Friday, February 17, 2017

Become a Knight // Staff Videos

We talk a lot about how becoming a Knight changes the lives of the students at Woodward Academy. But they are not the only ones who are impacted by the amazing culture on campus. The adults who work tirelessly with these students are also changed as a result of their time on campus and it is an experience that is unique and one they never forget.
Many staff members have made a career at Woodward Academy because they have fallen in love with the school’s mission. The work is not easy, but they know they are fundamentally making a difference in the lives of youth on a daily basis. This is the primary reason why staff continue to love Woodward Academy, but it is not the only factor. The staff highlighted here volunteered to be interviewed on camera as a part of a video series that you can see on our YouTube Channel. Through their discussions, a number of similarities arose as to why they love being a Knight and how Woodward Academy is more than just a job.
At Woodward Academy, no day is exactly the same and this flexibility appeals to a lot of people. Group Leader Darryl Stewart put it best when he said that he couldn’t work at a desk job. He said it’s just not him and prefers to be active with the students and fellow staff members to plan the day and come up with solutions to problems. This “family feel” approach was a common theme among these staff and they attribute much of their success to the support they received early on.
A lot of veteran staff members entered Woodward Academy straight out of college, knowing very little about the school. They anticipated it being a stepping stone to something larger, but fell in love with the philosophy, the culture, and how it challenged them professionally. At the time, they entered a world they knew little about, but over time were molded in the Woodward Academy way.
Program Director Ted Rives said it is the “best job I’ve ever had.” Case Manager Sierra Schnoebelen continues that sentiment when she says “It’s a job I wake up and want to come to work every day.” These staff make Woodward Academy successful and pave the way for the next group who decides to Become a Knight.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Winter Sports Posters 2016-2017 // Basketball and Powerlifting

The winter sports posters for the 2016-2017 season are out and both can be picked up on campus. Basketball is currently entering the post season and have looked solid throughout the year. The poster shows the team in action with a retro font feel and muted color scheme.

The powerlifters are just getting their competition season rolling. They performed well at the Des Moines Metro Classic in January where 9 lifters qualified for Nationals. Their next events are in Nebraska in February, and a home meet in March, with the end of the season happening at the USAPL High School National Championships at the end of March. This year, Nationals will be held in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

We have produced sports posters for each one of our teams since the 2008-2009 basketball season and often get asked how they get made. Each one is different and unique and is produced and printed on campus. For these two posters, individual pictures were taken of each athlete and composited together for the final poster. For the most recent updates, follow our Facebook page to get updates throughout the season and be sure to get a poster for your office next time you're on campus. After the break, you can view full images of each poster.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Inertial Guidance System

This story was originally published in Volume 40 of the Knightly Knews that you can download here.

It is Monday morning, and these group living staff members sit in a conference room around a table, planning to break inertia. Impromptu meetings are more their style, but with the balancing act of all of their responsibilities, and the fact that they spread out across campus, a formal meeting is needed. These staff members are some of the most veteran on campus and this meeting is one way that sets Woodward Academy a part from other residential facilities. Not the meeting itself, but what is accomplished.
In many ways, Woodward Academy prides itself on not being perfect. When your product is working with people, things go wrong and people make mistakes. With that notion in mind, change is easy to come by because it is built into the system. It is just something that naturally happens and the
culture evolves with it.
These weekly meetings are never the same, but have developed some consistencies over time. There is general information sharing, and opportunities to discuss calendar events. But much of the meeting is situational and addresses normative issues on campus. This team looks at what areas are lacking, how students can help brainstorm and resolve those issues, and then creates an actionable plan to work from.

When they all meet together, there is 140 years of Woodward Academy experience that helps develop the inertial guidance system that propels the school to success. Under the leadership of Group Living Director (GLD) Trent Fleshner, and newly promoted Assistant GLD Glen Miller, this group manages every student’s program at Woodward Academy, and supervises the vast majority of the staff members.

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.