Liberty High School Technology Planning: Ankeny Centennial

Ankeny Centennial High School opened in suburban Des Moines several years ago as the first completely new high school created in the state since Davenport North in the 1980s, a response to rapid growth affecting Ankeny’s existing high school.  Creation of the new school required the development of new attendance zones, athletic and activity booster groups, reassignment of teachers, and myriad other activities in addition to the construction of a new school (or in Ankeny’s case, two new schools as they replaced Ankeny High School at the same time).

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Assistive Technology Usability Pilot at Shimek Elementary

We’re excited that Shimek Elementary has been selected as a specially designed instruction (SDI) usability pilot site by the Iowa Department of Education.

As part of this pilot, we’ll be implementing some software that is new to the district:

  • uPar is a screener to assist in determination of a need for reading accomodations
  • Snap & Read is a reading accessibility tool that reads text aloud, works both online and offline, performs dynamic text leveling, translation into over 100 languages, along with other study tools
  • Co:Writer uses word prediction and speech recognition, along with content databases to help students better express their ideas in writing

We’re excited to implement this program at Shimek, and for the possibilities that the program’s success could mean for students in all of our buildings.

First ICCSD Technology & Innovation Blog Post

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post as the new director of technology and innovation for the Iowa City Community Schools.

As I learn about the people and programs here in the district, I think that it’s also important for others to have the opportunity to get to know me.  I’m originally from Davenport, Iowa and attended Davenport Central High School.  Both of my parents were college professors, so I had an inclination towards education from a young age, and always wanted to work in the field.

Technology has been a passion of mine for most of my life.  Much to my parents’ chagrin, I reformatted a computer and reinstalled an operating system for the first time when I was 8 years old, taught myself to program in QBasic when I was 10,  and built my first computer at 12.   Professionally, I’ve worked in the academic technology field for over 15 years.  Prior to arriving in Iowa City, I worked with the ADM Schools, Carlisle Schools, the WiderNet Project at The University of Iowa, and Scattergood Friends School, preceded by four years of work study with the IT Services department at Beloit College.

My undergraduate work was at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where i earned a degree in Religious Studies in 2003.  In 2007, I completed a M.A. in Political Science from The University of Iowa, followed by a M.A. in Educational Administration from Iowa in 2011.  I am currently a doctoral candidate (A.B.D.) in Educational Leadership at The University of Iowa.

My wife, Sara, and I have been married for just under 10 years, and have two fantastic daughters, Miriam (3) and Nuria (1).  Sara is a physics content specialist at ACT, a change after spending her entire career teaching AP and IB Physics and mathematics.  Fans of The Big Bang Theory – or of particle physics – might appreciate that has spent time working at both FermiLab in Chicago and at CERN, the home of the Large Hadron Collider.

In my free time, I enjoy cycling, baseball, disc golf, and ultimate Frisbee, and whatever my little girls are interested in on a given day.  I ride RAGBRAI each year, and Sara and I are both big fans of the Cubs and Hawkeyes (working on our girls as well).  On occasion, I enjoy teaching adjunct political science courses at the college level, and – in a lifetime where I had more free time – spent many years as a high school drumline instructor, in addition to writing and arranging marching band music and drill.

I am incredibly excited to continue to get to know the Iowa City Schools community, and to work with all of you to create engaging, innovative space for our students to use technology to reach levels and experience achievements that they might not have thought possible.  Technology is necessary and ubiquitous in our lives and classrooms, but can also serve as a tremendous force for innovation, equity, creativity, engagement, and achievement.

Adam Kurth
Director of Technology & Innovation