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Meet Our Principal

Welcome to James Van Allen Elementary of the Iowa City Community School District, home of the Rockets!

In order to achieve our goals of excellence and equity for all students, we have adopted a new school improvement model called High Reliability Schools. High Reliability Schools is a framework that supports fulfilling our vision of equitable outcomes for all students. It gives us a common language to name what we’re doing, assess our current reality, align our initiatives, and determine where to go next. It is a vehicle that allows us to balance shared responsibility and autonomy to make decisions that best meet the needs of all our students.

Throughout the year, there will be multiple opportunities for our students, families, and staff to provide feedback that will inform the work that we do. Please stay tuned for information on these opportunities. We look forward to partnering with you on this exciting new adventure!

Eric Ewald, Principal

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Our School

About Van Allen Elementary

Van Allen Elementary School is located at 170 Abigail Avenue in North Liberty, Iowa. It is named after Dr. James Van Allen, University of Iowa Space Physics Scientist (1914-2006). Children from both North Liberty and the city of Coralville make up the attendance area of Van Allen Elementary. 

The school opened on August 22, 2005. Approximately 442 children currently attend Van Allen, including a 20 student preschool housed within the school building. 

Van Allen Elementary features many extraordinary designs which make it an environmentally friendly building holding Silver LEED certification. It was the first elementary school west of the Mississippi River to hold this certification. The building features natural lighting, recycled building materials, geothermal heating and cooling, and natural landscaping.

The facility itself houses four areas of classrooms: there are currently 18 elementary classrooms (K-6), one preschool, and one Early Childhood Special Education classroom. Grades 1-6 have classrooms built around learning centers.

Centrally located in the building are the multi-purpose room, the media center and the gymnasium. The multi-purpose room serves as a lunchroom by day and can be used by students, parents, staff, and the community for a variety of purposes outside of the school day. The gymnasium was built regulation size to accommodate community and school activities. A unique partnership between the City of Coralville and the Iowa City Community School District provides extensive opportunities for the development and use of the building and grounds as a joint recreational and educational facility.

About James Van Allen

James Van Allen Dr. James Alfred Van Allen (1914-2006) was born September 7, 1914 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. He was an American space scientist in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Iowa. Some have even called Dr. Van Allen the Father of Space Science. Van Allen's scientific instruments were placed on board the very first successful American satellites, Explorer 1 and Explorer 3, launched in 1958. The instruments provided data for the first space-age scientific discovery: the existence of a doughnut-shaped region of charged particle radiation trapped by Earth's magnetic field. Thus, the Van Allen Radiation Belts were named after Dr. James Van Allen. 

Along with his colleagues, Van Allen sent instruments to the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, as well as throughout interplanetary space. Dr. Van Allen served as the principal investigator on more than 25 space science missions, authored nearly 200 papers, all the while directing the dissertations of many PhD. graduate students in space physics. 

During his lifetime, Dr. Van Allen received many prestigious awards including being named TIME magazine Man of the Year in 1960. In 1987 President Reagan presented Van Allen with the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest honor for scientific achievement. Dr. Van Allen retired from The University of Iowa in 1985, but continued to live in Iowa City and served as the Carver Professor of Physics, Emeritus almost until the day he passed away. In August, 2005 Dr. Van Allen, along with his wife Abigail, opened Van Allen Elementary School. The school was a source of great pride for the Van Allen family. Dr. Van Allen died on August 9, 2006. 

"I've never thought of myself as particularly brilliant. I've run across so many people in my life that can run circles around me in sheer brilliance and understanding, but I don't run across many that have the same quality of persistence and perseverance that I do. When I am really onto something, I am going to still be on it ten years later if that is what it takes to get the answer. It's the kind of thing that keeps driving me onward is that there is always something you should know if you really want to get the whole picture." -Dr. James Van Allen, Flights of Discovery, copyright, 2000.


Van Allen Elementary