Education is Innovative?

This week on the Iowa Journal Update:
Innovations in Iowa Education
Sailing Around the America’s
Beer, music ed and obesity
Healthcare Recap

Innovations in Iowa Education
What makes innovations in education? Is there any school in Iowa doing innovative things in the classroom and with Iowa students?

We recorded the discussion earlier this week, so now I can tell you a few more of the fun things to see Thursday night at 8p on IPTV. The show will also live forever on our website at

This week’s Iowa Journal tries to get into the innovation in education issue, in just 15 minutes. I know, not much time, but you’ll be surprised how much ground we cover in our discussion with Judy Jeffrey, Director of the Iowa Department of Education and John Carver, Superintendent of Van Meter schools.

We’ve expanded some topics to include 4 guests, but this time we went with 2 to give everyone a chance to flush out my crazy question list. What exactly does innovation look like? Is it different in each school district? What role will the Iowa Core Curriculum play in innovation? Will it help Iowa schools? How about the budget cuts to schools, will innovation be restricted because of tight budgets? Or is this crisis a great opportunity?

This discussion covers many changes coming in education.

Our feature includes a look at two schools in Iowa and their innovation efforts. Sigourney Community Schools looks more like a community college. Todd Abrahamson is about to complete his fourth year at Sigourney after stops at West Central of Maynard and Manson Northwest Webster to name a few of his journeys.

Todd says his district stands out with four innovations: eSEAL the East Sigourney entrepreneurial Academy for Leadership, the Keokuk County Career Academy for Advanced Manufacturing and Technology, 1:1 computers for every 70-12 student and the Virtual Reality platforms.

Abrahamson meets often with economic development leaders in Keokuk Country trying to make sure there’s a workforce for the manufacturing jobs in the region. Mr. Abrhamson is looking out beyond his district and the community. Major employers are Vermeer, Pella Corp, and Kinze to name a few in the region.

Sigourney HS just took delivery on a new virtual reality welder that is the only one like it in the country. Instructors from Indian Hills Community College are in the school to deal dual credit classes.

About 100 miles to the west is Van Meter. They too are a 1:1 school and also have a virtual reality program. This is the first year for that leased set up of computers. Teachers and students are interacting and on many levels. Students are creating the content and seem to be enjoying and learning at every level. We talk with Deron Durflinger, the secondary principal at Van Meter. He’s helping lead a big on-line experience and is hoping to have the biggest class catalog available for his students. Here’s his website with his links. Shannon Miller is also featured in the piece. Van Meter set up their own Twitter hash tag called #VanMeter and is quite popular in the education’s Twitter circles.

Both schools are smaller. Does that play into their abilities to try new things and quickly turn their ship and head in an innovative direction?

I had asked for several ideas and tips for this story. I appreciate each and every one of them. It also means a lot to have so many people engaged and invested in this program. Thank you for that. There will be a post with some of those comments to follow.

Sailing Around the America’s

From Around The America

We also set sail Around The America’s as West Okoboji’s David Thoreson is in the middle of a nearly 26,000 mile journey. There are some amazing pictures that are shown. You can view many more here after this background on his adventure. If this picture is any teaser for you, this may seem like a big job, but it’s quite a pretty journey. We talked to David just days before the earthquake in Chile where he and the crew just left port.

Next week we’ll get into quality of life issues in Iowa. This will piece together some of our work from previous topics and thread them together for you.

Beer, music ed and obesity
And coming up in the last few episodes before cancellation of The Iowa Journal, we’ll look at the beer industry and law changes, is music education important for fundamentals of education and childhood obesity.

Healthcare Recap
If you want to view our discussion the healthcare bill that’s now law, go here for our panel discussion. Our coverage also includes an interview Iowa Public Radio’s Dean Borg did with University of Iowa Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Jean Robillard. You can view that here.
See you Thursday night at 8p, Friday at 630p and Saturday at 830a (IPTV World) on Iowa Public Television and The Iowa Journal.

If you have things you want us to look at, send us an email to
We love hearing from you. Let our bosses know you appreciate this show and the discussions by sending them a note as well.


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