Innovation as a Foundation: Waukee CSD Prepares Students for the Future
As one of the largest — and fastest growing — school districts in the state, Waukee Community School District has embraced innovation as part of its culture. As education evolves, we pride ourselves not only on adapting to change — but staying ahead of the curve, and we wanted to reflect on these accomplishments and innovations during American Education Week.
Four Ways Waukee Community School District is Innovating
Before the school year began, we brought in AI experts to train a group of teachers, staff, and technology instructional specialists on tools such as ChatGPT and how they can be used in education. We know AI is the future, and we want our educators and students to be equipped to use this technology in and out of the classroom.
This year, we introduced augmented reality (AR) welders at each of our high schools. These welders allow students to practice hands-on welding techniques without exposing them to dangerous heat, sparks or fumes. The technology also saves us in material costs as we don’t have to purchase as much metal.
Our elementary students incorporate virtual reality, 3D printing, coding, robotics and more into their curriculum. Students at Maple Grove Elementary used Keynote as a drawing tool in their graphic novel unit. Shuler Elementary is launching a podcast series and is partnering with an elementary school in Colorado on a video podcast.
We are in the midst of launching esports programs in both high schools. Esports, which has become a global phenomenon in recent years, involves teams of students competing in various video games. The program provides opportunities for students to build teamwork, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Additionally, our focus on innovation benefits students long after they graduate. Waukee CSD prepares students to be ready for a future they can’t yet imagine. As we say in our vision statement, we’re “inspiring learners who feel valued, challenged and prepared to embrace tomorrow’s opportunities.”
About three-quarters of our graduating class participate in some form of work-based learning through our career readiness programs and school-to-work internships. But we are striving higher. This year we launched a new Career Center to help K-12 students explore career pathways. Thanks to wonderful partnerships with local businesses, we’re connecting students with guest speakers, lunch-and-learn events, internships and summer jobs, and more.
The Career Center complements our renowned Waukee Aspiring Professionals Experience (APEX), an entrepreneurial program that gives students hands-on experience before graduation. Drawing on the expertise of business partners throughout the metro, students can explore careers in five sectors: Bioscience & Value Added Agriculture; Business, Technology & Communication; Engineering; Financial & Insurance; and Human Services.
Through Waukee APEX, our students are:
Working toward their CNA or EMT certification
Creating “shark tank” style pitches for business startups
Exploring veterinary science by working with animals at the Blank Park Zoo
Studying next generation energy solutions
Developing web-based technology
By offering students these invaluable experiences, Waukee CSD is preparing them for a future that is continually evolving. We have embarked on a journey of innovation and opportunity — an idea that is so deeply entrenched in our roots, it’s accepted as the norm. In fact, Waukee High School was recently recognized as an Apple Distinguished School, an honor bestowed on the most innovative schools in the world. In partnership with Apple, WHS will host visiting teams from other schools to showcase our technology in action.
At Waukee CSD, we work together to innovate, take initiative and forge new paths. The rapid growth of our District is an advantage; it means our staff are more adaptable and accepting of change, rather than shying away from it. We can evolve beyond the traditional notion of K-12 education and help our students develop practical skills that are essential in a modern world. We can prepare them for college, careers and life.
We can create a future for our students that is brighter than ever.
Learn more at waukeeschools.org.
Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.