“This is the best part of my job,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise told Springville school district officials during his tour of their elementary, part of his visits to the Springville and Anamosa school districts.

“I get to see how policy translates into teaching and learning and makes a difference,” Wise said. “It’s just fun to see ideas come to life.”

Wise pointed specifically to the idea of the teacher leadership positions, which is how he started off his visit, meeting with Springville’s teacher leaders about the program. Seeing the passion and the difference it was making in their teaching was “really exciting” Wise said.

Wise tries to make a school visit at least every week. Being able to visit schools of differing sizes helps the department form their vision for the state, which requires a plan that connects with everyone, yet still leaves districts with the latitude to implement in the local context.

Wise got a tour of Springville’s elementary and secondary schools before making the trip up Highway 151 and having a discussion at the high school and elementary in Anamosa.

In Springville, Wise made some classroom stops with principal Shannon Robertson and got a tour from some Springville sophomores. Wise said he really appreciated being able to get a bit of a student perspective on his tour and was struck by the relationship.

“Springville was very pleased that Director Wise visited the Springville school and took the time to talk to students and staff. We were also very pleased to show off what a great small school Springville is as well. We want to thank Director Wise for taking the time to make Iowa school visits a priority,” Springville Superintendent Pat Hocking said.

In Anamosa, Wise started at the high school, learning about the districts alternative program and career tech courses, before learning about Anamosa’s cornerstone program. Wise was impressed with the connections the district had made with local businesses and how they were able to mirror the needs of the businesses in their curriculum.

“These high school programs are ones that Dr. Wise has a strong interest in, and we believe both of these are assets to our students, families and community,” Anamosa Superintendent Larry Hunt said. “The Cornerstone program at the elementary is quite unique, and we thought it would be something different for him to see that Anamosa offers our students and families; which other schools may not.

“We felt the visit went well, and Dr. Wise was able to get a good picture of a few of the exceptional programs we have for our students … we were happy to have the opportunity to showcase a couple of these through this visit with the Director of the Iowa Department of Education.”

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