DMPS Ready to Host 1,200 Educators at Summit on School Climate & Culture

Logo for Summit on School Climate and CultureDes Moines Public Schools is hosting nearly 1,200 educators at its inaugural Summit on School Climate and Culture next Monday and Tuesday, August 8-9, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (Iowa Events Center) in Des Moines.

The summit will cover several areas including: the latest research and best practices for improving student behavior, learning how a multi-cultural classroom can be an asset, how one’s own culture and identity may affect others, identifying the social and emotional needs of students, and better connecting with families to empower parents to set high expectations, monitor performance and support learning at home.

“The summit focuses in on the fundamental belief that the social environment in which students learn and school staff work are foundational to student outcomes,” said Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ahart. “In other words, the more connected and invested staff, families and students feel, the more likely students are to earn good grades, graduate and be successful in the next stage of their lives.”

Keynote speakers will include:

  • Erin Gruwell: Gruwell is a teacher, education activist, and founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. Erin and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including Oprah, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, Barbara Walters’ The View, and Good Morning America, to name a few. Erin and the Freedom Writers have earned them dozens of awards including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award, and were the subject of a motion picture starring Hilary Swank.
  • Randall Lindsey: Lindsey is emeritus professor at California State University, Los Angeles and has a practice centered on educational consulting and issues related to equity and access.
  • Reuben Jacobson: Jacobson serves as the Deputy Director for the Coalition for Community Schools in Washington D.C., an alliance of national, state and local school networks.

In addition, dozens of small group sessions will be held during the two days for attendees to work with a range of experts.

Des Moines Public Schools Director of School Climate Transformation Jake Troja has been the driving force behind the summit. His position with the district was made possible by a federal grant DMPS received to transform school learning environments.

This is the first annual Summit on School Culture and Climate, and another step toward DMPS’ goal of becoming the model for urban education in the United States. For a full schedule of events and links to additional information about the summit, visit