Coffee and conversation

Fort Dodge Community School District administrators met with members of the Fort Dodge community at Hy-Vee early Thursday.

It was the district’s second coffee conversation with the community this school year. Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, and Robert Hughes, FDCSD assistant superintendent, took the hour to address district concerns and questions.

“We feel it’s important for our community members and our parents to have an opportunity to know and understand the things that are taking place in the schools,” Jennifer Lane, FDCSD director of communications, said. “We also know that sometimes there are questions or rumors that get started and this is an opportunity for people to come ask those questions and get accurate information.”

Van Zyl said he enjoyed the morning, spent speaking with involved parents about school matters.

“It’s nice that we have the opportunity to be able to get out here,” he said. “I think there’s an opportunity for people to come and have a conversation and that’s what we want to give them. We had several people who took advantage of that today, and had some good conversations and discussions about a couple of different items, from athletics to what’s going on academically.”

People had more questions than complaints, according to Van Zyl.

“It was more about, when is this going to happen? How can we get these things done? A lot of it just came down to finances, and being able to get things taken care of,” he said. “Part of the conversation was about a desire to do something different with the wrestling room, renovations to the high school.”

Hughes said he enjoys meeting with the community in such an informal setting.

“It’s great to be able to come out to the public forum and have a conversation with the community, and hear what their thoughts and interests and concerns are,” he said. “We always want to do good outreach to make sure we’re representing the public as well as possible and serving the students in the best manner.”

The morning allowed Hughes to explain the district’s efforts to receive Iowa Teacher Leadership funds.

“We’re very hopeful,” he said. “We’re just submitting our application for the program, which will take and empower some of our teachers to become teacher leaders, in the sense of instructional coaches. They then will be able to help classroom teachers in improving instructional strategies so that kids excel more, so that lessons are individualized more for kids to meet their needs.”

Hughes spoke positively of the school district and its efforts.

“The schools are doing great,” he said. “We have a lot of really exciting things going on right now, and we feel our students have many choices and opportunities that are excelling them in their growth.”

Van Zyl said it is important for the district to reach out.

“That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing,” he said, “giving folks an opportunity to come out hopefully trying to meet them at places they’re going to be, not always in schools.”