Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 Reflection

 Tuesday, May 24, 2022


Tonight, I sit at home concerned.  Concerned because another senseless act of violence occurred in a school district in Texas.  An act that by day's end claimed the lives of 19 students and 1 teacher.  Lives lost because a person elected to take action against innocent people.  In fact, my concerns are further heightened not only due to actions of Tuesday afternoon but also because of the other senseless acts of violence in a Buffalo grocery store and in a subway shooting on the east coast.


The aforementioned events of the past two weeks make no sense and lead me to consider so many questions.  Some of the questions are simple and obvious, while others are ones that I can't yet identify.  So, I will start with the obvious: 

  1. Why?
  2. Why would someone decide to take action against innocent people?
  3. What clues did the perpetrator show us or persons close to them?  
    • In on-line activity, daily actions that may have been out of the ordinary, journals or manifestos that may present themselves in upcoming days.
  1. Why didn't someone say something prior to the event, if they did see something?
  2. How could the acts have been prevented?


Reflection brings me back to my office around 4:45 PM and the voice of a news anchor, a reporter, and a therapist who all seem to believe that this event will not be the last.  With that thought my mind snaps back to the now and a search for proactive steps designed to make our environment safer, inviting, and even more comfortable for all.


The evening news then takes me to another concern, one that discusses stories of suicidal events, some close to AHSTW and others afar, for both HS and College students who are taking their lives for various reasons:  peer interactions, stress in regards to the pressure facing them in areas of athletics, depression, and overall mental health needs.  Again, I find this hard to understand and find myself asking, Why?  What can I do?  What can we do?


Well, here is a start:

  1. Say hello and listen for a response
  2. Let each person know we are happy to see them!
  3. Create routines to provide consistency for students.  Routines help create a safe environment and lessen anxiety
  4. Foster positive relationships and classroom expectations
  5. Focus on outcomes
  6. Be respectful of others
  7. Speak kindly
  8. Ask to know if a person is okay
  9. Listen, truly listen.
  10. See Something, Say Something


Now on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, our students will return and potentially return with questions about the recent events and how do we answer them?  I wish I had THE exact answer, one that would put everyone at ease, but I do not and that is okay!


So, if I find myself in conversation tomorrow or any upcoming day, I might start like this:


Question:  Why did an 18-year old student in Texas hurt innocent kids?


Answer:  I do not know why senseless acts of violence happen.  They could happen for a variety of reasons, so I personally ask myself the following question, 'What can we do to make our school safer?'  


[Pause & Listen for an answer].  


With no answer,  I would start by prompting to expand the conversation:

  • Could we check in with people? [Both Friends and others who might not be friends, yet!]
    • What would that look like?
    • How might we start the conversation?
    • How and when would I follow-up if the answer was, "Fine", but the body language did not match?
  • Could we hold ourselves to high expectations in how we positively interact with others!
  • Do you know of someone in our school who might be struggling and need a friend?
  • How do we ensure positive relationships develop?


Well, I know you are preparing for the day and I am very appreciative that we have staff who want the best for students.  Thankful for people who are willing to have the conversation to make our school safer and our students comfortable.  So, thank you for your efforts and what you are about to do over the final two days of the school year and the summer for our students and colleagues!


Know that I am available to talk with you on this topic and others as we can figure this out together.  But if you are looking for ideas I have also attached a link to some supports:  https://www.pbis.org/current/returning-to-school-during-and-after-crisis.


Have a great day and please let me know how I can help you on Wednesday or Thursday if the conversations begin.


Mr. Darin Jones

Friday, December 10, 2021

Community Assistance

 Good afternoon,


Parents and members of our AHSTW Community, we need your help. Recently, we have been made aware through reports from students and parents regarding inappropriate/harmful/hurtful social media accounts, primarily on Instagram.  It appears that students are creating multiple accounts within their profile, creating private groups, or creating anonymous AHSTW accounts designed to publicly shame others, disclose embarrassing information and spread rumors.


At this time, we are working to find ways to have the accounts taken down. However, we are fearful that other accounts will soon appear and replace the removed pages.  Some of the sites only have a few followers, but other accounts that we may not be aware of may have more viewing and anonymously posting content. 


So, at this time we are asking for your help!


What can parents do to help?


• Let your child/ren know they can always come to you to talk about what they are experiencing online.
• Have conversations with your child/ren about their social media usage. Check their phones and their social media usage.
• Remind your child/ren that what they post on social media never really goes away. Sites can be shut down or images removed, but people's lives and feelings can forever be affected and harmed.
• Encourage your child/ren to report any inappropriate accounts to Instagram and have them block the account on their social media.
• Teach your child/ren that if they wouldn’t say out loud to you what they post online, they shouldn’t be posting it.


And to our AHSTW students – we know that you are better than this. You also have a role to help solve this problem. Stand up for those that are being bullied. Report these accounts yourself to Instagram, or even better yet don’t be a follower of these accounts. You can always unsubscribe from following an account and we would suggest this would be a great option. Words can hurt for a lifetime. We are above all of this and should spend our time promoting the positives that are happening for our school, students, peers, staff, and community!  At this time, we ask that you individually STAND UP for each other and continually strive to be better.


Collectively, we can make a difference and promote kindness and connections for all!


Respectfully,


Mr. Darin Jones 

Superintendent

AHSTW Community Schools

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Thank you!

 Referendum Question #1: Approved


We would like to thank all community members of the AHSTW School District for your support of AHSTW Schools and our current and future students by approving Referendum Question #1 on November 2.  The unofficial results indicate that 65.98% of voters approved Referendum Question 1, which will allow us to remodel, repair, improve the existing PK-12 facilities, along with classroom additions.  The building projects will certainly impact our Pk-12 learning environment.


AHSTW Community Schools thanks everyone for the time and effort to learn about our proposed projects by reviewing our district website, viewing our on-line videos, reading shared information, and by attending our community meetings.  It was enjoyable to meet with you along the way and to provide information that you hopefully found meaningful in your decision-making process.


Your support of question #2 and the construction of the auditorium is also appreciated.  Even though the measure did not pass, we value your consideration of the project.


Our work with SitelogIQ will continue in effort to finalize project design, develop a timeframe for upcoming events, and plan for the phasing of the school projects and future school calendars to maximize learning opportunities for our students.


Again, thank you for your support of our school community and students!


Mr. Darin Jones AHSTW Community School Board

Superintendent

AHSTW Community School District

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

November 2, 2021: Referendum

 AHSTW School Referendum


On November 2, 2021, AHSTW voters have an opportunity impact the future of AHSTW Community School District.


Recent additions to our AHSTW school facilities, including our PK-6 building [2009], HS Science classrooms, new activities center, and intermediate [7th-8th grade] classrooms [2016], have provided updated learning environments for our students.  Although our High School section, which was built in 1972 [nearly 50 years old] of the building has been well maintained, the facility has gotten older and certain aspects are becoming outdated and in need of upgrade.  


With that said, in September of 2021 the AHSTW Board of Education voted to approve two questions for our communities to consider in the November election.  Public approval of referendum questions would allow the district to issue general obligation bonds to upgrade and develop additions to our current facility.  The renovations and additions would help to provide space for student opportunities in the area of Career and Technology classrooms, fine arts [addition of an auditorium], and general high school classrooms, as well improvements to our high school HVAC system, a transition to a new K-12 lighting system, ADA accessibility upgrades, fire suppression systems, and more.


On Tuesday, November 2, 2021 our communities have the opportunity to vote on the following two measures with each measure providing great value to our learning environment and the ability to provide additional classroom space for our students.


ï    Referendum question one would authorize the AHSTW Board of Education to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds not to exceed $12,900,000.  The funds would allow the school district to remodel, repair, and improve our existing K-12 facilities; and build and equip additions to and renovations of the learning environments, including related site improvements.


ï    Referendum question two would authorize the AHSTW Board of Education to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds not to exceed $6,750,000.  The funds associated with this question would allow our school district to build, furnish, and equip a new Auditorium at our existing K-12 facilities.


It is important to remember that each measure is independent of the other and will require a response on the ballot sheet.


If you are in need of additional information prior to voting, please feel free to contact me or review our district’s website [ref21.ahstwschools.org].  We are happy to assist you in your understanding of the projects and overall impacts.


We hope you are able to participate and vote on the proposed measures on November 2, 2021!


Respectfully,


Mr. Darin Jones

Superintendent

AHSTW School District

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Tik Tok Challenges

 Dear Parents,


Social Media can be a tremendous tool for students and adults.  The positives include increased opportunities for communication and an increased ability to remain in contact with old friends!  Unfortunately, there is another side of social media.   The other side is often not positive and can certainly have a negative impact on our school environment.  In fact, the negative posts and communication can lead to bullying, sharing false information, and inappropriate activities.


Currently, our students who have access to Tik Tok are being presented with a year’s worth of challenges.  These challenges are not positive and  will certainly have a negative impact on students, staff, and learning environment if acted upon.


Tik Tok challenge includes the following monthly actions:


September – Vandalize school bathrooms

October – Hit a staff member

November – Kiss your friend’s girlfriend at school

December – Deck the Halls and show your b**** (show your private body parts)

January – Jab a breast (aggressive behavior towards females)

February – Vandalize  school signs

March – Vandalize the school’s courtyard or cafeteria

April – Grab some eggs (stealing challenge)

May – Ditch Day (skip school)

June – Flip out in the school office

July – Spray paint a neighbor’s fence


At this time, we ask that you speak with your students about the impact of social media to gain an understanding of their knowledge of the challenges, discourage participation, and to promote the positive aspects that social media.


While we hope that our students will not elect to participate in these activities, we have been made aware of instances beginning in schools across the state.  Please know that if events do occur our handbook will be followed and potential consequences could include detentions, suspensions, expulsion, and or potential legal implications.


We have great things occurring in our buildings and we certainly want to highlight these activities and continue to develop a system built on Kindness, Compassion, and Pride in our school community!


Thank you for your assistance,


Mr. Darin Jones

Superintendent

AHSTW Community School District


Monday, September 20, 2021

AHSTW Community Meetings

 AHSTW Community School District

Topic:  Community Meetings


Recently, AHSTW Community School District approved two resolutions to renovate and build additions to our current K-12 facility.  As we approach the November 2, 2021 election date and referendum vote, we will be hosting community meetings to share information on each resolution.  


We hope that you will be able to visit with us at one of the following meetings:


Community

Date

Time

Location

Avoca

Monday, September 27, 2021

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

AHSTW HS Cafeteria

Walnut

Thursday, September 30, 2021

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Walnut Community Center

Shelby

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Shelby Community Center

Tennant

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

7:00 PM

Tennant City Council Mtg.

Avoca

Thursday, October 14, 2021

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

AHSTW HS Cafeteria

Hancock

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Hancock City Hall


In addition to our community events, we encourage you to continue to learn more about the projects by visiting our district’s website at:  www.ahstwschools.org.  Information on the web-page will include, but not be limited to, our building’s history, infrastructure needs, and financial aspects of the projects.  [Website is currently being developed]


We hope you are able to participate in our community events!


Respectfully,


Mr. Darin Jones

Superintendent

AHSTW Community School District

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

COVID Update

Hello Parents,

I hope this letter finds everyone doing well. Once again, we have started our year working to navigate the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, both in the form of illness and guidelines.  Each has provided opportunities to review our mitigation efforts and policies all while complying with Iowa legislation.  We certainly appreciate your patience as we move through this interesting time.


As many of you know both the guidelines and legislation are currently in a state of fluidity due the ruling of a Federal Court Judge on Monday, September 13.  This ruling placed a temporary stay on legislation and does provide schools with the opportunity to once again implement a face covering requirement as a mitigation effort.  Please know that we are monitoring the decision and working to identify what impact this ruling will have on Iowa school districts.


We will continue follow the all updates through both the court and legislative actions, but we do not want to react in a way that will cause confusion for staff, students, and families.  So, at this time we will maintain our current practice of optional use of face coverings during school and school events.  Please know that we do recommend the use of face coverings, especially if you have been exposed to the virus and/or when social distancing is not possible.  We will continue to be supportive of each person’s choice to wear face coverings, as well, as each family's comfort level is different at this time.


We will continue to discuss our plans at all levels, and future communications will be provided in a timely manner as circumstances change.  Please feel free to call with any questions you may have regarding this ever-changing environment.


Respectfully,



Mr. Darin Jones

Superintendent

AHSTW Community School District

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 Reflection

  Tuesday, May 24, 2022 Tonight, I sit at home concerned.  Concerned because another senseless act of violence occurred in a school district...