2018-2019 School Year
Dear Westwood Heights Elementary School Families and Community Members,
Our hard work and dedication to a delivering a high-quality education to our learners has once again paid off. Westwood Heights Elementary School has earned a letter grade of a B, as awarded by the Florida Department of Education. This is an accomplishment not achieved since 2005 and I couldn’t be more proud of our learners, teachers, staff, and community members who collectively contributed to this achievement. In the past two school years, Westwood Heights Elementary has increased 126 points overall on the school grades accountability scale and reached heights in math and science that have never been reached!
Though we showed significant improvement in our English Language Arts scores, increasing six percentage points in proficiency, the State used a three-year average this year to determine the lowest 300 list. While this years combined scores were enough to exclude us from this group, our three-year average did not. As such, we will continue to participate in the extended school day, offering our learners an additional hour of intensive reading instruction. I remain confident that through our deliberate focus and effort, our ELA proficiency scores will continue to rise and removal from the list will be the next milestone we achieve. Additionally, after doing some calculations, achieving a letter grade of an A is well within our reach, needing just 46 points, for the 2018-2019 school year. In order to do this, we will continue our deliberate focus on goal-setting and monitoring the progress of each individual learner to ensure that we are meeting the unique needs of all of our learners.
The focus on individual student progress will be multi-dimensional as we will examine various components that result in student achievement. One key component will be to continuously monitor academic performance; however, we will also focus on fostering “grit” in our scholars through building and maintaining a positive, growth mindset. Angela Duckworth, a leading psychologist in the field, defines grit as “passion and perseverance toward long term goals.” She goes on to say that “gritty people have a growth mindset; when bad things happen they don’t give up.” We will foster this mindset in many ways with one of the first steps being to begin each day reciting our new Westwood Heights Eagle Pledge, which says:
I am a Westwood Heights Eagle.
I am a leader.
I was leader when I came in and I will be a better leader when I leave.
As a learner, I am dedicated, committed, and focused to succeed.
I cooperate with my classmates, teachers, and community members.
I am exceptional, not because I say it, but because I work hard.
I dream big, believe, and achieve.
I will graduate from high school because I always do my best.
I am an Eagle and Eagles soar above the rest!
Additionally, to foster this mindset, we will begin referring to our learners as scholars. The word scholar is defined as “someone who is highly educated or has an aptitude for study.” With the goal in mind that our scholars will one day be leaders of their own lives, we want to ensure they are ready to complete any future educational endeavors necessary for them to achieve their goals. Elementary school is the foundation to building the habits needed to pursue dreams.
I’m excited to share that our school will continue to be a part of the district’s SPARKS initiative. SPARKS is an acronym for Specialized Professionals Advancing Resources, Knowledge, and Skills. The SPARKS initiative is designed to provide additional wrap-around services to the schools within the Dillard and Boyd Anderson Innovation Zones to further meet the unique family, social, and emotional needs of our student population. As a part of this initiative, our school will maintain the following support personnel, in addition to maintaining the level of support we had last school year;
- Full-time School Social Worker
- Part-time School Social Work Intern
- Full-time Community Liaison
- Access to District-based Family Counselors to include evening hours
We are confident that with the addition of these specialized services and resources, we will be able successfully mitigate circumstances that exist for our scholars that hinder them from learning to their full potential.
It is my sincere hope that you enjoy the remainder of your summer break alongside family and friends. I’m looking forward to “my babies” returning in August. We will host our annual VPK/Head Start Orientation and K-5 Meet and Greet events on Tuesday, August 14th from 9-10:00 AM. The first day of school for scholars is Wednesday, August 15th. Student hours will remain 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM for all Kindergarten through 5th grade scholars and 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM for all pre-k scholars. Breakfast is free for all scholars and is served beginning at 7:15 AM. Scholars must be in the breakfast line no later than 7:45 AM in order to have enough time to eat and be in class on time. Scholars arriving after 7:45 AM will be offered a cold breakfast option that can be enjoyed in the classroom. For safety and security reasons, parents are not allowed in the cafeteria; however, will be allowed to walk their children to the cafeteria doors for the first week of school. “Independence Day” for scholars will be Monday, August 20th. On this day, parents must refrain from walking their children down the sidewalk leading to the cafeteria. It is essential for their development that children build and exercise their independence. Rest assured that adequate supervision is provided down the walkway to ensure scholars reach the cafeteria safely.
Finally, last school year, we transformed our school logo and motto as we continue to build an exceptional reputation within the City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County Public Schools as an institution of academic excellence. T-shirts with our new school logo and motto are for sale in the front office. You are encouraged to pre-order! Shirts are $10 each or 2 for $15. We also order adult sizes so you can rep our school in the community!
As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to chat, do not hesitate to reach out to me. You can call me at 754-323-7906. You can also reach me via email at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @WHEPrincipal as well as Westwood Heights Elementary @WHElementary for the latest news about our school.