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NCSD employees meet for back-to-school day

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(Kate Malott/Daily News)
Newton High School assistant president Dave Kalkhoff places a pin on a new teacher after reading a school district staff pledge at the back-to-school assembly on Friday.

Newton Community School District teachers, administration and staff united on Friday morning for the annual back-to-school assembly at the high school to guide employees for the upcoming school year to start this week.

Under new leadership from Superintendent Bob Callahan, this year’s assembly focused on students and included a staff pledge.

Students from fourth grade to high school were represented throughout the morning event, including the Boy Scouts presentation of colors, the high school band marching into the auditorium playing the school song and individual student speeches to teachers.

“Today was different because it featured our students, and we really wanted to emphasize to the teachers what a difference they make in students’ lives. We had some students articulate their experiences in education and reinforce saying thank you, outlining what they need.” Jim Gilbert, director of elementary educational services

The pledge was another addition to the annual August assembly. It is a statement about daily commitment to the future of students pledged by all staff that centered around the district’s mission.

“I think we all believe we have to own this, and if we all own this, then this becomes the basis for what we say and do in the classroom every single day. It was just great. It was a great feeling seeing everybody stand up and make that pledge,” Gilbert said.

“This is the time to rekindle the fire in the teachers and inspire them because they’re going to turn around and help kids reach their dreams, so you have to start with the leadership,” Callahan said.

The NCSD administration staff went on an administrative retreat two weeks ago so they could set the tone. The goal is that, with administration, teachers and staff are on the same page and that the community, parents and students will follow through and meet their commitment to an education.

“This is the best back-to-school day we’ve ever had, for me at least. It was fun. Listening to the students was inspiring, and knowing that you make a difference — that makes all the difference,” fifth-grade teacher Paula Klosterboer said.  

“Our commitment has to be to the kids. It has to be students first, and today was an outward representation of placing kids first,” Callahan said.

Staff writer Kate Malott may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at kmalott@newtondailynews.com.

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