to 20 miles per hour or less when yellow lights are seen, and be prepared to stop when the stop arm is extended and red lights flash.
  • Two-lane road and the school bus is displaying flashing red lights and an extended stop arm: The bus is letting passengers on or off. It is illegal to pass a school bus from behind or from the opposite travel direction under these conditions. A driver must come to a complete stop at least 15 feet from the bus and remain stopped until the vehicle’s flashing red lights deactivate and the stop arm is retracted. At all times, drivers should remain alert for pedestrians.
  • Roadway with two or more lanes in each direction: A driver must stop when approaching the school bus from behind when yellow or red lights flash. However, under these roadway conditions, drivers need not stop when meeting a school bus traveling in the opposite direction. School bus drivers are not permitted to let passengers on or off the bus in situations where they must cross multiple lanes of traffic.

As the fall season begins to wind down, West Fork CSD encourages students and parents to get involved and take an active role in the education process.  The 21st Century is upon us and preparing students to be successful in all endeavors requires a team approach. Let’s make the 2017-2018 school year the best one yet and show our Warhawk Pride!

Yours in Education,

Darrin Strike, Supt.