Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Knightly Knews Vol. 40 is now online!

The latest edition of our award-winning publication, the Knightly Knews, is now online and you can access it by clicking here. As a .pdf document, you can view or download the quarterly publication to your computer, iPad, or smartphone for easy reading. This Breaking the Inertia edition includes:
- Become a Knight staff videos
- Student becomes a Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.)
- Inertial Guidance System: profile on group living leaders
- Falls sports recap
- Neurofeedback
- World of Work extracurricular activity
- Drumline sneak peak

We hope you have a chance to check it out and enjoy the read.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

World of Work // Extracurricular Activity

The World of Work (known as W.O.W.) extracurricular, after school activity, is the longest running at Woodward Academy and provides students a career building curriculum that will help them not only obtain a job, but to keep it. Joel Porter, WA Treatment Operations Coordinator has organized W.O.W. for over a year and fully understands that a career building after school activity lacks some of the appeal that other activities have. “Most of them [the students] typically start out being unhappy to be in W.O.W., but I try to make it fun for them. I try to keep things laid back and allow the students to guide the direction of our discussions. After it’s over, they almost always say it was their favorite because of how helpful it was for them.

World of Work follows the same 8-week schedule that other extracurricular activites follow. Porter has developed a curriculum that focuses on soft skills such as teamwork, communication, attitude, networking, professionalism, problem solving, and critical thinking. He believes that “the lack of skills like these is what contributed to many of our students being placed with us,” and that taking a course like this can equip students moving forward.
The majority of students who take the W.O.W. class have little to no work experience, but are typically older (16-18 years old), and more mature, making the content immediately applicable. “All of the soft skills we discuss are familiar to them (aside from networking), but they have never really thought of them from the perspective of how these skills can help them in the workplace.” Porter stresses that these skills are what employers are looking for when hiring, especially candidates with not a lot of work experience.
Beyond the soft skills development, the class also accomplishes a number of concrete tasks that include setting up an appropriate email account, building a resume, and practice filling out job applications. Over the past year, Porter has included several guest speakers as regular additions to the curriculum that
include discussions about Job Corps and other post-secondary options.
For the first time, Porter co-taught the W.O.W. extracurricular with Educational Liaison Aric Rush. As someone who helps students transition away from Woodward Academy, he was as a natural candidate to help with post-secondary options. His portion of the class included discussions about testing (ACT, Compass, etc.), filling out FAFSA forms, how to navigate a college website, and other aspects of post-secondary life such as campus housing, tuition, and the overall college experience. At the end of the course, students participate in mock interviews and receive a certificate of completion. The course is always a huge success and a great starting point for students moving on to the next stage of their life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Drumline Sneak Peak

After being dormant for a couple years, the Woodward Academy drumline is back under the direction of music teacher Thomas Doggett. They offered a sneak peak to the student body at an assembly last week after only a month of preparation with a new group of students.

The drumline got it’s origins in 2008 and has been a steady performer at community and school events since that time. After taking some time off, the snares, cymbals, quads, and bass drums got dusted off and the students are working hard syncopating them all together and coming up with new rhythms. In addition to the drumline, Doggett also offers several classes of General Music classes, providing students with a well rounded music education. Next semester, the drumline anticipates performing at home sporting events and in the community.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Certified Nursing Assistant

Nearly every afternoon, Amando Alvarado is working toward his future and loving every moment of it. Rather than spend time on campus, he has earned the right to be employed while at Woodward Academy. He works with the Alzheimer’s unit at Madrid Home, a local assisted living environment for the elderly. This is not just any job, it was one that will help prepare him for the future.
Amando earned his Hi-SET high school equivalent in the summer of 2016. Shortly after that, he applied for an opening at the Madrid Home and was one of two students who started working there. It was an entry level position where he worked as an assistant to the staff there; passing out snacks, playing games, and just “keeping them busy.” This part of the job was not overly rewarding, but Amando found that he enjoyed the environment and helping those who lived there. He started asking questions of how he could get more involved, and eventually talked with the personnel at the administrative office who agreed to help him get his CNA to become a certified nursing assistant. Because of the work that he was doing, the Madrid Home agreed to pay for the schooling. Emily York, a nurse at Woodward Academy, noted that this is a mandatory first step to becoming a full time nurse. She helped him study for his tests and offered some helpful tips such as word associations to look for. After three weeks of classes, Amando earned his CNA from Signature Health Care in Waukee, Iowa.
Once Amando earned his CNA, more responsibility moved his way at the Madrid Home. He worked with many of the patrons one-on-one, and truly got to know them even when that notion was not reciprocated. Working with Alzheimer patients can be challenging, but Amando’s immensely compassionate heart and amazing patience makes him the perfect candidate for nursing. “I really enjoy it. It is almost like here [at Woodward Academy], you are teaching them everything over again. Sometimes they don’t always cooperate, or always know who you are, but they recognize you and I feel good about that.”
Amando’s experience at the Madrid Home has solidified his desire to continue to pursue nursing as a profession. The Madrid Home has offered Amando a $1,000 a semester scholarship to continue his education at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). What Amando does matters, and he is making a difference in many people’s lives.
Amando is a great example of taking an opportunity and making it his own. He was given the chance to apply for this job, and once he was accepted and experienced what it takes to work in this field, his dreams unfolded in front of him. He was not simply content with this current, entry level role, and took the initiative to change his situation for the better. He worked hard at his job, did what was asked and expected of him, he never complained, and formed a positive relationship with his supervisor. Once he established that he was a trustworthy and honest worker, he earned the opportunity to further his career and become a Certified Nursing Assistant. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fall Sports Recap

The 2016 fall sports seasons saw some great talent on the field and some outstanding individual performances. Both the football and cross country teams kicked off practice in August. The football team attended a fundamentals camp at Grandview College, while the cross country team started racking up the miles. Both squads were led by veteran coaching staffs. Lorenzo White has coached the football team since 2010, and this was his fourth season as head coach. Jason Anderson has led 4 teams to state as the coach of the cross country team, most recently last year along with his assistant coach, Aric Rush.

The football team changed their approach this season, emphasizing a STATS program. The coaching staff pushed Speed, Technique, Attitude, Temp, and Standard. That eventually transitioned to E+R=O, the Event (football) plus Reaction equals Outcome. At the end of the season, the team became more of a family and fought hard every Friday night. This team had a whole lot of talent and with the system in place, White saw that one of the biggest improvements was "the relationships they made with each other and the coaches." That attitude was felt across campus and generated a huge amount of school pride among the entire student body. At the end of the season, two Knights earned All-District honors because of their work on the field. Shabaka Thurman earned first team recognition, while Mike Solo earned second team honors.

This year's cross country squad was one of the youngest in recent memory, but they grew over the course of the season. Coach Rush saw "a lot of competition [during practice] to be the fastest on the team. Each runner truly found out where their strengths were to ultimately run their fastest race." In many ways, the team got smart in how they ran each race, and this effort paid off on the course. The highlight of the team's season was when they won the Carroll Kuemper Invitational in September.

The true standout of this year's team was Jakob Estermann. The senior runner was the fastest Knight all season and pushed the rest of the team to keep up with him. "I can't say enough about Jakob's work ethic. He came to practice wanting to win and often would not let anyone finish in front of him without a fight," said Coach Rush. That season long work ethic paid off at the District meet when he finished 10th and qualified for the Iowa High School State Cross Country Meet, annually held in Fort Dodge. At the meet, he ran 17:50 and finished in the top half of all runners. Jakob became only the 30th runner in school history to run at the state meet. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

EMDR Trauma Therapy // Video

Experiencing trauma can fundamentally change a person’s life. Tragedy is unpredictable and can creep up in the form of natural disasters, a family member passing away, or living in an environment that fosters prolonged emotional stress. Unfortunately, for many students at Woodward Academy, traumatic experiences have plagued their life at far too early of an age. Many live with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) symptoms from living in neighborhoods with rampant community violence (i.e. gang neighborhoods), and are asked to function as if nothing has ever happened.

It takes a long time to heal from severe emotional pain. If not addressed, youth who experience trauma early in life are at a much higher risk of having problems in adulthood, such as anxiety disorders, drug abuse, and prolonged criminal behaviors. Over the past several years, the clinical team at Woodward Academy has placed a greater emphasis on trauma therapy, including the use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Electronic Medical Records

This story was originally published in Volume 39 of the Knightly Knews that you can download here.

Change is a function of every industry, and the companies who embrace and initiate that change are the ones who remain viable into the future. Without change, any organization, including Woodward Academy, would lose their competitive edge and fail to meet the growing demands of their client base.

Electronic medical records (EMR) are at the center of health care reform in the United States. Under the guidance of Sequel Youth and Family Services, and the development of Willetts technology, Woodward Academy recently entered the ranks of operating within a federally certified EMR system. The road to this point was thoughtful, full of trial and error, and long, but a necessary step to be at the forefront of what will be inevitable. The decision to invest time and money into developing an EMR system was easy. Marianne Birmingham, Sequel Youth and Family Services Corporate Outcomes Manager, notes that having an EMR system “dramatically increases our ability to automate certain features that are proven to improve client safety. EMRs also improve our ability to communicate, be in compliance, and evaluate client outcomes.”