Trying something new, learning from our mistakes, building confidence, sparking interest, partnering to advance opportunities — that is the power of education. And that is why we must always challenge ourselves to improve, grow and work together to ensure our education system provides a framework where everybody has the tools and support they need to be successful.

The importance of education is not just for our students, but for the future of families, the future of our communities and the future of our state. We all play an important role because learning happens both in and out of the classroom. Learning doesn’t have to look the same because the needs of our students and families aren’t all the same. This important work isn’t done in isolation; in fact, we can learn so much more together.

One of the best parts of my job is going into our schools and seeing firsthand the innovative partnerships and programs that are helping students grow and learn in ways that make sense. I learn something new every time I meet with administrators, teachers, business partners and students. One of the most important things I take away from these visits is that innovating with purpose is strong in Iowa.

Already this year I learned about plans in the Iowa City Community School District to engage students in geometry in a whole new way. Starting next fall, high school students will have the opportunity to take geometry and construction, a blended format class where they will apply geometry principles in a real-world construction setting. At Osage Community Schools, the district prioritizes introducing computer science to their youngest students. Piquing early interest helped increase demand for even more offerings. Now, high school students at Osage can take seven different computer science courses, including game design. They can further explore their interest by joining the district’s official eSports team where they compete against other schools.

These are just a couple of examples of how Iowa schools are helping students learn in new and meaningful ways. That is why I am so excited to announce that I will be embarking on an innovation tour across the state this spring! I am going to make stops in communities throughout Iowa and share their successes so we can continue to advance. I know that we can move the needle on statewide priorities, such as improving early literacy in our youngest learners, helping student performance grow across core academic subjects and career and technical education and strengthening school-business partnerships to advance postsecondary readiness by leading through innovation, supporting each other and scaling best practices.

I am so proud of the strong partnerships we have built, the unwavering support of our community and industry partners and the heartfelt dedication of our teachers and administrators to improve outcomes for all Iowa students. I look forward to sharing more examples of innovation in education throughout my tour and celebrating our growth in the years ahead. Thanks for all you do to support Iowa learners and building pathways for them to succeed.

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