Valley Heights Elementary School in Blue Rapids Awarded Blue-Ribbon School Award

Valley Heights Elementary in Blue Rapids, Kansas was selected as a National Blue Ribbon School awardee for 2023.

School Profile:

The Valley Heights Elementary schools are comprised of the two communities of Waterville and Blue Rapids, KS. Our district is unique in that our Waterville Elementary houses our Preschool through second grade students, and our Blue Rapids Elementary houses our third through sixth graders. Although separated by five miles, we strive to be a cohesive unit when working together to ensure the success of every student.

There are two important components that have helped make the Valley Heights Elementary Schools successful. The first is the fact that our staff recognize the social emotional needs of our students. We aim to be trauma responsive, and understand that there are many factors that effect a students performance at school. The other component that is crucial in the success of the Valley Heights Elementary Schools is our multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) model. We utilize the Kansas MTSS framework to provide specific interventions to all students. With administering a universal screener, diagnostic assessments, intense intervention support, and frequent progress monitoring, we are able to help each student be successful.

We engage families through a variety of communication modes including newsletters, in person, email, and family engagement nights. At Valley Heights, we are proud to be 1-1 with technology devices to ensure each student has the necessary tools to help them be college and career ready. Each classroom is equipped with SmartBoard technology. We strive to make student centered decisions and focus on the whole child first, as well as supporting our amazing staff!

Valley Heights USD 498 Mission:

The Valley Heights community will prepare students to become lifelong learners and productive citizens. As a Professional Learning Community, we envision a school in which staff: Unites with parents and community to achieve specific goals with a common purpose; Works together in collaborative teams; Monitors each student’s individual progress to guide instruction; Improves student achievement on a continuing basis by implementing effective, research-based strategies; Demonstrates a personal commitment to the academic growth and general well-being of all students; Nurtures a caring, positive, child-centered learning environment; Values everyone within the school community.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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