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‘Individual learning’ is key mission at Van Meter

Deron Durflinger
Deron Durflinger

A community that is passionate about its citizens was something that Deron Durflinger could not pass up five years ago when he moved to Van Meter.

Now, as two-year district superintendent/secondary principal, Durflinger, educators and the local school board have made strides in the community and district.

“Our journey has seen us recognized as an Apple Distinguished School, we were selected as an exemplar school by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, we were chosen as an initial Response to Intervention school by the D.E., and we also have been asked to be a part of the Competency Based Education Collaborative by the state,” he said.

However, Durflinger says he believes the district’s biggest accomplishment was the $7.8 million bond approval to help renovate Van Meter’s K-12 district building.

“(This) will enable us (to) renovate our building in a way that better meets our students’ needs today,” he said. “When finished, our building will really be a great K-12 facility that will provide a learning environment which will allow our students and allow our students and staff to more effectively collaborate, create, and learn at the highest level. The fact that our community backed our efforts by voting for the referendum indicated that they are supportive of the learning environment we are trying to design for our students and staff. “

Moving forward with the district expansion project will help improve current and future students’ opportunities as well as lower the communities overall tax rate by over 50 cents, Durflinger added.

“For us, we just hope to continue to improve the opportunities we are providing for the students of Van Meter Schools,” he said. “It is our job to provide the resources and facilities for our kids to be successful, and I am excited about the path we are on to make the learning experiences at Van Meter Schools as meaningful as possible for our students and staff. The school currently enrolls 652 K-12 students and is seeing steady growth.

“We have increased by 140 students in the last 10 years, (so) about 20 percent,” Durflinger said. “One in five students who attends Van Meter open enrolls into our schools. We would like to think that will continue.”

The City of Van Meter is also experiencing growth due to residential and commercial development west of the city.

Although Durflinger acknowledges that he’s not always involved with students on a daily basis, he does keep in mind his actions do have a direct impact on students.

“For me, it is just coming to school every day and seeing what our teachers and students are producing and experiencing,” he said. “We really have a lot of amazing people in district and it is fun to see what our students are capable of accomplishing if we provide them with the resources needed.”