Iowa DOE director visits Akron-Westfield

Posted October 17, 2019 at 7:47 pm

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By Julie Ann Madden

Just how great is the Akron-Westfield School District in educating children?

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise found out as he toured the school building with Principals Derek Briggs and Michelle Henrich and Student Ambassadors Mackenzie Johnson and Tavyn Wilken on Friday, Oct. 11.

During the three-hour tour, the local representatives not only shared the uniqueness of A-W’s education system but answered Wise’s questions which ranged from students’ Mental Health needs and how the district is meeting those to Career & Technology Education partnerships with area businesses and colleges.

Briggs shared the building’s structural history from when the elementary section was constructed at the current location to the completion of the middle school and high school additions.

He stressed how much the state’s “state penny” sales tax, the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) dollars, are vital to maintaining A-W’s facility.

Those dollars have made it possible for the school board and administration to do major roof replacements, library renovations, middle and high school hallway locker replacements, playground upgrades, concession stand remodel, kitchen upgrades, elementary wing remodel, parking lot paving, football field drainage repair and press box expansion, band room cabinet storage renovation, auditorium upgrades and students’ 1:1 computer laptop program implementation.

On the tour, an Area Education Agency specialist informed Wise that if he wanted to see how Special Education should be done across the state, he should visit A-W’s program.

Wise also spent time with A-W’s Teacher Leadership & Compensation (TLC) Coordinators Angie Rabbitt, who works with Grades 7-12 staff and Michelle Henrich, who oversees the Grades Preschool-6 program.

Wise’s goal is to tour every school district in Iowa, and he has visited more than 200 of the 367 districts.

He was appointed as DOE’s director in July 2015 by then Governor Terry Branstad and reappointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds in January 2019.

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