Category: Blog

Thanks to All Who Attended the West Wind Open House

Thanks to All Who Attended the West Wind Open House

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The West Wind Open House was a success! We enjoyed catching up with long-time friends, colleagues, family, and connecting with new faces. We especially appreciate the Dream Divas who rocked Eastdale Plaza!

If you’re less familiar with the Dream Divas, this is a team of young ladies, ages 4-23, who are sponsored by the Dream Center and perform at venues around Iowa. One of the larger performances from this year happened in January when the girls performed at the 17th Annual I’ll Make Me a World conference in Des Moines, IA. Each year, I’ll Make Me a World celebrates African-American arts, culture, and contributions. The Dream Divas were part of a cohort of dance teams that highlighted the performance arts. Continue reading “Thanks to All Who Attended the West Wind Open House”

West Wind Open House March 2nd, Join Us!

West Wind Open House March 2nd, Join Us!

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The annual Open House for West Wind Education Policy Inc. is March 2nd from 4-6 p.m. We look forward to your visit and are excited to announce the Dream Divas dance team, sponsored by the Dream Center, will entertain with a short performance around 5 o’clock. Come enjoy light refreshments, great conversation with friends and colleagues, and hear about some of our new work, including our collaboration in the Creative Corridor Center for Equity (C3E).

Our office is on the second floor of Eastdale Plaza, 1700 S. First Ave. We hope to see you Monday! Don’t forget to send your RSVP to westwind@westwinded.com.

Kind regards from the staff of West Wind Education Policy Inc.,

Circe, Alecia, Bonnie, Kathy, Mandi, Sally, and Tina

Black History Month Events in Iowa City

Black History Month Events in Iowa City

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Black History MonthI recently heard yet another story of black youth who feel left out of their school community year round, but who feel it especially strongly during Black History Month, which has gone mostly unrecognized at their school.  I hope that voices of these youth will spark a review of curricular offerings, celebrations, and school culture in their buildings–because I believe ALL youth will benefit from a more inclusive school curriculum and community. Continue reading “Black History Month Events in Iowa City”

Why Personalized Learning?  A Parent’s Perspective

Why Personalized Learning? A Parent’s Perspective

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Personalized Learning 300This is the first in a series of blogs to explore personalized learning.  In the first installment, I share my own journey as a parent to understand why personalized learning should be a goal of PK-12 systems and how I came to believe that.  The “evidence” for my parental belief is almost purely anecdotal and formed from supporting my own children in school.  The next blogs will focus more on the evidence and data that convince me as a professional working in education policy that this shift is necessary.  In subsequent blogs I plan to explore several education initiatives and programs aimed at personalized learning, such as Genius Hour, competency-based education practices, and project-based learning practices. Continue reading “Why Personalized Learning? A Parent’s Perspective”

West Wind Open House (Postponed)

West Wind Open House (Postponed)

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Due to the winter storm, we postponed our annual Open House, which had been scheduled for February 2. We’ll post the new date at this website and send an announcement via email.

We look forward to sharing with you some of our new work, including our collaboration in the Creative Corridor Center for Equity (C3E). We’re plugging away at our first initiative, titled the Black and Brown Educator Recruitment and Retention (BBERR) project. BBERR is an impressive program that attracts and retains talent of color from Iowa and across the nation to schools in Waterloo and the creative corridor. In addition to the Center for Equity, we’ve also launched a new program around Competency Based Education, headed by staff memeber Mandi Bozarth. She’ll work with leaders in Iowa and the Midwest to develop and disseminate resources about competency-based learning. These are certainly exciting developments, and we look forward to sharing the latest news of our work with you. Continue reading “West Wind Open House (Postponed)”

A MLK Day to Remember

A MLK Day to Remember

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I hope you had a meaningful MLK Day yesterday!  We are proud that our very own Alecia Brooks was honored yesterday at the 1st Annual Stride Toward Progress Bell Ringing and Awards Ceremony here in Iowa City.  Royceann Porter, 2014-15 African American Achievement Award Recipient, took it upon herself to publicly acknowledge the hard work and spirit of service among black leaders in Iowa City.  She identified over 150 community members to honor!  We prepared certificates of acknowledgement and gratitude and Royceann worked with a local vendor to get T-shirts for all of the award recipients.  It was inspiring to meet so many committed Iowa Citians! Continue reading “A MLK Day to Remember”

2015 Martin Luther King Day of Service

2015 Martin Luther King Day of Service

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MLK_2015 “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding  will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

              — Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail

This Monday communities will come together to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to take part in service to others in the name of justice and equality.  This past year we have continued to see prejudice and injustice spur fear and divide our communities.  We have also seen strong black leadership across the country and in our own communities speak out to guide us toward justice. Continue reading “2015 Martin Luther King Day of Service”

On Teaching Ferguson Part One

On Teaching Ferguson Part One

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Recently, a University of Iowa grad student invited me to speak at a panel titled Teaching Ferguson: Race, Riots and Critical Reflections for Classroom Teachers. The invitation was timely, as I’d just read an editorial from Michelle Alexander, an author and criminal justice reform advocate. Michelle describes challenges she encountered as she told her 10-year-old son about Ferguson. Several questions popped when I finished the editorial. How can adults best facilitate a conversation about Ferguson and related topics with youth, some of who are too young to grasp the dimensions of this issue? And for those who can grasp the gist of Ferguson, what can educators do to accurately convey the subject in a manner that is respectful and values differences of opinion? Another event required my attendance, so I was unable to appear at the panel. This blog captures my talking points. Continue reading “On Teaching Ferguson Part One”

On Teaching Ferguson Part Two

On Teaching Ferguson Part Two

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I spoke with a community member who said an altercation between students occurred after they had a charged discussion about the Darren Wilson grand jury outcome. Although a small part of me supports keeping Ferguson out of classrooms, reality is many students already reacted to what has unfolded since the death of Mike Brown. Leading facilitated conversations with students is practical, as this gives students a way to decompress and even be forward-looking. This is not a lightweight task.  Part one of this blog exemplifies what can go wrong when controversial subjects are arbitrarily introduced to classrooms. This blog, On Teaching Ferguson Part Two, highlights what contributes to leading a bold but successful dialogue around this sensitive topic. In addition to these tips, I encourage teachers to become familiar with the basics of facilitating race-related conversations and how to maintain a healthy atmosphere during the course this dialogue. Continue reading “On Teaching Ferguson Part Two”

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