While the school year is over for students, administrators from throughout Des Moines Public Schools were in school for a day of learning and growth on Wednesday, June 7.
After breakfast on the front lawn of East High – thanks to the DMPS food and nutrition team – it was then into the Ruth Ann Gaines Auditorium for the 2023 Leadership Institute. School principals and district administrators heard from interim superintendent Matt Smith, who shared a look at some highlights from the just-completed school year, and welcomed the incoming superintendent, Dr. Ian Roberts.
This marked the first opportunity Dr. Roberts had to address school leaders in person. He shared his background, a compelling and heartbreaking story from his time with Baltimore City Schools and talked about radical empathy for students.
“I want us to always anchor and ground every one of our interactions in children,” Roberts told the crowd of educators.
He went on to talk about being relentless about seeking the engagement of the community, offering continuous coaching to employees, and he shared why he chose to come to DMPS.
“I believe I will become my best self here,” he said, praising the Board engagement, parents who collaborate, and the children first attitude of DMPS employees.
“We are a team. We are going to succeed as a team and I’m excited to be part of this success trajectory,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, but it is going to be work that is full of joy. We are going to have a good time doing this work.”
The event kicked off with a presentation by interim superintendent Matt Smith, who will return to serving as associate superintendent on July 1. He included a month-by-month review of significant events from the 2022-23 school year, a year that included everything from top survey results for employee engagement to a cyber attack to state champion athletes and internationally-recognized scholars.
You can watch the presentations by Smith and Roberts in the DMPS-TV YouTube video posted below.
After the keynote from Dr. Roberts, building and district leaders heard presentations on important topics like safety enhancements for schools and legal updates impacting the classroom following the last legislative session before breaking off in groups according to grade levels and working areas to consider plans and improvements for next school year and beyond.