Appropriate Times for Cell Phone Use

As we begin the start of the 2018-19 school year, school personnel are reflecting on current and best practices in the classroom. One of the biggest issues among teachers, administrators, and students is the appropriate use of cell phones at school.
One discussion point is whether cell phones are enhancing the educational environment or hindering it. In surveys given at the middle school and high school last spring, over 80% of the teachers reported cell phones are used inappropriately in the classroom, and that they would like a procedure developed to eliminate their use. Among the inappropriate cell phone activities that our administrators have had to address last year are cyber-bullying, gaming, and pornography. Unfortunately, these are not random occurrences and certainly unacceptable.
I believe that our youth need to learn that cell phone use is a privilege and not a right. Also, there are places in our society where cell phone use is limited or prohibited. Examples are jury duty, at the movie theatre, in certain hospital areas, at certain times in an airplane or train, while driving a car (10 states totally ban cell phones while driving), in a locker room, etc.
There are many employment areas that restrict use of personal cell phones during working hours. Understanding appropriate times to use your cell phone is a workplace skill and it needs to be developed in school. This year, the Clinton Community School District is defining the classroom as one of those prohibited areas. The district has made a major investment in technology so that it is available at anytime for instructional activities.
At the high school, there will be a guest network available before school, during the lunch period, and after school so students can check their messages.  Middle school students will be expected to keep their cell phones in their lockers throughout the school day.  We feel this approach provides the best balance to maintain the integrity of the classroom and the needs to communicate through the cell phone.

We will continue to evaluate the changes to follow best practice for students in the classroom.


Update on International Students

As we begin the school year, the school district has spent a significant time planning for the international students to be served at Clinton High School, starting this month.  There have been several developments I’d like to update you on:

  • The Confucius International Education Group (CIEG) has created a name for the new school, which will be providing classes that are not offered at Clinton High School.  The name is the Pangaea International Academy.
  • The former Ashford property has a new name also:  the New Six Arts International Education Park.
  • Deb Olson has been named by CIEG as the first superintendent of the Pangaea International Academy.
  • Clinton High School will be scheduling some of its course offerings at the New Six Arts International Educational Park at the start of second trimester, which is November 28.  Clinton High School is waiting for an amendment to be approved by the federal government on its I-17 application to add the New Six Arts location as an instructional site.  This is expected sometime in October.
  • Clinton High School will serve 15 international students at the start of this school year.  This is fewer than the initial goal of 72.  We have learned that the prime recruiting window for international students falls between December through February.  Since the agreement between Clinton High School and CIEG occurred later than that window, many international students had already made their decisions.  We believe we will add some additional students for the second trimester which begins on November 28.

This has been a learning opportunity for all involved.  It is truly exciting to see a partnership between a public and private organization that is focused on providing an educational opportunity that most high school students never experience.  The opportunity to experience diversity, to share resources between the organizations, and to have high school students use the best STEM labs in the state makes this an exciting time for all of us.

Let’s have a great school year!



Setting an Expectation of School Safety as the New Year Begins

As we begin the 2018-19 school year, the experiences of last year continue to remain in the back of our minds.  When parents send their kids back to school on August 23, I believe they should have the expectation of a safe and respectful environment in which their children can learn and thrive.  While many will push for legislation, more resources for security, updated policies to promote safe environments, I believe it will take a number of steps to make a difference.

As superintendent of Clinton Schools, I will not compromise on school safety and respect.  Last February, the United States Department of Homeland Security issued the following considerations for a comprehensive prevention plan for violent school attacks:

  • Foster a Climate of Respect and Trust–Reinforce, at all levels of the school community, positive behaviors, respectful interactions, and pro-social relationships. Ensure teachers, staff, and administrators take fair and consistent action when
    they learn of a situation that might require intervention and/or discipline. Teach and encourage students to use conflict resolution, peer mediation, active listening, and other non-violent ways to solve problems. Develop anti-bullying programs
    and educate students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators on what steps to take if they know bullying is occurring.
  • Build Relationships – Trusting relationships between adults and students are the product of quality connections, respectful communications, and frequent interactions. Schools in which students feel connected to each other and to adults promote a safe educational environment and encourage communication between students and teachers. Start building relationships between the students and the school before the first day of class. Ensure each student has a trusting relationship with an adult, whether it is a teacher, coach, member of the custodial staff, or a school nurse.
  • Identify Concerning Behaviors – Ensure that students, parents, teachers, and staff are familiar with how to report behaviors and/or communications they learn about that raise concern. Such behaviors and communications include, among others, expressions of hopelessness, drug use, suicidal gestures or statements, depression, threats of violence, unusual interest in weapons or incidents of mass violence, and problems or stressful situations, including bullying, that negatively impact the student’s coping and well-being inside and outside of the school environment.
  • Reinforce Clear Policies and Procedures – Policies should clearly identify threat assessment team roles and responsibilities, define the threshold of concern for initiating a threat assessment, describe the types of information that will be gathered, and the actions that will be followed from initiation to conclusion of the threat assessment inquiry or investigation. The threshold for intervention should be low to ensure potential threats are assessed.
  • Liaison with Law Enforcement – Foster relationships with local law enforcement personnel. Local law enforcement or school resource officers can serve as a member of the threat assessment team and can assist with gathering and sharing information.
  • Require Consistent Training Among Stakeholders – Teachers, administrators, other staff, and community stakeholders should be trained on how to properly respond when they receive information about a threatening or concerning situation. A relationship among school officials, law enforcement, and others should be established prior to an incident. Reinforce these relationships through ongoing scenario-based training to ensure parties understand their roles and responsibilities, how information will be shared, and what steps will be taken.

I strongly encourage all parents to have a discussion with your children about their role in school safety.  It is important to report to school adults about any suspicious or inappropriate behavior.  Also, students need to handle human conflict in an appropriate manner.  It is not acceptable to threaten anyone’s life or the school for any reason.  Being mad at someone or claiming to be bullied are not acceptable excuses for threats.  There are procedures that must be followed to address these issues.

Clinton Community School District will follow these best practices in maintaining a safe and respectful learning environment in all our classrooms.  Please work with us in keeping our schools safe for our kids.

Registration for the Young Americans

Registration time is here!  I would encourage all parents of Clinton Community School District students in grades 4-12 to consider registering their children for an amazing opportunity to participate in a Young Americans workshop to be held in Yourd Gym at Clinton High School from October 7-9.  Although the delivery of the workshop is through a fine arts format, any student can benefit greatly by the underlying themes of expanding boundaries within a safe and nurturing environment.

The following links gives you more information on the Young American Workshop:


One area of need for the workshop are having some families volunteer to be “home-stays” for the Young Americans.  We need 12-14 families willing to open their homes to 2-4 Young Americans to sleep and provide some meals during their stay in Clinton.  We are providing this opportunity to students in grades 10-12 first.  There is a registration link if you interested in hosting.

The cost of the three day workshop is $59.  I do not want any interested student to be denied this opportunity due to finances.  The Young Americans and the Clinton Fine Art Boosters are sponsoring partial scholarships for families that the admission fee creates an economic hardship.  There is a place on the registration page to apply for a partial scholarship.

Here is the link to register:

If you have specific questions about the Young American Workshop, please contact me at


The Young Americans–Press Release

Clinton Students Take Center Stage with World-Renowned Performers, The Young Americans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 30 Clinton, IA Clinton’s students are preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime as they take classes and perform with California-based, The Young Americans. This nonprofit music, dance, and performance company will make a tour stop at Clinton High School from October 7 through October 9, during Midwest Regional Tour. The Young Americans is committed to inspiring the world through global music outreach and performance excellence. The organization will devote the 20-city tour to teaching, inspiring, and supporting school music programs across the United States.

“We want to make sure that young people have the opportunity to participate in quality performing arts programs and get to experience the transcending power of music,” says Bill Brawley, Chief Artistic Officer of The Young Americans. “Three years ago, we launched the ‘Turn Up The Music’ Giveback Campaign with hopes that our Performing Arts Workshops would energize music teachers, school music programs, and the communities that strive to keep music education a top priority for their youth. To date we have given over $1 million to school music departments, and it is just the beginning.”

Since becoming the world’s first show-choir in 1962, The Young Americans has expanded its programming to focus on music outreach, and it now serves as the oldest and largest youth music advocacy movement in the world. Each 40-member, college-aged cast tours the globe, visiting a new community every three days. At each tour stop, The Young Americans hosts its 3-day Performing Arts Workshop which includes classes in singing, dancing, and theater performance. On the final day, local students are featured in a fully-produced, two-hour final show with The Young Americans.

“Music is just the vehicle we use. It creates the perfect environment for transformation to happen,” says Steven Haines, CEO of The Young Americans. “It’s incredible to watch a group of students get together and work as a team in a matter of days, developing new friendships, self-confidence, and acceptance among their peers. Music is the ultimate connector, and our programs are successful everywhere we go, regardless of language, socioeconomic backgrounds, or cultures.”

Registration is open to 4th-12th graders attending Clinton Community Schools, and more details about the workshops can be found on The Young Americans’ website:, or by contacting Gary DeLacy at The final show will be on October 9, 2018 at 7:00 PM and is open to community members. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door.

About The Young Americans

Founded in 1962 in Hollywood, California and known as the world’s first show choir, this nonprofit 501c-3 performance and music education group has no political or religious affiliations and uses music as a tool to inspire youth and audiences all across the world.  From their early days of performing with legends such as Andy Williams, Ed Sullivan, and Bing Crosby to their current International Music Outreach Tours, which include 375+ shows each year across 30 countries, The Young Americans remain the pinnacle of excellence in both music and dance performance.

More information about The Young Americans can be found at

Jim McGraw Service Awards

It gives me great pleasure to announce the formation of the Jim McGraw Service awards, an annual recognition of Clinton Community School District students that go above and beyond to serve our community.  Each building has nominated a student that represents the spirit of Jim McGraw in terms of public service.  The first class of the Jim McGraw Service Award winners are as follows:

Johannah Baker, Whittier Elementary School

Olivia Calvin, Clinton High School

Tayton Castle, Jefferson Elementary School

Cole Johnson, Bluff Elementary School

Bailey Sandholdt, Eagle Heights Elementary School

Abby Struble, Clinton Middle School

These deserving students will be recognized at the May 14 School Board meeting.

New School District Website

The Clinton Community School District is proud to announce the launch of its new school district website.  The process of developing the new website has been a rewarding and challenging process.  We hope the website will better serve your needs.

Here are some of the features of the new website:

  • Modernized and user friendly site
  • Consistent formatting between the district and building pages
  • Responsive site that adapts to a variety of devices such as phones, tablets, and computers
  • District and Building Calendar of Events using google calendar that can be saved to personal devices and has printing capabilities
  • Meets all federal and state American Disability Act (ADA) requirements

The new website has the same address: