SMS Summer Book Club

Waukee Summer Book Club

Come join us this summer as we EXPLORE culturally relevant books for ourselves, our classrooms and our community while we CONNECT with other educators, parents and community members with the goal for you to LEAD others in conversation and action within your sphere of influence!  Sign up here! 

Deadline is Wednesday, May 22. 

What is this?

To start, participants will choose 3 fiction books from a list of Project Lit books and educators may also choose to be a part of a common read: We Got This! by Cornelius Minor. Through either face to face book club meetings this summer or an online option, participants will meet together to discuss the books.

Do I have to do it all?

We are going to provide participants with different levels of participation. When you sign up, you will indicate which level you’d like to do this summer:

    • Waukee Staff Level I – Professional Study: Commit to: We Got This book study, read & discuss 3 fiction books; meet 3-4 times (online or in person); create an action plan for your classroom, team, building or community. This option is open to anyone; South MS teachers doing this level can submit 4 hours of teacher quality pay.
    • Waukee Staff Level II – Summer Book Club: Read & discuss 3 fiction books; meet 3-4 times (online or in person)
    • Parent/Community Summer Book Club: Open to any parent/community member. Read & discuss 3 fiction books; meet 3-4 times (online or in person)

Summer Meet Up Times: (Tentative)

Sign Up Deadline: Wednesday, May 22

Date Online Option In person
Tuesday, June 11th Virtual Meeting/See Saw Sharing (link to come)  Location/time TBD
Monday, June 24th   Meet Up & Book Swap (location/time to come)
Tuesday, July 9th Twitter Chat! #SMSBookClub Location/time TBD
Monday, July 29th Book Club Round Up
Facebook or Blog Post?
Location/time TBD 

What books can I choose from?

We will be using the middle grade Project Lit books from the current year and the upcoming year. List HERE.

Where do I get the books?

A survey form will be sent to all participants

  • SMS staff – the school will be ordering/paying for these books when we finalize choices. You may keep them for your CLASSROOM library or donate them to the SMS library to be added to the circulation or bookroom.
  • Other Waukee staff – you will pick the 3 books and you/your building would be responsible for obtaining the books
  • SMS Parents or Community members – There will be two options: (1) purchase on own, keep or donate the books to the school at the end of the summer; (2) have SMS purchase books & donate them to a teacher of your choice at the end of the summer.

What is Project Lit?

Project Lit is a national, grassroots LITeracy movement, a network of dedicated teachers and students who are committed to increasing access to culturally relevant books and promoting a love of reading in our schools and communities. Project Lit commits to working together to:

  • Empower students as READERS and LEADERS in their school and community.
  • Flood our schools and communities with high-quality, culturally relevant books.
  • Champion & celebrate reading daily.
  • Inspire and support educators through sharing of lesson plans, resources, strategies, and book recommendations.
  • Create opportunities for students to connect with peers around the country.
  • Advocate for policies & practices that will help our students become lifelong leaders.

Student Assessments Next Week

The week of April 29, South Middle School will be giving the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) to students in both 6th and 7th grades. ISASP is the new state assessment that has replaced the Iowa Assessments (or Iowa Basic Skills), as Iowa’s main state accountability test for all students. Testing dates and times are:

  • Monday, April 29 Math Test 8:35-10:10 *Students should bring a basic, four function calculator if possible. No graphing calculator or cell phone.
  • Tuesday, April 30 Reading Test 8:15-10:10
  • Thursday, May 2 Language/Writing Test 8:15-10:33

Notable changes between the ISASP and the Iowa Assessments include:

  • Just so you know… during ISASP, we will ask students to leave phone and watches in the locker or at home. Student may bring a book to the classroom.
  • A writing component of two long-answer questions, about three paragraphs each.
  • Short answer questions in both reading and math to explain answers/reasoning.
  • The assessments are untimed.
  • The ISASP is aligned with the Iowa Core Standards, providing clear and accurate assessment of student learning outcomes.

As with all assessment, parents should encourage their students to:

  • get a good night’s sleep
  • eat a healthy breakfast
  • come fully prepared to engage and participate to the best of their ability
  • Please try to avoid absences during this time. If your student has to be absent, we will schedule a time for them to make-up the assessment as soon as possible.
  • All personal electronic devices including cell phones, smart watches, tablets, etc. will not be permitted in the testing rooms. We encourage students to leave them at home for their safety.

Thank you for your help in preparing your student for their ISASP assessments. If you are interested in learning more about ISASP you can visit the Pearson link here:

Building an Inclusive Community @ South MS

Dr. King gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech. It’s our dreams that change the course of history. ~ Simon Sinek

Last winter, our leadership team planned, organized and then hosted a mini-conference in August for South MS teachers and community members with the focus on learning and application of that learning connected to diversity, equity, disparity, cultural differences, valuing perspectives, race, inclusion, climate and culture. The mini-conference was a unique mix of experts from near (Des Moines, Waukee) and far (Chicago, Portland), school and community members, professional learning materials and resources along with time for teachers to collaborate together. It was a great event and a common learning experience for our many of our teachers and parents.

This year, I have based my professional growth goals upon that foundation of learning with the hope I can continue my own learning and growth in this area. Principal Kim Tierney of Maple Grove Elementary and I set our focus of: 

  • strengthening our knowledge and skills needed to be a threat to the existence of inequity within our spheres of influence; and
  • to provide a space and voice to everyone of our stakeholders in order to assess our current reality and identify or address inequities within our school, district and community.

After having some great 1:on:1 conversations with some parents and students 1st semester, I would like to CONNECT with more families by expanding the conversation to small groups of parents and community members. This next step is bring together a group of willing and interested parents and community members to engage in open conversation around diversity, equity, disparity, cultural differences, valuing perspectives, race and inclusion.

If you are interested in being a part of this school & community conversation, please reach out to me (email or call) so I can involve you in the learning, collaborating and work (dreaming!). I look forward to hearing your dreams for our students and our school community.

Summer 2019 Update

Our team of 15+ parents/staff met in May for the first time and are meeting again on Thursday, July 18 at 7:00pm (@ the WILC). If you are interested in joining these conversations and/or supporting the work, please let me know.

Agenda/notes can be found below. 

No Pops Concert Tonight :-(

Unfortunately our January Pops Concert scheduled for tonight has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. We were able to record both bands today and will share the full concert for a short period of time with our South MS families here in the near future. More information to come to band parents from Mr. Deutmeyer and Mrs. Cunningham. Our band students did an AMAZING job performing for our students and teachers this morning during our whole school assembly. You can view a bit of what we heard below. Our next scheduled band concert will be April 23. For our band schedule and other band related information, visit our band blog [click here]. 



ONE Word for 2019


CHOOSING YOUR ONE WORD: For the 5th year at South, I am encouraging every staff
member, student and parent to choose your ONE WORD to drive your actions, vision and
mission for this coming year. After reading Jon Gordon’s reasoning behind choosing your ONE word a number of years ago, this is a practice I started doing on my own to better help me drive me toward my WHY, my purpose.

By each of us choosing that ONE WORD and then sharing this word with each other, my hope is that this action supports a collective positive vision for our students, staff and building. As the new year begins, I would love to get as many staff, parents and students involved in this by having you select your ONE WORD for the year and submit it here. Below is a visual of all the ONE Words chosen over the past 4 years by staff, students and parents.

As I thought about which word I was going to choose this year, it was much more of a struggle for me than any previous years. Both at work and at home, the upcoming year brings much change and unknown. Our district continues to grow quickly and the Waukee I knew nine years ago seems to be so much different than the Waukee today. The opportunities for our students are nearly endless, our teachers still continue to do amazing things in the classroom, but the challenges of being able to hone in on the individual needs of each and every student with rapid growth and 100s of new students can be daunting. The need for me, each of us, and our entire building/district to understand and connect with our changing student and community population is vital for us to continue to be THE leading district in the state. I believe in Waukee and know it will take listening and work to be the school we want to be for our students and families. At home, my oldest child will graduate and head off to college next fall followed by my other two children in the not-so-far-away future. The life I know today in my home will look drastically different over the next 1-5 years. I realize my time to share all my parental knowledge and shape them into the young men I want them to be is running short (I do know my limits here as well!).

So with all that in mind, my ONE WORD for the 2019 year is PRESENT. My hope for PRESENT guiding my upcoming year is to:

  • Be present in my conversations with our stakeholders. My goal is to engage in a number of student and community conversations (1:on:1; small group, etc.) to deepen my understanding of who we serve and how I/we can do it better. 
  • Be present as much as I can when I’m engaged in conversation with teacher teams, walking through classrooms, standing in the hallway during passing periods and avoiding distractors when I need to be present (phone, email, etc.).
  • Be present in my home. Put down, put away, put up my phone and laptop to avoid working being seen as a priority over my wife or sons. Play. Listen. Enjoy this time.

Best of luck in selecting your ONE WORD for 2019. As we finish the 2018 year this week at South, I want to wish you and your family a relaxing, joy-filled winter break and a happy New Years. All of us here at South MS look forward to a fantastic second half to our school year beginning January 2nd!

Doug Barry, Principal

2018: Vision
2017: Moment
2016: Joy
2015: Focus

Fundraising @ SMS – One Project at a Time

3D Printer Mini-Blitz Fundraiser. We want to purchase a new 3-D printer for our students and need your help! Over the next two days (Thursday & Friday), you or your child can bring a check or cash to SMS and give it to Mr. Kleinwolterink in the atrium before school. This is a tax-deductible donation! Please label the envelop with your child’s first and last name along with3-D Printer for SMS“. You can also donate online anytime through Sunday (link below). Our goal is to raise $2,000 over the 4 days (only $3 per student!). 

This new 3-D printer that will allow for better quality printing, faster print times and cheaper printing for students/families. One example of how we are using the 3-D Printer is that all students in 7th grade Engineering class are designing keychains using Autodesk Inventor and then having the option to print one out in 3-D using our 3-D printer.  Whether your child is in Engineering class right now, next semester or next year, this printer will be used by all to engage in problem solving and critical thinking skills. 

RevTrack SMS 3-D Printer Fundraiser
(Under School Payments then South Middle School)

Please note: If your child is currently in Mr. K’s Engineering class, you will receive an email from him in the near future that will include the option to donate as well. Online donations are not connected to the $1 each student would need to bring to school next Monday or Tuesday in order to print their keychain if they so choose

Why raise funds like this? Over the past 3 years at South, we have not done a building fundraiser as we know all of our feeder elementary buildings do large ones with their families (which many of you are a part of as well). Through input from our Parent Advisory Committee, we decided to instead begin to focus on identifying a need and then engage our families and community in helping us find funds for that specific need. We won’t ask for money unless we feel there is a need and do not have the allotted funds to meet that need. Over the course of the school year, we plan on doing 1-4 of these mini-blitz fundraisers and if you feel so inclined, please donate. If not now, maybe for the next mini-blitz item(s). 

Thank you for your support of our staff, students and building and helping us move toward our purpose! 




R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me.

Last week, all of our students took the annual student survey (questions found here) which allows us, in the famous words of the late Aretha Franklin, find out what it means to me (each student)! The survey gives us a chance to gain a perspective on how our students are feeling about several parts of their day here at South and provide an opportunity to see how students view the overall climate and culture here. A few new twists to the survey this year include:

  • Our building academic and behavior goal are tied together with this goal:
    • 2018-19 Behavior Goal85% or more of our students will agree or strongly agree that their classmates are generally respectful to them. 
    • 2018-19 Academic GoalAll SMS students will show growth in producing clear and coherent writing. 
  • Students will not only get to view the data from the survey this year, but they will work together to come up with reasons why the data is the way it is and/or provide us suggestions (Academic goal connectionthrough clear and coherent writing!) on how to continue to improve what we do at South.
  • We will now take the survey quarterly and engage students, staff and parents in conversation around the data, sharing celebrations and putting ideas into action.

This week in Advisory, our teachers will engage students in a “I do. We do.” activity in which students will review some of the recent data (below) from the Quarter 1 survey and collaboratively produce a response to one of the prompts below. I am very excited to see what ideas our students have to make South MS THE place to learn, grow, laugh and learn. If you would like to be a part of the conversation too, our Parent Advisory Committee will be meeting on Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00pm. This will be one of our agenda items so email me to RSVP. Together, we can IMPACT our students, teachers and learning community in amazing ways.

Student prompts we will be using this week:
What idea do you have to make every student at South MS feel respected
What is a reason why a student or students do not feel respected at South MS?

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After School Homecoming Party Information

Information for our students is below. If you are attending the Homecoming Party after school on Friday, please:

  • At the end of the day, when the bell rings return to your pod
  • Put all your things in your locker EXCEPT your Homecoming ticket
  • Make sure your parents know to pick you up at 4:45p
  • Hang out in the pod until called to the big gym, bring your ticket with you
  • Report to the gym and wait for instructions from Mr. Young.
  • You cannot leave before 4:45 pm without an adult coming in to check you out. We expect all students to stay until 4:45 pm unless a specific need exist.

Information for our parents if your child is attending the Homecoming Party:

  • Your child should purchase a ticket before school ($5 cash or check made payable to South MS)
  • Pick up your child at South MS by 4:45 pm. All students will exit at 4:45 pm so you do not need to come inside.
  • We will not have supervision after the party is over so it is important you pick up on time.
  • We will not have anyone answering phones during the party or following. If a student does not have a phone and needs to use one, they may find an adult and use the office phone.
  • Below is a map for pick-up time.
    • 6th grade students will meet parents out front (SW parking lot). We will follow regular pick up procedures (i.e. one line in the pick up line OR park in the parking lot.)
    • 7th grade students will meet parents out back (NE parking lot). We will follow similar pick up procedures than we do out front (i.e. one pick up line OR park in parking lot & student walks to you).
    • If you have a 6th grader AND a 7th grader, use the 7th grade pick up location
  • We’d prefer and strongly recommend all students stay until 4:45pm, but if you need to pick up your child early…
    • Arrange the time with your child ahead of time as finding one student amongst 500+ has been a challenge in the past. 🙂
    • Students walking home will need to wait until 4:45p as no student may leave without an adult present.
    • You will need to walk in to through the main doors and check-out your child in the office (and any children riding with you) with an adult.

Homecoming Pick Up

SMS Homecoming Family Tailgate!

If you and your family are attending our South MS Tailgate Party this evening at 5:30p, we are moving it to the South MS Commons because of the rainy day and cool weather. We are adjusting our time to 5:00-6:30pm to allow families picking up students from the Homecoming Party to stay and eat and time for families to get to the stadium for the 7:00pm kick-off. For families who like the cool weather, we will utilize our outside commons area as well so feel free to bring a lawn game to play and lawn chairs. If you did not pay online, we are collecting money at the event; $10 per family.

We’re expecting a big crowd and can’t wait to connect with our staff, students and their families attending.   Feel free to bring your favorite finger food (we won’t have silverware) to share.  If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll hold the tailgate at South MS in the commons. We’ll let everyone know our plan by noon on Friday.


We are very excited to host our first ever South MS Family Tailgate on Friday, September 28th at Centennial Park in Waukee. All South MS families and staff members are welcome to join us for some food, fellowship and fun! Bring your favorite family tailgate side dish or dessert if you’d like or just show up and enjoy. Click here to pay online.

 A slight change as there are now 3 ways to RSVP:

  1. RSVP online and pay when you come to the tailgate. Click here.
  2. RSVP when you pay on RevTrack. Click here.
  3. RSVP by sending in $10 with your child. Dr. Ferchen will be in the gym before school to collect money. 

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SMS Homecoming Tailgate

9th Hour Explained

What is “9th Hour”?

In order to provide extra assistance (academic & behavior) for students, both 6th and 7th grade teams will be offering a “9th Hour” every week this year beginning on Thursday, September 13. Students may be a part of 9th Hour for any of the following reasons:

  • Missing or late assignments (multiple or frequent)
  • Additional time to work on skills, concepts, projects, papers, etc.
  • Consequence for behavior (3+ documented incidents)

Missing Work: If a student is missing assignments, teachers may invite them to stay after school for 30 or 60 minutes; 3:05-3:30 or 3:05-4:00 pm; to work on completing the missing work.  This will help to keep late or missing assignments from piling up and help with student organization.

Additional Time: Teachers may ask a student to stay to work on a skill he/she is struggling with in class (beginning or developing). This additional time will allow students to process the instruction and practice the skill. The amount of time will be dependent on the student’s need and will be communicated with parents as to a pick up time.

Consequences: If a student earns a 3rd documented incident (combination of disrespect, noncompliance, tardy, etc.), they will serve a detention and complete a Plan of Responsible Action with the teacher or the 9th Hour teacher. 9th Hour is one option to serve that detention along with before school or during lunch. The reteaching conversation or lesson must still take place between the student and the teacher he/she earned the documented behavior from during the event/situation.

How will it work?


The process: If a teacher would like or needs a student to attend a 9th hour session on a Thursday:

  1. Parents will be contacted so transportation arrangements can be made (student may call from class phone or their cell during class, they must talk to a parent, leave a message, or text).
  2. Parents may also request their child stay to work on late work or get help with work. Please note that the teacher staying may not be an expert in the area of need (i.e. social studies teacher staying and work needed is math). For extra help with a specific teacher, contact the teacher directly and a time can be worked out (before school, during lunch or after school). 
  3. Students should report to media center/library immediately after school with their work and a pencil. If students are there as a consequence, he/she will complete a Plan of Responsible Action sheet and then will read or complete homework. Students will be dismissed at 3:30pm or 4:00pm and need a ride or instructions as to how to get home.