District Initiatives are large-scale projects, prioritized by the Superintendent and WCSD School Board, that have the potential to impact student learning District-wide.
Over the last six years, the Waterloo Schools Foundation has gifted more than $650,000 for seven different District Initiatives.
Camp Invention is a week-long summer program that gives elementary school students the opportunity to experiment and explore the world of science through interactive STEM activities. Participants are challenged to test their abilities as an investigator, engineer, scientist, and inventor by rotating through five different modules each day. At the end of the week, the students present their work at the “Inventor’s Showcase,” which is open for family, friends, and community members to attend. The Waterloo Schools Foundation has provided $45,000 in scholarships for low-income students to attend this program over the last three years.
Career and technical education (CTE) prepares students for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers. It allows them to pursue areas of academic interest while earning college credit and receiving valuable work experience. The Waterloo
Community School District launched two CTE programs in the fall of 2016; graphic communications and healthcare (nursing), which are now housed under the Waterloo Career Center.
The Waterloo Schools Foundation donated more than $230,000 and 10 hospital beds to cover start-up costs associated with the District’s new Career and Technical Education Health Sciences Pathway.
The Waterloo Schools Foundation was able to make this generous donation thanks to a number of community supports. Its greatest financial support, Pauline Barrett, donated $150,000 to support health education in Waterloo. Allen Hospital, Wheaton Franciscan, and Cedar Valley Medical Specialists were among other top contributors to this three-year fundraising campaign.
Over the last ten years, one of the most underserved populations in education across the U.S. has been “twice exceptional” (2e) students. According to the National Education Association, 2e students are students who are “formerly identified as gifted and special needs.” For example, a student might be dyslexic but exceptionally gifted in math. Or, a student with Asperger’s syndrome might have an aptitude for science.
Identification of these students is incredibly difficult, as the learning strength or deficiency often masks intelligence or special needs. However, it is estimated that 1/6 of the students in gifted education and special education could be categorized as 2e. There are approximately 360,000 K-12 students in the U.S. who are not receiving adequate education due to lack of awareness and Federal funding.
While Iowa doesn’t require 2e education, the Waterloo Community School District has spent the last three years developing its own, due to the increasing need and the overwhelming support of our donors, particularly Steve and Becky Gearhart.
Their support has allowed a team of 10 educators to spend time collaborating and creating a district-wide resource book, professional development workshops, and monitoring tools to provide specialized instruction for students.
This is the first, formal 2e program in the State of Iowa. It has the ability to not only transform education in Waterloo but across Iowa.
“We support the Waterloo Schools Foundation because it gives us the opportunity to make a difference in our community. Exceptional students can be overlooked. This program identifies the strengths in all students and proceeds to empower them with their giftedness.”
-Steve & Becky Gearhart