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Testimonials

Steve Guns

Director, Division Quality, John Deere Financial

“Continual Improvement is the essence of delivering Quality in education, health care, service industries, manufacturing, and every organization. For Continual Improvement to occur, an organization must engage its members at higher levels, as it requires individuals to think not only about what they are doing and how they are doing it, but even more importantly why they are doing it and for what purpose it serves. As Albert Einstein said, ‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’ Thus, when we begin to ask the question ‘why’ we engage people at much deeper levels which results in a more collaborative and cohesive work environment, and empowers individuals to more fully contribute to their organizations and the outside world.

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to see this transformation taking place throughout the Urbandale district. Students, teachers, principals, and leaders at all levels are dedicated to understanding why they are doing what they are doing, assessing data to determine if what they are doing is effective, and then implementing changes to continually improve the system. Status quo in education, or any organization, is really a thing of the past – it quite simply is not a long-term proposition. Urbandale understands this and acts with same creativity, innovation, and forward-thinking that I’ve seen global corporations employ – all while excelling at what Urbandale does best: providing learning environments that motivate and inspire.”

Steve Guns
Director, Division Quality
John Deere Financial


Adam Obrecht

President of the Board of Directors, Urbandale Parent

“I continue to be proud of the uniqueness of the Urbandale district. The district’s ongoing dedication for developing learning systems that place the needs of students at the center of the classroom, that emphasize learning over teaching, and that support the continual improvement of all learners in the system are only a handful of attributes that make Urbandale schools unique. As both the President of the Board of Directors and an Urbandale parent, I see the differences in the table conversations with my children, as well as when I talk with other parents. Teachers and administrators are sharing their excitement for improvements in their classrooms and buildings with others in the profession. It’s not just one or two people on board steering this ship, it’s all of us, working together to bring about real change in the Urbandale district.”

Adam Obrecht
Former President of the Board of Directors and Urbandale Parent


Scott J Burgmeyer

Continuous Improvement Manager, Bridgestone

“Working within the business world and as a business owner, I am frequently asked about what it takes to be successful in business today. For me, core skills that we consistently need are (1) the ability to communicate, (2) be life-long learners, and (3) a continual improvement mindset (the desire to ever improve themselves, systems, and processes). A continual improvement mindset combines critical thinking AND action to allow us as a society to live a more productive and happier life. As a school system, the graduating student is the “final product” that is sent into society. Hardwiring these three core skills is something that UCSD has undertaken with their commitment to the Quality & Continual Improvement processes. I will continue to watch and lend my support during this transformation of the UCSD learning system.”

Scott J Burgmeyer
Continuous Improvement Manager
Bridgestone


Gary Nesteby

Executive Director, Iowa Quality Center

“The focus on quality and continual improvement begins with our ability to learn in an environment that is conducive to learning. Although much of that is related to our attitude and our environment at home, much of it is also what we experience in our K-12 education system.Urbandale has taken a proactive approach for transforming education in order to better align with the future needs of students. I’ve seen the leadership team collaborate with a true sense of purpose and integrate meaningful practices that are in the best interests of all students. Dr. Doug Stilwell has the passion and vision that can lead to new ways of educating. He is driven to learn and leads his team with the expectations that before “organizational change” can occur there must be a “personal transformation” in leadership beliefs and behaviors. Urbandale reaches out to other communities to learn and share resources regarding continual improvement in education; that is what role model organizations do. Their commitment to improvement is made through the vision of a better system and the passion of the leaders to learn from others and try out new ideas. One of the many reasons I like working with the Urbandale team is that there is not a feeling of failure in the challenge to make a difference; in fact, quite the contrary is true as the Urbandale team believes wholeheartedly they are on a path for cultivating true joy in education.”

Gary Nesteby
Executive Director
Iowa Quality Center
www.iowaqc.org


Anne Nieland

Parent of UHS Student

“Even though Urbandale High School is a big school with 1,215 students, my son felt completely at home when he entered 9th grade. His teachers have shown us that they care about his success by communicating with us via e-mail and phone, having one-on-one visits with our son, and demonstrating their attentiveness at student-led conferences. I appreciate how my son’s teacher’s look for his strengths. Sure, we may receive the occasional e-mail that our son needs to turn in more assignments, but the teachers are also quick to say that they know he can do the work. They celebrate his successes with him. We are thrilled to have our son at UHS.”

Anne Nieland
Parent of Urbandale High School student


Dr. Bob Stouffer

Parent of UHS Student

“As a resident of Urbandale, professional educator of 33 years, and the Superintendent of Des Moines Christian, I am definitely supportive of the Urbandale Schools’ direction in transforming education by incorporating quality improvement tools throughout the district. I was the Principal of Urbandale High School from 1992-2000, and I was always proud to be associated with a school district which was ahead-of-the-curve when it came to scientifically-proven methodologies like authentic instruction. I GREATLY appreciate the relationship which exists between DMC and the UCSD. Dr. Doug Stilwell continues to press for enhanced student learning in Urbandale’s schools, and I am 100% supportive of Dr. Stilwell and his colleagues. I have studied change theory and change leadership for years. I know people’s initial reaction to a proposed change is resistance, but we can resist necessary change no longer. By standing still, we are actually falling behind other states and nations. We must accelerate the rate of change to improve the education of our children. The nation’s wellness and economic development depends upon a highly literate, creative generation of critical thinkers who are nimble and flexible enough to adapt to the changing landscape of education, government, and culture.”

Dr. Bob Stouffer
Parent of Urbandale High School Student


Annie Uetz

Parent of Karen Acres Elementary Student

“Mrs. Choudhury, First Grade teacher at Karen Acres Elementary, provides a learning environment that motivates and inspires my daughter. My daughter is above grade level for reading so during reading lessons she is given research projects. Once her project is completed, she creates a presentation with pictures and narratives. My daughter no longer complains about being bored in class and loves doing research on topics such as Egypt and the Solar System. We even found her at home on a school recommended website reading about stem cells. Although it was designed for 12th graders, she told us that she was reading it because “it is interesting.” Having my daughter be in a learning environment that is truly student-centered is a wonderful experience.”

Annie Uetz
Parent of Karen Acres Elementary Student


Pamela Spangler

Parent of UMS & UHS Students

“As our world becomes more fast-moving and technologically savvy, education must change as well. Educators must provide a learning environment that is meaningful. It should be something that students can take with them and use as they move into the next phase of their life. Whether it is through an on-site visit, working in cooperative groups, or researching information, students need a reason for why this learning is important. Students should feel inspired to rise to the level of greatness as they study and learn about new strategies or people who influence our world. Finally, students should feel motivated. We want them to ask “why” and “how does that happen?” or “what will happen next?” These are some of the questions that encourage learning and expand students’ minds beyond what they think is possible. Urbandale is going in this direction and it is up to all of us to provide students with opportunities to bring them to that level of learning. I’m proud to have my sons in the Urbandale School District for this reason.”

Pamela Spangler
Parent of Urbandale Middle School and Urbandale High School Students


Dr. Doug Stilwell

Superintendent, Urbandale Schools

“Education is meant to inspire learners and prepare them for their futures. Working with students in a system that was developed 150 years ago prepares them for a time that no longer exists and over time diminishes the enjoyment of learning. In order to prepare our students to be successful in their futures, a redesign of the educational system is required. For that reason Urbandale is embarking on the journey to transform our educational system; a journey of continual improvement. A transformed learning system means, under the guidance of skilled and dedicated teachers, students will be more actively and meaningfully engaged and will begin to take more ownership and responsibility for their learning in order to learn at higher and deeper levels. Teachers support student learning through direct instruction, on-time support, and the development of activities and resources that meet student needs.

This transformation will create an environment in which students will master and find purpose in their learning. It will support students to become autonomous learners and will prepare them for the future that is yet to unfold.”

Dr. Doug Stilwell
Superintendent of Urbandale Schools