Cole is new FDCSD director of curriculum

Stacey Cole is the new Fort Dodge Community School District director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Cole has been in education for more than 17 years, starting as a special education teacher at both the elementary and high school levels. She has also been a consultant with Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency.

Before joining the FDCSD, Cole served as principal and curriculum director at Alta-Aurelia school district.

As director of curriculum, Cole will work to continue to increase the achievement of all the Fort Dodge school district’s learners.

“I’m going to be keeping track of our assessment data that comes back from the state, assessment data that we do in-house,” she said, “and really looking at how does that assessment drive the curriculum that we offer to our students? How do both of those drive the professional development that we offer to our staff? How do we look at the connections between both the assessments and the curriculum? And then, what’s being enacted in the classroom through instruction?”

Cole said she intends to continue the curriculum and instructional programs in place, particularly cognitively guided instruction.

“I am actually a trainer for the state of Iowa for that,” she said. “I’m excited that the school system is already started with that, and I’m thinking about how we can continue to do what we’ve been doing and enhance it as well.”

According to Cole, it’s important to assess growth among students as they advance through grade levels as much as it is to look at performance at a single grade level.

“There’s different reasons for looking at both,” she said. “I think the most important thing we can do is look at the kids we have in Fort Dodge and how they grow in our system, because it’s really important to know we are making the gains with kids that we should. To me, that’s our ethical responsibility as a school system.”

She added, “If you’re only looking at one or the other, you’re making a mistake.”

This is achieved, Cole said, by studying the effectiveness of the district’s curriculum.

“When you look at a grade over time you really get an idea of what does our curriculum offer kids,” she said. “Sometimes we look at data and say it’s apples to oranges so it doesn’t really mean anything. A good, healthy system will put in place safety nets that say to all kids we’re going to make sure you meet a certain standard regardless of what your background is, where you come from. We’re going to set up our system to meet your needs.”

She added, “When we look across time, if that’s not happening, we need to think about, from a systems level, what can we do to enhance the education we’re offering kids?”

Cole said a quality education is important.

“I truly believe that education is the ticket out of poverty for many of our families and that to be successful you need to be an educated society,” she said. “Does that mean I think traditional means work for everyone? Absolutely not. I think you really have to think about what education means, and if we’re going to function as a democratic society we have to have educated citizens functioning within that society.”

The challenge, Cole said, is anticipating the needs of the students into the future.

“We have to think differently about what education looks like, because we’re not educating for the industrial world of 50 years ago; we’re educating for a world that truly does not exist today,” she said. “The function of our school systems changes in the sense that, at one time, we trained kids in our schools to do jobs. Now we generally train them to be thinkers and to be able to critically analyze what’s going on in the world.

“If we’re not doing that, we’re not doing our job.”