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District Recognized Among 2023 ‘Best Communities for Music Education’

The Dubuque Community School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

2023 Best Communities for Music Education (logo)This is the seventh consecutive year the district has received the honor.

Now in its 24th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, the district answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

Music teachers in the district are congratulated by representatives of West Music on the Best Communities for Music Education Award from the NAMM Foundation

Music teachers in the district are congratulated on the Best Communities for Music Education Award from the NAMM Foundation

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school but also to attend college as well.

In addition, everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

About The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 15,000 member companies and individual professionals. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.


Summer 2023 No-Cost Meal Options

The Dubuque Community School District will participate in the USDA Summer Food Service Program to provide no-cost meals to students weekdays from July 5-28, coinciding with the district’s Summer Academy Program.

The district will provide no-cost breakfast and lunch to any child 18 years old or under, with no enrollment necessary. No infant formula or infant food will be served. Meals served on site.

Summer Academy meal locations and times are as follows:

Audubon Elementary School
Prescott Elementary School
Table Mound Elementary School
Breakfast: 7:30-8 a.m.
Lunch: 11-11:30 a.m.

Meals will also be offered throughout the summer by community agencies at a variety of locations.


USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

Acceptance and participation requirements for the Program and all activities are the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination
Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:

and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866)632 – 9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

1. Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

2. Fax: (202)690-7442; OR
3. Email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Iowa Non-Discrimination Statement:

“It is the policy of this CNP provider not to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or religion in its programs, activities, or employment practices as required by the Iowa Code section 216.6, 216.7, and 216.9. If you have questions or grievances related to compliance with this policy by this CNP Provider, please contact the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Grimes State Office building, 400 E. 14th St. Des Moines, IA 50319-1004; phone number 515-281-4121, 800-457-4416; website:”

Header art gallery 2023 05

Spring 2022-2023 Student Art Gallery Now Live!

We are pleased to present the Spring 2022-2023 K-12 Virtual Student Art Gallery, highlighting the amazing artwork of our students.

The exhibit features the ability to virtually walk through a curated gallery of work — and we hope you’ll enjoy immersing yourself in the exhibit as the vision of these talented student artists comes to life.


Cassie McDonald Named Dubuque Schools Teacher of the Year

Dubuque Community School District Teacher of the Year Cassie McDonald (right) from Dubuque Senior High School is congratulated by Dubuque Senior Assistant Principal/Registrar Joan Schueller.

Dubuque Community School District Teacher of the Year Cassie McDonald (right) from Dubuque Senior High School is congratulated by Dubuque Senior Assistant Principal/Registrar Joan Schueller.

The Dubuque Community School District Teacher of the Year was named at the annual Educators’ Recognition Reception on May 11, hosted by the Dubuque Education Association.

Cassie McDonald, an English language learners (ELL) teacher at Dubuque Senior High School, was selected for the honor.

McDonald joined the district as a Spanish teacher at Dubuque Senior High School in 2005-2010. From 2019-2022 she also served in that role until 2022 when she taught in a dual ELL teaching role at Dubuque Senior and at the district’s Alta Vista Campus. This school year, she returned to teaching ELL full-time at Dubuque Senior.

Outside of the district, she is an English Speaker of Other Languages (ESOL) instructor at Northeast Iowa Community College, an English instructor in the online VIPKid English Program, and an independent contractor language training tutor for John Deere. She also served as a high school English teacher in Delavan, Wisconsin, from 2002-2005.

McDonald holds a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and English: Language and Secondary Education from Loras College and a master of education degree in English Language Learning from the University of North Dakota – Grand Forks.

“Cassie McDonald has built a community of caring and learning for her students that helps them gain confidence, find success and feel at home at Senior High School,” said one of McDonald’s nominators. “When most teachers are packing up and heading home for the day, Cassie can be found conducting an after-school study hall/support group for her students to give them extra care and connectedness to ensure they stay on track. She’s a hero for her students, and they would tell you as much.”

Other finalists for the Teacher of the Year Award were:

  • Ann Arnold, Alta Vista Campus
  • Emilie Foust, Table Mound Elementary School
  • Amy Freiburger, Sageville Elementary School
  • Andrea Runde, Hempstead High School
  • Lorlie Ryan, Lincoln Elementary School
  • Kristal Schaul, Kennedy Elementary School
  • Alli Steepleton, Jefferson Middle School
  • Dan Tringale, Jefferson Middle School
  • Karla Weber, Hempstead High School

Also at the event:

Project Rooted received the Friend of Education Award, presented for the organization’s efforts to provide students with access to and education about nutritious foods and fresh, local produce. This happens though the group’s Rooted Boxes, created once a month for first-graders in the district’s elementary schools. The boxes are themed and include a journal; fresh, local ingredients; and a utensil (such as a mini cutting board or portable fork and spoon). The boxes also include Rooted Buck, which are vouchers that can be redeemed at Dubuque’s Farmer’s Market, giving children the opportunity to choose healthy foods while making a connection with local community members who grow/produce it.

Dubuque Community Schools and Medical Associates Form Sports Medicine Partnership

With student health and safety at the forefront, the Dubuque Community School District and Medical Associates have formalized a partnership to provide sports medicine services to high school student athletes.

Dr. Adam Susmarski works with a student athlete.

Dr. Adam Susmarski works with a Hempstead High School student athlete.

Through a memorandum of understanding officially signed by both organizations in January, Medical Associates will provide team medical coverage during Dubuque Community School District sporting events. The partnership began this year with high school wrestling and will include football in the fall, with an option to expand the coverage to additional sports in the future.

“The safety of our student athletes is priority and the district has long been at the leading edge of safety protocols in our athletic programs,” said Joe Maloney, director of activities and athletics for the district. “This partnership moves us forward in our work to ensure the highest quality care available to our student athletes by having a team physician available at our events.”

Dr. Adam Susmarski (center)works with a student athlete along with district athletic trainer Brian Regan, ATC.

Dr. Adam Susmarski (center) works with a student athlete along with district athletic trainer Brian Regan, ATC.

Medical Associates sports medicine provider Dr. Adam Susmarski, DO, FACSM, currently assumes the lead athlete physician role for the

district along with his partner, Dr. Steve Rock, MD. They also provide medical counsel to the district’s licensed athletic trainers as they work with student-athletes.

“Medical Associates is excited to have this opportunity to bring our expertise to work with the student-athletes and athletic trainers in the Dubuque Community School District,” said Susmarski, a sports, spine, and rehabilitation physician. “Our comprehensive team of sports medicine specialists are dedicated to providing the highest quality medical care, where we focus on the safety and wellness of our area’s athletes and the communities we serve.”

Career Hiring Event for Seniors Seeking Full-Time Employment, May 10

Senior Class Career Hiring Event for those seeking full-time employment after graduation (graphic)The Dubuque Community School District will host a Career Hiring Event for members of the Class of 2023 who are seeking full-time employment after high school on Wednesday, May 10, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Dubuque Senior High School Cafeteria. 

The event is open to all graduating seniors. Registration is requested, but not required.


The event will give graduates looking to move directly into the area workforce after graduation the chance to visit with employers about job opportunities, pay, benefits and more.

There will also be the opportunity for on-the-spot interviews and immediate offers are possible.

Over 30 area employers will be in attendance, including:

  • AY McDonald
  • BEAMS LLC (multiple companies)
  • Bodine Electric Company
  • Brown NationaLease
  • Carpenters Local 678
  • Cottingham & Butler
  • Cummer Masonry Inc.
  • Dixon Tug Service
  • Dupaco Community Credit Union
  • DuTrac Community Credit Union
  • Express Employment Professionals
  • FedEx Ground
  • Giese Sheet Metal Co Inc
  • Grand River Medical Group
  • Hawkeye Care Center
  • Hills & Dales
  • Kloeckner Metals
  • Kwik Stop / Dairy Queen
  • Laborers Local 43
  • Lime Rock Springs Co
  • Lime Rock Springs Co/Pepsi Dubuque
  • McCoy Group
  • Mediacom
  • Medical Associates
  • MercyOne Medical Center
  • Mi-T-M Corporation
  • NICC
  • Paramount Ambulance
  • Progressive Processing (Hormel)
  • Sedgwick
  • Stonehill Communities
  • Sunnycrest Manor
  • Truck Country
  • UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital
  • Universal Tank & Fabrication


Learn more about the
VERTEX Initiative at

District to Create Preschool Center to Expand Early Childhood Options

The Dubuque Community School District is pleased to announce plans to establish a preschool center in Dubuque’s industrial center that will provide access to the district’s high-quality preschool programming while offering streamlined access to wraparound childcare services.

Pending School Board approval, plans call for the District to begin offering preschool programming in the new center in fall 2024, while also retaining preschool classrooms in each of its elementary schools.

The project, to be developed on the site of the former Medline facility at 7900 Chavenelle Road, is a partnership between the Dubuque Community Schools, Dubuque Initiatives and the Dubuque Community Y, which will offer wraparound childcare on site. The building was purchased in December by Dubuque Initiatives.

“Development of this center is truly an example of community partnership at work,” said Superintendent Amy Hawkins. “Partners came around the table with a goal of addressing Dubuque’s childcare needs and aligning them with strong early childhood education. The result will be a combination of services that gives families a new kind of flexibility with preschool and wraparound care seamlessly integrated in one state-of-the-art location.”

As part of the plan, the District would renovate an 18,000-square-foot portion of the facility into a preschool center with space for up to 10 preschool classrooms, as well as student common areas, sensory areas, meal preparation and services spaces, student support spaces and administrative offices. The facility will also include a dedicated preschool playground outdoors and a dedicated entryway.

This new preschool center will be adjacent to a full-service childcare center operated by the Dubuque Community Y, allowing for a seamless transition for preschool students moving from or into wraparound care before and after preschool.
Read More about “District to Create Preschool Center to Expand Early Childhood Options”

Senior’s Moklestad Receives Iowa STEM Teacher Award

The Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is proud to announce Greg Moklestad, 9-12 Computer Science and Engineering Instructor at Dubuque Senior High School in Dubuque, Iowa, has been named as a recipient of the 2023 Iowa STEM Teacher Award, sponsored by Kemin Industries. The award is given to six educators each year who go above and beyond to inspire student interest in and awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Dubuque Senior Teacher Gred Moklestad Receives the Iowa STEM Teacher Award from the Governor's STEM Council and Kemin Industries

Dubuque Senior Teacher Greg Moklestad (center) receives the Iowa STEM Teacher Award from Heidi Hall of Kemin Industries and Jeff Beneke of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Council.

Now in its ninth year, the award is given annually to one full-time, licensed preK-12 teacher from each of the six STEM regions in Iowa. Each recipient is honored for their efforts to foster enthusiasm and inspire a passion for STEM that goes beyond the classroom and helps prepare students for future high-demand careers.

Moklestad is being recognized for his work in reimagining the school’s engineering program and bringing new life to the subject, as seen by increased enrollment in his classes and the need for additional courses to meet interest levels. He recognizes that success in the 21st century revolves around a healthy STEM education and focuses on creating strong relationships with his students and providing access to real-world experiences to increase awareness of STEM opportunities.

Molkestad created a partnership with the John Deere Dubuque Works Facility where students have the opportunity to work on intern level engineering projects with John Deere engineer mentors. His work on this trail-blazing program will not only benefit students at his school, but also allows for other schools to partner with John Deere using structures similar to what he set up.

In addition to his classroom work, Moklestad is a co-founder of the Dubuque Senior High School’s FIRST Robotics team, participates in STEM outreach programs, and continually looks for ways to stay up-to-date with STEM careers and the industry.

As a recipient of the 2023 Iowa STEM Teacher Award, Moklestad will receive $1,500 to use for his classroom and $1,500 for personal use. He recently received his award and a small celebration at his school and will later be honored, along with his fellow recipients, in a recognition ceremony during STEM Day at the Fair at the Iowa State Fair.

About the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council
Established in July 2011 via Governor’s Executive Order, the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership of educators, companies and Iowa students and families addressing policies and programs designed to improve Iowa’s educational system focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The STEM Council works to engage and prepare students for a career-ready workforce path, regain our state’s historic leadership position in education and provide a vital competitive economic advantage now, and for the future, to ensure that every Iowa student has access to world-class STEM education opportunities. The 62-member STEM Council is co-chaired by Governor Kim Reynolds and Foundation Analytical Laboratory Owner and Director of Technical Services Diane Young. For more information, visit

About Kemin Industries
Kemin Industries ( is a global ingredient manufacturer that strives to sustainably transform the quality of life every day for 80 percent of the world with its products and services. The company supplies over 500 specialty ingredients for human and animal health and nutrition, pet food, aquaculture, nutraceutical, food technologies, crop technologies, textile, biofuel and animal vaccine industries.

For over half a century, Kemin has been dedicated to using applied science to address industry challenges and offer product solutions to customers in more than 120 countries. Kemin provides ingredients to feed a growing population with its commitment to the quality, safety and efficacy of food, feed and health-related products.

Established in 1961, Kemin is a privately held, family-owned-and-operated company with more than 3,000 global employees and operations in 90 countries, including manufacturing facilities in Belgium, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Italy, San Marino, Singapore, South Africa and the United States.

Study Recommends Consolidation of District Middle Schools to Washington Site

A study conducted to determine next steps in the Dubuque Community School District moving from three middle schools to two has concluded with a recommendation from the planning team that facilities are expanded or reconstructed facilities on the Washington Middle School Site.

The recommendation was presented at the facilities/support services committee meeting on February 6 and will also be presented to the full board at its February 13 meeting. In April, the School Board voted to approve a goal of moving to a two middle school model by fall 2026, with a focus on creating feeder schools to the district’s two high schools.

Consolidation into two middle schools would ensure that all district middle school students have access to similar, high-quality learning spaces, while also resulting in a reduction of approximately $3.4 million annually from the district’s operating budget.

“As we moved through the process, maintaining a school facility at the Washington Middle School site continued to emerge as the strongest, most efficient option,” said Laura Peterson, an architect with INVISION. “The site is a cornerstone of the community given its central location and high visibility. The site also provides numerous options for expansion to develop a larger school that focuses on providing high-quality modern learning spaces for students.”

The study, led by Iowa-based INVISION Architecture, included baseline data collection and analysis of the district’s current middle schools, benchmarking against best practices, analysis of potential consolidation locations, and conceptual work to illustrate how a school could be situation on the site. Feedback was sought throughout the study process from various district stakeholder groups and a community task force including administrators, parents, teachers and community members moved in-depth through the process as it unfolded.

At the committee meeting, Tim Oswald from Piper Sandler also presented information to the Board related to funding available to the district through the Securing an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) fund as well as other potential funding sources, including possible efforts to obtain a general obligation bond through a ballot issue. Expansion or reconstruction of the school is estimated to cost between $65 million and $120 million depending on the scenario selected. Depending on the agreed upon scope, a general obligation bond could also allow the district to more quickly address additional infrastructure needs, such as climate control across all district facilities.

“This recommendation is the first step in charting the future of the district, both in providing high-quality learning spaces to all off our students while also increasing efficiency across the district,” said Amy Hawkins, superintendent of schools. “We look forward to future discussion with the Board to determine our path forward.”

Jorgenson Named Next Hempstead High School Principal

The Dubuque Community School District is pleased to announce the appointment of Julia Jorgenson as the new principal of Hempstead High School, pending approval by the Board of Education at its March meeting.

Jorgenson, who currently serves as assistant principal/registrar at Hempstead will succeed Lee Kolker, who will retire at the conclusion of the school year. When she assumes the position on July 1, Jorgenson will be the first woman to serve in this role in the history of Hempstead High School.

Julia Jorgenson

Julia Jorgenson

As principal of Hempstead, Jorgenson will be responsible for the strategic and day-to-day operations of the school, which serves approximately 1,600 students and has 200 professional and support staff.

“Julia is a well-respected leader who has built a strong network of relationships with staff and students at Hempstead,” said Superintendent Amy Hawkins. “This, combined with her strong instructional, communication and collaboration skills, make her an ideal fit to lead Hempstead into the future.”

Jorgenson currently serves as assistant principal/registrar at Hempstead, overseeing delivery of the school’s academic programming in addition to a wide range of administrative responsibilities including staff evaluation.

Prior to being named assistant principal, Jorgenson served as a mathematics teacher at Dubuque Senior High School since 2007, where she also served in a leadership role as instructional coach since 2014. She was mathematics department chair at Dubuque Senior from 2009-2014 and a mathematics teacher at Central Alternative High School from 2002-2007.

Jorgenson holds a bachelor of science degree with education certification from the University of Iowa as well as a master of arts in educational administration from the University of Northern Iowa. She is a member of School Administrators of Iowa.