A day of development

MCSD staff hear from students, reach out to parents

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Woodbury Elementary teacher-librarian Sue Cahill, center, was one of several district staff members to go door-to-door to recruit preschool and kindergarten sign-up Monday.

The majority of Marshalltown school students likely enjoyed spring weather Monday with a day off from class; meanwhile, hundreds of school staff gathered for a professional learning day.

“We have created a schedule that allows them (staff) to pick from a variety of choices …t o explore how equity and diversity impacts their teaching here in Marshalltown,” said district Director of Instruction Lisa Stevenson.

Specifically, activities were designed to get staff thinking of their students with different life experiences and backgrounds than their own.

“One of the options was to take a bus to tour JBS, our secondary schools had that option,” Stevenson said. “It was a pretty intense tour.”

She said many Marshalltown students’ parents work at JBS Swift and Co., one of the community’s largest employers.

“Obviously, that has a big impact on our students and their families,” Stevenson said.

One session included over a dozen Marshalltown High School and Miller Middle School students from diverse backgrounds telling of their experiences at home and at school, how they learn best and about their social support systems.

Among the students’ backgrounds were Mexican, Mexican-American, Salvadorian, Karen and Thai, along with many more. Many said they lacked needed support at home, and some said they saw school friends and staff members as their support system.

Another activity Monday involved going door-to-door in the community, and the district partnered with Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) and volunteers to recruit for preschool and kindergarten registration in the Hoglan and Woodbury elementary neighborhoods.

“We are promoting early education,” said MICA school readiness coordinator Karina Hernández. “What we would like to do is give parents information on the preschool opportunities that we have in town.”

Additionally, staff and volunteers asked parents questions for a short survey and left them with a small sack with more information on district and MICA programs, as well as a free book.

“We are so fortunate to partner with the school district this year, that they [helped] us do our door-to-door work,” Hernández said. Information on MICA’s Munch and More summer reading program was included in the information package.

“I think it shows the community that we value the education of all the kids in our community, and that we want to reach as many as we can to be in preschool,” said Woodbury preschool teacher Michele Irwin after knocking doors in that neighborhood.

Woodbury teacher-librarian Sue Cahill also said it’s imperative that school employees reach out to parents.

“I think it’s very important that the teachers have a stake in finding educational opportunities for all of our students,” she said. “I think, in our political climate, many people are afraid to answer their door, so we showed our badges to people and said ‘We’re from your neighborhood school,’ and I think they appreciated that, and they were willing to answer our questions.”

Monday’s professional development day was the last of the 2016-17 school year. The two prior focused on social, physical and emotional development as well as academic and intellectual development and personalizing learning.

For more information on preschool and kindergarten registration, go to www.marshalltown.k12.ia.us/calendars/preschool-and-kindergarten-registration/

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com