As I write my final monthly entry in the Regent Reporter, I have an opportunity to reflect on the last 14 years I've spent as a leader at West High School. If there is a single thing I've grown to appreciate as a principal here, it is the amazing people I've encountered each step of the way. The students, staff, parents/family members and alumni who make up this great Regent community are as talented and dedicated as they have ever been.
Our diverse student body continues to impress me with their immense talents, resiliency and growth. Our staff members are the heart and soul of West High School. They have shown us all that adult actions do matter and strong teacher-student relationships are the key to improving student achievement results. Lastly, I have been amazed by our families and generous community members who continue to support our school in new and innovative ways.
These last few weeks have been a time of reflection and completion for me as I put as much in place as possible for my successor. I have been reflecting on my tenure at West High, and there are some accomplishments that I am very proud of. As your principal, my focus has been on coherent instructional practices which positively impact student engagement and achievement, and student and family engagement in our school improvement efforts.
Our staff has worked hard on curriculum alignment, the use of common strategies such as KUDOS (know, understand and do) unit overviews and daily learning targets to enhance student engagement. These efforts have created curriculum and instruction coherence across classrooms. Our introduction of community building strategies using a circle process and social contracting has resulted in a greater sense of student ownership in our school climate and culture. The introduction of the MSCR Homework Club, Mission 4.0 evening tutorial program and Achievement Connections algebra/geometry support has greatly enhanced our student’s skill development, coursework completion and sense of engagement/belonging at West. Finally, our school wide focus on literacy instruction (Close Reading and Argumentative Writing) across all classrooms has elevated our instructional practices and produced positive skill development for all students.
As your principal, I have made a concerted effort to improve our school wide communication with parents and our community. I have kept you apprised of upcoming events and critical incidents through multiple communication avenues. Our website now has google translate in order to create better access to information for all of our families. We have developed several parent groups to support and inform my work on expanding parent/family engagement to improve our school. A special thanks goes out to members of my Principal Parent Advisory Committee and our Latino parent group, La Familia for your time and dedication. I could not have done this work without you!
Finally, I have enjoyed involving students in our professional development for teachers. Student leaders have brought relevance and meaning to the urgency of our school improvement efforts. Our transformation of our court selection process for all school wide dances using a gender neutral approach was groundbreaking and drew attention to our progressive efforts from cities all across the nation. My Principal Student Advisory Team was the bright spot of every month when we shared lunch and discussed critical improvement ideas to truly make West High the best experience for each and every student.
So as you can see, my work has centered on creating a school in which all stakeholders have a voice and commitment to excellence for all. Our equity vision is setting the stage for future improvement efforts. I look forward to my favorite event of the year, graduation on June 10th. Nothing compares to honoring our seniors for their years of hard work at West High School and celebrating all their successes and growth.
In closing, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for the support you have given me. It has been on honor to serve your families.
Beth Thompson, Principal