The partnership between the Westfield community and the Westfield Public School District is vital. Together we work to educate all students to reach their highest potential as productive, well-balanced and responsible citizens. And we do so by addressing not only the academic interests of our children but their social and emotional learning as well.
Our students continue to excel academically. Ninety-nine percent of Westfield High School seniors received their diplomas last June with 94.6% of them pursuing a higher education. Scores for the SAT and ACT remain well above the state and national averages. Sixty-three percent of our seniors have taken or are currently taking Advanced Placement courses with 92% of students taking AP exams in the spring of 2018 scoring a “3” or higher. More than 80 co-curricular activities and 30 sports programs are offered at the high school with 80% of students participating in co-curricular activities, including community service clubs.
At the same time, we recognize the importance of the social and emotional needs of our students. While the district has always monitored the resiliency of our students to make sure they feel safe, supported, and listened to, one of our key goals this year has been to assess current practices promoting Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and to expand it consistently districtwide.
Social and Emotional Learning involves the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Sounds obvious, right? Yet in a world where academic skills are often the priority, social-emotional development can sometimes be overlooked by educators and parents. And, just as we don’t expect our beginning students to be able to read a novel on their first try and have full comprehension, nor should we expect them to know how to manage these important social and emotional learning behaviors without any kind of instruction.
On our new district website, unveiled last August, we have provided SEL information on the Family Resources tab and will continue to add to the list of resources there. We have created TED-style Talks to help the community better understand SEL which also are posted on the SEL page on our website.
The new website is another important district goal this year with an emphasis on ensuring that it is routinely updated and accurate and that it maintains a consistent look and ease of navigation.
In the interest of expanding outreach to our alumni, we’ve created an online Alumni Directory on the website with the hopes of strengthening the Blue Devil connection. The inaugural issue of the Blue Devil Bulletin, a new electronic alumni newsletter, received positive response in January and we encourage Westfield High School graduates to visit the website, find the “District Information” tab and choose “Alumni Outreach” on the dropdown menu to sign up to receive the quarterly newsletter.
Thanks to a generous donation by the Westfield Foundation, a once traditional space at Westfield High School was transformed into an Innovation Classroom to support and expand our engineering and technology curricula as well as our Robotics Team.
Our mission statement calls for the district, our families and our community to join together to ensure that our students “respect individual differences and diversity in an ever changing world.” As part of our robust K-12 curriculum, we provide a multidisciplinary and age-appropriate program of instruction on the Holocaust and genocides while, at each of our 10 schools, character education lessons in all forms are taking place routinely in the classroom, the lunchroom, on the playground, and throughout our buildings.
Our commitment to a safe and secure school environment remains strong. Our administrators and staff meet routinely throughout the year to review security procedures while additional cameras, new doors and other enhancements have been installed districtwide as part of a continued effort to ensure that our security system is up-to-date.
In Westfield, we are fortunate to have a very active and caring parent community with supportive Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) in each of our schools. I attend, along with a liaison from the Board of Education, a monthly meeting of the Parent Teacher Council, the PTO umbrella organization, to share goals, ideas, and concerns. I am encouraged each year at this level of support and the high value our community places on education. And I am committed to continuing the Tradition of Excellence in the Westfield Public Schools.