Janelle Brouwer

Superintendent, MISD

June 2020

MISD Students, Staff, Families, and Community,

Marion derives great pride from its schools. Now, more than ever, it is apparent what a critical role our schools play in our communities. Our mission at MISD is to ‘Foster a community of learners in developing the knowledge and skills to be Future Ready’. While quality learning can and has taken place at home and online over the past few months, schools are about community, relationships, routines, and traditions. Schools thrive in brick and mortar buildings. Striving for our mission involves face to face interactions as a community of learners. Right now, our buildings are empty. This will not last forever, though. By fall we hope these spaces will again be filled students, teachers, staff, and families again.

In late March, which seems like a long time ago in light of recent events, the Board of Directors of the Marion Independent School District made the decision to enlist the help of architects who could help us build on the recent facility assessment done by Estes Construction, and work with the Marion community to gain a deeper understanding of our priorities and needs. After researching architecture firms who specialize in K-12 assessment, planning, referendum support, and design, the district solicited proposals, interviewed three firms, and ultimately selected OPN Architects to partner with the district on our Facilities Master Plan.

At the time, we had no way of knowing what today would look like and we still do not have a clear picture of what education will look like in the fall. Because we had already taken the initial steps to hire OPN, we are now in a proactive position to conduct the analysis of our spaces and how they may or may not support learning in the 21st century, while also maintaining health and safety in light of COVID-19 for those involved in the input and planning processes. Understanding where we are today will allow us to develop a roadmap of prioritized needs and funding options to guide district decisions in facility improvements and expansion now and into the future.

We know there are some obvious needs, particularly in at Marion High School, Francis Marion Intermediate, Starry Elementary and at Thomas Field. Those who work and learn in the district every day are well aware of the challenges. That is why one of the first steps in the planning process included an all-staff survey followed by virtual listening sessions with the staff of these three buildings.

An important next step will be to convene a Facilities Advisory Committee made up of parents, staff, community members, business owners, students, and school board members. This group will be tasked with setting priorities that will shape a long range timeline that balances needs and wants with available funding. Ultimately, the goal is to identify a plan to present to the school board that the committee can unanimously agree best meets needs of our students, staff, and community.

We want this process to be transparent and include as many voices as possible. In addition to the facilities committee, there will be opportunities later this summer and fall for the entire community to tour our schools, ask questions, and share your thoughts about district facility needs. These are your schools. Your input is vital. I hope you will join us in developing a plan that will shape the success of our students for years to come.

If you have any questions regarding this process or input you would like to share, please reach out by phone at (319) 377-4691 X1103 or email at jbrouwer@marion-isd.org. We are excited to develop a vision for the future of our facilities that will best meet the needs of our students, staff, and the MISD community!

Sincerely,

Janelle Brouwer, Superintendent



August 2019

MISD Partners,

It is with tremendous pride that I extend a ‘Welcome Back’ to the 2019-2020 school year. As I began the role of Superintendent over the summer, I had the pleasure of meeting individually with a number of district and community leaders, posing questions about what makes MISD great. Over and over the theme continued- it is the PEOPLE! MISD offers a sense of community, collaboration, and pride that is truly unmatched. Students, families, and staff have a sense of belonging. People are valued! I am so honored to be a part of the MISD family!

Our Mission is: Foster a community of learners in developing the knowledge and skills to be Future Ready. We are each ‘learners’ in this community. Each of us hold a tremendous responsibility in fostering a culture of learning and a sense of community and belonging for our students. Thank you for the role you play in helping us achieve our Mission!

The Mission of MISD is evident in the organization in a variety of ways. In addition to the sense of community, MISD offers over 3,100 students the many advantages of a smaller school district while adding all the quality opportunities associated with the suburban setting. The district provides preschool through grade twelve programming for nearly 2,000 students, with an additional student body of over 1,000 students enrolled (and many open enrolled) in the Marion Home School Assistance Program (the largest in the state). Marion offers a tremendous opportunity for students to be involved through a variety of co-curricular activities and clubs. In addition, the district focuses on student engagement, and enhancing opportunities for students to use their creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. Students in 6-12 are issued a Chromebook for school and home use to support their ongoing learning, while students in grades K-5 have 1:1 school access. Nearly 90% of our students participate in at least one extra-curricular or co-curricular activity. Graduation rates are consistently high and nearly 95% of graduates have employment or are pursuing post-secondary career training or college. MISD, in partnership with the Marion community, also offers a variety of career exploration and experience opportunities to support students in ‘owning their future’.

As an educator, I am passionate about instructional leadership, learning from others, and empowering people to keep learning. I have been at MISD for 3 ½ years in the role of Assistant Superintendent prior to assuming the role as the MISD Superintendent. Prior to that I held administrative roles at AEA 267 (Central Rivers AEA) as a Special Education Coordinator, in the Western Dubuque district as a 5-8 Middle School Principal, and also in WD as an Elementary Principal. My teaching experiences include middle school and elementary school special education, Title I reading, and 5th grade classroom as well as a few years coaching Junior High volleyball and track. I received my BA from Northwestern College in Elementary Education/Special Education, MA from Idaho State University in Educational Leadership, EdS and PhD from University of Iowa in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies.

My husband of 21 years, Kyle, and I are the proud parents of 2 high school students, Cade (Senior), and Morgan (Freshman). Kyle is self-employed, renovating houses. Our family enjoys spending time together boating, playing board or card games, and trying to catch a few family dinners together during the busy work/school weeks. Additionally, I love to be outdoors, exercise, read, and take walks with our dog.

Although I have been a part of District over the past few years, the upcoming year will still be an opportunity for me to ‘learn about MISD’ from a new perspective. My belief is that the Superintendent’s primary role is supporting and moving forward the Vision and Mission of the organization. For MISD, that means a focus on the learning environment and success for each learner as well as partnerships with parents and the community. This means I will be spending time during the day in school buildings, classrooms, and with family and community partners. I welcome the opportunity to meet with families. I also encourage you to make an appointment if possible, as my primary role and responsibility in ensuring we are meeting the needs of each learner will also mean I may not be readily available in you ‘stop in for a visit’.

Thank you for your interest in the Marion Independent School District. As you explore our website, I hope you find the information you need. If you are unable to locate what you need on our website, please feel free to call our district office at 319-377-4691 and you will be directed to a staff member who can assist you. Our school system is dedicated to our students and our community to help make this the best place to learn and grow!


Partnering in Education,

Janelle Brouwer, MISD Superintendent