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The Bobcat Buzz: Positivity in Full Swing

The Bobcat Buzz: Positivity in Full Swing
Written by Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte

Even after experiencing 38 years as an Iowa public school educator, there seems to be a uniquely special positive energy (buzz) about the coming 2023-24 school year. This was particularly evident as our employees gathered in person for the first time since the pandemic for our traditional district-wide welcome back ceremony in the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center (Auditorium).

Despite having finished arguably one of the more challenging post pandemic years yet, hundreds of our teachers and administrators immersed themselves in a plethora of professional learning opportunities this past summer. Topics such as accelerated learning, combating chronic absenteeism, collaborative problem-solving, parent engagement, professional learning communities, excellence in teaching, responsive classroom, social-emotional learning, teacher externship academy and a variety of additional online learning opportunities were offered. Additionally, the school year kicked off for new and veteran teachers with preservice training days before the students return to class on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Research consistently shows that students who participate in co-curricular activities, while attending school, tend to be more engaged in school and perform better. We are excited to embark on our second year of offering mariachi band at the middle and high school; as well as girls’ wrestling and esports club and competition at Marshalltown High School. We are extremely excited for the State of Iowa Esports Championships to be hosted at Marshalltown Community College, Marshalltown High School and the Orpheum Theater Center in the coming year! 

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The Marshalltown Community School District staff at the welcome back event on Aug. 17.

Our district technology team was busy with the annual recycling process of our nearly 6,000 one-to-one student Chromebook and employee laptop devices but also had many additional projects to oversee. Most notably would be the installation of audio-visual devices in every Marshalltown High School classroom in order to equip them like Lenihan Intermediate School last year. Numerous upgrades to our safety and security technologies also took place throughout the district with upgrades to security cameras; as well as the installation of vape detectors in all the secondary and intermediate restroom and locker room areas. An additional $500,000 of State of Iowa Safety Grant funding is being planned to be used to make additional safety and security facility improvements in the coming year.

Even after experiencing 38 years as an Iowa public school educator, there seems to be a uniquely special positive energy (buzz) about the coming 2023-24 school year.

The cutting-edge Prisms virtual reality supplemental curriculum will be expanded from middle and high school math classrooms to science classrooms during the coming year. Our State of Iowa “Computer Science is Elementary” Model School Lenihan Intermediate has entered a partnership with an organization named Code to the Future which will further expand and enhance our coding and computer science curriculum in the fifth and sixth grades. Agriculture classes continue to gain popularity as we head into the third year of course offerings and the addition of an FFA club has provided more students with opportunities to develop and provide leadership within our school community.

Some of the more visible district improvements this summer have come in the form of our facilities. We were excited to open the MCSD Welcome Center at the Orpheum this past summer and continue to make interior improvements to future learning and performance spaces. The pickleball courts at Marshalltown High School have been fully repaired to their original State and the 1965 Marshalltown High School Stadium Complex is in the finishing stages of being totally reconstructed. Our student-athletes will have a state-of-the-art facility that will accommodate the football, soccer, and track and field teams as well as provide a practice and learning space for our marching band and physical education classes. As that facility is nearing completion the district continues to plan to build a tornado-safe team room building at the complex that will consist of home and visiting team meeting spaces, new concessions, public restrooms, and designated spaces for officials and trainers. This proposed 2024 project will be largely funded through a $3.4 Federal Emergency and Management Grant that was awarded to the district this summer.

Progress on the Marshalltown High School Stadium Complex construction.

Preliminary design and cost estimates are also being produced in anticipation of a significant renovation and expansion of Marshalltown High School Career and Technical Education and Science Lab spaces planned for next summer. This project will include the creation of a full culinary arts production kitchen and a much larger greenhouse space for authentic hands-on learning experiences. Time has been spent consulting with local business and industry to make sure that what is being created best ensures our students’ preparation for the world of work.

As Miller Middle School, formerly home to Marshalltown High School and Marshalltown Community College, approaches it’s 100-year anniversary, the district is in the preliminary stages of evaluating what can be done to renovate and rebuild the facility in order to provide our seventh and eighth grade students and staff with an optimal learning and teaching environment for the 21st Century.

These are just a few examples why our school community (students, staff, parents and community) are buzzing with excitement about the upcoming school year. We are blessed to live in a community that takes great pride in supporting the development of all students and positioning them for future success. The opportunities to learn, grow and achieve in the Marshalltown Community School District are boundless and we are committed in doing our part contributing to make Marshalltown a great place to live, learn, work and play!

Dr. Theron Schutte is the Superintendent of Marshalltown Community School District. He began his duties with MCSD in 2016 and is a 1981 graduate of Marshalltown High School. Schutte has served as an Iowa public school educator for over 30 years in a variety of roles and leadership positions.