When I began to consider pursuing the Indianola CSD superintendent position, I kept coming back to the fact that it was a very unique opportunity. There are many great schools and communities out there, and I have worked in several others; but Indianola has things to offer that no other place does:
1. Small town, community feel with big city resources– With no disrespect to urban or large suburban districts, I have never aspired to be a big city teacher, coach, or administrator. I grew up in a small town (John Cougar Mellencamp lyrics are running through my head: “I was born in a small town. . .probably die in a small town.”) and really appreciate the community spirit and rallying behind the school that smaller locales offer. The other side of the coin is resources– and with 60% of Iowa schools, including virtually all small, rural schools, having declining enrollment– Indianola’s proximity to Des Moines helps assure good employment opportunities and prosperity. Coupled with our great local businesses, we have the best of both worlds. With the pupil-based Iowa school funding formula, steady student enrollment is so important; and people are going to live where they can find jobs and affordable housing.
2. The right vision– Like many other people, I appreciate the value of a vision that directs and inspires our efforts. Indianola Community School District’s vision is “Proud Traditions. . . Unlimited Possibilities.” This is something I noticed right away, and I want it to be an integral part of our “brand.” You can tell from my #1 above that I like having it both ways. Who doesn’t? This vision gives a nod to the fabric of the community and the great events, families, and businesses that have supported the school for decades. It also captures the school’s commitment to continuous improvement and growth. I would say, “The sky’s the limit”; but in the home of the balloon festival, we don’t even put that limitation on ourselves! We continue to explore unlimited possibilities through our commitment to quality professional development, student achievement, hiring and retaining great staff, providing top notch facilities, exploring the digital learning environment, and more.
3. Shared high expectations– This ingredient is important to be able to fulfill our vision. The local atmosphere of shared high expectations is very conducive to continuous improvement. The school board is well attuned to ICSD being the best it can be, providing students with a world class education. The staff is extremely hard-working, knowledgeable, and caring. Professional Learning Communities provide a vehicle for teachers to collaborate and improve their professional practice. Parents are strong advocates for their students and are involved in their education. Volunteer groups such as boosters and PTOs provide great support. The community takes great pride in its schools and supports them well. Community leaders and school leaders understand that what is good for the community is good for the school, and what is good for the school is good for the community. There are great partnerships between the school and local businesses, service groups, the city and county, Simpson College, and DMACC that help prepare students for success once their education at ICSD is complete.
These are just a few reasons why I confidently make the statement, “There’s no place like Indianola.” I am incredibly happy to have the opportunity to serve the district’s students, staff, and community!
Art Sathoff, Indianola CSD Superintendent