I hope your Thanksgiving was spent with family and friends.
This was my first Thanksgiving with my family in our new home southwest of Madison -- it provided an opportunity for us to rest, catch our breath and reflect on our many blessings. We are in the final stages of selling our home in Chicago and the pace of 2018 has been hectic.
At West, the pace has been no different. 2018 is almost over (wait. What?). We have completed Parent-Teacher Conferences (thank you for participating as a parent, a volunteer, or as a staff member). We hope they provided you and your students’ teachers the much needed chance to connect and briefly discuss any questions and concerns you might have. We are always looking at ways to improve our systems, so if you have ideas to improve our conferences, please let us know.
During my early days at West, I developed parent and student advisory groups. One outgrowth of the Parent Advisory group was a strong, collective desire to reboot West’s PTSO. If you are interested in providing feedback or in joining us, please fill out our feedback survey. We’ll have our first meeting in of the newly created “West Community Organization” in January, and you’ll hear more about the date and time of that meeting as it draws closer.
One West, our student advisory group, continues to meet with me each Tuesday. They are very interested in working with the adults at West to address common areas of challenge, much like they did with the hallway concerns. I continue to meet with other student groups -- for example, I also meet regularly with our Black Student Union (another amazing group of West kids who want to be part of the solution). Your children are such strong advocates for themselves, their peers, and future West students. It’s an exciting -- and complex -- time to be leading this school.
If you have been in the building this year, you may have noticed some major changes. Our first floor Ash Welcome Center allows us to provide targeted and localized support for students, parents and the community when they enter the building. We continue to implement our “Start on Time” system, which supports all students in being in the classroom, ready to learn, when the bell rings. This joint effort between staff, teachers, students, administrators, counselors, security, deans, etc. has had a major impact on the climate in our hallways. While it is in still in the early stages, it is exciting to see the changes possible when we collectively direct our attention to a common challenge across all MMSD secondary schools -- students in the hallways after the bell has rung -- and develop systems and structures that successfully address that problem.
We have many events on the horizon for December. Winter Sports are in full swing, our school play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is on December 7th-8th and 14th-15th, and our Regent Resale takes place on December 8th.
Thank you and have a safe and warm Winter Holiday. Just a gentle reminder that Winter Break is Monday, December 24th through Friday, January 4th, with school resuming on Monday, January 7th, 2019.
Karen Boran, Ed. D.