Miller Middle School students named State Science and Technology Fair grand champions

Miller students Anessa Morrison, left, and Harper Wilson, right, explain their award-winning project at the April 19 Marshalltown School Board meeting. The duo tested the effectiveness of different markers, and used a specialized robot to perform the experiments.

Miller Middle School students Anessa Morrison and Harper Wilson gave an exceptional performance at this year’s State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa, where they were named grand champions. 

Miller Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher Ann Jackson said Anessa and Harper’s accomplishment is a major milestone; they are the first Miller students to win the competition’s grand champion title. The seventh-graders also won first place in the Fair’s engineering, physics and math category.

“We took two brands of markers, an on- and off-brand, and tested to see which one worked best,” Harper said of the duo’s award-winning project. “We used a robot which had 3D printed parts attached to it; we learned how to make the 3D printed parts through a class we took in the XLP program.”

In their experiments, the students found the on-brand marker to be more than twice as effective as the off-brand marker.

As grand champions, Anessa and Harper were nominated to apply for the Broadcom Masters Science Competition, with judging set to take place this summer. On Sept. 1, the top 300 projects will be announced; a total of 30 finalists will then be selected to take part in the national competition in Washington, D.C.

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MCSD Director of Instruction Dr. Stevenson named Central Office Administrator of the Year finalist

School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) named Marshalltown CSD Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson as a finalist for the 2021 Iowa Central Office Administrator of the Year award this week.

During her five years in Marshalltown, Dr. Stevenson has collaborated with numerous community organizations, the Department of Education, the AEA, administrators, and teachers to launch projects designed to support the District’s mission and vision for all PK-12 learners.

  • At the preschool level, through the “Young Bobcats Moving Forward” plan, the program went from zero to four community partners that joined the local program and preschool participation has increased from around 60-65% per site to around 75-80% per site.
  • In collaboration with the at-risk committee and secondary staff, the number of dropouts has decreased from 114 in 2016 to 65 in 2020 due to intentional work with MTSS, credit recovery, and professional learning communities. The graduation rate rose from 83.97% to over 90% in 2020.
  • All 427 certified staff members are active participants every 5-6 days within their specific professional learning community (PLC) where they plan, review, and reflect about their teaching and student learning outcomes.
  • The dual language Spanish/English program was expanded to now include offerings at K-12 and the Seal of Biliteracy program began.  Over the last two years, due to combined efforts by teachers and administrators, the number of Seal of Biliteracy participants rose from 16 to 54 students.
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Stevenson coordinated a Return to Learn team of over 72 stakeholders to review and plan for mitigation, staffing, and support for over 1,400 virtual learners. This work has led to the creation of a new PK-12 school for 2021-22 – the Marshalltown Virtual Academy.

Dr. Stevenson has been the Director of Instruction at MCSD since 2016. Before coming to the District, she was an elementary principal and preschool director in Bettendorf Community School District for six years. She also served as the administrator for the West Liberty Early Learning Center and curriculum director for West Liberty Community School District for five years.

SAI, a statewide organization founded in 1987, represents more than 1,800 Iowa educational administrators. SAI’s mission is to enhance PreK-12 education through effective leadership by school administrators.

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Bobcat students inducted into National Honor Society

Marshalltown High School NHS President and senior Emily Manis, left, gives remarks during Wednesday’s Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 National Honor Society induction ceremony.

Students in the National Honor Society show qualities of good character, leadership, and service to the community, and several Bobcats joined the respected organization’s ranks Wednesday evening.

The ceremony had special significance as two groups of students – Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 inductees – officially joined the National Honor Society. The Fall 2020 ceremony had to be put on hold due to coronavirus pandemic concerns. Wednesday’s ceremony at the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center gave all of the students a chance to celebrate their exceptional accomplishment with their families; the event included social distancing, required face masks, and other COVID-19 safety measures.

“The membership of the Marshalltown High School chapter of the National Honor Society has been earned by the effective demonstration of the four qualities held in high esteem by the society – scholarship, leadership, character and service,” said Marshalltown High School senior and NHS President Emily Manis.

NHS member students Ana Palmerin Andrade, Hae Tha Lay Paw, Odaly Joya Flores, and Elijah Thiessen spoke about the importance of scholarship, leadership, character, and service. As each quality was highlighted, fellow NHS member Noah Hermanson lit a candle representing that quality.

MHS Class of 2014 alum Emily Barske delivers the induction ceremony’s keynote address.

The keynote speaker at Wednesday’s ceremony was Des Moines Business Record Editor Emily Barske, an MHS Class of 2014 alum and NHS member. 

“Anyone can be a leader if you have the passion for serving others,” she said. “You can be somebody who is younger or older, somebody who is an introvert or extrovert … if you believe in service over self, as well as making a positive impact in your community, you can be a leader.” 

Barske encouraged the new inductees to pursue leadership opportunities and use their fresh perspectives and sense of service to benefit their community.

“I encourage you to not ever let your age or other characteristics that you hold be the reason that you don’t pursue something that you love or care about,” she said. “Just because the position has never been held by someone your age, or someone who looks like you, doesn’t mean you’re not the best person for the job.”

Wednesday’s ceremony concluded with inductees reciting the NHS pledge and celebrations with their family members outside the auditorium. 

Congratulations to all of the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Bobcat NHS inductees! See the full list of new National Honor Society members, as well as more photos from the event, below:

NHS member students Hae Tha Lay Paw, left, and Noah Hermanson, right, take part in the traditional lighting of candles at Wednesday’s ceremony. Each candle stands for one of the four qualities sought in NHS members: scholarship, leadership, character and service.

Fall 2021 Inductees:

  • Marianna Albarracin
  • John Loney
  • Moses Albarran
  • Kale McKibbin
  • Rochelle Avalos
  • Hayden Oetker
  • Marcus Barker
  • Andrea Ordaz Jimenez
  • Ethan Benscoter
  • Jadyn Palmer
  • Samantha Bradley
  • K Du Paw
  • Drake Polley
  • Lily Duff
  • Haley Reed
  • Natalie Duncan
  • Jolcey Santana
  • Alivia Eaton
  • Colin Schmit
  • Diana Espinoza
  • Aaron Seberger
  • Amber Henson
  • Kendall See
  • Phoebe Hermanson
  • Veronica Herrera
  • Brittany Sichra
  • Marco Herrera
  • Kaylin Smith
  • Claire Hughes

  • Rachel Smith
  • Kathryn Johnson
  • Eysak Stanfield
  • Taylor Jones
  • Rebekah Stone
  • Kiara Juarez Parra
  • Jovanny Tellez
  • Emma Kuhlers
  • Jose Manuel Vergara
  • Brynn Van Buren
  • Norah Wilson

Spring 2021 Inductees:

  • Tarryn Bell
  • Grace Bethel
  • Averi Bolar
  • Lizeth Castillo
  • Nile Christensen
  • Jaxson Eisenbarth
  • Melissa Hernandez Morales
  • Gavin Jablonski
  • Derek Ketcham
  • Drew Loney
  • Bawi Par
  • Eleanor Seberger
  • Erin Stanley
  • Chesni Uhde
  • Moises Vasquez
  • Cassidy Wedemeyer
  • Quinn Weidenaar
Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte shares an elbow bump with NHS inductee Jovany Tellez
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Trio of incredible Bobcat staff members receive Employee of the Quarter honors

Franklin Elementary’s Jade Eash (left), Anson Elementary’s Tara Klaas (center), and Miller Middle School’s Chad Spear (right) have each benefited students, families, and their fellow staff members by going above and beyond. They are the MCSD Employee of the Quarter honorees for the third quarter!

Three dedicated and skilled MCSD employees have earned an Employee of the Quarter award for the third quarter of the school year, and each brings positivity and empathy to class every day.

Franklin Elementary fourth grade teacher Jade Eash, Anson Elementary third grade teacher Tara Klaas, and Miller Middle School behavior interventionist Chad Spear all offer an important presence in the lives of both students and staff. Through their support, knowledge and hard work, they help provide excellent learning environments for Bobcat students.

Learn more about this quarter’s trio of honorees below!

Jade Eash
Franklin Elementary fourth grade teacher Jade Eash brings a positive, energetic attitude to her students every day. Part of what makes Eash’s classroom such an enriching learning environment is the way she communicates with students.

“Jade’s ability to communicate with her students is so direct, clear and respectful, and I am sure they will learn to communicate in the same way,” said Franklin bilingual language assistant Janneth Deniz, who nominated Eash for the award. “I am 100 percent sure that her students will never forget her.”

Deniz said Eash does an excellent job of finding the positive side of any circumstance, and teaches students to do the same whenever they face a challenge.

“It is really impressive and beautiful to see how Jade indulges in her class every day. She does it with a passion, joy and positivism that she passes to everyone,” Deniz said.

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Franklin Elementary fourth grade teacher Jade Eash, second from left, brings positivity and empathy to her class every day, and she is highly skilled at engaging and communicating with her students. Also pictured, from left: Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, Franklin bilingual language assistant and Eash’s nominator Janneth Deniz, and Franklin Principal Tim Holmgren.

Tara Klaas
Anson Elementary third grade teacher Tara Klaas focuses on building positive relationships with her students and their families, as well as her fellow staff members. She excels at teaching empathy and making all students feel welcome in her classroom.

Anson school counselor Ashley Chyma, who nominated Klaas for the Employee of the Quarter award, said Klaas constantly looks for ways to support her students’ success.

“Tara makes a positive difference to all lives she interacts with, whether they be the students she teaches each day, the staff she collaborates with, or the parents she communicates with in regards to her students,” Chyma said. “Her smile and calming voice give the students the sense of belonging and empathy they need each day.”

No matter the circumstances, Klaas maintains an optimistic attitude and never stops building important relationships.

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Building relationships to support student success is a major focus for Anson Elementary third grade
teacher Tara Klaas (second from right). Also pictured, from left: Dr. Schutte, Anson school counselor and nominator Ashley Chyma, and Anson Principal Ronnie Manis.

Chad Spear
In his role as a behavior interventionist at Miller Middle School, Chad Spear brings a consistent, calm and empathetic presence to the classroom each day. Spear knows that students succeed when they are able to, and he works to provide a supportive environment for his students.

“He is a reliable source of support for both teachers and students, and is constantly checking in with students,” said Miller Instructional Coach Brian Murphy, who nominated Spear. “Chad is a constant presence in the lives of students who need additional support … he has the ability to connect with students who may not easily form relationships with adults.”

In addition to supporting students, Spear never seems to turn down an opportunity to help his fellow Miller employees. He exemplifies the building’s teamwork- and collaboration-focused mentality.

Miller Middle School behavior interventionist Chad Spear, center, offers a consistent, calm, and empathetic presence every day. His supportive nature benefits both his students and his fellow staff members. Also pictured, from left: Dr. Schutte, Miller Co-Principal Kristyn Kell, Murphy, and Co-Principal Dave Glenn.

It is an honor to recognize these three incredible Bobcat employees! Thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, and willingness to go above and beyond for students!

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Bobcats celebrate Week of the Young Child

Rogers Elementary preschoolers Florence Rodriguez, Bawi Lian, and Evan Torres show off the family portraits they drew for Family Friday.

Bobcat preschoolers have enjoyed several fun, enriching activities this week as MCSD celebrates Week of the Young Child, an annual event honoring children; the celebration is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. 

Both at their homes and in their classrooms, MCSD preschoolers enjoyed a different theme for each day this week, including: Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Work Together Wednesday, Artsy Thursday, and Family Friday. They cooked meals with their families, enjoyed teamwork puzzles, drew family portraits, and much more! 

The Week of the Young Child highlights the importance of both academic and social-emotional learning for our youngest students. Preschool Program Coordinator Emily Banks said young children have great educational opportunities at Marshalltown Schools.

“MCSD is able to offer preschool at all six elementaries and has community partners. The dedicated teachers provide high quality, early childhood experiences for children,” she said. “We are still enrolling for the upcoming school year, and families can call Central Office at 641-754-1000 or email me at to set up a registration appointment.”

Preschoolers in Casey Hope’s Fisher Elementary classroom enjoyed a fun scavenger hunt activity as part of Work Together Wednesday this week.
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MHS Bowling Coach DJ Wilder named Coach of the Year

MHS Bowling Coach DJ Wilder was recently named Class 3A Coach of the Year by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association, adding another accolade to an outstanding 2020-21 season.

MHS Bowling Head Coach DJ Wilder continues to earn plaudits amid several successful seasons spearheading the Bobcats Bowling program.

The Iowa Girls Coaches Association named Wilder Class 3A Coach of the Year. The MHS Girls Bowling team had an outstanding 2020-21 season, during which they broke a school scoring record and won the conference championship. 

Wilder said he is proud of the MCSD community and leadership for supporting the MHS Bowling program. 

This outstanding recognition follows an incredibly successful boys bowling season which saw the Bobcats triumph as Class 3A State Champions; the boys team were also state runners-up in 2019-20.

Wilder coaches both the girls and boys bowling programs, and both will continue to be formidable competitors under his excellent leadership.

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MHS Principal Jacque Wyant named Secondary Principal of the Year Finalist

MHS Principal Jacque Wyant was named a finalist for the SAI 2021 Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year award. The Seal of Biliteracy program is one of the many great programs Wyant has implemented at MHS.

Marshalltown High School Principal Jacque Wyant was named a finalist for the 2021 School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year award, a recognition of her commitment to Bobcat student success.

Wyant has been a secondary level principal in Marshalltown Community School District since 2015. In that time, she has managed multiple grants, including Gear UP Iowa 2.0, which resulted in a 4% increase in graduation rates. She has also successfully ensured that Marshalltown will join forces with Gear UP again for the 3.0 program. 

In alignment with AASA, the Superintendent’s Association, Wyant has implemented Bobcat Ready, a College and Career Readiness program at MHS. The number of students meeting designated indicators for college and career readiness has increased by more than 10% since the program was implemented.  

Before coming to MCSD, Wyant served as the principal at West High School in Sioux City for four years, having previously served as assistant principal for six years. She was a mathematics teacher at North High School and Bishop Heelan Catholic High School for a combined 15 years prior to entering school administration. 

Wyant earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Briar Cliff College, her master’s degree in school leadership from Nova Southeastern University, and her Educational Specialist degree in school superintendency from the University of South Dakota.

SAI, a statewide organization founded in 1987, represents more than 1,800 Iowa educational administrators. SAI’s mission is to support, encourage and develop Iowa’s educational leaders and learners.

“We are pleased to recognize school leaders who are committed to excellence in education,” said Dr. Roark Horn, executive director of School Administrators of Iowa. 

Congratulations to MHS Principal Jacque Wyant for this outstanding recognition!

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MCSD Superintendent Dr. Schutte receives ISU Alumni Association honor

The Iowa State University Alumni Association (ISUAA) recently named MCSD Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte as an Alumni Association Award recipient for his outstanding work at the District.

Dr. Schutte was selected for the honor due to his focus on community partnerships and his commitment to the success of all Bobcat students. 

“An integral member of the Marshalltown Business-Education Alliance, [Dr. Schutte] has raised funds to enhance Marshalltown’s STEM education programs. He led the formation of a Junior Achievement Program and creation of the Bobcat Pride Campaign that promotes student and alumni success,” the ISUAA announcement reads.

“Under his leadership, the district became the first in Iowa to graduate students with a Career and College Readiness Certificate and offer Seal of Biliteracy Certification. Both the iconic Marshalltown Roundhouse Community Center and a promising summer school program were expanded.”

Dr. Schutte’s extensive involvement in professional and educational organizations – including Science Bound, School Administrators of Iowa, and the American Association of School Administrators, among others – was also noted by the ISUAA.

The ISUAA concluded “Theron Schutte is a premier educational leader whose work enriches the lives of children and their families, and people throughout the state.” 

Congratulations to Dr. Schutte for receiving this great honor!

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Second round of staff vaccinations in the books

Miller Middle School Co-Principal Kristyn Kell receives her second COVID-19 vaccine dose Friday

About one month after receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, staff across the Marshalltown CSD were excited to get their second dose Friday and Saturday.

The two doses of the Moderna vaccine given to staff will protect against the spread of COVID-19, both within the schools and in the larger Marshalltown community. As with the first round, the MCSD Health Services team partnered with Hy-Vee pharmacists to provide the second round of vaccinations in a smooth, efficient manner.

Marshalltown High School, Miller Middle School, and Lenihan Intermediate School staff got their vaccines on Friday this week, while staff from the rest of the District – including the six elementary buildings, Marshalltown Learning Academy, and the Central Office, among others – received their vaccinations on Saturday.

Employees across the District are incredibly excited to be able to add this powerful layer of protection against COVID-19. Check out more photos from this week’s vaccinations below!

MHS English teacher Chris Sutch receives his second COVID-19 vaccine dose from Hy-Vee pharmacist Jamie Stalzer.
Hy-Vee Assistant Pharmacy Manager Ryan LaVille Bethel, right, vaccinates Miller Middle School Technology Specialist Bob Gilbertson.
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MCSD receives grant from national superintendents organization to bolster SEL programs

The Marshalltown CSD is one of six school systems nationwide to receive technical assistance, collaborative support and a $4,000 grant from AASA, The School Superintendents Association to enhance professional development and strengthen its social and emotional program.

AASA, the nation’s premier organization representing school system leadership, is partnering with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) to launch the SEL Impact Project to better enable school districts to realize the benefits of SEL and provide a more supportive and effective return to in-person learning.

“Every staff member at our District cares deeply for our students and the support necessary for their success,” said MCSD Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “Social and emotional learning provides a pathway for our students to be successful. This generous support will enable us to scale up our efforts to reach more students in the critical area of SEL, which will not only benefit the young learners in our community, but also at school districts within our region and beyond as we share the important work we’re currently engaged in.”

Providing supports for social and emotional wellness is key to ensuring Bobcat students can reach the highest possible level of academic achievement.

“Across the country, school districts and their leaders are realizing the importance of social and emotional learning in creating positive school climates, enhancing student academic performance and strengthening teachers’ instructional skills,” said AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech. “The school districts we’ve chosen realize how critical SEL programming will be for students emerging from the relative isolation of the pandemic and returning to the typical social interactions at school. We feel these grants will serve as a catalyst for recipients to take bold initiatives that will yield new areas of exemplary practices that others can learn from.”

In addition to Marshalltown Schools, other school systems receiving grants are: Bullhead City Elementary School District, Bullhead City, Ariz.; Collier County Public Schools, Naples, Fla.; Moriarty-Edgewood School District, Moriarty, N.M.; Naperville Community Unit School District 203, Naperville, Ill.; and Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, Va.

Along with the funds, the participating districts in the SEL Impact Project will receive:

  • Ongoing personalized support from AASA in the development and implementation of SEL plans.
  • Complimentary registration for AASA’s Social & Emotional Learning 2021-22 Cohort. Cohort participants will receive professional development support, toolkits, networking with colleagues and other resources.
  • Collaborative support from other participating districts.
  • A culminating case study document that the district can use to highlight and further its unique SEL efforts.

“The school districts receiving these grants are deeply committed in the area of social and emotional learning,” said Sheldon Berman, lead superintendent, AASA SEL Cohort. “This initiative highlights the important work being done in these districts and provides them with a pathway to bring that work to higher levels—all on behalf of the young learners they serve.”

Acceptance into the SEL Impact Project requires a commitment on the part of the participating districts to make SEL a strategic priority and to utilize the resources provided by the project to further their SEL planning and implementation. This approach will enable them to maximize the value of this opportunity to work and learn together.

For more information about the grants or to find out how to participate in the AASA SEL Cohort, visit the AASA website or contact Mort Sherman at 703-875-0726 or

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