A familiar face is taking a new role with the Charles City Community Schools. Dr. Jennifer Schilling is the new Director of Academic Services. This new position replaces the Executive Director of Students Engagement and Leadership.
Schilling's most recent experience is at the Central Rivers Area Education Agency as a math consultant. She also supported a standards-based evaluation team and served as a social studies consultant. Before working at the AEA, she was an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Wartburg College. Community members may recognize her as a former teacher in Charles City, teaching middle school math for a decade from 1998-2008.
Her professional presentations over the last 25 years focus on connecting students with math and STEM instruction and problem-solving support K-12 public math education. She focuses on school improvement by building collaboration around a common goal and building on individual and team strengths to improve student performance.
"I'm excited to be back in Charles City. It's exciting and scary, considering this position is new, and it has a lot of expectations. I'm excited for the challenge and working with various district teams to improve student achievement."
Schilling notes the gains in academic achievement by Charles City during the last few years. "You're seeing some of the progress from the first steps; now, how can we make it better? How can we take a curriculum and make it more engaging for the students, so they are more involved in problem-solving and discussion in class?"
Her top goals are building a cohesive math curriculum and supporting teachers in implementing best instructional practices across all school campuses built on a common philosophy about what is best for student learning. She strives to provide teachers with professional learning and the best math and literacy instructional practices.
"Kids need to talk about their thinking as they learn new information," Schilling said. "It's not only the teacher giving students information but providing classroom opportunities to make sense of the information and apply their learning to real-life applications. Students need to talk about their math and be flexible in their thinking."
High priorities include having teachers review student data regularly and communicating classroom standards to parents. "Literacy is very focused and direct. Mathematics instruction is shifting as the demands of the workplace are shifting. Students need opportunities to think about meaningful problem-solving situations. Math content hasn't changed, but how we want kids to learn math and how we teach it has changed."
The new director position will focus on curriculum district-wide, the local oversight of Iowa's Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) System, Title I Program, and English language learners. "I really want to be out in the classrooms and talk with teachers about what's happening with instruction and get a feel for what's happening in the classroom."
Schilling earned her BA in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa, her master's in reform mathematics from UNI, and her doctorate of education in curriculum and instruction from UNI. She has two daughters, Megan Vanderloop, an 8th-grade teacher at the Charles City Middle School, and Morgan Neuendorf, an environmental engineer consultant in Charlotte, NC. When she's not working she likes to run, bike, read, and quilt. Her newest passion is being a grandma to her two grandchildren. She lives on an acreage in Plainfield.