Chris Dyer

Superintendent, MISD

August 1, 2018

Staff Welcome Back Letter

Dear Teachers, Staff, Building Leaders, and School Community Members:

"Thank You" for continuing to serve the Marion Independent School District. Marion is the fourth oldest school district in Iowa and has a positive reputation in Iowa known for its excellent performance record and character. You individually and collectively make “Marion Pride” and spirit resonate throughout Iowa.

When you look at yourselves: teachers, administrators, and staff, you have achieved academic progress and excellent student achievement goals! The end-of-year data results position Marion’s students well for their future learning. Your dedication to making student success a reality was enhanced by your "continuous improvement attitude" and produced outstanding summer professional development results. Your commitment to learning is evident and remains focused on learning as a collaborative culture. You produce a results based professionalism. The literacy, math, science, social studies, and world languages learning achievements are positive as are the learning results in the Arts, electives and co - extracurricular activities. You established PLC collaboration as a norm and focused high standards in all areas of learning. Thank you again.

To bring you some updates on our summer activities, there are awesome district wide facility improvements to report. First, we have new playgrounds at Starry ES and Vernon MS. Emerson Elementary School has been repurposed as the Emerson Learning Center. GWAEA's Off Site Program is now inside the previous MHSAP site. The softball / soccer / baseball facilities are receiving improvements at our Hipple Athletic Complex, and contractor work is planned for August to put a new face on Marion High School's Auditorium.

The array of individual and personal efforts to continuously improve your work and student learning environments are recognized. The tireless staff and building leaders have planned events to orchestrate success for SY 18-19. This attests to the brightness of Marion's future.

Building on your last year's learning successes and patience with technology applications, the promise is that we will be more "internet successful". A new internet provider and systems infrastructure were completed in July 2018. Every digital switching station and server has been replaced over the last two years. Additional aerial ports that service learning have been added to make the internet consistently available this year. The infrastructure is in place to match the increased emphasis on blended learning applications. Our technology staff’s dedicated efforts have been expanded to ensure that effective digital technology tools will complement the 1:1 fielding of Chromebooks 5-12. The iPad support in the lower grades is in place. Additionally, you will see a newly installed phone system that will allow you to enjoy a voice override digital phone system planned to enhance your every day in school.

These summer technology upgrades represent efforts to complement the superb 2017-2018 school year that you had in your classrooms and enhance holistic lifestyle academic work that promotes student success. This coming year is loaded with promise and new learning opportunities. The professional development is planned to emphasize continued time for both grade level PLC team and vertical curriculum planning. Additional mental health staff will be available to support behavior interventions and further refinement of MTSS. We will have community coordinated building level emergency action drills upon your return for familiarity and for building confidence in our safety protocols. You will experience our own dedicated School Resource Officer in our district full time. We remain committed to ensuring a safe learning environment.

When we meet on 17 August to "Welcome Back", we will also proudly welcome and introduce our new MISD SY 2018-2019 faculty and staff members to our current MISD team. In advance of our “Welcome Back” we would like to thank our custodial staff and building leadership teams for their preparation for your return and offer a large "shout out " to Nancy for focusing our wellness and health care training support. We will “welcome you back" with an excited group of Marion Cheerleaders. We will also introduce you to a video that hopefully makes our Marion Pride upfront and personal.

Wish you and your family well in remaining days of summer. Your will find some informational events on the bottom section of this page to assist your planning. Take care! Hope you enjoy the summer days ahead. See you on campus!


Chris Dyer, Superintendent

  • For your knowledge here are some dates for your calendar as info:
    1. Aug. 6 & 7- Summer Engagement Institute at Linn County Regional Center

Summer Engagement Institute Website

    1. Aug. 13 & 14 - 2 days of training and planning with the principals, coordinators, and learning team facilitators for our TLC & PLC work. ​
    2. Aug. 15 & 16- New Teacher Orientation
    3. Aug. 16- Mentor Training
    4. Aug. 17- Welcome Back: Breakfast at 7 in Marion HS Cafeteria and Welcome Back at 8.
    5. Aug. 17- Building PD
    6. Aug. 17, 20, & 21 ALICE training in each building at assigned time.
    7. Aug. 20, 8-12:00 CPR, Bloodborne Path, Epi pen, Seizure, Glucogen, Stop the Bleed (MHS)
    8. Aug. 20 12-4, Lunch from FSB and Building PD
    9. Aug. 21 8-12, CPI Team Training, Building PD
    10. Aug. 22, Workday
    11. Aug. 23 - School Opens / Early Out
    12. Aug. 23 - Emerson Celebration at 9am.
    13. Aug. 24 - Football at Washington, IA, 7 pm.

May 2018

End of School Year Recap 2017-2018

While the summer heat is starting to roll in, May showers show signs of bringing needed moisture! As we prepare for the school year to end in four weeks, I wish to share many positive and simply amazing successes achieved this year. Briefly, the following are noted as highlights worthy of our reflection and celebration.

Tremendous accolades are directed to the class of 2018. Your academics and athletic achievements are only outdone with the personal character you displayed as individuals and as a class over the last four years. This year’s Marion Independent School District “Inspiring Young Minds” is a testimony to your work. Your 96% attendance, 94% graduation rate, and 88% participation rate in co and extracurricular activities distinguishes your class as a group that was highly engaged and achievement oriented. Please view our Communication Plans “Inspiring Young Minds” brochure at:

Embedded in this year’s work were several significant district wide events. The Board of Education partnered with the Marion School Foundation as well as the Athletic Booster Club to launch a capital campaign with the goal of providing safe, accessible facilities that reflect the high performance level of our students. Contributions from community members, organizations, and individual families compiled over $175,000 dollars in contributions that, when combined with MISD resources, have been identified for soccer, baseball, softball and performing arts facility improvements. Improvements are planned for this summer and next fall and will add a new look to Hipple Athletic Complex and operationally improve the high school auditorium. Please see Hipple Complex Improvements at: .

We started the year by celebrating Longfellow’s opening. We embarked on the repurposing of Emerson Elementary School as the Emerson Learning Center. The projected completion date for the Emerson “redo” is July 22, 2018. The Marion Home School Assistance Program will move to Emerson and the Grant Wood Area Education Agency will provide Behavior Program’s Services available at the 15th Street old Marion HSAP offices. Starry Elementary School will see a new playground this summer as will Vernon Middle School. The property purchased across the street (south side) from Vernon is planned as an outside activities area for Sy 2018 -2019.

The Fall 2017 curriculum review and “online” viewing is now 8 months in view and has been implemented with rigor; the progress has been significant. Parents and teachers see academic work real time, apply formative assessments to improve learning, and identify areas for additional support. Our teachers and building leaders have worked hard to ensure that a culture of learning is promoted each hour of every day for our children. So as we reflect on a year that went by rapidly, congratulations are offered to the students, athletes, faculty, and families. You had a really terrific year!

Proudly serving, respectfully, Chris Dyer

End of School Year Recap 2016-2017

Dear Marion Families, Community Members, Alumni, and Friends:

The summer months are now upon us. Our second semester was filled with historic events and good weather that allowed for fewer snow days and safer travels. The classrooms remained exciting and fun filled with learning experiences that were expanded with technology and virtual learning. Parent engagement with our interactive communications software and active communications initiatives this year enhanced our ability to display and report what was happening in our children’s schools. We now have over 2,700 followers on Facebook and 1,500 Twitter followers with the Instagram numbers just short of 1,000 followers. What this means is that our interactive communications sharing with you are daily events. We have gone from just over 1,000 August 2016 daily viewers or daily visitors to our school sites and social media to over 5,000 a day in 10 months. We truly thank our parents, community volunteers, teachers, and leaders for their individual support with each child’s “learning and staying engaged” within our schools. If you are not currently following MISD on-line, please join us on our district site and social media to stay current with daily district and school news

Even while expanding our virtual communications we wish to provide you with written articles for referral and will add several links to this letter for your future site visits. The district’s academic school year may have officially ended, and Emerson’s “Eagles” conducted their final flight, last week, with fun celebrations, yet, summer reading, enrichment, and softball / baseball activities continue. As Emerson for a final time, conducted grade level songfests singing songs learned in music, a final photo slideshow of the school year, and finished off with the staff putting their hands together to create a tunnel for all students to run through, packing for Longfellow has begun. It was a fun and memorable year for Emerson Eagles and Starry Stars. The Emerson Team is looking forward to a summer move to Longfellow and starting off the 2017-18 school year as Longfellow “Leopards”! The Starry Stars are issuing summer reading books to continue deeper reading this summer in a partnership with the United Ways to expand Reading into Success.

In sum, Emerson and Starry had super “reading” achievements recorded and wonderful academic years. The end of year Starry family celebrations with Fun Nights and Ice Cream Socials, incoming kindergarten students visits, a K-1 concert with family classrooms, and 2nd grade musicals at the High School Auditorium showcasing student work, the final goodbyes and celebrations reinforced the progress made in teaching students to be respectful, responsible, and honest. Thank you to the families, students, and staff at Starry and Emerson Elementary!

The last days of Emerson Elementary School bring a new excitement to the future Emerson’s history. The year-long feasibility study for the future use of Emerson is nearing completion. The Marion Board of Directors has identified Marion Home School Assistance Program (MHSAP) as a potential occupant at Emerson for School Year 2018-19. The goal, re-purpose or modernize the internal and external Emerson ES into an Emerson Leaning Center. This goal under review will potentially be resourced with the May 2017 legislative release of $1,000,000 dollars from our MHSAP reserves. We are planning and working with the City and community neighbors to develop a community learning center, attractive community playground, and a re-invented Emerson Learning Center. The center is viewed as the community school that allows MISD to grow our educational services during the day with area and evening activities for families and community members.

Please join us on 10 July 2017 when our MISD Board of Education (BOE) discussions with our MHSAP Director Ertz reviews the Emerson reuse’s scope to support our 995 home school students, the largest home school assistance program in Iowa. Our home school assistance program is currently growing at an annual 6% enrollment increase rate. MHSAP Programs continue to distinguish MHSAP as an instructional program that will continue to expand. This year’s Iowa State’s Student Representative to the National Spelling Bee was a MHSAP student. MHSAP academic results reflect 52 graduates. Teams from the MHSAP were State Runner-up in Mock Trail Competitions. Home School student participation in MISD academic / college and career prep activities and athletics continue to promote the academic health and holistic student successes of the entire MISD.

School and student successes were readily apparent in Marion High School’s graduating class of 2017. Increased performance and expanded participation in academic testing (ACT), this year’s graduating class represented the 144th consecutive year for MISD graduates. The 142 graduates earned 1,320 college credits and 96% of the class is pursued college or career programs. What is even a further example of the positive values within the Marion High School is that over 60 student volunteers individually served over 160 hours of community service and the class volunteered 14,132 total hours in 4 years. We need to acknowledge that our current 88% student participation rate in extra and co-curricular work led to state-level team and individual qualification successes in Cross Country, Volleyball, Basketball, Band, Bowling, Choir, Outdoor Track, Tennis, Soccer, and Show Choir. Conference Championships were earned in Boys Cross Country, Volleyball, Girls Basketball, Wrestling (two individual titles), Boys Tennis, and Boys Soccer. The successes representative of the Class of 2017’s leadership that led individual and team state champions in track and cross country and a state runner-up title for Girls Basketball.

Honor recognition for athletic participation, volunteer service, and band performances were also recognized at Vernon Middle School. The middle school students received the "Great Givers Award"; Herky the Hawk and staff from University of Iowa and the University of Iowa Children's Hospital visited Vernon to celebrate student fundraising. Academic distinction was recognized as sixty 8th grade students received the 8th grade Presidential Excellence Award and 30 received the Presidential Achievement Award. Well over 50% of the 8th grade was represented earning Presidential Awards this year. The Excellence award is given to 8th grade students who have maintained a 3.5 GPA and scored above the 85th percentile in reading and math on state assessments.

Vernon and Francis Marion Intermediate both participated in iReady data analysis and curriculum mapping pilots to enhance more effective teaching and instructional programs. As noted above with our 8th grade, the 3rd and 4th grade student assessments were strong. The learning teams, as elsewhere in the district, worked together to create common formative assessments which helped identify the priority standards and create grade level alignment between all classes. Additionally, our work to give students extra help or extension activities four times a week became another example of how the district teachers in PLC worked Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) to promote achievement. We were able to differentiate our learning, both enrichment and additional intervention support, based on what the student’s need required.

We will implement a K-8 iReady instruction and academic data program next year to further support student needs and continuously improve the state assessment results achieved in grades 3-11 this year. Please go to school reports under district information on our web site or visit to see the SY 15-16 state assessments data at When you look closely at the data for SY 15-16, there is a one year lag time between test taking and results returned for current data, you will see that MISD students achieved at a higher proficiency level than State or our Local Area Educational Agency (Grant Wood) student averages. The positive reading successes that are occurring at Starry and Emerson are reflected in our FAST testing data; the teachers and students have been working hard with positive gains for grades K-2.

We are especially encouraged to report our technology enhancements. The elementary schools “technology testing pilots” to explore the best technology applications for the future have been completed and resulted in teacher and student technology skills being developed. We will now add additional iPads in each elementary classroom during the summer so before our 17-18 school year there will be one iPad for two elementary students. This will allow small group instruction in each classroom with integrated technology instruction present. If you were to visit our high school and or middle school next year, you will see 75% of all middle and high school students with computers. Please visit our website to read our five year technology plan and read our three year technology budget; you will see we will be 1:1 for high school and middle school students in SY 18-19. We have the technology infrastructure, training, and equipment in place to make our learning virtual and our communications robust. We have spent the last two school years building out our tech plan and skills.

We wish to recognize the energy and academic leadership within the Teacher Leadership Compensation Program. The teaching staff and administrative leadership focused the curriculum planning and collaborative formative assessment developments within the Professional Learning Communities (PLC); this work was supported with technology training and hardware, to implementing our Teacher Leadership Compensation Plan. Sixty-two teachers new to district leadership roles combined with building principals in SY 16-17 to affect learning. The professional learning community (PLC) instructional model has provided professional development (PD) training time for teacher and associate training. We will add more (PD) time with state Total Quality (TQ) dollars to expand our PLC work next year. We will continue our PLC work on 18 August 2017 with one day of PD for all teaching members and associates to continually reflect and to improve instructional “best practices.”

The BOE has completed the first year of our five-year plan for facility improvement and capital investment. Security, sidewalk, fencing, lighting, and parking improvements have been completed at our football stadium. High school choir room expansion and air conditioning for summer choir practice are finished. FMI roof construction and internal work projects in all buildings are underway with Longfellow ES scheduled for completion in July 2017. A priority facility work order for this summer includes the new joint City / MISD tennis facility. MISD BOE has initiated planning for a capital plan to redo the high school auditorium and sections of the Les Hipple Athletic Complex. The capital plan will start late this summer and will continue with our future financial partnership to expand our softball, baseball and soccer activities to serve all who live in Marion.

We again, are proud to report a successful budget and annual management cycle that culminated in expenditures being under budget with all programmed services accomplished.

Thank you to the Marion Foundation Leadership for inviting me to write about our School District’s happenings and activities. We are very proud to acknowledge our Marion students who were successful in academics, athletics, and extra-curricular areas. The Marion Independent School District’s students, parents, faculty and staff members, Administrative and Board of Education Leadership Team, and the Marion City and Community Members made the 2016-2017 school year purposeful, rewarding, and energizing. We remain a Marion Team focused on our Vision that “all MISD learners believe in their power to embrace learning, to excel, and to own their future.” Our mission, “in partnership with parents and the community, MISD, will create a safe environment where each learner is nurtured to become successful.”

Our future work maintains a focus on programs to encourage each child to continuously learn. We are designing our work so each child will succeed as a member of our learning community inside their family. We continue to have and to set high expectations for a safe learning environment. We thank you for allowing us to serve you. We hope you enjoy the summer time to relax and sincerely look forward to seeing you in August. If you are on campus over the summer, please visit with us.

Chris Dyer


Marion Independent School District

Superintendent’s Report Winter 2017

Thank you to the Marion Foundation Leadership for inviting me to write about our School District’s happenings and activities. We are very proud to acknowledge our Marion students who were successful in academics, athletics, and extra-curricular areas. The Class of 2016 was our 144th graduating class! They left MHS with 1,130 college credits and 97% of the class is pursued college or career programs.

Our current 89% participation rate for students in extra and co-curricular work led to state-level team competition and individual success in Cross Country, Volleyball, Basketball, Band, Bowling, Choir, Outdoor Track, and Show Choir. Home School Program students were the National Champions in Mock Trial Competitions.

The teaching staff and administrative leadership focused on professional commitment by planning and implementing a Teacher Leadership Compensation Plan (grant of $780,000) and the appointment of fifty-one teachers to leadership roles for SY 16-17. The professional learning community instructional model was created for teacher and associate training. At the end of our SY 15-16 year, we held a three day professional development conference for all teaching members and District associates to continually reflect and to improve instructional “best practices.”

Our Board of Education (BOE) Strategic Plan was reviewed with our Vision, Mission, Values and Goals updated to provide direction and guidance for our leaders and staff members. Please visit our web site to review the direction our elected leadership established in August 2016.

The BOE has also provided a clear focus on a five-year plan for facility improvement and capital investment. This priority order for facility work was accepted by our BOE on August 22. The BOE also built team relationships to focus future facility and service planning with the leadership of the City of Marion, Linn-Mar School District, and Kirkwood Community College. MISD plans to continue with our future financial partnership to expand our services to serve all who live in Marion. We are proud to report a successful budget and management annual cycle that culminated in expenditures being under budget with all programmed services accomplished superbly.

Here are several short news updates:

The accomplished teacher-led professional development for SY 15-16 and plan for SY 16-17 have provided staff with time to work with teams of peers to prepare our curriculum and craft formative assessments to enhance learning for all. An investment in technology will lead our tech integration for each student’s daily instruction in SY 16-17. We are especially excited about the creation of elementary school tech testing pilots to explore the best technology applications for the future. We anticipate multiple iPads in each elementary classroom during the first semester of this school year.

Facility improvements to all buildings, grounds, and athletic complexes have been provided. New school- based communication platforms and websites for SY 16-17 provide users with a familiar user-friendly face to all our schools’ web sites. MISD continues to have the largest and most successful home school program in Iowa which continues at a 7-8% rate of student growth annually. Our early enrollment numbers are a growing success as our school district continues to attract open enrolled students that expand our service to all children in a positive and creative manner. Initial count on attendance for SY16-17 is 3,182 total versus 3,126 on the first day last year. There are 999 home school students from 500 families and 39 counties across Iowa registered for this year.

The Marion Independent School District’s students, parents, faculty and staff members, Administrative and Board of Education Leadership Team, and the Community Members made last year purposeful, rewarding, and exciting. MISD has a spirit of service for “All” students. The Marion Spirit of working for the students is motivational and satisfying. The challenges ahead are accomplished with a “we Can” succeed attitude. We are a Marion Team focused on our Vision that “all MISD learners believe in their power to embrace learning, to excel, and to own their future.”

MISD Mid Year Progress Report

Thank you for providing me the opportunity to reflect on the progress Marion Independent School District (MISD) has achieved in the last year. The opportunity to meet additional community members, to serve a second year with MISD’s students, parents, faculty and staff members, Administrative and Board of Education Leadership Team, and the Community Members has been and is purposeful, rewarding, and exciting.

MISD continues to demonstrate a spirit of service for “All” students. The Marion Spirit of working for the students is motivating and satisfying. The progress in all areas, from learning to facility improvements, from partnership building to businesses and community connections, deepened professional relationships! The extended City of Marion, Marion Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO), Kirkwood Community College, and Marion Chamber of Commerce partnership activities increased through mutual regard and respectful collaboration.

Specifically, the Board of Education formalized the Strategic Plan in August to kick off our 2016-2017 School Year. The emphasis on progress is directly related to an attitude that “we can” succeed as a Marion Team, focused on our Vision that “All MISD learners believe in their power to embrace learning, to excel, and to own their future.” Our goals are framed in advancing student achievement, staff professional growth, expanded capacity, and professional satisfaction to serve our community.

Our progress is evidenced in our students graduating at record high levels in Iowa of 94%. Our students’ academic successes were recognized by the State of Iowa’s reports on MISD elementary and secondary schools as highly outstanding and commendable. These facts are testimony to the high quality of learning within Marion. Additionally, the Marion High School performance on State Assessments was complimented by significant increases in college admittance scores. ACT testing vehicles reflect that our graduates are career and college ready.

The Marion HS students’ individual readiness is a reflection of the whole person development that is accomplished at MISD. Student participation in the Arts starts early and our excellence in our Arts programs begin with formal instruction in our third and fourth grade classrooms and continues into 5th grade band. Our organized and lesson based band supports student co-curricular cooperative relationships that lead to high school participation that today reflects over 130 students involved in show choir. The accomplishments of Marion Music Program are recognized throughout the Midwest. This winter’s local performances for the New Creation Show Choir earned 1st Place in the 3A Division, 2 weeks in a row. Revelation earned 1st Place in the Prep Division at West Branch. Caption Awards for Best Male Soloist was David Gorman. Best Instrumentalist was Andrew Piper. Outstanding Performers were Bryan Crow and Maverick Miller. Group awards received included: The Best Overall Band, Best Costumes, and New Creation Show Choir ranked #1 in Iowa in the 3A Division. (

Student success and athletic participation remains at an extraordinarily high level of participation for a school district of over 3,100 students. We have over 88% of our students participating in HS extra and co-curricular work. The quality of each and every program is exemplary. The teacher leaders’ accomplishments this year alone were: Marion’s Football Coach Tim Lovell, 3A Regional Coach of the year; Roxanne Paulsen, WAMAC Volleyball Coach of the Year; and Steve Fish, Iowa Hall of Fame Baseball Coach Inductee. A hearty CONGRATULATIONS to all who supported and participated in these successes and especially the individuals previously cited.

Other equally notable results were the Fall Sports teams. Football upheld its previous winning traditions. Cross country and volleyball qualified for State, with not only the first but also the second place individual State Champions in Boys’ Cross Country. Currently, Boys’ and Girls’ basketball are enjoying the highest participation rates in years with Boys’ teams successful and the Girls’ team rated number ONE in 4A. The wrestling team and cheerleading teams are having banner years with Marion Wrestlers enjoying tournament, dual event, and individual successes. A continuing sense of renewed life invigorates the community’s recreational wrestling program.

While the students are enjoying a terrific year, the teaching staff and administrative building level leadership’s planning of professional immersion and PLC commitment, have jumpstarted our implementation of a State Funded $800,000 Teacher Leadership Compensation (TLC) Grant. It was initiated in August 2016. Building leaders, teacher-leaders, and associates converged for three days of professional development in June 2016 and then two more days in August, 2016 to structure collaboration and grade level curricular TEAMwork within our district’s focused SY 16-17 Professional Learning Community Model, (PLC). Learning structure and individual learner capacity to improve student achievement became the center objectives for professional development in all schools at all grade levels. The teacher led PLC training model provided collaborative instructional capacity building opportunities while creating greater teaching and associate awareness of instructional “best practices”.

Your building leaders have enhanced the PLC culture, initiating realistic, researched based, pilot strategies at Francis Marion Intermediate School (FMI) in an exploration of best math teaching practices. At Vernon Middle School, two instructional pilots, in both reading and math, inspire high yield efforts and outcomes for student reading intervention programs. All three of our elementary schools have reviewed reading standards and the alignment of all school and grade level reading expectations. Our elementary school leaders’ are achieving their goal to implement a vertically consistent reading curriculum, from Preschool to fifth grade, with universal formative assessments and data analysis. The high school leadership has expanded their project based learning with college and career curriculum goals based on project learning throughout the high school. The systematic, explicit, and multi-sensory, research-based methods of reading and writing comprehension strategies were revisited within our PLC and TLC curriculum review. The mid-year assessment in our elementary schools showed outstanding student achievement results. The attainment of 100% reading proficiency at grade level for all students is our goal! Our current mid-year progress monitoring reflects one classroom has already successfully met that goal! Congratulations! Well done! We praise our teacher accomplishments with teacher-leader PLC academic focus and positive achievement!

Our Board of Education's commitment is to develop a technology integrated learning infrastructure with necessary technology materials and to professionally train our teachers to use technology to effectively engage our children. Technology structure and devices are now in all our learning classrooms. Teachers have received technology training, and our students are becoming tech savvy learners. The technology investment has placed trained teachers, equipped with devices for each learner, in every classroom. Devices are connected to wireless service to ensure learning has the potential to reach each child's unique needs. The integration of technology into each content area is expanding the knowledge each child needs to be a successful learner, able to embrace and to own their future.

These learning accomplishments were undertaken with a clear focus to an initial five year facility improvement plan and a capital investment program. Efforts to build our school community facilities and learning concepts were planned with the leadership of the City of Marion, Linn-Mar SD, MEDCO, and Kirkwood Community College as ongoing initiatives that promise greatness. We have experienced a successful budget and management annual cycle that culminated in under budget expenditures as programmed services and expenditure accomplishments were achieved. The construction for Longfellow Elementary School is such an example with a July completion and August opening expected. The 15th Street Hipple Complex enhancement is anticipated to include tennis court renewal work projected for this summer. Football and stadium lighting and security improvements at our Athletic Facility were recently completed. Choir room and physical education locker room improvements in the high school were achieved. Additional buildings, grounds, and athletic complex planned improvements attest to the fact that we believe in continuously providing quality buildings for our children to study in and grounds to play on.

You may have seen the August 2016 changes to improve communication platforms and district and school websites to display more recent information in a user friendly format. What you may not see but can experience is the facility upgrade with wireless service access that is widespread on all our school campuses. Our access to broadband has grown from slightly less than 100 megabits to 500 megabits with a projected broadband capacity of a million megabits in the near future. This accomplishment is an authentic response to our children and all learners’ access needs to the world’s information. We need to be ready to accomplish today, what may be required tomorrow.

Our homeschool assistance program is a tremendously positive example of the variety of educational programs designed to meet the needs for tomorrow. This year’s early projected enrollment in the Marion Home School Assistance Program (MHSAP) was 1,012 students. MISD has the largest and most successful home school program in Iowa and continues to grow at a 7-8% rate of student growth annually. The National Championship that MHSAP obtained in Idaho as the National Mock Trial Champion is only one of the array of extra and co-curricular activities offered to Iowa students enrolled in MHSAP. Our success as a school district and MHSAP continues to attract open enrolled students that expand our service to all children in a positive and creative manner. Our Marion HS and HSAP Programs, evidenced by annual graduates mastering academic and Career and Technical Education Programs (CTE), ensure the MISD graduate is ready for college or career work.

Our accomplishments are for you and your children’s success. The community partnerships added this year include mental health staffing in each of our schools. Expanded community and family mental health services, such as Tanager Place and Family Systems, are partnerships for you and your children. Our ever expanding Career Explorer Program (CEP) is a partnership with MEDCO. Our CEP allows Vernon Middle School students to visit different Marion businesses to allow our students to become familiar with different career fields. The One Day in May Service Learning Project expanded our community outreach, as Marion High School students collectively performed over 3000 hours of community service. This year local business and non-profit organizations continued six years of working together with student leaders to organize student volunteers. The results were community projects to beautify our Marion City, to provide work in community spaces, to spend time with care facilities residents, and much more. Our students’ learning enhanced our community partnerships and service. The results were learning for our children and service to you.

Your partnership and positive inputs help us continuously improve in a less than perfect world. WE are striving right now to find the best reuse of Emerson Elementary School for our community. The dialogue for all issues remains open. Please continue to communicate with your teachers, our staff, the district's building and board leaders, and your children. We succeed when we are united, knowing that we have individual needs and that each child is a unique learner. Our strengths are in the people and pride that are MISD. Here is a strong family culture, a positive value based spirit of friendship, tremendous appreciation for the Arts, and a years-long partnership of support from parents to their children and their children’s schools.

As we prepare for our second academic semester in School Year 2016-2017, the winter months, and the immediate trips to Des Moines and Ames for our students, we must always remember that learning is about positive relationships. The past accomplishments are great celebrations! Our future path together is our next step. We wish you and your family continued success in our current school year and a lasting opportunity to renew friendships as we prepare for our future.

Let’s GO Marion Indians!

Respectfully, Chris Dyer

Welcome Superintendent Dyer

Dear Marion Independent School District Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff,

Marion culminated a successful school year with its June Annual Commencement Ceremony. Each graduate, family member, friend, and ceremony guest recognized that years of academic efforts were being realized as each individual graduate received his or her diploma. The event was one for sharing in our graduates’ personal joy for their individual achievements and for sharing community pride for the young men and women now moving purposefully forward in their lives.

As I anticipate the opportunity to serve as Marion Independent School District’s next superintendent, I look forward to continuing the academic traditions that demonstrate rigorous pursuit of knowledge through purposeful curriculum delivered to each student through caring relationships. I believe in the strength that team collaboration brings to a school’s character. I hope to contribute shared leadership, joint decision-making and continuous improvement. I will bring to the position experience as a school division superintendent, principal in Virginia and New York, and now a resident in Marion. These experiences have strengthened my understanding of teamwork and elementary-to-middle-to-high school student transition needs. They have shaped my commitment to ensuring each child’s individual needs are met to prepare each child for a successful life.

In my eyes, each Marion student is a symbol of a personal respect for learning, of family pride, of a school team that values every student and dedicates itself to success for every child, and of our community’s commitment to support young adults. Our year-end celebration of the students’ accomplishments in the classroom, extra- and co-curricular activities, and athletics was convincing testimony to Marion’s spirit of excellence and dedication to life-long learning. I am honored to join a professional school team and a learning community with a dedication and vision for fostering individual student success. Marion expectations for each child match my personal belief in the vision that every student can excel and every child should be confident in their belief that he or she has the power to embrace learning and to own their individual future.

If you are on campus during the remaining days of summer, I hope you will stop by the office and introduce yourself to me. I’ll be working to ensure a smooth leadership transition and will welcome conversations with each of you about your hopes for our school district’s future. I intend to ask for you to join with me in student, parent, and teacher small group discussions beginning in late September. For now, I wish you and your family a safe, refreshing summer break and look forward to meeting you soon. I hope to say hello in person tomorrow at the Marion Bowl. Go Indians!


Chris Dyer


Marion Independent School District