All systems go! Students set for NFV :-)


CUTLINE: North Fayette Valley (NFV) High School secretary Robin Albert (left) assisted Teresa Schmitt in registering her daughter Rachel for classes on Wednesday, Aug. 7. The beginning of the NFV school year is just one week away and school administrators and staff are confident the whole-grade sharing agreement will provide a better educational experience for all students. (Mike Van Sickle photo)


All systems go! 
Students set for NFV :-)


By Mike Van Sickle
Union editor


With the start of the North Fayette Valley (NFV) school year just one week away, school administrators and staff are confident the whole-grade sharing agreement will be a new educational experience both in and outside the classrooms for all patrons of the school district.

“Times will come up where there will be differences of opinions,” NFV Superintendent Duane Willhite acknowledged. “We (administrators/staff) only ask the public’s patience when things come up, as we will continue fixing problems that arise in the future.”

“I’d like to think that we’ve dealt with everything, but I know we haven’t,” agreed NFV High School Principal Todd Wolverton. “We hope people realize that there will be oversights and mistakes made. We want people to know that they will simply be mistakes, nothing done on purpose, and definitely not done in disrespect to anyone. We’ll get better as this thing progresses.” 

While administrators agree that problems will have to be addressed as they arise, they also agree that NFV provides better opportunities for its youth now and into the future.

“While it may take a while for them to get into the swing of things in a new school, the kids will make it work. They always do. The ones I have talked to have great attitudes. I have no worries with what the students will be able to accomplish,” said NFV High School guidance counselor Bill Clark.

“We all definitely want what’s best for the students and both schools (North Fayette and Valley) have been and continue making changes to be more united,” stressed Betsy Nefzger, NFV instructional principal/shared curriculum director.

Better educational opportunities

“The NFV whole-grade sharing agreement will allow our students access to new programming and curriculum that otherwise would not be available to them due to finances or a shortage in staff,” said Wolverton.

“Students will have more choices based on their interests; both the Valley and North Fayette school districts were getting limited on what they could offer,” Nefzger agreed. “North Fayette Valley staff members will now be able to focus more directly on the specific age group of students in their respective buildings.”

At the same time, Willhite sees the academic interaction among more students as a positive for everyone in a classroom. 

“It allows for expanded conversations, more opinions to be heard, and more opportunities to be experienced,” he explained.

Noting the trend to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) studies, high school guidance counselor Bill Clark explained that the new Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program provides each of these resources in one classroom.

Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, NFV will offer PLTW engineering curriculum in which students study the concepts of engineering, learn and apply the design process, and build strong teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. 

Through the hands-on, project-based class, students learn how to apply the skills they’ve learned in math and science to real-world situations, setting them up for postsecondary and career success.

Wolverton is ecstatic over business partners that have already committed to the PLTW program.  

Willhite reported that NFV is committed to expanding PLTW class offerings over a three-year period, which he hopes will lead to Northeast Iowa Community College PLTW courses, as well.

Aside from PLTW, the superintendent was excited about the newly developed American Heritage course that will include attributes from both social studies and language arts. Teachers Cassie Gruman and Kathy Hageman will lead the course, which will include online participation.

“At North Fayette, we needed to advance with STEM and we’ve wanted to vary offer our course offerings in social studies and language arts, and now we have been able to do that,” said Wolverton. 

Especially in language arts, he noted that the curriculum is better suited to fit the needs of individual students as they prepare for a two- or four-year college and/or a career.

Among the additional course offerings in social studies and language arts, Clark noted a high interest in mythology among students. He also praised the Valley students who expressed their desire for the school’s virtual reality course to be implemented at North Fayette Valley’s middle school and high school levels. 

At the same time, Willhite reported that more diversity would be offered in the music departments, including the development of two choruses, a swing choir, and a drumline.

At the middle school level, Nefzger explains that more exploratory classes will be made available (examples industrial/ag and ag career development). Guided electives could also provide extended learning opportunities in such subjects as art and health.

“I believe the whole-grade sharing agreement provides an opportunity for all of the kids to make more connections,” said Clark. “The students will possibly meet new lifelong friends and also create new relationships with families, businesses, and other community members. As we know, much of life is about the connections you make.

“Anything that can spark an interest in a kid’s college or career choice is great. Anything that you can get to click in their brain is something that may help them in making choices for their future,” he continued. 

“I’m also seeing the strengthening in professional development of staff members as the faculty of North Fayette Valley collaborate together on the best educational practices at the schools,” added Nefzger. “The more people you have working together, the better results you will have. It makes for a bigger and better team.”

“I’m excited. I love what I have seen and heard from the kids and adults I have talked to,” closed Wolverton. “At the same time, it will continue to take a strong commitment from the students, teachers, and coaches in making this work.

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