A closer look

DoE director, state board of education tour Lenihan, Anson

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise, along with members of the State Board of Education and other department staff, toured Lenihan Intermediate School and Anson Elementary School to see programs and teachers in action Thursday.

Lenihan Intermediate School and Anson Elementary School were in the spotlight Thursday morning as Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise and State Board of Education members toured the buildings and met Marshalltown Schools staff and students.

During the tours, department staff and board members saw programs like ST Math, Lexia Reading Core 5, Reader’s Workshop and Teachers and Leadership Compensation (TLC) in action.

“There was a focus on really meeting the needs of each individual student,” Wise said after touring several Lenihan classrooms. “You saw the way that teachers incorporated technology to help accomplish that.”

Among the classes visited by the group was sixth grade Spanish math. Also on the Lenihan docket was visiting students practicing literacy skills using programs like Lexia.

“Within a single room, you saw probably six different sets of instruction occurring,” Wise said. “The second thing we saw at Lenihan was the role that teacher leadership can play in strengthening instruction and meeting student needs.”

Team planning sessions through TLC, where teachers and instructional coaches discuss strategy, was another item discussed on the Lenihan tour.

“That power of collaboration is really important,” Wise said, adding such teamwork can decrease stress for teachers, who know they have colleagues they can rely upon for information and brainstorming.

At Anson, the state group got to see ST Math in action, with first-graders engaged in the recently implemented program. Reading and STEM instruction were also showcased at the elementary school.

“One thing that stood out to me at Anson was the engagement of the students,” Wise said after the tour. “That really was spurred by the questioning of the teachers; the teachers asked great, open-ended questions that made the students think.”

As he toured the classrooms, the director said he felt a welcoming atmosphere for students.

“They clearly created an atmosphere in their classrooms where students felt comfortable sharing their view,” he said. “That was great to see; students engaged, learning, and willing to take a risk and share their learning with their classmates.”

Thursday morning’s tours acted as a state board work session. After the tours ended, the group convened at the Iowa Valley Community College District administrative building for a board business meeting.

Additionally, several district staff members presented the state group with information on district demographics and programs. The presentation touched on the district’s role in the community, highlighted English language learning (ELL) efforts, early learning opportunities and more.

“This was a really helpful tour, to be able to hear the context of your district and then see how what you’re doing plays out in practice with the kids in your classrooms every day,” Wise said to district administrators and staff.


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