What’s new at the Bondurant-Farrar School District? Quite a bit, actually. Topping the list are new administrators, an elementary school, a realignment of the grade structure, laptop computers and a state-of-the-art Blue Jay Stadium.
Superintendent Rich Powers
Superintendent Peggy Vint recently retired, opening the door for Rich Powers to step into the leadership position.
“The first thing I’d like the community to know is that I’m very excited to be here, and I’ve been very impressed with the community members, staff and past accomplishments at work,” states Powers.
Powers hails from Harvard, Illinois, a town similar in size to Bondurant. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Northern Iowa and his doctorate of education leadership at Loyola University-Chicago. He spent several years in the Chicago area as a teacher and administrator before returning to Cedar Falls where he served as the high school principal for the last eight years.
He chose education as a career for two reasons: his passion to work with people and the educators who made an enormous difference in his life.
“I understood that if they could have that type of impact on me, I could potentially have a large impact on students as well,” he says. “That was the beginning of my work in education — the interest in helping students.”
Powers and his family relocated to Bondurant over the summer. He and his wife, Kristi, have two children — a son in fourth grade and a daughter in ninth grade.
“Bondurant is a great place for people, both personally and professionally,” says Powers. “My primary goal is to make sure our family is in a situation that is positive and right for them. Cedar Falls was also an incredible community, so I was very hesitant to leave over the years. We were just looking for the right fit.”
Powers is enjoying working with the students, staff and parents.
“What you’ll hear over and over from people in this community is that they are happy with the Bondurant-Farrar schools because of the people,” Powers states. “It’s across the board — teachers, support staff, everyone.”
Principal Ben Anderson
Another new administrator is Ben Anderson, principal at Morris Elementary. Anderson previously served as a fourth grade teacher before becoming the principal at Monroe Elementary in the Prairie City-Monroe school district.
He grew up in Perry, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and received a master’s degree from Viterbo University. He is the son of the late Skip Anderson, who served as Bondurant-Farrar’s principal for 11 years before retiring in 2009.
“I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” states Anderson. “The built-in support system that I would have in my family as an educator was comforting. Just growing up in an educator’s house solidified it. Being a principal wasn’t on my radar until four to five years ago. Jokingly, for many years, I tried to deny my path of following in my father’s footsteps.”
Anderson, along with his wife and two children, moved to Bondurant in early July. Their daughter, Gracie, is a kindergartner and son, Will, is 2.
“This is an exciting time in the district, as we expand and welcome new people every day,” he says.
A new school, realignment and building updates
As Bondurant’s population continues to multiply, enrollment continues to increase at the schools. As a result, the district opted to build a new school for kindergarten through second grade students — Morris Elementary.
“I’m not sure you are going to find an elementary building as nice as you are going to find at Morris Elementary,” states Powers. “It’s a real tribute to Peggy Vint and the work by the school board. What you have at Morris is the continued excellence that was happening at Anderson Elementary. It’s just moving a little bit south.”
Anderson explains that the new school is very kid-friendly, specifically designed for primary-aged students. The building features top-notch technology, ample storage, a full-service kitchen, gymnasium/lunchroom, two computer labs, a library, a music room, fine arts space and a playground.
With the opening of the K-2 school, the administration realigned the grade structure to better balance the number of students in each building. Preschool and the third-through-fifth graders attend Anderson Elementary, and sixth-through-eighth graders attend the Bondurant-Farrar Middle School. There are no changes at the high school.
Anderson Elementary underwent multiple renovations and remodeling projects over the summer, including fresh paint and carpeting as needed. The preschool was moved to the kindergarten wing, and the special education classrooms were relocated to the vacated preschool space.
Infrastructure and cosmetic work occurred at the middle school, including new paint, carpeting and fixtures in some of the restrooms.
“The biggest thing at the high school is that all students get a MacBook Air computer,” states Powers. “Students can submit assignments electronically. Assessments will be done so kids can get real time feedback. There is no more, ‘My dog ate my homework.’ A parent can see that a paper was completed over the course of three to four or 20 minutes before it was due. This is critical for our students to be 21st century learners. We can’t just talk about the use of technology, we need to do it.”
The Bondurant-Farrar School Board agreed, green lighting the purchase of 50 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro laptops for the faculty and 490 11-inch MacBook Air computers for the students. Before the students received their loaned computers, parents and students attended a meeting at the high school to receive the 1:1 handbook and learn about expectations, insurance, damage fees and more.
Alex Kitchen, the K-12 technology integrationist for Bondurant-Farrar, believes that by placing a computer in each student’s home it levels the technology playing field. The faculty no longer wonders which students have computers in their homes. The question becomes, “How can students show that they understand the technology?”
While the new 1:1 Initiative is exciting, Kitchen believes it will offer some challenges.
“With this initiative being in its infancy, we’re going to have many learning experiences along the way,” says Kitchen. “Between potential issues with the devices, improper use and so on, we’re going to keep ourselves busy.”
Blue Jay Stadium
When it comes to the new $4.2 million athletic complex located just south of the high school, there is a lot of buzz and excitement in the community. Special features include an eight-lane track, football/soccer field with synthetic turf, spectator seating for 2,000, team rooms, a concession stand, a press box, equipment storage space, perimeter fencing and a scoreboard.
“I’m super excited about the generous donation by the Lohse family,” says Powers. “Not many communities have that infusion of support. This fall at the first home football game, people will get a look at what a first-class facility looks like.”
The two cute kids gracing the cover of this magazine belong to Brad and Laura Pfaltzgraff. As a third grader, Reed Pfaltzgraff, 8, knows the ropes when it comes to school. When the first day arrived, he was eager to see his buddies and participate in school activities. But as a kindergartner, everything was brand new for little brother Drake, 5.
Over the summer, the family enjoyed riding their bikes past the new school to watch the progress firsthand.
“We have great teachers and staff in the school system,” Brad says. “They all have been doing a great job in managing the growth of our community and all genuinely care about our community and children. We are lucky to be in a community that cares and supports our school system.”