Petersen: Arts education has long-lasting benefits

The Des Moines Register – State Sen. Janet Petersen

“This week, fine arts advocates talked with legislators about fine arts instruction in Iowa schools, encouraging us to add fine arts to the Iowa Core Curriculum. Research shows that: •Arts-engaged students are three times more likely to have excellent attendance records and four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. •Students in the arts outperform their non-arts peers on the SAT by 91 points…Education shouldn’t just focus on reading and math scores. Education should focus on the whole child. Arts education is a great place to start.”(more)

Students see fruits of their labor with school garden

The Des Moines Register – Greg Forbes

“Riverside Elementary fourth-grader Connor McKewon gave his family an unexpected answer when asked what he’d learned in school on a recent day. His reply: to eat — and like — broccoli. “They were surprised,” he said. Connor’s newfound love for the green vegetable stems from a student- and parent-operated garden on a vacant plot across from the school. The garden, nurtured by approximately $8,000 in grants as well as equipment donations, gives students greater insight into how food is produced and where it comes from, said project coordinator Laurie Taylor. “We’re teaching the kids where their food comes from and that it doesn’t magically appear on a grocery store shelf,” said Taylor, Master Gardener coordinator and regional food coordinator for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.”(more)

Goal for education is closing achievement, skills gaps by 2050

The Daily Nonpareil – Scott Stewart

“Dan Kinney won a thumb wrestling match in front of a group of about 20 educators, nonprofit workers and community members Wednesday afternoon. The Heartland 2050 Education Committee held an organizational meeting at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, sitting near the midpoint of the eight county area of Nebraska and Iowa served by the regional initiative. Kinney, the committee’s chairman and the president of Iowa Western Community College, defeated Stuart Shell, an architect with RDG, in thumb wrestling to launch a discussion on collective impact. Other topics for the meeting included reviewing work so far and discussing next steps for the planning process. “How can we have conversations and collaborations and find ways that we can all work together and we can all win?” asked Karna Loewenstein, coordinator of Heartland 2050, an initiative of the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency. “We’re used to the different counties, the different cities, Nebraska vs. Iowa, competing. What we’re asking you to do at Heartland 2050 is let’s think of ourselves as a region.” MAPA has been working for years on plans for the metropolitan area – including Pottawattamie, Mills and Harrison counties in southwest Iowa – to accommodate a population growth of about 1.5 million people in the metro area by 2050. Last December, a vision document was created that outlined several goals, including one to provide all area residents with access to a high-quality education.”(more)

Why an Iowa barber gives free haircuts

The Christian Science Monitor – Denise Hassanzade Ajiri

“As the new school year is getting closer, a barber in Iowa has come up with a creative way to encourage reading among children. Courtney Holmes gave free haircuts to children who read books to him on Saturday during the second annual Back to School Bash in Comiskey park in Dubuque. “I just want to support kids reading,” Mr. Holmes told the Associated Press. During the event, St. Mark Youth Enrichment organization gave away books, and Caitlin Daniels, grade-level reading coordinator with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, helped struggling readers in the barber chair.”(more)

Early childhood education is a moral imperative

The Des Moines Register – Bishop Julius C. Trimble

“Last month, I attended a screening in Des Moines of the PBS documentary “A Path Appears,” which features actress Jennifer Garner traveling to rural West Virginia to see the effect poverty has on children in her home state. The documentary provides a shocking view into the lives of those who wouldn’t ordinarily receive the same opportunities as those born into a different — and wealthier — environment. The Des Moines screening was sponsored by Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), which advocates for high-quality early childhood education. After we watched a segment of the documentary, SCAN’s president, Mark Shriver, moderated a conversation about how programs that help children help our entire community and how investing in early childhood is smart public policy.”(more)

Educator relates stories from Army service to daily lessons

The Des Moines Register – Stacey Becker

” A large American flag hangs in Brian Lawrence’s Clayton Ridge Middle School classroom. Lawrence, a science teacher, relates stories from his service with the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion and Special Forces to his daily lessons, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported. “I like to see the patriotism we have in this school. I think it’s important,” he said. Lawrence was one of three teachers who received the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Iowa 2015 Teacher of the Year Award for his dedication to teaching patriotism. Emily Schaefers, a seventh-grader, said her teacher deserved the recognition. She said she especially enjoys his stories.”(more)