New Iowa State partnership with King, Moulton seen as two-way street

A new partnership between Iowa State University and King and Moulton schools in Des Moines set to take effect this fall will be a reciprocal relationship, said leaders in the School of Education and Extension and Outreach working to launch the program.

“People tend to focus on the role that ISU faculty and students can play, but we also want to affirm and leverage the skills of King-Moulton parents and teachers,” said Katherine Richardson Bruna, an associate professor in the School of Education.

“This partnership offers the School of Education a chance to learn more about the issues facing schools, engage with on-the-ground realities, and begin functioning as a community of practice.”

Initiated by Iowa State University President Steven Leath and state Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines, the partnership aims to build university-community engagement, offer low-income and minority students a pathway to college, and enhance Iowa State’s cultural and socioeconomic diversity.

The Des Moines school district’s English language learner population has grown more than 500 percent since 1990, and King and Moulton both enroll more racial and ethnic minorities than most Iowa schools. Ninety-five percent of King students and 91 percent of Moulton students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, while the state average is 40 percent.

“When we researched the background of these schools, we found that just a few King-Moulton students found their way to Iowa State,” said Linda Serra Hagedorn, associate dean of the College of Human Sciences. “We wanted to increase that flow of students – and student success in general – so we started looking at what was needed and what we could provide.”  

While details are still being finalized, King and Moulton students who maintain high grades and complete a rigorous academic program will receive full-tuition scholarships to Iowa State. Richardson Bruna said the School of Education is working to define student eligibility and participation.

“The scholarship at the end of the journey is great, but all the possible ways we get to educate our students … is what is really exciting,” said Peter LeBlanc, principal of King Elementary School. “I am eager with anticipation to go through this journey with our new partners, Iowa State and Moulton.”

The School of Education recently established an exclusive relationship with King and Moulton. Both schools will now only accept student teachers and practicum students from Iowa State.

To improve academic outcomes, Iowa State pre-service teachers will provide individual and small-group instruction for King and Moulton students, in literacy as well as in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) – two cornerstones of the ISU School of Education. Iowa State faculty members will offer professional development opportunities for King and Moulton classroom teachers.

Extension and Outreach will implement after-school and weekend programs for children and families, collaborating with the School of Education, the Polk County Extension and Outreach office, and Rep. Abdul-Samad’s nonprofit organization, Creative Visions.

Nancy Franz, associate dean for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to Families, stressed the importance of assessing the needs of King-Moulton schools and families in the project’s planning phase.

“Good extension work is about going into the community, having a conversation about what they want and need, and then developing programs in response to that conversation,” Franz said. “It’s a reciprocal relationship.”

Richardson Bruna also emphasized that the partnership would be a “two-way street.” For example, she said, King-Moulton teachers could potentially co-teach Iowa State undergraduate courses with School of Education faculty.

Leath, who first announced this partnership in his September installation speech, said he looks forward to seeing the project come to fruition this fall.  

“The King-Moulton partnership is a great example of how we can make the land-grant ideal of access to education come alive for today’s young people,” he said. “Thanks to the partnership … many more young people will be able to go to college and pursue their educational and career dreams, much like a young George Washington Carver did at Iowa State more than a hundred years ago.”


Katherine Richardson Bruna, associate professor, Iowa State University School of Education, 515-294-4144, krbruna@iastate.edu

Linda Serra Hagedorn, associate dean, Iowa State University College of Human Sciences, 515-294-5746, lindah@iastate.edu

Nancy Franz, associate dean, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to Families, 515-294-8876 nfranz@iastate.edu

Peter LeBlanc, principal, King Elementary School, 515-242-8417, peter.leblanc@dmschools.org

Craig Saddler, principal, Moulton Extended Learning Center, 515-242-8427, craig.saddler@dmschools.org

Sarah Burke, graduate assistant, Iowa State University College of Human Sciences, 515-294-9424 hswriter@iastate.edu