Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise toured the Essex Community School District Friday, Aug. 31. This is Wise’s fourth year of weekly visits to Iowa schools. So far he has visited 180 out of 330 districts.
“When I became director three years ago, I made it a priority to visit Iowa schools on a regular basis,” Wise said. “These visits help me connect the dots between education policy work at the state level and the work taking place in Iowa’s classrooms. My goal is to identify ways our department can better support schools and educators, who are working hard to prepare students for success in the classroom, in the workplace and in life.”
The school visits also help Wise understand how key state efforts are playing out. These include Iowa’s teacher leadership system, which is the most extensive in the nation; an early literacy initiative to ensure students are proficient readers by the end of third grade; and a redesign of career and technical education to prepare students for success beyond high school.
Wise visited several classrooms and classes, speaking to not only teachers but students
“I appreciated the enthusiasm with which every member of the district approaches their work. They were each incredibly student-focused. I was particularly impressed with how they have adapted the State’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) system to meet the needs of the district,” said Wise.”I could tell teacher leadership is having a big impact on instruction in Essex.”
Wise said small schools in Iowa, like Essex, think creatively and collaboratively to meet the needs of their students, which often includes partnering with neighboring districts, community colleges and businesses.
“This was clearly the case in Essex,” Wise said. “I greatly appreciated the opportunity to visit Essex Community School District and to learn from their dedicated educators.”
Wise also visited the South Page district and is scheduled to visit Red Oak in November.