An open letter to the community
It is an honor to be welcomed back to our community and region as your new superintendent of Fort Dodge Community Schools. With the excitement of a new school year upon us, I wanted to take a moment to share some core values I have, and together, hope to instill in our schools and community.
I am a proud native of West Bend. I grew up the son of a mechanic, working on a farm in a family that literally worked for everything we had. When I graduated from West Bend-Mallard, I attended Iowa Central Community College, then Buena Vista University at the Fort Dodge campus. During my time in Fort Dodge, I lived in low income housing and worked at Rabiner Treatment Center. For me, education was the great equalizer for social mobility. Education was the avenue for me to follow my dreams and make a positive impact in the lives of students I taught and coached every day. My experiences as an educator and administrator have taken me to high poverty and diverse schools in Arizona, to the suburbs of Des Moines, and to rural northwest and southwest Iowa.
Fort Dodge is a unique and diverse community. While we are rural in nature, we have urban tendencies and demographics. We are a regional hub for economic development and provide the jobs and resources that feed this part of the state, making the need for a strong school system that much more important. Without a strong educational system, our region will not retain the highly skilled workforce needed to continue to grow and prosper. Vice versa, without strong economic development, we will not have the students or resources to build a strong educational system. As our state moves toward a “Future Ready Iowa” with 70 percent of our work force having an education or training beyond high school, Fort Dodge Community School District is prepared for the challenge.
We need your help though. Our belief and mantra is, “Together We Rise.” What does that mean for our community and for you? Together we can create an educational system that our community is proud of. Together we can support and empower the nearly 600 employees who come to work with our students every day. Together we can promote the positive stories and successes our district experiences. Together we can make this the best place to live, grow, and prosper. Just as education was the great equalizer for me, it can be for the students in our region as well.
There are multitudes of examples of people and groups working together to make these dreams come true. The Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance continues to champion our region as a premiere choice to live and work. The City of Fort Dodge continues to be progressive in building our housing and infrastructure capacities. Its civic organizations like Rotary International, Kiwanis, and the Lions Club giving of their time, talents, and funds to help support our kids. For you it may look like volunteering, pushing like or sharing a positive story on Facebook or Twitter, or showing up to school activities to show your support.
Together, when we believe in each other and actively support our system, we can make our schools strong. When we have strong schools, we improve our workforce, have stronger communities, and provide hope for our children’s future. When the nearly 4,000 students return to Fort Dodge Community School District this week, we fully understand as parents or guardians you are sending us your greatest asset. We also understand their future is in our hands. Our staff is honored and excited to have this great responsibility, one that we do not take lightly.
It’s good to be back, and I’m excited to work with our community, parents, business partners, staff, and students to achieve our goal of continuing to make Fort Dodge a great place to live, work, play, and receive a world class education.
Dr. Jesse Ulrich
Fort Dodge Community