February 2022

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Hello, Valley Southwoods families. We shared in a video last month that we want to be intentional in sharing the good things happening here at Southwoods. This newsletter's primary purpose is to let our families get to know our dedicated staff, read about student leadership, and hear from our own students about how the Tradition of the Tiger is embedded in the day-to-day life in the building.

We hope these stories make you smile and offer an opportunity for you to encourage your student to share their own positive Valley Southwoods stories.

Mitch Kuhnert, principal

Haley Hockensmith, assistant principal

Tradition of the Tiger: T stands for Thoughtfulness

At Valley Southwoods, we believe that behaviors that receive positive reinforcement will be repeated. Valley Southwoods utilizes the PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) framework to reward and reinforce positive behavior, while using data and intervention to support students.

We want our students to learn the importance of what it means to be a TIGER:






This month, we asked students to give one example of how they've seen THOUGHTFULNESS in action at school. Here are some of their answers.

"I see it every day in the teachers who are approaching struggling students, and I see it in students when someone needs help."

"I’ve seen people respecting other people’s sexuality and pronouns."

"When someone doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch, people invite them to sit at their table."

"The other day I saw someone help somebody else up after they had tripped."

"Just by people helping the special education kids feel like they're a part of the school."

"I have encountered moments of thoughtfulness in school when people respect and tolerate one another. They think about their friends' needs before their own and put other people's feelings first. They make them feel like they belong and open up to them. They are also kind and caring to them, listening and befriending others in our ninth grade society."

"Giving someone your full attention. Also, giving a compliment and consider giving a compliment to a stranger."

"I've seen people pick trays off of tables people have left."

"I’ve seen multiple teachers notice that a student is having a bad day and try to talk to them or see if there’s any way to make it better."

Building the Future of Career and Technical Education

Valley Southwoods - West Des Moines Community Schools

Meet Nina Hart: Leading Student Conversations, Engagement

Finding her voice and encouraging others to do the same is something Nina Hart, Valley Southwoods ninth-grader, is comfortable doing. She founded the African American Cultural Group at Southwoods after researching the clubs at Valley and realizing Southwoods didn’t have a club like this.

“The goal is to help students learn about the cultural differences in and out of school,” she said. “It’s open to anybody who wants to come.”

The club has only been around for a few weeks, but Nina hopes more students will get involved once they start meeting more regularly. Right now, the group plans to meet Tuesdays after school. Club sponsor Haley Thompson is excited for the group to grow and appreciates Nina’s leadership.

“Nina is a great student who is always looking for a way to improve the things around her,” Thompson said. “She demonstrates that in equity, during the volleyball season, but also by seeking out other students to help her start the African American Culture Club.

She leads this group to help educate people on racial inequalities going on in schools and the world. Students go to this group to build relationships with other students but also learn how to resolve issues they are having to deal with.”

Nina’s also part of the districtwide Youth Equity Stewardship (YES) group, which meets periodically throughout the school year. Student representatives from each junior high and high school gather to share their experiences, engage in equity learning, and lend a voice on how we can make the district safer, more equitable, and welcoming to all.

“We have good discussions about what is going on in and out of the school,” said Hart.

Learn more about the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity in WDMCS >

Nina’s leadership in school, on the volleyball team, and with her peers embodies the attributes of the district’s Portrait of a Graduate. We can’t wait to see how she continues to share her voice at Southwoods.

Staff Profile: Ann Miles

WDMCS Staff Profile Video: Ann Miles, Valley Southwoods Special Education Teacher

Random Acts of Kindness Blooms

Valley Southwoods' Random Act of Kindness Club gave out over 200 flowers last week to the student body and challenged them to pass on the kindness. The students loved it!


Valley Southwoods Freshman High School

Mitch Kuhnert

Haley Hockensmith
Assistant Principal