Director observes Clinton schools

Brenden West/Clinton HeraldClinton School District Superintendent Deb Olson (left) guides Iowa Director of Education Brad Buck through Clinton High School’s innovation labs Tuesday during the director’s site visit.

CLINTON — The Clinton School District isn’t foreign to praise. A number of state, local and federal elected officials have spent time touring the district’s facilities — namely Clinton’s innovation lab classrooms.

On Tuesday, department of education director Brad Buck echoed many of his predecessors’ sentiments following his tour: The district is working well to improve the quality of local education.

“The work (Clinton schools) are doing to provide intentional, wrap-around support is pretty amazing,” Buck said. “The emphasis on data to make sure they’re reaching every kid is pretty impressive. And it’s reinforced in their data.”

Buck’s visit came on the heels of news that the district improved its graduation rate in 2014 and decreased its dropout rate. The director pointed to the schools’ response-to-intervention program as one reason for why, and there are indications those rates will continue to show progress.

He visited with students and staff at the district’s administrative center, Clinton High and Clinton Middle schools. Buck said he enjoys touring new facilities and picking the brains of educators.

CHS principal JR Kuch joined Buck, Superintendent Deb Olson and Curriculum Director John Jorgenson on the tour. The principal said Buck’s visit was more confirmation that the district is on the right track.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase what Clinton High’s been put on the map for,” Kuch said. “When you have the director come into your building, it shows you’re doing the right things.”

Buck said he makes visits normally by request or to survey teacher leadership grant candidates. But one side benefit is that he can take the insights back at the state level and give other Iowa schools feedback on what districts are successfully applying.

In the case of Clinton, he said student support systems are something others can model.

“That’s one of the most difficult things to bring to life in schools,” Buck said. “Now, I can say (to others) that you ought to see what Clinton’s doing. They’re doing excellent work.”

Assistant Editor Brenden West can be contacted at brendenwest@clintonherald.com.

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