Des Moines Christian School is announcing a key milestone in academic excellence. Jahna Duda has been named DMC’s first Senior Director of Academics to lead the innovation, alignment, and execution of DMC academics from early education programs through high school. As part of this restructure, Cory Nikkel has been named High School Principal. Mr. Nikkel will retain oversight of spiritual life at DMC. These changes are effective July 1, 2021.
The strategic addition of the Senior Director of Academics position aligns with best practices in education and with DMC’s current goals and initiatives. DMC’s accreditation body, the Council on Education Standards and Accountability (CESA), affirmed the addition of this position during their site visit in March. During the next five-year strategic planning process, this position emerged again, as a key focus for academic excellence. Mrs. Duda’s experience, including her pursuit of a PhD in Education, and her understanding of DMC’s culture and community, uniquely position her for this new leadership opportunity.
Mrs. Jahna Duda--Senior Director of Academics
Mrs. Duda has been a part of the DMC faculty for the last 15 years, serving as High School Principal the last seven years. During her tenure as principal, Mrs. Duda improved academic programming with the addition of dual credit courses, implemented the flex mod schedule, added internship opportunities, and enhanced student leadership opportunities.
“It’s exciting to work with a group of professionals who are always challenging themselves to find new ways to enhance their classrooms and programming for students. I am blessed because God continues to have plans for me at DMC, now in this new leadership role,” Mrs. Duda says. “The goal is to impact further academic success. This includes curriculum and assessment alignment throughout the school; an academic student support network; collaborative professional development for our faculty; and using data for program evaluation so we are always improving.”
Mrs. Duda and her husband Bret have been married for 21 years. Her stepdaughter, Cambria, says she followed in Jahna’s footsteps, currently teaching third grade in Montana with plans to pursue a masters degree in education.
Mr. Cory Nikkel--High School Principal
Mr. Nikkel is currently DMC’s Middle School Assistant Principal and Director of Spiritual Life. He joined DMC in the fall of 2017, the first year of DMC’s dedicated middle school, and helped shape and establish this program. Mr. Nikkel has also had a profound impact on spiritual life at DMC, creating events, curriculum and chapels to inspire students to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ.
Mr. Nikkel joined DMC after teaching college prep English and literature for five years in another school district. Last year he received his master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Iowa. Mr. Nikkel’s experience and enthusiasm for education and spiritual formation, as well as his natural leadership abilities, are a huge asset for DMC students, families and staff.
“It's an honor to be in this new role to continue magnifying what DMC is all about. I’m excited to serve our school, community and teachers, empowering them to create amazing experiences at DMC,“ Mr. Nikkel said. “I see our high school graduates as the next generation of leaders in their communities, professions and families. That’s what our mission is all about, equipping minds for the next level and nurturing hearts to be people who are Christ-centered.”
Mr. Nikkel and his wife Courney recently celebrated three years of marriage and are enjoying time with their daughter Keira, who is 11 months old. They are excited for Keira to join the DMC early education program next summer.
Superintendent Cade Lambert said, “As a school we have been blessed by talented leaders and are committed to maximizing their gifts, capacity, and professional growth. DMC is dedicated to enhancing an academic culture that aligns with our mission and supports DMC’s Portrait of a Graduate. We desire for our students to be Servant-Hearted Leaders, Critical Thinkers and Effective Communicators, Accomplished Learners and Passionate Apprentices of Christ.”