It's hard to believe that I have had the pleasure of being a part of the Fort Dodge Community School District for a year; many wonderful things have taken place over that period of time. We have had students excel in the classroom; our graduation rate is the highest it has ever been; the percentage of students scoring proficient in the area of reading from grades three to four has increased in all our elementary schools; and our students are excelling in many other areas. Whether they are on the field, court, mat, pool, diamond or in the fine arts arena, our students have reached state levels and have been awarded honors and recognitions that show the dedication and commitment that each student and team has given to their area.
Our staff has been involved in professional development and in-services to help increase their skill level as educators. Many of our educators have also continued to show their dedication to education by working toward completing their next education degree. Several of the Fort Dodge Community School District staff members have received recognitions for their hard work and dedication from national and state levels.
The district has continued to move forward with plans to update and upgrade facilities. We have closed an elementary building, added on to a building, updated several of our existing facilities and should be breaking ground on a new middle school this fall. We've also expanded our technology capabilities and have given our students greater resources by making the high school wireless. Students can now use our and their wireless devices to help further their learning. We have looked to strengthen the level of communication within our district and to our community. We have updated our website, used the phone messaging system to call with reminders; and this fall we will have an updated phone system so that each staff member will have voice mail and an extension. The new system will allow staff to be more accessible and enhance communication between staff, buildings, students and parents/guardians. Parents or guardians will be able to reach teachers by dialing the school buildings direct line and then entering a classroom extension number.
The new school year brings many new and exciting opportunities. Our No. 1 goal is to provide our students with a premier educational experience, and that starts in the classroom. Each year we lose several quality staff members to retirement or to other jobs. We have put in a lot of effort into finding the best people to fill these openings and to work with our students on a daily basis. Our staff will also continue to develop themselves with professional development that is offered throughout the school year. We also know that a high-quality staff needs a quality curriculum. Our staff has been very active in the implementation of the newly-adopted Common Core. Several of our staff members have been leaders and presenters in the state in this area. We feel we are making great strides in offering a rigorous and relevant curriculum to all of our students. Our district and building staff is looking forward to building on the success they have had in increasing our elementary reading scores as we look to replicate this success in the middle and high school levels. We also know that we need to kick it up a notch in the area of mathematics and have plans under way to look at ways to improve and enhance our mathematics curriculum. As a district we also are committed to providing our staff and students with the educational tools and resources they need. Technology is a wonderful educational tool, and we are continuing to look for ways in all of our schools to give our staff and students the resources they need to enhance their learning opportunities with technology. We are updating many of our computers and are looking to expand our wireless capabilities. We will also continue to look at other technology options for ways to enhance our students' education.
The Fort Dodge Community School District is a wonderful place, and I am excited about what we have accomplished and what we have yet to do. The Fort Dodge Community School District is a district that I feel we all should be very proud of. We have great students, a high-quality staff and a community that supports us. This looks to be a great year here in the Fort Dodge Community School District, and I truly believe in what we are doing and the initiatives to make improvements to grow with the community. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact me or any of our administrators.
Doug Van Zyl is superintendent of the Fort Dodge Community School District.